In a new twist on the opening we see a few of the casting videos for the single racers and then the season opens with six dating couples flanking five single guys and we already know what's going on even if the racers don't. It's time to match up our five singles with their blind date partners for the race. It's an interesting twist and it'll be even more interesting to see how it plays out.
A quick intro on the dating couples: Aly & Steve, have been dating 7 months; Libby & CJ, have been dating for 10 years; Mike & Rochelle, have been dating for 8 months; Harley & Jonathan (of NKOTB), have been dating for 7 years; Matt & Ashley, have been dating for 3 years; and Jeff & Lyda, have been dating for 4 years.
Next we get to meet the singles who are being matched up by the casting agents based on who knows what, hopefully compatibility and interests because otherwise this will go south fast. The blind dates are: Tyler, a Mobile App Developer who gets partnered with Laura, a Talent Booker, Blair, a Navy Surgeon who gets partnered with Hayley, a Pediatric Trauma Nurse; Bergen, a Human Resources Manager who gets partnered with Kurt, a Pageant Consultant; Jenali, a Lawyer who gets partnered with Jenny, another Lawyer; and finally Jeff, a Sales Rep who gets partnered with Jackie, a Vegas Showgirl. All the single women seem pretty keen to go while the guys seem a little more cautious. Not what I would have expected.
With the team introductions out of the way it's time for their first task, a mud pit obstacle course to get to the plane tickets to Tokyo. There are only 8 tickets for the first flight and 3 for the second flight and you really want to be on that first flight. During the mud run there's some couple info; Libby & CJ met in high school, Mike met Rochelle when she pulled into his truck stop, Aly & Steve are both winter Olympians. Meanwhile Blair has abandoned Hayley in the mud rather than help his new partner through it. Good thing this wasn't a real blind date or he wouldn't be getting a second one.
While Blair was impatiently waiting for Hayley, Jelani grabbed the last ticket for the first flight. So that puts everyone on the first flight to Tokyo except for Blair & Hayley, Mike & Rochelle and Libby & CJ. Everyone showers off the mud and jumps, dripping wet, into their new Ford hybrids. Those poor cars.
The blind dates use the travel time to the airport to find out a little more about each other, which is a great use of time but not very entertaining. Not sure I'm really keen on the "selfie cam" the teams have this season, seems like pandering to the "all about me" generation. The getting to know you phase continues at the airport with Blair & Hayley when Harley & Jonathan join them and Jonathan reveals his career.
Time for the first flight to head out, 45 minutes ahead of the second flight with the three remaining teams. It's not a big lead, and in air travel it's all up to the pilot, but any lead helps.
When they arrive at Narita Airport in Tokyo they need to find Kanda Myojin, a 1270 year old Kinto shrine. Some teams take the Skyliner tram while others opt for a taxi. Based on the crowds in Tokyo I think I'd lean towards the tram and stay off the streets.
The second flight arrives and I swear that CJ's backpack is almost bigger than he is. What the hell is he carrying in there, a beer fridge? They go for the taxi while the other two teams head for the train, . . . which pulls away just as Blair & Hayley hit the platform. Worst blind date ever as they drop into last place.
At the Kanda Myojin temple Jelani & Jenny are the first team to hit the Detour: Syncing Steps, where teams get to join the techno pop group World Order after memorizing a dance routine which they need to perform correctly to get their next clue, or Samauri Sake, where one team member needs to memorize ten sake bottles while their partner takes the order from a table of Samauri, and upon presenting the correct bottle gets their next clue.
Jelani & Jenny choose Syncing Steps, but personally I think that was a terrible choice. Jeff & Jackie arrive and go for the sake task. I'm pretty sure Wayne and I would go for the sake task, despite the cool factor of World Order. I mean, come in, there's a chance to drink some really good sake in Japan, . . . how cool is that?
Jeff & Jackie get run through the sakes and aside from the pronunciation every label is different so his should be an easy task. Jackie gets the order but once Jeff gets behind the bar it's a blind guess, and it's wrong. Out on the street Jelani & Jenny watch World Order and then get started on their routine, while other teams hit the clue box. Interesting to note that the NKOTB doesn't like to dance.
Blair & Hayley are proving to be navigationally challenged when they hit the streets in search of the clue box. Not sure if it's the pressure of the cameras, the blind date, or they just don't get out much.
Jeff & Jackie have finally chosen the correct sake and are on their way to Wakaba Higashi Park where they'll be the first team to the Blind U-Turn before getting their next clue. Meanwhile Jelani & Jenny are still training when other teams begin to arrive so they decide to give it a shot, and fail, which made room for Matt & Ashley . . . who also failed.
While Jeff & Jackie are striking out finding a taxi, more teams arrive and choose Syncing Steps. What is wrong with these people, not one of them looks like they should attempt a dancing task. No wonder the episode is 90 minutes long. Add in the fact that Libby & CJ are wandering the streets almost as blindly as Blair & Hayley and I can see why they need extra time. At least Blair finally asks for directions and even apologizes for being wrong,
Harley & Jonathan have made it to the sake bar and nailed it on the first try. Time for a quick shot o sake with the Samauri before heading out to Wakaba Higashi Park. I wonder if they'll beat Jeff & Jackie there who finally got a cab just as the boys hit the street behind them.
