Feb 20, 2009, Ep 1: “When You’re Leading a Pack of Lemmings…”

The Amazing Race 14 Insider, Episode 1: “When You’re Leading a Pack of Lemmings…”

AR14_Ep1The top three teams this episode are all hugs and kisses around each other on the mat, but what are they really thinking about each other? Will Preston & Jennifer (right) have a chance to continue working on their relationship at Elimination Station or is it going to blow up in their face? And will Steve ever give Linda a break? These insider videos should help shine a light on all this and more!

And we’re baaaack! I hope you enjoyed the beginning of another season of The Amazing Race as much as I did. I appreciate the new editing and the enhanced focus on the places the teams are going to, as well as the teams themselves. The CBS Insider footage is very entertaining so far. Witness the wreck of Preston & Jennifer’s relationship train as it ran into Elimination Station. See even more of Steve & Linda’s tearful Swiss campsite blamefest. I can’t detect a Jonathan & Victoria or Kelly & Christy amongst the teams just yet, but let’s give it an episode or two! Also, in Phil’s Video Diary, he’ll give you tips on flying first class, plus you’ll get to see his “Blue Steel” modeling pose. Let’s begin!

Before the Race:

Victor’s Weaknesses: In this pre-race footage, Tammy explains that her brother Victor is a control freak, but it typically works out for him. It’s just that now they’re going to be traveling around the world doing things he’s very bad at doing, such as asking for help, being embarrassed in front of strangers, etc. She’s worried if he doesn’t let her take control, there will be problems.

Victor knows that the major strength they’re going to bring to the race is their strong knowledge of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. He’s polite and reserved where Tammy won’t be. When they were at the Beijing Olympics, he was unable to even ask about tickets from scalpers, let alone buy them. Victor is looking forward to having his boundaries pushed by the race. Meanwhile, Tammy humorously recognizes that she’s got no problems interacting with strangers as she has a spoiled background and feels “entitled” to the help.

Victoria Overcomes: Victoria tells us that she was born with dislocated hips and structural deformities in her feet (geez!). She had numerous surgeries to correct these issues, but Victoria still has a weird walk and weakness in half of her body. Victoria does her best to ignore it when others notice her physical limitations or scars. Strenuous running is now too much for her body, so Tammy has to limit her running to just a few miles a day. It’s still a challenge, but it forces her to confront and overcome obstacles and physical pain. Effectively, she’s lived her whole life with these hurdles and looks at the experience as a blessing.

After the Race:

Preston & Jennifer’s Farewell: Preston explains that their relationship on the race was the same as it was before they went on it. It’s possible they communicate better now, but it’s definitely a point to work on. He says the relationship is both frustrating and awesome, to which Jennifer nods and chuckles in agreement.

Jennifer explains that they were going to use The Amazing Race as couples counseling (my words), but because they raced so little, the relationship is still headed towards staying together. She misses the opportunity to have won a million dollars, but they made some great friends. Preston chimes in that it still would have been good to win the money so bills could get paid and he could finally move out of an apartment. Well, maybe Elimination Station will yield some interesting relationship results for the two?

Extra Race Footage:

Legal Eagles Debrief: In the cab ride away from the Goldeneye dam jump, Tammy explains to Victor that it took her a few moments to process that it was a Roadblock and not a Detour. She was thrilled to not have to make the jump! When it came time to decide who was going to jump, Tammy didn’t want Victor to feel like she was making him do it. Victor’s just plain surprised she’d even contemplate doing it!

Victor is proud that they both can read and process the clues fast, as they need that edge. It helped them overtake Mark & Michael and get to the jump first. Victor warns that it’s important they both read the clues clearly though, in case one of them is taking a mental break (foreshadowing?).

While pondering how to keep in first place, Victor concludes that it’s important when leading a pack of lemmings to get so far out they can’t even see you and get lost. Tammy recognizes not all the others are lemmings and gives Luke props for his demonstrated skills thus far. She thinks Luke will have to pull his mom Margie along, though. Tammy is happily optimistic she can outrun Margie. Both also like Jaime & Cara and seem to have established a friendly non-binding alliance with them.

