Recap: The Amazing Race 1, Episode 5 – Desert Storm
Original Airdate: Wednesday, October 10, 2001
Joe & Bill start the 5th Leg of the Race at 4:02am by opening a clue containing a photo of a monument and the word “Tataouine.” What teams must figure out is Tataouine is a city in southern Tunisia, 300 miles away.
Kevin & Drew depart at 4:31am, Nancy & Emily at 4:36am.
Phil informs us that though Paul & Amie checked in as Team #5 in the last Leg, production difficulties out of their control delayed them. They were given an appropriate time credit and they will now depart in 4th at 4:49am.
Frank & Margarita depart at 5:03am, Rob & Brennan at 5:22am and Lenny & Karyn at 5:43am.
All teams take a taxi to the southern capital city where they find an SUV with the next clue inside of it. And it is the Detour: Listening or Puzzling. In Listening, teams must make their way to the easy to find Star Wars movie location Ksar Hadada and use a walkie talkie to locate its counterpart hidden somewhere in the chambers. In Puzzling, teams must find the more difficult to find Ksar Ouled Soltane and solve a simple Tunisian dice game.
Teams must also decide whether to spend US$50 to hire a driver (who cannot give them directions) or drive themselves for free. Kevin & Drew, Nancy & Emily, Lenny & Karyn and Rob & Brennan hire a driver.
Kevin & Drew arrive at the Listening Detour first and quickly find the next clue just as Joe & Bill arrive. After the Detour, teams must head to Ksar Ghilane in the Sahara Desert which they must find using only a compass, map and yellow stones along the way.
Paul & Amie, Nancy & Emily and Frank & Margarita are the next to arrive at the Listening Detour. Lenny & Karen and Rob & Brennan are trailing.
The drive into the desert is frustrating for the teams as they go deeper and deeper into the Sahara and get seemingly lost.
Kevin & Drew finally arrive at the clue basket and open the next clue revealing the Road Block: Who wants to go for a ride? For this Road Block, the team member must hop on a camel and use a compass to guide themselves to the next Route Marker. The non-Road Block team member must walk alongside them. For US$15, teams can hire a camel handler to help them.
Kevin decides to do the Road Block and he and Drew get started. When they reach the first Route Marker, they get another clue that gives them a new set of compass coordinates that points them toward the oasis which is the Pit Stop for this Leg. Kevin & Drew check-in as Team #1.
Joe & Bill are next to arrive, followed by Nancy & Emily. Joe & Bill think they are in first place and that the “fatties got lost.” But the Guidos are actually Team #2. Nancy & Emily check-in as Team #3.
Rob & Brennan end up finishing as Team #4.
Amie has been vomiting the entire drive over and Paul says he doesn’t want to hear her be sick anymore, so they should just quit.
Lenny & Karyn and Frank & Margarita are next to perform the Road Block and check-in at the Pit Stop as Teams 5 and 6.
The mingling teams all wonder where Paul & Amie are. They sit and wait as Paul & Amie stumble upon the Pit Stop while driving. The other teams welcome them with hugs and applause.
Phil invites Paul & Amie to the Mat to officially confirm they are last and eliminated.
So this was actually a good Leg. Probably the most balanced Leg so far, relatively speaking. It was funny to hear Rob & Brennan complaining about the lack of equalizers this Leg. Especially when it put them at a disadvantage. But I do kind of agree. The Leg was decided on the drive into the desert. But it didn’t seem like there was much time to catch up unless one team got horribly lost. We’ll see with the departure times next Leg how close it was.
But anyway, there was definitely a lot of long drives this Leg. Another to add to the list of “You won’t see that on contemporary TAR.”
The Amazing Race is definitely not going to visit any place that requires more than a plane ride or comfortable train ride to get to. No more Legs deep in the heart of Tunisia or India (like in TAR4).
It’s also interesting to see all these “You can pay someone” to help with tasks. I think this was a bigger deal back then when money was actually something teams needed to manage well.
Anyway, this was definitely the best Detour yet. Both sides of the Detour would’ve been great. I don’t know the distance between the two and the other Route Markers. But the tasks themselves were fine. I guess the walkies one was pretty easy. But weighing the distance and difficulty of the task were solid considerations.
Then came the long drive into the desert. It would’ve been even better had ALL teams been forced to drive themselves. But the fact that it was even an option is pretty good. I’m not sure TAR would let teams drive themselves into the desert like that anymore.
I do think there should’ve been a better Road Block and/or more tasks once they arrived in the desert.
But season one and we already have a Double Road Block! Lol I think unintentionally this is one of those tricky Road Blocks where the non-participating team member actually ends up doing more than the one who chooses to do so. Though we didn’t see much struggle or drama with completing the task and accompanying their camel.
Overall, I think this episode best exemplifies what TAR was perceived to be in this first season. A travelogue first, reality-competition program second. Seeing these crazy Americans experiencing a landscape that you won’t see in the United States was definitely amazing back in 2001 without the internet making such scenes readily available with a click.
My Subjective Team Rankings
There wasn’t much from the teams this week in terms of things that would change my opinions of them. We just got to see them all struggling for the first time. And that was great to see.
It was nice to see Nancy & Emily comfortably in the front of the pack for a change. You can definitely see the tension between Lenny & Karyn bubbling up. Rob & Brennan and Frank & Margarita, the top contenders in the first Legs, really got brought down to size this Leg. And for a moment, you felt like this Race was anyone’s to win.
Especially when Kevin & Drew manage to win their second Leg in a row. (Helped a bit by the Leg design of course.) Joe & Bill being consistent (and cocky) definitely helps feed the anti-Guido sentiment amongst teams and viewers watching at the time.
With Paul & Amie, like I’ve said, I’m not a fan of Paul suggesting to quit every other minute. But aside from that, they were a team I would’ve loved to have seen stay longer in the Race. Not just for their dysfunctional couple drama, but to see them really get competitive with the other teams even more. And last I checked, I think they got married and are still together? I’m not sure. But that would be great news.
Joe: “We love them, but they’re not too fast.”
Joe: “We don’t want to hurt the car.”
Amie: “We’ve been north, we’ve been south. We’ve been east, we’ve been west. Where the fuck do you want to go?!”
Rob: “These things are not designed for the male anatomy.”