'The Amazing Race' recap, 'We're not in Oklahoma no More'

Welcome back, everyone! I hope you got your Phil fix over the summer by watching him recreate the 1928 Tour de France on a vintage bicycle. The man does not stop. His calves do not stop.

Anyway, back to the race. It opens in an Old West movie ranch and the teams arrive by stagecoach. Let’s meet them.

Ally and Ashley are L.A. Kings Ice Crew Girls and friends. This means that, during hockey games, they wear tiny shirts and scrape ice off of the arena; they also pose for posters. They are blond, they like sparkly things and one of them has a boyfriend. They claim to be “more than a pretty face,” but their pretty faces sure look identical. They wear pink so we can spot them.

Brandon and Adam are beard lovers and childhood friends. They appear very unkempt, they like to wear speedos in waterfalls and they practice organic sustainable agriculture. I hope they are awesome; I always fall for the misfits.

Chester and Ephraim are friends and NFL teammates. They are big. They played for Texas. That’s all I know about football.

Hoskote and Naina are father and daughter. They’re Indian, and he’d like her to have a traditional arranged marriage. Naina is hoping that he’ll loosen up a bit on the race.

Jason and Amy are the token dating couple testing their relationship. At first I thought they were cutesy, and then Amy said that she graduated high school at age 16, finished college in three years and then earned two masters degrees in two years. Holy crap. Remember the Newlywed Katie who kept going on and on about her Ph.D.? Don’t you want to go back and ask her how old she was when she finished high school?

Leo and Jamal are cousins whose parents are from Afghanistan. They call themselves the Afghanimals because they are wild and crazy guys. They could either be fun or annoying.

Nicky and Kim are wives of men who play baseball. They both have brown hair, which is such a relief --I won’t get them confused with the blond girls. They are shown throwing baseballs around, and their arms look very thin.

Rowan and Shane are best friends who perform as women in a touring theater show called “The Queen of Bingo.” Their love for Bingo is great, and their love of one-liners is even greater. Rowan reminds me of Nathan Lane.

Tim and Danny are best friends from a small town in Oklahoma. They work in oil fields. One has a wife with a kidney disease, one has two daughters, so they would really like money. They are rocking some blue headbands.

Tim and Marie dated five years ago, but then they broke up, yet they still hang out. It looks like they work out at the gym together. Marie looks tough, and the bottom half of her hair is pink. I have no idea why they would want to do this together, other than the fact that they could win. I don’t see any reuniting in their future.

Travis and Nicole are married ER physicians with four kids. That…is a lot of work.

Do you know that this is the 23rd time I’ve watched Phil raise his eyebrow and tell teams to travel safe? It gives me chills every time.

The teams drive themselves to LAX. The Exes are already insulting each other, which makes me think they are really playing it up for the show. Team NFL is almost too big for the fuel-efficient car. Team OK seems to be headed the wrong way; they stop to ask directions, but the woman doesn’t speak English. “We’re already having language barriers in L.A.,” they say, then point out, “There’s not this many freeways in Oklahoma.”

At the airport, while waiting for flights, the teams chat and bond a little bit. The Cousins seem to be flirting with Pink Ice. I think Pink Ice’s boyfriend is on hold for purposes of winning the race.

Two airplanes leave, separating the top seven teams from the bottom four. They fly to Iquique, Chile, a lovely place where Phil did his solo paragliding certification in the '90s.

Tricky Clue, Part 1

The Roadblock is for one team member to paraglide while the other must meet up at the beach, but the clue is written as, “Who will follow the leader?” and they assume that the person who takes it will paraglide. But, psych! The person who takes the Roadblock will actually follow the paraglider in a cab.

Baseball Wife Kim ends up paragliding, and she is very nervous. She thinks of her son for inspiration, and I swear it sounds like her son’s name is Spidey. Make of that what you will.

The First Villain

The Exes, Cousins and Pink Ice all let their taxis go at the Roadblock, which is silly. Cousin borrows a phone and orders two taxis for himself and Pink Ice, but Ex Marie intercepts one of the cabs on the road. Oooh, she’s sneaky. She might not have done it on purpose, though; she just got to it before Pink Ice and Pink Ice didn’t haul her out of the cab.

