Recap: The Amazing Race 33, Episode 4 – “Ready to Restart the Race”
The Race resumes 19 months after getting shut down by COVID-19. Phil welcomes back five teams to St. Gallen, Switzerland: Ryan & Dusty, Raquel & Cayla, Lulu & Lala, Kim & Penn and Akbar & Sheri. Connie & Sam, Anthony & Spencer, Taylor & Isaiah and Caro & Ray, however, were not able to return. So the show has invited Michael & Moe and Arun & Natalia back to rejoin the Race.
Phil checks in on what the teams have been up to during lockdown. Ryan says he just reverted back to his prison days. Natalia got married. Raquel & Cayla lost their jobs as flight attendants and had to look for other jobs. Lulu & Lala have been broadcasting their radio show from their basement and sadly lost their grandmother to COVID and weren’t even able to be by her side in her final moments.
To keep the teams safe during the Race, they will be flying charters from country to country, will avoid public transportation and do more self-driving.
When Phil says “Go!,” teams run to find three waiting buses at Museumstrasse. The waiting clue there tells teams to make their way to Schwagalp and take a cable car 8000 feet above sea level.
On the first bus are Ryan & Dusty, Kim & Penn and Raquel & Cayla. Ryan & Dusty say they trained a bit more during the COVID lockdown. Kim & Penn want to show their children that they finish what they start.
On the second bus are Michael & Moe and Arun & Natalia. Both teams are ready to make the most of their second chance. On the last bus are Lulu & Lala and Akbar & Sheri.
Masked up, all the teams arrive at Schwagalp at the same time and make their way to the summit. And here, teams find the Road Block: Who wants to take in the view?
Phil introduces this location as a spot where you can see six countries: Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland. For this Road Block, teams must navigate a via ferrata to retrieve a clue from the ridge. Ryan, Lulu, Arun, Raquel, Penn and Moe decide to do the Road Block. Both Akbar & Sheri are afraid of heights. But Sheri decides to do it as Akbar is too big.
Ryan’s guide says the bad weather is coming just as they arrive at the clue box. Once they retrieve the clue, they must make their way back the same way they came. Penn speeds through and is able to pass a few teams. Teams encourage a terrified Sheri as they pass her on their way back.
The next clue directs teams to drive to Gasthaus Sonne in Urnasch. But teams must take the cable car back down. The wait for the next tram allows all teams except Sheri & Akbar to catch it, putting the married educators in last place. The clouds and fog roll in as Sheri makes her way back up.
The other teams drive through the fog and reach Urnasch where they will face the Detour: Punch It or Toss It. In Punch It, teams must use specialized hand tools to tell a story by attaching ornaments to a traditional belt. In Toss It, teams must learn a sequence of flag tosses and twirls until they can properly perform it.
Michael & Moe and Arun & Natalia choose Punch It. Kim & Penn, Ryan & Dusty, Raquel & Cayla and Lulu & Lala choose Toss It.
Michael & Moe were in first place, but quickly find themselves lost and going in circles. They try to ask Arun & Natalia, but Natalia tells her father not to help them, having learned their lesson last Leg.
Kim & Penn and Ryan & Rusty are first to arrive at the flags. Raquel & Cayla and Lulu & Lala arrive next and head to the other gym to begin learning. Arun & Natalia and Michael & Moe arrive at the farm where they can begin making their belts.
Kim & Penn fail their first attempt, but Ryan & Dusty, who considered switching Detours, pass on their first. They can now drive to Altstatten where they can find Phil at the Pit Stop. Kim & Penn pass on their second attempt and are close behind. Lulu & Lala also pass on their first attempt, as do Raquel & Cayla. All teams leave just as Akbar & Sheri arrive.
Ryan & Dusty step on the Mat as Team #1 and win $2500 each. Kim & Penn take 2nd.
Over at the belts, Arun & Natalia present their belt for a check and get the thumbs up. Michael & Moe, who put their ornaments in the opposite order, get the thumbs down and must start again.
At the Mat, it’s a foot race with Raquel & Cayla edging Lulu & Lala for 3rd.
Arun & Natalia get lost on the way to the Pit Stop when they head in the wrong direction. Akbar & Sheri get the thumbs up on their performance as do Michael & Moe with their belt.
Akbar & Sheri end up stepping on the Mat in 5th. Arun & Natalia finish 6th. That means Michael & Moe are last and eliminated. Again.
The idea of The Amazing Race being run during COVID was a very interesting proposition. What in the world would that even look like? Well, so far, it looks pretty normal.
Other than having a Re-Starting Line to come back after 19 months, the rest of this first COVID Era Leg of The Amazing Race looked like any modern TAR Leg, to be honest.
Of course, one of the biggest COVID Era implementations will be the TAR-branded charter plane shuttling teams to other countries. But so far with this Leg itself, other than a couple of masks popping up on some teams and a local (plus more blurred local faces), you could probably find similar Swiss Legs and even episodes in recent seasons.
