Welcome back, everyone, to the Emmy-winning "Amazing Race." And a special hello to our host, the Emmy-denied Phil, with his fabulous pointing finger and arched Eyebrow of Foreshadowing.
Since this is the first episode, we are overwhelmed with teams and the names of the people on those teams. We have two Robs, two Jameses plus one Jaymes, an Abbie, Amy, and Abba, and twins named Natalie and Natalya. Can even a veteran recapper such as myself keep them straight? Well, yes, yes I can, because I cheat.
I'll try to stereotype — oops, I meant summarize — and nickname real fast. Young dating couple from Texas, Trey and Lexi, call them Team Texi. The Twins who were born in Brooklyn but raised in Sri Lanka (and can dance a mean Bollywood). Former White Lion rocker and his brother, they both have long hair and beards so they are Team Rock On! Male partner city boys turned Team Goat Farmer. Dating couple Amy and Daniel, she lost her legs to bacterial meningitis and looks like a blonde Kristin Stewart, Team Legs for now. Team Blonde, token best friends. Team Lumberjack, because he is one. Team Superfan, substitute teachers who have applied seven times, they also have a seventeen-inch height difference! Another dating couple, he jokingly wants world domination so they're Team Dominate. Some married Monster Truckers. And finally, Jaymes and James, Chippendales performers (I don't think they said "Don't call us strippers," but they did point out that it's a shirtless production show, not so much a strip show). I'm calling them Team Chipp.
The pack heads to China, where a Double Roadblock has one team member playing table tennis against a Chinese junior champion, and another team member eating a delicious dessert of frog fallopian tubes. A lot of fallopian tubes. Then they are sent to find a woman using an abacus. You know what's wrong with everyone these days? They don't know what an abacus is. If you, dear reader, don't know what an abacus is, you'd best look it up right now, because one day that knowledge could win you a million dollars. Which you could count, using your abacus.
And the winner of the first team to bicker is…
The twins! They are loud talkers anyway, and they talk over each other a lot, so maybe it's just their style. But when one of them was playing table tennis and not winning, the other one shouted "You should have let me do this one!" It's ever so early in the game to be pulling out that phrase, right? That's for late-stage, possible elimination, sleep-deprived arguments. Unless of course the other twin is a master at table tennis.
The first team to fail at reading the clue is…
Team Trucker! He was supposed to eat his fallopian tubes using only chopsticks, but he picked up the dish and slurped them all in. Instead of getting penalized at the Pit Stop, he was denied the next clue until he ate another serving properly. Mmm, double-serving tubes.
Evil always wins: I already mentioned that no one knows what an abacus is, so they don't recognize when they walk right past it. Team Rock On! wanders into a jewelry store asking about one. Team Lumberjack asks a hotel concierge and gets directed to the Bank of China. Sigh.
The twins find it, and then lie when Team Monster Truck asks about it. Team Superfan also finds the abacus and lies to Team Chipp about finding it. They are superfans, they know they have to weed out the strong teams!
Good is dumb: There are two flights to China, and the first seven teams get the first flight. Josh of Team Goat Farmer politely lets another team ahead of him in line, thus bumping them to the later flight. "Josh messed up," says Brent. "Are you going to be like this the whole flight to China?" asks Josh. "Maybe." "Then I'm going to get a sleeping pill somewhere."
Team Legs finds the abacus first and starts walking to the Pit Stop. They run into Team Dominate and point them in the direction of the abacus. Suddenly it becomes a foot race to the Pit Stop. Amy has bionic legs, but for whatever reason her team runs out of speed. Team Dominate gets points for politeness since they apologize as they pass by and take first place.
By the way, Phil is wearing what might be a Chinese cowboy hat at the mat. I wonder if local hats are going to be his thing this season?
Quote of the week: "I won a sporting event! I've never won a sporting event!" —Team Goat Farmer, after defeating the Chinese junior champion at table tennis.
My favorite team didn't get eliminated: This is a big deal, I think at least half the time I lose my favorite in the first episode. I've fallen in love with Team Chipp. No, not because of their waxed chests and bowties. It happened during table tennis, when James (or Jaymes) revealed his Southern accent and sassy commentary. "Taking down little Chinese kids? This is horrible!" Or when the opponent used a clipboard instead of a paddle, "She's like, 'I'm gonna play you with the paper side, I'm not even gonna use the flat side!'" After slurping up fallopian tubes off the tablecloth: "Everything my mama told me about how to eat, I let go out the window."
Once I discovered my favoritism, my anxiety kicked in. Team Chipp wasn't finding that abacus very quickly. They followed the Blondes to the Pit Stop, but turned around real quick when they saw Phil. They wandered and wandered. Then Team Texi got directed by a helpful local, and Texi passed on the goodwill to Chipp (clearly falling into the good spectrum, maybe they'll change their ways after talking to Team Legs or Team Superfan). Team Lumberjack had just recovered from their Bank of China detour and found the abacus, and they were walking to the Pit Stop. Team Chipp knew where to find Phil and passed Team Lumberjack with about fifteen seconds to spare. Too close, Team Chipp! I want you not only for your body but also for your accent, don't worry me like that again!
Oh, and farewell, Team Lumberjack, I hope you have a nice wedding.
The big twist: Did you hear that this year the prize is $2 million? Well, that's kind of a lie. Phil told the teams that they could double their money, but only if the winning team also wins the first leg of the Race. Basically, Team Dominate will have to dominate. Stay tuned.