Perhaps the most anticipated part of The Amazing Race 33’s second episode and third leg came in its final scenes: Phil Keoghan announcing that the race was halted, which was followed by a 19-month break between the pit stop at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and the new starting line in St. Gallen, Switzerland.
That is not a surprise. We knew TAR 33 halted production on Feb. 28, 2020, and then resumed last fall.
But what is a surprise is that four teams weren’t able to return. In December, Variety reported that “Two pairs fell out, but seven teams managed to return.” But the first part is actually not true, as this episode revealed.
First, after the elimination, host Phil Keoghan gathered the teams and said, “from day one our number-one priority has been to make sure all of you are safe.” (For details about the safety that began on day one, read this.)
“We believe the best choice for all of us is to suspend the race,” he said. “In an ideal world, the planets will align, and we will pick this race back up again and hopefully have all of you starting the race again. We understand the sacrifices that all of you have made; I know to have you all come back and start on this race again would be challenging.”
What’s interesting to me is that Phil seemed kind of prophetic here. This was weeks before the world shut down, and in mid-March, we were all thinking that this would pass in two weeks. Ah, to be young again.
Anyway, Phil told them they’d “regroup and come back better and faster than you were in the beginning”—and it turned out they had 19 months to do that. Had I been on the race, I would have had 19 months to carb load.
Phil welcomed them back in Switzerland by saying, “Before we were interrupted, the world was waiting for you, and I’m please to tell you the world is waiting for you once again.” Okay, that got me a little misty.
Only five of the nine remaining TAR 33 teams heard Phil say that:
- Raquel and Cayla
- Ryan and Dusty
- Kim and Penn
- Lala and Lulu
- Akbar and Sheri
That means, in those 19 months, the race lost these four teams:
- Anthony and Spencer
- Taylor and Isaiah
- Connie and Sam
- Ray and Caro
What’s interesting, though, is that, in the last seconds of the episode, an overhead shot showed seven teams standing in front of Phil. In the preview for next week’s episode, Phil says, “There are some teams missing in the lineup. So, we have a few familiar faces taking their place.”
In other words, two teams are being added, bringing the total to the seven teams Variety mentioned.
I assume those two teams will be the two already-eliminated teams: Michael and Moe, and Arun and Natalia, who were last to check in during the third leg. I cannot imagine the race bringing in brand-new teams, like alternates, or all-stars from a previous season.
And I thought for a moment that CBS’s press photos confirmed the return of those eliminated teams, because the first two photos (which are usually the most-recent chronologically) were of first two teams eliminated with captions that said “We’re back!” But upon closer inspection (i.e. I clicked on them), I realized those photos were actually from episode one.
So, the two additional teams remain a mystery, at least until people have time to examine the promos frame by frame—or CBS just tells us who it is before next week’s episode.
If the two teams to return are the first two teams eliminated, Phil’s “Is everybody ready to restart this race?” would take on some interesting new meaning, because it would be like starting over again.
Update, Friday: CBS’s press site has added photos from episode four, and those confirm the two teams that are returning are the first two eliminated:
- Moe Badger and Michael Norwood
- Arun Kumar and Natalia Kumar
TAR 33’s teams take an equalizer from London to Glasgow
Speaking of restarts, the start of the third leg was a train ride from London to Glasgow, and all the teams ended up on the same train, which was disappointing—though great for them, since they got cute little sleeper cars and actual beds to sleep in.
I was trying to savor these final glimpses of the Before Times, with teams sticking their heads into open taxi windows, and blowing virus-free bagpipe air all over each other, and shaking hands with strangers. But there was actually less of that this episode than there was in London.
What reassures me, though, is that what will never change, no matter how much destruction this pandemic causes, is the entertainment value of manual transmissions.
Yes, the producers gave the teams cars and had them drive themselves through Glasgow using paper maps, and hopefully warned all of the residents first.
Here are some of the other moments from the episode that stood out to me, and my juvenile thoughts:
- Ray actually said he “learned to drive stick shift just before I came here,” while Caro planned by not getting a driver’s license. Ray’s move was smart; if only he’d learned to negotiate a relationship with another human being in that time, too.
