You know what they say about best laid plans. With the Mine Five in the final five and a Double U-Turn ahead on Wednesday’s episode of “The Amazing Race,” the core alliance of Riley and Maddison, Will and James, and Hung and Chee plotted to U-Turn DeAngelo and Gary to take them out. But that went out the window when the former NFL players arrived at the U-Turn board seconds before the beard bros and opted to U-Turn Eswar and Aparna Dhinakaran, whom they knew were still at the Detour they just completed. To protect their secret alliance, Riley and Maddison burned the second U-Turn by selecting DeAngelo and Gary.
The sibling duo was not pleased — especially Aparna — but they caught up to Chee and DeAngelo at the Roadblock, where Aparna let the trash talk fly. But despite Eswar realizing you had to wax the tile pan first, DeAngelo completed it in the nick of time, sealing Eswar and Aparna’s fate. Was their anger a heat-of-the-moment thing? Yes, but they’re still upset about the move now. Find out why below.
Gold Derby: How far behind were you in the end?
Aparna: I think we were 40-45 minutes behind the NFL team. … We knew it was a non-elimination because the blondes had taken all the non-eliminations. [Laughs] And it wasn’t the longest drive to the Pit Stop, so I think for the two of us, we knew the end was there for us.
Gold Derby: Aparna, you were very upset about getting U-Turned. Are you still upset?
Aparna: I am. You know, I can still be friends with Gary and DeAngelo and also think that their move was really dumb and hate them. You can be friends with someone and hate them. I think their move was really dumb and I think that’s what was so upsetting to see on TV. If I were in their position, I would not U-Turn the team that’s right behind you. I would U-Turn Hung and Chee or Will and James because those two teams are consistently at the top. They’re one of the teams that is likely to win this season, so why wouldn’t you use the last U-Turn to take out your biggest competition.
And obviously I said this on TV because I was really angry, but it seemed like they weren’t thinking that far ahead. They weren’t thinking about their endgame and being strategic about it. I was upset then at their logic and I was upset that we had to go do this whole other Detour — the only team that had to — and we didn’t even have a fighting chance. If the beard bros hadn’t burned the board, we could’ve at least had another team to go against. We were the only ones to tackle it ourselves. A lot of the frustration was we thought it was a dumb decision.
Honestly, we really liked Gary and DeAngelo. The other three teams were always cahooting together. We didn’t know it then [that they had a separate alliance], but we didn’t feel close to them. But we felt close to Gary and DeAngelo. We were personally hurt by them at that point.
Gold Derby: Your anger was directed at them, but like you said, the beard bros burned the second U-Turn. Were you also mad at them for not giving you guys a chance or U-Turning someone else?
Aparna: Absolutely. I can at least try to understand Gary and DeAngelo’s reasoning. The beard bros’ reasoning made no sense. That was the dumbest move. They could’ve just let us do the dirty work of U-Turning another team behind us and they wouldn’t have had any blood on their hands. But they chose to protect their alliance of Will and James, and Hung and Chee. But at that point, it’s like, why? … You can’t all walk to the finish line holding hands together. That’s not how “The Amazing Race” works. To me, that made no sense. Why can’t you let us get the blood on our hands? You could’ve gotten a stronger team that’s your main competition out, but instead chose to burn the board.
Gold Derby: When you saw the board, did you suspect that they might still be working together and that’s why they burned it?
Aparna: In the heat of the moment, we probably didn’t. We had known the beard bros were closer to Hung and Chee, but at that point, even if you have this super-strong alliance, you would hope that someone would take out your competition so you don’t need to hurt your own alliance. It’s just not strategic at all.
Gold Derby: You said you would have no problem using the U-Turn. Who would you have U-Turned?
Eswar: At that point, we would’ve known [the options] were Hung and Chee, and Will and James. That’s a tough question because they’re both on paper really strong teams.
Aparna: I would’ve done Hung and Chee because they haven’t won since the second leg. Will and James had won — what? — four by that point.
Eswar: Why would you not U-Turn Will and James? Because they’re stronger.
Aparna: I think for us at that point we want a fighting chance. Who would we have been able to beat? So I would probably try to take out Hung and Chee.
Eswar: Interesting. I’ll probably say Will and James because I think they get flustered way easier. Whereas Hung and Chee, they’ll switch Detours and still crush it. If we had all the time to think, I’d go with Will and James personally.
Gold Derby: You guys didn’t know those three teams still had an alliance and were planning on U-Turning DeAngelo and Gary. But it fell apart because DeAngelo and Gary got there first, so you guys probably wouldn’t have been U-Turned or maybe at worst you would’ve been the second team U-Turned. How do you look back on the whole situation now?
