Recap: The Amazing Race 33, Episode 5 – Stairway to Hell
Phil explains that for the rest of the Race, teams will depart the Pit Stop in the order they checked-in at the end of the last Leg and in groups departing every 15 minutes.
Ryan & Dusty and Kim & Penn will depart together at 7:30am and the first clue reveals the Road Block: Who wants to get down with the Travelocity Roaming Gnome?
For this Road Block, teams will travel through the Alps and drive to Verzasca Dam where they will perform a 722-foot bungee jump, a Switchback to season 14. Here, teams will meet up with the Travelocity Roaming Gnome who will accompany them for the rest of the Leg.
Dusty and Kim decide to do the Road Block. But Kim is not too excited about having to jump. The second pair of Lulu & Lala and Raquel & Cayla depart at 7:45am with Lala and Cayla opting to jump.
The last pair of Arun & Natalia and Akbar & Sheri depart at 8am. Natalia chooses to do the Road Block. Due to safety reasons regarding Akbar’s weight, Sheri must perform the Road Block.
Having agreed to work together to get to the dam, Kim and Dusty do rock-paper-scissors to decide who will jump first and Dusty wins. Picking up his new Gnome friend, Dusty makes the jump down the side of the dam. A nervous Kim musters up her courage and jumps right after.
After the Road Block, teams must drive to Lugano and search the waterfront by Piazza Carlo Battaglini for the next clue.
Acknowledging they tend to underestimate themselves, Lulu & Lala hype themselves up with more confidence and end up arriving at the dam in 3rd. Meanwhile, their departure partners Raquel & Cayla who were confident in themselves have taken the scenic route and have fallen behind.
Akbar & Sheri arrive at the dam next. Though still worried, Sheri is able to calm herself and make the jump.
Raquel & Cayla arrive at the dam in 5th while Arun & Natalia are now in last place.
Over in Lugano, Ryan & Dusty maintain their lead when they open the next clue revealing the Detour: Bartender Race or Sausage Encase. In Bartender Race, teams must make their way up a 400-foot staircase to safely deliver a tray of wine bottles and chestnuts which they must collect from local vendors. In Sausage Encase, teams will make Luganighetta sausage by correctly squeezing out nine feet of it and then coil them into four portions.
Ryan & Dusty choose the Bartender Race and are surprised by the Stairway to Heaven. Lulu & Lala, arriving at the cluebox in 2nd, choose the sausage. Kim & Penn, currently in 3rd, choose the bartending.
Meanwhile, last place Arun & Natalia realize they’ve been going in the complete opposite direction. Raquel & Cayla, who had been sure to figure out which of them would be better with navigation during the shutdown, have to sort out their kinks as well.
Akbar & Sheri arrive at the cluebox and decide on the bartending. They run into Ryan & Dusty who are making their last collection of wine bottles and point the married educators to the correct location. Sheri wants her and Akbar to hold six bottles each, but Akbar is not sure about that. They end up taking only four each and run into Kim & Penn who arrive to make their first wine trip.
Kim & Penn try to encourage Sheri who is struggling up the stairs. She ends up dropping a bottle.
Ryan & Dusty complete the Detour and can now look for the Pit Stop, Parco Ciani, using a photo in the Travelocity Roaming Gnome’s satchel.
Lulu & Lala get emotional remembering their grandmother while making the sausages. After making an extra coil of sausage just in case, they get the thumbs up on their first attempt.
Dusty’s leg begins cramping, but he and Ryan reach the Pit Stop to check-in as Team #1. They win a trip to the island of Dominica.
Lulu & Lala finish as Team #2 and Phill tells them they will be departing first with Team #1 in the next Leg. Kim & Penn arrive and check-in as Team #3 and will depart in 2nd next Leg.
Raquel & Cayla decide to do the sausages, but get the thumbs down on their first attempt. They re-do the one sausage coil that is too small and that gets them the next clue.
Akbar & Sheri have finally finished their deliveries and are on their way to the Pit Stop. Raquel & Cayla spot them and are able to pass them to check-in as Team #4. Akbar & Sheri are officially 5th. Both teams will get the second departure time next Leg.
Arun & Natalia finish the sausages and make their way to the Pit Stop much later in the afternoon. Phil tells them they are so late that their greeters had to go. But this is a Non-Elimination Leg and they will be departing last on their own in the next Leg.
