In Nagano, Japan, blind-dating lawyers Jelani & Jenny won their second leg in a row. Winter Olympians Aly & Steve crushed a speed skating Detour, but Alabama couple Libby & CJ never made it out of last place and were eliminated. WHO NEEDS SLEEP?
Having just won first place in the heart of bustling Tokyo, blind-dating lawyers Jelani & Jenny walked to their overnight accommodations. Jenny said she was still processing everything that had happened, and hoped they were going to a “coffin hotel.” They were followed by second-place blind-dating couple, Jeff & Jackie. Jackie said that Jeff was definitely her type, and she hoped to both find love and win the million dollars. But when the teams arrived at their accommodations, they found only an internet café with cubicles, desks and tiny sofas. Jenny said, “This is not a room!” Fitness trainer Harley joked, “I could sleep on the desk - I’m small enough,” while Jackie laughed, “Best date ever.”
In the pre-dawn hours, Jelani & Jenny ripped the clue. It told them to travel by bullet train to Nagano, Japan (site of the 1998 Winter Olympics) and make their way to Matsushiro Castle. Running to the train station, Jelani said Jenny was on top of all the details, while he had a more laissez faire approach to the Race - but that that method was working for them. Then Jeff & Jackie left, Jeff saying that Jackie was “all-around the best.” He added that it was too soon to know if there’d be both love and the million, but he wasn’t ruling it out. SoCal blind-dating couple Laura & Tyler left third, but said they were too concentrated on the Race to think about romance.
PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY
At the train station, Jelani & Jenny boarded the first train to Nagano. Olympians Aly & Steve left the Pit Stop fourth, pleased to be going to a Winter Olympic city. As the first train departed with the first three teams, Aly & Steve bought tickets and left on the second train. Harley and New Kids on the Block member Jonathan ran to the train station fifth. Jonathan said his group was supposed to perform in Japan, but had canceled those shows in favor of Las Vegas. “Sorry, Japan…. It’s good to be back.” Gay blind-dating couple Bergen & Kurt arrived at the train station sixth. Bergen said, “I normally don’t date people that look like me…. But maybe I’m supposed to date my long-lost twin, which is awkward, but who knows?” Kurt added that they were definitely friends, and they’d see if anything else developed in the future. Engineer Rochelle and truck stop manager Mike left seventh. Rochelle said that although they’d been dating for eight months, Mike hadn’t yet met her son, and she was using the Race as a fast-forward for their relationship. They added that they were getting along “like peanut butter and jelly.” Behind them, ER nurse Hayley and Navy surgeon Blair headed to the train station. Hayley said they were getting along well, but Blair said once they rose in the ranks their relationship would flourish more.
WATCH YOUR STEP
New York hairstylists Matt & Ashley arrive at the train station ninth. They believed the blind-dating couples were a threat because, “They’re holding back all their aggression, which is what’s messing us up.” They noted that several teams passed them while they argued on the last leg, but Matt added, “When we communicate… we’re unstoppable.” Harley & Jonathan, Bergen & Kurt, and Mike & Rochelle got the third train to Nagano, while Hayley & Blair and Matt & Ashley got the fourth. Finally long-term Alabama couple Libby & CJ left the Pit Stop, hoping to catch up. Libby said they’d been dating for ten years, and the next step was marriage. CJ said he wanted to be financially stable first, although he definitely planned on marrying her at some point. In picturesque Nagano, the first train arrived with Jelani & Jenny, Laura & Tyler, and Jeff & Jackie. While running for taxis, Jeff slipped and fell, causing Jackie to say, “I hope he’s okay from that fall, because I kind of need him a little bit.” They arrived at Matsushiro Castle with Laura & Tyler, and sprinted to the clue box. The clue was for a Roadblock in which teams had to figure out how to open a Japanese puzzle box by moving the pieces in an exact order. Once they got it open, they’d find a password, which they’d have to read to the guards to receive their next clue. Also hidden in one of the clues was a ticket to Date Night - a relaxing getaway for a couple to enjoy at the Pit Stop.
PUZZLING IT OUT
Jeff and Tyler chose the Roadblock, but Jeff & Jackie began running around the castle grounds, while Laura & Tyler took off in their taxi. Meanwhile, Jelani & Jenny ripped the clue, and Jelani chose the Roadblock. Jeff & Jackie finally realized they were in the wrong place. They ran for a taxi as Laura & Tyler arrived at the correct location. Guards stood outside, while men pounded on giant drums and gongs inside. Tyler said, “Puzzle-making music!” Laura added, “You can really feel the energy of Japan and it’s really, really awesome to be here!” Tyler and Jelani sat on tatami mats on the floor and started on their puzzles. Jeff & Jackie finally arrived, and Jeff got started - but was immediately confused. Laura said, “I’m hoping Tyler will get done quickly. I believe in him - he’s smart.” Tyler explained that you had to slide one piece of the box on the left, then one on the right, and keep going around in a circle. He added, “I did a lot of puzzles as a kid.” Back in Tokyo, Alabama couple Libby & CJ got their train tickets to Nagano. Standing on the platform, they took a selfie video saying that everyone counted them out, but they were going to win the leg. Suddenly their train, sitting just behind them, began moving. They stood there in disbelief as they realized they’d missed it. They’d be forced to take the next one, which left fifteen minutes later.
LET ME IN!
