Recap: The Amazing Race 1, Episode 4 – Colossal Showdown”
Original Airdate: Wednesday, October 3, 2001
After the mandatory 12 hour rest period, teams set off on the 4th Leg of the Race. But they are only given cryptic clues as to their next destination. The clues include the photo of the man they must meet in the country that is represented by an enclosed flag and to which they must make their way by boat departing from Marseilles.
Phil himself personally hands Kevin & Drew the first clue of the Leg when they depart at 3:53am. Frank & Margarita depart at 4:07am with Rob & Brennan right behind them at 4:15am.
Rob & Brennan ask Frank & Margarita to read their clue aloud so they can hear it and have a few extra minutes to prepare before the officially start the Leg. Frank & Margarita do not do that as they have lost trust in the lawyers.
Frank & Margarita try to grab the taxi that has just arrived, but Rob & Brennan had ordered a taxi ahead of time during the Pit Stop. The driver confirms the reservation. Rob & Brennan try to whisper to the driver not to call another cab, but Frank & Margarita hear it and think that is so messed up to have to sabotage another team in this way.
Rob & Brennan do not feel guilty since Frank & Margarita didn’t read the clue out loud when that is just what they did for them last Leg. Frank & Margarita can’t believe the lawyers did not talk about ordering two taxis together last night during the Pit Stop.
Joe & Bill start the Leg at 5:04am and think the flag is of Morocco. They head back to the hotel and make calls from the room.
Dave & Margaretta depart at 5:47am. Dave thinks the flag is of Turkey, but they want to make sure.
At the Port of Marseilles, Kevin & Drew tell Frank & Margarita that the flag is of Algeria and they confirmed it with a girl that is from there. But Margarita, having spoken with many locals in French, insists that it is a flag of Tunisia. Kevin & Drew decide to trust her judgement.
Phil says passenger ships are few and far between, but shrewd teams could book passage on a cargo ship instead.
Paul & Amie depart at 6:47am with Lenny & Karyn departing next at 6:48am and Nancy & Emily at 6:49am.
Paul & Amie had confirmed a taxi would be there to pick them up this morning. And a taxi does arrive, but Nancy & Emily hop into it first. The mother and daughter had also called ahead for a taxi overnight. Paul & Amie are absolutely livid. Paul says he didn’t even want to do this Race in the first place and seeing Amie so upset pisses him off.
Both Nancy and Emily are a bit frazzled about the encounter with Paul & Amie. During the Pit Stop, Nancy secretly told the camera that she is very uncomfortable with all the bad language, backstabbing and viciousness. And she knows Emily would be so embarrassed if she knew Nancy was saying this at all.
Dave & Margaretta, meanwhile, are having a wonderful time on the Race.
All the teams arrive at the terminal. Kevin & Drew, for different reasons, align themselves with Nancy & Emily. Kevin says they’ve adopted Nancy as their mom and Emily as their little sister. Drew says he would rather go up against a weak team in the end rather than the stronger lawyers or Guidos.
Meanwhile, tension is brewing in the air amongst all the teams. Whether it’s team vs. team or partner vs. partner. Joe & Bill come strolling into the terminal and straight to the ticket booth, which instantly annoys everyone else.
The ticketing agent suggests they all buy their tickets together if they’re in one big group so they can get a big discount. Bill, speaking French, takes it upon himself to buy everyone’s tickets. That’s for all the 16 Racers plus the 16 crew members.
When it comes time to pass the tickets out, Margarita “screams” for her tickets followed by all the other teams. Bill says he had everyone wrapped around his little finger and was this close to just ripping the tickets up if they continued to be snippy with them.
An Anti-Guido sentiment begins bubbling up with the teams.
After all the drama, the teams hop on the boat taking them from Marseilles to Tunis, Tunisia. Phil says the teams are on an 18-hour boat ride and will be encountering “strange and unusual things” in Africa.
Upon arrival in Tunis, teams must make their way to Bab El Bhar, which looks like the Arc de Triomphe, and greet the man in the photo by saying the traditional “As-salām”.
It’s a mad dash to the man who gives them the next clue revealing the Detour: Full Body Brew or Full Body Massage. In Full Body Brew, teams must find a coffee shop in the medina using only a photo of it. In Full Body Massage, teams have a map pointing them to its location. But they will have to lay down for a 20-minute massage.
