Recap: The Amazing Race 18, Episode 1 – “This is no time to dilly dally!”

Episode 18.01: Head Down and Hold On

The Leg

Phil claims they’ve brought back a cast of “favorites” (that’s very debatable) for a 2nd chance at a million dollars.  After the team intros and some questionable, selective memory on the parts of both the Race and some of the teams, Phil introduces a few new twists.

First, the Express Pass is back for the winner of the first leg of the Race. 
Second, teams have to earn their first clues by bringing Phil what he wants from a field full of paper airplanes.  The first eight teams will get on the first flight while the last three teams to find the paper airplane will take a flight that is scheduled to arrive 90 minutes after the first.  Not only that, the last team to complete this first task will receive a penalty of an automatic U-Turn at the first Detour of the Race.

Phil notes there will be 12 legs and that this Race will be different.  (We’ll see!)
He tells the teams he’s looking for “Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services” or QANTAS and he sets them off…

“The world is waiting for you.  Good luck, travel safe… GO!”

The teams run over to the field of airplanes, not exactly sure of what they’re looking for.  Amanda & Kris and Ron & Christina are first to try, but Phil says they’re incorrect.  Mel & Mike find Qantas first and they open their clue telling them to fly to Sydney, Australia.  The rest of the teams figure it out and the last teams to get on the later flight are Jen & Kisha, Gary & Mallory and the last team (and recipients of the penalty) Amanda & Kris.

En-route to Sydney, the first flight has to make an emergency landing in Honolulu after a passenger has a heart attack.  That allows the second flight to arrive first in Sydney at 10:20am.  The three teams head to Sydney Harbor to catch a ferry to Oceanworld at Manly for their next clue.

10:47am and the first flight arrives just as the leading three teams get to Manly and find the Road Block.

In this Road Block, teams will search the floor of the oceanworld tank for a compass.  Then, they must decipher a message written through symbols on nautical flags using their compass.  The message tells them to head to Manly 16ft Skiff Sailing Club, find the commodore and tell him “I am between the devil and the deep blue sea,” to get their next clue.

Mallory, Amanda, and Kisha decide to do the Road Block. 

Back at the aiport, Ron & Christina, Mel & Mike, and Jet & Cord miss the train and are now at the back of the pack while the rest of the teams head to the harbor and then the oceanworld.  When the last three teams go to board the ferry, the Cowboys get left behind.

At the Road Block, Mallory finishes first followed closely by Kisha and Amanda and they head to the commodore who hands them their next clue.  Teams now have to sail on a 16 foot skiff, hanging off the side to grab a clue from one of three buoys.  

The three teams successfully grab the clue telling them to head to the Pit Stop, Shelley Beach.It’s a footrace between Gary & Mallory and Kris & Amanda, but it is father and daughter that meet a hatted Phil and a shirtless surfer at the Mat and get the Express Pass…

…And their next clue as they are not done Racing yet.  The leg continues and Phil tells them to get on their way.  Amanda & Kris check in 2nd and Kisha & Jen check in 3rd.

Meanwhile, Zev & Justin give the commodore the correct phrase, but Margie & Luke (“I am the devil…”) and Jaime & Cara do not.  Flight Time & Big Easy decide not to finish decoding the message and are lucky Zev & Justin are huge fans as they give them the critical bit of information.  Margie & Luke and Jaime & Cara go ask Justin too, but he refuses to tell them so they head back.

They run into Ron & Christina and Mel & Mike (who work together) and they decide to have Margie & Luke and Jaime & Cara lead them to where they need to go and then tell them the answer. 

They all finish as Jet & Cord and Kent & Vyxsin decide solving just the first part of the clue is enough they head to the commodore.  Jet & Cord have no clue what they need, but Kent & Vyxsin ask Margie for help and she tells them the answer because she wants a weak team they can beat with them in the finals.  (Really now?)

The teams all speed through the skiff and check one after the other… Zev & Justin, Flight Time & Big Easy, Jaime & Cara, Margie & Luke, Ron & Christina, and Mel & Mike.  And thanks to Margie, Kent & Vyxsin finish 10th and Kent gets to slap the surfer’s ass before they head off.

That leaves Jet & Cord to wallow in their own idiocy in last without anyone to hand them the clue like other teams and their fate lies in next week’s episode.

Episode Thoughts
And they’re back!

First off, boo to not having at least a 90-minute premiere!  If ever TAR needed an extended premiere, it was this one.  Too much crammed into one hour and still too much left out and then they had to go Amazing Race Asia on us make the first leg a non-elimination, or really, a double-leg, though it wasn’t even because there was no Detour.

Speaking of, the automatic U-Turn at the start of the Race is a nice twist to the twist, better than getting eliminated at the Starting Line (or at some random point on the first leg).  But it was cruel and unusual for the one returning team that was done in by a U-Turn be the unlucky recipient of that penalty.

But Bert & Co. couldn’t have planned it better if they tried (or maybe they did?).  Amanda & Kris get the penalty and in turn are one of the bottom three teams.  There was never going to be a Detour this leg of the Race.  Cut to the first flight of 8 teams having to make an emergency landing in Honolulu allowing those three teams to shoot up to the top of the pack and thereby giving Amanda & Kris the opportunity to win the Express Pass and negate that U-Turn penalty.  Though it didn’t happen, it would’ve made for some good TV.

