Recap: The Amazing Race 15, Episodes 1 and 2 – “Come on Noah! Get ‘em on the ark baby!”

My sincerest apologies for the recap being so late.  Still trying to get back on track after my trip.  Next week will be on time I promise!   Thanks everyone!

Episode 15.01/02 – They Thought Godzilla Was Walking Down the Street

And the 15th (!!!!!) season of The Amazing Race is here.  Our trusty Phil Keoghan introduces us to the iconic Los Angeles River (complete with movie production demo) and our 12 new teams as they run down towards the starting line.

Brian and Ericka, married 2 years.  She’s a former Miss America and they want to show that it doesn’t matter that they are an interracial couple.
Lance and Keri, engaged.  He’s an attorney and he’s also smelling like a douche already.  So basically, he’s an attorney.
Maria and Tiffany, professional poker players.  They like playing games. 
Zev and Justin, best friends.  Zev has Aspergers.  Justin says he’s honest and speaks his mind.
Mika and Canaan, newly dating.  We see them singing and apparently he’s a songwriter with a song on the country charts right now.  But wait!  They’re also Christians!  “We can pray about winning…”
The familiar whistling begins… Flight Time and Big Easy (or Herbert and Nathaniel) are Harlem Globetrotters.  They also like to play games.
Sam and Dan, brothers who are also Christian Midwesterners, but are also both gay.
Gary and Matt, father and son who both want to spend time together.
Eric and Lisa, married, yoga teachers.  “…yoga in the hood” and “…numero frickin’ ooo-noh!”  I’m over them already.
Garrett and Jessica, dating… on and off? from Northern California.  And there’s the Golden Gate Bridge.  She’s Columbian, she’s fiery.  That baffles him.
Marcy and Ron, dating for one year after meeting online, also from San Francisco.  She’s never dated a bald guy before.  The obligatory “older” team.
Meghan and Cheyne, dating (so many dating couples!).  They’re going to get married.

The teams are all in a line, Phil tells them they’ll be encountering many “unexpected surprises” (hmm…).  He gives them the usual pre-Race pep talk, but this time he shocks the teams and viewers who haven’t seen the CBS commercials by telling them about their very first challenge.  Just past their bags is that first challenge.  All details are in their first clue atop their bags.  The team that can’t complete the task will be the first eliminated and won’t even make it past the starting line.

“The world is waiting for you… good luck… travel safe…”  And the Racers are off. 
Their first clue tells them they’ll be flying to Tokyo, but first they must search the wall of over a thousand license plates for one of only 11 from the Shinagawa District of Tokyo.  If they look at their clue closely, they’ll see the Japanese symbol for Shinagawa at the top of the clue and thus easily match it with the plates.  They’ll bring the plate to Phil and if he clears them, will hand them a ticket on one of two flights to Tokyo.  The team left without a plate will be the first ever eliminated at the starting line.

The teams rush to the wall, and for the first time ever on The Amazing Race, we see the army of cameramen as the chaotic first seconds of the Race begin.  None of the teams realize the huge hint at the top of their clue.  Instead they all pull off plates with Asian characters on them and run to Phil.  One at a time Phil repeats “I’m sorry that’s not correct” as the teams are clueless (figuratively of course since the clue is right in front of them).

Justin is the first to realize the giveaway, but other teams are lucky enough to pick the right ones.  Poker players Tiffany & Maria are out first, followed by Marcy & Ron and Meghan & Cheyne.  The Globetrotters Flight Herbtime and Big Natesy are next then Zev & Justin, Gary & Matt and Sam & Dan.

Opening Credits roll and the teams leave one by one until only Lance & Keri and Eric & Lisa are left.  Only one set of tickets left.  They both realize the Japanese symbols and they scramble to find the final plate.  Lance & Keri are the lucky ones and get the final tickets.  Eric & Lisa walk over to Phil and he officially Philiminates them.

They say they took a beating for everyone else, the shame of being the first eliminated.  They’ve set the others free.

And the freedom of the other teams has them taking either an American or United flight to Tokyo departing 30 minutes apart.  At the airport, the teams are chatting it up and the poker players “bluff” to the others that they work with an non-profit in LA that helps homeless people, so as to downplay their millions won from poker and make the other teams more likely to help them in the future.

The first flight carries Maria & Tiffany, Marcy & Ron, Meghan & Cheyne, Gary & Matt, Flight Herb & Big Nate, and Zev & Justin.  The second flight carries Sam & Dan, Mika & Canaan, Garrett & Jessica, Brian & Ericka and Lance & Keri.  But that doesn’t matter because the flights arrive in Tokyo eight minutes apart, allowing the 2nd flight to easily catch up to the first.
The teams arrive in Tokyo and must make their way to the Tokyo Tower Studios. 

