Here are your teams for TAR23: Chester & Ephraim, friends and NFL teammates; Rowan & Shane, who dress up as women and put on a show about bingo in North Carolina; exes Tim & Marie, who dated five years ago but are clearly still hate-screwing; self-proclaimed "Afghanimals" Leo & Jamal, whose mission seems to be to prove how irritating they can be; blonde NHL ice crew girls Ally & Ashley; married ER doctors Nicole & Travis; Indian father Hoskote & Naina, his largely Americanized daughter, both of whom of want to choose her husband; Oklahoman oil workers Tim & Danny; a couple of hairy, bearded "childhood friends" named Brandon & Adam, who are still friends and possibly still in childhood; Midwestern "baseball wives" Nicky & Kim; and hot overachieving dating couple Jason & Amy.
From an Old West movie set, the teams race to get on the first flight to Iquique, in northern Chile. Most teams succeed, save Tim & Danny, Brandon & Adam, Hoskote & Naina, and Jason & Amy. When the lead teams arrive, they face a switcheroo Roadblock in which the person taking it has to find their partner -- who is paragliding from a cliff overlooking the city to a beach far below. Team NFL and the ER docs are the first off the ground, but thanks to the locations of their cab drop-offs, Shane is the first to meet up with Rowan post-landing, allowing the actors to steal the lead. Tim, Leo, Ally, and Kim do the paragliding for their teams, though Kim has to overcome her fear to do so. Someone always does.
From the landing beach, the teams proceed to the harbor, where the person who didn't do the first Roadblock -- that is to say, the teammate who paraglided -- must now wrestle heavy rowboats around a crowded harbor in search of three specific fishing boats to collect five fish. Nicole & Travis are the first team there, the first to complete the second Roadblock, and the first team to make it to the Pit Stop from there. Unfortunately for them, they miss the part of the clue that specified that they had to get there on foot. While they're waiting out the resultant thirty-minute penalty, Tim and Marie check in and win the leg, as well as two Express Passes. Marie takes this as proof that yelling at Tim all the time works and should continue, so that's awesome. Nicole and Travis end up in second place, and let's hope they're better at reading directions when they're at their jobs in the emergency room.
The middle of the pack does some messing about at the harbor, including the Afghanimals misreading the clue and sending Jamal out to row when it's supposed to be Leo. They realize their mistake rather late -- or, to be precise, others realize it for them. Rowan and Shane end up in third place, Chester & Ephraim in fourth just ahead of the baseball wives, and the blondes in sixth. In other words, it goes NFL, MBL, NHL. And the Afghanimals bring up the rear of the front of the pack, largely as a result of being goofballs.
But there's still the back of the pack, and most of them prove to be there for a reason. Brandon biffs his paragliding launch, so he has to go to the back of the queue while the other teams take their turns. Still, he and Adam are only in tenth place by the time they reunite on the beach, because Naina's cabdriver was so slow getting her to the rendezvous point with Hoskote. At the harbor, former crew rower Jason aces the second Roadblock, helping to land eighth place for himself and Amy. Tim from Oklahoma struggles with rowing, but with an assist from Jason, finds where the fish are. Tim in turn points Brandon in the right direction, so the childhood friends are still in tenth place when Naina is just getting started with the rowing task. Yes, Naina's rowing, even though it's supposed to be Hoskote. Tim & Danny are team number nine and Brandon & Adam are team number ten by the time they get it straightened out, but Hoskote resolutely keeps doing the Roadblock into the night before he and Naina are Philiminated. Good for him, but I don't think either of them learned a damn thing.
As usual, we're starting off somewhere in Los Angeles -- or possibly outside it. It's hard to tell, because we're in some backlot Old West town that may have been the same one used for Kid Nation. (It's actually not; that was in New Mexico.) There are old-fashioned storefronts, tumbleweeds blowing down the dirt street and cowboys on horses. Phil narrates, "It's high noon and the tension is rising. This old Western movie ranch will now serve as the Starting Line in a race around the world." Teams are being driven onto the set in stagecoaches that are being pulled onto the set by squalling horses at full gallop, as Phil continues, "Today, these eleven new teams will get their chance to win one million dollars, and The Amazing Race. That's if the money isn't stolen first." Wait, what? Suddenly the actors on the set are punching each other, running around and shooting as the coaches rattle into place. But it's all just time-wasting stage business and nothing to do with the race, as Phil announces, "The eleven teams are…"
Chester and Ephraim, who are former NFL teammates from Houston. So obviously they're rather large men. We see them in their normal milieu -- i.e. an empty football stadium -- running around and telling us that when they were both attending San Diego State, Ephraim shopped at a grocery store where Chester was a bagger and suggested Chester try out for football, so they were already friends when they ended up playing together in Houston. "That never happens," Ephraim says. "I made him who he is today." A silent, glowering person?
Rowan and Shane are "theater performers from North Carolina." The two middle-aged guys, one of whom looks a bit like an American Ricky Gervais, get out of their stagecoach. They're both wearing T-shirts with bingo-related slogans, which we learn is because they perform as two old women in a play called The Queen of Bingo. If I'm ever in North Carolina I'll be sure to miss that.
Tim and Marie are "exes from Morristown, New Jersey." Marie, who has striking blonde-and-pink hair that I'm sure wasn't fancied up for the race, narrates that they dated about five years ago and they don't get along, but still hang out. We're supposed to conclude from their at-home reel that they "hang out" in the gym a lot and practice kickboxing, but that's obviously code for how they're still hate-fucking. Marie interviews, "The second we start to get on each other's nerves or disagree, and it's unbearable." Good, that'll be fun to watch all season. Tim asks her why he feels threatened by his opinion and she angrily says that she doesn't and that his opinion is usually a waste of time. So it's too bad they've broken up because they clearly deserve each other. Tim says Marie is smart, witty, aggressive and a great teammate. "Her violence kind of turns me on, I'm not lying." But Marie says they might realize in the first leg that their fighting might destroy them. Okay, so why not save some time and realize that now?