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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

The Amazing Race, Feb. 23 – Illness Sidelines Teammate, but not Team

The Amazing Race is treating us to yet another All Stars season. There’s something about the All Star seasons on this show as well as Survivor. They just seem more exciting. From the looks of things so far, this one isn’t going to disappoint.

From the very start, the season is compelling. The night before Phil Keoghan was to shout “Go,” contestant Bopper ended up seeing a doctor, with a worried teammate Mark and Phil looking on. The doctor told Bopper he had pancreatitis. It’s a bad enough diagnosis on its own, but he also told him that he would not clear him to compete in the Race.

Bopper was, of course, devastated, as was Mark. There was hope for Mark and Team Kentucky, though. Phil offered up a new teammate, Mallory, who had raced before wither dad, Gary. She, too, is from Kentucky. Mark hated to race without Bopper, but decided to continue. Mark and Bopper needed the money badly and don’t hide the fact. I wonder what will happen if Mark and Mallory win. I hope Bopper gets something.

Also racing again are Luke and Margie, mother and son. Luke is deaf, but it doesn’t seem to hold him back. They came in third in their original season and eighth in a previous All-Stars, “Unfinished Business.” He still has to pull her along.

Flight Time and Big Easy, aka the Harlem Globetrotters, are also making a third appearance. They came in fourth place in their first season after taking an ill-advised penalty when they were already at the back of the pack. In Unfinished Business they came in second. Coming in third that race were Mallory and her dad.

Also from Unfinished Business, are Jet and Cord, the rodeo cowboy brothers. They came in second in their first season, then sixth in Unfinished Business. Hopefully that downward trend won’t continue.

Brendon and Rachel, aka Brenchel, are back for their second time. They have gotten married since coming in third and hope to have a baby after the race. I know everyone gets irritated with them, but they were the only ones to rush over and commiserate with Mark and Bopper when the teams heard the next day about Bopper’s illness. There’s some heart there.

Natalie and Nadiya, aka the Twinnies, came in fourth place in their original season. I find them way more annoying than Brenchel. They just have to keep shouting all the time at each other whether they’re encouraging each other or fighting.

Caroline and Jennifer, the country singers, came in fourth place in their season, and are one of four teams originally from season 22. They made a mistake already of teaming up with the Twinnies to find a wedding dress shop. That could have been their undoing.

Dave and Connor, also from season 22 and father and son, are both cancer survivors. In their original season Dave was injured when he snapped his Achilles’ tendon. He tried to carry on, but they had a shortened season nonetheless, ending in eighth place.

Jessica and John were dating in season 22 but are now engaged. They carry the distinction of being the only team to be eliminated with an Express Pass . He didn’t want to waste it, but in essence that’s what he did and it landed them in ninth place. They’re happy they didn’t get it this time.

Joey and Meghan are best friends and are known as Team YouTube as they are successful vloggers. In season 22 they came in fifth place.

The only team coming back after participating in the last season are Leo and Jamal, aka as Afghanimals. The cousins tend to have an annoyance factor like the Twinnies, but not as much. Jamal has gotten married in the time off. Let’s see if it makes a difference. If you look at pictures from the last Race where they came in fourth, it seems Leo is using Rogaine.

The teams traveled to China on two separate flights. Once there they needed to find one of three bridal shops to get their next clue. But each shop only had so many clues. Jet and Cord found a shop easily enough, but the Twinnies, on that same first flight, struggled, as did the country singers and Team YouTube. Eventually the Twinnies were the last team to find the bridal shops, but had to go to the third one before they could find one with a clue left still.

The teams were then sent to look for an apparatus with bubbles on it. It was basically a Ferris wheel with enclosed circular cars. Some of the bubbles had clues inside, but some just said, “Try again.” What made it tough was that after a few seconds inside to check the clue, if it wasn’t right, you had to ride all the way around to get out and get in a different car. The teams in the middle had it the best, as they knew to get in the bubbles they saw teams running from, headed to the next clue.

The Twinnies struggled here as well. One sister wanted to take the same bubble they saw another team leave from, while the other insisted all the bubbles would be the same. They got in and found a Try Again, then argued the whole way back to the top on whose fault that was.

After this was a Roadblock. One member of each team had to dress in a hideously tight costume with a flame design in orange and yellow and be hoisted high in the air. While supported with wires, they had to do five back flips. I give Margie credit for doing it. I don’t know if I could at this age. Flight Time pointed out that it was a good thing Big Easy didn’t do it.

The finishing order of the leg was mostly determined by the bridal shop search and bubble ride. Only one person at a time could do the back flips in the Roadblock and everyone completed it the first time up. The pit stop immediately followed. Jet and Cord won the first leg and now have two Express Passes – one for themselves and one for another team. The Twinnies were last and were eliminated.

This could be a really good season. There are a lot of really good teams. They’ve all done really well on their previous times racing, many of the teams came in second, third or fourth in at least one of their seasons. Dave and Connor left earlier than that but were doing well before his injury. Jessica and John were doing well, too. That’s why he didn’t think they needed to use the Express Pass. It would be interesting to see what would happen if the Cowboys offered their second Express Pass to Jessica and John. Would they even accept it?

What did you think of the season premiere? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments below.

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