Previously on The Amazing Race, 22 strangers became 11 teams. While CBS trumpets the notion that it’s an original concept, the truth is that they did something similar with a blind date season a few years ago. Still, it’s a great idea that’s already led to some fascinating reactions.
The Amazing Race Season 29: Episode 2
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
April 13, 2017
Some duos have become fast friends. The impossibly upbeat Team Fun certainly qualifies. Oddly, two women who instantly hated each other also decided that they were buddies. It was a surprising turn of events that exemplifies how much a great attitude matters during the competition.
A couple of other teams didn’t do quite as well in this regard, especially Brooke & Scott and Vanck & Ashton. The former tandem has two narcissists hating one another for being too selfish.
The other duo is Beauty and the Geek. Ashton thought she was on the blind date season, and maybe Vanck did, too. When he picked the attractive woman, she acted crushed. Then, he went out of his way to make her feel stupid during the first leg.
None of these four came across well on television, and we’re not expecting any of them to make a deep run unless they have a change in attitude. To a larger point, we expect blow-ups from most of the teams this year. The Amazing Race is stressful enough when you do it with someone you love. Imagine how it’s going to be when someone is facing their biggest fear, and a stranger that they don’t have a crush on is yelling at them to suck it up and finish.
Tonight’s episode begins with an attack on Syria. So, our DVR originally misses the first five minutes. Like good Millennials (and not at all Gen Xers since we’re so young at heart), we wait until the next day and stream the episode on CBS.com. We receive four car commercials in order to watch the first five minutes of the episode. CBS just doesn’t understand anyone under 60, do they?
Tonight’s episode begins with Team Fun rapping a made-up song about the first leg of the race. They claim that their goal is to have the most fun of any team in the history of the show. We don’t expect them to win, but we’re still 100% ready to give them a reality series of their very own.
After a bit of discussion about which teammates already loathe one another, Seth & Olive are ready to start the episode. At 11:16 PM, they open the clue that lets them know the next challenge is in Sau Paulo, Brazil. Somewhere, everyone in the writers’ room for The Simpsons just perked up.
The process of getting a flight isn’t that simple, though. Everyone has to book through the same travel agency. That small room gets very crowded as the players all try to arrive in Sao Paulo the fastest. Shamir has a natural advantage here, as he speaks the same language as the travel agents. He clearly lets his person know that they need the earliest arrival date, and she seems to get it for him.
Shamir does make a small tactical error, though. He loudly announces to his partner that he’s sure that’s the best flight. In the tight quarters, Brooke overhears this comment and cleverly asks her agent to book her on standby for that flight. As this happens, the flight sells out. Somehow, this costs Shamir a room also. He…doesn’t handle his disappointment well. His partner, Sara, is taken aback by his rage and has to calm him down so that the travel agent can get them on a different flight.
The quirk of the frenzied negotiations is that 11 teams wind up on six flights to the same airport in Brazil. Vanck & Ashton and Matt & Redmond are on the first flight. Seth & Olive, Shamir & Sara, and Brooke & Scott are on the airplane that will arrive second. Liz & Michael wind up by themselves on a flight, which is historically either really good or really bad for a team. London & Logan are in the same situation, albeit on a later departure. The fifth flight features Becca & Floyd and Tara & Joey, while Jessie & Francesca wind up as the only ones on the last flight.
Stating the obvious, the Swole Sisters are in trouble. They mystery here is why there’s such a shakeup in the team orders from the rest stop until flight arrivals.
First up in Sao Paulo is a helicopter ride to the top of a skyscraper. After that’s done, the players must travel to Praça da Sé to pick up their next clue. A hilarious situation unfolds as Vanck & Ashton make an agreement with Matt & Redmond. The teams will flip a coin to decide who gets to go in the helicopter first. The man/woman team expresses their intent to honor this agreement. Matt & Redmond assume that their opponents are lying. After all, the dudes know that they have no intention of flipping a coin. They’re casually dismissive of any verbal agreement on The Amazing Race whereas Vanck & Ashton are quite noble.
“We may have been jerks. A little bit.”
