Recap: The Amazing Race 20, Episode 1 – “I want to rub my face in this.”

The Amazing Race 20, Episode 1 – Tears of a Clown

The Leg

Happy 20th season Amazing Race!
Phil happily welcomes us to the 20th season of The Amazing Race on a bicycle and wearing a snazzy TAR cycling outfit.  The 11 teams are in the peloton behind him as they ride to the Starting Line at Bridlewood Estate Winery in Santa Barbara, California.

At the Starting Line, Phil tells the teams there are 12 legs on the Race and that he’ll be “eliminating most of” them.  He gives them their first challenge.  Behind them are 100 red and yellow balloons flying high in the air.  Only 11 of them have clues.  Once they find a clue, they can hop into one of the brand new Ford Tauruses.

Phil wishes them luck and to travel safe and they’re officially on The Amazing Race.  Vanessa & Ralph, Elliot & Andrew, and Joey & Danny are the first ones to find a clue in the baskets attached to the balloons, telling them to “Fly to Santa Barbara.”

They head to the Tauruses and Phil gives them the rest of their instructions in the car.  Teams will fly out of LAX (of course!) to Buenos Aires, Argentina.  There, the first six teams will get a 2 and a half hour headstart by taking the first connecting flight to Salta and then driving themselves to the town of Santa Barbara.

Misa & Maiya end up in last and only find their clue after an hour and 44 minutes of looking.

On the first flight to Salta are Elliot & Andrew, Brendon & Rachel, Nary & Jamie, Art & JJ, Dave & Rachel, and Vanessa & Ralph.  They arrive in Salta and drive to the first Route Marker in Santa Barbara.  They open the clue telling them to head to the Aerodromo Gilberto Lavaque in Cafayate for the next one.

The 2nd flight arrives as the first group gets going.  Cherie is brought to tears as she and Dave are in last place. 

At the airport, Art & JJ arrive first and find *gasp* a cluebox!  And inside, the first Road Block of the Race.

In this Road Block, the team members choosing to do it will have to navigate themselves to a marked landing zone while their teammate makes a 10,000 foot skydive.  Once they reunite with their partners, they’ll be given their next clue.

Up in the first plane are JJ and both Rachels who make the jump and meet their partners a the big red and yellow X.  They get the next clue telling them to head to Patios de Cafayate to search the grounds for their next clue,

Nary, Elliot and Vanessa are the second group.  And in the third group, Bopper, Misa and Danny.  Danny’s partner Joey can’t drive a stick and Maiya gets herself stuck in the sand.  Mark has no problem finding the landing zone and he and Bopper head out as Misa and Danny wait for their partners.

Meanwhile, Art & JJ, Brendon & Rachel and Rachel & Dave find the winery and the next clue.  Teams will learn how to make 120 empanadas, each of them doing 60 of either meat or cheese filling, taking note of the different folding patterns for both.  Once the empanada-making champion gives them a “Si,” teams can head to the Pit Stop somewhere on the grounds.

As Nary & Jamie, Elliot & Andrew, and Vanessa & Ralph join the first three at the empanadas, Dave & Cherie pass a still waiting Misa and Danny at the landing point.  In comes Kerri and out goes her and Stacy leaving Misa alone in last.  Maiya gets some men to help pull her out of the sand and she reunites with Misa as they head off to try and catch up.

At the empanadas, Brendon & Rachel as Margarita, the empanada champion to check their batch first.  But she doesn’t approve.  Art & JJ are next, but they are given the thumbs down as well.  Dave & Rachel call Margarita over and they get the green light.  The married couple run to find Phil.  They step on the Mat and officially take 1st and the Express Pass.

Brendon & Rachel come in right behind them in 2nd, Art & JJ are 3rd, Nary & Jamie take 4th, Vanessa & Ralph check-in 5th and Elliot & Andrew finish 6th.