Eswar: It’s pretty interesting. I think up to that point that our general strategy of going under the radar had been working. Even in the beginning of the Cambodia leg, the core alliance of three teams, their plan was to U-Turn Gary and DeAngelo, and they didn’t even mention us. It was really unfortunate that the beard bros actually left the fish Detour first and they were racing to the alligator island to get to the board first. What’s unfortunate is timing, really, because if DeAngelo and Gary were any bit slower, then the beard bros would’ve gotten there first and would’ve U-Turned them, and at best, we might not have even been U-Turned by DeAngelo and Gary, and at worst, there would’ve been another team with us at the farm Detour.
Gold Derby: You figured out you had to grease the pan before DeAngelo, but what happened with the paint? You said you mixed it where it went.
Eswar: Yeah, that was one mistake I made during one of the attempts. I had inverted the paint; I think I was stressed out. To be honest, I did watch the demo and I knew you had to grease the pan, but to this day, I don’t know why when I was successful, I was successful. [Laughs] I had been waxing the pan almost the entire time. I missed it at first, but I caught it early. I went to watch the demo again, but for some reason, every time I would pull out the tile, it would crumble. And I don’t know why it didn’t the last time I did it. To this day, I don’t know what I did differently. I feel like I just tried it again and again, and eventually it worked, but by that time it was too late.
Gold Derby: Is it harder to swallow knowing you caught up and had a chance than if you had been too far behind to catch up?
Eswar: Yeah, 100 percent. I don’t think I will ever get tiles in my home. [Laughs] I think it will always be carpet. This wasn’t really shown in the episode, but you take a boat [from the Detours] to where your rickshaw was waiting, and then you’d take the rickshaw all the way back to the city of Siem Reap. And that was a relatively long ride, like 30-40 minutes. We were very emotional and frustrated, we thought we were out. But we managed to lift our chins up to attack this Roadblock, and when we busted into the Roadblock and saw Chee and DeAngelo still doing it, it definitely gave my spirits a bit of a boost. Once DeAngelo left, I think that was right when I had messed up one of the attempts, so I knew I had to restart. It was like, “I have to do this for another 10-15 minutes before we have a shot.”
Gold Derby: You were in the Mine Five, but it seemed like you treated that alliance loosely. You helped each other when you could whereas those three teams were hardcore. What was your perspective on it when you formed that alliance back in the mines?
Eswar: We were very loosely part of it. We kind of viewed it as a one-leg alliance. Certain members tried to keep it going, but me and Aparna didn’t put much effort into it. We helped out the boyfriends in Colombia and we had to find the person who would give us the diamonds. After that, we were like, “OK, we’re all finished.” We weren’t really thinking about forwarding this alliance – it’s a big alliance.
And you think about, for example, in Germany, when we showed up to the sauerkraut challenge and the other four teams basically fast-forwarded through that task by Hung figuring it out first, we didn’t get their help, but we weren’t bummed about it. We kind of always had a little bit of distance between us and the alliance. I think a couple of team members kind of overbuilt it. I think DeAngelo and Gary really talked up the alliance a lot and I think the boyfriends as well. But Hung and Chee, and the beard bros had their own alliance and they didn’t talk up the Mine Five as much. It seemed like everyone was on totally different pages.
Gold Derby: Were you also annoyed — before the U-Turn — by DeAngelo and Gary like the other teams were?
Eswar: We were more annoyed at them after. [Laughs] I think in one of the behind-the-scenes clips, we were pretty sad about them U-Turning us because we had trusted them a lot. Out of the teams in Mine Five, I would say DeAngelo and Gary were the ones we were closer to. You kind of are closer to certain teams just because of what happens in and around the legs.
Looking now, I don’t think what DeAngelo did in Germany was very mean to Hung. I think they made a momentary transactional alliance during sauerkraut and they moved on from it. I don’t think there was any frustration there. Even as an outsider looking in, we were not frustrated with DeAngelo and Gary at all like they were before they U-Turned us. It just made them U-Turning us more frustrating.
Gold Derby: Who were you rooting for after you eliminated?
Eswar: After we got eliminated, I would say we were rooting for Will and James. At that point, you have a love-hate relationship with Gary and DeAngelo, but we still love them! And we knew them the most. There’s a part of me that was rooting for them because it was like, if they do win, then it speaks volumes to how good of a team we were that they U-Turned us. Of the other teams, the team we would’ve been rooting for was Will and James.