Recap: The Amazing Race 1, Episode 9 – The Unexpected Twist
Original Airdate: Wednesday, November 14, 2001
Kevin & Drew begin the 9th Leg of the Race at 4:50pm by opening the clue telling teams to fly to Bangkok, Thailand. But teams also get the Fast Forward clue. The only teams still eligible are last place teams Nancy & Emily and Joe & Bill.
Before leaving the Pit Stop, Kevin & Drew tell Nancy & Emily that the Fast Forward is at the “Buddha that reclines” in Bangkok. To get out of India, teams must travel by bus or train from Bikaner to Delhi. The bus is direct and quicker. The train is indirect and takes longer.
Frank & Margarita depart at 5:08pm, Rob & Brennan depart at 5:10pm. All three teams initially decide on taking the train. But at the station, Kevin & Drew learn from the locals that the bus is quicker.
Frank & Margarita and Rob & Brennan hop on the 5:55pm train while Kevin & Drew take the bus that leaves at 6:30pm.
Joe & Bill depart at 8:35pm with Nancy & Emily leaving at 8:37pm. Both teams take the bus at 9:05pm and both plan on going for the Fast Forward.
Kevin & Drew arrive in Delhi at 4:45am and quickly head to the airport. Frank & Margarita and Rob & Brennan’s train arrives in Delhi at 5:20am while Nancy & Emily and Joe & Bill’s bus arrives at 5:45am.
Kevin & Drew manage to get on an 8:30am flight. Joe & Bill find a 9am flight, Frank & Margarita get on a 10:35am flight and Rob & Brennan and Nancy & Emily have to settle for a 2pm flight.
Kevin & Drew arrive in Bangkok at 6:37pm and must find the next clue at the Temple of Dawn. But it is now closed and they must wait until 7am. Joe & Bill arrive at 8:15pm with Frank & Margarita arriving at 11:55pm. Nancy & Emily and Rob & Brennan arrive at 1:54am.
Kevin & Drew and Frank & Margarita head to a hotel for the night while Rob & Brennan decide to camp out. Joe & Bill and Nancy & Emily, meanwhile, head to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha where they will wait for the Fast Forward.
To win the Fast Forward, teams must play a traditional Buddhist game using the 108 urns alongside the Reclining Buddha. Teams must choose a bowl of coins and drop exactly one in each urn. If teams choose a bowl with too little or too many coins, they must try again. The first team to choose the bowl with exactly 108 coins will win.
Nancy & Emily wonder if they should go for it against Joe & Bill or just continue with the Race. Emily is a bit pessimistic, but Nancy encourages her to give it a try.
The other three teams head into the Temple of Dawn at 7am and open the clue revealing the Detour: Public or Private. Teams must decide how to get themselves to the town of Kanchanaburi. In Public, teams must hop on a public bus, leaving every 20 minutes, and pay with their own money. In Private, teams must find a private vehicle in the area, using only a license plate number and a rough map, that would give them a free ride.
Frank & Margarita choose Private and are able to find the vehicle quickly. Rob & Brennan have decided to go for a bus.
Over at the Reclining Buddha, Joe & Bill and Nancy & Emily begin the Fast Forward and it’s a Race to get the right bowl of coins. After several attempts, it is Joe & Bill who get the correct bowl and the clue telling them to make their way to the Pit Stop in Krabi. Before leaving, Nancy tells Emily they should go and congratulate the guys. As the mother and daughter leave, Joe & Bill quickly tell them the fastest way to get to the Temple of Dawn is across the river on a boat.
As Joe & Bill celebrate their win and gather information on how to get themselves to Krabi, Nancy & Emily head over to the Temple of Dawn where Kevin & Drew have already spent two hours trying to find the private car. They give up and decide to head to the bus station where they run into Joe & Bill. Kevin & Drew can’t believe the “idiots” Joe & Bill won the Fast Forward.
Joe & Bill find the next bus to Krabi departs later in the evening. Determining a taxi would be too expensive for the far distance, they decide to wait eight hours for the evening bus by relaxing in a hotel instead.
