TAR 10: Premiere

The premiere of The Amazing Race 10 featured one of the most
ethnically diverse casts in the show’s history. By the end of the
episode, that diversity had been reduced significantly.

CBS
featured two teams in most of the ads leading up to the season
premiere: Muslim friends Bilal & Sa’eed, and disabled triathlete
Sarah & her boyfriend, Peter. Though those two teams may have been
the most obvious hooks for viewers, they weren’t the only interesting people.

There’s Mary, a wife and mother
whose self-image is warped enough that she thinks her husband, David, is
“too cute” for her. David is a coal miner from Kentucky, who looks
like…a coal miner from Kentucky.

Friends Tyler & James were
introduced as “recovering drug addicts and models,” though I’m not sure
how one recovers from modelling. As they introduced themselves, we saw
an old photo of one of the guys, glossy-eyed and clutching a tank of
nitrous.

And my favorite unintentional comedy team is Kellie
& Jamie, a pair of cheerleaders who wondered aloud if Muslims
worship Buddha.

The twelve teams started the race in Seattle,
Washington. Host Phil Keoghan promised that, in addition to eight
elimination legs, there were new surprises afoot this season. Maybe
teams that lose non-elimination legs will spend a night on Exile Island.

After
Phil’s sendoff, teams drove to the airport en route to Beijing, China.
Korean-American brothers Erwin & Godwin were eager to “get back to
the homeland. Even though we’re not Chinese.”

At the airport,
teams jockeyed to get on the first of two planes heading to China. The
first, a United flight, left an hour before the second, on Korean Air.
However, only six teams would be allowed on the United flight.

As
they waited in the gate for the first plane, Alabama single moms Lyn
& Karlyn were annoyed that Sarah, who has a prosthetic leg, took
advantage of the early boarding privileges for passengers with
disabilities. It seemed there was little strategic motivation behind boarding early, but Sarah definitely managed to get under Lyn and Karlyn’s skin.

Because
of a delay for the United flight, the two planes arrived within a
half-hour of one another. Beauty Queens Dustin & Kandice lost the
meager lead they had when they became the season’s first victims of a
bad cab driver. He took them to multiple restaurants before they were
able to find the one featured on their clue: the Gold House Restaurant.

In The Amazing Race,
a restaurant is usually a harbinger of disgusting things to come. The
Gold House was no exception. A Road Block instructed one team member to
dig into a bowl of fish head stew (Eww!), pluck out the fishes’
eyeballs (Eww! Eww!), and eat them (Eww! x 1000).

Father/Daughter
team Duke & Lauren arrived at the restaurant first. Their
relationship has been on thin ice since Lauren came out as a lesbian.
Fortunately, as everyone knows, the first step in mending a troubled
family relationship is for the elder member to eat fish eyes in the
presence of the the younger member.

Dustin & Kandice
recovered from their bad cabbie to wind up in the middle of the pack,
thanks to a local boy who led them to the restaurant on foot.

Erwin
& Godwin weren’t so lucky. Their driver was equally bad, but they’d
been on the second flight, so they had little room for error. By the time
the brothers arrived at the Gold House, only Bilal & Sa’eed and
Indian-American couple Vipul and Arti were left. But those teams were
already finishing up their eyeballs.

From the restaurant, teams
traveled by taxi to the Meridian Gate within the Forbidden City. Teams
chose one of three departure times for the next morning from tickets on
a pillar. Four tickets read “7:00,” four read “7:15,” three read
“7:30,” and one read, “Last Team.” This ticket signified one of the
surprises Phil had mentioned earlier.

Erwin & Godwin lucked
into a fast cabbie after the restaurant, and they arrived at the gate
at the same time as Bilal & Sa’eed. The brothers won a footrace to
the tickets, and Bilal and Sa’eed drew the final ticket.

The
ticket instructed the final team to head to the traditional Pit Stop
mat, where Phil waited for them. Phil informed Bilal and Sa’eed that,
even though this was not a Pit Stop, they had been eliminated from the
race.

After an initial moment of shock, Bilal said that the
surprise elimination proved that “you have no control over anything.
The Creator does.” He’s right. It’s Jerry Bruckheimer’s show, and that
guy does whatever he wants.

