Season 29: Episode 1 - We're Coming For You, Phil!
Posted on Mar 30, 2017 11:00pm


For the first time in history, twenty-two strangers paired up to run the Amazing Race. Everyone struggled to self-drive in Panama City, but Seth & Olive proved their strength on a rowing Detour, ultimately taking first place. After being lost for hours, Kevin & Jenn were finally shut out of the Detour as darkness fell. They incurred a two-hour penalty for not completing the task, and were eliminated.

At the starting line in Downtown Los Angeles, twenty-two strangers gathered, ready to pair up and begin the Race. Firefighter Olive feared being dragged down by her partner, while Wall Street banker Shamir said it didn’t matter who he was paired with. “I’m going to throw them on my shoulder and make sure that we win.” Asian model Jenn said she’d use her looks to her advantage, but K-9 police officer Jessie hoped she wouldn’t be paired with the “Asian Barbie.” Phil said everyone would have to run to a nearby luggage store, and grab a suitcase with the Panamanian flag on it. After giving them verbal directions, he said that the sooner each person returned with the correct luggage, the sooner he or she would be able to choose their ideal partner.
The racers sprinted off through the streets. Some quickly headed in the right direction, but others were soon lost. Army drill sergeant Francesca tried to direct others, but Jessie snapped, “You went the wrong way from the beginning, so I’m not even going to listen to you now!” Francesca replied, “Woo, she’s feisty!” People began arriving at the luggage store and looking for suitcases with the Panamanian flag. They soon found them, and began running back to Phil – except for Boston police sergeant Joey, who grabbed one with a flag of the Czech Republic instead.

Police officer Seth arrived back first, followed by professional snowboarder Matt and firefighter Olive. A string of other contestants then followed, all with the correct suitcases. But when Joey arrived, Phil informed him that he had the wrong flag. He ran all the way back to the luggage store, saying, “No one’s going to want to be my partner for definite sure.” He found the correct suitcase, and returned to the park in last place.
Then came time to pair up, and the racers got to choose their partners based on their finishing order. Police officer Seth went first, and chose firefighter Olive. Professional snowboarder Matt went next, choosing Redmond, and army veteran with a prosthetic leg. Wall street banker Shamir was third. He wanted an attractive female partner, and chose real estate agent Sara. Recruiting manager Scott then chose lawyer Brooke, followed by rock climbing instructor Becca, who chose “Urkel”-ish drum major Floyd. Real estate agent Ashton said she wanted a partner who brought more physical strength to the match than she did – and was disappointed to be chosen by skinny Wall Street analyst Vanck. Army officer Tara decided to go with “underdog” Joey, despite his early screw up, saying she was looking for someone more mature.

Artist London giddily chose buff surgical consultant Logan, squealing, “I can’t believe it!” Model Jenn chose long-haired athletic trainer Kevin, followed by butcher Michael who chose “the cowgirl,” auctioneer Liz. That left K-9 police officer Jessie and Army drill sergeant Francesca as the last two, who were forcibly paired up despite their earlier tiff. But they immediately became positive, saying they’d be a strong team and flexing their sizeable muscles. Phil informed everyone that the first clue was in their bags, and one of the bags also contained the Race’s only Express Pass. There were pre-booked seats waiting for them on two different flights to their destination. He also told Jessie & Francesca that since they couldn’t choose their partners, he’d drive them to the airport himself.
Phil shouted “Go!” and teams sprinted for taxis. Once inside, they immediately opened their suitcases. Several teams came up short looking for the Express Pass – until Becca & Floyd found it and completely freaked out, cheering and screaming. The rest of the teams ripped the clue, which told them to fly to Panama City, Panama. They also began chatting. Becca & Floyd discovered that they’re both from Boulder, Colorado. London & Logan dubbed themselves “Lolo,” while Scott & Brooke went with “Team Will and Grace” since Scott is gay.

Matt & Redmond arrived first, and got seats on the first flight. They were followed by Becca & Floyd, Brooke & Scott, London & Logan, and Seth & Olive. Jessie & Francesca were first on the second flight, followed by Vanck & Ashton, Tara & Joey, Shamir & Sara, Kevin & Jenn, and Liz & Michael. Waiting at the gate, Army officer Tara asked firefighter Olive if there’d be any romance between her and Seth. But Olive had since learned that Seth was gay, and joked, “I don’t think I’m his type.” Both flights then took off for Panama City. Phil explained that once there, teams would have to pick up a rental car, and drive themselves to the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal.
The first flight landed at 7:00 a.m., and teams began driving. Surgical consultant Logan said, “And I thought Panama City, Florida was cool. There’s no drunk teenagers anywhere, this is awesome.” Becca & Floyd passed the time freestyle rapping and beatboxing, but teams soon became stressed as everybody hit traffic and poor signage. Scott complained, “Everyone you ask in Panama does not know where the Panama Canal is.” Finally, Seth & Olive arrived at the Miraflores Locks, and ripped the clue. It told them to drive to the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center, and search for their clue at the canopy tower. They were followed by Becca & Floyd, Scott & Brooke, London & Logan, and Matt & Redmond.

