The Amazing Race 21, Episode 1 – Double Your Money
The teams are onboard a “groovy” school bus heading to the Colorodo Street Bridge in Pasadena for the start of the 21st (woohoo!) season of The Amazing Race.
This season’s teams are: Trey & Lexi, dating, former football player and cheerleader for Texas Longhorns. Natalie & Nadiya, twins born in Queens but grew up in Sri Lanka. James & Abba, rock star and lawyer from LA. Josh & Brent, goat farmers from New York. Amy & Daniel, dating on and off for 10 years. She lost both her legs to bacterial meningitis and is the top ranked adaptive snowboarder in the world. Caitlin & Brittany, friends and athletes. Rob & Sheila, engaged from Tennessee. He’s a champion lumberjack. Gary & Will, substitute teachers, best friends and TAR superfans. Abbie & Ryan, dating divorcees from San Diego. (And Apprentice: Martha alum!) James & Jaymes, Chippendales performers Rob & Kelly, married monster truck drivers
The teams run towards Phil on the bridge where he tells them about the chance to double their grand prize. If a team wins the first and final legs of the Race, they’ll win $2 million.
Phil gives his signature send off and the teams are off and running. First up, they must do a tandem rappel from the roadway down to their bags and first clue.
James & Jaymes, Trey & Lexi, Josh & Brent and Caitlin & Brittany get to their clues first and find they must now fly to Shanghai, China.
Teams drive to LAX in pretty new 2013 Ford Escapes (I want one). The first seven teams will take a China Airlines flight that’ll get them into Shanghai at 10:50am while the remaining four teams will take an Eva Air flight getting them in at 12:05pm.
The first flight carries Jaymes & James, Caitlin & Britanny, James & Abba, Amy & Daniel, Abbie & Ryan, Natalie & Nadiya, and Rob & Kelley. On the second flight are Josh & Brent, Trey & Lexi, Rob & Shiela, and Gary & Will.
The first group arrives in Shanghai and they must taxi it over to the Yuanshen Sports Center Stadium where they find their next clue, the Road Block.
In the first Road Block of the Race, teams must face off against the junior champion in table tennis. The teams must score one point against the young champion. If not, they must wait their turn as she moves on to the next team and swaps out her paddle for household items for each turn.
While the other six teams are getting schooled by the young girl, Rob & Kelley are wandering around the stadium lost. The champion beats all the teams and now swaps her paddle for a clipboard.
Abbie manages to score her point and she and Ryan are out of there first, but James & Abba are close behind and actually get into a taxi first.
Chippendale James scores next before the girl moves on to a saucepan which Caitlin scores against. The champion beats Natalie with a tambourine, but not with a pencil case and the twins are off. Kelley loses all the way until the girl uses a clue envelope.
Now all teams are on their way to Cui Ping Jiu Jia Restaurant where they find a 2nd Road Block.
For this Road Block, teams have to eat a traditional Chinese desert called Hasma which is made out of the fallopian tubes of a frog. Using only chopsticks, teams must empty two papaya halves full of Hasma before receiving their next clue.
James & Abba arrive first and finish first with Ryan & Abbie close behind. Jaymes manages to finish his tubes before Amy and Brittany. Teams must now find a woman using an abacus at Shanghai waterfront, The Bund.
The second flight finally arrives and Trey & Lexi are in and out of the first Road Block.
James & Abba and Abbie & Ryan are having trouble finding the woman, child and abacus. Back at the restaurant, Nadiya just finishes as Rob & Kelley arrive. Rob does not read his clue, picking up his papaya and using his hands to eat the tubes. The owner doesn’t give them the next clue and instead gives them a fresh platter of Hasma.
Most of the teams are at The Bund, but it is Amy & Daniel who find the abacus woman first. She hands them their last clue of the leg telling teams to head to the Pit Stop at the Bund Observatory.
Amy & Daniel stop to ask directions from a local who uses his phone. Abbie & Ryan and Caitlin & Brittany come up to them ask if they’ve gotten the clue and Amy & Daniel point them to the abacus. As Amy & Daniel run towards the Pit Stop, Abbie & Ryan catch up to them, then pass them, allowing them to step on the Mat first and get the chance to win $2million. Amy & Daniel have to settle for 2nd.
Caitlin & Brittany find the abacus and run towards the Observatory. Jaymes & James see them and follow but as soon as they see Phil, they immediately turn around and run back. The girls finish 3rd.
While Jaymes & James and James & Abba struggle, Natalie & Nadiya find the woman and are on their way to the Pit Stop when Rob & Kelley arrive and ask if they’ve found the clue. The sisters say no and run off to the Mat where they are disappointed by their 4th place finish. Rob & Kelly manage 5th while James & Abba finally check-in in 6th.
Rob & Sheila head to the Bank of China upon instructions from a hotel concierge but find that wasn’t where they’d find an abacus. Josh & Brent, who were in last most of the leg, manage to officially check-in 7th.
Gary & Will watch as Rob & Sheila pass right by the woman with the abacus, then they lie to Jaymes & James about already finding her and they step on the Mat as Team #8.
Trey & Lexi are pointed in the right direction and they actually do share the info with Rob & Sheila. They pass by Jaymes & James who they also point towards the abacus. As Trey & Lexi check-in 9th, it’s a footrace between Rob & Sheila and Jaymes & James with the Chippendales escaping elimination in 10th. That leaves the engaged couple in last and eliminated.
Episode Thoughts Season 21. It’s always great to see that number go up season after season.
And being that TAR continues to mature in age, it’s disappointing they didn’t do any freshening up of the graphics or on-screen look. Here’s hoping TAR22 brings that along.
