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Amazing Race 34’s megaleg creates exhaustion and doubt in Florence

Amazing Race 34’s megaleg creates exhaustion and doubt in Florence
Phil Keoghan in Florence with the Amazing Race 34 episode 4 Roadblock statue that team members had to chisel out of a block. (Image from Amazing Race via CBS)

The Amazing Race 34’s megaleg is over after two cities, two roadblocks, and two detours, which spanned two episodes, concluding in episode four.

While very similar to the legs where Phil Keoghan greets them at the mat and then sends them on to a second leg, the megaleg tells them up front that they have a long day ahead, which has a different kind of psychological impact than the fake-out.

The megaleg very clearly wore out some of the teams. It was long—about 12 hours, Derek said—and I do not doubt it was exhausting.

But I also imagine teams from early seasons of The Amazing Race laughing at how easy this leg was relative to some of their legs, starting with just dealing with hours in airports and on planes and finding connecting flights, never mind navigating to route markers and through challenges.

It was so exhausting that, arriving on the mat, Sharik told host Phil Keoghan, “Please send me back to New York.” Her please was met with a cheerful “pleased” from Phil: “I’m pleased to tell you that you are team number nine.”

Phil then called her out: “You have a choice” to go home or keep racing, he said, and while she protested (“My arms hurt so much”), she ultimately relented and said she’d keep racing for her dad. “Yeah, I’ll keep racing,” she said, but Phil wasn’t going to take such a feeble reply. There was some fun—and crucially, non-berating—banter, and she finally cracked a smile and said, “Yes, Phil.”

After they checked in, Linton said in an interview that his daughter “got sassy with me throughout the entire ordeal.” It was, coincidentally, a super-sassy night on CBS!

That sassiness was mostly just complaining, from: “I want to go home. No, I honestly do, I’m not lying” to “I’m over it” to “I’d rather be at home.”

Sharik did her first—and now only—Roadblock, and though she completed it, complained even through a complement from her father. “It was difficult,” he said, and she interrupted: “Yes, Dad, it was difficult,” and he finished “…and you pulled through.”

That is the key to The Amazing Race: pulling through even when things seem impossible.

Rich and Dom driving during The Amazing Race 34 episode 2, because CBS didn't have any images of them in episode 4
Rich and Dom driving during The Amazing Race 34 episode 2, because CBS didn’t have any images of them in episode 4 (Image from Amazing Race via CBS)

Alas, that wasn’t enough for Dom and Rich, who faced the megaleg and their elimination from the race on their anniversary.

While some of their mid-race pep talk was a little grating at times, I was so impressed with how loving and connected they remained even in that low moment of being Philiminated.

There were rougher patches earlier. As they struggled to navigate on their drive to Florence, Rich told Dom, “I’m asking you to trust me” and then said, unconvincingly, “I do feel like we’re going toward the right direction.”

(There was some sketchy editing with some of that dialogue, as the image cut from Dom wearing a face mask covering her face to a shot with her umasked but Rich with a mask on his chin. Clearly, those were shot at completely different times.)

The second megaleg Roadblock asked the team member to carve an intricate statue. As almost everyone figured out quickly, that meant chipping away plaster to reveal a pre-fabricated statue underneath, so the task was really about delicately and carefully getting rid of all the non-statue plaster.

Dom, though, saw her block and almost gave up. “I can’t do this,” she said. “How am I supposed to create this?” In an interview, she told us, “I just knew that this is not something that I can do.”

After doing a couple little chisels, she said, “Rich, I’d rather risk it and take a penalty because this is not what I do … This is not my kind of thing” and “nope, I’m done.”

While she said “I’d rather take a four-hour penalty,” Rich suggested she “pretend for 15 minutes” that she was a sculptor. Only then did she realize the secret. Later, she told us, “I can get scared with what I don’t know.”

While I appreciate her self-awareness, I imagine this was the kind of fear that’s easily stirred up by the chaos of the race, never mind exhaustion. If she’d just taken a few seconds to look around—or to carefully read her clue!—she’d have realize that all the sculptures were impossibly identical, and that the clue said “chisel out” the statue, not “chisel a statue.”

Meanwhile, in the face of exhaustion and despite leaving the previous Roadblock in last place, Lumumba approached the statue with good cheer: “I’m using my years of not doing this to invent something,” he said, and

Glenda and Lumumba both started crying upon arriving to the mat once they realized they’d pulled into eighth place. They’ve been second the previous two legs, but really struggled during the megaleg.

Molly Sinert chisels away during The Amazing Race 34 episode 4 Roadblock, the second in the megaleg
Molly Sinert chisels away during The Amazing Race 34 episode 4 Roadblock, the second in the megaleg. (Photo by Kit Karzen/CBS)

The Detour was a choice between:

  • finding three piazzas in Florence where faux photo shoots were happening, memorizing the clothing on the models, and matching the clothing to the place, or
  • searching for three of 150 plague windows to get some to-go food

Both of these options, like the drive to Florence, appeared to be aided by very specific directions. Navigation was still probably tough, but when Phil first introduced the challenge, I thought they were going to have to wander around Florence just looking for fashion shoots or marked windows, something that would have taken much longer.

During their search for windows, Luis and Michelle teamed up with Mattie and Quinton, and ended up arriving together in 4 and 5th place. That’s a smart play for the last part of a megaleg—or any leg, I guess—especially if you know you’re not in competition for first or last place.

While I like the idea of having teams navigate the city, the editing of it was a bit of a blur, and the real focus of the episode was on its last-place teams. But there was also great competition at the front of the pack.

Emily and Molly checked in first, pulling ahead of Marcus and Micahel.

The twin sisters won “Expedia reward points” for a trip to Sydney, at which point it occurred to me that Expedia as a sponsor means no Travelocity sponsorships—i.e. no roaming gnome challenge! First non-elimination legs get the axe, and now the gnome!

Emily and Molly are my current favorite team, and I’m rooting for them to win. While they don’t have decades of relationship history that can weigh teams down, they’re also having to learn about each other, and maybe feeling the pressure of making up for lost time.

But they’re also getting more screen time than some of the middle-of-the-pack teams, so I’m nervous for them, too!

Next week, teams are on to a place The Amazing Race has never been: Jordan.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    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.

Discussion: your turn

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Happy discussing!


Friday 14th of October 2022

This too was the episode that I realized there won't a roaming gnome this season despite it's at least the second time "Expedia" points were awarded.


Friday 14th of October 2022

Given that Travelocity and Expedia are still owned by the same parent company, never give up hope! :)


Thursday 13th of October 2022

Andy—“her pleas”. Don’t be Dan Quail :)

Andy Dehnart

Friday 14th of October 2022

I did mean "please"! As in, her use of the word "please" in "please send me home"—though I can see how "pleas" would work there, too!


Thursday 13th of October 2022

Rich and Dom were over-the-top and a bit ridiculous, but I really came to appreciate their positive attitudes and support for each other by the end. I'm bummed they got eliminated, especially when Sharik was so clearly done with it all. It sucks to lose a team that wants to be there for one that doesn't.

I'm with you that all of the complaining about how long the leg was seemed rather silly. Maybe they had to do more tasks in a single day, but this leg was still shorter than many standard legs on early seasons.