Recap: The Amazing Race 19, Episode 1 – “I feel so Asian right now.”

The Amazing Race: Episode 19.01 – The Kindness of Strangers

The Leg

The smell of the 8th Emmy still fresh in the air, the 10th Anniversary, 19th season of The Amazing Race begins!

In a callback to the very first episode of the entire series, the 11 teams are brought to the Starting Line at His Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, California on a TAR bus.

Inside the Temple, Phil informs the teams that the Race has 12 legs and that there is an Express Pass for the winning team this leg.

Their Starting Line challenge requires the teams to find the three letters TAI printed on several of the umbrellas, which they *should* use with the provided clue WANPEI to figure out their first destination of TAIPEI, TAIWAN.

Once they find the correct umbrella, they’ll exchange it for a set of keys to a Ford Explorer waiting for them outside.  The last team to complete the challenge will have to complete the first ever Hazard, a task that’ll show up before the end of the leg.

And with the immortal words of Phil, “The world is waiting for you.  Good luck… travel safe… GO!”
The teams rush to the umbrellas and take whichever ones they find until Olympic snowboards Andy & Tommy luck into finding the TAI umbrella.  That clues in the other teams as married couple Amani & Marcus, Survivors Ethan & Jenna and twin sisters Liz & Marie quickly follow as they drive off to LAX. 

The first eight teams will fly on China Airlines with the last three teams taking Eva Air leaving 20 minutes later.

Teams leave one after the other.  As Andy & Tommy stop at a gas station to ask directions from a guy, only friends Kaylani & Lisa and siblings Justin & Jennifer are left at the Starting Line.

The brother and sister find the umbrella first, leaving Kaylani & Lisa in last and now with a Hazard penalty.  They stop at the same gas station on the way, but as they drive off, do not realize one of them has dropped their passport on the ground.

On the way to LAX, Kaylani realizes her passport is missing.  They drive back to the gas station, but it’s not there.  They go to LAX hoping another team picked it up.

Teams have already filled up the China Airlines flight.  Kaylani & Lisa ask the ticket counter, but no passport.  They grow frustrated with each other until they hear Kaylani’s name over the speakers.

Someone’s found her passport.  It was the guy that Andy & Tommy asked directions from.  He had actually tweeted about it and someone tweeted back to get the passport over to LAX.

Kaylani & Lisa are saved and off the teams go.

The first eight teams arrive in Taipei and must now take a bus to Ximending Commercial District.  Their only clue is to “look up” for their next clue which will be in Mandarin on a video billboard amongst dozens and dozens of billboards and signs.

The 2nd flight arrive with Kaylani & Lisa and Liz & Marie taking the 2nd bus while grandparents Bill & Cathi are stuck in last.

Once in Ximending, teams wander the streets and alleys, not knowing the clue is right there.  Amani & Marcus and Justin & Jennifer are the first ones to discover it.  They and other teams ask the locals to translate the message for them and it points them to Taipei Confucius Temple.

Teams head over and find the Road Block.

In this Road Block, teams must use a payphone at the temple to dial 1-800-CONFUCIUS to listen to a Confucian proverb which they must memorize without writing it down and correctly recite it to the monk to receive their next clue.

The proverb: “In all things success depends on previous preparation.  And without such previous preparation, there is sure to be failure.”

Cindy completes the Road Block first and she and Ernie get the next clue pointing teams to Dajia Riverside Park.  Justin & Jennifer and Jeremy & Sandy are right behind.

Back in Ximending, bottom three teams Kaylani & Lisa and Liz & Marie team up and figure out the clue, but Bill & Cathi are almost hopelessly lost.

Over at Dajia Riverside Park, Ernie & Cindy find the next clue.  Teams must choose a professional dragon boat team and with one team member keeping beat with the traditional drum, the other team member will row with the dragon boat team.

As the rest of the teams finish the Road Block and start on the Dragon Boat task, Ernie & Cindy easily stay in first.  They open the next clue telling them to head to the Pit Stop at the Martyrs’ Shrine, honoring fallen soldiers who have protected Taiwan.