A group of local boys lead Nancy & Emily directly to the café. Other teams also get locals to guide them to the locations.
All the teams choose the coffee while Paul & Amie go for the massage.
After each Detour option, teams are given a lighter telling teams to go to Eljem, 200 miles away, and find the ancient Roman amphitheatre. Teams have two options to get there: by taxi or by train. Taxi is faster, but costs more money. A train is cheaper, but takes longer.
Phil updates us that Dave & Margaretta and Frank & Margarita are in the middle of the pack. Joe & Bill, Kevin & Drew and Nancy & Emily are in the front while Rob & Brennan, Lenny & Karyn and Paul & Amie are in the back.
Rob & Brennan and Lenny & Karyn decide on the train while the other teams take a taxi. Dave & Margaretta, however, run into a problem when their driver wants to pass them on to a different driver. Then, the drivers refuse to accept American dollars as payment and Dave & Margaretta cannot find any establishment that can exchange their money for them, costing them critical time. A nice local boy gives them the money they need and they finally get on their way, but have fallen far behind.
At the coliseum, teams will encounter the Road Block: Not for anyone who is afraid of the dark. For this Road Block, teams will light a torch, walk in a clockwise direction to the stairs underground, then find swords dangling above the pit of death which they must retrieve and then find their way out to a table where they must insert the sword into a sheath. The last team to do that WILL be eliminated.
Bill, Emily and Drew are first to start the Road Block. Emily and Drew are lost and try to figure out how to jump down into the darkness together. Joe & Bill, meanwhile, are able to check-in as Team #1.
Kevin and Nancy help their partners by yelling out tips until they find the swords. Kevin & Drew and Nancy & Emily are 2nd and 3rd.
Frank and Amie are next to go into the dark tunnels. Frank & Margarita take 4th and Paul & Amie are 5th. Rob & Brennan are close behind in 6th with Lenny & Karyn in 7th.
That means Dave & Margaretta are last place and sadly, eliminated. The other teams applaud them as Phil makes it official. The grandparents share goodbye hugs with Frank & Margarita, Lenny & Karyn, Paul & Amie and Rob & Brennan before they go.
So for comparison’s sake, this episode was probably the closest TAR1 has come to modern TAR so far. Still don’t like that long drive/train ride to the Pit Stop. But the rest of the Leg (which was really only a Detour) was pretty good.
First up, it’s nice to see these cryptic clues that teams had to figure out themselves. That’s one thing you don’t see often on TAR anymore. But of course, clues like this could lead to some crazy logistical headaches. So TAR tries to avoid such types of clues. You never know when a team might end up in a completely wrong country. lol
Also, it was so strange and unexpected to have Phil hand out the first clue of the Leg. It would be neat to have had him do that all the time. But again, it’s all about logistics and what is most efficient for production.
Obviously, this is not common or even allowed anymore, but teams making cab reservations and doing all kinds of work during the Pit Stop is interesting to see. The little tension between Rob & Brennan and Frank & Margarita over the taxi and the clue reading and all that is such a different element of the Race that is long gone. Once TAR separated teams during Pit Stops after bragate, I think we saw less and less of Pit Stop maneuvering by teams. And I guess it was just a sign of the times. It’s a different Race now.
And it’s very evident here with how funny it was when Rob talks about building up six or seven hour leads only for that to get negated when teams get bunched up. Sir, if we didn’t have equalizers, teams could end up Legs apart. And that is not going to be a good show to watch. Lol
You can understand the frustration from teams. But this is a Leg-by-Leg, episode-by-episode competition. And that’s mainly to make the show easier to consume.
Anyway, it was great to see teams all bunched up for the first time since the Starting Line, apparently. I actually would’ve liked to have seen more of the ticket drama because it would be fun to have all teams screaming at each other over discount tickets. Even if they had to creatively edit a bigger situation out of nothing, it would’ve been the most exciting thing to happen so far.
The Detour in Tunisia is probably the best Detour so far this season and perfectly encapsulates the “pros and cons” idea of two Detours. Of course, either Detour was easy to get to when you have nice locals to help you out. But that’s never a guarantee. So having to find a (not so obscure) coffee shop vs a 20-minute massage is a reasonable Detour in season one. This would be a perfect spot for a U-Turn though in a modern TAR. Maybe a Switchback if ever TAR returns to Tunisia.
