The Amazing Race 26 Recap Part II
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
February 27, 2015

Why, this task is easy! Er... oops.

Previously on The Amazing Race, 10 suckers agreed to spend somewhere between days and months on an extended first date with a complete stranger. The results have been glorious thus far. Attractive people dressed to impress have already been slung through the mud and forced to shower together (while clothed in never-nude style, no less). Needy romantics with fantasies about an epic meet-cute have pushed to force love at first sight upon their less enthusiastic counterparts. And a New Kid on the Block has been declared better than all remaining Backstreet Boys on national television. Best of all, we’ve still got a full hour left in the first episode! Eat your heart out, Daron Aldridge’s recap sabbatical!

The odd twist for the later flight is that two of the three teams are long term couples. This flies in the face of our prediction yesterday that teams who have an existing comfort level will perform better in earlier legs. Then again, we also noted that there may be more pressure for the blind daters to impress one another by pushing themselves harder. It remains to be seen which philosophy is the winner, or at least the survivor, tonight. It’s unlikely that a person on the earlier plane finishes in last place although it’s not unprecedented.

Jelani & Jenny are first off the plane, and they make the calculated decision to take a taxi rather than a train to their next destination. Jeff & Jackie follow suit while most of the other competitors choose the safer option. Jeff experiences his first test in the relationship when Jackie notices a bug on the interior roof of their ride. She freaks out, demanding that he “be a man.” He passes the test by shoving the bug out the window, and she describes him as her hero. We note that she overreacted in a cliché way, and if bugs upset her that much, the rest of The Amazing Race will be wildly unpleasant. She may have to eat something like that in a few episodes.

Meanwhile, the people on the second plane land, although their time is not revealed. There is no way to know for sure how far behind they are. We do know that the largely ignored Rochelle & Mike, Team Truck Stop Love if you’re keeping score at home, make it to the train before it departs. Hayley and Blair are not so lucky, causing Hayley to recite the most predictable line of this entire episode. “Worst. First date. Ever.” Imagine how Blair feels.

The first challenge tonight kinda freaks us out. Apparently, some folks in Japan love to do something called Syncing Steps, which is largely what it sounds like. A group of people works in a modified form of slow motion, thereby syncing steps. A famous Japanese band called World Order will perform the steps that contestants must mimic. If players find this too creepy – and they should – they have the option to choose Samurai Sake instead. Teams must memorize the names of 10 sakes, take an order from a table of samurai warriors (approximately 20 of them) and relay the order to their partner. If done correctly, the samurai will perform a toast then provide the next clue. Sake all the way!

Speaking of Rochelle & Mike, they’ve been dating seven months, yet he has never met her son, because she hasn’t let him. That’s… not good. You’re a booty call, dude. As he seems to have no problem with such an odd form of emasculation, the first Detour begins in earnest. Jeff & Jackie struggle to identify wine bottles, causing Jackie to note that that her brain is not strong. After only a couple of attempts, however, she delivers the appropriate sake bottle to a very pleased samurai. This task seems waaaaaaaay easier than Syncing Steps.

To wit, Jelani & Matt both mess up. The unnatural movements and intricate timing seem harder for men. Every other team chooses this option except for the one guy with dancing experience, the New Kid on the Block. On a seemingly unrelated note, Jonathan & Harley finish the sake challenge on their first try.

Hayley & Blair are having another adventure. Their entire leg must have been hysterical, because it feels like they’ve received more face-time than the rest of teams combined. They still haven’t found their destination, and the explanation is that Blair has led them astray. Hayley cannot wait to gloat about this, which somehow makes the leg even more miserable for Blair. WHY IS THERE NEVER A DOCTOR NEEDED WHEN HE NEEDS TO BE NEEDED???

During Jeff & Jackie’s 7th (!) attempt, Rochelle & Mike arrive. He immediately notes that the second place team is still trying to complete the task. That realization alone should be enough to cause them to run away screaming, yet they don’t. Whoever finishes in last place this week will have chosen Syncing Steps rather than Samurai Sake. The odds alone dictate this when the final teams from the second flight arrive before the first team there has finished. In fact, the onlookers watch in horror as Laura & Tyler complete the challenge on their second attempt, thereby becoming the only team to do so thus far. Alas, this achievement earns them only third place behind – you guessed it – the teams that did Samurai Sake. On the plus side, Laura quietly judges Tyler in a positive fashion. Soon afterward, Jelani & Jenny complete the task as well.

TAR’s producers got meaner during the off-season. The Pit Stop this week – yes, we’re already to the Pit Stop after one Detour – is carefully hidden in a heavily trafficked area. A team that fails to discover the end portion of the leg may have to drive for an interminable period in bumper to bumper traffic.

