Recap: The Amazing Race 31, Episode 8 – “You’re the Apple in My Eye”
Teams begin the 8th Leg driving themselves to the Ballenberg Community Hall where they must wait for further instructions.
While waiting for Hours of Operation, Rachel & Elissa try to “repair” their relationship with Leo & Jamal after last Leg. Chris & Bret think they’re still playing Survivor and decide to eavesdrop.
When the gates open, Phil welcomes teams to the first ever (for the original TAR) U-Turn Vote. Phil explains that teams will all vote for the U-Turn in front of each other and in an order decided by “random” draw.
Rachel & Elissa go first and vote for Colin & Christie. Nicole & Victor whisper to each other with Victor suggesting Leo & Jamal but Nicole wanting to vote for Rachel & Elissa. Nicole tells Victor to make the decision and he votes for Leo & Jamal. She immediately begins to berate him for making a decision and is very upset.
Colin & Christie are next and Colin says they’ll just make it even and they vote for Rachel & Elissa. Leo & Jamal and Colin & Christie strategically vote for Colin & Christie.
Tyler & Korey decide to vote for Nicole & Victor since they were last. And Chris & Bret decide to make it personal by voting for the “O’Reillys” since they’re not friends. Rachel basically says Chris & Bret have just made a million dollar mistake.
Phil confirms the results: Colin & Christie and Rachel & Elissa are both U-Turned. He then lets them go and the teams open the next clue which is the Detour: Haymaking or Cow Dressing. In Haymaking, teams must use a scythe to cut grass, rake it and then stack it on a drying structure. In Cow Dressing, teams must make a floral headdress for a cow and guide it to the festival.
Rachel & Elissa and Colin & Christie both choose the Cow Dressing first while the other teams choose Haymaking.
Meanwhile, Nicole & Victor first have to complete their Speed Bump which is the very easy task of folding flags. While doing the task, Nicole continues whining and berating Victor about him not voting for Rachel & Elissa.
Rachel & Elissa have some initial trouble getting their cow, Oliver, to cooperate down the path. But Rachel figures out the magic touch and they get going. Colin & Christie, meanwhile, have to deal with memories of carabaos in the Philippines when their own cow needs a little time to get going as well.
Becca & Floyd finish the haying first and can now make their way to a farm in Oberschwanden for their next clue. They are followed by Chris & Bret, Tyler & Korey and Leo & Jamal.
Rachel & Elissa and Colin & Christie deliver their cows and must now do the hay Detour. But Rachel & Elissa left their clue back at the headdress assembly table. They decide not to go back to get it. Elissa takes a chance and asks Christie if she would allow them to see the clue, but of course Christie says No. Rachel & Elissa have to just watch Colin & Christie to know what they have to do.
The other teams arrive at the farm and find the Road Block: Who wants to be a big shot? For this Road Block, teams will use a crossbow to hit an apple on the head of a scarecrow.
Bret and Tyler are first to hit their targets and they can now find motorboats that they can drive to the Pit Stop, the Grand Hotel Giessbach.
Chris & Bret are in first place, but decide to go for the funicular instead of running up to the Mat. Since the funicular is on a set schedule, Tyler & Korey are able to reach the Mat first and win a trip to Vietnam & Cambodia. Chris & Bret have to settle for 2nd.
Leo & Jamal are lost on the way to the Road Block. That allows both Colin & Christie and Rachel & Elissa to arrive at the Road Block before them.
Colin & Christie and Becca & Floyd check in as Teams #3 and #4, respectively.
After Victor shoots the apple, it’s down to Jamal and Rachel. And it’s Jamal who is able to shoot the apple first.
Victor & Nicole step on the Mat as Team #5 and Leo & Jamal are Team #6.
That means Rachel & Elissa are last. And for the first time ever and after setting a new record for most Legs run on The Amazing Race, Rachel (with Elissa) is eliminated.
So this was the worst, saddest elimination since… I don’t know when! I really wish Rachel & Elissa had made it farther on the Race. But oh well. It was still a joy to have watched Rachel and Elissa Racing together. Back after Big Brother 15, I had hoped it would happen one day and it has!
Anyway, let’s talk about the U-Turn Vote. So, the pleasant surprise was that most teams (emphasize “most”) voted strategically. And that was definitely not what I was expecting considering all the time the show devoted to the U-Turn faux drama last week. It was very obvious the show wanted to infuse TAR with some Survivor and Big Brother-style drama. But to be honest, they kind of fell flat in that regard.
The more interesting discussion here is that TARUS has taken another international TAR twist and messed it up. First it was the bastardization of the Double Battle/Duel/Face Off. Now it’s the Voting U-Turn.
First introduced on Israel’s HaMerotz LaMillion and subsequently adopted in Australia, China and the Philippines, the forced U-Turn vote has had mixed results. But when used well (and correctly), it can drive competition and inject some controlled drama. Its worst use was probably on TAR Philippines 2 with the alliance debacle. (You can read all about it here.) Having a vote on every Leg may be a little too much. But having it once in a while, without warning, is fine.