So like I mentioned, the Leg was going so well and then they threw in another long distance pre-Pit Stop drive. I might be more annoyed because it was Dave & Margaretta who got eliminated because of it. But I’m also looking at it through a 2021 lens and these long drives right before the Pit Stop are just bad.
The Road Block itself though was meh. Walking in a circle is not much of an exciting task. Now finding hidden things all over the coliseum would be something else. But walking in a clockwise fashion? What? Nah.
I do like a task right before the Pit Stop at the same location. But when that’s the case, I’d want to see a Non-Elimination instead. Especially when it’s to save an awesome team like Dave & Margaretta. Hehe
Overall, a pretty enjoyable episode actually. Not as much TAR1-ness. Fun drama. A visit to a country that will likely never be visited by TAR ever again. Good stuff for episode 4.
My Subjective Team Rankings
If only Dave & Margaretta had gone to a currency exchange earlier! They would’ve absolutely survived this Leg. I’m sure of it. The Leg came down to whether you took a taxi or cab. And they were in the front of the pack leaving the market. I don’t remember what the next Leg entails, but the more Legs with Dave & Margaretta, the better. It was so awesome to see how much they were enjoying the Race as well as just enjoying life. So wonderful. And I think them being on the first season really set the tone for what The Amazing Race is all about. Regular, everyday Americans (unless they’re D-list celebs lol) of all ages and backgrounds exploring the world and competing for a million bucks. They may have only been on the Race for four Legs. But it was a joy to watch them.
Nancy & Emily had a much calmer Leg this time, save for the little face off with Paul & Amie at the beginning. I think here is where editing was not the strongest though. Nancy & Emily had their heads down in the taxi as if Paul & Amie had screamed at them and hurled insults at them. We didn’t see that, though we saw Paul & Amie upset. But nothing directly at Nancy & Emily. So it was an odd scene, even if we kinda understand or imply it. What was the most fun was Nancy whispering about being appalled by the bad language she’s been hearing on the Race. And that was before the taxi incident since it looked to be at the Pit Stop. It was a funny and cute moment actually.
There was a bit of deceptive editing with Lenny & Karyn. At the terminal, they turned what looked to be a lighthearted teasing between them into another big blowup. Though if you look closely, both were laughing and smiling. And while we know they will blow up at each other many times later, that moment wasn’t one of them. It was just something I noticed. Especially when the rest of the Leg, they were fine.
Rob & Brennan wanting Frank & Margarita to read their clue out loud was funny. Like, that’s racebot behavior right there. Lol But what got me was when Rob was complaining about the equalizers and saying there was no use to be a good team or whatever. Not the best attitude to have. I kinda give them a pass though as this is season one and they don’t know any better about TAR. But still.
Frank & Margarita are competitive people. And I very much liked Margarita getting upset with Joe & Bill. Though I don’t really understand for what, but I just enjoyed it nonetheless. It was great. And it would’ve been awesome to see her and Frank on All-Stars and have them compete against other uber-competitive teams.
I hated Joe & Bill‘s antics back in 2001. Today in 2021, I respect it. lol The fact that they did not give two f—s about pissing other people off is actually quite hilarious in hindsight. And I think the context of this being the first season adds to the novelty of such behavior. They really set themselves up as the villains of the season. And it’s not hard to see why people would dislike them. The ticket situation was so funny for the randomness of it all. I wish we got more of that scene. But Team Guido as characters, you can’t deny helped make TAR1 really exciting.
Kevin & Drew stayed near the front of the pack this Leg, so we didn’t get to see much from them. Their big moment was saying they wanted to work with Nancy & Emily and help get them far so they can easily beat them.
Paul & Amie, I love their hilarious drama. But Paul threatening to quit again is just such a turn off. They are awesomely fun every other moment. But him threating to quit and then saying he didn’t even want to do this Race is just… not a good look. Take that moment out, they’re great fun.
Amie: “I hate France.”
Paul: “I didn’t even want to do this Race.”
Nancy: “Emily would die if she knew I was saying this.”
Dave: “We’re going to Tunis? I didn’t know that was Turkey. Turkey’s not Tunisia.”
Bill: “Control the game. Control the game, period. Play the game our way.”
Lenny: “I want to rip their heads off and show them their hearts.”
Karyn: “Wait, don’t hit the people please!”
Amie: “I gotta pee. But I’ll do it.”
Paul” You can pee in the dark.”