Anyway, on with the show. Everything starts, where else, in LA (Los Angeles, not Leduc or Lethbridge, Alberta). And with a marching band, no less. So after we introduce the All-Stars with some old flashbacks, the game starts. And man, what a start. Great drama that you can't really plan for. It seems, Bopper, half of Team Kentucky, has an inflamed pancreas and is told he's not healthy enough to race. Damn. Half of one of the most favs teams in race history is gone even before it starts (get set for a third try in a few years boys). But Phil offers to find another racer for him so Mark can race for his friend. Touching stuff. If I was sick and couldn't race, I'd expect Gord to go on without me.
Of course, Gord would be very pleased to be racing with a bubbly blond like Mallory from Seasons 17 and 18, making it three and a half teams coming back for a third try. Mallory is fun and from Kentucky, so Team Kentucky will keep the name. But the fact Mark and she don't have bond as deep as the one between him and Booper could work against them. But at least they have a chance. And something to race for. But sorry for Booper; that's got to be tough to be so close to start and be pulled away.
With that great dramatic start, the race is off to China, specifically Ghangzhou, which represented on two band members' hats as samples. Teams have to search for the rest of the band, who all have different Chinese characters on their lids, for the proper hat, take it and the player to Phil, hoping to get on the first flight out of LAX. There's also a Ford commercial.
Loads of scrambling around as the teams search. The Afghanimals are first getting the clue and burn out of the lot, followed by Jet and Cord, the Cowboys, then Dave and Connor, and finally, the Twinnies. On the second flight is everyone else, Jessica and John, the Globetrotters, Country singers, Mark and Mallory (the New Team Kentucky), Brendon and Rachel (no I am not calling them Brenchel cause that's a stupid name), Margie and Luke, and the Youtubers, Joey and Meghan. Opening credits roll.
All in all, a fantastic start, one of the best in race history, most of it dealing with Bopper and Mark. Hope the lack of Bopper doesn't drop ratings cause he's very popular. But Mallory was fun so it will be interesting to say the least.
Teams arrive sporadically at the LAX and a couple of jokes from the Afghanimals and Mallory, respectively, to lighten the mood. When teams land in Ghangzhou, they have to travel by cab or metro to the Ghangzhou Street of Wedding Dresses. Not sure what would be best. With the Metro, you have a less chance of getting a bad cab but then a good cab with take you right to the street. In the end, though, I would chose Metro. If you get lost in the Metro, it's easier to turn around than in a lost cab. And cheaper. Once at the street, teams must then search through the countless number of stores for three that have limited numbers of clues. Ack. Not fun, especially after a flight halfway around the world and across the International Date Line. The trick is not to freak out.
All of the first teams, save the Cowboys, take cabs. And yes, my instincts are correct, Metro was faster. Cowboys arrive get some directions. Not long after, the Afghanimals and the Twinnies show up in their cabs looking for someone to speak English. And so they start to work together. Hmmm, very interesting. Both of these teams are driven and loud so the decibel level is a bit annoying. And in a few minutes, they start to annoy each other. Fun times.
The Cowboys double back and find a shop in a hidden alley, getting the clue along with a bobble of some type in a bag. They have to travel by Metro to Canton Tower with their little bobble, which is a representation of a car on the world's highest ferris wheel on top of the tower. In a car, they'll find their next clue. Meanwhile, the second group of teams arrive, all of them choosing the Metro, although Jessica and John, the Youtubers, and the Country Singers miss the first train.
Dave and Connor are next to find the wedding store clue and are off. The Twinnie Afghanimals turn away from one of the shops, proving that it may be best to run your own race instead of going with another team, especially teams with strong opinions of right and wrong. But then a bunch of the teams from the second flight arrive, travel together, find a shop and all get clues, proving that despite all I know about the Amazing Race, I really know nothing.
Jessica and John find someone to help (fill out those release forms quickly, folks) and get to a store. Twinnie Afghanimals are lost. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Cowboys are at the tower. They climb into a bubble but no such luck, they must try again. After a trip around the wheel of course. But man, nice view. Relax and enjoy it boys. You're in a good lead.
