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Welcome back, Race fans, to season thirteen of the Amazing Race! Let’s hope thirteen is a lucky number this time around and we have a great show in store. It’s been 252 days since I had my last Phil fix (reruns don’t count!), and I’m beyond ready for this season to get underway. Yes, I counted. Sad, isn’t it? After spending my summer addicted to Big Brother, it’s nice to watch a reality show that doesn’t involve skanking around in a hot tub or contestants who sleep most of the day away. So with that said, let’s meet our eleven new teams, shall we?
  • Marisa and Brooke: Blonde Southern belles, they like to dress up - “We like pearls!” – and, oooo, they like to make cupcakes, too. Tee hee! I hope the ditziness is an act.
  • Toni and Dallas: Mother and son team, and she just loves, loves, loves her boy. She raised him alone and he appreciates it. And, he’s not bad looking! I like these two.
  • Nick and Starr: Cutesy, overachieving brother and sister team who have inexplicably picked Ken and Tina to be their surrogate “mom and dad” while on the race. Surely they could find someone else to ally with.
  • Terence and Sarah: Opposites all the way, she’s the uptight, snippy office worker to his clingy, whiny “free spirited” self. He also wins the night’s award for stupidest hair, looking like the rear end of a chicken was plopped upon his little emo head.
  • Anita and Arthur: Bee-keeping tye-dye clad hippies (real 60’s era hippies, none of this fake hippy nonsense) who seem to be in no real hurry to get anywhere during the race. I’m wondering if they don’t have a secret stash hidden in all that wild hair of theirs.
  • Ken and Tina: Nate and Jen, add twenty years. Ex-football player Ken cheated on Tina, and though she says she’s forgiven him, that eat-hot-death look she keeps shooting his way makes me think otherwise. He’s going to spend all his time walking on eggshells while she has his ‘nads firmly grasped in her angry, overtanned little fist.
  • Anthony and Stephanie: Another dating couple, she wants to settle down and get married. Now! Now, dammit! Him, not so much. He thinks she’s a control freak. Yeah, they sound like a wonderful couple.
  • Kelly and Christy: Best-friend divorcees who let us know in no uncertain terms that they’ve both been through horrible divorces. This is repeated ad nauseum throughout the show, just in case we forget that they were once married to no-good rat bastard men.
  • Mark and Bill: Comic book nerds who are shown playing chess and Guitar Hero in their intro. All that was missing was the Star Trek convention footage. Geekdom is a badge of honor to them, they say.
  • Andrew and Dan: Oh, the frat boys. AKA Team Superbad. Their idea of a six pack is the one you keep in the cooler, not the abs. And it shows, guys, it shows.
  • Aja and Ty: Long distance dating couple who got almost no airtime. They seem nice enough.
This Is How We Roll
The teams roll up in classic cars to meet a gorgeous Phil inside the Los Angeles Coliseum before he sends them on their way. Several teams are winded just running up the stairs to grab the clue (not a good sign, some of these people should have picked up a dumbbell instead of a box of Little Debbies) - they find out that they’re headed to Salvador, Brazil as they hop in their Mercedes and race off to the airport. Nice! One of the frat boys shares that he used to work in the airline industry, like we’re supposed to be impressed. Tina also fails to impress me with her snotty backseat driving. Smart Aja tells Ty to use the carpool lane, allowing them to go faster and jump ahead of a few teams and take first place. Yay them.

As teams start hitting the airport, Mark and Bill are the first to spot the Race flag at the American airlines counter, the better flight. Ken & Tina and Terence & Sarah spot them and hop in line while the others wander stupidly - the frat boy with “airline experience” raises hell about not being able to find the flag until Ty tells him to shut his yap with all the negativity. The others snicker while frat boy pouts.

Too late for half the teams (frats included) - they get stuck on a later flight with United, three hours behind American. Nick and Starr take the opportunity to schmooze Ken and Tina, hoping to ally with a more well-traveled couple. Not surprisingly, the American flight gets delayed about an hour and a half, but they still arrive before the United teams.