The second flight then landed at 9:36 a.m. (an hour late), and it was the back half’s turn to struggle with directions. Wall Street analyst Vanck instructed real estate agent Ashton to make “a 135-degree right turn.” Ashton said simply, “I don’t know what that means.” At the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center, Seth & Olive arrived and climbed a spiral staircase to the top of the canopy tower, which overlooked the vast rainforest. They ripped the clue in first place, and discovered a Detour: Shoot or Scoot. In Shoot, teams had to travel downriver in a traditional canoe, and then use a bow and arrow to shoot two decorative fish off of a series of poles. In Scoot, teams had to paddle a modern canoe against two professionals. Seth & Olive chose Scoot. Becca & Floyd arrived next and chose Shoot, followed by Brooke & Scott.
The back half of teams continued looking for the Miraflores Locks. Model Jenn said, “My Spanish is actually better when I’m drunk, because that’s when I learned my Spanish.” Becca & Floyd arrived at Shoot, and were greeted by people in traditional tribal dress. The chief then instructed them on using the bow and arrow. Meanwhile, Seth & Olive arrived at Scoot, and chose a pair of professionals to race against. The instructor explained that both teams would start at the same spot, but if Seth & Olive lost, they’d get more of a head start in each subsequent heat.

Over at Shoot, Becca & Floyd rowed off in their canoe, Becca saying, “You’re so going down, fishy!” They arrived at where over a dozen artfully painted fish sat atop wooden poles. Becca added, “We’re in perfect position for Operation Kill Fishy!” But she missed her first shot. At Scoot, Seth & Olive began their first heat – and were immediately passed up by the competition. Brooke & Scott then arrived at Shoot, where they hoped to overtake Becca & Floyd. But Scott proved dismal at shooting, and they soon decided to switch Detours. Becca then struck her first of the two fish.
At Scoot, Seth & Olive began their second heat, this time with a fifty-meter head start. But they still lost. Back on the road, Liz & Michael discovered that they were still thirty minutes away from the Miraflores Locks. At the Detour, London & Logan arrived, and spotted Becca & Floyd, still working at Shoot. At Scoot, Seth & Olive began again, this time with a hundred-meter head start – and finally won by a narrow margin. They ripped the clue in first place, and it told them to make their way to next Pit Stop, which was under a massive Panamanian flag alongside the costal beltway of Cinta Costera.

Over at Shoot, Becca & Floyd hit their second fish, finishing the Detour in second place. At Scoot, Brooke & Scott began their first heat. But Brooke immediately said, “Oh, we’re screwed,” as their competition flew past them. She added, “I’m a better rower than I am a runner, no?” Scott didn’t answer for a minute, finally saying, “I just kind of want to get through the Detour.” Meanwhile, Liz & Michael finally found the Miraflores Locks. Kevin & Jenn, however, continued to drive around lost. Kevin joked that they were supposed to be siblings (since they’re both Asian) and repeatedly poked Jenn in the arm and head like a pesky little brother. At Shoot, London & Logan struggled to make any arrows fly, and finally decided to switch. At Scoot, Brooke & Scott lost their second heat. Matt & Redmond then arrived, and began their first heat – and actually got a lead on the competition. Brooke & Scott watched in shock as the boys won their very first heat, finishing the Detour in third place. Brooke grumbled, “You can’t expect me to compete with Redmond.” Scott insisted that he didn’t consider her a physical liability, and she sniped, “Well, you do a little bit, but that’s okay.”
At the canopy tower, Shamir & Sara chose Scoot, along with Vanck & Ashton and Tara & Joey. At the Miraflores Locks, Liz & Michael finally ripped the clue for the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center in tenth place. But Kevin & Jenn were even farther behind, Jenn saying, “How do two Asians get so lost?” En route to the Pit Stop, Becca & Floyd and Seth & Olive both spotted the massive Panamanian flag… but Seth & Olive arrived first. Seth said his biggest fear had been getting a partner he didn’t work well with. “I got the opposite…. We’re going to be the team to catch.” In second place, Becca & Floyd pulled out their Fun Meter – a small colored dial with an arrow – and said it was “amazingly off the charts.”

Back at the Detour, Brooke & Scott just barely eked out a win in their third heat, finishing in fourth place. Shamir & Sara then arrived, thrilled to spot teams from the first flight. As Matt & Redmond checked into the Pit Stop third, Jessie & Francesca arrived at the canopy tower and chose Scoot. Back at the Miraflores Locks, Kevin & Jenn finally arrived in last place. At the Pit Stop, Phil asked Brooke & Scott if they’d been wrong to pair up. Scott gave a hesitant “no,” before reaffirming that he made the right choice.
At Scoot, Tara asked Joey why he was rowing so unevenly – just before their canoe toppled over, dumping them into the water. Joey said, “We’re making complete fools of ourselves.” Vanck & Ashton did no better, also upending, and decided to switch. Shamir & Sara then won their third heat, finishing the Detour in fifth place. Meanwhile, Vanck & Ashton argued over who might possibly be the better shooter, Ashton adding in interview, “We did get on each other’s nerves a little bit today. We’re probably the most polar opposite team here.” As he struggled to shoot the bow and arrow, Vanck added that it was difficult to tackle the challenges while also dealing with interpersonal dynamics. Ashton said that Vanck is a math and numbers person, while she’s a words and people person. After Vanck tried to instruct her in shooting, she said, “Maybe I just need to try it, and you could just be quiet for a minute.” They finally decided to switch back to rowing.