Back at the Temple, Kaylani & Lisa manage to finish before twins Liz & Marie and now get the clue for the Hazard.  They must take a taxi to Core Pacific City Mall.  There, they find the Hazard clue.  One person must bungee jump from the rafters into the center of the mall.

Kaylani decides to do it and she easily completes the first ever Hazard.  It’s not so easy for Liz at the Road Block as she struggles with the proverb, causing frustration for both her and sister Marie.  Meanwhile, Bill & Cathi finally find the clue and are on their way.

At the Mat, Phil welcomes Ernie & Cindy as Team #1 and the winners of the Express Pass.  Jeremy & Sandy and Justin & Jennifer follow in 2nd and 3rd.   Ethan & Jenna take 4th and Amani & Marcus finish 5th.

Liz finally finishes the Road Block and it would appear Cathi got the Road Block on her first try (probably not), as Zac & Laurence and Andy & Tommy arrive at the Mat together and officially finish 6th and 7th respectively.

Ron & Bill take 8th, Kaylani & Lisa overcome a couple of big hurdles to finish 9th and Liz & Marie sneak into 10th.  Bill & Cathi expect to arrive and last and they do.

But Phil informs them that this is a non-elimination leg.  They will have a Speed Bump next leg, but Phil also drops the bomb that next leg will be a DOUBLE elimination leg.

Episode Thoughts
The Amazing Race Starting Line always gets me excited.  You may not actually be running the Race, but watching the teams on that Starting Line always gets the adrenaline running.

Love that little callback to the series premiere with the nicely designed TAR bus.   I also think this is the first time they’ve had the Starting Line in the late afternoon I believe.  If not, one of the few times they start in the afternoon.  It was almost sunset as the teams drove to LAX and I’m sure it was because the flights to Taiwan all left early morning.

The Starting Line Challenge was good, but it might not have been the brain teaser they had originally hoped when first putting it on paper.  Teams were just using trial and error instead of actually deciphering the pseudo-word puzzle, which I’m sure was the intention of the task.

It is definitely very interesting to see more vague clues on TAR.  With one of the criticisms of recent seasons being how easy in tasks and in clues they’ve been, it is nice to see these clues that actually requires teams to think or at the very least tricks the teams a little.  The clue at Ximending also required teams to interact with locals, which has been one of my biggest complaints these last few years (the lack of local interaction).

The Hazard was okay.  But my speculation and a lot of other TAR fans’ speculation was that the Hazard would be a mini-Speed Bump and that the first leg would end up a non-elimination leg anyway because of that.  We were right. 

At the very least it gave us an extra location in Taipei.

It was also great that even if there wasn’t a Detour, we still had that Dragon Boat task (which I personally love since I love Dragon Boat Racing and enjoy rowing).  TARAu and TAR Asia regularly have extra tasks in legs, while TARUS has moved away from that recently.  I hope TAR19 signals a return to more tasks and challengers.

The passport drama was very interesting.  I know Reality Fan Forum and plenty of other fans keep track of when TAR runs the Race, from Starting Line to Finish Line.  So it was interesting to see how that detective work actually helped change the outcome of he game.  And it also says a lot about the internets and its power.  To think, Twitter helped keep Kaylani & Lisa alive!

Overall a good, solid start to the season.  Looks like an interesting cast and the promise of new, fresh destinations.  TAR is back!

And kudos to the new WorldRace title card:

Hsi Lai Temple
Hacienda Heights, California

Taipei, Taiwan

Ximending Commercial District
Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei Confucius Temple
Taipei, Taiwan

Dajia Riverside Park
Taipei, Taiwan

Core Pacific City Mall
Taipei, Taiwan

Martyrs’ Shrine
Taipei, Taiwan

> or < indicates team switched Detours.
There was no Detour on this Leg of the Race

Who did the Road Block?
Confucius Says, Who’s Ready to Play Telephone?
In order of completion; Italics indicate who did the Road Block