(Not So) Well Rested: Brad & Victoria recount their sleep stories at the Swiss campsite. Brad got some zzz’s, but Victoria mostly spent the night listening to others’ conversations and the surrounding environment. Yet, at two AM, she found herself crying nonstop about anything that came into her mind. A walk around the camp cleared her head, and she’s feeling good again.

Working Out the Kinks: Margie realizes their team’s biggest challenge is asking for help. Luke signs that he’s frustrated with Margie as she is hesitant to do so. She points out that people are uncomfortable when communicating with a deaf person, since most have no idea how to sign. The responsibility thus falls on Margie to be out there talking. Writing stuff down is somewhat effective, but Luke interjects that he’s limited to English writing and signing. If they manage to last a long time, this will be a very hard-fought race for them!

I Ain’t Got Nobody: Steve & Linda observe they’re in the middle of the last pack on the way to Cheese Hill. Steve reveals that he asked Jennifer & Kisha to work with them, but were told that they were too slow. Yet now Jennifer & Kisha are behind them, much to Steve & Linda’s enjoyment. Steve is a little frustrated because no one wants to work with them in an alliance. Linda believes others think they’ll slow them down. Steve is just insulted no one wants to help them. (All I can say is – Duh!)

Preston & Jennifer’s Cab Ride:In the cab, Preston tells us about Steve’s frustration with them once it became clear to Steve that Preston & Jennifer weren’t going to ally with him. Preston & Jennifer are already aligned with Amanda & Kris, and loosely aligned with Mike & Mel. Jennifer says that even their current alliance with Amanda & Kris is loose, as they’re still having to compete strongly with each other. Preston rationally explains that he’s friendly and helpful to a point with Steve & Linda, but after that point, it’s a race!

Steve & Linda Extended: At the Swiss campsite, Linda is in tears and Steve tells her that they’re making fools of themselves. Linda, through tears, actually makes a solid point that there is still one team that hasn’t even arrived yet. Ever pessimistic, Steve knows that tomorrow they’ll just mess up again and be in last place. He then aims low and tells Linda that they fell behind three times today because she was too slow.

Linda begins crying again and explains she would have done better if she could. This proves Steve’s point as to why they should just give up. Optimistically, Linda points out that there are more challenges ahead and she can’t be counted out yet. He still harps on her and assumes it won’t get better because everyone else is jet-lagged too, so she can’t use that as an excuse. Linda agrees, but notes that the others don’t have their husbands yelling at them. (I’m starting to feel a lot more sympathy for Linda seeing this edit of the video). In the most laugh out loud moment of the video, Steve tells Linda, “Well, good job out there today!” What?

Steve & Linda’s Personal Roadblock: At the LAX parking lot entrance, Steve pulls a ticket at the entry gate. He doesn’t pull forward though, as he sees the spikes in the ground that warn drivers from driving a certain direction. Steve calls over an attendant who calmly explains to him that they only do damage if you back up. Wow. Sure enough, they make it through safely! At least they’re both laughing about it.

Communication Breakdown: Jen & Kisha are at the train station reviewing the map of Interlaken. Kisha thinks they can spend this downtime looking for a better local map in order to gain a potential edge. She also tells us that she doesn’t have a purse so she wouldn’t know what you’d normally put in one. Jen pipes in that Kisha calls her purse a backpack, and that it’s important to keep your purse or backpack secured so nothing falls out. Jen is worried about stuff falling out in cabs (Hello, Dallas of Season 13!). Kisha understands Jen’s point, but thinks Jen should trust her.

Out by the train platform, Jen & Kisha are now arguing. Jen is upset that Kisha gets defensive every time Jen says something to her. Kisha responds that whenever she is talking to Jen, it seems as if Jen’s not listening. Kisha brings up her map suggestion as something Jen blew off. Jen says she thought that they could look for a local map of Interlaken, but there probably wouldn’t be one since Interlaken is three hours away.