On the drive, Maria & Tiffany have dubbed Sam & Dan, “the Hot Guys” and the brothers think the girls are probably flirting with them, and they will definitely play along and not tell them they are actually gay.

The teams get to Tokyo Tower and are led into a studio filled with a rowdy and excited audience all welcoming the 11 teams who take their place around a roulette table.  Confetti flies and the host welcomes the teams to Sushi Roulette!  Phil tells us this is a Road Block.  The roulette has 9 sushi rolls and two wasabi bombs (and if you’ve ever had wasabi, you know they can be huge bombs).  The teams will eat whatever is in front of them and must continue playing until they receive a wasabi bomb.  When they do, they’ll only have two minutes to consume the wasabi bomb to receive their next clue. 

The host spins the wheel and the first victims are Wasabi Ron and Wasabi Cheyne (we’ve got Japanese game show graphics, people!).  They both finish and are given their next clues and a colored flag.  Teams must now match that colored flag with the colored visors of 20 Japanese tourists in the audience and lead them through the famous Shibuya scramble crossing and to the Konno Hachimangu Shrine, the Pit Stop for this first leg of the Race.

Meghan & Cheyne and Marcy & Ron lead their tourists onto the streets as Wasabi Garrett and Wasabi Justin are next up.  The audience is very amused.
Outside, Marcy gets her group pumped up and explains to us she may seem frenetic and frantic to everyone else, but she’s just having a good time.

The chants of “Wasabi!” fill the studio as Wasabi Maria is the only one up for this round.  The audience and the other teams cheer her on, but her time runs out.  She’ll have to do it again.  The host spins the table again and boom, Maria gets the bomb again.  None of the teams are happy, including Maria who’ll have to down a 2nd one immediately.  Seconds left and Maria is down to the wire again, but swallows everything with just one second left.  They’re off.  

Marcy & Ron can’t seem to find where they need to go.  Zev & Justin get pointed in the right direction, but one of their tourists either has a broken foot or a broken shoe and is having trouble walking.  Meghan & Cheyne though run their group through the scramble and straight to Phil and the Mat.  They are Team #1 and win a trip to Aspen and Vail, Colorado.  Phil says they are tenacious.  And they say they’ve waited to see Phil at the Mat since high school.
Zev & Justin are right behind, holding their tourists’ hands as they check in 2nd.

Meanwhile it’s Wasabi Big Easy and Wasabi Lance’s turn at the bombs, then Wasabi Canaan.  On the streets, the Globetrotters also held their tourists’ hands, with one lady being very grateful to them.  Maria & Tiffany seem to have walked into the middle of a protest, but they get directions at a hotel.

Three teams are left at the roulette and Wasabi Gary and Wasabi Brian are next, much to Sam and Dan’s disappointment (I keep correcting myself as I keep typing Sam and Dean instead of Dan.  That’s Supernatural for you.).  Brian has a hard time, despite Ericka’s encouragement.  Gary is able to finish, but Brian is just seconds short and he runs out of time.  Wasabi Dan is next and downs that bomb with a minute to spare, leaving Brian & Ericka the last team at the studio.  Brian goes to the final second and they are finally off and running.

As if Shibuya scramble wasn’t crazy enough, three teams cross the intersection with their 60 tourists.  Lance & Keri decide not to follow Flight Herb and Easy Nate and make it to the Pit Stop 3rd.  Marcy & Ron take 4th while the Globetrotters settle for 5th.  

Sam & Dan meet up with Maria & Tiffany and decide to work together.  The poker players like the hot young guys, the brothers appreciate the girls working for a non-profit, helping the less fortunate out.  Brian & Ericka meet an angel man who takes them to the scramble.  The tourists have all be running to keep up with their tour guides, so much so that Brian has to carry one lady for a while. 

Gary & Matt get some help from European tourists while one of Garrett & Jessica’s tourists badly needs to go to the bathroom.  After the bathroom break, Garrett & Jessica run past the brothers and the poker players, causing Sam & Dan to want to follow them and Maria freeing them to separate if they want.  All alone, the girls push on, but then realize they are missing two of their tourists.  They backtrack to find them.

Brian & Ericka finally make it to the Pit Stop and go from last to 6th and celebrate with their cheering tourists.  Gary & Matt are right behind in 7th.  Garrett & Jessica take 8th with Sam & Dan hopping up and down to finish 9th.

