Recap: The Amazing Race 1, Episode 8 – Competition to the Fullest
Original Airdate: Wednesday, October 31, 2001
Frank & Margarita begin the 8th Leg first at 8:01pm, almost eleven hours before the others. But that lead won’t be as big in the morning as their next clue can be found somewhere on the grounds of the iconic Taj Mahal. And the landmark opens at 6am tomorrow. Plus! Teams will receive zero money for this Leg.
After checking out the Taj Mahal entrance, Frank & Margarita decide to return to the hotel to sleep by the pool for the night. They are both feeling very comfortable with the status of their relationship right now.
At 6am, they are able to enter and begin searching the 42-acre grounds of the Taj Mahal.
2nd place team Joe & Bill begin the leg at 6:48am with Rob & Brennan leaving the Pit Stop at 6:54am. Rob thinks because he and Brennan don’t have their Fast Forward anymore, they probably don’t have a chance of making the Final Leg.
Joe & Bill’s taxi doesn’t start, so Rob & Brennan are able to leave first. But the lawyers’ taxi heads in the wrong direction as Joe & Bill decide to walk.
Frank & Margarita find the clue and it directs teams to head to the Palace of the Winds in Jaipur. To get there, teams must decide between an expensive, but fast taxi or a slow, but cheap bus.
Joe & Bill end up arriving at the Taj Mahal next. They try to sneak in without paying, but are caught and have to pay. They worry about their dwindling funds. Rob & Brennan, who finally reach the Taj Mahal, pay a local boy to lead them inside and then pay for a taxi to Jaipur.
As Frank & Margarita hop onto a bus, Kevin & Drew depart the Pit Stop at 7:44am. Nancy & Emily are last at 8:15am.
At the Taj Mahal, Kevin & Drew spend a while trying to look for the clue, allowing Nancy & Emily to catch up and eventually leave first when Drew can’t find the clue he hides in his back pocket. Both teams choose a taxi.
While on the six-hour drive, Kevin & Drew cover their faces with handkerchiefs to block out the smell and talk about overhearing Joe & Bill belittling the other teams. Nancy & Emily, meanwhile, have to deal with their taxi driver loving to honk his horn.
Rob & Brennan arrive at the Palace of the Winds first and see the flag in the window which leads them to the Detour clue. For this Detour, teams will have to choose how to find a holy man. In Elephant, teams will head to Amber Fort and ride an elephant up to see one. In Rowboat, teams will hop on a rowboat to the Jal Mahal to find one.
Rob & Brennan choose the elephant. Frank & Margarita, Joe & Bill, Kevin & Drew choose the rowboat. Bringing up the rear, Nancy & Emily decide on the elephant, which is a dream of theirs.
After the Detour, teams must make their way to the Karni Mata Temple in Deshnoke. To get there, teams must travel 200 miles by train to the city of Bikaner and then figure out how to get to the temple from the station. There are only two trains a day to this desert outpost and if teams miss the first one, they will have to wait six hours for the next.
Rob & Brennan and Frank & Margarita make the 3pm train.
Kevin & Drew take a taxi and are able to pass Joe & Bill who are taking the bus. The Guidos decide to hop in a rickshaw instead.
Before buying their tickets, Kevin & Drew have to say sorry to kids who are asking them for money. They end up making it on the 3pm train.
Joe & Bill arrive at the station right at 3pm, so they just miss the train. The next one departs at 9pm.
On the first train, the teams learn the Karni Mata Temple is a temple dedicated to sacred rats. A local had told Frank the temple has so many rats, you can’t even pick up your feet when you walk. The teams can’t even imagine what it will be like and expect Joe & Bill to be shrieking all over the place once they arrive.
Back in Jaipur, Nancy & Emily arrive at the train station. However, the ticket agent would not sell tickets to women and it takes the mother and daughter an hour and half to secure their seats.
The train station feels very sketchy with people getting whacked with sticks. But Nancy & Emily are relieved to see Joe & Bill are there with them.
On the first train, the teams are making new friends as they play cards and have conversations with locals. On the second train, Nancy and Emily try to deal with the “gross” conditions that they didn’t “sign on” for.
The first train arrives in Bikaner and the teams secure transportation to the temple in Deshnoke. At the temple, teams squeeze their way through a long line to open the next clue which reveals the Road Block: The person who performs this task may want to put on some extra socks.
For this Road Block, teams must search the temple overrun with sacred rats for a canister that has their next clue. Teams must remove their shoes as they go in.
Brennan, Margarita and Kevin decide to do the Road Block.
Margarita leads the way as she makes her way through the temple and is trying to be mindful of the reverence being paid to the rats scurrying around on the floor. A young boy helps her cross the sandpit to the canister with Kevin and Brennan following her.
They open the clue together and learn they can now make their way to the Pit Stop at Laxmi Niwas Palace in Bikaner.
Kevin & Drew step on the Mat first and officially win the Leg. Frank & Margarita take 2nd and Rob & Brennan finish 3rd because of their sleepy driver.