Kisha still believes Jen was being negative. Jen finally gives up, and realizes she’ll have to “walk on eggshells.” Yet the argument continues anew, and now it’s back to the whole leaving-your-bag-open issue. Hilariously, Kisha looks directly at the camera and explains that they are having communicaton difficulties right now.

Dr. Giggles: Kisha & Jen meet Preston & Jennifer and Mel & Mike at LAX while waiting to fly to Switzerland. A lot of discussion of family and backgrounds ensues. Jennifer guesses that Kisha & Jen were involved in volleyball or basketball. Mike (of School of Rock fame!) reveals he’s nicknamed Kisha & Jen “Giggles” and “Sleepy,” respectively. Kisha laughs and reveals her sorority already calls her Dr. Giggles.

The Passion of Luke: This clip opens with Mark saying he’s impressed by Luke, and can see Luke is the driving force of his team (just like Tammy & Victor noticed above). Mark can see the passion in Luke’s actions, and his brother Michael believes that passion wins out over muscles. They both see the current top three as the eventual final top three (that being Mark & Michael, Luke & Margie, and Tammy & Victor). Both are confident right now, as they’re working out the air bubbles and hitting a synergy of their strengths. They definitely see top three in their future. Confident much?

Well Seasoned Traveler: While driving to LAX, Mark tells us about how he travelled constantly while working as a horse jockey. That experience has made him a seasoned traveler. Mark loves it, saying it’s an adrenaline rush to travel. Additionally, the discipline of being a horse jockey 24/7 and having a strict schedule has allowed him to “dial in.”

Stuntmen Meet Flight Attendants: In this scene, Jodi & Christie and Mark & Michael introduce themselves and awkward small talk ensues! The talk eventually turns to the height of Jodi & Christie’s husbands, and whether Mark & Michael have wives. Mark doesn’t wear a ring now, but he is married. He explains the ring is special and clearly points out what he does. Jodi realizes he doesn’t want to admit what he does for a living, and both Mark & Michael agree, saying it can wait for a few legs.

No Men Needed: Out of breath and heading away from the evil Swiss cheese hill, Jaime & Cara are quite proud of their efforts as they had no men helping them out. They know they’re the first of the female teams out from the cheese hill, but the remaining all-girl teams are right behind them. Cara recognizes that it’s best to not put out the bad vibes just yet, but they’ve noticed some teams have become sneaky already. Mostly though, Jaime & Cara are glad to chat with the others during the train rides and such, but it’s understood that the game is on when the doors open.

Woman’s Best Friend: On the walk to the Swiss campsite, Jaime sees a very cute Swiss dog and, along with Tammy, heads immediately over to pet it. Jaime does a quick visual spot check of whether it’s a boy or girl, but the dog is too fluffy to tell. The owner tells her the dog is a boy. Jaime wonders if the dog can come back to the campsite with them. The dog loves all the attention as dogs typically do!

A Tough Leg: On the way to the Pit Stop, Preston & Jennifer sing the same song heard on every first leg of The Amazing Race… “It’s so much harder than we expected!” From 700-foot bungie jumps to 200 pounds of cheese hell, it’s been a very tough leg. Additionally, they haven’t slept for 60 hours, and they’ve barely eaten anything. The Amazing Race is a huge life experience.

Fired Up: Margie & Luke are crouched over an unlit campfire in this clip, trying to light it. Margie knows her family is going to laugh when they see this. Luke recoils from the hot kerosene lamp they’re trying to siphon flame from to start the fire. Margie looks around and sees Preston and asks for his help in starting it up. Preston manages to shift up the lantern’s glass a bit and now some kindling can be inserted in it. After a few attempts (is this Survivor?), Preston carefully gets a piece of paper to light. Others have gathered around and also realize this is just like out of Survivor! Everyone’s stoked for fire.