Now one negative to how TARUS implemented the U-Turn Vote was that it was in front of each other and aloud. Doing it this way instead of at a regular U-Turn board with possibly no other teams around is much better. The way TARUS did it kind of taints the vote since teams can be influenced by other teams and/or their votes. And the “random” order also could sway votes a certain way as well.
By having the vote board at the first Route Marker or something, it would allow teams to have to think on the spot with no pressure from anyone else. I do think part of the decision making here is TARUS no longer doing post-Detour U-Turns for whatever reason.
Another negative about this Tribal Council/Nomination Ceremony-type deal is that the Race comes to a screeching halt. Which is similar to what the Head-to-Head does as well. International TARs don’t do this. The vote board is just like any other U-Turn. Teams must stop at it, vote and can be on their way.
Here instead, we have Phil presiding over the vote ceremony, basically. And it was tedious. They spent about 10-15 minutes on teams playing with cats and the U-Turn Vote. It was not interesting at all and actually ended up less exciting that other votes on international TARs have been. Halting the Race is never exciting and this was certainly worse than a normal Hours of Operation.
So while not as horrible as the way the Head-to-Head was implemented, the U-Turn Vote was still implemented and used worse than the international TARs before them.
I also hope that had there been a tie for 2nd place at the U-Turn, all teams who were tied for that would get U-Turned. Not have a re-vote or something like on Survivor.
With all that time spent on the U-Turn, the rest of the Leg felt even more barebones than usual. Just the Detour and the Road Block. That’s it. No other task. (I wouldn’t call the boat drive a task.)
The Detour was fine and actually a good spot for a U-Turn indeed. And the Road Block was good too. But there really should’ve been an extra task between them or after the Road Block. Especially if self-driving has been such a problem for teams over these last two Legs.
The editing was also off, especially at the end. But I think that had to do with the lack of tasks as well.
Overall, horrible ending aside, this was another poorly designed Leg, but a relatively exciting episode. (Which is not saying much for contemporary TAR!)
My Subjective Team Rankings
GAP GAP GAP
Again, so sad to see Rachel & Elissa eliminated. They were lots of fun to watch, but they really have had some bad Legs recently. A combination of big mistakes and the poor Leg design. But they did have a chance this Leg without the U-Turn.
At the very least, Congratulations to Rachel on setting a new TAR record. Hope neither the Globetrotters or the Cowboys will ever get asked back again. lol
It’s interesting how Colin & Christie are viewed as the biggest threat. I think Tyler & Korey and Becca & Floyd might be considered bigger threats. But there’s the OG vibe they carry. They are certainly TAR legends of course, so that may contribute to the perception of them. Though they have finished no worse than 4th so far. Christie was right in not showing Rachel & Elissa their clue of course. They were both in last, so naturally you shouldn’t show the other team your clue.
After a huge gap, Becca & Floyd are somehow my 3rd favorite (relatively speaking) team left this season. But that says a lot about the other teams when a team I really don’t like is up here in #3. But I certainly can’t put hypocrites Leo & Jamal above them. I think by the end of the season, if they make it that far, Leo & Jamal might end up as my least favorite team. Honestly, this is the worst version of Leo & Jamal ever to Race. They are worse than their TAR23-selves in terms of annoying personality and camwhoring. But in addition, they’re also Racing horribly. Really the worst Racing from them over three seasons.
I still can’t stand Tyler & Korey, but crazy enough, I was rooting for them to snatch the first place from Chris & Bret. The fact that only TAR teams have won Legs so far is kinda hilarious. But Tyler & Korey also made the correct decision to U-Turn Nicole & Victor. No, not because I think they absolutely deserve to be U-Turned out of the Race. But because they were indeed last on a Non-Elimination Leg AND they had a Speed Bump. Why not guarantee a team who has a Speed Bump AND must do both U-Turns gets eliminated? Guarantees your safety and doesn’t anger anyone but the doomed team.
Nicole & Victor, well Victor, talked at the start of the Leg how he didn’t want to bring up the drama with Rachel & Elissa since it shouldn’t even exist in the first place. Well, they have themselves to thank for that since it was Nicole & Victor who blew the whole thing up in the first place. But again, we see exactly the Nicole that BB fans loved to call “Ratcole” and did not like during her seasons. Her whining to Victor was insufferable! And not only that, she tells Victor to decide who to U-Turn and when he does, she berates him about his choice. What in the world?! I really wish they had been eliminated last week. This is “typical” Nicole. Her “brand” perhaps.
Finally, Chris & Bret. Who knew they would be the ones playing personally? Or that they would be the most petty when deciding on who to U-Turn. They’ve been complaining nonstop about the “O’Reillys” since the beginning of last Leg and it really came out of nowhere. They absolutely made the wrong decision and I hope they get eliminated sooner rather than later. I’ve said they were darkhorses to go all the way. But not anymore. Their kind of thinking will only get them eliminated rather than get them further in the Race.
Rachel: “That was a million dollars, guys.”
Rachel: “I found the gas pedal.”
Rachel: “Thank you for the milk you give. Oliver, you’re the best.”
Elissa: “Rach, we’re the last team!”
Rachel: “Really? I didn’t notice.”