Mika & Canaan get an angel of their own to take them to the temple, but at the Mat, they are short one person.  Phil can’t check them in.  They go back with their group, but the missing woman is slowly walking up the hill to the steps.  Canaan goes down and carries her all the way to the Mat and they officially check in 10th. 

Maria & Tiffany decide to just go to the Pit Stop without their two missing tourists.  At the Mat, the 200 tourists plus the teams are cheering on the poker champs as they walk towards Phil.  They tell him they don’t have all 20 tourists and as a result, have incurred a two-hour penalty for not completing the challenge.  (Big hint as to what comes next!  As if it was a big surprise.)
Phil tells the teary-eyed teammates that this is a non-elimination leg and that they are still in the Race. 

Whew.  And one leg done, and still one more to go this week!
Meghan & Cheyne get the first clue of the 2nd leg which tells them to fly to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and then take a 2-hour bus ride to the village of Cai Be.  There, they’ll go on foot to the Ben Tau Dock for their next clue.  

Half the teams decide to book tickets online, while the other half go straight to the airport and wait until they open in the morning.  The 2nd group are told there are no more economy seats, but Brian & Ericka manage to convince the agents to sell them economy tickets, but have business seats, much to the other teams’ chagrin.

Maria & Tiffany rub a few teams the wrong way, but it isn’t until a passenger on their flight recognizes them as poker champs that brothers Sam & Dan take notice.  On the other hand, the girls continue flirting with the guys, joking that they were trying to figure out if they were gay or not, but admit in their Phil confessional that the guys are very loveable and that they are falling for them.   

The teams arrive in Vietnam and Maria & Tiffany and Sam & Dan share a taxi as they all drive through the hectic, flooding streets of Ho Chi Mihn on their way to the bus station.  Maria & Tiffany, Sam & Dan, Mika & Canaan, Flight Time & Big Easy, and Marcy & Ron squeeze onto the 3:30pm bus, which go as soon as they fill up.  The rest of the teams settle for a 4:45pm bus, but they see the first group just leaving the station so they decide to buy the rest of the tickets on the bus so they can leave.

But before they do, there’s one more passenger.  A man puts his chicken in a basket in the cargo under the bus and hops on.  Zev decides to give him his jacket, endearing him to the rest of the teams.

In Cai Bei, the teams run to Ben Tau Du Lich, the boat dock, but it is closed. So all teams get bunched up as they wait for the 7am opening.  The teams stay there overnight, have a Phở dinner, and attorney Lance complains about Vietnam.

They get their next clue telling them to ride through the Mekong Delta on sampans to a set of mud pits along the water.  There, they will collect nutrient mud, carry it to a nearby orchard and fertilize a fruit tree.  Once they have covered the roots up to the designated line, they’ll get their next clue.

For Maria & Tiffany, they get their Speed Bump where they must go to a local soup stand and gather ingredients for Phở, bring it to the dockmaster, and make the soup for him.  That’s all.  They get their clue.

Meanwhile, the other teams head to the fruit farm and start their task, getting stuck in the pit, falling and slipping on the planks.  Meghan & Cheyne finish first and they get their next clue telling them to go back to the dock and then to the Cai Be Field for their next clue.  As the teams finish one by one, Maria & Tiffany manage to catch up and are still in it.

Zev & Justin head to their sampan, but Justin slips, flips, and falls into the water while holding his clue.  It turns out he’s left the wet clue slapped on the side of the mud pit and they go back just as the last team, Maria & Tiffany finishes the task.

he teams all get off at the docks and head for Cai Be Field where they find the Road Block. Who’s feeling just ducky?
In this Road Block, teams will lead a flock of 150 ducks from their pen, across a bridge, back again and into their pen all within 10 minutes. 

Meghan, Jessica, and Ericka are the first ones up but they are having trouble.  Matt, Flight Herb and Sam all have an easy time of it, but Meghan and Jessica’s time runs out.  Sam finishes first and they get their next clue telling them to head to Cho Cái Bè, a market at the edge of the Mekong River and find the Bassac III Riverboat, the Pit Stop.

Matt finishes, and Ericka seems to have gotten the hang of it, but she forgets to shut the gate to the pen and the half of the flock that is already back home gets out as time expires.  Brian slaps the post.
Flight Herb gets his ducks up and over quickly, and Zev, “the duck whisperer” is even better.  Meghan, Jessica, and Ericka go back for their 2nd attempts.  Mika’s time expires and that frustrates Canaan.  

The lead teams try to find the boat and it is father and son Gary & Matt that takes 1st place this leg.  They both win a kayak.
Right behind them, Sam & Dan take 2nd with “Herb & Nate” taking 3rd.  Lance & Keri follow in 4th.