0 Ernie Cindy 1
0 Justin Jennifer 1
0 Jeremy Sandy 1
1 Ethan Jenna 0
1 Amani Marcus 0
0 Laurence Zac 1
1 Ron Bill 0
1 Andy Tommy 0
0 Kaylani Lisa 1
1 Liz Marie 0
0 Bill Cathi 1

Martyrs’ Shrine
Taipei, Taiwan

1st Ernie & Cindy
2nd Jeremy & Sandy
3rd Justin & Jennifer
4th Ethan & Jenna
5th Amani & Marcus
6th Laurence & Zac
7th Andy & Tommy
8th Ron & Bill
9th Kaylani & Lisa
10th Liz & Marie
11th Bill & Cathi
Ernie & Cindy Ernie & Cindy – Favorites!  They quickly shot up to my favorites list.  They were cute, funny, and they won the leg!  The preview for next week looks interesting, but I think the best part is they are not a perfect couple, in that there is potential for some blow ups if controlfreakCindy comes out in full force.  If not, they’re still fun and enjoyable.
Kaylani & Lisa Kaylani & Lisa – 2nd favorites!  Let’s get it out of the way… yes, they are hot.  They’re two beautiful ladies.  Now they did almost throw away (or drop) their chance to even start Racing, but that’s just the kind of speed bump (no pun intended) that can foreshadow a strong run in the Race.  I would hope so.  They’re fun, have the potential for fights and blowups, and also the potential to be a strong team.
Laurence & Zac Laurence & Zac – An interesting father-son team.  The next Team Jumba it seems, though Laurence seems like he’ll be a little more able than Papa Jumba.  I believe Zac is the same age as Kevin was when they ran TAR17.  A good leg for them, not much out of them personality-wise, but they could make a strong run.
Amani & Marcus Amani & Marcus – They seem like they could be a strong team.  While I hope they don’t make football references every week (and I love football!), I think they could either be strong contenders or an early boot.  They look like they’ll be a drama-free couple and that is fine, as long as you run a strong Race.
Andy & Tommy Andy & Tommy – The hair and clothes are reminding me of the TAR9 hippies too much and that is definitely not an image I want to have. (lol) But they had an okay leg.  You can never count out two young guys.  And they’re Olympians for goodness sakes!  It would be hard to bet against them, at least this early in the Race.
Jeremy & Sandy Jeremy & Sandy – Sandy looks like TAR12 Jen.  It would be great if Jeremy & Sandy are half as hilariously dysfunctional and endearing as Nate & Jen were.  And they’re apparently from San Francisco, so bonus points for them.  But otherwise, not much from them this leg either.
Bill & Cathi Bill & Cathi – A pretty slow and disappointing start for them.  They were playing too much into the “fodder” role for my liking, but if they can survive next week, then they can definitely make a good run.  Putting together those clips from past seasons made me remember great “grandparent” teams like Don & Mary Jean and of course Meredith & Gretchen.  We’ll see if Bill & Cathi can hold a candle to them.
Justin & Jennifer Justin & Jennifer – Pretty quite this week.  I guess we’ll have to wait for leg 2 to see the sparks fly between them.  I don’t necessarily see them making it far, but who knows if their tension carries them further into the Race.
Ron & Bill Ron & Bill – An okay, quiet leg from them.  They did lose a lot of ground at the Road Block though.  Them being flight attendants also means nothing on the Race.  Team ATC in TAR4 and the flight attendants of TAR 14 obviously didn’t do that well, so they’ll need more than flying experience to make it far.
Ethan & Jenna Ethan & Jenna – Though I liked them back when I was more of a regular Survivor viewer than I am now, I’m still iffy on their casting in the first place.  They both won a million and I understand why CBS would’ve wanted to cast them.  But so far, they haven’t provided much other than being a standard young dating couple.   Plus they already have two million dollars between them.
Liz & Marie Liz & Marie – It was a pretty sloppy leg for them.  The Road Block almost killed them, but they were running like they had their heads cut off.  Their frustration also played a part.  And those moments can be very entertaining, but  Marie’s nagging of Liz came off as more annoying actually.
Quotes from Episode 19.01

Cindy: “I feel so Asian right now.”

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The Amazing Race, Season 19 - The Amazing Race

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