Recap: The Amazing Race 31, Episode 2 – Knock the Newbie Out of Us
Teams learn they will be flying to Luang Prabang, Laos!
But first, they must purchase their tickets at the Tickets Today booth. Rachel & Elissa ask Becca & Floyd if they could work together to find it and Floyd says “Why not?” But Becca & Floyd ditch them for Nicole & Victor almost immediately after.
Upon arrival in Luang Prabang, teams must hop into a tuk-tuk to Villa Santi where they will wait for their next clue by courier before sunrise.
That clue tells teams to find Wat Sensoukharam where they will wear a pha biang and pick up a basket of sticky rice which they will presents in the morning almsgiving to a procession of Buddhist monks.
Leo & Jamal and Rupert & Laura hop into a tuk-tuk to get to the Wat. Corinne & Eliza, who like the others are making their way on foot, run in front of the tuk-tuk to slow them down and prevent them from getting ahead.
After the almsgiving ceremony, teams must then find the next clue at the Big Tree by the Mekong River. Rachel & Elissa and Colin & Christie work together to find it and are surprised to find a Double U-Turn.
Rachel and Elissa debate whether or not to use the U-Turn and they eventually decide on U-Turning Becca & Floyd. Leo & Jamal later consider U-Turning Tyler & Korey, but seeing Becca & Floyd right behind them, encourage them to do it instead. Leo & Jamal and Becca & Floyd agree to work together and help each other.
For the Detour, teams must choose between ABC or BBQ. In ABC, teams must memorize how to say the Lao alphabet with the help of a teacher and then pass a test in front of schoolchildren. In BBQ, teams head to the market and shop for ingredients to correctly make three duck and eight tilapia skewers.
Tyler & Korey, Corinne & Eliza and Rupert & Laura choose ABC while everyone else chooses BBQ.
After two shown attempts, Tyler & Korey pass the ABC Detour as do Corinne & Eliza who have a creative way of memorizing the sounds. Rupert & Laura pass after two shown attempts as well.
Leo & Jamal and Nicole & Victor are first to finish the BBQ Detour. Becca & Floyd are approved and head over to the ABC Detour. Janelle & Britney and Colin & Christie are next. But Rachel & Elissa must do their skewers over before getting the thumbs up.
After the Detour, teams must take a tuk-tuk to the Elephant Village in Ban Xieng Lom.
A worried Corinne & Eliza stop to get directions when they are unsure if they’re going in the right direction. They lose their first place spot, allowing Leo & Jamal and Nicole & Victor to arrive at the Elephant Village first where they find a Road Block: Who likes to be in command?
For this Road Block, teams must learn how to guide a well-taken care of elephant across the Mekong River using Lao commands. They will then search for two men playing traditional Hmong music who will hand them their next clue which they cannot open until they return their elephants and reunite with their partners.
Jamal and Nicole choose to do the Road Block.
Janelle & Britney and Corinne & Eliza arrive and miss the cluebox outside the entrance. Victor points them in the right direction and Leo tells him not to help Corinne & Eliza because they are snakes.
Britney, Corinne, Christie and Elissa are next to start the Road Block and they cross the river as Jamal and Nicole make their way back. Becca, Bret, Korey and Rupert also choose to do the Road Block. But Becca and Rupert struggle to get their elephants to move the way they want.
After the Road Block, teams must take a tuk-tuk to Wat Xieng Thong where they will then hop into a boat to take them to the Pit Stop, Ban Xiengkeo/Prince Phetsarath’s Palace.
A footrace to the boats ends when Nicole doubts Victor and believes Leo & Jamal who say they’re going the wrong way. That allows Leo & Jamal to get into a boat first and arrive at the Mat to claim their $2500 each. Nicole & Victor have to settle for 2nd.
Rachel & Elissa, Colin & Christie, Janelle & Britney and Corinne & Eliza arrive at the Mat within seconds of each other as Teams 3 through 6.
Tyler & Korey take 7th and Chris & Bret are 8th.
It’s down to the last two teams with Becca and Rupert really struggling with their elephants. But it is Becca & Floyd who are safe as Team #9.
That means Rupert & Laura are last and eliminated.
So it’s definitely great for The Amazing Race US to finally visit Laos. It’s been a long time coming. At the same time, it’s a little disappointing that they’re only there for one leg since they’re going to be in Vietnam next week. Laos is a country that can definitely host two legs. And while this was a solid leg on its own, it would have been much better if it was paired with another leg in Laos.
First up, the Route Marker with the monks at the start of the leg in Laos was really wonderful. It was a nice pause during the race. But it’s also a nice look at the culture of Laos. Almsgiving is a very interesting tradition that I really only just became aware of recently while watching the Thai drama He’s Coming to Me. (Which you should definitely check out, by the way.)
These are the nice cultural moments that we should definitely get more of on the Race. Even better if it’s incorporated into an actual in-competition task. But for something like this, it was correctly placed at the beginning of the leg. It was certainly more about experiencing the culture for the teams and introducing the culture to the audience. So at the start was definitely the best place for it.
