Season 17: Episode 1 - Claire Gets Smashed but Ron & Tony Sink
Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am

A watermelon smashing into the face of home shopping host Claire didn't prevent her and partner Brook from finishing in 4th place. Meanwhile, dating couple Jill & Thomas claimed the first ever Express Pass and best friends Ron & Tony were eliminated.

Eleven teams gathered at the starting line in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the oldest seaport in America, where host Phil Keoghan warned that this would be one of the most grueling races ever. Phil also surprised the teams by introducing a new game-changing element in the race called the Express Pass that would be awarded to the team who came in first place in this first leg. The Express Pass allows a team to skip any task they don't want to perform by simply handing over the pass either before or during the task to receive their next clue and move on. Phil added, "It could mean the difference between staying in the race or going home."

As the teams soaked in the importance of the Express Pass, Phil threw one more curveball at them. The first flight out of Logan Airport had room for only three teams and was scheduled to land thirty minutes earlier than the second flight. Armed with this information, teams sprinted across the grass to their waiting bags when Phil signaled the start of the race. Best friends Ron & Tony and newly dating couple Chad & Stephanie led the way ripping open their clue instructing them to fly to London, England and then drive to Stonehenge.

Brook & Claire led drive to Logan Airport but the home shopping hosts missed the parking entrance, allowing best friends Ron & Tony, who used only a compass to guide them, to catch the first shuttle to the American Airlines terminal. On their sense of direction, Ron commented, "This is going to be one of our strongest suits." After the best friends secured seats on the first flight, Tony said, "We gotta play a smart game now. We want to come in first the first leg to get that Express Pass."

With dating couple Jill & Thomas snagging the second pair of seats on the American flight, only one pair remained. Newly dating Chad & Stephanie arrived at the terminal in second place, but they stood in the wrong line after failing to look for the yellow and red marked counter. By the time the couple realized their mistake, beach volleyball partners Katie & Rachel entered the terminal causing an all-out sprint between the two teams for the last seats. A relieved Chad & Stephanie edged out a disappointed Katie & Rachel who now joined the other seven teams on the Virgin Atlantic flight landing thirty minutes later. Stephanie commented, "When we land in London, we're really going to be hauling butt because of this Express Pass."

Meanwhile, after driving to the entirely wrong side of Boston, Ivy League a capella singers Connor & Jonathan still hadn't arrived at Logan Airport. In their Smart Car, Jonathan joked, "I hope we get out of America." Dubbed "Team Glee" by Katie & Rachel, Connor & Jonathan eventually made a grand entrance into the Virgin Atlantic terminal as teams cheered their arrival. On the a cappella singers' lack of navigational skills, home shopping hosts Brook & Claire joked, "Let's just say we will not be following them."

Landing at London, England at 6:57am, dating couple Jill & Thomas took the early lead out of Heathrow Airport followed by best friends Ron & Tony and newly dating Chad & Stephanie. While Jill & Thomas quickly found M25 South motorway leading them to Stonehenge, Ron & Tony stopped at a gas station to get a map. However, the map didn't help Stanford grad and MBA holder Tony help Ron exit the city. Chad & Stephanie also squandered the slim lead they held on the second flight by circling around the airport. When Chad began to get short with Stephanie, she warned, "You're just going make this miserable for the both of us if you keep acting like that."

Touching down at 7:18am, the eight teams on the Virgin Atlantic flight sprinted out of the airport led by home shopping hosts Brook & Claire and doctors Nat & Kat. As the doctors merged onto M25, diabetic Nat tested her blood sugar level as partner Kat remarked, "She's an excellent example for diabetics that you can be completely active still and manage your blood sugars."

Following behind Andie & Jenna, Ivy League a cappella singers Connor & Jonathan noticed a burning smell emanating the birth mother and daughter's car. Andie, not having driven a stick shift car in a long time, rode the clutch causing it burn and their car to stall in the middle of traffic. Unable to get their car started again, Andie & Jenna told Connor & Jonathan to go on without them, adding, "Thanks for helping." As cars honked around her, Andie finally continued the drive to Stonehenge, joking, "I forgot the part about taking your foot off the clutch."