The guys sign in and sit in a waiting area. The other team arrives, and the guys are deliriously happy to tell them that they weren’t the least bit serious about such a stupid agreement. As Ashton stews over their treachery, the guys laugh into the camera and say, “SorryNotSorry”. We’re not sure either of them have ever been prouder of anything they’ve ever done in their lives. The byproduct of this turn of events is that it seems to unify Vanck & Ashton. They both realize that they’re traveling with a teammate they can trust.
The other teams all check in to ride the helicopter, and the process hints that a huge gap is going to exist between the earliest teams to arrive and the later ones. This leg might not have a lot of mystery. Also, we want to point out that while every other team rushes to sign in, Becca & Floyd take a selfie with their cab driver. They’re acting like they’re on Spring Break, not in a race for a million dollars.
Everyone loves the helicopter ride over Brazil, though.
Matt & Redmond, who are happier than even Becca & Floyd right now, call their shot. Matt says, “We’re hoping on the tv right now, underneath our names, it says ‘currently in first place.’” Right on cue, the editing adds the magic words!
Jessie & Francesca are not catching any breaks. Since they were on the last flight into the city, they run into morning traffic that the other teams had avoided. The editing suggests that they’re having a great time, but they seem like they’re in a real trouble.
The first Detour of the night involves two favorites in Brazil: Samba and Jujitsu. For Keep the Beat, teams must play a drum and some sort of weird, jingly well enough to keep up with a Samba performing group. Work Your Feet seems slower. It requires players to build a make-your-own-gym with the kind of spare parts usually reserved for a junkyard. A heavyweight boxer will decide if the gym is up to his standards. It doesn’t seem…especially Jujitsu-y.
Matt & Redmond pick Work Your Feet, with Redmond explaining it’s because he only has one (foot). They’re also the first ones to think they’ve completed the challenge. Alas, they didn’t put water in a barrel, so a disappointed Brazilian silently indicates that they’re not done yet. Moments later, they realize their mistake and become the first two on either side of the Detour to finish. Not that long afterward, Vanck & Ashton finish. Seth & Olive, who might have actually done the challenge the quickest, also complete the activity. These three teams seem like the best players so far this season.
Cut to Keep the Beat, where Shamir & Sara are the first team to make an attempt. They seem like they have it, but Sara plays too long…which isn’t even in her best interest in trying to do the leg quickly. So, they fail. The second time through, the opposite happens. Shamir doesn’t stop in time, much to the frustration of the drum major. He was ready to give them their next clue.
There seems to be an unwritten rule on The Amazing Race this season. Every 20 minutes or so, they cut to Brooke & Scott to show one of them having a meltdown. This time, it’s Brooke. She’s unhappy that they’re…walking on a sidewalk? Or something.
Anyway, she angrily storms away from the camera crew...and promptly falls down. Scott offers to help, but she isn’t having it. Then, she gets angry and demands that he pull her up, exactly what he tried to do in the first place. She runs up a rampway, noting that she’d bruised her elbow and drawn blood on her forearm. For successful people, these are two extremely panicky humans.
Brooke’s injury has immediate ramifications, too. They chose Work Your Feet, which requires the lifting of several heavy objects. She holds her arm limp as she gamely tries to carry her part of the loads. This challenge would have been difficult if she’d been completely healthy. She’s a scrawny little thing. With only one good arm, she looks like a small child trying to lift a bowling ball.
Other than that, both sides of the Detour are uneventful. Shamir & Sara eventually finish theirs, putting them in fourth place overall. Liz & Michael were both in high school band, and their performance helps them crawl further up the leaderboard. They’ve now gone up from last place to fifth place in this episode.
London & Logan are now in sixth, while Team Fun nails their performance to earn seventh place. Brooke & Scott struggle their way to eighth place, with Brooke not complaining the one time either of them has good reason to do so. We’d say that Tara & Joey are in trouble in ninth place, but the Swole Sisters haven’t even arrived at the Detour yet. In fact, Tara & Joey finish, and that’s *STILL* true. It’s been obvious for a while who is getting eliminated tonight.