Back at the ducks, Zev and Tiffany finish while Meghan and Mike finally complete the task as well.  Marcy is close behind.
Zev and Justin officially check in 5th, Meghan & Cheyne take 6th.  Maria & Tiffany recover to take 7th and Mike & Canaan finish 8th with Marcy & Ron checking in at 9th.

Only two teams left.  Jessica and Ericka are struggling, their time expires again.  Their 4th attempts and they finally finish.  Brian & Ericka are off first but Jessica & Garrett are close behind. 

Garrett bumps a man off of his scooter, but it’s not enough.  Brian & Ericka are Team #10.
Which leaves Garrett & Jessica the 2nd team Philiminated.  Garrett slaps the roof of the boat.

Well, it was a fun premiere.  Great to have the 2-hour premiere back.  By virtue of the 2-hour premiere and the start line elimination, the first Pit Stop being a non-elimination wasn’t a big surprise.

The start line elimination, I was actually okay with.  Not just because I was happy we didn’t get another zen/hippie team on the Race, but it changed things up and kept the teams on their toes.  I hope that was just the beginning and we see more surprises (not huge ones) during the Race.

That first task also emphasized how teams must always read their clues carefully, look at their clues carefully.  And it seems the teams still don’t drill that unwritten rule in their heads.

From then on it seemed the rest of the leg was all leading towards that non-elim.  All the teams managing to arrive in Japan at the same time, everyone arriving at the studio at the same time before starting.  Their placement then was decided by luck of the draw at the roulette and then how well they could lead their tourists through Tokyo.

The Japanese game show?  Leading a group of Japanese tourists?  Genius.  Both so much fun and it would’ve been even more awesome seeing more interactions between the teams and their 20 tourists.  Always great seeing teams interacting with the locals.

The 2nd leg, great to be back in Vietnam.  Would’ve been more awesome to see a long 24-hour train ride, maybe next leg?

The mud packing was great in having the teams taking part in something the locals actually do, and the ducks… I think the first time Bertram van Munster had that task was season 5 in the Philippines as a Detour.  That infamous, classic Detour that had teams either herding a hundred ducks across rice patties or plowing a field with an ox/carabao.  All teams chose the carabao, so no duck fun.

But Bert got his wish, and animal chaos took over.  All kinds of awesome.

This should be a good season!  TAR again showed everyone why they deserve those seven Emmys.  This episode could easily be their Emmy tape for next year and they’d win.  But we still have two whole seasons to go for another even more Emmy-worthy episode.  That’s a good sign for TAR15 and TAR16.

Leg One Itinerary
Los Angeles River
Los Angeles, California

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Tower Studios
Tokyo, Japan

Konno Hachimangu Shrine
Tokyo, Japan

Leg Two Itinerary
Konno Hachimangu Shrine
Tokyo, Japan

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ben Xe Mien Tay/Bus Terminal
Ho Chi Minh City

Ben Tau Du Lich Dock
Cai Be, Vietnam

Fruit Farm
Cai Be, Vietnam

Soup Stand/Ben tau Du Lich Dock
Cai Be, Vietnam

San Van Dong Thi Tran Cai Be (Cai Be Field)
Cai Be, Vietnam

Bassacc III Riverboat, Cho Cai Be
Cai Be, Vietnam

Leg 2 Departure Times
Konno Hachimangu Shrine
Tokyo, Japan
Meghan & Cheyne 12:19am
Zev & Justin 12:36am
Lance & Keri 12:40am
Marcy & Ron 12:41am
Flight Time & Big Easy 12:42am
Brian & Ericka 12:44am
Gary & Matt 12:45am
Garrett & Jessica 12:51am
Sam & Dan 12:54am
Mika & Canaan 1:03am
Maria & Tiffany 3:22am

Who Did the Detour?