With Jill & Thomas making a wrong turn, doctors Nat & Kat arrived at the prehistoric marvel of Stonehenge in first place. As they walked to the cluebox, Nat noted, "Those are big frickin' rocks." Opening their clue, the doctors discovered a riddle instructing them to find the castle that is the opposite of nor'easter. Passing Jill & Thomas and beach volleyball partners Katie & Rachel on the pathway of the Stonehenge grounds, the doctors found a local who correctly told them Eastnor Castle. Wanting to double check their directions to the castle, Nat & Kat stopped at a gas station where they met up with home shopping hosts Brook & Claire. The two female teams decided to drive together with Brook saying, "I love them. I'm just all about woman power."

Arriving at Stonehenge in fifth and sixth place, father and daughter Gary & Mallory and Ivy League a cappella singers Connor & Jonathan decided to work together to find Eastnor Castle. This alliance proved short lived however when Gary & Mallory suffered a flat tire.  Connor & Jonathan opted to continue ahead rather than wait, saying, "That would be the best for us"¦It doesn't make sense for us to sit there and watch them." As she struggled to lift the flat tire out of her dad's way, Mallory groaned, "This is not how I pictured my day on the English countryside."

Having a worse experience in the English countryside than Mallory, best friends Ron & Tony ripped open their clue at Stonehenge in last place. When they asked a local for help, he informed the pair that "lots and lots" of teams had already passed through. A shocked Ron later said, "I think we lost our confidence, like, "˜Did that really happen? We just blew it that quickly?'"

With the Express Pass up for grabs, Jill & Thomas, Nat & Kat, and Brook & Claire all arrived at the Eastnor Castle and opened their next clue instructing them to storm the castle by climbing a castle wall being guarded by a mob of peasants to retrieve a medieval flag. Then, using an ancient saucer-shaped boat, they had to carefully cross the moat to a knight in shining armor for their next clue.

With all three teams still neck and neck, Brook & Claire took the early lead climbing up a ladder as the peasants doused the teams with buckets of dirty water to impede their progress. As the disgusting water rained down on them, Brook advised her partner, "Just ignore it." At the top of the castle wall, the home shopping hosts grabbed their flag and ran down to the water's edge with Jill & Thomas and Mat & Kat close behind.

Jumping into the small tortoise shell boats, all three teams instantly sank and treaded water as they returned to the shore to try again. Realizing this was all a matter of balance, Jill took control of the boat using her arms to pull her and Thomas across the water as he remained as still as possible to prevent a capsizing. With Thomas offering words of encouragement, Jill reached the other side of the water still being trailed closely by the two female teams.

As newly dating Chad & Stephanie reached the water's edge for their first turbulent attempt to balance on their boat, Jill & Thomas reached the knight in shining armor who handed them their clue, a Roadblock. In it, one team member had to enter a jousting tournament field and use a medieval weapon known as a ballista to fire watermelons at a knight standing fifty feet away. Once they knocked down their armored opponent, they would receive their next clue from a jester.

After a bumpy horse ride across the field, Thomas took aim at his knight as Claire, who volunteered because she thought the task involved horses, and Nat followed close behind. The three racers launched watermelons at their respective knights, missing their targets as melons smashed on the green English lawn. Finally, Thomas launched a melon that struck his knight with enough force to topple it over with an accompanying clanging of metal. Jill & Thomas ripped open their clue directing them to the Pit Stop located on the sprawling ground of the castle.

Running across a forested meadow, Jill & Thomas found Phil waiting on the mat where the dating couple claimed first place and the powerful Express Pass that they could use sometime before the end of the eighth leg. Thomas remarked, "We know it's a huge opportunity to keep us going if we were to make a grave mistake."  

On their twelfth attempt across the water, Chad & Stephanie sank once again allowing beach volleyball partners Katie & Rachel and Ivy League a cappella singers Connor & Jonathan to pass by the frustrated dating couple. Seeing "the nerds" pass him, Chad later remarked, "It totally humbled me to see how quickly the game changed and looks are very deceiving."

