Recap: The Amazing Race 3, Episode 1 – “What If Our Parachute Doesn’t Open?”
The 3rd Race around the world begins as 12 teams arrive in the Florida Everglades!
The 12 teams include Harvard Law graduates Heather & Eve, long-distance dating couple Michael & Kathy, strict religious father and gay son Dennis & Andrew, college friends with romantic tension Flo & Zach, twin models Derek & Drew, soccer moms Gina & Sylvia, siblings Tramel & Talicia, childhood best friends Aaron & Arianne, married parents Teri & Ian, cop and fireman friends Andre & Damon, brothers Ken & Gerard and dating couple John Vito & Jill.
Phil welcomes them to the Race, announces there are 13 Legs and goes through a quick rundown of the rules before flagging them on their way.
Teams run to their backpacks and open their first clue telling them to fly to Mexico City on one of two flights. They have $100 for this Leg of the Race.
Teams hop into their cars and hurry to the airport.
On the first, American Airlines flight are Heather & Eve, John Vito & Jill, Andre & Damon, Aaron & Arianne, Michael & Kathy, Flo & Zach and Dennis & Andrew. On the second, Aeromexico flight, are Teri & Ian, Derek & Drew, Tramel & Talicia, Gina & Sylvia and Ken & Gerard.
While waiting for their flights, Heather & Eve decide to look for “young men” to ask for some extra money.
The first flight arrives in Mexico City at 4pm and teams must now make their way to the Angel of Independence.
Aaron & Arianne take the lead and open the next clue which has a picture of Pablo, a man whom they need to find in Mexico City. Teams will need to figure out Pablo will be waiting in Zocalo, or Constitution Square.
As the first seven teams head off to find their new friend, the second flight arrives at 4:47pm.
Aaron & Arianne maintain their lead as Pablo hands them the clue telling them to sign-up for one of three charter buses departing tomorrow morning, two hours apart, from the Hotel de Cortes.
On the first bus at 8am are Aaron & Arianne, Flo & Zach, John Vito & Jill and Michael & Kathy. So far on the 10am bus are Heather & Eve, Dennis & Andrew and Andre & Damon.
The second flight teams arrive at Zocalo. Derek & Drew leave their bags in their taxi as they search the square for Pablo. They are already running last and when they head back to their taxi, it has disappeared. They worry they are in trouble, but their taxi eventually shows up and they’re fine.
Teri & Ian grab the last spot on the 10am bus. That leaves Derek & Drew, Tramel & Talicia, Ken & Gerard and Gina & Sylvia on the 12pm bus.
Later that evening, Gina & Sylvia head out of the hotel to buy some food when they meet an adorable little girl. Sylvia gets emotional remembering her own little girl at home.
Next morning, as the first bus prepares to depart, last bus teams Ken & Gerard and Derek & Drew think about going for the Fast Forward. For this Fast Forward, teams must head to Santo Domingo Plaza where they must search amongst many different typists for the one with their clue.
Ken & Gerard and Derek & Drew both decide to go for it and agree on departing at 7:45am. While Ken & Gerard hop in a taxi, Derek & Drew (whom they dub the “Wonder Twins”) decide to run it.
Obviously, Ken & Gerard arrive first and claim the Fast Forward revealing the Pit Stop at Hacienda San Gabriel de las Palmas which they can reach by driving themselves in a van.
Ken tells Gerard they should wait, like they agreed, for the Wonder Twins to arrive so they can let them know the Fast Forward is theirs
Meanwhile, the rest of the teams must hop on buses which will take them to Tequesquitengo Airfield where they will find the Detour: Wings or Wheels.
In Wings, teams will do a tandem skydive. In Wheels, teams choose a donkey and cart and use a map to direct their driver through a 7-mile course.
Of the first bus, all teams choose skydiving while Michael & Kathy choose the donkeys. Flo, who wanted to choose donkeys, is not too keen on jumping out of the plane. But she’s got no choice.
John Vito & Jill take the lead and can now drive themselves to the Pit Stop, the Hacienda San Gabriel de las Palmas in Puente de Ixtla.
That’s where Ken & Gerard have just arrived to claim their 1st place finish and a 7-night Caribbean vacation on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas.
The second bus arrives. Teri & Ian, Dennis & Andrew, and Andre & Damon all choose the donkeys. Heather & Eve hop in a cart, but Heather wants them to skydive. Eve doesn’t really want to.
While stopped, the donkey unattaches itself to the cart and Heather faceplants. She really wants to skydive instead and tries motivating Eve who worries about dying. Her biggest fear in life is unnaturally being in the air.
But Eve is able to jump and is excited about conquering her fear.
Elsewhere, John Vito & Jill are having trouble with their van. That allows Flo & Zach, Aaron & Arianne and Michael & Kathy to finish as Teams 2 through 4. John Vito & Jill have to settle for 5th while Heather & Eve take 6th.
Andre & Damon take 7th, Dennis & Andrew finish 8th and Teri & Ian are 9th.
The last three teams all choose to skydive and it’s a hectic three-way Race to the Mat complete with newly paved roads and manual transmissions.
Tramel & Talicia, who believe they are last, step on the Mat and are shocked when Phil tells them they are Team #10. Wonder Twins Derek & Drew finish as Team #11.
And that leaves Gina & Sylvia as the last team to arrive and eliminated.
So initially I wanted to recap these episodes as if I was watching for the first time. But was just impossible. It’s hard to just ignore things I know about these teams and what’s ahead in the Race.
