We start the episode right after the first two teams leave the Pit Stop with a little stroll through the streets of Tokyo to follow them to their first night's quarters, open office cubicles in an office building. Love the sign on the wall "Comfortable Time and Space". Well, I guess it has more space than one of those little "coffin" hotels, but not much for privacy. Hope nobody snores.
Jelani & Jenny were the first team to the Pit Stop on the premiere leg of Season 26 so they're the first out of the cubicle in episode two at 5:30am. Time to catch a bullet train to Nagano, Japan and make their way to Matsushiro Castle to find their next clue. They're followed closely by the other two blind date teams Jeff & Jackie (at 5:33) and Laura & Tyler (at 5:45) who are all in the first train out of Akihabara Station.
Aly & Steve are off at 6:14 but fail to catch the first train. They are, however, the only team on the second train. The third train has Harley & Jonathan, Bergen & Kurt, and Mike & Rochelle. The fourth train has Hayley & Blair, and Matt & Ashley. It's no surprise that Libby & CJ are the last to the train station, departing at 8:20, almost three hours behind the leads and two hours behind the first train
Laura & Tyler are the first to the cluebox and get their clue. Roadblock, Think Outside The Box, where one team member must solve an intricate Japanese puzzle box and find the phrase hidden inside to get their next clue, one of which includes an invitation to Date Night. I love puzzles and I've seen variations on this one before so I'd definitely step up for this task. As Tyler & laura are announced entering the compound the drumming begins. That could be distracting
Jelani & Jenny have arrived and Jelani grabs a box, as does Jeff when he and Jackie arrive. Tyler looked quite composed as he focused on the box, which is more than we can say for Libby & CJ who were so focused on their "selfie" that they missed their bullet train. Surprise, surprise. That could put them four hours behind the front of the pack.
Tyler gets his box open and he and Laura are off to the next clue. They need to make their way to Nishi-Guchi Zenko-Ji to get the next clue. Jelani gets his box open and he and Jenny are on Tyler's tail. Jeff regrets saying he was good at puzzles.
Laura & Tyler are the first to the Detour: Share, where team members must feed each other noodles using chopsticks to get the next clue; or Chair, where they need to push their partner around an ice track while they're seated in a chair. I'd rather eat the noodles, which is what Tyler & Laura choose, as do Jelani & Jenny when they arrive.
Jeff finally gets his box to open up for him and he and Jackie are off to Nishi-Guchi Zenko-Ji to choose their Detour. The noodle feeding is pretty straight forward and it's easy to do if you know how to use chopsticks. I love using chopsticks but I'm not sure if Wayne knows how so it could get messy if we were to try this task. Meanwhile, Libby & CJ are finally on a train.
Tyler & Laura are racing through the noodles when Jelani & Jenny arrive. The fan is an added challenge as it blows the noodles and broth sideways. Meanwhile, Mike gets the puzzle box open and he and Rochelle are moving on as Matt & Ashley arrive.
Tyler & Laura and are now off to Patio Daimon, the Pit Stop for this leg of the race. What? We're not even halfway through the episode and teams are already heading for the Pit Stop? That kind of editing does not bode well for somebody. Jelani & Jenny are right behind them exiting the restaurant and jump into their waiting cab, but Tyler & Laura didn't ask theirs to wait and he has moved on. That's not good.
Libby & CJ have finally arrived in Nagano while Jeff & Jackie decide they're not Share people, they're Chair people and are following Steve & Aly it's no surprise that after opening their box and getting to the Detour the Olympians chose Chair, which seems like a no-brainer since they're both good on ice. All they need to do is make two laps in under four minutes and they're off to the pit stop. Easy, peasy, . . . right
Steve was pretty cautious on the curves to avoid tipping Aly onto the ice, but she had no worries as he was pretty heavy to tip. No problem doing two laps in 3.31. They're off to the Pit Stop, but not before Jelani & Jenny who are once again the first to the mat and Team Number 1, winning everything FitBit makes, a personal chef and cooking classes for a year, and either a one year gym membership or a year of fresh groceries. I'd go for the groceries. Laura & Tyler are right behind them and Team Number 2. The blind dates are still holding the lead and Phil is still pushing for the romance.
Harley & Jonathan have opened their puzzle box and have found the Date Night reward to enjoy during the Pit Stop. Libby & CJ finally arrive at the Roadblock, while Harley & Jonathan and Bergen & Kurt hit the Detour and both choose Share.
Ashley opens her box while Hayley appears traumatized by it. Blair looks a little less than pleased but, as he did in the first episode, he's not exactly shouting encouragement from the sidelines. I'm not seeing a big future with this match, but it could turn around. Hayley eventually gets the box open and they're off, leaving an empty temple for Libby & CJ.
Steve & Ally arrive at the Pit Stop and are Team Number 3. It looked like Libby made quick work of that box, but they're still way behind and still have the Detour to do. Speaking of Detours, Jeff and Jackie are not doing so well with Chair and just starting their next attempt when Rochelle and Mike arrive.
Over at the restaurant Bergen & Kurt are almost fun to watch alongside Harley & Jonathan, while Jeff & Jackie finally make their two laps with one second to spare on their third attempt. It's interesting that some of the people like the noodles while others don't. I wonder why not. Harley & Jonathan are done and Bergen & Kurt are two mouthfuls behind them.
Back on the ice, this is not the task for Mike & Rochelle, especially when Mike stumbles and runs Rochelle into the boards which hurts her wrist. This may be the only thing that saves Libby & CJ and probably why tonight's episode is edited to have teams heading for the pit stop only 24 minutes in. Rochelle calls for a medic to check her wrist as Matt & Ashley arrive. It takes a few minutes but they finally decide to switch tasks.
Harley & Jonathan are Team Number 4, as Blair & Hayley head to the Detour, just as Matt & Ashley complete their laps.
Kurt & Betgen are Team Number 5 and Jeff & Jackie are Team Number 6, even if he's not really perfect as Jackie says. These two could end up with a relationship out of this. Meanwhile Mike and Rochelle have started in on their noodles, until Mike tries to eat the bowlful in one gulp and has to spit it back out. This was the task for them and they made short work of it.
Matt & Ashley are Team Number 7 as Hayley and Blair hit the ice with the worst time of 6.45.77 on their first attempt. Libby & CJ have arrived at the noodle house and are working on the noodles in what looks to be the same timeframe but how likely is that.
Mike & Rochelle are team Number 8. Sometimes it's good to switch. Hayley & Blair have finished their Detour and are off to the Pit Stop.
It looks like it's a race to not be in last place between Hayley & Blair and Libby & CJ, but Hayley & Blair are Team Number 9 and that leaves Libby & CJ the last team to arrive. Not a surprise really, but they made good time considering they missed their train. It was a fairly casual send off by Phil but they were a pretty casual team.
Next week the teams are leaving Japan, moving on to Thailand, and the honeymoon is over. I'll do my best to get my posts up a little quicker now that I'm back at it. Look forward to hearing your comments and I'll see you back here next week.