Now, what doesn’t make good TV, the continued TAR and CBS hard on love affair with the Cowboys, so much so that they have officially painted Dan & Jordan as cheaters and undeserving of their win and somehow stole what was supposed to be destined for Jet & Cord. What?  Huh?  Seriously, come on now.  That was one of the most egregious bits on TAR ever.  What. The. Frack!?  Absolutely horrible.

Also horrible?  Teams not completing tasks.  Flight Time & Big Easy, Margie & Luke, Jaime & Cara, and Kent & Vyxsin did not finish the Road Block.  Pretty sloppy task design by TAR there, but they should probably fix that so in future seasons, teams MUST complete the Detours and Road Blocks themselves before getting the next clue. 

And finally… HIGH DEFINITION!  FINALLY! FINALLY!  The show looks absolutely stunning in HD and should get even better when the show goes to other beautiful, scenic locales.  It really is about time.

But sad that they didn’t spruce up the intro for HD.  While we got nice views, it would’ve nice to do a little tweaking with the graphics.  And what is up with doing away with what has become an iconic shot of the 747 in the clouds at the beginning of every intro since season 1!? 

Plus, a nice cameo by the Sydney town crier from season 2!

Leg One Itinerary
San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm
Palm Springs, California

Sydney, Australia

Circular Quay
Sydney, Australia

Oceanworld Manly
Manly, Australia

Manly 16ft Skiff Sailing Club
Manly, Australia

Shelly Beach
Manly, Australia

Who Did the Detour?
In order of completion



Road Block Count
In order of completion; Italics indicate who did this week’s Road Block

Who’s ready to get tanked?
0 Gary Mallory 1
1 Kisha Jen 0
1 Amanda Kris 0
0 Zev Justin 1
1 Flight Time Big Easy 0
0 Ron Christina 1
1 Mel Mike 0
0 Jaime Cara 1
1 Margie Luke 0
0 Kent Vyxsin 1
1 Jet Cord 0

Order of Finish
1st Gary & Mallory
2nd Amanda & Kris
3rd Kisha & Jen
4th Zev & Justin
5th Flight Time & Big Easy
6th Jaime & Cara
7th Margie & Luke
8th Ron & Christina
9th Mel & Mike
10th Kent & Vyxsin
11th Jet & Cord

My Subjective Team Rankings for Leg 1

Ron & Christina Ron & Christina – It is so great to have them back.  They had too little screen time this week, but it looks like that’ll change next week.  It was like that in TAR12 too, a little under the radar in the first leg, and Ron’s Real Truth Flavor came out in full force in the 2nd leg.  I can’t wait!  I can’t wait for another season-long transformation all the way to the final 3!  But please Chris, next time, don’t freely give other teams information!
Gary & Mallory Gary & Mallory – A huge win for them.  They got a lucky break and did not let go of that break all the way to the Express Pass.  Just like last season, they are a strong team as long as they stay positive and maintain their leads without getting frustrated.
Amanda & Kris Amanda & Kris – Well, it must’ve crushed them to get the U-Turn right out of the gate.  And crushed them even more when they found out they were 2nd, just missing the Express Pass that could’ve negated that U-Turn.  A rough start, but if they can maintain their spot in the front of the pack, they could have a shot.
Mel & Mike Mel & Mike – Looks like Mel’s age might be a bigger factor now that it was in TAR14.  Back in their original season, Mel’s age was a non-factor and they did very well until they lost their way in their doomed leg.  Maybe teaming up with the other parent-child teams could be good for them.
Kent & Vyxsin Kent & Vyxsin – They got lucky this leg, even if it was a non-elimination/double-leg.  They can’t be pushing themselves to the back of the pack because there are certainly stronger teams that will more than likely luck out as well, pushing them all the way to Elimination Station.
Kisha & Jen Kisha & Jen – Okay leg from them, nothing much yet other than revisiting their nightmare leg in China.
Jaime & Cara Jaime & Cara – Well, looks like Jaime is still Jaime!  And I don’t mind that as much as others do.  They stepped up their game leg after leg in TAR14, so they better hope they don’t have to climb their way up again this Race, otherwise they’ll be an easy Elmination.  Judging from their messy performance this leg, AND teaming up again with Margie & Luke, not a good sign.
Zev & Justin Zev & Justin – Wow dudes, major points off for being Herb & Nate fantards.  Really now?  Don’t be so sure they’re going to repay your kindness. 
Herb & Nathaniel Flight Time & Big Easy – They’re lucky they have fans on the Race otherwise Franz Kafka’s ghost would be haunting them once again.  Can you believe they quit another Road Block!?!?!  That is horrible.  They better hope TAR doesn’t have any more puzzles for them this season.  Or they are doomed.
Margie & Luke Margie & Luke – The Luke we all know and hate hasn’t shown up yet, but we can be sure to anticipate that coming up.  Margie is certainly a strong woman and strong Race, but we’ll have to wait and see if Luke drags her down again.  Plus, I could do without teaming up with the cheerleaders again.  And boo to them for begging other teams to give them the answer.
Jet & Cord Jet & Cord – The precious cowboys are in the last place!  And like TAR16, they made stupid mistakes that could end their Race.  Lucky for them this was a double-leg.  And way to be bitter… are they still harping on about getting cheated out of a million dollars?  Because I remember they lost because of their own doing, not because someone “cheated.”
Quotes from Episode 18.01
Mallory: “You’ve been to Kentucky before.  You know we don’t lie there.”

Jen: “The tank helps her breath, it doesn’t help her move.”

Phil: “Mallory!  This is no time to dilly dally!  Stop talking and go!”

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