Amazing Race 12’s new U-turn ends one team’s chances

The Amazing Race 12 spent a second episode in Burkina Faso, but there, it introduced one of two new game elements that are supposed to be unveiled this season. More often than not, these elements–the Yield and, to some degree, the Intersection, which has the potential to slow one team down–are either ignored by the teams or don’t have that much of an impact. But on its first appearance, the U-turn was actually used, and left one team so far behind they couldn’t recover.

  • The theme for this season seems to be animals. There have been many challenges involving animals, and this episode, for no real reason whatsoever, the teams had to carry a live chicken to the mat. “No chicken, no check-in,” their instructions said.
  • Ronald talked to his chicken, saying, “it’s okay little birdie. It’s only temporary; you’re out for dinner.” He might have also said “you’ll be dinner”; the squawking chickens made it tough to hear.
  • Shana bonded with her chicken, and told Jennifer, “Let’s name the chicken Phil” because “he’s cute like Phil; he looks like Phil.” She also said the chicken had Phil’s hair, and the editors showed us a black-and-white shot of Phil running his hand through his messy hair as proof.
  • Jason said, “We’re not quitters, that’s for sure. … Hopefully everybody starts making mistakes, and we just don’t make any, and we continue onward.” And hopefully, unlike every other team to make similar statements during the race, the editors aren’t just foreshadowing your elimination.
  • “You can’t speak to me in dance terms,” Nate said to Jen, as she tried to teach him how to dance.
  • Phil introduced one of this season’s new twists: “A U-turn is found at the end of a Detour. Teams can use the power of a U-turn to slow down another team, forcing them to backtrack and complete the other side of the Detour they did not previously complete.” Announcing her team’s decision to not use the U-turn, Jennifer said, “We’re going to win this race like freakin’ men.” She did not, however, scratch herself for effect.
  • When his daughter asked if they should use the U-turn, Ronald decided for them, and declared, “We choose not to use the U-turn because we’re not dead last.” Um, if you were dead last, you could only U-turn yourself, right? Smart move.
  • “That’s a really good picture of us,” Shana or Jennifer said, after U-turning Lorena and Jason.
  • Jennifer was convinced that the bad karma of the U-turn wouldn’t be worth it, but Shana said, “it’s for $1 million, and I’m not risking it for someone to be mad at me.”
  • Referring to agitated chickens, Hendekia said, “They’re going to the market to get eaten, so they have a reason to cry.”
  • Because the chickens weren’t causing enough drama on their own, Phil explained that the Roadblock involved carrying “an unwieldy amount of supplies, including a potentially uncooperative goat.” But the goats were tied up in laundry baskets, and were only able to raise their heads up and bleat at the team members.
  • Performing a dance in front of three judges, two men and a woman, Jason said, “I feel like we’re on American Idol right now. In Africa. I wonder if that’s Simon, or that’s Paula Abdul.” Lorena looked at the woman, and said, “Come on, Paula!”
  • The six most anticipated words of the season were spoken by Ronald: “Okay, okay, I shut my trap.”
  • As two teams raced for the mat, one of their camera operators was clearly visible for a few seconds, before he artfully ducked out of the way. It remains impressive how well the camera and sound crews manage to stay out of sight.
  • During the footrace, Jennifer whined to Azaria and Hendekea, “Come on, you guys, you got first three times.” After coming in second, she continued complaining to Phil. “I just feel like everyone should get their time, and they’ve their time two times before this,” she said. Then get there first, you stupid idiot. It’s a race, not a sharing party.
  • In the cab on the way to the mat, Vyxsin broke down. Later, she explained, “Some of the things that we have seen are absolutely heartbreaking, and yes it’s a race, and yes we’re focused on a goal, but we’re also not blind. And it was difficult for me to experience seeing such wonderful people have so little.”
  • “If we don’t get eliminated, we are going to screw over the blondes,” Jason said. “We might not be done yet. Have hope.” But they were so far behind that not even positive affirmations could help them catch up, and they went home, the U-turn’s first victims.