This was a great premiere because we got rid of one useless team right from the start. I was a little nervous about what the pre-race elimination task would be, but when it turned out to be a task in reading the effing instructions, I was okay with it. Every season people simply refuse to read the clues correctly and it's ridiculous. I'm glad we were not made to suffer one of these teams right from the get go. I'd like to think the other teams learned a lesson about the importance of clue reading in this task, but maybe that's too much to hope for.
If getting rid of a clue-deficient team in the opening minutes wasn't enough, we also got rid of one of those on-and-off dating couples trying to test their relationship by the end of the second hour. These types of couples always make the most excruciating teams. I don't mind married or estranged couples making a go of the race. But couples who can't commit to each other in real life? They always grow to hate each other under the stress of The Race. It's not even fun television. It's just annoying. I've said it before and I'll apparently have to say it again: The Amazing Race is not the venue to see whether or not you really want to spend your life with someone. If you have issues but want to work it out, try counseling! I've always thought the best teams this show has produced were non-dating couples. So we were spared spending a few more weeks with a team that would likely have imploded in a very nasty way.
Now there are 10 teams left. I find it hard to predict a winner because there are so many variables on The Race. I'll split the remaining teams into 2 groups - ones i think have a good chance to make Final 3 and ones that i think are just not contenders.
The non-contenders are:
Mika and Canaan - I don't like this "newly dating" couple. Considering themselves "sexually pure" is not really something that's gonna come in handy as a racing skill. Also not really helpful? Canaan angrily professing how he'd like to rip Mika's head off when she was having difficulty in the second Road Block. Red flags, Mika! Red flags. He seems very competitive and intense which is good for racing, but she seems pretty weak. I don't know exactly when they'll bounce, but I believe it will be sooner rather than later.
Lance and Keri - This might just be wishful thinking on my part. They don't seem that weak, but he's kinda boorish and I wouldn't mind an early exit for this couple. They both seem quick to anger. They are engaged and... sigh... testing their relationship on the Race. We all know where this is heading. Blow-ups and meltdowns. I'm hoping it comes to a head around an Eighth Place elimination.
Marci and Ron - They are the token old people. I like them. I do. But they are slow. If they can add "and steady" to the "slow" they might be able to make a nice run in the competition over teams that move to fast and make silly mistakes. But they ALSO seem prone to silly mistakes, and if you make mistakes and can't recover quickly, that usually leads to an early exit.
Maria and Tiffany - I like these pro poker players. I think they have skills and could make a deep run of it... but they were already stressed and arguing with each other this week. Plus they couldn't complete the first roadblock and had to take a time penalty. These are not good signs. Killer Fatigue isn't even an issue yet! I think one or two bad taxi rides or a navigational issue while driving could push them over the edge. They did recover a bit in the second hour, so that's encouraging, but ultimately i think there are stronger teams in the mix.
Gary and Matt - I like this father/son team. They had a pretty good first two legs. I think they will Race well together. But I don't know how much hustle they have in them. Especially in the face of upcoming Killer Fatigue. Will 47-year-old Gary really be able to bring it home if it comes down to a foot race to the mat with a younger team? I am doubtful. But if they can stay in it long enough for them to believe they have an actual shot at the million they could get a second win that carries them to the end.
Brian and Ericka - I am on the fence about TAR's first interracial married couple. I like them. I want them to do well. I feel like they will either grow in strength as the Race goes on or they will flame out really fast. I think they will be the team that can race really well once they fall behind. They seem like a team that has enough toughness to keep themselves out of last place even if they spend a lot of time in the back of the pack. They seem nice, though. I'm rooting for them!
Sam and Dan - Gay brothers. If they don't have bad cab karma and can read the clues correctly, I think they have the skills to go far. They have a good attitude, are athletic and they seem pretty functional together. They don't want to tell the other racers they are gay which seems... odd. I can't understand why they think anyone would care, or how it could possibly affect their race.
Zev and Justin - Zev has Asperger's Syndrome. Justin does not. They seem like cool guys. I think they could be a team that's underestimated by the other teams but consistently find themselves in the middle of the pack. I don't know if they have what it takes to make it to Top 3, but I definitely see them in the top half. Best of luck, guys.
Megan and Cheyne (Pronounced Shane? ...i think?) - I think they have a really good chance to win. They are a dating couple but they are not on the race to test their relationship (thank you, Jeebus!). They have a long history together, both are athletic and have positive attitudes. I think they could strike a good balance between enjoying the experience of the race while running it hard. They don't strike me as easily stressed out people, and I hope they don't prove me wrong.
Herbert and Nathaniel - These two Harlem Globetrotters really seem to have the skills to take this to the end. They are natural competitors, have world travel experience, have a pre-existing bond as teammates not just as friends/family, have endearing personalities and are physically strong. On paper, they should have this in the bag. Please, fellas. Read your clues, fellas. And invest in some road maps.
Like I said before, there are lots of other variables in this race. There is much you can't control or anticipate. You can be hours behind and fight your way back, but also be way ahead and take a wrong turn and seal your fate. That's what makes the race so exciting. Good luck, Racers. Travel safe. The world is waiting and I am watching.