“The Amazing Race” Recap: Share Or Chair?

Previously on The Amazing Race, 11 teams of two, five of which were made up of strangers meeting for the first time, began a racearoundtheworld for One! Million! Dollars! Flight attendant Lyda tempted the gods of karma by bragging about how existing couples would have a huge advantage, but a robot dance proved to be her swan song and she and partner Jeff were Philiminated. Also? Fitbit reports that Racers took some 450,000 steps, 440,000 of which were taken in slow motion sync.

Following the Leg, teams hunker down for the night in “hotel rooms” that appear to consist of padded benches and computer desks. Definitely a situation more conducive to the existing couples. Harley & Jonathan exchange a good night kiss.

The next morning Jalani & Jenny are the first to rip their clue at 5:30 AM and are instructed to travel by bullet train to Matsushiro Castle in Nagano. They catch the first train along with Jeff & Jackie and Laura & Tyler. Aly & Steve are alone on train number two. Train three holds Harley & Jonathan, Mike & Rochelle and Bergen & Kurt while Matt & Ashley and Blair & Hayley ride on train number four. Libby & CJ rip their clue at 8:20 AM and board train number five. Oh wait, they screw around at the station taking selfies and bragging about how everyone’s counted them out for so long that the fifth train pulls out right behind them. Compounding their error, the train they eventually board has to make an emergency stop, putting them even more behind.

Jeff & Jackie arrive first at the castle, ripping their clue for the race’s first Road Block, “Who can think outside the box?” One member of each team must open an elaborate puzzle box to retrieve a written phrase which they must repeat to the castle guard to claim their next clue. One random clue includes a spa trip a team will enjoy at the next Pit Stop.

hellraiser-pinhead12Another box contains the gateway to pleasure and pain

Jalani, Tyler and Jeff take it for the first batch of teams. Aly takes it for her team and Harley, Mike and Bergen step up for their teams. Bergen interviews that he would have appreciated some encouragement from his partner but Kurt counters that he knows how quickly encouragement can turn into nagging. He is not wrong. Ashley does the Road Block for her team.

105751_4296Jelani and Tyler work their boxes

Tyler finishes first and retrieves his phrase, “Nakani irete kudasi” (“Please let me in”) and he and Laura receive their clue, instructing them to make their way to Nishi-Gishi Zenko-Ji temple. Jalani finishes next and Aly arrives and laps Jeff, who gets it shortly after.

Tyler & Laura arrive at the temple to discover a blind Detour. The choices are “Share” and Chair” and they select “Share”. “Share” requires teams to travel to a local restaurant and feed each other a bowl of noodles using only chop sticks while a fan blows in their faces. Jalani & Jenny also choose “Share”. Laura makes the obligatory Lady and the Tramp joke so you don’t have to.

Mike solves his box next and he and Rochelle are off.

Tyler & Laura are the first to finish their noodles and receive their clue directing them to the Pit Stop, Patio Diamon, an ancient storage facility turned restaurant complex. The last team to check in there “may” be Philiminated. They made the mistake of releasing their cab driver and while they search for another Jelani & Jenny finish up and get back in their waiting cab.

Aly & Steve select “Chair”¬†as do Jeff & Jackie. In “Chair” teams are required to complete two laps of the Nagano Olympic speed skating track, each team member pushing the other in a chair for one lap. If they complete two laps in 3:55 or less they will receive their next clue. Olympians Aly & Steve are thrilled to be visiting the venue as it was watching the Nagano Olympics that inspired Aly to pursue speed skating. They blast through it with time to spare despite being supplied with hockey rather than speed skating skates and get their clue to the Pit Stop. Jeff & Jackie take three attempts before finishing with one second left on the clock.

Jalani & Jenny check in as team number one and they’ve won a FitBit prize package, a personal chef and cooking lessons and a year of gym membership or grocery delivery. The adorable Japanese greeter cannot believe they’ve only been dating for three days. Phil is disappointed that romantic sparks are not yet flying. Tyler & Laura arrive while Jalani & Jeff are still on the Amazing Mat but they also disappoint Phil by being more interested in winning a million dollars than falling in love.