As doctors Nat & Kat finished in second place, Claire continued to shoot watermelons at her knight now alongside Rachel. Brook encouraged her partner, saying, "Right in the kisser. Show that knight who's boss." With those words in her ear, Claire pulled back the watermelon and let go. In the next instant, the ballista backfired sending the watermelon straight into Claire's face where it exploded on impact. Sitting up, Claire told Brook, "I can't feel my face. I have the worst headache ever." Brook delivered the bad news to Claire that to stay in the race she needed to finish the Roadblock.

With Connor now running onto the tournament field, a still stunned Claire said, "I don't want these people to beat me." Putting down an ice pack and picking up a watermelon, Claire announced, "I'm so scared of watermelons. This is horrible." On her second shot, Claire knocked down her knight screaming, "I made it my bitch." A triumphant Brook & Claire started jogging to the Pit Stop and picked up the pace when they saw Connor & Jonathan and Katie & Rachel right behind them after they hit their knights as well. The three-way race to the mat ended with the Ivy League a cappella singers in third place, the home shopping hosts in fourth place, and the beach volleyball partners in fifth place.

Father and son Michael & Kevin couldn't find the right distribution of their weight to stay afloat on the water, continuing to sink and flounder as father and daughter Gary & Mallory stormed the castle and caught up to the hapless pair that Gary described as "a couple of carnies in a dunking booth." In stark contrast, Gary & Mallory glided across the water and Michael & Kevin took note of the proper technique on display in front of them. Kevin told his dad, "We gotta do what they do." From then on, it was smooth sailing for the father and son as Michael remarked, "We really worked together. That probably is the best moment of this leg between Kevin and me."

Finishing the Roadblock in sixth place, newly dating Chad & Stephanie continued their day of frustrating mistakes when they couldn't find the meadow where Phil stood on the mat. The couple walked around the well-manicured castle grounds growing increasingly concerned about their standing in the race. By the time they finally stepped on the mat, Chad & Stephanie fell to eighth place behind Gary & Mallory and Michael & Kevin who passed them. On their rough day, Chad remarked, "It was very humbling today to get a smack in the face that said, "˜You need to straighten up and change some of your ways.'"

After stopping at a gas station and finding a map that had the Eastnor Castle on it, birth mom and daughter Andie & Jenna finally arrived on the castle grounds. The pair who expressed how important this experience was for them to get to know each other in addition to aiming for the million-dollar prize quickly stormed the castle and then maintained their balance in the boat never falling into the water. After Jenna knocked over her knight, she and Andie hugged each other with huge smiles as they claimed ninth place.

Tattooed dating couple Nick & Vicki made their share of mistakes throughout the leg starting with the pronunciation of "Stonehedge [sic]". Once at the castle, Nick & Vicki tried to maintain their slim lead on last place Ron & Tony but the couple's lapses in logic proved a difficult barrier to overcome. The couple wasted valuable time when they couldn't find their flag as it waved clearly in front of them at the top of the wall. When they did finally notice it, the couple assured everyone, "I promise you we're not that dumb."

As Ron & Tony arrived at Eastnor Castle, Nick & Vicki once again couldn't find something right in front of them. At the water's edge, the couple searched for a boat even though they walked past several overturned ones, saying, "We're just straight up dumb." Finally recognizing the small, shell-shaped structures as their boats, the pair laughed off their mistake, later commenting, "God, we're dummies."  

From then on, Nick & Vicki cleaned up their game as Ron & Tony tried to close the gap between them. Crossing the water, Nick encouraged Vicki, "We didn't fight these roads all day for nothing." At the Roadblock, Nick fired off torpedoes that narrowly missed the knight while Ron & Tony struggled to find a balance of their disparate sizes in the boat. As Nick knocked down his target, a drenched Tony explained to Ron, "I'm already a hundred pounds on you." While Nick & Vicki claimed tenth place, Ron & Tony failed one more attempt at crossing the water, saying, "We tried our best."