Kind of annoyed that the recap at the beginning of the episode doubled down on the idea that Michael & Moe’s mistake at the belt Detour is what eliminated them. That might be true, but only like 5% of the reason. I still don’t understand why they wouldn’t have included that cabbage-rolling Speed Bump-type task. It looked like it could’ve been fun. And it certainly would’ve been more dramatic than the repetitive check-ins at the mountain or the teams throwing flags in the air. Anyway!…
In this week’s “How has COVID ruined the world?” watch on TAR: Really, nothing much. Other than masked teams and locals randomly popping up, this was very much a typical TAR Leg and episode you’d see any other season in the pre-COVID Era.
And actually, this was the best Leg and episode of the season I think. The last third of the episode was very exciting, relatively speaking. And it was great to see the teams really competing head-to-head.
In this week’s broken record playing of “Let’s bash TAR32 (and TARAu5),” it’s very refreshing to see the teams helping and encouraging each other without holding each other’s hands and doing tasks for each other. I mean, if this were TARAu5, you’d have teams giving their completed sausages to their alliance members to submit for checking. But not on TAR33!
Speaking of TARAu5 (which we should try and avoid to speak of, even as I incessantly browbeat it into submission), the staggered starts felt off during that season. Especially when paired with all the other insane on-the-spot rules they would implement during the 102-Leg season.
But it worked out well here on TAR33, for the most part. I get the logistics and safety aspect of wanting to keep teams as close together as possible to avoid some COVID risks. But it also helps to keep teams close together in the competition-aspect when in recent seasons, that has not been the case. (Due in part to poor Leg design.)
The downside, which thankfully did not show itself here, was that paired up departure times might provoke official alliances to form. But these teams know better and that’s a huge relief.
The unexpected Switchback to TAR14 was fun even if bungee jumps have become so run-of-the-mill on TAR after 20 years. The drive to get to and from there was the bigger challenge of course.
The Detour was also good and again, reminiscent of modern TAR tasks. Straightforward tasks that teams just need to get through.
I do wonder if there was another deleted task somewhere here. I think one more extra Route Marker would’ve been nice and really help fill out the episode. The show having to focus repeatedly on certain tasks can slow down the momentum, editing wise. As an example, most of the episode was like that until the final third when things really picked up.
Though the editing definitely clued you in that this was a Non-Elimination Leg.
Overall, this was definitely the best, most enjoyable episode of the season. Also the best designed Leg of the season. (Relatively speaking, of course.)
Also, can I nitpick about the preview? The next episode previews this season have been horrible. They feel like random clips from the next episode instead of the usual exciting teases. Very strange.
My Subjective Team Rankings
Very happy for Lulu & Lala this week! They had a great Leg. And they made a great point about underestimating themselves. I think they can be more confident since they’ve shown here that they are more than capable of Racing well. It was great to see and I hope they can continue the momentum.
Kim & Penn are also a team I like to root for. They are the rare social media personality-team that doesn’t try to play to the cameras too much. And I think that’s why I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy seeing them Race. They’re also doing well.
Arun & Natalia though definitely need to step it up next Leg. I love that they are superfans. But they’ve been squeaking by their entire Race so far. I would really love to see them survive next Leg.
Akbar & Sheri, meanwhile, are doing well despite their biggest problem which is them letting their frustrations get the best of them. They’ve been able to keep that frustration in check and they know they need to not snap at each other as much. But by Leg 5, I feel like they should be stepping it up a bit more as well on that front. Because when it comes to tasks, they do quite well and don’t give up which can be a big help especially if they have other things to take care of.
Ryan & Dusty are definitely solidifying their spot at the top of the pack. And that is evident by the preview for next week being all about them apparently struggling. Though they’re probably the strongest team, I don’t think they’re invincible. So it will be interesting to see them face a bit of adversity next Leg.
Raquel & Cayla may be last on my list, but I certainly don’t dislike them at all. I just feel like the other teams have more interesting stories and bigger personalities so far. But it was good to see them having a bit of trouble this Leg. It’s always good for teams to experience that in order to keep them humble and also put in a bit of excitement and tension in the Race too of course.
Kim: “I’m gonna jump off something. But at least it’s pretty.”
Dusty: “I’d rather roller blade up Mt. Everest.”
Kim: “I should be driving the kids to school right now.”
Penn: “It’s The Amazing Race, they don’t want you to die.”
Lala: “Everyone’s good looking here.”
Lala: “School’s should teach bullies how to make sausage.”