We should be happy given the controversial twist of the season that all of The Amazing Race 29 was so strong for so many weeks. Unfortunately, much of that went to a grinding halt on the new episode Thursday night.
Ironically, the biggest issues with this episode had nothing to do with casting, and most of it comes down to leg design. If you’re going to have a leg with a Double U-Turn, then you need to design and structure it in a way where there is a chance for a team to be able to still conquer it somehow. Maybe one part of that is not putting a relative equalizer like a boat trip in between the Roadblock and the Detour. (Yes, we know that the teams were separated by five minutes each, but that’s not a whole lot of team.) Another part of that is making the leg challenging enough so that other teams have a chance to mess up.
We were not the biggest fans of Vanck & Ashton through most of the Race; yet, now that they’re eliminated it feels like they were totally hosed. Just because other people didn’t like them, they had to do both parts of the Detour and worked hard in order to catch up. Based on how quickly Ashton conquered the first part of the Detour, there may have been time for them to have caught up with everyone else had there been a trickier travel component or if one of the Detour choices wasn’t just climbing up a rock, which leaves very little in terms of a margin of error.
In terms of the strategy of all of the other teams to intentionally gang up on Vanck & Ashton and rig the Double U-Turn, we don’t mind it. If there is no rule against it, you may as well. Yet, we do wonder if CBS reduces the number of U-Turns after this, or makes it once again so that teams can only use one of them a season. As it is currently structured, this twist allows teams to burn U-Turns all the time without consequence, and that reduces the strategy in key moments.
Another issue to consider here is moving the U-Turn back so that it doesn’t happen until after you go through the first part, since that does raise the stakes a little bit and it gives teams in danger more of a chance to be in control of their own destiny. If they can avoid being U-Turned because of their ability, more power to them. (In this case, it wouldn’t have changed anything for Vanck & Ashton given that they had a hard time finding the clue board to begin with. Maybe if they hadn’t done that, they may have come reasonably close to staying in the game.)
Ultimately, we’re probably the saltiest about this just because it felt almost as though we were watching the nerdy guy in Vanck be singled out by everyone in the race. Granted, we weren’t around him and maybe he was hard to be around, but the whole us-against-them mentality was kind of a bummer and the “everybody hates Vanck & Ashton edit” only came around last week.
Ultimately, the location in Italy was beautiful and the Roadblock aboard the train was fun. After that, though, the rule changes on the Detour plus it being on such an easy leg really took the air out of the episode’s tires. While it wasn’t terrible entertainment by any means, this was easily the worst episode of the season in that it was obvious from almost the start what was going to happen. Grade: C+.
What did you think about this episode of The Amazing Race 29? Be sure to sound off with some of your thoughts in the comments!
Meanwhile, head over here for some further news when it comes to the show. (Photo: CBS.)