With the fear of God, or at least the producers, put into them, teams departed the next morning in the following order:
7:00 – Peter & Sarah, Lyn & Karlyn, Tyler & James, and Duke & Lauren
7:15 – Kellie & Jamie, Mary & David, Dustin & Kandice, and boyfriends Tom & Terry
7:30 – Erwin & Godwin, Vipul & Arti, and dating couple Rob & Kimberly

Teams
rode on WWII motorcycles with sidecars, instructing their drivers to a
particular intersection. There, they hopped in a pedicab and rode to a
Detour: “Labor or Leisure.”

In Labor, teams rode to a market and
paved a section of sidewalk, using bricks to create a specific pattern.
It was the more labor-intensive of the two tasks, but it could be
completed quickly if teams figured out the pattern and avoided
bickering with each other.

In Leisure, teams traveled to a park
to learn a Tai Chi-like routine that involved balancing a ball on a
paddle. The task required coordination, patience, and rhythm

Most of
the teams chose Labor, including Vipul & Arti, who’d gotten lost on
their motor bikes and arrived at the Detour in last place. The Labor
Detour brought out the worst in some teams, and Mary & David and
Rob & Kimberly seem the teams most likely to bicker this season.

Peter’s
nitpicky criticism of Sarah as they worked on their brick pattern
grated on Karlyn’s nerves. “He tries to micromanage so much,” Karlyn
muttered. “They can kiss my behind.”

Kellie & Jamie and Tom
& Terry, the only teams to choose the Leisure Detour, got stuck in
traffic on their way to the park. Kellie & Jamie started a cheer,
which Tom & Terry repeated, to the cheerleaders’ delight.

At
the park, both teams spent a good amount of time twirling and launching
balls all over the place before finally getting the hang of it. Task
completed, both teams made their way to the Pit Stop — Juyongguan,
part of the Great Wall.

In order to reach the Pit Stop, teams
needed to scale a wall using a rope with loops spaced every few feet.
The technique was difficult to master, putting one foot in a loop while
pulling up with the arms in order to put the second foot in a higher
loop.

The task was especially difficult for Sarah. She had to
rely almost completely on her upper body strength as she hopped from
one loop to the next. Thanks to her triathlon training, Sarah already
had a strong upper body, and she actually finished the task in what
appeared to be less time than some of the other women.

Peter
bagged his nitpicking while she climbed, but his efforts at
encouragement took on a hyperbolic, patronizing air. “You are a
world-class athlete,” he shouted. “No one else could do this… When you make it, I’m
going to cry.” (He didn’t.) Sarah and Peter met
because he designs prosthetic legs, and it seems as if he might have
co-opted Sarah’s personal struggles as his own.

Models Tyler
& James scaled the wall with relative ease and reached the finish
mat in first place, winning a $20,000 prize. An emotional Lauren, who
cried because she was so happy to be spending time with her dad again,
finished in second place alongside daddy Duke.

Sarah & Peter came
in third, followed by Dustin & Kandice. Rob & Kimberly (who’d given her cabbie instructions to head to “the Great Wall…the Great Wall of China“)
finished in fifth. They were followed by Kellie & Jamie, Erwin
& Godwin, and Tom & Terry.

Karlyn, Lyn, and Mary all struggled
to hoist themselves up the wall, but the Alabama moms edged out the
Kentucky couple for ninth. As Mary climbed, David told her they were in last
place, and she apologized to him as she climbed the final stretch of
wall.

At the mat, Phil informed Dave & Mary that they were
actually in tenth place, not last. Vipul and Arti had yet to arrive at the wall. Overjoyed at still being in the race, and
angry with her husband for making her feel bad, Mary didn’t embrace her spouse until after she’d hugged Phil and
the Chinese greeter at the Pit Stop.

Vipul
& Arti eventually showed up and were eliminated. They were happy
to have had the chance to race, however brief it was.

Their
elimination, along with Bilal’s & Sa’eed’s elimination earlier in
the leg, brought the total number of non-white teams competing from
four to two. Hopes for an ethnically diverse season may be short-lived
if this keeps up.

Next week, Rob & Kimberly have what should
be the first of many fights. Plus, temperamental horses and oxen give the
teams trouble — and me a reason to live. There’s nothing I love more
than a troublesome ox.

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