The 2nd flight group begin arriving.  Mark & Bopper arrive first and the rest of the teams trickle in.  Misa & Maiya are still in last and head into the empanada courtyard, deciding to leave their bags in the car.  

Kerri & Stacy manage to speed through and they officially finish 7th.  Dave & Cherie take 8th and Mark & Bopper finish 9th.  That leaves two teams.

Misa & Maiya finish before Joey & Danny, but they have to run back to their car to get their bags.  They run back into the winery and step out of the building and stop by the pool.  Phil is over to the right of where they’re standing, but they don’t see him.  They decide to turn back inside and go the other way, Phil is

Episode Thoughts
And The Amazing Race is off and running again.  Always thrilling to see a fresh set of teams at the Starting Line.  And the cycling to the Starting Line was pretty awesome.  A brand new way to transport the teams and awesome for Phil who holds cycling as a big part of his life.  Also, I want one of those TAR cycling jerseys.  CBS Store, get on that.  You’d sell a ton of ’em.

    The Starting Line task was fine.  I want one of those yellow and red TAR balloons too just to fly outside my house everyday.  I’d say it was better than last season’s WANPEI umbrella task since at least this one didn’t pretend to be some difficult mental challenge.  Though I do rather prefer those kinds of starting line challenges than the luck tasks.  Hopefully they come up with a creative Starting Line task for TAR21.

Wow, TAR21 and TAR20.  Whodathunk?  This being the 20th season, I was expecting some fresh graphics and opening, but we got nothing.  Not surprised, but still kinda sad.  Phil said in an interview with TVGuide that they didn’t really make any big changes or bring in new twists this season, which is both cool and not.  Cool because he made a great point about how TAR is fresh every season thanks to the destinations and challenges.  But not so cool since this is a milestone season after all.

We got a cluebox sighting though!  But it looks like the Pit Stop signs are officially gone.

A couple of interesting details.  Phil mentions “I’ll eliminated MOST of you,” as if to say maybe we’ll have more than three (or less than?) teams in the final leg.  I doubt that, but it’s a new way of saying not all 12 legs are elimination points.  Also, I think this was the first time in a long time the clue says the last team WILL be eliminated on the first leg.  They’ve usually kept the MAYs until the penultimate leg.  And the Road Block trickery was fun.  Hope to see more of those in the future.

The season premiere as a whole was enjoyable, though maybe a little too rushed.  We had almost no insight into the teams.  And the leg design kind of kept the teams and tasks in chunks instead of a free flowing Race.  A 90 minute or even 2-hour premiere would’ve been nice.   

Bridlewood Estate Winery
Santa Barbara, California

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Salta, Argentina

Santa Barbara, Cafayate, Argentina

Aerodromo Gilberto Lavaque
Cafayate, Argentina

Patios de Cafayate Winery
Cafayate, Argentina

Bridlewood Estate Winery
Santa Barbara, California

Order of completing starting line task
Vanessa & Ralph
Elliot & Andrew
Joey & Danny
Kerri & Stacy
Brendon & Rachel
Rachel & Dave
Nary & Jamie
Dave & Cherie
Art & JJ
Bopper & Mark
Misa & Maiya



In order of completion
> or < indicates team switched Detours.

Who did the Road Block?
Who’s got a great sense of direction?
In order of completion; Italics indicate who did the Road Block

1 Art JJ 0
1 Brendon Rachel 0
0 Rachel Dave 1
0 Nary Jamie 1
0 Elliot Andrew 1
0 Vanessa Ralph 1
1 Bopper Mark 0
0 Joey Danny 1
0 Misa Maiya 1
0 Dave Cherie 1
1 Kerri Stacy 0

Patios de Cafayate Winery
Cafayate, Argentina

1st Rachel & Dave =
2nd Brendon & Rachel =
3rd Art & JJ =
4th Nary & Jamie =
5th Vanessa & Ralph =
6th Elliott & Andrew =
7th Kerri & Stacy =
8th Dave & Cherie =
9th Mark & Bopper =
10th Joey & Danny =
Eliminated Misa & Maiya =

