Phil Keoghan appears and tells us it is high noon, and that we are in an old western movie ranch. This is merely an excuse for fun music as nothing is really accomplished here, even after a tease that the money has been “stolen.” At least we get treated to two whole seconds of a stunt show style performance, because how else would you start the 23rd season of a reality show? Anyway, after a stumbling beginning, it’s thankfully all business as we meet the contestants. They are:
1. Former NFL Teammates Chester and Ephraim, who, incredibly, went from being bagger and customer to ending up on the same NFL team.
2. Theatre Performers Rowan and Shane, drag queens whose relationship is left predictably unclear.
3. Exes Tim and Marie, who have a hate/hate relationship.
4. Cousins Leo and Jamal, who dub themselves the “Afghanimals” and sadly feel the need to defend themselves as Americans.
5. NHL Ice Crew Mates Ally and Ashley, who are both blonde and like “sparkly things.”
6. Married ER Physicians Nicole and Travis, who consider themselves frontrunners.
7. Father and Daughter Hoskote and Naina, who argue over Naina getting an arranged marriage.
8. Oil Plant Workers Tim and Danny, who work 70-90 hours a week because of serious money issues that are actually sad.
9. Childhood Friends Brandon and Adam, who are “off-kilter” hillbilly types with an inflated sense of sex appeal.
10. Baseball Wives Nicky and Kim, who don’t want to be only defined as such and better not speak in baseball analogies in that case.
11. Dating Couple Jason and Amy, who both have majorly driven personalities typical for this show.
And soon enough, they’re off. First task: to call for their destination through a car phone. The Afghanimals head off in front, which is important because there is only room for 7 teams on the first flight to Iquique, Chile, their first destination from Los Angeles. Also, the first team will win two express passes, one they will have to give to another team, an attempt to foster the creation of alliances on a show that’s not really built for such things. But we will see.
The most troubled team at the start is the Oil Plant Workers, who hilariously are having “language barrier problems” already in LA, let alone in Chile. Meanwhile, Ally and Ashley meet up quickly with the Afghanimals, flirt, and interview about alliances. The show is really pushing this.
Due to their Spanish speaking skills, Married ER Physicians pull ahead in Chile and reach the first Roadblock, which involves paragliding. It’s immediately confusing as to what participating means though, as apparently doing the roadblock means NOT paragliding, and just following in a taxi. This rightfully pisses off some team members.
Once airborne, however, most embrace the non-challenge, enjoying the ride off the cliff. This is the kind of thing they came here to do, and why we are here watching, so it’s a good moment (especially when Rowan the Theatre Performer somehow manages to both mention prom dresses and The Flying Nun on the way down). Not so for Kim the Baseball Wife, however, who is scared to death and has to remind herself to do it for her son, Spidey, which we all pray is a nickname but know in our hearts is not.
On the ground, the remaining Afghanimal calls for a taxi, which Ex Marie hijacks and gets called a bitch for her trouble. Soon enough though, it becomes clear that either way, the first 7 teams on the airplane will remain the first 7 teams in Chile, in a slightly jumbled order. They eventually all make it to the second Roadblock, a crazy looking fishing wharf where they have to row among sea lions. The Married Physicians are first and look to remain that way by the husband’s arms. Still, the Theatre Performers remain first in humor, as Rowan says it’s not his name for nothing as he gets in the boat.
Eventually, the inevitable takes place as the Married Physicians get to Phil at the Pit Stop first. Their celebration is cut short, however, when he informs them that they incurred a penalty for arriving in a taxi when the clue said to arrive “on foot.” This paves the way for another team to get the two express passes, and it’s one of the last you might expect, or at least want, as the Exes take center stage. Marie gets rewarded for stealing a cab and gloats to Tim about her bullying style working.
By the end, everyone gets to the wharf, with slight hiccups for a couple of teams, who don’t realize who was supposed to row, due to the language of the clue and the previous paragliding confusion. This happens most devastatingly to the last team to arrive, the Father/Daughter, who never recovered from their first setback. The father eventually rows into the night, long past when everyone else is already done, as the daughter sobs, knowing the dream is dead and that she’ll have to marry a nice Indian boy now. And so ends a pretty depressing and predictable opener.
There are, at least, a couple of teams worth rooting for, especially the Oil Plant Workers who give this episode its title. Who are your early favorites?