Recap: The Amazing Race 1, Episode 2 – Divide and Conquer
Original Airdate: Wednesday, September 19, 2001
After a mandatory 12-hour rest period, teams set off on the next Leg of the Race. Their first Route Marker is at the Songwe Museum which they must search for somewhere in the village and is only 100 yards away. While the people of the village know about it, no one outside of the village will know how to find it. Especially when there are no signs.
Rob & Brennan depart the Pit Stop first and wait for Joe & Bill and Frank & Margarita whom they’ve formed a Final Three alliance with so they can be “safe” together. They hop into their chauffeured SUVs, though as outsiders, the drivers have no idea where the museum is either.
Lenny & Karyn depart at 1:52am. They talk about how happy they’ve been together on the Race so far. Pat & Brenda depart at 3:35am.
All of them drive almost two hours away from the village only to learn that the museum was there all along.
At the museum is the Detour: Near or Far. In Near, teams will head to nearby Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park (12 miles away) where they will use a Polaroid camera to photograph three hard-to-find animals. In Far, teams will travel to Chobe National Park in Botswana (68 miles away) to photograph an easy to find single elephant.
Everyone eventually choose to do Near.
Pat & Brenda, thinking they will never be able to find the museum, decide to go for the Fast Forward. To win this Fast Forward, teams must find “Bundu” referring to Bundu Adventures where they will hop into a whitewater raft down the rapids of the Zambezi River.
Kim & Leslie depart at 5:33am, Paul & Amie at 5:50am, David & Margaretta at 6:24am, Kevin & Drew at 7:09am and Nancy & Emily at 7:26am
The grandparents ask a local homeowner who points them down the path for a 10-minute walk to the museum. While walking, Kevin & Drew drive past them and the grandparents begin to think they should’ve hopped into a car as well.
But when Paul & Amie and Nancy & Emily drive around the village, not knowing where to go, David & Margaretta tell them the critical information about it being just a few yards in front of them.
The Final Three alliance are at the Detour location and they get started looking for the animals. Joe & Bill comment on how Rob & Brennan have just lost so much energy and are completely out of it since this morning while Frank is difficult to control and they consider cutting him and Margarita out of the alliance.
Pat & Brenda arrive at the whitewater rafting and are able to easily claim the Fast Forward which tells them to head to the Pit Stop 6000 miles away at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris!
Meanwhile, all the teams deliver their photos to the chief at Mukuni Village who hands them their next clue: a small Eiffel Tower figure.
Now, teams must scramble to figure out how to purchase the best tickets to Paris. Fast Forward-winners Pat & Brenda are frustrated when they can’t find any fights. None of the other teams are having any good luck either.
Kim & Leslie and Paul & Amie clash when the roommates put their hand up to Amie’s face at the ticket counter. The ticketing agent tries to calm both teams down and assures them that she’ll take care of them.
Joe & Bill find out Rob & Brennan have never been outside of the United States and because of that, the alliance is officially over. Rob & Brennan could care less that Joe & Bill broke their word already.
Upon arrival in Paris, teams can find the next clue at the Eiffel Tower. But Pat & Brenda are able to go straight to the Arc de Triomphe where they officially check-in as Team #1.
The Eiffel Tower clue reveals the Road Block: This task requires “strong legs and keen eyes.” Teams must make their way to the second level of the Eiffel Tower by stairway and use a ten franc coin to operate a telescope to find something “monumental.” What teams must figure out is that they are looking for the yellow and white Race flag atop the Arc de Triomphe.
Bill, Brennan and Frank get started first. They all see the yellow and white flag. When Kevin gets up there, a tourist points the flag out to him.
Lenny, however, sees nothing and walks back down to reunite with Karyn. She cannot believe he would just come down and be ready to give up when the others all found the flag. They yell at each other before Lenny walks back up the stairs. A pair of locals point out flags atop Notre Dame and he heads down to tell Karyn.
Meanwhile, the next flight arrives in Paris. Paul & Amie and Kim & Leslie continue to clash. Paul & Amie had been waiting in the taxi line when all of a sudden, Kim & Leslie come running to try and grab the first available cab.
Paul & Amie are already sitting in the back seat while Kim gets in the front seat to try and convince the driver to take them instead. And it works. Paul & Amie are forced to get out. Kim & Leslie have no problem cutting in line and say they’ll do anything to win.