Hidden Talents, Part 1

The ER Docs speak Spanish. I wonder where they found the time to learn? Do you know who else speaks Spanish fluently? The Afghanimals! So I assume they speak at least three languages, which makes them three times smarter than me. I don’t know how fast they finished high school, though, so they might not be smarter than Girlfriend Amy.

Tricky Clue, Part 2

After paragliding, the teams head to a harbor where they get another Roadblock. The clue says that the person who did not do the last Roadblock has to perform this one, which means that the person who paraglided has to do this Roadblock.

The task is to hop into an old rowboat and collect five fish from any of three different named boats. There are a lot of boats in the harbor, and the named boats might run out of fish. The oars are rickety, the boats are wobbly; it’s hard work.

Bingo Rowan says, “My name’s not Rowan for nothing!”

Baseball Wife Kim of the skinny arms says, “Any suggestions on how to row?”

Cousin Leo is on the dock, noting the frail inferiority of Pink Ice and Wife Kim in the boats. He tells their partners that he feels bad for them. Then, beautifully, the other Pink Ice says, “You’re supposed to be doing the Roadblock, you didn’t read the clue correctly!” Hah! Leo calls Jamal back to switch, and Jamal sadly says, “We let girls beat us.” OK, I’m gonna let the sexism go for now, because they’re asserting their Afghanimal personalities, where they are manly men or something. But I’m keeping my girly eye on them.

Tricky Clue, Part 3

After the fish task, the teams are instructed to walk to a municipal theater, where Phil is waiting at the Pit Stop. The ER Docs, whose lives are filled with precision, fail to read part of the clue and so they take a taxi to the Pit Stop. Phil tells them that they are the first team to arrive, and Travis starts to celebrate, but Nicole holds out her hand and says, “Wait, wait, wait.” Then Phil tells them that they didn’t read the clue, so he gives them a 30-minute penalty. They go sit on a nearby bench.

Nicole has been very clinical and factual so far -- not a lot of personality. But she knew not to celebrate until Phil was finished talking, so either she’s really careful or she’s a big fan of the race. Or both. I’m putting her in my “Like” column for that.

By the way, Phil is sporting a brown leather jacket at the Pit Stop with contrasting white stitching; it’s pretty hip. He made a good fashion choice for the season (not that he ever makes a bad choice). There was also a very lovely woman greeter at the mat.

You know who officially checks in first and wins two Express Passes? The Exes. Sigh. The ER Docs take second place and Team Bingo gets third. Team NFL is fourth, Baseball Wives are fifth, Pink Ice is sixth and the Afghanimals are seventh.

Hidden Talents, Part 2

The back four teams are running close together. Team Beard has trouble taking off paragliding and has to try again after the other teams. Father paraglides for his team and Daughter takes the slowest cab to meet him. They get to the harbor pretty close together.

So, Boyfriend Jason? He was probably 18 when he finished high school. Who knows how long it took him to finish college? He manages a snowplow business now, maybe he has a business degree of some sort, but only one. What does he possibly have to offer Amy the overachiever? Turns out he rowed crew in prep school! (Oh, he went to prep school, that’s something, too, I guess.) Jason is the master of the rickety wooden rowboat.

In contrast, OK Tim has never rowed a boat before. “We have motors in our boats back home.” It’s a cliche, but I laughed. He looks around to see how other people row, and he sees one guy standing, so he stands and rows the rest of the time, treating us to a view of a blurry crack above his pants. 

Beard Brandon also sucks at rowing. Oh no!

Tricky Clue, Part 4 (or 2.1)

Daughter gets in the rowboat. It should have been Father! She worries that the oars are too big for her, and there he is, on the dock, saying that he probably could have done it better. Daughter checks her clue to get the names of the boats, and luckily sees that Father should be in the boat. But she’s still out in the water and has to row back. Oops!

The Overachieving Daters take eighth place, thanks to Jason’s experience, Team Oklahoma stand-up-rows into ninth, and Team Beard finishes in 10th by sheer luck.

Father rows into the night, and then they go to the mat and are eliminated. Father would have been an interesting person to watch, I think. Daughter is devastated that she didn’t get to talk Father out of an arranged marriage for her.

Next week: We have bike riding and rock salt splitting. And for some reason, everyone gets in their swimsuits, so there might be some Bingo eye candy.

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