At the Pit Stop:

Feeling Responsible: Phil points out that eliminating the first team is one of the hardest things he does on The Amazing Race. Jennifer doesn’t like it either, but they’ve been up for 60 hours straight because they were so paranoid about missing flights. She really didn’t want to go first and nearly cries. Preston assures Jennifer that she did the best she could. The relationship comes up in conversation and Preston states that they didn’t want to be eliminated for acting stupid or not communicating. Jennifer jumps in with “We did!” but Preston presses on about how they did everything really well. They’re best friends and Jennifer just doesn’t want to feel like she let him down.

A Second Chance: Phil brings up what I was thinking when Jodi & Christie were first introduced – flight attendants must have such an advantage on this show. Jodi & Christie quickly dispel that, saying they only work on U.S.-based flights. But they do know a smattering of foreign languages and were able to communicate with the locals here.

Jodi & Christie are happy about their great day and performance… yesterday. Today was a different story as they didn’t follow their instincts and they took some bad risks. Their reprieve from elimination is a second chance to prove themselves. They’ve now gone from first to last and can see how, through sheer perseverance and luck, mistakes can be overcome. Jodi still knows that one little mistake can ruin the best laid plans. Christie tells Jennifer that she shouldn’t feel like she let Preston down. They did awesome and, heck, they made it to Switzerland – so be proud and happy!

Redheads Have More Fun: The Miami-based team of Jaime & Cara are a little winded from the very Alp-y Switzerland. Phil wants to know if the Swiss men have paid attention to them because of their red hair. Jaime & Cara have noticed they stand out in this country of blonde folks. Phil is curious if they’ve met anyone interesting in their travels so far. They remember in one of the trains that a group of 20 drunken Germans got a little friendly with them. Phil says that this is not only The Amazing Race, but the Amazing Date. Really, Phil?

Harder Than It Looks: Wow – it’s a video with Amanda & Kris – I’d forgotten they were even on this show! They’re exhausted and out of breath at the Pit Stop and can’t believe how hard it is. They haven’t slept, they’re thirsty, and they’re hungry. They reveal to Phil that they’ve made an alliance with Preston & Jennifer and Mel & Mike. Phil inquires about Amanda’s fancy earrings and if they’re expensive. Kris tells him they’re Amanda’s fake bling. Apparently, Kris has his Flava Flav wristwatch. That is a big dang watch. Phil wonders if they’re happy with their position in the first leg. Kris definitely is happy as they’re further up than they were starting off from the campsite. He just wants to keep creeping up the position ladder.

Mike’s Pun-ishment: Phil wonders if the race is too physical for Mel. Mel is amusingly defensive. The cheese hill is still in Mel’s mind and he loses his train of thought. Mike remembers though, and is just happy that they were on that first train – as they definitely needed that leg up to overcome the other very strong teams. Phil encourages them with a reminder of their fourth-place finish, and Mel tells Phil he just doesn’t want to hear “you’re team number last.”

Phil asks how their teamwork is going so far. Mike wants Mel to stop with the puns and feels, after the torture of Cheese Hill, he deserves a pun-free zone for a little while. Mel just wants to keep things “punny.” Mike grins and points a gun-finger to his head, laughing to himself. Phil wonders why they’re out here. Mel explains that Mike has always wanted to do this, and Mike wants to have an adventure with his best friend. The one-on-one time is nice to have. Phil recalls a drive across America he had with his dad a few years back. Mel has mostly wanted quality time with Mike, though, and Mike thinks he’s finally given Mel that quality time on Cheese Hill.

Love Fest on the Mat: As the first three teams crowd around the mat, you can see that everyone’s out of breath, but Phil can also see there are tears in everyone’s eyes because everyone’s so happy for each other. Phil asks how his signed “you’re team number one” was, and Luke signs that it was perfect. Phil comments that Luke & Margie were blazing the trail, but Margie & Luke fully admit that it was almost a team effort with the others on the mat. Margie can see that Luke is running his heart out, which Tammy affirms as Luke can run fast. Although right now, Luke is still really emotional. Margie explains it’s because Luke has wanted to do this for so long.

