The Amazing Race Recap: Tears of a Clown
Feb 19 2012 10:04 pm CET

Santa Barbara, California. We begin the race with a little bit of Phil cycling, one of Phil's favorite pastimes. Right behind him the eleven teams dressed up in their biking outfits pedaled away. At least it shows that all eleven teams will be competent in a bicycle based Roadblock/Detour in the future. Slowly our eleven teams were introduced: a set of clowns, some poor Kentuckians (apparently without money to finish their garage), sisters that play golf and like wearing flowers in their hair, Brenchel from Big Brother (She also said: "We're not here to make friends"), Stereotypical Guidos from Long Island, female federal agents, a major and his wife, twins (aka "not gay life partners"), country cousins, the generic dating couple except the guy's really beefy, and border patrol agents.

Phil welcomed the groups, now changed into their normal clothes, and gave the same stereotypical speech. The Express Pass is still in play this season. After the controllable camera swoops, Phil announced the first clue was in the mini hot air balloons. Interestingly, there were 100 balloons and only 11 clues. I think it would have been fairer if there were 15 clues, especially considering that the 11 teams will only be split into two groups at the airport. Ford Focus is our first product placement car, not that I'd be convinced to buy a car after watching an episode of The Amazing Race. The teams ran to opposite sides of the pond and started running and pulling balloons. The clowns were the last to make it up and by the time they arrived, the twins and several other teams left. Brenchel was in the middle of the pack as the explained that were headed to "Santa Barbara," but not California. Argentina. Phil gave the teams full instructions via a video in the car. The cousins hoped for burritos as Phil explained that the first six teams would get the faster flight with an earlier arrival at Salta. I found it funny that one of the teams called Brenchel's Rachel "Shamrock" from Rainbow Brite. Color me silly, but I thought all the Rainbow Brite characters had hair colors that coincided with their color. The last teams to get the clue before the credits were the Border Patrol Agents.

The opening credits popped up and it's still a lot of the same, not that I don't mind. At least TAR has their full theme unlike Survivor which is sad considering that Survivor changes the arrangement every year.

Kentucky and the Sisters were stuck running as Mark vomited on the side of winery. I really hope that the bottled wine doesn't have hints of desperation and sweat. They left in a mumble of country boy southern excitement. The sisters continued to look as Mark continued to vomit in the car. Almost two hours later the sisters continued to look and found the final clue. They were just having an awful day and it seemed like it was only getting worse.

We fast forward to the teams arriving to Salta and were instructed to drive to Santa Barbara. Art & JJ, the Fem-Feds, Brenchel, Daters, and our Military daters were the front pack and because of the two hour difference. I'm still a bit upset that there was no real bunch point to give any chance for the back five to catch up. At the Buenos Aires airport, Hawaii, Long Island, Mississippi, Kentucky, and the Clowns finally left. The poor clowns being the only ones not geographically proud in the back plane.

The teams got their clue in a basket to get their next clue to go to the local airport. The second group arrived and left with the Clowns in last place struggling to use stick. The clowns were worried as they slowly felt like they were inching further and further away. Cherie was in tears already defeated before an actual challenge reached them. How do you mentally give up when you haven't even seen a Road Block or Detour?

At the local airport, the first plane of teams arrived with to the Roadblock asking the teams who had the stronger "Sense of direction." In the deceptive twist the team member that volunteered to do the roadblock had to search for their partner that was skydiving. After reuniting at a big X, they would get their clue. The first departing plane consisted of JJ, Rachel, and Rachel. As Brendon decided to try using his odometer to judge distance, Dave tried to use his map on his lap. There seemed to be a minor alliance between the Border Patrol Agents and Military Dave. The real question is whether this will extend to the Female-Feds or if this is some boy's only club.

The teams parked as they waited for their partners to jump. We had a lot of drunken spinning and cheeks being forced upwards with all intensity. JJ was a bit more of a baby than Rachel...or Rachel. This is going to get confusing if both teams survive really long into the season. JJ landed with a thump as Art struggled with running on a beach. You think that people would train a bit more. The clue told them to go to the Patios de Cafayate. They were followed by both Rachel’s and their significant others.

Our trailing plane teams got their clue to go to the airport and the clowns were still in the back. Keep crying Cherie.

In the forgotten middle pack Nary, Elliot, and Vanessa were next to jump, Vanessa's uterus riding up into her throat. The cousins didn't understand how to read the clue and the nervousness kicked in for Stacy. Kerri tried to be supportive and told her that it was an, "Awesome way to face your fears." I get that it was supposed to be helpful, but at that point I'd be more concerned that I wasn't throwing up out the airplane door.

Turns out that we have a contestant that didn't go through the basic training of going on The Amazing Race. Along with basics like learning to ride a bike, doing at least one climb/rappel/zip line course, or practicing puzzles under a pressure situation, both contestants should learn how to drive stick. Instead of listening to his mother Danny struggled with driving stick probably grinding the gears of his car.

