Much like many things, the Express Pass on “The Amazing Race Canada” (or any other version of the show, for that matter) is really all about restraint. You have to know the right time in which to use it, since otherwise you run the risk of not taking proper advantage of a great opportunity that was given to you.
On Tuesday night’s new episode of the show, it was team Fire & Ice Frankie & Amy that learned the hard way just how delicate Express Pass strategy truly is. There are many rules to using one properly, and the first rule is that you don’t want to use it if you’re nowhere near the back of the pack. When they decided to use it in Hamilton before the airplane Roadblock, they were fairly close to the front. That brings us to the next rule: Don’t use it just so you can get first place. That’s setting yourself up for trouble. Instead, use it when you want to avoid being in last and you feel there is genuine danger.
The next rule is don’t use it unless it is a challenge that you feel you are not going to be able to do. the airplane Roadblock seemed easy for most teams on their second try. These pilots clearly didn’t want to be up in the air all day, and once you got the hang of it, it was easy to master. Frankie & Amy got a good lead there, but they didn’t have it later when they really needed it at a Detour in which they struggled.
Luckily, they proved to be the rare case of switching Detours actually working out for a team. They passed Joel & Ashley there, but luckily it was a “to be continued” leg and no teams ended up going home. Still, the editing was so strong throughout that there was still an air of suspense to it all. Actually showing part of the next leg was a great storytelling move, especially with Steph & Kristen (who were ahead of the pack) speculating as to whether or not all of the teams would make the final train to Kingston. It was a small built-in teaser for the next leg.
So how should you play an Express Pass? If we were Frankie & Amy, we’d probably either used it on the Detour or tried to save it until the next episode, mostly because you want to hold onto those as long as possible. That’s what Steph & Kristen have done, and that could work out for them very soon.
As for a few other notable moments from this episode, congrats to Julie & Lowell on third place (their best on the Race so far this season), and we also felt that all of the tasks this time were fairly appropriate to where they were. We’ve never spent a ton of time in Hamilton, but they appealed to some of its cultural leanings and also history of industry. It seemed right, and we appreciate the show taking us to parts of Canada that aren’t often seen.
In general, we really think this was one of the season’s strongest episodes. There was great drama, a really smart structure, and a number of teams are racing well. Our money’s still on Steph & Kristen, but Jillian & Emmett remain hot on their heels. Episode Grade: A-.
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