How Do You Say "Shut Up!" In Portugese?
Hopping into taxis in the Salvador airport, Sarah proves herself fluent in Portugese while Tina berates Ken for not learning Spanish. Were you too busy plucking those eyebrows into oblivion to learn some yourself, woman? Sheesh. Geeks Mark and Bill end up finding the target first, a little coffee shop in town. They learn they must choose one of the cute truck-like vending carts outside and wheel it to a plaza called Praça da Sé. Trouble is, the cute little carts are loaded down with boxes of candy, and they’re apparently not the easiest things to steer, either.

After spilling half their boxes, Mark and Bill get the bright idea to cover them with a jacket to hold them in place, and off they go. Terence and Sarah get there next, and he immediately begins whining for Sarah to help him as she’s trying to read the clue. Sarah finds a local woman to help them and speaks to her in Portugese, leading Terence to bitch about her “saying things he can’t understand.” Oh, brother. Tina and Ken fare no better, spilling candy all over the cobblestone streets as she exclaims “Yikey schnikeys” in her droll monotone. I’m starting to feel for Ken, even though I hate a cheater.

Terence and Sarah get to the next clue first, passing the geeks, who have disappeared somewhere. Perhaps they found a comic store and couldn’t help themselves. Teams will spend the night camping under tents and mosquito netting in a military base, signing in for either a 9, 9:30, or 9:45am departure time.

The second flight lands on time, carrying the frats, the hippies, the blonde girlies, Anthony & Stephanie, Toni & Dallas, and Kelly & Christy. They have the same struggles with the candy-droppage and bad steering, but eventually catch up to the others at the camp. It turns into a big gabfest as everyone relaxes with a few drinks and snacks and they all get to know their fellow racers. Starr crushes on Dallas while Terence whimpers once again about Sarah. This time, she had the audacity to talk to the other teams and not spend her every waking moment tending to poor, pitiful Terence’s needs. *gasp* This guy has taken wussdom to a whole new level. Run, Sarah, run. I’ve seen toddlers more independent than this fool.

The Running Man
Dawn breaks, and the groups head out at their respective times. Where to? Pelourinho, the historic center of Salvador, where they must locate a specific church. Taxi drama ensues, with some teams having trouble just hailing a taxi and some getting dimwitted drivers who don’t know where they’re going. Sarah takes her turn to bitch after Nick and Starr ignore (or don’t hear) her comment about taxi trouble. Tina commands Ken to use his whistle to hail a cab - really, Tina? - while Terence the freaking running coach reprimands Sarah for running too fast. If he keeps it up, I’m cutting him out of this recap. Enough is enough.

The church is found, and so is the first Detour: Hard Way Up or Soft Way Down. Teams can either climb a stone staircase on their hands and knees (ouch) and be asked a mystery question at the top, or teams can choose to climb down a cargo net attached to a building that’s wayyyy too high for my tastes - 240 feet down. Every team chooses the cargo net but the frats, Andrew and Dan. They preferred to wreck their knees by climbing the stairs, and get the question at the top wrong: how many stairs were there? D’oh! Back to the bottom, where they have to reclimb. That’s fine, I enjoyed listening to the kick-ass drummers at the top of the staircase. One of the blondes exclaims she almost peed her pants after seeing how far down she had to climb. Just thought I’d share that with you.

The Pit Stop at Forte São Marcelo is next - hey, what an easy leg! This fort once defended the city from pirates. Teams hop on board boats and head out to the fort, and hit the mat in this order:

1st – Nick and Starr. They get a trip for two to Belize. I’m pitifully jealous.
2nd – Ken and Tina. She actually manages a half-smile. Sort of.
3rd – Terence and Sarah. I hate him.
4th – Mark and Bill. These guys are having too much fun.
5th – Kelly and Christy. We don’t need no stinkin’ men!
6th – Toni and Dallas. Hey Dallas, how's the air up there on that pedestal?
7th – Andrew and Dan. Animal House fun, they're not.
8th – Aja and Ty. Got about 2 minutes of airtime.
9th – Anthony and Stephanie. Who?
10th – Marisa and Brooke. They managed to hold the pee and come in next to last.
Philiminated – Anita and Arthur.

So, the wild-haired hippies will be returning to their hives sooner than they planned. “We know we gave it all we had, and that’s the most important thing,” says Anita. I never saw them in any particular hurry, but they seem like a nice enough couple. Good luck, guys, and keep that bong water clean.

Phil, how about help a recapper out and make these people wear nametags for the first few shows. Please?