Matt & Ashley are on their 7th attempt and not getting much better (well Matt's not anyway) and Libby & CJ are lost again. They finally find the train station but seem overwhelmed by the crowds and are still in search of the Detour. Blair & Hayley arrive to realize that there are teams from the first flight still trying to learn the moves yet they don't jump to the other task. Bad decision, in my opinion, but blind daters Laura & Tyler nail the moves on their second attempt. Jelani & Jenny also managed to get the moves down, although it did take them 8 attempts, and Matt just keeps looking more surprised after each team does what he can't seem to do.
Jeff & Jackie arrive first at the Blind U-Turn but decide not to use it, which I tend to agree with. It's too early in the game to put a target on your back when you're out in front, even with another team right behind you. They grab their next clue and are off to meet Phil at the first Pit Stop somewhere in the vicinity of the UDX Building in Akihabara.
On their 12th attempt Matt blows it on the arm movements. So near and yet so far. The Olympians, Steve & Aly get it on their 10th attempt but it looked close. More teams arrive at the U-Turn and decide against using it while Jeff & Jackie enter the UDX Building parking lot in search of Phil.
Back in the cab Jenny asks Jelani to reread the clue before they get there and realize that Phil is not inside the building. At least somebody read the clue, . . . which Jeff & Jackie finally do while they're riding the elevator to another floor. That one mistake, not reading the clue, allowed Jelani & Jenny to be Team Number 1 and win the Express Pass, just as Jeff & Jackie race in behind them to be Team Number 2.
It's getting dark out on the dance street as Bergen & Kurt get the moves down on their 3rd attempt.
Laura & Tyler are Team Number 3 and that makes the first three teams all blind dates. So much for the idea that couples work better together because they know each other so well. I think the key here is that couples still hold back to avoid upsetting their partner where the blind dates aren't trying to impress or protect anyone's feelings, they're in it to win.
Harley & Jonathan arrive at the U-Turn and decide to not use it, and Aly & Steve race up behind them and decide the same. Blair & Hayley finally get the moves on their 7th attempt and they're out of there. Matt & Ashley are on their 25th attempt and it's about time. Three teams to go. Bergen & Kurt almost used the U-Turn, but then decided against it. Aly & Steve are the first Olympians to arrive at the Pit Stop and are Team Number 4, followed by Harley & Jonathan as Team Number 5.
Mike & Rochelle blow their 12th attempt, while Jeff & Lyda blow their 10th but Libby & CJ get it on their 5th attempt and move on, assuming they can find their way. Down to two teams and I'm thinking those World Order guys are starting to get a little tired of this routine. Can't change it up now though because 14 attempts is the charm for Mike & Rochelle, who actually seem like a pretty good couple. Jeff & Lyda need to step up their game or step out.
Bergen & Kurt are Team Number 6 and when Phil asks about their blind date they admit that even if there's no romance they'll come out this as good friends. That's still a win, just not the one they're hoping for. Lyda starts wondering if they should have switched, while Libby & CJ are lost again.
Finally someone decides to use the U-Turn as Mike & Rochelle realize they have little choice if they intend to stay in the game and U-Turn Jeff & Lyda, the only team they know are still behind them. When Blair & Hayley arrive they're just happy it's not them and decide not to U-Turn anyone, as do Matt & Ashley who were also bringing up the rear. How Mike & Rochelle pulled ahead of those two teams is beyond me but they should be thanking the taxi gods.
Jeff & Lyda refuse to give up and try again. Their 23rd attempt finally gets it and they're off, unaware that they've been U-Turned by Mike & Rochelle who are Team Number 7. Jeff & Lyda discover they've been U-Turned and race off to serve sake, hoping to stay ahead of the one team behind them . . . who are still lost. Meanwhile, Blair & Hayley almost walk right past Phil at the Pit Stop and are Team Number 8, with Matt & Ashley moving in as Team Number 9.
Not sure I like Phil in the role of Cupid, but I'm sure some viewers will enjoy it.
Jeff & Lyda made really short work of the sake task, which they should have switched to 4 hours earlier, and are returning to the U-Turn for their next clue. Meanwhile Libby & CJ have run into a rather underhanded cabbie who wants to be paid before he takes them where they need to go (nice try, buddy) so they're back walking around in the dark. They finally find another cab that takes them to the U-Turn and grab the clue just before Jeff & Lyda.
Libby & CJ make it to the UDX Building and race down a ramp into the parking garage and into the elevator. CJ is actually holding the clue, but failing to read it as Jeff & Lyda arrive outside. However, it's all in the editing, Libby & CJ are Team Number 10 and Jeff & Lyda are the last team to arrive and have been eliminated from the race.
On the next episode, a mere two days away, the teams are still in Japan and Libby & CJ miss their train. Why am I not surprised. Watch for my next post coming real soon to review episode two.