'The Amazing Race' recap: 'Smarter Not Harder'

Now everything makes sense.

In Episode 4 of what remains a not-so-stellar All-Star season, contestants looked into the camera and revealed to us the mysterious sources of their behavior.


We in Apartment 81 had been thinking all along, for instance, that Dave and Connor, the father-and-son cancer survivors, were excruciating boring. It turns out that all along they were just Mormons.

This turned out to be a non-elimination leg, which was good news for Brendon and Rachel, and good news for viewers, too. So far this season, Team Big Brother has generated more than their share of laughs, drama and emotion.


They really have matured since their last appearance, we think. And so does Margie, who like a lot of America, didn't like the old Rachel, at least the "Rachel" character that Rachel invented for "Big Brother" and her previous run on "Amazing Race."

"I thought Rachel was the biggest cry baby ever," Margie told America. "But tonight she really came through for us."


"The Amazing Race" is at its best when teams are either at each others' throats or when they're throwing big bunches of grace at each other. Trust us, Apartment 81 loves a heaping helping of viciousness, but we actually prefer sweetness and light.

Rachel and Brendon's encouraging "applause" for Luke was super sweet, the stuff that highlight reels are made of.

Rachel is still a cry baby, of course. "It's not fair," she repeated in the near-abandoned SkyBar, as Luke and Margie headed off to the Petronas Tower elevators and the Pit Stop. "It's not fair." And then they were upon her.

This episode continued some themes that have been in place since the beginning.

We had another boring Roadblock. Teams completed the bamboo trampoline challenge in almost the identical order of their Episode 3 finish, which took the drama out of plane assignments.


Connor looked especially impressive on this task. Cord of the Cowboys struggled more than we'd have guessed.

Jessica bloodied her foot on the bamboo, which looked like it might cause her trouble down the road. Fortunately, for Team John and Jessica, she didn't have to do any running in the rest of this leg. Rest up, Jess.

And Rachel learned, quickly, that panty hose and trampolines don't mix. She struggled, badly, with the trampoline, but Brendon shouted support from the sidelines.

"Work smarter, not harder," he reminded her.

"I'm working my smartest!" she assured him.

From the Roadblock, teams flew from Borneo to Kuala Lumpur, where one of the most frustrating Detours in recent memory was awaiting them in the SkyBar at the top of the Petronas Towers.


The DJ option ("Mix Master") was tricky enough. Of the two options, it had the element of a possible time delay (having to get back in line at the DJ booth) that was out of the contestants' control.

The Globetrotters really struggled with this task, which convinced them that they had no future as professional DJ's. ("Stay in school kids," they said.)

But the bartending option ("Master Mix"), in which teams had to mix seven cocktails and pour them simultaneously into a pyramid of glasses, was a killer. It was so hard, it looks like the producers ended up doing away with one part of the challenge.

On the official "Amazing Race" website, one of the Episode 4 photo captions says "Once the drinks are properly made, they then must deliver them across a pool in order to receive the next clue ... "

Good lord.

They ended up not having to deliver the drinks.


The Cowboys had the best time with Master Mix.

Dave and Connor struggled but they did get it eventually, even though, as Dave said 70 times if he said it once, he and Connor are Mormons and don't know so much about bars and cocktails because they're Mormons and don't to to bars because they're Mormons!

But Leo and Jamal gave up on the cocktail task entirely and switched to the DJ option. Detour switches haven't always worked out for the Afghanimals but this one did.

But Master Mix really took its toll on two teams -- Margie and Luke and Brendon and Rachel. They just couldn't get it, and they got very frustrated. Luke hurled glasses to the SkyBar floor and sobbed in the bathroom. Brendon and Rachel prayed on it.

It took Brendon and Rachel over 3 hours to do this task. Brendon got especially flustered. Credit Rachel for keeping his head in the game.

Here's who's looking the strongest:


The Cowboys -- This is what we said last week: "They really are just so capable. The only thing that can trip them up is major gaffe. But they have an Express Pass in their pocket." We are saying the same thing again.

Dave and Connor -- They have reached the Pit Stop in 3rd, 4th, 1st and 2nd place, and it doesn't seem likely they'll do any worse than that. They seem headed for the finale.

Leo and Jamal -- The top three teams from Leg 3 were the top three teams for leg 4.

Here's who's looking kind of strong, for now at least:

The Country Singers --  This makes two cleanly run legs in a row for the Caroline and Jennifer, whose musical background helped them sail through the DJ challenge.

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John and Jessica still have sleeper team written all over them. They've haven't reached the Pit Stop in higher than 5th place, but they've shown improvement each week.


Who has us worried:

The Globetrotters -- It helped that Big Easy finally got to do a Roadblock challenge, but this popular team still looks vulnerable.

Margie and Luke -- Maybe surviving this leg will give them some confidence, but Luke doesn't look like someone who learns life lessons.

Brendon and Rachel -- They arrived last at the Pit Stop, and will face a Speedbump challenge, just for them, on Leg 5.

But don't count them out. Rachel said that Brendon has promised her she can have a human baby if they win. And she has no intention of losing.

"We're not quitters," Rachel said. "We're Brenchel."