The Amazing Race Review: Keys to the Competition

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At its core, The Amazing Race is about two main principles: completing challenges and finding your way to the challenges. The best teams are adept at both and the ones that go home are often deficient in one, if not each.  This week deficiencies with directions cost one team the race.

How Does That Look?

The teams started the leg departing from Turin, Italy with instructions to make their way to Bavaria, Germany by way of Ehwald, Austria. Art and JJ were over 2.5 hours ahead of the other seven teams by virtue of their fast forward in the previous leg. Mark and Bopper, last in the previous leg, were nearly nine hours behind them.

In the past few seasons The Amazing Race has dispensed with telling us when a team got to the Pit Stop in the previous leg and how that would equal their corresponding departure time that leg. With many seemingly dubious departure times of 4:37 a.m. I became curious if the producers altered the previous 12-hour rule. 

We still don’t know when Art and JJ finished the previous leg. However, it seems unlikely the race is still going with a 12-hour break. Art and JJ departed at 8:57 a.m. and I doubt they finished at 8:57 p.m. the previous leg.  Similarly, there’s no way Mark and Bopper finished at 5:54 a.m.

The most important part of this is that whatever time the teams spend at the Pit Stop, I hope it is standardized. Too often teams seem to depart at times that conveniently (or inconveniently) allow other teams to catch up.  It was good to see that was not the case with Art and JJ this week.

Perhaps that last statement needs clarification. Joey “Fitness” and Dan and Rachel and Dave were able to catch up to Art and JJ and the three teams were the first to arrive in Bavaria, Germany. However, at least their well-earned high finishes afforded them a good start to the leg.

The same could not be said for the trailing five teams who despite a 2-4 hour lead on Mark and Bopper found the Kentuckians caught up with them on a train from Insbruck to Ehwald, Austria. This was a life saver for everyone’s favorite country boys who would have had no chance to avoid a last place finish with the Speed Bump on their leg.

While the other seven teams were performing the Detour once in Germany, Mark and Bopper had to do the Speed Bump. At first glance this week’s Speed Bump of yodeling seemed difficult, but the judges were very easy and Mark and Bopper and allowed them to advance quickly. 

This seems to be a trend with recent Speed Bumps. They’re ultimately not that difficult or time consuming. Perhaps they shouldn’t be? Perhaps the race is taking the name literally?  Just something that slows you down, temporarily. After all, for the first 10-plus seasons of the race there was no penalty for finishing last in a non-elimination leg.

For the Detour, we were treated to the awkward task of people style old men’s beards. I would have chosen the gingerbread option based on what I thought was faster anyway, but it certainly would have been weird touching another man’s beard. Beyond that I’m useless with hair products.

What was surprising was how adept many of the men in the race were with shaping and crafting facial hair. JJ told us that he’s got a backpack full of hair products and knows what to do with hair.  I find that really odd because he’s spent the majority of the race with a hat on his head. I probably would have told you he was bald for all I knew.

Challenges with directions started after the Detour. Teams were instructed to find Sleeping Beauty’s castle and were often instructed that it was the next town over. Four teams made the mistake of going to the first castle they saw in the next town, without actually asking if it was Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Rachel and Dave and Nary and Jaime even waited for and went on a full tour before realizing their mistake.

Kerri and Stacy also made the same mistake, but were bailed out by Mark and Bopper becoming the fourth team to make that error. Unfortunately for Kerri and Stacy, Mark and Bopper were far more adept at the ensuing Roadblock, gnome curling, and got ahead of them shortly thereafter.

Gnome curling was awesome for a Roadblock. I love that some teams actually knocked their gnomes in to the center circle to complete the task. As far as Roadblocks go, it wasn’t extremely difficult, but one where completing the challenge quickly could get a team ahead. Mark and Bopper took full advantage.

Nary and Jaime, however, did not. They got to the Roadblock in 4th and despite Nary’s alleged good aim, left it in last place. I was wondering how long Jaime was going to keep talking about Nary’s good aim as she repeatedly missed the target while other teams passed them.

The best moment of the leg came after Kerri and Stacy left the Detour and Jaime commented that they had been good with their directions all day long and could catch the cousins.  Normally this kind of attempt at foreshadowing by the race producers is exactly that; just an attempt. This time it was actually true! How exciting!

More from this episode:

  • When Stacy said that her husband was a professional basketball player I gasped and immediately paused the show to go look up who it was. While her husband is a professional player, disappointingly he’s not in the NBA. He plays in Italy (and not in Turin, I’m guessing).
  • The previews for this leg of the race made a really big deal out of Vanessa and Ralph’s argument on the hike up to the castle. Extremely overblown. I’m not sure it would make the list of Top 100 arguments in The Amazing Race history.
  • How do teams consistently have only one teammate listen to directions? It doomed Kerri and Stacy, but they were not the only ones who did it. Rachel and Dave were just as unintelligent about it.

Uglier Than A Mud Rail Fence Review

Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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The Amazing Race Season 20 Episode 5 Quotes

I can navigate myself to the mall and that's about it.


We need the money worse than any team out there.