So there are your teams, almost half of whom were from TAR14. I'd bitch about that, but since that was both my favorite season and my favorite crop of racers, that seems ungrateful. In terms of previous rankings, we've got three second-place teams, a third-place team (meaning four teams who have made it to the finish line), two fourths, a fifth, two sixths, and eighth, and a ninth. And after spending all that time on research and links to past recaps, I need a fifth myself.
As the teams line up in the valley, Phil asks us who will make the most of this "ultimate second chance" and win the Amazing Race. Why does he always ask me these questions? I don't have an answer for you, Phil. He walks down to meet and greet them, and tells them they'll be racing around the world "again." He reminds them, "The last time you raced, some of you came within inches of victory, but there's not a winner among any of you. " Harsh much, Phil? He again drops the phrase "unfinished business" and asks if they're ready to race around the world one more time. Sounds like they are, which is good. I guess the ones who weren't ready are still at home.
Phil's got more news. The Express Pass is still in the mix, even though it completely fizzled last season. As before, it allows the team who wins it to skip any one task in the race. "Trust me, you want the Express Pass," he says lamely. After all it could end up being one team's only chance to come in fifth rather than sixth out of nine or something. And, as always, the first team to cross the finish line after twelve legs will win a million dollars. Phil also tells them that if they think they know how everything will go, "Think again," because this race will be "very different." Yes, they'll be racing by astral projection! No, seriously -- for starters, the bags don't have any clues on them. The first clue is on Phil's person. To get it, they have to subdue him and wrestle him to the ground. Okay, actually, he tells them to "go into the desert" (as though they're not already there) and find something for Phil. He points them to their "search field," which is that armada of staked-down paper airplanes across the road. The first eight teams to bring back what Phil wants will be on the first flight, but the last three will be on the second flight, scheduled to land at their destination about ninety minutes later. Of course, there's never a guarantee that things will actually work out like that, and that's going to be even more the case this time, but I'm getting ahead of myself. And if that's not enough (which, as I just implied, it isn't), Phil says that whoever comes in last on this search will get an automatic U-Turn, meaning they'll have to do both sides of the first Detour. "As you all know, second chances don't come free." For a second there I was worried that someone's "second chance" was going to end right here, like that poor yoga hippie couple who never got out of the L.A. River at the beginning of TAR15. Now there's a team that I'm sure would have loved a second chance, but I can't feel too bad for them because I hated them on sight.