It also presented a nice contrast to the rest of the leg especially the immediate Route Marker afterwards which ended up being the U-Turn. It’s very funny to see the shock over having a U-Turn on the second leg. I guess I’ve watched International TARs a lot more (in addition to TARPHDME of course lol) that having a U-Turn on the second leg is really not all that shocking to me. If anything, it shouldn’t be a problem and a U-Turn should be at any point in the race and not just later on. I was definitely a little shocked though that teams were very eager to use it. At least Rachel and Elissa were. But so were Leo and Jamal. They would have absolutely you turn Tyler and Corey if Becca & Floyd hadn’t been right behind them. Letting them do it instead help them keep up the facade that they are not the snakes they kept criticizing Corinne & Eliza to be the entire leg. More on that later.
Anyway when you’ve got a bunch of All-Stars, using the U-Turn is actually a pretty good decision. And it certainly ended up that Rachel and Elissa made the right decision U-Turning Becca & Floyd. Not just because they’re one of my least favorite teams. But as Becca & Floyd showed during the episode, they really are a strong team on the Race. Same with Tyler & Korey, unfortunately. So really the U-Turns used on this leg where pretty justified. Obviously Leo & Jamal now should be one of the major targets for the U-Turn moving forward. But I assume the next U-Turn we will see is the Voting U-Turn.
The Detour was very interesting. It was good that both Detours had teams interacting with the locals. For ABC, it was with the great young children in the classroom. It’s always great having kids on the race. The language learning task is certainly not new for TAR. But it was very unique and challenging, especially for teams who might not even know another language other than English. The BBQ side of the Detour is also a familiar TAR task. But certainly a little bit more attention to detail.
The best thing also about that side of the Detour was that we had teams all there together side by side. And again having teams competing against each other side by side and close together during the race/having them neck-and-neck is definitely better than having teams all spaced-out apart. Which is why again, equalizers are very necessary on contemporary TAR.
The Road Block was just okay. It was certainly more of a showcase kind of Roadblock task since it was just a chance to show off the wonderful elephants who they made a point of saying were very much taken care of. It was also a little of a luck of the draw kind of task. Since you could choose a bad elephant as Gretchen once said on the Race. But luck is always a part of the Race. And I guess it was Rupert & Laura’s luck that ran out this time.
Overall, it was very nice to see Laos on TARUS finally. And this was a solid Leg on its own. But it’s definitely a little disappointing that we’re only getting one leg in Laos when this might be the only time TARUS will ever visit this wonderful country.
My Subjective Team Rankings
In these first two Legs, Rachel & Elissa have seemed to fall behind at points during the Leg, but are able to catch back up later on and finish well. That could bode well for them moving forward. But they’ve certainly got a target on their back now that they used the U-Turn. It was an alright decision considering getting ditched, but even more so after Becca & Floyd proved they have what it takes to overcome such bumps. Their best scene in the episode though was definitely Elissa’s “It’s not your first time on the Race!” lol
Janelle & Britney are woefully under-edited so far. They randomly pop up during the episodes, but they still deliver in their random seconds of screentime. I hope we get to see more of them as they’re getting into the swing of things.
Like I said last week, I like Rupert & Laura. But I’ve really only ever watched Rupert on one and a half seasons of Survivor. They were a fine team who really ran into some bad luck and had horrible navigation skills. But they never gave up. I do think it would’ve been much better had they gone on TAR earlier. Like on TAR8 with their family like was originally rumored. Or right after Blood vs Water. Sad to see them go, especially since there was a big chance Team Fun would’ve been eliminated instead.
Corinne & Eliza are hilarious! And they’ve shown potential to be a really great, competitive team. Their frantic pace might hurt them moving forward, but they can make up for that in tasks as they’ve shown.
I’m not sure I’m totally enjoying zen Colin & Christie. lol I think it’s more amusing how they keep showing TAR5 clips to contrast them then and now. lol Still, you can’t totally laugh at them for wanting to change their personalities to be better and calmer people compared to who they were years ago throwing money at police officers or telling jeepney drivers to run people over. Ya know? Lol
Chris & Bret are another under-edited team. We barely see them during the episodes and also randomly pop up from time to time. They’re alright from what little we see of them though. Nicole & Victor are shaping up to be very strong competitors. Should be interesting to see if they can make it consecutive wins for Big Brother on TAR! So far, they’re making a good case for that to be possible.
TAR24 Leo & Jamal were a little more tolerable than TAR23 Leo & Jamal. But TAR31 Leo & Jamal have reverted back to their original TAR23 personas and that’s annoying. They were certainly hypocrites here for continually harping on Corinne & Eliza being “snakes,” yet they would’ve done the exact same thing if they were in the same position. Not only that, but they’ve done some worse and pretty snake-ish things during their time on the Race. They did so in the first episode last week!
Becca & Floyd have never been “fun” for me. So I was looking forward to seeing them be the ones eliminated this week. Too bad. But I’m now afraid that they’re going to go very far considering how well they recovered from the U-Turn.
What else is new? Tyler & Korey are as annoying and grating as ever.
Elissa: “Rachel, hurry up! Come on, it’s not your first Race.”
Rachel: “Elissa, please stop! Don’t say that to me. That’s not cool. I’m literally trying my best dude, are you kidding me?!”
Corinne: “We were in first you idiot!”
Britney: “Wait, there’s no, like, harness?! I’m just gonna bareback?!”
Rupert: “This is insanity thinking I can control this elephant.”
Rupert: “I can’t end on an elephant. I love you too much.”