Recap: The Amazing Race 33, Episode 1 – We’re Back
As the 11 teams are packing for the Race at home, Phil sends them all a video message telling them to hurry to the nearest airport so they can catch the next flight to London, England.
Upon arrival in London, teams hop into taxis and make their way to Trafalgar Square to find people dressed in a red phone box costume for their next clue. Each phone box only has a select number of clues.
That clue directs teams to make their way on foot to Canada Gate at Buckingham Palace. And the clue waiting there reveals the Detour: Artist Den or DigiBen.
In Artist Den, teams must complete their own Banksy-style artwork by piecing together a puzzle and plastering it on a wall. In DigiBen, teams must follow a set of directions to find three different “Bens”: a bobby aka cop at Parliament Square, Little Ben near Victoria Station and finally DigiBen at Picadilly Station.
Caro & Ray, Kim & Penn, Arun & Natalia, Michael & Moe and Taylor & Isaiah choose Artist Den. Raquel & Cayla, Ryan & Dusty, Anthony & Spencer, Akbar & Sheri choose DigiBen.
Lulu & Lala and Connie & Sam are running behind. They choose Artist Den and DigiBen, respectively.
Kim & Penn and Caro & Ray run into each other and are able to find the art studio together. Arun & Natalia and Taylor & Isaiah arrive next.
Meanwhile, the other teams are off doing DigiBen. Akbar & Sheri grow a bit frustrated as they are unable to find where they’re supposed to go and they snap at each other.
Anthony & Spencer and Ryan & Dusty find DigiBen first and open the next clue telling them to head to The Chipping Forecast where they must find the Queen and Boris Johnson having a “nosh.” Raquel & Cayla are close behind.
The Queen hands them the next clue directing teams to the Pit Stop at the Natural History Museum. It’s a three-way taxi Race to the Mat. And Anthony & Spencer end up as Team #1, winning a trip to Turks & Caicos. Ryan & Dusty and Raquel & Cayla finish as Teams 2 and 3, respectively.
Kim & Penn finish the art side of the Detour first followed by Caro & Ray. They finish in 4th and 5th. Akbar & Sheri and previously last place Connie & Sam are 6th and 7th. Taylor & Isaiah are 8th and Arun & Natalia are 9th.
It is down to Michael & Moe and Lulu & Lala who must correct their artistic mistakes before being given the thumbs up. Though Michael & Moe leave the studio in 10th, Lulu & Lala manage to find the Queen and Boris first and they are able to step on the Mat as Team #10.
That means singing cops Michael & Moe are last and eliminated.
First off, I will consider this two-hour premiere two separate episodes. I mean, there’s two title quotes. So I assume they just smashed the originally-two episodes together for this premiere to make it more of an event. Plus, CBS’ press website has them as two separate episodes. Even if the on-screen guides show one whole episode. And there were no closing credits after hour one. Whatever. Anyway!
I must admit, I experienced a bit of TAR fatigue last year. And it was all thanks to the debacle that was TAR32 and whatever the hell TARAu5 was. On one hand, I’m kind of meh with TAR33 premiering. On the other hand, I’m also excited to see a NORMAL Amazing Race for a change. (And I’ve loved all the deserved dragging of TAR32 in interviews from Phil, Bertram and Elise.)
And aside from the unnecessary reminder of the TAR28 Influencers Edition with the virtual Starting Line, everything felt very normal. With any hint of COVID still a few Legs away, it’s refreshing to see the world as it once was here. You had teams running around (maskless!) and even kissing “The Queen.” Two things you won’t be seeing much of these days.
I’m also Meh to virtual Starting Lines. And especially in the COVID Era, I think we’re all tired of virtual anything right now. Having all teams getting let go by Phil at the same location just feels right. But I suppose it’s a logistics and budget decision by TAR. Plus, having the Race actually start in the destination city with all teams on equal footing is a positive.
It’s nice to have a Detour in the first Leg as it allows for teams to control their own destiny a bit more rather than a more linear Leg would allow without it.