Brendon & Rachel Brendon & Rachel – You either love them or hate them.  I love them, mainly Rachel, on Big Brother and totally welcome them on TAR.  I just hope they don’t take over the show.  Bring on the drama, sure, but let’s hope they don’t do to TAR what Romber did back in TAR7.  They’re strong competitors, so if they can keep their emotions in check, they can do well.
Dave & Cherie Dave & Cherie – The sweet, older couple.  (Older relative to the other teams.)  They were a little slow in the first half of the leg, but managed to catch up and step up when it mattered.  I could see them doing well as other teams make huge blunders.  They seem like great people and their fun attitudes (save for Cherie’s early frustration tears) should help them go far.
Mark & Bopper Bopper & Mark – Just two, good ol’ country boys.  They seem like great guys, loving family men who just want to come on the Race, have fun and especially win that million dollars.  I’m rooting for them.  They’re funny and determined.  
Misa & Maiya Misa & Maiya – Just a mess of a leg for them.  Bad luck at the Starting Line, bad mistake by Maiya at the Road Block and a monumental, unprecedented blunder yards from the Mat.  A crazy, unbelievable and sad way for them to go.  They’re athletic and seem like sweet girls, but none of that means a thing when you fall over yourself, literally, multiple times a leg, especially at the end.  I had high hopes for them.
Joey & Danny Joey & Danny – I may not be a fan of Jersey Shore at all, but Joey & Danny actually seem like nice, un-MTV guys.  They dodged a bullet thanks to Misa & Maiya’s huge stumbles, but they seem like they have just enough smarts to couple with their physical strength to make it far.
Nary & Jamie Nary & Jamie – One of the middle teams this leg that got almost no airtime.  Not much from them, but with Misa & Maiya out and Kerri & Stacy still iffy at the bottom of the pack, they have the opportunity to be the strong female team this season.
Rachel & Dave Rachel & Dave – A great finish for them.  They seem like a nice couple.  In this leg.  The scene of them in the season preview makes me think they’ll be leaning into the dysfunction category soon.  But if they Race as well as they did this leg and provide fun drama, then that’s a great combo.
Kerri & Stacy Kerri & Stacy – They seemed almost out of it, but they pulled it out at the end.  They can be feisty, so there’s no lack of fire in them.  Not much from them other than Kerri’s fear of heights, but let’s see if their sassiness comes out even more in the next legs.  
Elliot & Andrew Elliot & Andrew – Not much from them this first leg.  They’re an athletic, young team of brothers.  That’s a recipe for success, no question.  They seem like they could bring something personality-wise, to the table, so here’s hoping we get some sibling squabbles and more inappropriate one-liners in the next legs.
Art & JJ Art & JJ – A strong performance from them this first leg.  Personality wise, they seem like fun guys.  I only hope they aren’t anything like TAR16’s unlikeable Michael & Louie, whom they more than physically resemble.  Let’s hope the resemblance ends at that.
Vanessa & Ralph Vanessa & Ralph – Not much from them either this episode.  Though it looks like they’ll, or at least Vanessa, will take center stage later on this season.  
Quotes from Episode 20.01

Elliot: “It’s like a life partner… but we’re not gay.”

Mark: “When you got loot on the line like this baby?  You pee your pants if you have to.”

Vanessa: “My uterus is in my throat.”

Rachel: “We are right on the tails of the border patrol.”
Brendon: “I’m half-Mexican and I hate them for a reason.”
Rachel: “Brendon, stop it.”

Ralph: “I want to eat so bad.”
Vanessa: “No joke, I want to rub my face in this.”

Misa: “That was not a dainty landing.”

Mark: “This is the first time I’ve ever made a piñata.”
Bopper: “It ain’t a piñata.  My brotha.  It’s an empisom…well, call it whatever you want to.”

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The Amazing Race, Season 19 - The Amazing Race

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