The tasks certainly harken back to similar European highland Legs. The trek up Schwagalp reminded me of TAR28’s travel porn Emmy submission episode in Chamonix. A really stunning travelogue-type task. But not necessarily the most competitive.
The Leg gets a bit more interesting with the Detour and self-driving. Both Detours were typical TAR tasks. And it would appear driving to either location was the bigger challenge than the tasks themselves. The Leg was certainly decided on the driving more so than the tasks.
So overall, it really was business as usual for TAR. At least for this Leg. It’s only Leg 4 though. And while the more cautious approach to Racing and Leg design can somewhat be seen, it’ll probably be more evident in future Legs. That is, will we get eight more Legs of this similar, barebones structure. (Which, actually, is very typical of modern TAR.) Or will some of the COVID-induced tweaks give us something fresh and different on the Race?
At the very least, it is a reminder of the challenging logistics that are involved to put the Race together. So many people involved in getting the show on the road, literally. And they were able to do it during these unprecedented times.
ETA: So apparently, there was a deleted Speed Bump-type task that Arun & Natalia and Michael & Moe had to complete during the Leg. Which makes a lot of sense actually. I also just remembered that the press preview photos posted last week included that very task:
What’s funnier is that the thumbnail for the episode on Paramount Plus and Amazon Prime is this very task:
It's funny how the thumbnail for this week's #AmazingRace episode on Paramount+ and Amazon is the deleted Speed Bump-type task that wasn't even in the ep, but was actually consequential to the Leg's result? pic.twitter.com/ryG1IWLgyi
— DryedMangoez (@dryedmangoez) January 21, 2022
According to Michael & Moe in an interview, it was this very task and having to actually drive to it that ended up being the deciding factor in their elimination. Again, it makes sense. No wonder both teams ended up last when they were neck and neck with other teams. It’s hard to believe making a belt would’ve taken them so long.
This really speaks to the editing on TAR in recent seasons. When once, the show’s editing was impeccable. Being able to include so much in every episode without feeling overly stuffed or rushed was a hallmark of the series. But lately, the oversimplification of the Race has really been one of the biggest strikes against it. And really has helped hasten the show’s decline both in quality and popularity.
Including the extra task in the episode would’ve made it much more exciting. Yet, the show decided to spend too much time on other, less interesting things.
My Subjective Team Rankings
I have Arun & Natalia planted firmly at the top of my list this week mainly because of the wonderful self-reflection about what happened to them in the last Leg. Natalia wanting them to focus on their own Race instead of helping other teams is so refreshing to hear. It shouldn’t be an uncommon sentiment. But we know what’s happened recently. Arun & Natalia aren’t being mean-spirited or anything when she told him not to give any clues to Michael & Moe. It’s all about remembering they are in a competition. And their success in it is ultimately in their own hands. I was a bit worried in the end that they would come back in only to get eliminated in consecutive Legs. But thankfully, they live to see another Leg.
Kim & Penn again show that they are one of the contenders this season. But different to how Ryan & Dusty and Raquel & Cayla feel like contenders, Kim & Penn have a little bit of a more endearing likeability factor. Probably just because they’re parents and older than the aforementioned young, fit teams. But it’s great to see a team having fun on the Race and doing well like they are.
Lulu & Lala had probably their best Leg so far this week. It’s sad to hear about their loss. But dedicating their Race to their grandmother is really a great motivation for them to continue to do well. And like I mentioned last week, them being underdogs and stepping it up every week (like they did here) will be awesome to watch.
Speaking of underdogs, Akbar & Sheri definitely have a tough hill to climb. (Literally!) But I think as parents and educators, they still have a fighting spirit that will push them forward. Even when they felt a bit defeated, they were able to perk up later in the Leg. And I think if they can remain positive, they can find themselves in a good spot moving forward.
Ryan & Dusty and Raquel & Cayla feel like the other top contenders, especially on paper. They’re young and fit. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them reach the end. I just wish for a bit more personality from them. It’s odd that I’m looking for more character and playing up to the camera from a team. But I’m doing so with these two, especially to potentially balance out simpler Legs that might come.
Learning that Michael & Moe would be back was great news as they really didn’t get much focus in the first episode. So it would’ve been fun to see them get a chance to show more about themselves. Sadly, they ended up eliminated again on their first Leg back.
And really because of the same reason they fell behind in that first Leg. It’s too bad. But I honestly did expect a Non-Elimination just to keep all the teams Racing for more than one Leg back.
ETA: So apparently, it wasn’t their mistake that cost them the Race. But an extra, unaired task. That’s too bad.
Phil: “The world is waiting for you once again.”
Lulu & Lala’s Grandmother: “When you start something in life, you finish it.”
Ryan: “I’m sweating like a pig.”
Natalia: “Dad, don’t help them. We’re in a Race.”
Dusty: “I always wanted to be a flag girl.”