Recap: The Amazing Race 36, Episode 1 – “Have you jumped out of a plane 81 times?”

Recap: The Amazing Race 36, Episode 1 – “You Can’t Drive While You’re Crying”

The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap

The 35th 36th season of The Amazing Race begins on Playa El Salado in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Phil welcomes the 13 new teams and has some of them introduce themselves before flagging them off on the Race.

Teams run to cars outside of the hotel for their first clue. That clue directs teams to find the Voladores along the Malecon for the next one.

Boyfriends Ricky & Cesar and married couple Rod & Leticia arrive first and open the clue revealing the Detour: Pick ‘Em Up or Pin ‘Em Down.

The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap

In Pick ‘Em Up, teams must pick up two rocking horses from storage up the hill and transport them down cobblestone streets to the Malecon. When a pair of happy children hop onto the horses, they’ll get the next clue. In Pin ‘Em Down, teams must watch a Lucha Libre battle royale for 40 seconds before using provided paintings to match the five pairs of luchadores who are fighting each other in the ring.

Ricky & Cesar and Rod & Leticia choose the luchadores while grandparents and retired officers Derek & Shelisa choose the horses. Girlfriends Yvonne & Melissa and twins Anthony & Bailey choose the horses as well.

All the other teams start arriving one after the other. Dating nurses Amber & Vinny, father/daughter Chris & Mary and married aerobics instructors Michelle & Sean go for the horses. Cousins Kishori & Karishma go for Lucha Libre while mother/son Angie & Danny decide on the physical horses side of the Detour.

The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap

Over at Pin ‘Em Down, Ricky & Cesar get a few pairings incorrect so they must watch the next battle royale with Rod & Leticia. They both fail the next attempt just as Kishori & Karishma arrive.

Back at the Voladores, firefighter moms Sunny & Bizzy, military pilots Juan & Shane and siblings Maya & Rohan are trailing in the back of the pack. Meanwhile, the first teams with the horses struggle with pulling them down the hill over the cobblestones. Chris & Mary, however, won’t even get the chance as seven teams already claimed all the available horses. They must switch over to the other Detour. They run into Juan & Shane and tell them about there being no more horses. They initially decide to stick together, but end up separating and going opposite directions anyway.

At the other Detour, Ricky & Cesar and Rod & Leticia get the thumbs up. Kishori & Karishma get it on their 2nd attempts.

Juan & Shane are the ones who get the right directions and arrive at the wrestling ring first.

The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap

The horse teams arrive on the Malecon and the children give them wrenches to remove the wheels.

Derek & Shelisa and Amber & Vinny are the first to complete their horse deliveries followed by Anthony & Bailey and Yvonne & Melissa. Bunny & Bizzy are able to catch up after falling behind early.

While the other teams are finishing the Detour, Maya & Rohan get stuck at a deadend and have to figure out how to get themselves out.

The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap

Juan & Shane leave the luchadores just as Maya & Rohan arrive. The siblings and Chris & Mary are now tied in last place.

After the Detour, teams must now drive to Lienzo Charro Miguel “Prieto” Ibarria where they will find the Road Block: Who is feeling loopy? For this Road Block, teams will participate in the charreria, a sport that tests a horseman’s lassoing skills and horsemanship. Teams must jump through seven spinning lassos while wearing a red bowtie and without dropping their wide-brimmed hat.

Rod and Cesar decide to do the Road Block. And Rod gets through on his 5th attempt. Cesar finishes on his 4th attempt. The boyfriends leave as Derek & Shelisa arrive with Derek choosing to do the task.

The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap

Karishma arrives to start the Road Block, but she fails 14 attempts while also not realizing she is missing her handkerchief. Danny arrives next, followed by Yvonne.

Karishma is on her 18th attempt and gets through seven lassos, but she doesn’t have her bowtie. Kishori tosses her the clue and she realizes her mistake.

Shane arrives next and leaves next after only two attempts. Karishma finally passes on her 23rd attempt with Yvonne on her 6th attempt. Danny passes on his 11th attempt with Sean on his 5th attempt. Twin Anthony gets it on his first attempt. Sunny passes on her 2nd attempt. Though Mary started the Road Block before them, Vinny gets through on his first attempt and he and Amber manage to pass the father/daughter.

After the Road Block, teams can drive to the Pit Stop at Plaza de Los Arcos del Malecon. The last team to check-in WILL be eliminated.

Rod & Leticia find Phil and step on the Mat as Team #1. However, they are still Racing and Phil hands them the next clue. Ricky & Cesar arrive as Team #2 with Derek & Shelisa arriving 3rd. Juan & Shane are 4th followed by Michelle & Sean, Yvonne & Melissa, Angie & Danny, Anthony & Bailey, Sunny & Bizzy and Kishori & Karishma.

The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap

Chris & Mary manage to step on the Mat as Team #11. Amber & Vinny, who had trouble with directions all day, finish in 12th. That means Maya & Rohan are last and eliminated.

General TAR Rants Thoughts

Well well well. The season that some fans were 100% positive was going to get thrown away and never be heard from or ever seen ever again has finally premiered.