Otherwise, it was a solid, if not safe premiere. The Road Blocks were great for their own respective reasons. The first one was great since kids on TAR are always great and nice to shine the spotlight on a talented kid. The second Road Block was good because tasks that highlight or are representative of where they’re at that leg are always better than generic tasks.
The starting line task was a more physical one this time as opposed to the “puzzle” (not really) and luck tasks of the most recent seasons. And it was fine. But this leg really showed how TAR legs have become so much more straightforward. Teams were already halfway done with the second Road Block before the 2nd flight even arrived in China.
I was mildly surprised by the abacus clue before the Pit Stop since recently, the Pit Stop clue would’ve been given at the end of that 2nd Road Block instead of having an extra Route Marker at the end. And that’s a shame.
If it weren’t for teams not knowing what abacuses were or having tunnel vision, we wouldn’t have had such an unpredictable finish.
Still, the beauty of TAR is that if one thing is lacking, it’ll be made up for in some other aspect, whether it’s a great location, fun locals or good team personalities.
A solid, yet safe first leg, but a good start nonetheless.
STARTING LINE Colorado Street Bridge Pasadena, California
DESTINATION CITY Shanghai, China
ROAD BLOCK #1 Yuanshen Sports Centre Stadium
ROAD BLOCK #2 Cui Ping Jiu Jia Shanghai
ROUTE MARKER The Bund Shanghai
PIT STOP Shanghai Bund Weather Signal Station) Shanghai, China
In order of completion > or < indicates team switched Detours.
Who did the Road Block? Who’s ready to get paddled? In order of completion; Italics indicate who did the Road Block
Who wants to go tubing? In order of completion; Italics indicate who did the Road Block
1 James Abba1 1 Abbie Ryan1 1Jaymes James 1 1Amy Daniel 1 1 Caitlin Brittany1 1 Natalie Nadiya1 1Rob Kelley 1 1 Trey Lexi1 1 Rob Shiela1 1 Gary Will1 1 Josh Brent1
PIT STOP Shanghai Bund Weather Signal Station Shanghai, China
1st Abbie & Ryan= 2nd Amy & Daniel = 3rd Caitlin & Brittany= 4th Nadiya & Natalie = 5th Rob & Kelley = 6th James & Abba = 7th Josh & Brent = 8th Gary & Will = 9th Trey & Lexi = 10th Jaymes & James = Eliminated Rob & Shiela =
Amy & Daniel – Definitely a rootable team. We’ve seen in the past that disabilities and handicaps mean nothing on TAR and there have been many Racers who’ve managed to overcome any of that to do well. Amy certainly seems like she can join those ranks. A strong showing for them despite just losing out on the win this leg. I can see them going very far.
Natalie & Nadiya – Now they could be a team that follows in the sisterly footsteps of TARAu’s Lucy & Emilia and Alana & Mel, two sibling teams who were fun to watch even though they might not have been the best Racers. With Natalie & Nadiya, I think they actually have a stronger competitive side to them so that’s definitely bonus points for them.
Abbie & Ryan – Yup, I did watch The Apprentice: Martha Stewart so I definitely recognize Ryan. He definitely seems uber-competitive and that’s usually a sign of either going all the way to the end or getting a shocking mid-Race exit. I actually like him and Abbie so I’d like to see them do well. We definitely need more competitive-minded people on the Race.
Trey & Lexi – Didn’t really get to see what kind of Racers they were having been stuck on the 2nd flight. But they look like they could go far. I actually don’t think they’re going to be the dysfunctional bickering couple and think they’re more along the lines of a Mika & Canaan, the nice, boy and girl next door couple, though hopefully Lexi isn’t as afraid of water slides as Mika was.
Jaymes & James – A very close call for them at the end of the leg. Definitely missteps like that they’ll need to avoid. They seem to be nice guys, smart and obviously fit. So despite barely surviving, they’re still a team to watch out for.
Gary & Will – It’s always great to see TAR fans actually run the Race. Though being a superfan doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll go far, it’s nice to see a team that you know will appreciate being on the Race and enjoying every minute. Will they go far? I dunno, we’ll have to see if they can step it up.
Caitlin & Brittany – An okay leg from them. I see them either going really far or being an early elimination just based on what little we’ve seen of them in this first leg. We haven’t really had an alpha female team in a long time and I just don’t think Caitlin & Brittany will change that this season.
Rob & Shiela – Definitely sucked for them. It was luck of the draw really. If they weren’t given the wrong information at that hotel, they could’ve placed maybe even a lot higher than just escaping elimination. I think they could’ve had a good shot to go far. It’s too bad they didn’t get the opportunity.
Rob & Kelley – It’s a good thing they got their “read the clue” wakeup call in the first leg and survived. For some reason I find them to be a more likeable version of TARAu1’s Dave & Kelly. Not a particularly shining performance from them this leg, but it’s definitely early.
Josh & Brent – Now, I’ve never seen the reality show they apparently have, but they definitely had luck on their side this leg. No mistakes and their kindness at LAX was a non-factor. It’ll be interesting to see if the glimpses of them being snippy with each other turns into fun bickering couple moments later on.
James & Abba – An okay leg for them. They could either be a sleeper team or an unfortunate early boot. They do seem like they’re smart, but it’ll be getting from point A to point B that might be a problem for them.
Quotes from Episode 21.01
Ryan: “Have you not had fallopian tube Abbie?” Abbie: “I have two, but please don’t eat mine.”
Jaymes: “Fallopian tubes ain’t bad!”
Ryan: “We’re looking for a lady using an abacus. Why isn’t she using a calculator?”