At the Wedding Dress Street, a whole bunch of teams converge on a shop and start to search, not realizing it's not the proper store, you don't have to search; you only have to ask. I would say READ THE CLUE but not sure if that bit was actually on the clue. Still wasting time. Finally the Twinnies leave the Afghanimals and join the Country Singers, who do look like twins as well. Twin Twinnies! But almost an instant later, the boys find the right shop.
After their round trip, the Cowboys get their clue in the adjacent bubble: go to Haixinsha Stadium right below the tower. Easy stuff. But as the boys are taking their trip, Margie and Luke, Brendon and Rachel, Dave and Conner show up. Man that was fast, especially Margie and Luke. But the new arrivals aren't that quick on the uptake and can't seem to find the clue, right on the door in front of them. Finally, Margie and Luke do (try again) followed by Brendon and Rachel (actual clue). Dave and Connor and Kentucky both get Try Again. Cue trombone.
Quick shot of teams still running around the street and then back to the Ferris Wheel where the Afghanimals arrive and get the right clue. Then Margie and Luke do the same. Finally, the Youtubers and Team Express Pass Fail (Jessica and John) get to the right shop and move on. The Twin Twinnies are still struggling. And I'm not truly concerned because they are both teams I wouldn't mind see being eliminated early. In fact, elimination for any of these final four teams would be fine by me. The Twin Twinnies actually get to the correct shops but in two, all the clues are gone. Duh. The final shop has clues but these two teams are way behind. I know for sure Gord is pretty darn happy; he hates the Twinnies.
Dave and Connor make a smart move and pick the bubble in which the Cowboys were successful. And they get the clue. Kentucky do the same (although Mallory starts to second guess if it's the right stadium, much to the annoyance of Mark) just as three more teams - Globetrotters, Express Pass Fail and Youtubes arrive. All but the Youtubers get the clue. Good. These two annoy me. I wonder what happens in the stadium? Been awhile since the Cowboys headed down. But not yet, the Country Singers and the Twinnies show up. The Country Singers choose carefully while the Twinnies believe that all bubbles will have the clue. But no, they don't. Sorry but you can't assume things on the Amazing Race, you have to read the clue. Not surprisingly, an arguments ensues.
Finally, we get to the stadium. Roadblock: Head Over Hells. A team member must do five high wire flips as they rise to the top of the tower. Chances are, this is mine cause I'm a lot more coordinated and Gord is a giant so he'd have to wait a bit before he could flip over without banging his head. Cord takes it on, looking great with the flaming red hair and flaming outfit (other reason why I'd be best at this one). Brendon and Rachel are next, with Brendon, no surprise, taking on the task.
Cord gets done fast, it's high but easy movement. Next clue is to the Pit Stop, on foot to Guangzhou Opera House. First teams gets the Express Passes. And the last team, says Phil, WILL be eliminated. No non-elimination first leg. Brendon gets tangled up on is first flip proving my theory that tall guys (he's 6'3", four and half inches shorter than Gord) would suck at this. Still, he gets done, just as the Cowboys arrive at the pitstop and get the passes. They raced well so far, but let's see if they can keep it out. They've blown it in the past.
And still the Twinnie argument continues at the top of the world. Time to hit Mute and wait for it to pass. It does and Brendon and Rachel are second at the Pitstop. Connor and then Margie takes on the flipping task, good for her. A lot better than Leo though, who does a couple extra for luck. Now we move into quick edits as teams arrive to the Pit Stop: Dave and Conner, Margie and Luke and the Afghanimals.
All the other teams are coming off the Ferris Wheel (either it's very slow or it's edited that way). Keen to see how the Globetrotters do. But the Twinnies were arguing so much that they failed to see what teams were successful and can't decide which bubble to choose. Mallory and Flight Time get done the Roadblock pretty quick and their respective teams arrive as Teams 6 and 7. Good to see Mark and Mallory still there for Bopper. Jessica and John are Team 8, pleased not to have to deal with the Express Pass again. Country Singers are 9 so it's a race for the teams I really want out early so hooray. But it looks like the Youtubers are Team 10 and the Twinnies are out. Hear those big boots astompin'? That's Gord doing a dance of joy. Dance Gord, Dance.
Next week, it seems Mallory loses her backpack but will that kill their chances. We'll see. And check out our video recap of this episode in the next couple of days.