Seriously, it has been so annoying reading all the doomsday fans commenting on how this 35th filmed, 36th aired season was so garbage, trash, atrocious, disgusting, horrible and unworthy of public viewing. I’m one to admit I’ve been doom and gloom about TARUS’ health and future these last couple of years. But I’ve never actively rooted for a completed season to be thrown into the trash before it’s even aired.

Throw seasons like TAR24 and TAR32 in the trash? That’s fine since we all actually suffered through them already. But TAR35-turned-36 that hasn’t aired yet? Seems dumb.

Fans (who follow every single spoiler as the Race is running) were so upset that the Legs were seemingly so barebones. (As if that is something unique to this season lol) That is even when those fans have actually no clue what the full itinerary of each Leg actually is other than whatever they were able to dig up online.

Fans were upset that a charter flight did not work out for the season and the Race had to stage last minute Legs in two new countries rather than fly to countries the show has already visited before. The horror!

Fans were upset that it rained one day.(Heaven forbid!) Fans were upset that some of the teams could speak and understand Spanish. (Polyglots? Absurd!) Fans were upset about seemingly every detail of this season.

Fans were so sure that the season would be “dumped” onto Paramount+. Some were sure that it would just get shelved and that Bertram and Co. would rush another new season into production just to avoid having to air this one. Some fans thought that this season was so bad, it could end up killing TARUS for good.

Again, keeping in mind that none of these whiny fans had even seen a single second of the completed season. Like what even? There’s so many things to criticize and nitpick about The Amazing Race US. But usually, people wait to voice those concerns until after they’ve actually watched a few seconds of the season that is the target of their ire.

If TAR24 and TAR32 didn’t kill TARUS, surely the show would be fine with this season. However it turned out. And if TARUS does take its last breath, it will have been because of many other reasons.

But after watching this season premiere, it was a perfectly fine, contemporary TAR episode. I’ve voiced my gripes about the missteps and shortcomings of TAR35 with relation to the 90-minute episodes.

It’s interesting to note that Phil Keoghan himself said they actually didn’t even add much if anything in terms of more tasks and Route Markers to TAR35 to fill the 90-minutes. Instead, he repeated the line about 90-minute episodes now allowing the show to give the audience more backstory for the teams as well as be able to showcase more of the locations. TAR35 did not fill the extra 20-minutes of episode time with an extra task or two. They did so by stretching out tasks and confessionals that would’ve otherwise easily filled a regular-length episode in the past.

So the idea that TAR35 (the 36th filmed season) had adjusted their Leg designs and itinerary in any negligible way to fill 90-minute episodes just doesn’t mean anything. So TAR36 (the 35th filmed season) can be expected to play out pretty much the same as TAR35 in terms of finding content for the longer episodes.

This season of TAR is expected to be just ten episodes considering Survivor 46‘s finale is on May 22nd. So they could easily squeeze two Legs (or another MegaLeg) into one episode later on. Even have three Legs span two episodes if needed.

But the doom and gloom and honestly, vitriol hurled at this season before anyone had even seen a single second of it was such annoying and petty behavior from a fandom that usually is better than that. I guess times have changed. TARUS has certainly changed over the years. But what I learned during this whole off-season debacle regarding TAR35-turned-36 (and even 36-turned-35 too with the anti-Asian sentiment) was that it’s much better to just try and avoid all that spoiler-focused, pretentious superfan section of the fandom and just enjoy the Race as it unfolds on CBS.

Anyway, let’s get to this episode!

Episode Thoughts

So it was a fine episode. Again, very typical of modern TAR. The only difference was getting a lot more about teams telling their stories. Many emotional stories of course. I thought I was watching TAR Canada at points. Lol But that’s fine. I get it. I don’t hate it. It actually helped to distinguish each team during the episode. And each team did get at least one spotlight during the episode.

It’s a great mix of relationships for teams, actually. Friends, siblings, cousins, parent/child and of course couples. My initial feeling is that these teams seem competitive and focused on the Race.

For example, I liked when Kishori & Karishma refused to look at Ricky & Cesar’s answers at the Lucha Libre Detour. If it were another season, Ricky & Cesar might have invited the cousins over to look at their answers. Or heck, just let them present their completed board as their own. (*cough*TAR32*cough*TARAu5*cough*TARAu6*cough) lol

More on the teams later. But I got a positive vibe from them all as a group.

As for the Leg, yes, this was a basic Leg. A Route Marker-Detour-Road Block-Pit Stop Leg. And yes, it probably could’ve been run in just a few hours. But again, that’s already to be expected in modern TAR. There’s nothing new or different about this critique of TARUS’ modern Leg design.

That said, the tasks were actually quite good. I do think they should’ve had teams do a Voladores routine. Was it TAR3 when there was a task like that? Perhaps a Fast Forward? I thought they did it on TARPHDME, but I guess not. (Takes notes for future TARPHDME season lol)

Anyway, the Detour was a good balance between physical and mental. The wooden horses side of the Detour is a typical task that you would see on any location with cobblestones. Certainly anywhere in Latin America. Or Ilocos in the Philippines lol. But it’s the kind of tricky, physical task that teams just have to push through.