The border patrol agents and Brenchel had a run to the clue at the winery only to get another clue telling them to make 120 empanadas consisting of 60 meat-filled and 60 cheese-filled empanadas each with their own crimping styles. The first team to finish correctly and run to the mat got the Express Pass. The Border Patrol Agents looked like they didn't really pay full attention to the instructions and it probably was the reason why they fell behind. BB Rachel noticed that the meat had a twist while the cheese had a pinch. Other Rachel and Dave also noticed the differences in technique and took a bit more time to study the correct steps. The federal agents arrived as Border Patrol were rejected twice; they went back and realized their mistake. Vanessa & Ralph arrived in fifth wanting to rub their faces in cheese. I could see Vanessa being that person to watch out for during the season to have the sarcastic, borderline sexual remarks.

Mark, Joey "Fitness" (I hate the quotation marks already) and Misa were next to jump (priceless) as Kerri, Cherie, and Danny headed out to the meeting destination. Danny probably wore out a few more gears or drove in first gear the whole time. Maiya tried to drive as she drove into the beach. The sand ate her tires. Did I mention the sisters were having an awful day? How could it get worse?

Mark, Joey and Misa arrived at the X, Misa slamming into the ground in a very ungraceful manner. Add that to the embarrassing day for the sisters. Bopper and Mark left pretty quickly.

Stacy was terrified as she explained in the interview, post jump mind you, about how terrified she was. Obviously, she didn't die. After the dramatic commercial break, she explained that she had to jump for her children's sake. She was the one person who had their personal moment as if the producers would be dumb enough to submit the first episode for Emmy consideration. Maiya managed to get some nice men, who understood English, to pull her car out and she headed out. Dave arrived with Cherie excited that they weren't last. Danny finally arrived with the Cousins arriving before the sister. See? Doing one challenge and the Clowns went from eleventh to ninth. Maybe they should be more confident in their own skillsets.

The border patrol agents got rejected as the sisters finally met up to even get to the empanadas. Brenchel finished first but were rejected, Brendon's minor Spanish speaking abilities emerging; probably an asset for at least one more leg. The judge was more specific for the earlier teams as Military couple Dave & Rachel finished. They were quickly followed by Brenchel, but it was too late at that point for a footrace. Phil emphasized to the teams to jump on the mat as Rachel & Dave finished in first, Brenchel quickly behind them.

Fast forward a bit and Bopper & Mark arrived at the winery in seventh as they watched the demo. The clowns rolled their bags along, apparently convinced that roller bags is a winning strategy. Joey & Dave and Cousins soon followed and were assembling away. Bopper & Mark butchered the word empanada by calling it a "piñata" and then not calling it anything. The sisters arrived and decided, "Let’s not bring our bags!" Yet another thing to add to their growing list of mistakes and turns of bad luck. Someone out there really hates Hawaii 5-0 or something.

The sisters knew how to make gyoza at home and hoped that it would come to their advantage. Also helping their cause was the stereotype that Italian Guidos have all their meals made by their mothers. The locals laughed at the Long Islanders as they botched their food. The commercial break didn't prove much outside of the reaffirmation for the Guidos to keep working hard. The cousins worked together to finish their empanadas, which surprised me because they may have been the only team that actually allowed one contestant to make more than 60 empanadas while the other made less. Cherie of the clowns gave herself the mantra of "Just keep cooking" as if she was Dory from Finding Nemo.

The cousins managed to make up a lot of time as the sisters watched them leave, realizing they need their bags to make it to the finish line. Or at least have their bags within a few feet of the finish line. The clowns rolled their bags and headed out. I'm not sure exactly why they had three bags though. That's something random that we're going to have to keep an eye on. Are people allowed two carry-on bags? I doubt that one could fit under a seat. Bopper & Mark got applause as they arrived in ninth.

The sisters managed to finish before the Long Islanders, but they had to run for their bags and then find Phil. If you want to add to the list of stress and mistakes, one sister dropped her hat in the dirty parking lot. It was going to get sweaty anyway. The sisters were lost and confused as Phil watched the sisters arrive and then leave, not seeing Phil and a crew of cameras and microphones. He gave the best "Are you kidding me" face? If cursing was allowed, Phil would have been the king of WTF? The sisters tripped over each other (just piling on the painful bad luck eh?) as the Guidos arrived in tenth. The sisters went around the long way and were still last. They were eliminated in one of the most embarrassing finishes I've ever seen. Being outrun is one thing, being within feet of the finish line and not seeing and turning away is a totally different thing.

Leg One Placement
1) Rachel & Dave - Won Express Pass
2) Brendon & Rachel
3) Art & JJ
4) Nary & Jamie
5) Vanessa & Ralph
6) Elliot & Andrew
7) Karri & Stacy
8) Dave & Cherie
9) Bopper & Mark

This season: Africa? Check. Asia? Check. Bees? Check. Watermelons in a pyramid? Check. Rachel and Rachel falling apart? Looks like a decent season.

Michael Pascua -

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