Tammy & Victor recall how no one knew while flying to Switzerland who was ahead, so it became a case of Team Lufthansa vs. Team Air France. But once on the ground, even while competing, these top three were doing it together. Tammy is really impressed by Victor’s perseverance on the hill, and his willingness to motivate her too even through his pain. Meanwhile, Mark remarks that he had been carrying half his body weight on that hill, and it was just a tough thing to do.

Elimination Station:

Preston & Jennifer Eliminated: So, where will the eliminated teams go this season? Last year it was Acapulco… and this year it’s Thailand! Preston & Jennifer land at Samui Airport, and they immediately feel it’s very hot here. As they’re walking through the airport, Jennifer continues being afraid that she let Preston down. He casually ignores her comments and subtly states that they can sit at the pool and wait for the next team to get there.

Jennifer realizes they’ll get to be the official greeters at Elimination Station. In the van on their way to the Station, Preston says they were so close to beating the blondes (Jodi & Christie). The pain of the Cheese Hill challenge can still be felt, both physically and emotionally. As they’re staring out the windows of the van, neither can believe they’re really in Thailand. They pass a highway sign and neither can read it because, as Jennifer puts it, “it’s written in… Thailand.” Preston isn’t convinced the language is called “Thailand.”

The van pulls into the estate and three Thai greeters put flowers around their necks. Jenninfer & Preston walk into this amazingly huge and tricked-out Real World-esque house. They check out the whole house and Jennifer sees the silver lining in being first eliminated, as they get first dibs on the bedrooms. After that, Preston & Jennifer step outside to admire the view from the balcony. Preston thinks it may be best for their relationship that they got eliminated early. The stress of the race may not have yielded the hoped-for results.

The next morning, Preston & Jennifer discuss who they think is coming next. Preston is convinced it’ll be Steve & Linda and not Brad & Victoria. Jennifer agrees, and can’t imagine Tammy & Victor or Margie & Luke coming to Thailand anytime soon. Talk turns to how fast Mark & Michael are. Jennifer says height definitely wasn’t a factor, and then Preston laughingly tells her that he’s “sorry, but everyone’s faster than you.” Jennifer is not amused by the comment (surprise!) and retorts that Preston was the one that got them lost. Thus ends the honeymoon period. She starts to cry a bit and he sarcastically says it’s not her speed, but obviously his inability to navigate. This sets her off and Jennifer leaves.

Privately, she’s still very sensitive about losing, and says Preston’s insensitivity towards that leads her to believe that perhaps their relationship isn’t going to make it. We flash back to Jennifer leaving the breakfast table and saying she wishes she had raced with someone else. Preston figures the outcome wouldn’t have been any better. It IS the Real World house! Where’s the hot tub?

Phil’s Video Diary:

Episode 1 – LAX: Phil and Rudi, the CBS publicity photo guy, are driving down the LAX tarmac to an Air New Zealand 747 as Phil explains it’s time to take the official publicity photos. According to Phil, short of flying the plane, they’re going to do everything you can with a plane. We next see Phil working with Monty, another photo guy, to figure out the best angles for the shots and where the plane would best be positioned. Cries of “the plane, the plane” are heard.

Cut to the techno-beat montage of Phil being photographed all Amazing Race-like, with the 747 behind him. He even gets photographed while sitting in the front of an engine. Gotta admit, Phil takes a damn good photo. They then go inside the New Zealand Air 747 in which Phil reveals his favorite seats are 19A or 19K. Of course these are the ridiculously comfortable diagonal chairs with ottomans and TV screens. Must be nice to be Phil! Phil gives us the scoop on all the ways you can use 19A/K to entertain at, watch TV on, or sleep on.

Cue the actual photos used from the photo shoot, and that is another episode of Phil’s Video Diary. Where will we catch up with him next?

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