No Detour

This Week

Road Block Count

In order of completion after 2nd leg
1 Sam Dan 1
1 Gary Matt 1
1 Herbert Nathaniel 1
1 Lance Keri 1
1 Zev Justin 1
1 Maria Tiffany 1
1 Meghan Cheyne 1
1 Mika Canaan 1
1 Marcy Ronald 1
1 Brian Ericka 1
1 Garrett Jessica 1
0 Eric Lisa 0

Leg 1 Order of Finish
1st Meghan & Cheyne
2nd Zev & Justin
3rd Lance & Keri
4th Marcy & Ron
5th Flight Time & Big Easy
6th Brian & Ericka
7th Gary & Matt
8th Garrett & Jessica
9th Sam & Dan
10th Mika & Canaan
11th Maria & Tiffany

Leg 2 Order of Finish
1st Gary & Matt
2nd Sam & Dan
3rd Herbert & Nathaniel
4th Lance & Keri
5th Zev & Justin
6th Meghan & Cheyne
7th Maria & Tiffany
8th Mika & Canaan
9th Marcy & Ron
10th Brian & Ericka
Eliminated Garrett & Jessica

My Team Rankings for Legs 1 and 2
Zev & Justin Zev & Justin – They could be one of the stronger teams on the Race.  Fun guys, work very well together, and, most importantly, they Race well.  They are definitely the team to look out for and could possibly become a favorite.
Gary & Matt Gary & Matt – They could definitely be a sleeper team, a Mel & Mike (TAR14) or Nick & Don (TAR12) –type of team.  The emotions are there, and their 1st place finish at the 2nd Pit Stop could be a great sign of things to come.  They just got to maintain their focus and help each other out and they’ll be golden.
Sam & Dan Sam & Dan – They seem like good guys, but could definitely use their sneaky sides to their benefit.  A little hint of tension and a little hint of annoying over the top celebratory antics, but all right so far.
Brian & Ericka Brian & Ericka – Definitely not the first beauty queen and husband/boyfriend team we’ve seen, but if they can keep it together, they can go far.  They seem to enjoy the Race all right, but it’s when the pressure is on that they start falling apart.  That said, Ericka seems to be able to keep it together better than Brian might be able to.
Garrett & Jessica Garrett & Jessica – They had potential for both a good run and some good TV.  We could’ve had another Mat/Pit Stop engagement as well if they made it far enough like TAR6’s Hayden & Aaron.  But luck wasn’t on their side and they were the 2nd ones eliminated.  I might’ve rooted for them if we had seen more.
Marcy & Ronald Marcy & Ronald – Reminiscent of TAR5’s Bob & Joyce, also an older internet dating couple (They were pretty cool).  Marcy & Ron have a shot as well.  They could be a darkhorse to go far.  Not weak by any means, we didn’t get to see a lot from them other than Marcy having fun with her body in Japan.  It’ll be fun to see more from them in the coming weeks.
Meghan & Cheyne Meghan & Cheyne – Strong team out of the gate, but they’ve got to be able to maintain that for the rest of the Race.  A little setback with ducks, but if they can maintain their working well together, they can make it.
Mika & Canaan Mika & Canaan – There were hints of tension there.  With Garrett & Jessica out, Mika & Canaan may slip into the bickering couple position.  They both easily got frustrated when things didn’t go their way, but they did push forward and didn’t really show signs of throwing in the towel.  As long as they don’t let their frustration get in the way, they’ll be fine.
Herbert & Nathaniel Herbert & Nathaniel – Flight Herb Time and Big Easy Nate… I have no idea with the names, but as Racers we’ll see.  They work well together, are used to working well together, obviously and we saw them interacting well with the locals, which is more than can be said about other teams.  They’ve got a shot.
Maria & Tiffany Maria & Tiffany – The players could get played.  They didn’t come off very strong in the first two legs, and their easily frustrated nature and snippy moments with each other aren’t very good signs for them to go far.  Which is exactly why they probably will go far.  They have nowhere to go but up and it’ll be interesting to see their pseudo-alliance with the brothers develop.
Eric & Lisa Eric & Lisa – To be honest, another hippie/zen team wasn’t one I was looking forward to, and their intro video didn’t help much either.  So I’m not sad to see them first to go.  Tough way to get eliminated, but if it means not having to hear “numero frickin’ uno” every week, then that’s fine by me.
Lance & Keri Lance & Keri – Right out of TAR central casting, this team.  Or at least Lance.  You’ve got to have that resident outspoken, high adrenaline, win-win-win guy on every Race and Lance seems to be that guy.  That’s all 🙂
Quotes from Episode 15-01/02
Marcy: “I’m in my body and having a lot of good time.”

Justin: “I bit it like a snow cone and I think I took it down pretty fast, I don’t know.”
Zev: “You did, you fat cow!”

Justin: “I was proud of you today man.”
Zev: “Thanks.  Proud of you too.”
Justin: “Should we make out?”
Zev: “Oh God.”
Justin: “Oh, sorry.”

Tiffany: “I may be the brawn of the team, but you’re definitely the brains… and the boobs.”

Brian: “Come on Noah!  Get ’em on the ark baby!”

Episode Caps

1000! episode caps from both legs now online at xangatheamazingracecaps2

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