The Lucha Libre side of the Detour was a creative way to feature the familiar and famous luchadores. I think the show should’ve had teams memorize every single one of the pairings. And even more challenging, change up the pairings with every match. In that case, I think this task could’ve been a good Road Block too.

As for the actual Road Block, it was also another amusing task. Not just having teams simply learn lassoing or riding a horse or something like that. It was a different, though straightforward task. Though having it at the end of the Leg before an elimination could be questionable.

Still, teams did manage to hold themselves back with directions and the like. And though this Leg could’ve been finished in an hour or two, the episode actually did not make it seem so. The editing was a bit better here if only because teams really were all over the place and not either just in various chunks during the Leg. Still far from perfect, obviously. For now, I think TARAu7 is the standard for how to fill these long episodes with enough engaging content.

Interesting, though welcome to see an elimination at the end of a Zero-Hour Pit Stop. And yes, that’s what this is. Just ignore the MegaLeg designation or no Non-Eliminations nonsense. Lol

Some nitpicks of course!
Why were some of the team IDs centered and not left-aligned like normal?
The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap

Were those scenes added in after the re-edit?

Also, wrong team member was ID’d during the Road Block:
The Amazing Race 36 Episode 1 Recap
Oops! Also a last-minute addition in the re-edit?

Overall, it was a solid, if not typical modern TAR premiere. It was amazingly not the heaping pile of trash that some people wanted it to be. So I am definitely rooting for this season to at least be a watchable season. If not an actually enjoyable season. That would be a real treat in this modern TAR Era!

Team Thoughts

Like I said earlier, this was a nice mix of teams. I don’t particularly have a favorite yet. But there’s something fun about each of the teams. And at the very least, a great and unique mix of personalities and relationships.

The biggest personalities were definitely the leaders of the Leg. And that is Rod & Leticia and Ricky & Cesar. I can see these two teams being the most competitive. The kind of teams who are focused on the Race and will really be able to do well and go far without transforming into Racebots.

The next group of teams are the ones who did pretty well this Leg and showed that they were enjoying their time on the Race. Derek & Shelisa, Michelle & Sean and Yvonne & Melissa seem like they have great potential to do well.

The rest of the teams had their struggles this Leg. Some were able to pick themselves up and push forward. Others, not so much. Juan & Shane were one of the teams who came from behind and ended up finishing strongly. Angie & Danny as well. And it’s great to see a mother/son team.

Anthony & Bailey and Sunny & Bizzy had some catching up to do after some initial stumbles. But it would be great to see them turn things around in coming Legs.

Kishori & Karishma are an interesting team because they probably have one of the bigger personalities this season. And their up and down Leg was definitely a great way to showcase those personalities very well.

Chris & Mary and Amber & Vinny had rough starts this Leg. The father/daughter is definitely a team you wish you can root for. And I’m sure some fans will be happy to see a less snippy father/daughter duo after last season lol And Amber & Vinny seem like a positive team. So I can definitely see them being able to step it up in future Legs.

It’s too bad about Maya & Rohan. I think their struggle with the dead end really illustrated their short time on the Race. It’s too bad because it’s great to have male-female siblings on the Race. And they seemed to be a refreshing version of that familiar pairing. But too bad.

Episode Quotes

Karishma: “Have you jumped out of a plane 81 times?”

Amber: “Can you just get away?”

6 thoughts on “Recap: The Amazing Race 36, Episode 1 – “Have you jumped out of a plane 81 times?”

    1. Basically after Chile, a second charter plane was supposed to take them to Australia and that region. For whatever reason, the plane never showed up. They had to swap out those legs on the fly for more within the Americas. A similar situation happened with the Asian half of TAR24 due to an active typhoon season.

      My concern about the season is that when we get to those substitute legs, their budget-friendliness will show in the tasks (in 24 for example, the second Guangzhou leg was clearly one – building kids toys and playing hackysack)

      1. Hopefully Oceania and Africa that would include Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa to make visits in Season 37 that will film this month but will air in February 2025 per CBS schedule.

    2. A charter flight did not show up so the Race had to come up with last-minute Legs in the Caribbean.

      And people who followed spoilers were going crazy that the Legs seemed to only have a few tasks. Even though, like I pointed out, the spoiler hunters don’t know every single Route Marker yet and it’s very likely each Leg has one or two tasks that were not spoiled. But some fans immediately believed this season was trash because of the lack of tasks (or really, spoilers) and the charter flight not showing up. Other fans were upset with the final three or the fact that there were lots of Spanish-speaking teams.

      Then, they took the season swap as more proof to their premature judgment that this season was trash and deserved to be dumped on Paramount+ for no one to watch. Or even better for them, just thrown away completely.

  1. I enjoyed it. I agree it’s in line with modern TAR but it was fun. Refreshing to see Mexico and great having teams run around town.

    I didn’t follow the off season drama. And judging from your comments, I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve been turned off from TAR fan forums, especially RFF. Very toxic places. So I just look at spoilers, but don’t engage in discussions that have been toxic and dumb.

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