Of course, that’s still better than Syncing Steps. Daylight is turning to night as more teams line up to make fools of themselves, all while samurais wait for their unserved sake. The Amazing Race’s competitors got dumber during the off-season. Eventually, the Olympians complete the trial, which makes sense for people who need precision and coordination to perform at an international level.

Jelani & Jenny try to decipher the location of the Pit Stop based upon the clues available. At the same time, editing shows the current leaders, Jackie & Jeffrey, running wildly inside the parking facility. Jackie requests a re-reading of the clue and then has the epiphany that the Pit Stop must be outside. She glares at Jeffrey and grudgingly states, “If this mistake costs us the Express Pass, it will be really devastating.” Welcome to Dumpville, Jeffrey! Vegas showgirls only date guys who can read clues right.

Sure enough, Jelani & Jenny’s sleuthing allows them to surpass Jackie & Jeffrey for first place. Jenny earns our admiration by requesting that Jelani perform Syncing Steps with her. There are about 16 competitors who would not find this bit funny, but we do. Out of the random people slotted together, Jelani & Jenny have had the best first date, finishing in first place and thereby earning an Express Pass. Only moments later, Jackie & Jeffrey arrive. To our disappointment, Jackie seems satisfied with this outcome. We thought that Jeffrey was going to be literally unmanned on national television.

Now is the time when more people try (and fail) at Syncing Steps. Between cuts to #DanceFails, Laura & Tyler finish in third place. Soon afterward, Hayley & Blair finish the Detour. Then, Harley & Jonathan and the Olympians head to the Pit Stop. Team Sochi earns fourth place (first among existing couples) and the New Kid on the Block and his trainer/lover finish fifth as The Right Stuff plays. Color us mortified, CBS.

Finally, Matt & Ashley complete their dance moves on the 25th (!!!) try. Some teams finally do something we’ve been screaming at them (through the television and a TARDIS) to do all along. They practice in the background while others perform (and fail at) the task. That means eight teams should be safe, assuming no disastrous outcome in heading to the Pit Stop. Only two of the three remaining teams will survive the leg.

We would also note that the teams who know one another are decidedly getting their asses kicked. Out of the teams who have not completed the detour, ALL of them are existing couples rather than blind daters. That’s deplorable. CJ & Lebya finally decide that enough is enough. They lock in and perform one of the best routines thus far, earning their next clue. That leaves Rochelle & Mike and Jeff & Lyda, the pilot and stewardess who have been virtually ignored the entire episode. Seriously, we doubt they’ve said 50 words in combination. Right on cue, Rochelle & Mike finish, leaving the people with the most natural advantage in The Amazing Race, tremendous international travel experience, in last place.

The editing tries to persuade us that the outcome is in doubt. While that nonsense transpires, we learn the ordering for the bottom half of the remaining teams. Bergen & Kurt finish in sixth place and then uncomfortably state that it’s too early to say if they could be a couple. This means NO! Moments later, Mike & Rochelle settle the first leg for good. Currently in seventh place, they wisely use their U-Turn exactly as they should, delaying the only team they are certain is behind them, Jeff & Lyda. This is actually terrible news for Team Truck Stop Love (we’ve seen that porno), because they won’t be able to use the U-Turn again this season. Still, they have to play for today to guarantee tomorrow.

There’s just no way Jeff & Lyda survive now, which explains the scarcity of their screen time. Even during an extended 90-minute episode, there is little point in showing a lot of a dull team during an episode highlighting a season-long social experiment. So, the last 10 minutes of the season premiere is largely filler. Mike & Rochelle finish seventh while Jeff & Lyda realize they’ve been U-Turned. They were in last place anyway, so it’s an instance of piling on more than anything else. Desperately, they try to U-Turn a competing team. All of the teams they debate were past them anyway, so it doesn’t matter when they pick Jackie & Jeffrey.

We play out the string as Hayley & Blair finish the “Worst. First Date. Ever.” She’s clearly smitten enough to ignore that they only finished in eighth place. For their part, Matt & Ashley look exhausted, but she still manages to celebrate ninth place. Then, we cut back to Jeff & Lyda, who quickly complete the Samurai Sake challenge only a few minutes after finishing Syncing Steps on their 23rd attempt. Jeff aptly summarizes their entire performance on The Amazing Race by saying, “Boy, do I wish I’d done this earlier.” On top of everything else, it had free booze! How did this nonsense happen?

As CJ & Lebya are edited to seem like they may not beat Jeff & Lyda, we roll our eyes and wait for the confirmation that they beat Jeff & Lyda. Guess what? They beat Jeff & Lyda! It’s the TAR equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters beating the Washington Generals. Spoiler: it wasn’t close. Their entire leg was brutal. It’s unfortunate, because they seem like a great couple, just not a television-worthy one. Hayley & Blair, on the other hand…