'The Amazing Race' Premiere Recap: The Stakes Are Bigger Than Ever
'The Amazing Race' Premiere Recap: The Stakes Are Bigger Than Ever
Esther Gim
Esther Gim
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Eleven teams. Twelve legs. Nine countries. Two million dollars. Welcome to The Amazing Race!

This season, the winners can double their winnings -- but only if they win the first and last legs of the race. Let's take a quick look at the teams:

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The 11 Teams

Trey and Lexi: He's the football player, she's the cheerleader. She wants a ring after they win.

Natalie and Nadiya: Twins born in New York but raised in Sri Lanka. They've switched identities, even when one breaks up with the other's boyfriend. 

James and Abba: One's a rocker and the other is an entertainment attorney. They're "comfortable being uncomfortable."

Josh and Brent: After losing good jobs six months apart, they now are goat farmers.

Amy and Daniel: They've been dating on and off for the past 10 years. She also lost both her legs due to meningitis. Now she's competing on The Amazing Race with prosthetic legs. Simply amazing.

Caitlin and Brittany: BFFs from the Midwest, they're both athletes.

Rob and Sheila:They're lumberjacks, and that alone makes me root for them.

Gary and Will: Substitute teachers. One is 6'6", the other 5'1".

Abbie and Ryan: Dating divorcees. She's a dance instructor, he trains and competes in jujitsu. 

James and Jaymes: They're the Chippendales, which they tell us isn't about getting money thrown at them but singing and playing guitars.

Rob and Kelley: Married monster truckers.

Off to China

The teams are off to Shanghai, China, from Los Angeles -- all they have to do is rappel off a 10-story building, then drive over to the airport. The catch is that there are two flights leaving to China, and only the first seven teams will make the fastest flight. They are: Abbie and Ryan, Amy and Daniel, Caitlin and Brittany, Jaymes and James, James and Abba, Natalie and Nadiya and Rob and Kelley. This leaves Josh and Brent, Trey and Lexi, Rob and Sheila and Gary and Will on the second flight.

Once in Shanghai, the teams run over to the sports stadium, where one member of the team has to play table tennis against a Chinese junior champion and successfully score one point against her or wait until the next turn. This leads to a lot of unintentional laughs, especially when the tennis champ starts using household items like a tambourine, a clipboard and a frying pan instead of a paddle.

It doesn't seem like any team is going to win because they're just not matched for this girl.

After what feels like a really long time that I'm sure was edited down to a minute, Abbie manages to score a point. Her and Ryan are now off to a restaurant. And the rest of the teams start winning as well: James the rocker is next and then one of the Chippendales. Meanwhile, Rob and Kelley are wandering around a soccer field trying to find the table tennis venue.

"Who Wants to Go Tubing?"

The next clue is at a Chinese restaurant. The person who didn't compete in the table tennis competition must eat a traditional Chinese dessert -- frog fallopian tubes inside a papaya. It's about as disgusting as it sounds. But perhaps it's both sweet and savory.

They're given chopsticks to eat with, but the consistency of the tubes doesn't make things so easy.

James and Abba are way ahead of everyone else, finishing off the food before going off with the next clue. Abbie and Ryan are right behind them, and this is when the second flight comes in. I completely forgot about them.

The rest of the dessert-eating portion gets more uncomfortable to watch. A lot of it is upchucked -- and then promptly eaten off the table because it all must be finished.

Paying for their Mistakes

James and Abba, continuing to hold their lead on everyone, are off to look for a woman playing an abacus. They totally walk by her at first. Meanwhile, goat farmers Josh and Brent are dead last.

Back at the restaurant, Rob finishes his dessert -- but then has to eat two more fallopian-tube papayas because he broke the rules. He isn't allowed to pick up the food off the table, but he did. 

The teams who are at the front of the race are in a frenzy, trying to find a tower as the final stop. The last team to arrive here is eliminated. Daniel and Amy spot the tower, but along the way tell Abbie and Ryan where the abacus-playing woman is, and they manage to close in on Daniel and Amy.

Race to the Finish

Abbie and Ryan finish first, which means they're eligible for the $2 million prize -- but only if they win the final leg as well. This also means no other team can get the $2 million.

Amy and Daniel come in second. They're bummed about giving up the shot at $2 million, but they say that's "just the kind of people they are." Abbie and Ryan view Amy as a huge threat in the game.

Caitlin and Brittany are third. Meanwhile, Rob and Sheila get a road block and are led to the Bank of China to find the next clue. Natalie and Nadiya are fourth, Rob and Kelley are fifth and James and Abba come in sixth.

Jaymes and James are struggling to find the woman. They're unsure if the woman is a literal meaning or a statue -- or if she's in the water. They're not the brightest in the bunch, but they'll provide a lot of laughs.

Josh and Brent finish seventh. Rob and Sheila are literally right in front of the woman but can't see her.

Jaymes and James run into Gary and Will, who totally lie to them about finding the woman. They're playing dirty, and I love it. So Gary and Will come in eighth. Trey and Levi finish ninth.

Rob and Sheila and Jaymes and James are running neck and neck. Rob and Sheila have a lead of a few hundred yards, maybe, but they're slowing down. And Jaymes and James baaarely finish 10th, which means Rob and Sheila finish last and therefore are eliminated. The strippers are in!

But it's cute when they leave because Sheila had been worried about a lot of conflict between her and her husband -- whether they could even do something like this race together, but now she knows that they can.

Esther Gim
Contributing Writer

(Image courtesy of CBS)