A very frustrated Paul suggests they just quit if the competition is going to be this dirty. An emotional Amie tells him to stop it and refuses to give up. They end up arriving at the Eiffel Tower first and Paul starts searching the skyline. But his frustrations return and he takes it out on the Eiffel Tower by kicking it.
Kim & Leslie arrive, but miss the cluebox on street level. They both head up to the second level to search for the flag and clue.
On the other side of town, Joe & Bill, Rob & Brennan and Frank & Margarita finish as Teams 2 through 4, respectively. Kevin & Drew take 5th.
Lenny & Karyn get to Notre Dame and find nothing. Karyn does not understand what would possess Lenny to make them come all the way here. Lenny begins to tear up as Karyn expresses her frustration. When Karyn says she is disappointed in Lenny, he scoffs and says “Well, it ain’t nothing new.”
Back at the Eiffel Tower, Paul finally spots the flag. Emily, who had been having trouble, also sees the flag and tells Lenny. Kim & Leslie are bringing up the rear.
Meanwhile, Dave & Margaretta pop out of nowhere to claim 6th. Paul & Amie take 7th, Nancy & Emily finish 8th with Lenny & Karyn finishing 9th.
Kim & Leslie, who have some trouble with their taxi driver, end up in last and eliminated. They get some hugs from Nancy & Emily and Lenny & Karyn before leaving.
It really is so strange to watch season one. But before we get to this episode, let’s travel back to September 2001.
After having loved and enjoyed the premiere, I was looking forward to watching the next episode which was to air the following Wednesday, September 12th. But when that Wednesday came, The Amazing Race was the last thing on the minds of Americans. Just the day before, the United States was attacked. Thousands died on what would be a day that would change the country and shape the world for the decades to come.
The second episode of The Amazing Race was pushed back to the following Wednesday, September 19th. And the idea of a show about Americans racing around the world and running through airports would seem a bit awkward now. Though I don’t remember the exact sentiment when it came to TAR back then, the 9/11 attacks certainly added a whole other dimension to the show.
TAR2 would be up and running a few months later. But with the way travel would change completely after 9/11 and with the fact that TAR premiered just a week before, the attacks would end up being a big part of the series’ history.
So with this new context, these season one episodes serve as a snapshot of world travel before 9/11. And that added context makes it an even more interesting and fascinating study watching these episodes.
Anyway, let’s get to this episode. And boy, I’ll sound like a broken record all season pointing out the strange logistics and editing from this unique first Race around the world.
For example, Dave & Margaretta were practically invisible all episode and then they suddenly appear at the Eiffel Tower and then the Pit Stop in the middle of the pack.
First, I do love the ambiguous clue at the beginning. Having teams drive hours out of the way when the museum was right there in the village is hilarious! (And here’s another thing I’ll say often all season:) You definitely won’t see that on contemporary TAR!
And another thing you won’t see, that 7-8 hour spread between the first and last teams at the Pit Stop. Wowow! That’s crazy and it’s this kind of disparity that required big changes. Looking back, I do remember how the logistics would be a nightmare when the time differences would add up. And teams would end up more than a couple of hours, even a day behind.
The Detour was also interesting. Though we never find out if the Far Detour was worth attempting since the editing made the Near Detour seem incredibly easy. An hour drive vs a short drive to what were easy to find animals? Definitely not a good-sounding Detour.
But none of that would matter anyway since teams would get somewhat equalized when they have to fly to a whole other country in the middle of a Leg!
Even crazier, the Fast Forward task was in Africa and the Pit Stop is in Europe. And seeing as there’s only one other task in Paris before the Pit Stop (and both locations very close to each other), Fast Forward winners Pat & Brenda could’ve still gotten eliminated if they got on a different flight!
Then there’s the Road Block which brought us the first taste of Lenny & Karyn drama, but would otherwise become a standard Active Route Info task in the future. One objective with this task is to have more teams do what Lenny & Karyn did. That is, go to a completely wrong location and risk elimination. But it rarely works out that way. So in a modern context, this Road Block sucked. In 2001 context, WOW! The Eiffel Tower! lol
The Leg design definitely leaves much to be desired. Even in the TAR1 context.