Harley cracks his box and he and Jonathan claim the spa trip. Bergen is next to clear his box and they depart as Libby & CJ receive their Road Block, which Libby takes. Ashley opens up next. Hayley struggles with her puzzle while Blair struggles with finding the line between supportive and annoying. She finally gets it and they head for the Detour, selecting “Chair”.

Mike & Rochelle take “Chair” because they think “Share” will involve working with other people. Team Gay all take “Share” as much for having someone to do it with as anything else. Racers have made Detour decisions for worse reasons (looking at you, Ryan & Abbey!). America is therefore treated to the sight of two gay couples slurping noodles while saying things like “That’s too big!” and “Let me go under then you put it in.” and “Swallow! Swallow!” Kurt struggles most with his noodles but both teams look to make short work of them and head for the Pit Stop.

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Aly & Steve check in as team number three.

Matt & Ashley choose “Chair” and after Libby completes the Road Block she and CJ go for “Share”. Apparently they tried “Chair” first and switched because CBS has images up of them in bear hats.

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It’s the animal print scarves that make the ensembles

After spilling so hard that Rochelle seeks medical attention she and Mike decide to switch Detour tasks. They barrel through their bowls pretty quickly, but Mike with those noodles and that beard though. I can’t even. Matt & Ashley beat the clock on their second attempt.

Harley & Jonathan check in as team number four. Bergen & Kurt are close on their heels as team number five and Jeff & Jackie check in 6th. We do not see Phil inquire as to Bergen & Kurt’s romantic sparks, although earlier in the Leg Bergen interviewed that he was a little unnerved about dating a man who could be his twin. BOYFRIENDTWIN is outraged. Jackie finally gives Phil what he’s been needing when she calls Jeff perfect. Matt & Ashley arrive in 7th. Mike & Rochelle are team number eight.

Over at “Chair” Blair & Hayley squeak in just on the buzzer on their third attempt but their trouble finding a cab allows Libby & CJ to finish their noodles, which CJ declares the most fun he’s had so far. It’s good that he went out on a high note because, after some break dancing foolishness, Blair & Hayley check in in 9th place. Libby & CJ check in last and are Philiminated.

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The Amazing Metrics

Philiminated With Extreme Prejudice: Libby & CJ.

Hopelessly Lost But Making Good Time: Libby & CJ again. It’s impossible to know whether missing that first train set them far enough back that had they made it they could have passed Blair & Hayley, but the object lesson remains that when you’re on TAR you need to stop screwing around and RAAAAAAAACE!

Don’t Make Me Come Back There: No one. I’m sure that the Amazing Producers were hoping that the blind dating couples would bring the relationship drama up several notches, but they’re all operating with extraordinary cohesion. Blair for example showed more cognizance of his partner’s needs during the Road block than some couples who have been together for years. Based on the encouragement situation at the road Block and the noodle situation at the Detour the closest we’ve gotten to a partnership meltdown is Bergen & Kurt, but even that was quite minor.

Cruising: Jalani & Jenny. Winners of the first two Legs, this Blind Dating team is an early frontrunner. Really all of the Blind Dating teams are showing themselves to be competent Racers given their situation, with the exception of Blair & Hayley. They haven’t made any unrecoverable errors but 8th and 9th place finishes on the first two Legs call for major improvements in their game.

Another solid Leg. Watching people open puzzle boxes isn’t the most compelling television, but the speed skating task was fun to watch and carried the risk of serious injury, which is always good on a reality show. Unfortunately it saw the inclusion of an eating challenge and while it was not of the gross-out variety, an eating challenge almost always guarantees the loss of at least one Phlying Phil, bringing this episode down to a rating of Four Phlying Phils!

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Who has emerged as your early favorite? Will members of Team Gay be able to make it through and claim the One! Million! Dollars!?