The Amazing Race 19.02 “The Sprint of Our Life” Review

The Amazing Race 19.02 “The Sprint of Our Life” ReviewIn all honesty, I wasn’t looking forward to this week’s episode of The Amazing Race. The show was coming off a premiere that embraced a lot of what has made the last few seasons less enjoyable and if things hadn’t improved in the 19th season premiere, this season was already shot, right?


“The Sprint of Our Life” was a noticeable rebound over “Kindness of Strangers”. It may not have been a truly perfect episode of The Amazing Race, but there was enough of a balance between the dizzying twists, intriguing team dynamics, and good ol’ fashioned competition that made it a fun watch, at least for me.

The main thing I was excited to see was that the challenges had improved. (That’s not saying much considering that the premiere had a challenge where teams used the phone.) The spelunking could have been better had the teams been forced to actively search for the mask/dagger instead of having 11 sets in a row, but the genuinely awesome visuals and the gigantic bamboo ladder were enough to keep me satisfied for now. It felt like something worthy of The Amazing Race; it could have been more strenuous, but it’s early and if the show uses stuff like this to build to bigger and better events, I’m more than happy to have it. The detours both required a certain amount of strategy (which cars to ask for money, where to position yourself to get motorbikes) and a certain amount of luck (different sized donations per car, flow of traffic), but the total turnaround in quality was negated by the lack of movement in terms of race position. (The “nobody knows how to read directions” section of the episode included, as teams made it back to the orphanage and back to Phil in the same order they were in previously.) The challenges on the race that I prefer are involved enough to where no team can just charge right through it and that still allow separation based on good/bad performances, which the race has noticeably abandoned in recent seasons.

Heck, even the Speed Bump that Cathi and Bill had to complete before the roadblock was actually not that bad, all things considered. Usually, I roll my eyes at the Speed Bumps because of how simple they often are (sit on a block of ice, sit in a hot sauna, run through fireworks), but at least this time it was something remotely mentally challenging. It didn’t knock “Ma” and “Pa” back, but I’m okay with the direction it went this leg.

The Amazing Race 19.02 “The Sprint of Our Life” ReviewHowever, this is the second episode in a row where a small detail was passed over by a number of teams. Last week, it was the orange and yellow billboard and this week, it was the sign at the orphanage that told the teams to empty their wallets when donating their challenge earnings. I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come, because while the fact that eight of the 11 teams had to go back made for great TV, I’d rather have a bunch of strong teams not apt to making these kinds of mistakes. Not to mention the fact that Ethan and Jenna were ultimately undone by a stupid mistake (forgetting their clue) and Kaylani and Lisa lost their passport last week before they got to LAX. I’d chalk this up to nerves and how frazzled you get when facing this kind of pressure, but if teams are this forgetful and disorganized in leg two, how will they be in legs 10, 11, and 12?

Look at Justin and Jennifer, whose “sibling rivalry” needs to be the stuff of editing because if this is how they usually are, I don’t see how anybody stands to be around them. If they were in the heat of competition and had a meltdown, I could rationalize that as both being passionate about the race and that it was a momentary lapse in judgment; but to get into it while standing in line for the train? A train with all 11 teams on it, mind you, so they weren’t behind and their issue was Jennifer taking offense that Justin wanted to research the area they were going to. Really? A little bickering happens with a vast majority of the teams, which is understandable considering the circumstances, but man, get it together.

The Amazing Race‘s second episode of season 19 may have had a few bumps, but they weren’t distracting in the way that they were in the premiere. (Plus, whatever issues I had with the episode were partially negated by how entertaining the episode was.) I took noticeably less notes this time around, mostly because I was pretty engrossed in the goings on of “The Sprint of Our Life”, which is the mark of an ultimately good episode. It’s still too early to tell what direction the season as a whole is going, but if this episode is any indication, season 19 of The Amazing Race may have a little bit left in the tank.

Thoughts, Quotes, & Observations:

  • “Don’t ‘dude’ me, dude.”
  • “She’s got that Medusa eye thing goin’ on.”
  • “Get away from me, tree. You’re bothering me. Leave me alone.”
  • Final Order: (1) Andy/Tommy, (2) Laurence/Zac, (3) Kaylani/Lisa, (4) Ernie/Cindy, (5) Liz/Marie, (6) Jeremy/Sandy, (7) Bill/Cathi, (8) Justin/Jennifer, (9) Amani/Marcus, (10) Ethan/Jenna, (11) Ron/Bill
  • The Ludacris song that the detour made me think of? This one.
  • The teams ended up donating at least 200,000 rupiah (not counting the money already in their pockets), which amounts to about $22.50 in U.S. dollars. (For those playing along at home, 1 Indonesian rupiah equals 0.0001 U.S. dollar.)
  • I was sad to see Ron and Bill go. We didn’t get to “know” them all that well, but they seemed like nice people and they took their elimination very gracefully.
  • I wanted to hate the time equalizing plane/train double whammy this time, but the main reason I didn’t was that I was expecting it. Sad, but true.
  • I think we’re all in agreement that the only time we’ll see Jeremy and Sandy prominently featured in an episode is when they’re eliminated, right? I call that the Top Model Edit.
  • Props to Bill and Cathi for hanging tough. I thought they were goners this week, but even though they had an equalizer in the beginning of the race, they fought pretty hard to make it to the next leg.
  • I didn’t quite get Cindy’s breakdown at the pit stop. Yes, she’s super competitive and a perfectionist, but there was the fact that her team was in 1st place and if they forgot to give all their money, at least one of the other teams would do the same.
  • I was very ready to come into this review and complain about how Team Snowboarders weren’t racing with a sense of urgency, but their first place finish (and astute reading of the sign at the orphanage) shut me up. Their laidback demeanor may be their biggest asset, it seems.
  • Next week: Ernie and Cindy experience technical problems, Cathi falls a lot, and the teams are sent to The Temple of Doom.

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