Phil starts the show by asking, “Can these teams stand up to the stress of traveling together across nearly 30,000 miles? Who will come up with the right strategy, the right combination of brains, brawn and teamwork to win the one million dollars (I always think of Dr. Evil when Phil says one million dollars!) A few stories have developed but it will take another week to see who the long term players are and who is getting the big story for the first half of the race. Of the 11 opening teams introductions, only two spoke about strategy and they were Kate and Pat and Marianna and Julia – two teams who fared poorly and we didn’t see much of! With no alpha male team, this season may be even more character driven than past years. I definitely need another week to sort things out.
The first place finishers, Azaria and Hendekea, obviously received a lot of screen time. Their opening quote was the only one to focus on both their strengths and their weakness. Azaria said that they had an advantage, “we are intelligent and more physically fit.” And then Hendekea chimed in, “He’s going to want to dominate. I know I can make good decisions and Azaria needs to listen to those decisions.” Here is the big brother-little sister dynamics story! A lot of attention was given to them leaving the mansion, Hendekea giving directions that were initially correct and then doubting herself, getting lost and then just missing the first flight. We saw them make an alliance with Ronald and Christina because they share the same family bond and spirit of the game. Azaria commented that they are “overachievers who don’t like to lose” (file that comment away to remember in the future). They were always thinking and work well together despite Hendekea’s misgivings. At the end Azaria said, "Hendekea has proven to him how far she’s willing to go. You see her small frame and you see the tiger within." We’ll see if they can keep this up or if this is their only first place finish.
Kynt and Vxysin will have a story no matter where they finish because they are “self-proclaimed real life cartoon characters.” Kynt said they have tenacity and Vxysin finished that they are gothic energizer bunnies. They showed good teamwork and encouragement this episode and I expect them to be around for a while. Kynt was also heard to say “The bitch-ass Goth kids lead the pack” when they had actually signed in at 3rd place for the ferry. I thought that was an oddly placed comment.
TK and Rachel seemed a little clueless at the Shannon Airport, but they finished strongly (even if they did go the wrong way to the pit stop). After the roadblock, TK said “slow and steady, we got it.” They are one of the teams in my mind that might be able to answer Phil’s opening questions. Another thing to note is that they were one of the last teams to get to LAX but we didn’t see them getting lost (Eric and Danielle started out the same way last season). They didn’t have much of a story this week, but you remembered them.
Jason and Lorena are good racers, but they have their work cut out for them. He didn’t listen to her when she was right and she is over-emotional. They did have a few side comments that could indicate longevity. At the small church, Jason said, “We want to get to the first leg and stay in the top pack,” later he said, “Lorena is intense. She’s going in for the kill.” We also saw a post-leg confessional comment from Lorena edited in during the donkey part of the roadblock, “This race can turn like that,” and snaps her fingers. (I just reread your commentary Michel, and I agree this is a team to watch.)
Two other teams got attention that didn’t finish at the top: Ronald and Christina and Nate and Jen.
Ronald and Christina entire story is about wanting to reconnect because he missed so much of her early life. The previews next week indicate that this story will be continued. I am thinking that this is one of the big early stories for the first half of the season (similar to David and Mary, Peter and Sara, Amber and Rob etc.). We need to see some strategy from them if they are going to last past mid-point. Ron did say, “This is a wake up call” when they were last to the smallest church. They finished this leg in 7th place so maybe their racing will pick up in the future.
Nate and Jen appear to be good racers. They’re young and fit, but neither one of them has control over their emotions. This display: Nate, “You are the worst person at this I ever met,” and then compared her poorly to the other women running. She replied, “Do I want to spend the rest of my life with him?” was really distracting to the race. Their behavior certainly leaves room for growth in teamwork! (as does Lorena and Jason). We did spend a lot of time with them with their donkeys so they probably recover and remain around a while to torture us with their treatment of each other!
Kate and Pat, Nicolas and Donald, Marianna and Julia, and Shana and Jennifer were in the background and we’ll see how much they are fleshed out next week. The next boot probably comes from one of these teams.
There were lots of random quotes this episode. I will have to watch it again in a few weeks once we’ve determined who the long-term players are to see if any of their comments take on new significance.
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