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Why 4 teams didn’t return to Amazing Race 33, and why the returning teams came in last

Why 4 teams didn’t return to Amazing Race 33, and why the returning teams came in last
Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler were one of the four teams that didn't return to The Amazing Race 33 (Image from Amazing Race via CBS)

The Amazing Race 33 lost four teams when it resumed after a year and a half break, and while the latest episode didn’t explain why each team didn’t return, we now know the reason for all of their absences.

One of the teams actually did return, but then had to leave right before the race restarted.

First, though, the two returning teams—Michael and Moe, and Arun and Natalia—came back only to be eliminated (Michael and Moe) and second-to-last (Arun and Natalia), despite seeming like they were far ahead of Akbar and Sheri.

There’s a reason for that: the two returning TAR 33 teams were forced to complete a Speedbump task that was edited out of the final episode.

Moe Badger and Michael Norwood run from a mystery task that was cut from The Amazing Race 33, episode 4
Moe Badger and Michael Norwood leave the Speedbump task that was cut from The Amazing Race 33, episode 4. (Photo by Helmut Wechter/CBS)

Speedbumps are typically used after non-elimination legs, when the last place team is saved but then has to complete an extra task during the next leg.

The giant green ball is a giant green faux head of cabbage, and Moe told Parade what it involved:

So we had to pick who would do it. And Mike said, “Mo, you did the last one; I’ll do this one.” We’re in this muddy, muddy grass. Mike’s running around in this giant cabbage with no shoes on. We had to go from haystack to haystack, and I had to lead him there with my voice so he could knock it over. But Mike did a phenomenal job. He rolled around and put his body on the line. We did it so fast. But the only problem was just getting to that place. We got lost getting there. But I mean, once we got there, it was a breeze, and we did a great job. We did what we said; we communicated and took our time.

Moe says explicitly that he thinks that Speedbump is why they were eliminated: “If we just did the belts and got the opportunity to drive to the next place to the next place without stopping, I think ourselves and Arun and Natalia would have still been in the race. But just finding that extra task was really tough.”

As I wrote in my episode four recap, I think bringing back those teams was fair, because the race effectively restarts with every equalizer, anyway. But I don’t love this use of the Speedbump, though I can understand why it was added to the leg. It effectively puts the two eliminated teams in last place, mirroring their last-place finishes in the first two legs. But their return isn’t the same as being saved at the end of a leg. In some ways, they helped save the season by agreeing to return, and I think starting them all off without a penalty would have been just fine.

At the very least, I think the Speedbump should have been included, because it really did affect the outcome of the leg—even if it was just driving to and from there that was the issue.

Why 4 teams couldn’t return to The Amazing Race 33

The Amazing Race 33 teams: (front row, left to right) Akbar Cook, Sheridan Cook, Kim Holderness, Penn Holderness (middle row) Michael Norwood, Armonde “Moe” Badger, Marianela “Lulu” and Marissa “Lala” Gonzalez, Caro Viehweg, Ray Gantt, Raquel Moore, Cayla Platt, Ryan Ferguson, Dusty Harris (back row) Connie and Sam Greiner, Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone, Arun and Natalia Kumar, Taylor and Isaiah Green-Jones
The Amazing Race 33 teams: (front row, left to right) Akbar Cook, Sheridan Cook, Kim Holderness, Penn Holderness (middle row) Michael Norwood, Armonde “Moe” Badger, Marianela “Lulu” and Marissa “Lala” Gonzalez, Caro Viehweg, Ray Gantt, Raquel Moore, Cayla Platt, Ryan Ferguson, Dusty Harris (back row) Connie and Sam Greiner, Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone, Arun and Natalia Kumar, Taylor and Isaiah Green-Jones. (Photo by CBS)

Here’s why each of the four Amazing Race 33 teams didn’t return to the race.

Taylor and Isaiah Green-Jones

Married couple Taylor and Isaiah actually returned to the finish the race, but had to leave because of a death in the family. Taylor wrote on Instagram:

Now that the episode has aired, I’m able to share why we didn’t return to the race after the 19 month hiatus. My big brother/protector Montrell “Kirk” passed away from covid 2 days after we arrived for the restart of the race. As you can imagine this was devastating for our family, friends & loved ones. Without question we left the show to be back home and support our family.

In a separate message in the same Instagram post, Taylor and Isaiah thanked the producers and CBS “for working with us and making it a priority for us to get home safe to our loved ones.”

Connie and Sam Greiner

Connie and Sam didn’t return because Connie was pregnant, although the baby, Eijah, wasn’t born until December.

“We weren’t obviously able to finish the race, but we won more than a million dollars here,” Connie said in a video Sam posted to his Instagram story.

Sam said, “He is the first born baby on The Amazing Race during a pit stop.”

Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone

Anthony said in an Instagram video, “It was just a scheduling thing for me and Spencer. At the time of the reshoot we just couldn’t attend because of some other obligations.”

