Recap: The Amazing Race 17, Episode 1 – “I made it my bitch.”

Episode 17.01: They Don’t Call It The Amazing Race For Nothin’

Here we go!  Phil Keoghan stands on a sloping hill in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the oldest seaport in the world, ready to introduce us to the eleven new teams racing on season 17 (!) of The Amazing Race.  They’re being taken to the starting line on lobster boats!

And the eleven teams…

Brook & Claire… home shopping hosts and friends who could “sell ice to an Eskimo.”
Chad & Stephanie… dating for 8 months.  They’ve bought a home together and he’s going to ask her to marry him on the Race.
Katie & Rachel… beach volleyball partners.  They’ll “be some bitches.”

Connor & Jonathan… Ivy League a-capella singers.  They’re going to sing a lot on the Race.
Nat & Kat… doctors and best friends.  They’ve transplanted a heart together at 3am and they’re a team of nerds.
Michael & Kevin… father and son internet sensations.  (Team Jumba!) 

Nick & Vicki… dating.  They’ve got lots of tattoos, but don’t judge them by ‘em.  They’ll kick ass though.
Ron & Tony… best friends for 22 years after meeting doing The Wiz.  It’s Tony’s dream to be on the Race.
Jill & Thomas… dating.  Typical, I’m right, you’re wrong type of deal.

Gary & Mallory… father and daughter.  She’s reigning Miss Kentucky.  He’s a pilot.
Andie & Jenna… recently reunited mother and daughter after an unplanned pregnancy.

The teams are on the starting line.  Phil promises this will be “one of the most grueling Races ever.”  (More grueling than TAR10?!)  He mentions eight of the 12 Pit Stops are elimination points.  Then he drops the surprise.

The new twist on The Amazing Race.  The winner of the first leg will receive the Express Pass which will allow the holder to use before or during any task they do not want to complete.  All they have to do is hand over the Express Pass, get the next clue and move on.  

Phil goes on to say there are two flights, but the first flight arriving 30 minutes earlier can only hold three teams. 

And it’s time… “The world is waiting for you… Good luck… Travel safe… GO!”

The teams run over to their bags and their first clue telling them to fly to London, England.  There, teams will drive themselves to Stonehenge for their next clue.  The teams then get into their little Smart cars (with no cameraman and sound tech!).

Teams drive themselves to Logan Airport. Ron & Tony arrive first and Chad does a little squeal of joy seeing only one team ahead of them.  Ron & Tony are first to the American counter and are first on the flight.  But Chad & Stephanie have no idea what they’re doing, allowing Jill & Thomas to get the 2nd spot.  They get pointed in the right direction just in time to beat Katie & Rachel who, with the other teams, have to settle for the Virgin Atlantic flight.

The teams do the usual “nice to meet you” buddy-buddy intros while waiting for their flights (and before the real competition begins!).

Flight #1 arrives in London at 6:57am and the first three teams head to their cars.  Flight #2 gets in at 7:18am

Chad & Stephanie already have their first disagreement and Nat talks about being a type 1 diabetic on the Race.  Nick & Vicki and Michael & Kevin are having trouble finding their way, while Andie & Jenna are having trouble driving the stick.  “Team Glee” or Connor & Jonathan are behind them and get out to help them when the mother and daughter get stuck in the middle of the road. 

Nat & Kat arrive first at Stonehenge and get the clue telling them to “Find the castle that is the opposite of Nor’Easter” or Eastnor Castle for the next clue.  Jill & Thomas and Katie & Rachel are right behind.  Brook & Claire grab the clue and then catch up to the doctors and they decide to work together to get to the clue.

Ron & Tony meanwhile go in the completely wrong direction as Gary & Mallory and Connor & Jonathan get to Stonehenge next and team up themselves.  

Andie & Jenna, Chad & Stephanie, Nick & Vicki, Michael & Kevin trail.

Jill & Thomas, Nat & Kat, and Brook & Claire get to Eastnor Castle first and read their next clue telling them to climb a wall guarded by a mob of peasants.  They’ll grab a medieval flag at the top, run to some ancient boats, called a coracle, and use them to get across the moat to a knight in shining armor for their next clue. 

As the teams begins climbing up the wall, the peasants start yelling at them and dousing them with dirty water.  They take the flag, run to the moat and get into the little boats but easily start sinking into the water.  They have to figure out how to balance themselves in the boat and pull themselves along the rope towards the other side.

Back on the road, Gary & Mallory get a flat tire driving into a gas station.  Connor & Jonathan decide to go on and leave them.  Chad & Stephanie and Katie & Rachel get to the castle next.  They have trouble with the boats as well.

