That Was Partially My Fault (Episode 9-1)

The premiere episode of The Amazing Race 9 sent contestants to Brazil, meaning this season’s contestants have already ventured farther outside the U.S. than any did during last season’s mostly-domestic affair. Anxious traveller John had just enough time to overcome his fear of flying before he and his partner, Scott, were eliminated.

The team introductions were supposed to look rugged, as contestants were driven to Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheater in the backs of crappy pickup trucks. Nerds David and Lori hoped for some team-specific Roadblocks and Detours this season, as David described his team’s strengths thusly: “She’s really great at card games, and I’m really great at taking tests.”

TAR 9’s first clue instructed teams to take one of three flights to Sao Paolo, Brazil. As teams drove Mercedes sedans to the Denver Airport–the vehicle budget quickly increased from the intro’s pickups–this season’s villain was revealed. Lake, a Southern dentist, instructed his wife, Michelle, to exit the highway so they could find a pay phone and reserve seats on one of the flights.

When they got back on the highway, with Lake now in the driver’s seat, Michelle read the clue aloud. It forbade them from reserving tickets by phone. When she pointed out Lake’s mistake, he admitted that he hadn’t read the whole clue and told Michelle, “That was… partially my fault.” He didn’t say who else could possibly have been to blame. It was probably the anti-dentites.

More of Lake’s true colors came out in the airport. When Michelle fretted about having arrived last, he told her, “Shut the f— up.” As Michelle raced Yolanda to the ticket counter, Lake yelled, “Don’t let that black girl beat you.” Later in the episode, Lake referred Yolanda and Ray as “the black team.”

Although all three flights arrived within 35 minutes of each other, cab driver trouble put six-foot tall sisters Joni and Lisa well behind the pack, as they headed to retrieve a clue at Sao Paulo’s Hotel Unique. John and Scott suffered from similar cabbie problems. Their driver was not only slow; he also bore an eerie resemblance to what John will probably look like in about 10 years.

Bearded pals BJ and Tyler, nicknamed “the hippies” by the other teams, mitigated possible cab problems by having learned some Portuguese phrases on the plane. It was obvious that other teams did not, as half of them thought that the national language of Brazil was Spanish. Joni and Lisa admitted that they’d actually thought Spanish was first language of all non-Americans.

From the hotel, teams had to take another cab to a pedestrian bridge to find their next clue. Although the cluebox was in plain sight, Barry and Fran, the oldest team on the race, spent forty minutes looking for it. They arrived at the bridge in fourth place, but left in eighth.

The bridge clue was a Detour, in which teams had to choose between assembling a motorcycle and taking a helicopter ride to the top of a building in downtown Sao Paolo.

While assembly challenges are often faster for teams with patience and mechanical inclination, bubbly, pink-clad cuties Danielle and Dani arrived at the motorcycle shop with neither–and no one at the shop was willing to help them. Once the duo realized that the only other team at the shop, Fran and Barry, was equally clueless, they headed to the helicopter challenge.

For their second blunder of the day, Fran and Barry spent far too long trying to put the bike together themselves. They then expected Lake and Michelle, who’d arrived after Danielle and Dani had left, to all but put it together for them. As he worked on his bike, Lake told Fran he’d tell her what to do when he was finished.

But Fran didn’t have the prerequisite knowledge that Lake assumed she would. When he told her the spark plug went on the engine, she asked, “Where’s the engine?” Because they’d spent much of the day among the slower teams, Lake and Michelle couldn’t afford to spend too much time micromanaging their competition. So, they left, and Fran and Barry eventually abandoned the bike for the helicopters.

The only other couple to successfully build a motorcycle was Ray and Yolanda. They had the added pressure of being surrounded by a crowd of guys who cheered every time Yolanda bent over. Ray managed to keep his composure and focus on the task, inside of chasing down the catcalling jerks.

The helicopter challenge was relatively easy. After finding a picture of a building in a pilot’s handbook, teams showed the picture to a dispatcher. The dispatcher then assigned the team a helicopter pilot, who flew them to the building. There, they searched a small area for a clue, and then headed back to the airfield.

Eric and Jeremy, who other teams called “the frat guys,” teased their helicopter pilot, Martinez, about the huge number of women he must get with such a cool job. Martinez may have had a better shot with Dani and Danielle than did Eric and Jeremy. When their two teams crossed paths, the girls rebuffed the frat guys’ attempts to flirt.

Being one of the last teams to the airport didn’t stop Joni and Lisa from getting excited. As they ran toward their helicopter, a nervous Joni shrieked, “I’m gonna pee my pants. Oh! I just peed my pants!” Then, as she looked out of the window during takeoff, a camera outside of the helicopter captured her screaming face.

After finishing the Detour, teams made their way to nearby neighborhood where they participated in a local religious ceremony, which involved snakes and candles. After the ceremony, teams received another clue, instructing them to head to this episode’s Pit Stop: a soccer stadium.

Jeremy and Eric were first to arrive. They jumped on the mat and asked host Phil, “What did we win, Philly?” Phil told them that they’d each won $10,000 for finishing in first place. Eric and Jeremy promised to apply the funds toward their goal of working as little as possible.

BJ and Tyler showed up soon afterward to score second place. And the Puertorriqueña mother/daughter squad, Wanda and Desiree, ran a mostly mistake-free leg to grab third.

John and Scott, whose slow cabs got them to the helicopter challenge last, weren’t able to make up any time and were the first team eliminated. John was happy he was able to overcome some of his fears, and Scott said he appreciated “the sharing of the growing of the experience,” which probably meant something.

1 – Eric and Jeremy
2 – BJ and Tyler
3 – Wanda and Desiree
4 – Lori and David
5 – Lake and Michelle
6 – Monica and Joseph
7 – Ray and Yolanda
8 – Fran and Barry
9 – Danielle and Dani
10 – Joni and Lois
11 – John and Scott (eliminated)

Next time, Eric and Jeremy again attempt to woo Dani and Danielle, and Fran slips on some rocks.