The Amazing Race Review: A Brutal Leg

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Holy cow, that was a difficult leg!

This week on The Amazing Race was nothing short of brutal. Those who stayed in the contest certainly earned it and not simply by taking advantage of an early start from the previous leg. No, not finishing ninth was a major accomplishment here.

An Amazing Balancing Act

What was particularly interesting about the goal of not finishing ninth was that the teams did not realize how difficult this would be, for all of them, until they got to the Roadblock.  Prior to that there was a discouraging flight followed by a very difficult Detour. At a number of points in the leg teams believed they were in a far worse situation than their competitors.

The first example of this intriguing aspect was Rachel and Dave at the Detour. After switching from Stacked to Strung and realizing the trailing teams had caught up, the pair burned their express pass. The question is: would they still have burned their pass had they known was laid ahead?

With 100% hindsight, they’d know they were the only team unable to complete the Detour. However, would they have still beaten Vanessa and Rachel and Elliot and Andrew even with a two-hour penalty having taken the time to complete the Detour?

Or, let’s say they knew the Roadblock was difficult, but not how the other teams would fare. Would they have assumed someone else would struggle and potentially take the two-hour penalty removing the need to use the pass?

In my opinion the answer to both questions is yes. Had they known how difficult the Roadblock was, they would have assumed at least one other team would struggle as much as they did and they would have survived, albeit at the back of the pack. The Express Pass is valuable enough to sacrifice position to keep it in play.

On the other end of the spectrum lay the trailing two teams, Vanessa and Ralph and Elliot and Andrew. Fortunately for Elliot and Andrew, they did not switch Detour options and got to the Roadblock ahead of Vanessa and Ralph. The same is true for Vanessa and Ralph, but did they even know it?

Consider: did Vanessa and Ralph complete the Stacked Detour option simply for the satisfaction of doing so? Had they known Elliot and Andrew (and others) were at the Strung option and struggling, might they have switched in an attempt to stay in the race? I believe they would have and not knowing probably saved their race.

This is what’s so great about The Amazing Race, the voyeuristic way with which we, the audience, get to watch the race. After watching the early teams struggle with the Stacked option, we want to tell the trailing teams to go straight to the Strung option to stay in the race. When they don’t, we question what they were thinking.

My first reaction upon hearing the Detour options was to go with Strung for the exact reason that I figured the watermelon stack had the potential to fall (really, I swear!). Nothing is more demoralizing or frustrating that having to redo what you’ve already done at a challenge. Without mistakes Stacked might have been faster option, but as we saw, only one team completed the challenge flawlessly.

Ironically the only team who choose Strung first completely failed at it and for no obvious reason. What was so difficult for Elliot and Andrew about stringing a harp? I’m sure it’s not easy, but the other five teams managed without breakdowns. 

Speaking of Elliot and Andrew’s struggles with the Strung option, what if they hadn’t left in the thought of switching only to return? If you noticed at the end, Vanessa and Ralph were still present at the mat when Elliot and Andrew checked in. The small gap between them has to be less than the time the twins spent debating which challenged to do.

That’s gotta be tough to live with.

More from this episode:

  • Things no one cares about on The Amazing Race: being a “target." What does this even mean and does it even matter? It’s not like anyone can vote you out of the race. At least Art and JJ recognize that having a target on your back doesn’t actually matter.
  • Things on one cares about... in life: being a federal agent. Did Nary and Jamie watch Phillip from two Survivors ago and think his rants about being a federal agent would hurt them? Why would anyone be threatened by federal agents? After Phillip and now Nary and Jamie, I’m beginning to think federal agents have an inflated sense of self-worth.
  • Okay, I’ll say it: why are Big Brother Rachel and Vanessa’s boobs so big? There’s no way they are natural so the question is why anyone would need or wants fake boobs that large They can’t be comfortable, right?
  • Speaking of Big Brother Rachel and Vanessa, what was with Vanessa's obsession with "seeing" Big Brother Rachel's, uh, camel toe? We get it, Vanessa, her crotch is eating her pants. We can't see it anyway. Why do you need to keep telling us?

Bust Me Right In The Head Review

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The Amazing Race Season 20 Episode 3 Quotes

I'll put a target on my back all day long.


We both do the same thing, we both protect America.