In the first episode, I watched for clues to see which teams received particular attention notwithstanding their final placement.
- Which teams were shown using strategy?
- Which were talked about by others?
- Which showed potential story lines?
The first team to finish and the one that escaped elimination will always get some attention so, for them, we have to differentiate between what were this episode’s hi-lites from what was character development. Teams that arrived somewhere in the middle are easier to judge: The ones going far could’ve been featured even if their placement in this episode wasn’t important.
Besides editing, racing skills are also important to note but this leg didn’t reveal much. There were no Detours and the Roadblock had no influence on the final result. More importantly, the end was decided by picking the right donkey. Even the 6 teams that were on the first plane to arrive in Shannon aboard Aer Lingus (AE) only got there because the teams that were on British Airways (BA) were delayed in London. Since all teams were on the same ferry in Ireland, the only true race we had was to the world’s smallest church to register for the next morning’s ferry. I took note of the ferry for each team.
The Teams with a Story
These first four teams were the stars of episode #1. It’s doubtful that all make it to the end but it’s always preferable to have a good start. It wouldn’t surprise me to see two or three of these teams in it for the long run.
Azaria and Hendekea (1st at the Mat): (2nd ferry)
Azaria commented on his team: “We have an advantage over the other teams: We are more intelligent and we are physically fit.” Hendekea added: “I make good decisions. Azaria needs to listen to those decisions.”
With Hendekea as navigator, Azaria told us he was worried: “The thing that I’m most afraid of is that Hendekea may not be ready and that might cause me to blow a gasket.” He’d soon comment: “Women and directions!”
Hendekea had to admit: “We’ve had a rough start .It’s probably not a good sign.” On the contrary, they were the first team forced to take the AE flight, which arrived first in Shannon. Hendekea commented: “Azaria and I are over-achievers, we don’t like to lose.” “That sucked” added Azaria.
Waiting for their plane, the team was able to use someone’s lap top and they shared information with Ronald and Christina: “We have a little alliance, a little collaboration going on here” said Azaria. As soon as they boarded the plane, Hendekea borrowed a cell phone and made arrangements to have taxis waiting in Shannon for the two teams.
The team remained in the middle of the pack until the Donkey Walk. Luckier than others, Azaria said: “I can’t stop this donkey, you better catch up…The donkey’s kicking butt.” (Enter that Donkey in a derby)
After that, all they needed was for TK and Rachel to make one wrong turn on the way to the Connemara Heritage Center, the Pit Stop for this leg, to come in first. At the mat, Azaria said: “It has been a challenge. Hendekea has proven to me just how far she is willing to go with this race. You look at her small frame and you don’t see the tiger that’s within.”
More than just coming in first, we got a few storylines for this team. Often, when one comments on their superior intelligence, the editors like to bring them down by showing some stupid actions. Not so with this team. Instead, we were shown that they were more intelligent than others in reserving taxis and in using the internet. That validated their initial comments. Even Azaria’s fears were put to rest by his tiger of a sister. Add Ron’s comment about their graciousness and the first signs of an alliance and we have some reasons to look for more from the siblings. It will be important to see if their story develops in an episode when their showing isn’t as good but the first indications are promising for this team
Lorena and Jason (4): (1st ferry)
Lorena told us immediately: “I’ve been waiting for 3 years for Jason to want to making a bigger commitment.” Jason didn’t appear to be the commitment type.
Note that Lorena and Jason were the first team shown before all the introductions. They were also on screen when the teams entered the Playboy Mansion and Phil said: “Who will come up with the right strategy?” Later, it was also them on screen when Phil commented: “The first team to cross the finish line after 11 legs, will win….” Something to file away.
Lorena was happy to be from LA when it came time to drive to LAX: “Jason’s definitely more calm than I am.” They were first to LAX with a few “Yeah baby” and a kiss when they got the BA ticket counter. Lorena boarded, telling us they had a 45 minute lead on the 2nd plane.
Jason: “We want to stay in the top pack”
Indeed, they were first out heading for Cleggan Farm but Lorena noticed the others weren’t following. Jason thought they’d catch up but Lorena knew they were heading in the wrong directions since the others had received the information from locals. She told us: “As far as my emotions, they’re very uncontrollable. That’s my weakness. Being able to get pass that is going to be really hard for me.”
On cue, Jason said: “All right, well, I’m not gonna let you stress me out.” He commented: “Lorena is intense. She’s in for the kill.” Before getting killed, Jason stopped for directions and they realized they had made a loop around the bay that they didn’t have to do. Lorena said: “We’re not communicating well, which is our problem in real life.”
