In the opening Leg of The Amazing Race 21, eleven teams of two flew to China to battle ping pong prodigies and force-feed frog fallopian tubes in their quest to be eligible to double the grand prize for winning the Race. Amy & Daniel foolishly tipped off Abbie & Ryan to the location of Mildred the albacock uccobus abacus lady and were sniped out of their shot at a double payday. Josh & Brent from Team Gay bickered but managed to luck into a seventh place finish and Jaymes, Team Gay’s third member, barely survived, finishing in tenth with partner James. Philiminated were Rob & Sheila, gone before I made even a single Monty Python “He’s a lumberjack and he’s OK” joke.
Also still racing are Natalie & Nadiya (twins), Rob & Kelley (Team Trucker), Trey & Lexi (Team Longhorn), James & Abba (Team Headbang), Caitlin & Brittany (Team Blonde) and Gary & Will (Team Subs).
Phil welcomes us back to Shanghai, which he describes as the “largest and fastest growing city in the world”. He reminds us that Abbie & Ryan snaked the top spot and they rip their clue at 5:35 AM.
They’re excited to learn they’ll be flying to Surabaya, Indonesia, which Phil calls “the city of heroes” which has something to do with the war for Indonesian independence in the 1940s. Once there they’ll travel to the Alun Alun Stadium to receive their next clue. We get our first clue of an unnatural bunch point when the camera pans over a big “Take A Number” sign at the venue.
The winner of this Leg will receive the Express Pass, which will allow that team to skip a future task. Ugh. I was hoping we’d seen the death of the Express Pass this season. No one ever uses it right.
Amy & Daniel rip their clue a heartbreaking minute later. They’re followed by Team Blonde at 5:41, who almost get wiped out by the only car on the road as they run up to a guy with a moped and tell him “we have to get to Indonesia. Indonesia!” I don’t think he can get you there on his bike, ladies.
“I may have to stop and fill up a couple times.”
The twins leave at 6:01 followed by Rob & Kelley at 6:08. We learn that the twins’ parents were the Romeo and Juliet of the Sri Lankan civil war and that Rob was Kelley’s first husband’s best friend and after he was killed in a monster truck accident they ended up falling in love. Which is sweet in a “plot of a number of murder mysteries” sort of way.
“This is literally the last pleasant second we will spend in a cab on this Race.”
Teams arrive at the airport and scramble for flights. Team Trucker finds a flight that leaves at 8:20 with a layover in Hong Kong. Rob says, “It’s the only one” and is immediately proved wrong when everyone else scores tickets for a 10:05 flight without the four hour layover in Hong Kong that team Trucker is saddled with. They fly off alone while the remaining teams all fly together, wondering where Rob & Kelley have gotten to. On their solitary flight, Team Trucker decides they’ve done something either very smart or very dumb.
The mass flight lands in Jakarta. James and Abba score tickets that will get them to Surabaya an hour ahead of everyone else on their flight. They land and it’s dark out which is our second clue that none of this Airport Drama is going to matter one bit. They arrive at the stadium where they take number one of ten toy-looking whips and note that the bull races begin at 8:00 in the morning.
The second flight arrives and everyone rushes for the taxis. Self-proclaimed “superfans” Gary & Will tell their driver to go where everyone else is going, which is so not a superfan move.
They reach the stadium and start pulling numbers. It ultimately ends up not making any difference who gets what numbers so the only thing of any import is that several teams arrive together and there’s a bit of a bump-up as they grab for numbers. But no one throws a punch or anything.
Also? The twins and Team Longhorn have an alliance going. Because there’s so much common ground between Sri Lankan twins and a couple from Texas, I guess?
Some indeterminate time later Team Trucker’s flight takes off and Rob says, “Personally, I think we’re in the lead right now.” Nope! He also suggests that all of the younger more physically fit teams will burn out at some point and “Mom and Pop will roll on up”. And how well has that strategy worked the last twenty Races? I bet the superfans know the answer! Eventually Mom and Pop roll up and claim the last spot. Rob says, “We like being the last team!” That certainly explains your Racing style.
The next morning the stadium opens and Phil exposits that “teams will now witness Kerapan Sapi, the traditional Maduran sport of bull racing.” Each team member will ride along with a professional motorcycle driver as he races against a jockey driving a two bull team. It is…not exciting. They don’t even have to win to get the next clue. Teams go in the order they pulled so there’s no chance of any position changes. One half of Team Headbang shouts “I’m Spartacus!” before his race which makes absolutely no sense, and I do not want to know if he enjoys snails and oysters.