TAR 12: Episode 1

In honor of this week’s premiere episode of The Amazing Race 12, I’m thinking about starting a sister website: MyDonkeyIsBroken.com.

This season’s starting point was the Playboy Mansion, or more accurately the Playboy Mansion’s front lawn. Hef and his girlfriends must have been watching from inside, as teams grabbed their clues and ran to their vehicles, only to wait as grandpa Donald counted his money before allowing his grandson, Nick, to pilot the lead car out of Hef’s driveway.

Teams flew from Los Angeles to Shannon, Ireland. Though the teams were split across two flights, they all arrived within minutes of each other, as the lead flight was delayed for a while at Heathrow.

Brother-sister team Azaria & Hendekea borrowed a cell phone to call ahead for two taxis for themselves and father-daughter duo Ronald & Christina. But after their plane landed, non-dating buddies Ari & Staella stole one of the two cabs. Ari bragged, "Karma’s a bitch, but I’m a bigger bitch."

The first task for the teams was to take a ferry to the island of Inishmore, and then run through the rain to the ruins of what host Phil Keoghan said was "the smallest church in the world." As the teams made their way to the church, Jennifer refused to run, protesting to boyfriend Nathan, "you know I’m not good at long distance sprinting!" The protest sounded hollow from a woman whose intro segment showed her lifting weights and running through the surf.

Jennifer’s complaints sounded even more foolish when grandpa Donald started running up the hill to the church. But then he snagged his shoe on a bush and disappeared almost entirely into a hole along the side of the path.

The teams returned to the mainland the next morning on three ferries, which left at 8:00, 8:30, and 9:30, giving the six teams on the first two ferries a significant lead over the five at the back of the pack.

Dating couple Lorena & Jason, who arrived on the first ferry, lost all of their lead when Jason insisted on driving in the wrong direction, despite Lorena’s objections. Then she started whining that they were having trouble communicating. So, along with Jennifer & Nathan, this season has two dysfunctional dating couples who’ve already had minor meltdowns. Score! (And Jennifer and Nathan weren’t done, yet.)

Teams drove to a farm where they found their first Roadblock. One team member had to pedal a bicycle on a high wire over the North Atlantic. Meanwhile, their partner was suspended on a contraption below (which helped balance the bike above). The challenge was unnerving, but not especially difficult.

In fact, 60-year-old dad Ronald had enough energy to sing atonally as he pedaled over the sea:
Oh, Danny Boy,
I’m in Ireland.
I didn’t expect Danny Boy to be in this shape.
Oh, Danny Boy,
I did it for you!

However, several teams ran into serious problems once they got to the other side. For the final task before this leg’s Pit Stop, teams had to choose a donkey to carry 30 bricks of peat (15 per competitor) back to the main part of the farm. Some donkeys were more helpful than others.

While most of the teams had willing animals, second place team Nathan & Jennifer got their donkey halfway down the hill before it began braying and came to a halt. It stood there for over an hour, as eight other teams passed them.

The donkeys’ fickleness paid off for blonde duo Shana & Jennifer, who’d started the task in last place. Their donkey took off at a run, and they wound up passing five teams and finishing the leg in 6th place.

Though Nathan & Jennifer’s donkey drove them to screaming, swearing, tugging, crying, pushing, and sighing, one other team had an even worse donkey. Whether it was karmic payback for stealing someone else’s cab the previous day, a general lack of beastly persuasion skills, or merely a donkey attitude problem, Ari & Staella wound up with the slowest donkey off the bunch.

They had loaded their peat bricks into his baskets in fifth place, but they finished the leg in last place, eliminating them from the Race.

Finish order:
1 — Azaria & Hendkea
2 — Kynt & Vyxsin
3 — TK & Rachel
4 — Lorena & Jason
5 — Nicholas & Donald
6 — Shana & Jennifer
7 — Ronald & Christina
8 — Kate & Pat
9 — Marianna & Julia
10 — Nathan & Jennifer
11 — Ari & Staella

Next week, family issues arise for Ronald & Christina. And grandpa Donald tries to pole vault across a muddy creek in his underpants — and fails.