In his own video, Spencer elaborated on those obligations::

Unfortunately, Anthony was promoted in his job—which he was a financial consultant. And he was put into a higher position and ultimately they couldn’t let him—couldn’t afford to lose him for the time period that we would need to go back and finish the race.

I had some school that was starting and it was gonna conflict with that. And so those are the reasons. We’re really bummed out that we couldn’t make it back. Every time I watched one of the episodes it just makes me sad because I know the end result that we couldn’t go back. I felt like we were doing really good in the race and I thought we had a really good chance of winning it.

Hopefully, The Amazing Race will consider having us back for another season. I would love that. I know Anthony would love that.

Caro Viehweg and Ray Gantt

Ray Gantt and Caroline "Caro" Viehweg on Love Island season 1.
Ray Gantt and Caroline “Caro” Viehweg on Love Island season 1. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/CBS Entertainment)

Ray and Caro were the one team we knew wouldn’t return even before the season began. That’s because, way back in July of 2020, Caro revealed that they broke up in a YouTube video.

“We’re not dating any more,” she said. “I really tried my hardest in this relationship. … I just don’t feel like was committed to the relationship how I was, and that’s why I decided to break up with him.”

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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Happy discussing!

Steve Mathison

Sunday 6th of March 2022

I didn’t think it was fair that eliminated teams got to come back at all. I would have rather seen more two-episode legs to fill out the season, than those teams back on.

What happened to so many of the things that made the Amazing Race amazing like speed bumps and yields?

I get that the race was able to come back with a lot of safety challenges which caused them to have to stay in some cities for days — but I thought most of the challenges were very dull — breaking plates to find you clue? — or very repetitive (lots of boat challenges and rowing boat challenges and challenges related to sea creatures in tins) and lots of getting clues from or listening to people ramble.

I used to love the Amazing Race, but I have to say, indeed, it has gotten to a point now where, it’s boring, repetitive, and seemingly predictable. LA as the final city? Really? We’ve got 50 states and the Amazing Race has a long, long way to go to hold a finale in all 50 — but this finale was a complete turkey. The final quiz challenge was the easiest one in history. Actually, this was one of the easiest finales and certainly the most boring ever — apart from the Foley editing — which would have been a great challenge earlier in the race. I think the biggest problem with this season was not enough endurance, fear factor, and real racing situations. The biggest set back was getting lost all of the time.

Finally, I’ve been saying this for years, but they need to come up with a way that first place team enters the stadium of champions last. So, I’ve finally come up with a plan for them.

We’ll call the teams A, B, and C.

The all arrive at location for final challenge, but are separated from each other so they have no way of knowing who finishes first.

C finishes the final challenge in first, they run into the tunnel and are diverted into a holding cell and told to wait.

B finishes second, they run into the tunnel and are diverted into a holding cell and told to wait.

A finishes third, and runs into the tunnel and out onto the field, past the eliminated teams up to the mat where Phil breaks the bad news, they have come in 3rd.

Then team B is released from their cell, not knowing if they are first or second. They run onto the field, past the eliminated teams and team A, so they realize they are second and Phil confirms. Then team C is released not knowing if they ar e first or second until they approach the mat and see the other two teams are already there. They reach the mat, and Phil congratulates them as the winners!

This would be a much more exciting way to do the finalé and the audience at home would not know who won until the last few seconds rather than finding out and then waiting for the stranglers in second and third place to run across.

CBS needs to alter the prize money. A) One million dollars is too low after taxes and split in two. I recommend they got to. $5 million. B) Second place and 3rd place should have prize money of $250K and $75 K.

Instituting cash prizes for 2nd and 3rd would motivate more teams to try and reach the top three.

Jill

Saturday 29th of January 2022

Caro said on the Paramount/CBS site that the reason she didn't return was that she held a German passport and that prevented her from traveling as the game wished. She said nothing about a break-up and neither did he. The big storytellers!

Ben

Sunday 23rd of January 2022

I'm glad to have heard the specifics about why these 4 teams could not return, because it adds a lot of context to both what they had to deal with and how COVID-19 has affected everything on Earth so massively: obviously the most terrible example was Taylor and Isaiah losing a loved one to the goddamned plague, but I wouldn't be shocked if the impact of the pandemic also made Anthony in particular someone that a company simply could not afford to lose (not least in the middle of the Great Resignation), or that the notion of leaving a baby with family or friends is a something that has a 0% chance of happening as opposed to a very slim one under normal circumstances (there are some past TAR teams that I'm quite sure would have left an infant with people they trusted if they had to do so to compete). Life moves forward and this was a powerful illustration of that under unprecedented conditions.

Adam

Saturday 22nd of January 2022

I hate when they bring eliminated contestants back the same season, but agree this time was ok. Sad we missed the speed bump though.

Antonio

Friday 21st of January 2022

Thank you. I wondered about Anthony and Spencer, and Taylor and Isaiah.