Amazing Race 33 changed how teams leave the pit stop, and mislead us – reality blurred

In its fifth episode, The Amazing Race 33 introduced the new way that teams are going to be released from pit stops: in groups, based on arrival time.

“For the remainder of the season, teams will be checking out of the pit stop based on the order in which they arrived in the previous leg. They’ll depart in groups leaving every 15 minutes, ”host Phil Keoghan explained to us.

When teams checked in at the end of this leg, they learned what their departure group would be. The first two teams were in the first group, and the third and fourth team was in the second group. The last team to arrive will leave by itself, 30 minutes later.

I’ll spend a brief moment lamenting the loss of actually staggered departures based on the actual arrival time. It used to be exactly 12 hours later (or 36 hours later for extended pit stops) that teams would depart.

This new method is absolutely preferable to just bunching everyone up and having an equalizer at the start of every leg of the race, which is what would definitely happen since they’re all traveling on the same plane.

I’m not sure how it’ll work, though, as the number of teams shrinks even further. Will they eventaully start to stagger individual teams by 15 minutes?

So, Arun and Natalia started this leg of the race at the exact same time as Akbar and Shari, even though they came in later than Akbar and Shari last leg.

Which brings me to the two eliminated teams that returned to The Amazing Race 33: Michael and Moe, and Arun and Natalia.

Last week, their first episode back, they both came in at the back of the pack last week, and Michael and Moe checked in last, causing their elimination.

In his voice-over recap of the last leg, host Phil Keoghan said “a mistake at the Detour ended the second chance for Michael and Moe.”

Actually, that’s completely false: the extra Speedbump task that both they and Arun and Natalia had to complete — and which was cut from the episode — is what led to their elimination.

Moe said explicitly that they got lost on the way to the Speedbump. And it was that Speedbump that left Arun and Natalia in last place to start this episode, though it they came in last because it was déjà vu all over again.

But this week, Arun and Natalia were saved by a non-elimination leg.

Arun Kumar and Natalia Kumar, in last place during The Amazing Race 33 episode 5
Arun Kumar and Natalia Kumar, in last place during The Amazing Race 33 episode 5. (Image from Amazing Race via CBS)

Arun and Natalia were so far behind that Phil Keoghan said, “You’re a little late — in fact, so late, that our greeter had to go.” And Phil should have been in bed with a beer by now!

But then he revealed that it was a non-elimination leg and that they’d be departing in the “third departure time, on your own.” That means they’ll be 30 minutes behind the first two teams next week, which could be an impossible deficit or could be easy to overcome, depending upon the design of the leg.

In a minor change from last week, when the teams were in town, and not at the challenge locations, they were wearing masks. Well, mostly, sort of. Last episode, we saw multiple unmasked teams asking for directions and chatting with strangers. Between the outdoor location and limited time, probably low-risk — but I’m amazed any risk was allowed considering the potential to infect and affect the entire production, which may explain the sudden appearance of masks.

Okay, let’s look at some of the highlights from episode five, which was definitely a stronger leg than last week:

  • At the start of this leg, they opened a clue describing the 722-foot bungee jump Roadblock, decided who was going to do it — and then had to drive more than two hours, letting the anxiety build up. Now that’s brutal leg design!
  • Dusty told us that there was “confinement and the rage building inside these two animals — when you open the cage, you’re going to get something spectacular today.” I don’t know if they can show that on TV, Dusty.
  • The bungee jump was off the Verzasca Dam, which was featured in the opening of GoldenEye. I was wondering at first if it might the same Switzerland dam used in this Mole season 2 challenge, but I guess Switzerland has more than one dam reality TV shows can ask people to jump off.
  • Raquel told us Cayla “just has a better sense of direction.” Cut to Cayla: “I literally can’t find where we are. I’m just trying to figure out where we are on this map. ” I guess a sense of direction is different than an ability to read a map.
  • Sheri was told that “for safety reasons, you have to complete this Roadblock,” because Akbar was too heavy. Sheri took this better than I would have. “I just could not believe it,” she said. I would have thrown that clue on the ground and yelled at the producers, Yeah right, you assholes are just trying to get another episode out of my fear of heights!
  • “The toughest thing is not looking out the window,” said Penn, the person who was driving and thus supposed to be, you know, looking out the window. In fairness, he was talking about the scenery: “Every time I do I want to stare for 30 minutes.” I have something you could stare at: the road, and all of the scenery around it.
  • The Travelocity gnome returned (the world is healing!) And began flirting with Dusty, perhaps because it’d heard that Dusty was as hot as a caged animal. “I’ve got the Travelocity gnome eyeballing me before I plunge to my death,” Dusty said.
  • So, the Travelocity gnome bit has really run its course for me, but I must confess that its bungee harness was super cute.
  • The team members bungee jumped from a platform that reached over the side of the dam, but none of the camera angles made it clear to me how they just didn’t bang into the wall repeatedly. I was scared every jump.
  • “I’m really nervous for Lala,” said Lulu, apparently, and for one brief moment I knew which twin was which.
  • As Lala stood on the platform before jumping, she told the safety person, “This one feels loose.” He said, “That’s okay; they can be loose around there. ” And that’s when I would have demanded: TIGHTEN EVERYTHING UNTIL I CANNOT FEEL ANYTHING
  • “We’re headed downhill — downhill in spirit, downhill in driving,” Natalia said as she and her dad got lost yet again.
  • Upon arriving at the dam, Akbar looked over the edge and laughed. “It is crazy scary,” he said. Also scary: the way you’re still treating your wife most of the race, and blaming it on being athletes, which is a lame excuse since that was decades ago.
  • Sheri just kept saying “oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god” as she walked out on the platform, and then asked, “Am I connected?” She jumped, and impressed me yet again: she’s a bad-ass just pushing through her fears di lei. And I laughed when, at the bottom of the jump, she said, simply, “get me up!”
  • I usually think the precision Detour takes longer than the physical one, but having to go up and down 400 stairs multiple times to carry the nuts and the wine bottles seemed like a lot more work than just squeezing nine feet worth of sausages and then coiling them .
  • For the staircase Detour, the teams had to carry 12 bags of nuts and 12 bottles of wine to the top, requiring multiple trips for both. They also had to bring a nut and tiny bottle of wine for the gnome, who I guess we just learned is of drinking age.
  • I am sad Ryan and Dusty chose the staircase because I can only imagine what Dusty would have said about his nine-foot sausage.
  • Sheri and Akbar chose the physical task, and Sheri decided they could carry six bottles of wine up the stairs— ”come on, let’s just try,” she said, and I thought she might be right. But then she quickly changed her mind (“let’s put some back before we drop them”) before proceeding to drop one bottle.
  • Akbar declared that he and Sheri were “walking to our doom” as they arrived at the mat, where they learned they were actually team number five.
  • Arun told us, “We are beating ourselves, and it’s emotional just because how many people get an opportunity to do something like this with their daughter.” They’re a nice team, but he’s right: they’re just not cut out for this race. We’ll see next week if they can live up to their promise to Phil to not place last yet again.

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