Meanwhile, the sun has risen when the second train arrives in Bikaner. Bill and Emily decide to do the Road Block and it is now a Race to the Pit Stop to avoid being last.
Joe & Bill arrive in 4th, which means Nancy & Emily are last. Phil informs them this is a Non-Elimination Leg, but the next one will be. Emily says she will get conniving and her mother will need to step aside if she doesn’t.
This was another pretty good episode. I think especially from a 2001 POV, this episode would be really an eye-opening experience. Other than the Discovery Channel, where would anyone have seen stuff like what was featured in this episode.
For example, the Taj Mahal (like the Eiffel Tower earlier this season) is such an iconic landmark. To have featured it here in the first season really set the standard and showed what TAR could be capable of. Visiting these landmarks and showcasing them definitely helped to introduce the beautiful and amazing world that, at the time, was not too accessible whether on TV or the internet. Especially not on primetime broadcast TV.
Teams having to wander around the Taj Mahal is perfect to show off the beautiful location and also to maximize their time here.
It’s so crazy to think about Frank & Margarita’s 12-hour advantage from the Fast Forward. Good thing Hours of Operation helped to save the logistics day.
Also interesting to watch was the teams actually having to be careful with their money. These days, money isn’t really a problem anymore. If in the early days, TAR would be excited to see teams struggle with money, these days, they’ve eliminated that potential challenge for teams. Perhaps because of the changing world. But that’s why it’s refreshing to have to see teams have to decide on what to do based on the money they may or may not have.
The Detour was actually alright. And I think it turned out to be pretty balanced in the end anyway. To make it more challenging, they should’ve had teams row themselves on that side of the Detour. But TAR1 wasn’t about the most challenging tasks.
India is always the country TAR relies on to get the maximum “culture shock” moments. And we definitely got lots of those moments in these two episodes. But it was very nice to see the scenes of teams having fun with locals on the train after a lot of pretty negative stuff before and after. There was a balance between the horror/disgust and the learning/respecting which I think is fitting for this first season. TAR was such a foreign format (in more ways than one). So seeing the world, both good and bad and also the good and bad reactions of teams was all a part of what made TAR so different from what one would normally see on TV.
Just like the temple of rats. I remember the shock of seeing that when the episode first aired. The very definition of something being so foreign to western audiences. But it’s something that allows us to have more open minds. To learn and at least see other cultures. And it was nice to see the teams be respectful, even if it was not the most comfortable thing to do.
This Leg, with all its long-distance travel, is definitely not one that would ever be attempted today. So that in and of itself makes this episode really memorable. But I think this is also one of the best episodes that showed what The Amazing Race could be moving forward. Eye-opening moments showing the world to audiences who may have never heard of such places or cultures. In addition to the competition aspect, seeing these wondrous destinations and cultures will always be one of the selling points of TAR.
My Subjective Team Rankings
Just like last week, every team is pretty equal in my book after this episode. They all delivered great moments (even if some were cringey moments). And all actually Raced quite well too.
Nancy & Emily probably had the most difficult time. And they definitely expressed it. After last week’s taxi debacle to this week’s “gross” trains, they didn’t have it easy. Especially being discriminated against at the train station. (At least they weren’t on TAR4.) But they still powered through and you could still see them make it farther in the Race. (Though I definitely know what’s coming.)
Frank & Margarita popped back up this week and were great. A strong Leg from them. And Margarita’s little speech about respecting the culture was very nice. It’s also nice to see them not arguing and falling into the bickering couple archetype they seemed to be emulating at the start of the Race.
Joe & Bill trying to sneak into the Taj Mahal without paying though lolol That’s definitely villain behavior and it was hilarious. Like, you don’t expect it. But aren’t surprised when it happened. lol Seeing them so far behind was also a change as they had been really doing so well up until this Leg. Couple that with the money problems, they had their most challenging Leg here. And it was nice to see them brought down a peg.
Both Rob & Brennan and Kevin & Drew were alright this Leg. Both almost the same in terms of their culture shock comments to their Racing. I was actually quite surprised by Kevin & Drew’s Racing this Leg. They were pretty solid and it’s not hard to see them make it to the Final Leg with this kind of Racing.
Emily: “We already shocked ourselves. So why not shock everybody even more.”
Drew: “It’s like a never-ending smell here. This has gotta be worse than smoking 20 cigars at one time.”
Joe: “I’m not underestimating these SOBs at all.”
Kevin: “I bet those elephants smell like elephants.”
Kevin: “He’s wise because he’s been around forever, that guy.”
Drew: “He is like three days older than kerosine.”
Nancy: “Oh it’s filthy! Oh gross! Well, I didn’t expect it to be just, like, nasty. I think somebody was sick up here.”
Nancy: “This is an all-time low. I mean, I didn’t sign on to do this.”
Nancy: “I never realized how being dirty makes you feel.”