- Phil introduced the bagpipe Roadblock by describing the “undeniable sound of the bagpipe,” which is an curious word to choose, “undeniable.” I suppose that’s better than “incredibly annoying.” By the way, there were some cool special effects with Phil explaining that a team member had to assemble the bagpipe while a person demonstrating did that, but in high speed, while appearing to actually be standing next to him. How fancy!
- Kim struggled with the assembly, because all they got were instructions, which had only pictures and words. “The pictures are confusing,” she said, and “it looks very complicated.” But she also finished first, so maybe that was just some self-doubt and the editing making a big deal out of it.
- To prove that they’d successfully assembled the bagpipe, the team member doing the Detour had to play a note that approximated the sound of a dying cow.
- Arun was frustrated that Natalia stopped to help two other teams who couldn’t figure out their bagpipes, and told her, “you can help somebody, not take five minutes to help somebody.” I think the editing wanted us to think this put them behind, but they made so many mistakes, including switching Detours that seemed to not be close to each other at all. They were so far behind that Arun and Natalia found time to have a good bonding moment (“Dad, seriously, I’m so proud of you”; “Dad, you didn’t fail me”) while crying in a store.
- While terrorist-stopping train hero Spencer assembled his bagpipe, he said, “This is nothing like I’ve done in the Air Force. I was a medic.” Okay, no one talks like that unless they’re on a reality show and being prompted by a producer whose one note is like MAKE EVERYTHING ABOUT THE ARMY AND TRAIN TERRORISTS.
- The Detour was a choice between repairing a whiskey barrel and learning a song and dance and then performing it alongside two kids, who were there just to make them feel worse about not being able to do it. (Anyone count how many kids there were? They kept swapping out, which I noticed once I realized that some of the kids were much better than others at performing.)
- Penn said he “turned into a little bit of a diva” when he and Kim failed to get the song and dance right the first time. I guess if the judge had been familiar with their YouTube videos he’d have known what real talent looks like.
- I will never get “Donald, where’s your troosers” out of my head.
- We saw a video of Taylor and Isaiah’s “viral wedding dance video,” which explains why they’re “YouTube sensations” instead of just “married couple who style themselves identically.”
- Ryan and Dusty were among the teams that chose the barrel task, and made it much more exciting when one of them said, “You hold it, let me pound it” and later, “you hold, I’ll pound.” Sign me up for that Detour.
- Cayla said she and Raquel were “probably the only all-girl team that did that” barrel-fixing task. It is hard to figure out who did what, since there are a total of two all-female teams.
- Of the conflict between her and Ray, Caro said, “now we just have to figure out these little minor details that will make us more like in harmony.” Like breaking up.
Wednesday 19th of January 2022
I think we forget how rampant Covid was in Europe before hitting the States. We also don't know where leg 4 was heading next and if it was italy, there was no way that was going to happen.
Feb. 28 would line up with that. Plus I think the husband and wife hinted on a podcast that the producers realized that night that it was time to shut things down.
Tuesday 18th of January 2022
I want SAM to come back!
So, two loser teams are coming back? Pfff. This is like Survivor's Edge of Extinction.
Though I was happy when Chris won since the Anchorman didn't.
Friday 14th of January 2022
I enjoyed your take! I too wondered how the father/daughter had time to reflect while so behind. Made no sense. I’m so sad to see that the heroes won’t be returning. But it’s still my favorite show.
Friday 14th of January 2022
I'm with you Andy, when Phil said the world waits I chocked up a bit. TAR has had to change as the times have changed. The first two seasons teams were allowed to wander all over, (one team was an entire day behind by the end) but 9/11 changed that. Now COVID has changed it again (there have been other smaller changes along the way).
I can drive a manual transmission vehicle, but shifting with my left hand would be very interesting! I'm going to be sympathetic to the drivers!
Thursday 13th of January 2022
LOVE Your Commentary!!!!!!