The episode did feel a bit back heavy as they sped through the Detour and Race to the Mat a little too much. Connie & Sam were struggling in last and then suddenly they’re in 7th out of nowhere. But again, that’s not a new thing.
After the first preview clip was posted last week, I was excited to see the show FINALLY getting some updated graphics. I hoped that would include an opening credits overhaul as well. But after seeing no change to the opening credits that was previewed a few days ago, I kind of tempered my expectations. And funny enough, I was still disappointed.
I guess I like the minimalism of it. At the same time, it does feel kind of boring with such a lack of color. It doesn’t really pop, but I don’t want any on-screen graphics to be too loud either. Oh well.
Overall, it was actually a fun episode. And in wanting to erase those other two aforementioned Amazing Race seasons out of my mind, it’s great to have a return to alliance-less normalcy. Being a look at pre-COVID times is also fascinating.
My Subjective Team Rankings
It’s always not easy to rank teams after the first episode since usually the premieres don’t give much on each team. But it’s especially harder this time as all the teams are pretty likeable so far. So pay no attention to the rankings themselves.
Overall, this is a great, diverse cast. On the surface, it feels like America’s own version of TAR Canada’s Heroes Edition. Lots of fascinating stories with each of the teams. And I’m sure TAR actively went out to look for those unique and slightly well-known stories.
I usually love parent-child teams. So Arun & Natalia are great. They feel a little bit like Ron & Christina, which is awesome for me. But maybe with less fun Real Truth Flavor™ bickering.
I only saw a little bit of their Love Island season, but I do remember Caro. But putting their time on the show aside, Caro & Ray were great here on the Race. No bickering yet. But I liked the little moment they had with Kim & Penn. That’s the kind of working together that is acceptable on TAR. Nice friendly interactions while still doing the tasks on their own.
I’ve never heard of Kim & Penn and their family before, but they also seem like great people as well. Very fun and I think they could be a great team to watch Race. First impression of them is that they’d perfectly fit in on an early season cast. And that’s a good thing.
Akbar & Sheri have an amazing story. Really wonderful work they do. So to contrast that with their moment of tense frustration was very interesting to watch. At least they were aware of their momentary tension. So that’s good for them moving forward.
Lulu & Lala are definitely the underdog team at the moment. I’m happy to see them survive at the end as I think they have a lot of potential to be both a fun team to watch as competitors and as characters.
Anthony & Spencer are another fascinating team to have. I certainly wouldn’t have recognized them as the heroes from that foiled terrorist attack if they hadn’t mentioned it. But what an amazing story to have as your background as you Race around the world Europe.
Connie & Sam had a rough Leg… that is until they suddenly picked things up and moved up at the end. First half of the Leg, they looked so lost. But they more than survived at the end. And that was interesting to see. I’m happy for them though. And I think they too have great competitive potential if they can step it up more.
If we were to talk about potential early frontrunners, Raquel & Cayla are definitely in the mix. They had an excellent Leg. And they did it in a way that was almost effortless and did not draw much attention to themselves either. Very good Leg.
Talk about another amazing story, Ryan & Dusty definitely fit the bill. What better way to feel freedom than to be able to travel the world. I can imagine that’s a huge motivation for them and it’ll be interesting to watch them. Especially when they’ve already proven to be one of the strong teams.
Michael & Moe seem like very fun guys. So it’s sad to see them go first. In a close Leg, any little mistake can doom a team. And unfortunately for them, that’s what happened.
Taylor & Isaiah were probably the most invisible team of the episode aside from their fun self-introduction. But I feel like that bodes well for them moving forward. It’s always fun to see how editing is portraying teams. But they had an okay Leg. It’s just there were other bigger personalities taking up the time for now.
Akbar: “What does he look like?”
Taxi Driver: “He’s blond and fat.”
Dusty: “We’re broke heroes.”
Phil: “Please kick some ass. We can’t have young people winning all the time.”