Jill & Thomas find their matching knight and get the first Road Block of the Race.In this Road Block, teams will use an ancient slingshot-type of weapon called a ballista to hurl a watermelon towards a knight standing 50 feet away.  Once they knock it over, they’ll find the Jester who’ll hand them their next clue.  

Thomas, Claire, and Nat decide to do the Road Block.  A knight on a horse takes them to the task and they begin.  Back at the moat, Chad & Stephanie are halfway across when they sink again as Katie & Rachel and Connor & Jonathan catch up.

Thomas knocks his knight over and they get their clue telling them to search the grounds for Phil and the Pit Stop.  They step onto the Mat and claim their first place finish and the first ever TAR Express Pass.

Nat smashes the knight and they head off to claim 2nd.  As Katie & Rachel arrive at the Road Block, Brook tries to encourage Claire who is having trouble… and then it happens.

       The viral smash felt around the world.  Something must have been wrong with the way she set up that particular shot, but the watermelon comes flying backwards and hits Claire right smack on her face.  The watermelon is in pieces on the ground and Claire can’t feel her face.  “You have to finish,” Brook says to her partner, “There’s no outs.”  “I can’t even see straight,” Claire says.  “They don’t call it The Amazing Race for nothin’!” Brook responds.

Claire soldiers back up and after a few more tries gets the hit on the knight.  They run to the Pit Stop, but right behind them is Connor & Jonathan who manage to slip past them, literally, to claim 3rd.  The home shopping hosts finish 4th with Katie & Rachel in 5th.

Chad & Stephanie are at the Road Block, finish, but then start running around the perimeter of and in the castle.  At the moat, Michael & Kevin are having their own trouble with the boat, falling over and sinking.  Gary & Mallory come running behind them and quickly figure out how to get across, which Michael & Kevin then follow. 

The two father-child teams finish the Road Block and they step on the Mat together, Gary & Mallory officially check in as Team #6 and Michael & Kevin are Team #7.  Chad & Stephanie finally find their way and finish as Team #8.

After being the most lost, Andie & Jenna and Nick & Vicki finally get to the castle.  Nick & Vicky don’t seem to know what medieval flags and battlements are and have trouble seeing the flags right next to them.  They go to find the boats and have no clue they are the little things right next to them on the ground.  Their cameraman must have had a lot of fun pointing out the obvious with them.

Ron & Tony are in last and hustle, but it’s no use.  Andie & Jenna finish 9th, Nick & Vicki check in 10th, leaving the best friends sunk in the water before finally reaching Phil.

Episode Thoughts
Woohoo! The Amazing Race is back!  Always awesome and exciting when Phil lets new teams go on their way around the world at the starting line.

So, the Express Pass.  Interesting new twist.  It is basically a mini-Fast Forward.  Should be interesting to see when Jill & Thomas will use it.  Like the Fast Forward itself, this Express Pass doesn’t always guarantee success in any way.  So we’ll see how it’ll turn out.

It should also be interesting to see if the Intersection and U-Turns make their return this season as well.  You never know with Bertram and Co!  And I just realized, would Jill & Thomas be able to use the Express Pass during an Intersection?  Would that also exempt the team they get partnered up with?

Seems like we have a good mix of teams this year.  Very obvious they want to have the first American all-female winners of The Amazing Race and they might just have a winner with these teams. They all have the potential to do very well this Race.  Also great to have three parent-child teams.  I do hope they can outlast the dating couples who do seem to be the least interesting teams so far. 

The episode was pretty great in the first hour.  But it seemed like it was too top-heavy as the last half-hour almost dragged on too long with the bottom half teams trying to catch up.  Wasn’t as exciting as the first 60 minutes especially since their only location after Stonehenge was the castle.  

Nonetheless, the tasks were fun even when taking away the watermelon smash.  The angry peasants and storming the castle was a hilariously genius idea.  Fresh.  I loved the little indirect nod to TAR3’s famous basket boats.  Those boats were also a genius touch.  I couldn’t help but wish the Road Block had the teams actually jousting instead.  That would’ve been a lot more fun.  The Road Block we did get was all right, but in a one-task leg, it would’ve been nice if it was more exciting.

I will definitely hold Phil to his promise of “the most grueling Race ever.”  I certainly hope so!  The Race has been pretty easy the last few season.  The Amazing Race 10 is still the most physically demanding Race ever, so I would love to see TAR17 top that.

All in all a great start to the season.   