So the team drama, which absolutely came out of nowhere, was great to see. It’s only Leg 2 and there’s already threats of violence. Yes!!! The team interactions (with each other and other teams) have delivered in just week two. Seeing the clashes and betrayals. I didn’t remember all this happened on Leg 2. But I loved it, actually.
The shortest alliance evah? Maybe! And thankfully so! They literally fit an entire season’s worth of alliance plot into one episode. TAR32 can’t relate.
Overall, it’s crazy to see such iconic landmarks be visited back when nobody knew what TAR was yet. But the Leg design is just so weird from a competition perspective. The teams definitely carried the episode though and I’m pleasantly surprised to be refreshed on how solid this cast really was.
My Subjective Team Rankings
I absolutely loved seeing David & Margaretta be the only ones who asked the locals where the museum was. Of course, the other teams started the Leg in the middle of the night and all the people living in the village were probably asleep. But still, they were the only ones who got the right directions right off the bat. However, they absolutely disappeared after that which was so sad. At least they finished in a good spot though.
Most of the other teams, however, grew tense and it’s only the 2nd Leg!
Nancy & Emily‘s snappy little back and forth at the Detour safari was pretty crazy. I do think it was just heat of the moment since they calmed down almost immediately after. But it was a very realistic and relatable parent-child interaction. And they definitely lived up to the liberal daughter-conservative mother archetype they described for themselves.
I am Team Paul & Amie when it comes to taxi gate. But Paul wanting to quit over it is a big no-no. Based on what we saw, they were minding their own business. But when Kim & Leslie got snippy with them, Paul & Amie turned it on in a pretty over the top way. And it was hilarious to watch. They are very competitive (which is refreshing after a few seasons of non-competitive contemporary TARs). I hope they deliver even more in the next Legs.
Oh! And the “You’re a fat bitch!” is definitely an iconic TAR moment. lol
The complete 180 in this episode for Lenny & Karyn was amazing. Obviously, I remember their precedent-setting meltdowns. But I did not remember they started on Leg 2. And after they had talked about how happy they were being able to Race together while they were still in Africa. The explosion in Paris was absolutely amazing.
In a similar way to Reichen & Chip during my TAR4 rewatch, I’m probably going to look at Joe & Bill in a more positive light today than I did back in 2001. Joe & Bill may have emerged as the villains, but seeing the way they handled this episode was actually alright for me. They formed an alliance, but quickly saw it was not working and dropped it so fast, it would make TAR32’s TRuE aLLiAnCe’s heads spin. I think I’ll be seeing Joe & Bill as just a competitive team. Though I know there will be some shady things later on too.
Rob & Brennan also aren’t just cookie-cutter alpha males either. They too recognized what they were doing wrong and we’ve seen they have no problem getting a bit forceful or flippant when they aren’t happy. That’s a good thing for their character arc on the show and it will keep them from being boring racebots.
Frank & Margarita took a backseat this Leg, but their one big moment was at the start. And it was really awkward seeing how they treated each other. Or more so Frank towards Margarita. It was in a way that was more cringe than Lenny & Karyn, by 2021 standards.
Pat & Brenda probably didn’t need to go for the Fast Forward. But we did get to see them in a bit of airport drama with trying to find flights to Paris. Kevin & Drew were alright, but also less of a presence this episode.
With Kim & Leslie, I think the airport tension was okay. But the line cutting with the taxi was a bit of a foul. And then they go “What did we do?” as if they were unaware. It was little much. I think they’re eliminated at the right time.
Kim: “What the hell is going on over here?!”
Drew: “What is this crap?!”
Emily: “Mom! Get in the damn car!”
Kim: “Who wants to go to Paris? I hate Paris.”
Paul: “Do you have money?”
Paul: “DO YOU HAVE MONEY?!?!”
Amie: “YES!!! WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME?!”
Amie: “She’s gonna have my foot up her butt in a minute.”
Paul: “Just make sure you punch her in the jaw or the nose.”
Amie: “I’ll push her off the cliff without a rope.”
Joe: “There are no friends here. The best you can do is act friendly.”
Kevin: “I’m a idiot! I’m a freakin’ idiot!”
Amie: “You’re a fat bitch!”