At Scoot, Jessie & Francesca lost their first heat, while Tara & Joey and London & Logan lost their second heats, the latter by inches. London grumbled, “Are you kidding me?” Back at the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center, Kevin & Jenn were once again lost, this time on foot. They bypassed the path that led to the canopy tower. At Scoot, London & Logan, Tara & Joey, Vanck & Ashton, and Jessie & Francesca all finally won their heats in sixth through ninth place. But over at Shoot, Liz & Michael struggled. They were on their last arrow, and said if they made a hit, they’d go get more arrows. If not, they’d switch Detours. They missed, and headed over to Scoot with “Zero confirmed kills.”
After Shamir mimicked Phil’s raised eyebrow, Phil told him and Sara that they were team number five. Back at the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center, Kevin & Jenn finally located the canopy tower on a map, and began running in the right direction. At Scoot, Liz & Michael struggled to even steer their canoe, wobbling dangerously from side to side. Liz said it was the first time she’d ever picked up an oar. Michael said, “How do you make it to [age] twenty-four and never pick up an oar? There’s lakes in Missouri, I know it – I’ve seen them!” The starter was about to say “go,” but Liz & Michael just toppled over sideways into the water.
Tara & Joey hit the mat in sixth place, Phil pointing out the huge Panamanian flag to Joey. Vanck & Ashton arrived next. Ashton said Vanck wasn’t what she envisioned for a partner, and they still had dynamics to work through. London & Logan arrived eighth, and Phil ribbed London for thinking Logan was attractive. Back at the canopy tower, Kevin & Jenn finally found the Detour clue, and chose Scoot. At that task, Liz & Michael were easily beaten in their first heat… and then fell into the water again. Dejected, Michael said, “I’m just at the end of my rope. We finally get to a damn challenge, and we can’t do it.” He added in interview, “I don’t believe there’s anyone who’s ever run this Race who hasn’t thought about quitting ten times in one day. Because it’s brutal.” But he then started thinking about his daughter at home, and knew he couldn’t quit. They tried again… but lost their second heat.

In ninth place, Jessie & Francesca confirmed to Phil that they were actually a match made in heaven. Back at Scoot, Liz & Michael watched Kevin & Jenn arrive, and both teams were happy they weren’t last. Liz & Michael then powered through their third heat, and finally won. As Kevin & Jenn began their first heat, Liz & Michael ripped the clue in tenth place and hurried off. Kevin & Jenn lost their heat… and realized Liz & Michael were gone. The butcher and auctioneer hurried for the Pit Stop, Liz saying, “I can only imagine what paddling in the dark would be like now.” But that wasn’t to happen; the instructor told Kevin & Jenn that due to darkness, the Detour was closing. She gave them their next clue and they ran off, Jenn saying, “We have to beat them – we cannot get lost.”
They didn’t get lost, and they beat Liz & Michael to the mat, arriving tenth… but Phil informed them that for not completing the Detour, they’d incurred a two-hour penalty. Sitting down to wait it out, Jenn seemed confident. “It’s dark – they’re going to get lost for two hours.” And Liz & Michael were indeed lost, finally realizing that they’d been driving the wrong direction. At the mat, Jenn repeated, “We got lost for two hours – they’re probably going to get lost for two hours.” But Liz & Michael finally arrived, and were thrilled to discover Kevin & Jenn still waiting out their penalty. The butcher and auctioneer checked into the mat in tenth place… and Phil informed Kevin & Jenn that they were eliminated. Jenn said that as a team they never once fought – but considered that to be their problem. “One of us should’ve stepped up and been more authoritative, and that definitely would’ve been a game-changer, one hundred percent.” She added, “But I gained a new little sister – we even have the same hair.” Kevin argued that he was the cooler older brother. Jenn joked, “Whatever makes you happy, sure.”
DETOUR: Shoot or Scoot. In Shoot, teams had to row a traditional canoe downriver and, using a traditional bow and arrow, shoot down two decorative fish from atop wooden poles. In Scoot, teams had to row against a team of professionals.
Shoot: Becca/Floyd
Scoot: Seth/Olive, Matt/Redmond, Brooke/Scott, Shamir/Sara, London/Logan, Tara/Joey, Vanck/Ashton, Jessie/Francesca, Liz/Michael, Kevin/Jenn (did not complete)
Order of Finish:Seth & OliveBecca & FloydMatt & RedmondBrooke & ScottShamir & SaraTara & JoeyVanck & AshtonLondon & LoganJessie & FrancescaLiz & MichaelKevin & Jenn