Really, that perspective made me a little more keen to seeing things and hints of foreshadowing of future events and relationships. (Something TAR used to do A LOT back in the day, but not so much now.)
For example, the brother teams both going for the Fast Forward here. Who knew back then that they’d team up as an alliance and then be involved in one of the biggest, well, not really backstab, but alliance breaking moments ever on TAR.
Anyway, let’s take a look at this first Leg. As far as opening Legs go, this actually wasn’t that good. It had two pet peeves of mine. First, a mid-Leg overnight rest/Hours of Operation. And second, staggered departure times in the morning. Not only that, TWO HOURS DIFFERENCE! between the departure times. Eeek!
At the same time, back then, TAR Legs would regularly plop in a random train ride to a faraway Route Marker in the middle of Legs. And that certainly allowed for more travel and locations. But in hindsight, may not have been the best thing for close competition.
Well, going back to the start. There wasn’t much airport drama in this premiere like other seasons. Which was fine. The first real task was searching for Pablo based on a photo. That was a good task as it got teams to interact with locals, asking if they knew the location based off the picture.
The overnight rest though on the first Leg is very much an early TAR staple when they didn’t really plan around logistics of flights from America to the first destination.
The Fast Forward was essentially a luck task. There was no skill involved. But it was interestingly placed here since obviously one of the teams who would leave FOUR HOURS after the first bus would attempt it. But then there would also be no consequence to the team(s) that attempt the Fast Forward and lost.
The immediate Detour after getting dropped off was okay. Back then, I think skydiving was such a foreign concept to many people (teams and fans alike) that choosing between that and a donkey was an actual choice. These days, I don’t think it would be that dramatic.
If anything, all teams should’ve had to do the donkey cart here. Perhaps do the skydive as a Road Block instead and then the donkey cart as an extra Route Marker.
And then of course teams drive to the Pit Stop. But then thinking about how Ken & Gerard drove themselves from Mexico City, why didn’t they have all teams drive instead of the bus? It would’ve added a lot more drama, especially when the vans were prone to acting up. Plus, manual transmission of course.
Overall, a solid episode, but a Leg that could’ve been designed better.
My Subjective Team Rankings
So like I said, it’ll definitely be hard to comment on teams based only on these episodes as if I was watching them for the first time. Part of my opinion on a team will also be a little of hindsight and a more positive view than I would’ve had originally. Anyway…
Teri & Ian, one of my favorite teams of all-time, were a little quiet here than how we’d come to know them later on. But you could definitely see the sparks already. They may have been the “older” team, but you could see they would be fighting hard this Race.
I forgot Ken & Gerard were Democrat and Republican. That’s definitely a detail that I forgot after all these years. That would definitely be a much bigger deal today than it was back then. But their dynamic during the season would really not have much to do with their contrasts and much more to their hard gaming.
John Vito & Jill were always the nice guys on the Race. We saw that a little in this Leg. But their story was so interesting (regarding Jill’s brother) and they would be very endearing throughout the Race.
I remember really liking Michael & Kathy during the Race. They were a fun couple spending the most significant amount of time with each other for the first time. And their dynamic was always more of Michael’s laid back attitude. They were very likeable.
Tramel & Talicia were a fun team in this Leg. A pair of fun, interesting siblings is always a great team to have. And they definitely fit that mold.
Gina & Sylvia were a nice mom team. I think they could’ve done much better on the Race, but they just wouldn’t be able to overcome the Leg design here. Which is too bad.
Heather & Eve wouldn’t be long for the Race. But they certainly had many memorable moments and that includes that hilarious faceplant from the donkey cart. There’d be more coming up, of course. But them being Harvard Law graduates was definitely a fascinating backstory.
Flo & Zach. I don’t know why I never realized Flo’s feisty personality was already on the display back in that drive to the airport and then in taxis in Mexico. She was a no-nonsense kind of person and contrasted with Zach’s calmer nature. Boy, we were not ready for what was to come!
It was pretty crazy to see Derek & Drew have such a horrible Leg. Just an absolute mess. On one hand you can think of them as just a team who looks like a contender, but flames out early. But, as actually happened, they just got off on the wrong foot and would soon essentially dominate the Race until their crazy elimination. They weren’t too much “Wonder Twins” in this Leg, but they would live up to that title later on.
I of course remember Dennis & Andrew for something else later on, so I forgot that Dennis, the father was a very religious person who wasn’t too happy about his son Andrew being gay. We’d have many teams with similar dynamics later on. But I don’t remember that ever being a big part of their Race story. Anyway, they had a quiet first Leg.
I can’t help but think of later-Leg Andre & Damon. But they were introduced as these tough heroes who could absolutely be a threat on the Race. Err… that wouldn’t be the case. But it’s so interesting to see first impressions compared to how they would pan out later.
Aaron & Arianne were probably the closest to “villains” on this season. But we didn’t see that this Leg. They actually had a great opening Leg, which surprises me as I remember them more from their catty personalities rather than anything Race-related.
Tramel: “You need to drive a little less like mommy and a little bit more like daddy.”
Flo: “Just Zach, don’t fuck with the man.”
Teri: “Winning is everything. Winning is fun!”
Ken: “Shocked! Like, they even sweat, those gods!”
Gerard: “Oh my God, the fat, bald guys beat us.”
Eve: “I hate flying. I hate being in the air. To me, it’s like so unnatural.”
Teri: “Come on donkey!”
Ian: “It’s a jackass, I think.”