The Amazing Race 34 opened with an ad for Expedia, and I don’t mean an actual commercial; instead, the episode began with host Phil Keoghan explaining that the teams would have to use the Expedia app to book hotel rooms.
Somehow, this was even less subtle than carrying previous sponsor Travelocity’s gnome mascot for an entire leg.
This acting challenge was not actually part of the leg, but I’m sure they would have all loved to keep the mobile phones to help them with navigation, because that was the real obstacle this episode.
Once again, having teams navigate themselves paid off in very satisfying ways, placing their fate in their own hands and steering wheels.
I’m sorry that so many teams got lost but oh, do I love that teams are responsible for their own issues. Bad cab drivers are ultimately just bad luck, but to me the race any time a cab driver was responsible for a team falling behind.
This began with a drive to Toulouse, France.
Michael and Marcus, leaving first along with Emily and Molly, attributed their success in the last episode to their navigation prowess, which of course meant they were about to misread signs and get stuck in traffic.
Luis and Michelle, and Derek and Claire, were the second group to depart, and collaborated on reading the map to find the one major highway they had to take. Yes, the route was basically a straight line. Of course, the real challenge was finding their way to that road, and then to locations in Toulouse.
Most of the navigation issues were little things, but those can build up. Quinton and Mattie turned the wrong way and ended up blocked by barriers, but convinced someone to lower them so they could get through.
Molly and made a wrong turn into a parking garage, and then couldn’t get out because the machine wouldn’t accept cash, and they don’t have credit cards. That may have been my favorite scene: such a small thing, but the compounding effects of a small error can really make travel unpleasant quickly.
Speaking of unpleasant: Aubrey and David’s navigation issues continued, with Aubrey looking at the map as if she was in an infomercial for a map-folding device (Tired of being unable to close your map?).
I was disturbed that Aubrey seemed to take the responsibility for their dysfunction during last week’s episode, telling us that they decided to “enjoy and speak nicely as David asked me to do.” Eek.A
But then it occurred to them to switch places in the car, with David navigating and Aubrey driving, and everything changed. “I’m really happy up here,” Aubrey said. “I’m living my best life.”
Once the teams found the Roadblock, one person had to complete a drill with a rugby team that included rolling, throwing, and goaling with a rugby thing. (I am good at sports knowledge and writing.)
Molly tackled that, and while she struggled with kicking a goal, the six attempts it took her seemed rather impressive, until Luis and Claire showed up and kicked it through the goalposts on their very first tries.
The Detour was a choice memorizing six lines of a Victor Hugo poem in French, or laying bricks in an intricate pattern. The bricks seemed so much easier to me, but I don’t speak French. Derek does, though he’d never seen French like this.
While they did struggle, Claire found yet another successful strategy—just mapping English words and phrases onto the French ones—that worked. And sticking with the poem task led them to place first. They won a five-night trip for two to Bankok—I mean, they won Expedia reward points. SORRY EXPEDIA!
Marcus and Michael also finished the poem, but only after two teams finished brick laying: Luis and Michelle (who switched from the poem) and Emily and Molly.
The ended up placing second and third. Poor Molly was limping, and was in tears on the mat. I love them so much, and I am not at all prepared for a physical injury to take them out—and that was before I saw the preview for next week.
There was movement compared to last week among the top four teams, but the two teams in the last group remained the last two teams.
Would Aubrey and David’s newfound navigation skills help them? Would Mattie and Quinton’s navigation troubles eliminate them?
Mattie and Quinton arrived to the stadium as David and Aubrey were leaving the Roadblock, and then got caught in traffic, and they seemed way too far behind.
But some classic Amazing Race editing had me convinced they had a chance. We saw both teams running through streets and then along the shore of the river to the boat where Phil was waiting. It seemed like they were going to arrive at the same time. And then, nope.
Aubrey and David who arrived first, and Quinton and Mattie were nowhere to be found, and Aubrey and David were long gone from the mat by the time they arrived. Clearly, they’d fallen way behind, unable to come back.
Next week will add biking and boats, and more pain for Emily, which I also just hope is the editing of a promo tricking me into thinking they’re in real trouble.
Tuesday 20th of December 2022
Hey, I've finally watched the episode. I tweeted it, but I can't resist commenting here too. ;-)
So, yes, some background information if anyone besides Andy reads this. I'm French. I was born and grew up an hour from Toulouse where I went to college (and I also know the region in the previous episode like the back of my hand).
It was so uncanny to see an episode of a US reality show taking place in my home region and my college "home" We even saw glimpses of my old neighborhood (where the two churches are).
A few comments:
First, I can't believe some people had trouble finding the highway to Toulouse. It's very easy to find from their departing point (Domme).
With that being said, finding your way once you're in Toulouse is very difficult, especially when you're under pressure like they were. Also, traffic can be insane in Toulouse (probably some of the most insane in France), especially the beltway (where the brothers took a wrong turn looking for the stadium).
The sisters getting lost and ending up in the parking garage is so funny (I'm not laughing at them, I feel for them). Pro tip: in most parking garages in France you must pay at the machine before trying to exit (of course, usually, you also leave your car and go somewhere when you use one).
Also, Andy, I know you like this kind of "inside information" but when Quinton and Mattie get stuck in a street that's blocked by some "bollards" (not sure of the exact term) and Mattie talks to a guy in a machine and he opens for her, I'm pretty sure production helped (or filming an American TV show helped). There is no way a random person can have the street opened this way otherwise. Those things are there to prevent traffic from entering the square on some days (or during day time, I forgot, they were installed after I left the city)
I was impressed with some of the players kicking the ball on their first attempt.
Yes, memorizing the poem looked so hard. French is my native language and I was struggling with it (of course, they probably had a couple of hours to do it, and I only had a couple of minutes - full disclosure, I'm sure I have studied it in high school, but not memorized it, just studied it). I was impressed with Mattie's pronunciation. Almost everyone else's (including Derek's) wasn't that great. David fell into the trap that many Spanish speakers fall into. French is easy to understand for a Spanish speaker, but it is extremely difficult to read (in Spanish writing is pretty much phonetic, in French, almost every other letter is silent). He should have listened to the people telling him the lines more and tried to read them less. Derek "never seeing French like this" made me roll my eyes a little bit. He did. He just forgot it. There wasn't a single unusual word in it if I remember well. The whole thing gave me flashbacks of back when I used to teach French in the US (that's when I got acquainted with Survivor and the Amazing Race).
Concerning the final dash between the last two teams, editing definitely tricked us, because Aubrey and David actually got lost on the way to the canal and made a detour, whereas Quinton and Mattie seem to have gone straight from the church to the canal. So I don't think it was even close.
Alright, I did enjoy this episode much more than the previous one. I don't think I'll watch the rest of the season (especially because I know who wins it), but I may watch next season. We'll see. :-)
Monday 14th of November 2022
I know it's a TV show and they have to create drama, but I would love if in the post race confessional they said how far behind the team was.
Do you know if the losing teams travel with the production team or are they sent to the final destination?
Saturday 19th of November 2022
@NinjaWarriorFan, AFAIK, losing teams currently travel with the rest of the pack. Thats because they use charter now.