Passing Jennifer and Nathan on the donkey walk, Lorena commented: “This race can turn like that.”
For a team that didn’t have a remarkable finish, I felt I was often traveling with them. They did hold the first position a few times so that may have been the only reason for that. Still, we did get to know a lot of the dynamics of this team. Even when they were playing around in their introduction, acting like fighters, and she was surprised to receive a small slap in the face, everything showed us that this team will have a lot of infighting. We’ve seen many dysfunctional couples having good finishes so let’s keep this team on our radar. Those early visuals could be meaningless and distract me but I did see a story being introduced here.
Ronald and Christina (7): (3rd ferry)
Christina introduced their story immediately: “I’m extremely excited to get to know my dad.”
Christina drove to LAX, repeating that she wanted to get to know her father “as an equal.”
On their collaboration with Azaria and Hendekea, Christina said: “They were looking at information for our next route marker. Like them, we have a family bond, we share the same spirit of the game.”
Ari and Staella weren’t sharing the same spirit because they stole their taxi and Ronald let them know.
They were the last to register for a ferry. “This is a wake-up call that we need to do something better” said Ron. Their alliance helped them again at the Pier House Bed & Breakfast as they shared a room with Azaria and Hendekea. Christina commented: “Azaria and Hendekea basically gave up this bed for us.” Ron corroborated: “They’ve been extremely gracious.”
Ron did the high wire bike while “singing” his version of “Danny Boy”. “Not bad for an old fart” he said while getting off the bike. “You were awesome…you never disappoint me” answered Christina. Passing Ari, she said: “I was really suprised how they treated their donkey. Donkeys have souls too.”
At the mat Ron started dancing after hearing they were 7th. He shouted: “Who’s your daddy!” They high-fived Kate and Pat who were right behind them. Ron said: “It was emotional. I didn’t want to disappoint her.” Christina comforted him: “We’re in it together”.
This team seems to be edited to become a fan favorite. They are underdogs and we got to know them very well. Of course, the editors may have wanted to use such a marvelous character as Ronald as early as possible if he isn’t to make it far. Let’s reserve judgment for now. They did have a big contribution to the story of the first episode but we have to remember they wound up in last place when it was about racing skills and not Donkey-will.
Nathan and Jennifer (10): (2nd ferry)
Jennifer said: “We’ve had some trust issues…He broke my heart.” Nathan explained: “I love this women.”
Second on the way to LAX, Jennifer looked back and said: “These b-itches (Kate and Pat) behind us are following us because they know we have the right way.” Arriving at the airport, she added: “We’re getting on that first flight, no matter what it takes.” When they arrived 4th at the BA counter, Jennifer commented: “This is unreal. The Blondes totally swooped on our asses.”
Arriving in Shannon, Jennifer told us “We know there are 6 teams ahead of us.” They did rejoin the whole pack but on the road to the small church, Jennifer couldn’t run” “I cannot believe this” said an angry Nathan, “you are the worst person at this I’ve ever met.”
Jennifer replied: “I’m trying my best. You know I’m not good at long distance sprinting… Shut up Nate.” In her interview she said: “I was really disappointed in him that he didn’t keep his cool and watch his mouth. Do I want to spend the rest of my life with someone who’s gonna treat me like that.” Climbing up the last hill, Jennifer asked Nathan: “Help me please.”
“I love you so much” said Nate after registering for the 2nd ferry. At that point, despite all the drama, they were in 5th place.
Their spirits were even higher when they arrived at Cleggan Farm: “The freaks have just gotten here…We can catch them.” Their donkey took care of all that enthusiasm. As soon as Azaria and Hendekea passed them, Jennifer and Nate’s donkey dropped achor. Nate was at a loss: “I don’t know what to do.” They eventually got passed by everyone except Ari and Staella.
They were relieved hearing that Marianna and Julia, who they were only seconds behind, were in 9th place, meaning they were 10th and still alive.
This couple will most probably be our villains. We saw them when they were high in the order and, naturally, when they started losing their lead. This team commented negatively on almost everyone with B-itches, Freaks, etc… They also got on each others nerves. They were strong enough racers and, unless we get other donkeys along the way, their current standing is meaningless.
Stories still in development
These two teams could have something brewing.
Kynt and Vyxsin (2): (1st ferry)
Kynt told us: “Goth is the celebration of beauty and art with a little darker edge…For us every day is Hallowe’en.”
