The season will feature the return of the Express Pass, given to the winner of the first leg, and to be used no later than the 8th leg. Just like last year, the starting line features a challenge, where the last place team faces a penalty. The first time they did this, the team was eliminated on the spot. The next time, it was the Fully Ironic U-Turning of Amanda/Kris. This time, it is a new challenge called a Hazard. This is basically a Speed Bump on this leg for the loser of the challenge. At this rate, the next penalty will wind up being some harsh words from Phil.
I have been saying for a long time that the show needed to start doing earlier non-elimination legs. They did one a couple of seasons ago on the first leg to coincide with that Starting Line elimination, but I thought a cool thing would be a clean first leg reprieve for a team. Thus enabling them to have another few minutes of fame, and for us, the viewer, to get to know them a bit more. And the show has done that this week, so, thanks for that.
However, instead of using one of the regular non-elimination legs, the show is compensating by having an unprecedented double elimination. Well, sort of unprecedented. In AR12, Bilal and Sa’eed got taken out mid-leg, before Vipul and Arti went out at the regular elimination point. This time, it appears that the second to last and last to arrive at the Mat will be eliminated.
Now, for the most important things to take place on this leg.
Twitter – What could have been the dumbest move in the history of the Amazing Race turned into the luckiest moment in Race history. As teams scramble to get to LAX, several of them stop to ask directions at a gas station. That’s happened every year, but this year, it is a major plot point. Leggy showgirls pull in to ask directions and hightail it out of there. However, Kaylani drops her passport on the pavement, and they take off. Uh oh.
As Toni/Dallas and Zev/Justin understand – no passport, no Race. The girls figure it out and go back to the station, but it is gone. Amazingly, they just go to LAX and hope that some other Racer found it. Basically, Phil is going to have to make his earliest appearance ever. So, they appear to be screwed. In fact, the girls start to turn on each other – rather quickly, I must say. However…
The guy that the snowboarders previously asked for help noticed the passport was dropped. They must have arrived in a bang-bang fashion because the dude was pumping gas when the boys showed up. Well, you can read the NY Times story on it here – but basically, he tweeted that Racers ran into him and he found a passport. It was tweeted back to him that he needs to get it to LAX right away to save them. And he did!! And Team Showgirls gets to move on.
Grandma Gets Really Lost – Team Geritol was close to becoming permanent residents of Taiwan. In a great way of providing a clue, teams had to show up in a downtown square and “look up” to find the clue. No clue box. Nothing. They had to realize the video screen above with the red and yellow balloons was the clue and the Chinese letters revealed was the next location. Awesome. Even better – there was red and yellow everywhere, including some guys shorts showing through his pants. Teams seemed to take a while to finally figure this out, and then ask for help translating.
Geritol had trouble. So much so, they thought “look up” meant to go to the tallest building and check there. They wandered for four hours, and with the later flight deficit, there was no way they could recover. They benefit from the surprise non-elimination, but now they have to overcome a Speed Bump, and finish ninth or better to survive.
Challenges – While the casting this season looks interesting, the star of this week’s episode was really the Race itself. I can’t say anyone really stood out as successful or as a breakout character. Yet. But it was a good Race showing. The passport/Twitter thing was a Race dynamic and rule coming into play. But more specifically, it was a run of decent challenges which emerged as the cool factor.
The opening challenge was a bit of a Word Jumble, with a giant rack of umbrellas presented to teams. They are given the letters WANPEI, and must figure out the missing three letters needed, which are written on the umbrellas. Its only flaw is allowing teams to randomly pick umbrellas and rush to Phil, with teams copying the lucky ones who find it. Jenna seems to be the only one who figures out that TAI is needed for TAI-PEI, TAI-WAN. Regardless of execution, it was at least good in concept, and required thought. Same goes for the aforementioned balloon task later on.
The Roadblock was another good one – just as every Survivor challenge isn’t a grueling physical task, a simple skill on the Amazing Race can be tested. In this case, memory. Racers have to listen to a message, a Confucius proverb, and repeat it back word for word. Not easy. The proverb was – “In all things success depends on previous preparation, and without such previous preparation there is sure to be failure.” Lots of similar words, and a bunch of conjunctions to drop. The blondes struggled the most, as it seems Liz did it about 3000 times, the same way each time, incorrectly. Teams were drenched in sweat from the heat and the pressure. Another good task.