Leg One Itinerary
Eastern Point Yacht Club
Cloucester, Massachusetts, USA


London, England, United Kingdom

Amesbury, Wiltshire

Eastnor Castle
Ledbury, Herefordshire

Eastnor Castle Meadow
Ledbury, Herefordshire, England

Who Did the Detour?
In order of completion
There was no Detour in this leg of the Race
Road Block Count
In order of completion; Italics indicate who did this week’s Road Block

Who’s Ready to Go Battle a Knight in Shining Armor?
0 Jill Thomas 1
1 Nat Kat 0
0 Brook Claire 1
1 Connor Jonathan 0
0 Katie Rachel 1
1 Chad Stephanie 0
1 Gary Mallory 0
0 Michael Kevin 1
0 Andie Jenna 1
1 Nick Vicki 0
0 Ron Tony 0

It is not known if Ron & Tony completed a Road Block

Order of Finish
1st Jill & Thomas
2nd Nat & Kat
3rd Connor & Jonathan
4th Brook & Claire
5th Katie & Rachel
6th Gary & Mallory
7th Michael & Kevin
8th Chad & Stephanie
9th Andie & Jenna
10th Nick & Vicki
Eliminated Ron & Tony
My Subjective Team Rankings for Leg 1
Michael & Kevin Michael & Kevin – Not much screentime for them this first leg, but they were my pre-Race favorites being a fan of theirs already because of YouTube.  I hope the hilarity and fun between them present in the YouTube videos come out on the Race in the next legs.  I also would love Ron & Christina 2.0 in them.  Or the Team Jumba Real Truth Flavor.
Gary & Mallory Gary & Mallory – The nickname they gave her at the airport, “sunshine” seems to be perfect for Mallory.  She is a jolly, happy-go-lucky person, always having fun and enjoying herself.  And it seems she has a great relationship with her father.  Parent-child teams are pretty awesome most of the time, so high hopes for them.
Nat & Kat Nat & Kat – For a cast that screams, “We want a female team to win the American TAR!” I think Nat & Kat are the strongest contenders for that elusive distinction.  They are smart, athletic, and they enjoy themselves.  Great combo to have, so I think they’ll do well. 
Brook & Claire Brook & Claire – An equally great all-female team.  They too are balls of energy and of course major props to Claire pushing through after that watermelon smash.  They have a good shot as well.  Also, is it just me or is Brook totally the 2nd coming of Mirna? No one will ever top the awesome awesome Mirna, but she looks like her and is just as loud and hilarious!
Katie & Rachel Katie & Rachel – Is it possible for three all female teams to make the final leg?  If these three female teams do well, it’s possible!  They were okay so far in the little screentime they had, but they too have great potential in the Race.
Andie & Jenna Andie & Jenna – Interesting dynamic they have, only knowing each other a few months.  It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out on the Race.  Will not knowing each other hinder them?  Or will it actually make them a stronger team?
Connor & Jonathan Connor & Jonathan – Team Glee seems all right so far.  I don’t know about that singing all the time though.  Glee is annoying enough as it is! 
Ron & Tony Ron & Tony – Sad for a fan of the show to go out first, but what a way to go from first to last and out and in the first leg too.  Shows how easily one wrong turn can cost you the Race.  They didn’t even get the chance to show whether or not they’d be any good as Racers since they didn’t get to do anything but drive. 
Chad & Stephanie Chad & Stephanie – They started out innocent enough (as innocent as dating couples get), but they did the typical bickering couples thing with a little bit of WTF are you doing!?!? On their way to the Pit Stop.  Going to be a rough road for them if they keep that up.
Jill & Thomas Jill & Thomas – Not much from them even though they did win the leg.  I’m sensing too much typical couple from them though and in a season with such diverse teams, they seem to be the least interesting.  That doesn’t bode well… for me at least, since that probably means they’ll go far.
Nick & Vicki Nick & Vicki – Well, they’re not the rough and tumble one would expect from a tattooed person, as they said.  But they aren’t very good with reading directions though are they?  Nor are they very good with knowing where they are.  Not a great start for them in the Race.  Also going to be a rough road ahead if they don’t pick it up.
Quotes from Episode 17.01

Gary: “Don’t let this potbelly and gray hairs fool ya!”
Mallory: “Or the blonde!”

Mallory: “These cars are like my size.”

Brook: “I’m not going to be the first girl on Amazing Race to pee her pants.”

Claire: “I made it my bitch.”

Gary: “They looked like a couple of carnies in a dunking booth.”

Mallory: “I wish I could juggle on a ball!”

Vicki: “I promise you we’re not that dumb!”

Mallory: “People thought these old guys couldn’t do anything.”

Phil: “What’s the name of this country?”
Vicki: “We’re in London.”
Phil: “That’s… That’s right.  The country of London.”

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  1. Hey fans! What did you think of this season’s premiere episode last night? Are you looking forward to the show’s first-time visits to Bangladesh, Ghana and the Arctic Circle? To get insider details on the cast and show, join us today at 2pm ET/11am PT for a LIVE CHAT with the first eliminated team – Hope to chat with you soon!Morgan, The Fancast Team’Like’ us on Facebook: us on Twitter:

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