Meanwhile, Nancy & Emily open the Detour clue and decide on Private. They begin searching in the area near the temple, but quickly grow frustrated when they seem lost. Nancy suggests they just take a cab and get disqualified. Emily is not happy with the suggestion. But they too walk around the area for two hours, having to suffer through smells they’ve never smelled before.
Frustrated Emily gives in to Nancy’s suggestion and they hop in a cab, deciding not to complete the Detour.
Frank & Margarita arrive at the Buddhist Monastery in Kanchanaburi at 9:46am and open the next clue revealing the Road Block: The one who does this should probably be a cat lover.
For this Road Block, teams must walk through a pit full of tigers that were raised by monks in order to retrieve their next clue from a clay pot . Teams will dress like monks and must be mindful of not panicking in the pit.
Frank decides to do the Road Block. A tiger playfully swats at his feet, but he completes the task and he and Margarita can now make their way to the Pit Stop at the Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi.
Rob & Brennan arrive at 10:14am and Rob does the Road Block.
Knowing this is an Elimination Leg, Rob & Brennan decide to pay the premium for a taxi to Krabi. Initially hesitating on taking a taxi such a long distance, Frank ends up agreeing with Margarita’s suggestion to do so.
Kevin & Drew arrive at the Road Block at 12:01pm and Drew does the task.
Later, Emily decides to do the Road Block, much to Nancy’s relief.
Time check, it is 5:46pm and most teams are now on their way to the Pit Stop. Joe & Bill are just now leaving Bangkok on their 6pm bus with a scheduled 5am arrival in Krabi.
Rob & Brennan are the first team to check-in at the Pit Stop and are officially Team #1. Frank & Margarita are Team #2. Both teams are surprised the Fast Forward team has not arrived yet.
Kevin & Drew check-in as Team #3.
Nancy & Emily arrive at the temple, but their fate is left in suspense via a fade to black.
Jump cut to Joe & Bill arriving in Krabi in the pre-dawn hour. Nancy & Emily go over to greet the other teams and they tell them about having taken a taxi instead of completing the Detour. They never though something would’ve happened to Joe & Bill.
It is now daylight when Joe & Bill arrive at the temple and they are surprised to see so many shoes at the door. It isn’t until Phil invites them and Nancy & Emily around the table to lay everything out on it.
Phil says Joe & Bill are the last team to arrive. But because Nancy & Emily did not complete the Detour, they have incurred a 24-hour penalty and are therefore eliminated.
Nancy & Emily say taking the taxi was not to cheat, but to just get out of the horrible situation they were in. Nancy admits that she threw in the towel prematurely and says that she will always feel bad for encouraging Emily to do that.
Wowow! Like I mentioned when I first started this anniversary rewatch of TAR1, this is my first time watching the season again in years. Probably even a decade, to be honest. So this is the first time I’m watching this dramatic episode in a very long time. It feels new and familiar at the same time.
Obviously, I remember Nancy & Emily quitting the Detour and arriving at the Pit Stop before Joe & Bill. But it definitely felt new watching the entire episode and with the context of the previous eight episodes as the foundation.
How perfect that it came down to the two teams who may have had the season’s biggest rivalry. Those same two teams were the last ones eligible for the Fast Forward. Those two teams were the ones on the verge of elimination. You could not have scripted this face off any better.
So dramatic and unexpected. (As the title says!) But really something that could only happen on this first season. The rough around the edges feel of TAR1 is its own appeal, but can also be very jarring. But it is episodes like this that are definitely a result of the unpredictability of TAR when Bertram and Co. still, to exaggerate, had no idea what they were doing.
Obviously this is a crazily designed Leg in a modern context. But it is that same Leg design that made the episode so surprising and dramatic.
The 24-hour penalty is definitely harsh, even if quitting is definitely a no-no. But it’s also interesting to note that TAR1 was on a much longer schedule than the modern-day three week timeline. The teams must have been exhausted by now. Especially having to navigate India and now Thailand. On one hand, it is understandable how frustrated and exhausted Nancy & Emily must have been. On the other, all they had to do was just take the bus and they would have easily survived.