The next location tonight is Avenida Paulista. Here, teams must wash a marked window on a tall building. So, they’ll have to descend from the top of the building and then perform basic window washing duties. Humorously, a cabbie issue bites The Boys, which allows Vanck and Ashton to get to the building first. The stunning turn of events is that Liz & Michael somehow get there second. They’re having an epic reversal of fortune during this leg. Right on cue, Liz comes soaring down the side of the building as Ashton clutches her rope in fear. There’s a real chance Liz & Michael are going to win this leg, which would be one of the best recoveries in the history of the show.
Other contestants aren’t like Liz. Scott in particular hates heights. He offers to do the challenge before realizing what it is. Brooke correctly states that he has to do it since her arm renders her useless. As he rides the elevator up to the top floor, the freakout begins. By the time he’s ready to attach himself to the exterior apparatus, he’s in tears. To his credit, he’s using the situation as a way to address and hopefully conquer his fear.
Hey look! It’s Jessie & Francesca at the Detour! They’re only four months behind! In fact, this could possibly be our first ever live update of an Amazing Race challenge. On the plus side, they aren’t bothered by their fate. If anything, they seem to be having more fun than most of the other teams, Team Fun excepted, of course.
At the window washing, many of the contestants are on the building facing at the same time. Liz blows by her competitors and winds up in first place. Their next destination is the Pit Stop, which will be a more joyous arrival than last time, when they were technically the last time to get to Phil. Only a penalty on Kevin & Jenn saved them from elimination. Now, they’re the winners of the leg, as they don’t get lost along the way. They win a trip to Barbados, which does make us wonder whether they have to take it together or they each get one.
The rest of the leg is uneventful. Ashton oddly mentions that they finished ahead of Liz & Michael and should have won the leg, which isn’t true. She may not have even realized that Liz passed her, though. The order of finish for the next several teams is Matt & Redmond, Seth & Olive, Becca & Floyd (yay!), Brooke & Scott, Tara & Joey, and London & Logan.
The editors try to build a sense of suspense about Shamir & Sara. It helps that the Swole Sisters do finally arrive at the skyscraper before their opponents can leave. Even that proves to be a detriment, though. A bicyclist drives around with the clue. They ask Sara where it is, and she cleverly but cruelly points them in the wrong direction…as the bicyclist drives right by them. The distraction prevents the women from getting the clue. They walk around aimlessly as Shamir…tries to get feeling back in his testicles.
Yes, this is a thing that happens in tonight’s episode. Shamir puts on the harness and promptly complains about testicular restriction. While washing the window, he angrily demands that the helper lower him to the ground. Shamir literally breaks a window to let them know that he’s in danger of “my testicles rupturing.” It’s funny, but it also makes us wonder about the jackasses in charge of running this apparatus.
Shamir DOES complain immediately. He also has to ask for medical attention. While he’s already displayed his temper in this episode, this situation feels different. Shamir enters an ambulance (!) and angrily shuts the door so that the cameraman doesn’t film him during his unexpected prostate exam. The fact that he had to do this is indicative of how apathetic some of The Amazing Race’s crew is about the medical status of its players. Around this time, Sara tricks the Swole Sisters. Sara is equally callous about the condition of her partner. All she cares about is whether they survive the leg. It does lead to an interesting debate. Would a man rather have healthy testicles or a million dollars? Is this already a Japanese game show? If not, it should be.
Anyway, Shamir does finish the challenge first. Then, Sara and he arrive at the Pit Stop, where Shamir angrily throws his backpack and stomps around Phil. The host of the show is unamused and clearly has a problem with the immature actions. He also wonders if it crosses over into how Shamir treats Sara. She dutifully supports her partner, but his body language speaks volumes. He turns away from her. He also stands upright in a confrontational position.
Phil actually seems hopeful that Shamir might quit, even offering the younger man the option. Alas, Shamir already has busted balls. So, he figures that the worst has already happened. Sometime after that, the women around and learn that they are, as expected, the last team to arrive. They are eliminated from the race.
Even so, what happened with Jessie & Francesca was rather impressive. They got into a dustup before they were partners. Once they were teamed together, however, they were sunshine, smiles, and joy. And if Phil had the choice, they’d stay while Shamir was escorted out of the hotel that evening.