Racing to the small church, Vyksin, the “little pink kitten” (sic), told us that when it comes to tenacity: “We are like little gothic energizer bunnies.” They made it on the first ferry with Kynt commenting: “The B*tch-@sses Goth kids lead the pack.” Arriving at the Bed & Breakfast for the night Kynt and Vyksen high-fived Nathan and Jennifer: "We rocked it.” Their performance was noted by Christina who said: “I was impressed with some of the other teams like Vyksen and Kynt.”
At the finish mat, Kynt said: “We made a statement today. Number 2, next time number 1.”
We had a few indications that this team could be one to watch, especially from Christina who was impressed with them and from themselves who let us know they were for real despite the costumes and make-up. We were often reminded of their presence but we didn’t get into their story, emotionally involved if you like. At least not yet. If their first leg was a statement on their racing abilities, let’s give them another week to make a statement editing wise.
Shana and Jennifer (6): (3rd ferry)
Shana told us: “Jenn and I fully plan to flirt our way through this competition. Anyone standing in the way of a million dollar shopping spree, we’re gonna knock them out of the way.”
In Shannon, they were on the last ferry. “We’re screwed. We’re an hour and half behind everyone.” At the B&B, Jennifer said: “Right now, we feel broken. I think Shana and I did awful.” To the sound of plaintive music, Shana agreed: “I just wanna cry.” The flirts weren’t a pretty sight. Thankfully, as if just for them, the sun shone brightly the next morning. They kept in contact with the other teams and were ready to race the Ministers.
I may be really stretching it here but that scene in the B&B seemed to signify something. They appeared defeated, broken they even said. The next day started with a bright sun and, since it was shown right after their lament, it seemed meant to perk up their spirits. Will the race also take an upturn for them? It’s still very much in doubt. The scene could have simply been to show that flirting doesn’t get you much on the race.
The Also Ran
These 4 teams had no real story line. A story can still start in a later episode but we’ve had no indications yet.
TK and Rachel (3): (1st ferry)
TK said: “I’ve always been completely enamored with Rachel.” Rachel added: “I want to spend the rest of my life with TK.”
There could’ve been an alliance between TK and Rachel (the hippies) with Lorena and Jason because, leaving for Cleggan Farm, TK was worried: “I hope Jason and Lorena get to the right road”. They even told them they loved them while crossing them later.
TK and Rachel arrived first at Cleggan Farm and got on the tandem bike. The started on the muddy road with a “Let’s get it going, babe.” TK went on the high-wire bike of the Roadblock in first place. As the first participants, TK got to comment on how terrifying the experience was. They finish third when, as Rachel feared, they momentarily got lost on the way to the pit stop.
This team shared first place with the siblings and Lorena and Jason yet we spent a lot less time with them. They are good racers but that’s about all we can say for them right now.
Nicolas and Donald (5): (3rd ferry)
Donald said: “Nicolas is an airline pilot…It’s a tremendous accomplishment.” Nicolas told us why he loves his atypical grandfather.
After delaying everyone at the start while counting his money, Donald told us: “I’m always shooting my mouth. I’d watch the race and say to my wife they could’ve done this…”
Climbing up the hill to the Irish church, Donald twisted his ankle but it didn’t change anything, they were on the last ferry.
Kate and Pat (8): (3rd ferry)
Pat said: “We’re a lesbian couple… we’re ordained clergy. This causes people’s eyebrows to raise.” Kate added: “We’re not wimps…Being in the clergy doesn’t mean we have to stand back and open doors and letting people have the first cab that comes along.”
In Shannon, Pat said: “The Amazing Race is a love letter to the planet…I love it, what a gift.”
Marianna and Julia (9): (3rd ferry)
Julia introduced the team by saying: “ Marianna and I have the heart of the soldier.”
The sisters trailed throughout most of the race. Julia appeared as the leader of the two while “Nanni” followed along.
These 3 team weren’t featured at all and they don’t even look like good racers. I was expecting more from the sisters. With the maximum numbers of teams in the race, airtime is at a premium. We’ll need another episode to have a clearer picture
Philiminated : Ari and Staella (2nd ferry)
After telling us that he’d backstab anyone even if Karma’s a b-itch, Ari got a lesson either in karma or in picking donkeys. For future reference: Don’t pick the one that’s tied alone. There could have been a reason to isolate the most stubborn one.
I'd like to read what others saw.