With Joe & Bill, it is also inexplicable that they could not find any other bus to get them to Krabi earlier? Or train? Or a combination of bus, train and taxi? It’s funny though that Joe & Bill expected a lot of Race left when there was only the Road Block. Quite the opposite to today where teams expect barebones Legs lol
It’s really crazy and sad to think about how one decision resulted in such a dramatic end.
I think all the long distance travel, again, is very much something exclusive to TAR1 and its more travelogue-type format. It’s fun to watch, but it’s also a relief that the show has minimized such travel in a single Leg like this.
Rewinding back to the start of the Leg and staying with the stars of the episode. First off, I think Nancy & Emily and Joe & Bill were completely wasting time by counting as they dropped the coins in the bowls. They didn’t have to count. They just needed to drop the coins in. Once the ran out, they go get another one. If they had the right bowl, then they’d know. No need to waste time counting. I definitely only realized that now and never thought about it before.
LOL at Joe & Bill trying to cheat by looking at the bottom of the bowls for possible markings.
Also! Nancy & Emily (or Joe & Bill) could’ve not gone for the Fast Forward and stuck with the other teams since the Temple of Dawn apparently opened much earlier. The other teams were done with the Detour before Nancy & Emily and Joe & Bill had even left the Reclining Buddha. So, for example, if Nancy & Emily had stuck with Rob & Brennan on the bus and the rest of the Leg, they would’ve been Team #2.
The equalizer in Bangkok was perfect and definitely necessary. I think two days of traveling from India to Thailand, yes?
Then there’s the Detour itself. Why did Kevin & Drew waste two hours on a private car?! Looking at this map:
It seems like a pretty small area. You could probably walk every inch of the streets on this “crude map” several times within half an hour. So it is very odd that Kevin & Drew and Nancy & Emily would end up walking so long. Especially when Frank & Margarita had a much easier time.
Considering the bus wasn’t expensive anyway and there wasn’t much of a time difference between bus and private vehicle, it’s a no-brainer (in 2021) that taking the bus would be the choice.
It was nice seeing the times included at different parts of the Leg. Even though the timeline seems kind of sketchy with the way the episode was edited lol But it added to the drama to show how the other teams were pretty quick with the Leg while the Nancy & Emily and Joe & Bill were so slow.
The Road Block was definitely one of those tasks that made you go WOW back in 2001. But watching it now, the tigers had GoPros around their necks. So they couldn’t have been that dangerous. Lol
Overall, this episode is of course going to be remembered for the dramatic ending. But it’s also one of the best episodes to show how different TAR1 is from the rest of the series. Exciting, fun, dramatic. And all in a way that is only possible on this first season.
My Subjective Team Rankings
I can love Nancy & Emily, but still call them out for some Ugly American behavior these last few Legs. They’ve also been a bit defeatist, of course culminating in their quitting of the Detour. But still, after a rough start to the Race, they were able to hang in there with the strongest teams. And one or two decisions on this Leg decided their fate. They would certainly become the template for every parent-child team to come in the future. And it couldn’t have been a better team setting that precedent than Nancy & Emily.
Frank & Margarita and Rob & Brennan were definitely quite racebot-y this Leg. Both Racing relatively perfect for this Leg. And in their own unique ways as well. It’s not hard to see how they are the strongest contenders for the win.
Joe & Bill started out as one of the strongest teams, both mentally and physically. They were shrewd, cunning, sneaky, but smart. That was not present in this Leg. I really don’t understand why they would wait for a 6pm bus. There HAD to be some other transportation available. But them wanting to enjoy some time in an air-conditioned hotel is very much “on-brand” for Team Guido. Lol Knowing what happens to them later in the Race, it’s kind of a shame how they were saved in such dramatic fashion here.
Kevin & Drew‘s Detour wandering was inexplicable as well, especially when they had actually been doing so well in the last few Legs. They seemed like they were content to ride this Leg out, knowing the losing Fast Forward team was potentially behind them.
Emily: “What’s wrong?”
Nancy: “The smell.”
Emily: “Just don’t breathe.”
Nancy: “I’m so dirty, you don’t even want to touch me.”
Rob: “Don’t worry, we’re all dirty.”