At the Roadblock, the three blind-dating teams battled it out. Jenny, Jackie and Laura joked on the sidelines, saying, “I’ve got the smartest dude.” “I’ve got the smartest dude.” “I do, for sure.” Tyler and Jelani were making progress, but Jeff was still befuddled. Finally Tyler got his box open and pulled out the password. With a fanfare of drums he ran to the guards, and on his second attempt reciting the words (“Let me in” in Japanese), he received the clue. It said to make your way to the temple of Nishi-Guchi Zenko-Ji.
Back in Tokyo, Libby & CJ finally boarded their bullet train to Nagano. At the Nagano station, Aly & Steve arrived, hoping that being in a Winter Olympics city would bring them some luck. The third train then arrived with truck stop couple Mike & Rochelle, gay blind-dating team Bergen & Kurt, and Harley and NKOTB member Jonathan. At the Roadblock, Jelani and Jeff continued to work on their puzzles. On the sidelines, Jenny said, “I hate not having control. I just want to get in there and start working on the puzzle…. Hopefully he’ll deliver.” And with that, Jelani opened his box. He read the password to the guards, and the lawyers ripped the clue in second place. Then Aly & Steve arrived. Aly began on the box, saying, “It feels like Christmas!”
A BULLET IN THE CHAMBER
On the grounds of the temple of Nishi-Guchi Zenko-Ji, SoCal couple Laura & Tyler came upon the Detour Decision Point: two signs that said “Share” and “Chair.” Phil explained that Laura & Tyler were the first couple to choose between hitting the ice and noodling with a favorite dish. They chose Share, and read the cryptic clue: “Nourish each other in the face of adversity to earn your next clue.” Not quite sure what they were getting into, they headed for their taxi. Lawyers Jelani & Jenny showed up next and also chose Share. The fourth train arrived with hairstylists Matt & Ashley and medics Hayley & Blair.
At the Roadblock, despite being there for far less time, Aly got her box open ahead of Jeff. He said, “This is the most frustrating thing I’ve ever had to do.” But he finally got his box open as well, and he and Jackie left in fourth place. In the taxi he admitted to not wanting to let Jackie down. She was charmed, saying “Awww,” and rubbing his chest. On the last train to Nagano, Alabama couple Libby & CJ said their bullet train was “Not quite a bullet right now. Like, it’s still in the chamber, basically.” At the Roadblock, truck stop manager Mike started working on his puzzle, saying, “I actually enjoy the drumming. It gives me something to get a groove to.” Harley & Jonathan and Bergen & Kurt arrived, and Harley and Bergen began their puzzles.
IF ONLY THERE WAS SPAGHETTI
SoCal couple Laura & Tyler arrived at a restaurant for the Share Detour. Phil explained that teams would have to feed each other the most awkward date food ever: noodles. Using only chopsticks, they each had to feed the other a bowl of noodles while sitting in front of a large, blowing fan. When they finished, they’d receive their next clue. Laura & Tyler starting eating, Laura giving Tyler a huge mouthful of noodles and telling him to slurp. Tyler said, “The Detour was ridiculous, but the noodles didn’t taste so bad.” He told Laura to hold the noodles to the side and he’d catch them in the wind. Olympians Aly & Steve arrived at Nishi-Guchi Zenko-Ji. They chose Chair, the clue for which mentioned an ancient training technique. Lawyers Jelani & Jenny arrived at Share and began slurping their noodles. Jelani said, “There’s not anything that makes Jenny not a good partner. She’s highly motivated, very confident. You can’t ask for more than that.” Laura said, “This was so romantic with the fan - I had broth all over my face.” Tyler added that feeding someone in general isn’t romantic. Laura joked, “We’re like Lady and the Tramp. But I think I’m the tramp.”
A SILENT PARTNER
Back at the Roadblock, Mike, Harley, and Bergen continued to work on their puzzles. Jonathan and Rochelle cheered on their partners, but Kurt stayed quiet. Bergen wondered where his cheerleader was, but Kurt said that he himself didn’t like anyone talking to him when he was under pressure. Mike finally got his box open, and he and Rochelle left in fifth place. Hairstylists Matt & Ashley and medics Hayley & Blair arrived, and Ashley and Hayley began the Roadblock.
At Share, Laura & Tyler finished their noodles and ripped the clue in first place. It told them to make their way to the next Pit Stop, the storage facility-turned-restaurant complex, Patio Daimon. The SoCal couple left to find a taxi while lawyers Jelani & Jenny rushed to finish their noodles. They got the clue and ran to their waiting taxi while Laura & Tyler continued to wander the streets. Laura said, “I’m so pissed we let our taxi guy go.” They finally found another one, Laura adding, “We need to be smarter.”
RIGHT AT HOME
At the train station, Alabama couple Libby & CJ jumped in a taxi, knowing they had a lot of ground to make up. At the Detour Decision Point, blind-dating couple Jeff & Jackie chose Chair, Jackie joking, “We’re not sharing anything. We’re chair people.” Olympians Aly & Steve arrived at the Nagano Olympic Memorial Arena. Phil explained that for Chair, each team member had to push the other in a chair for one lap around the speed skating track. If their combined time was under 3:55, they’d receive their next clue.
Speed skater Aly said, “It’s like I’m home.” As they laced up their skates, she explained that watching the ’98 Nagano Games in that very arena was when she decided to become an Olympic speed skater. She sat in the chair first, the gun went off, and Steve began pushing. Aly told him, “Don’t rush too much, you know?” Steve explained that as a two-time Olympic bobsledder, his strength was pushing. He added that although the straightaways were easy, he was cautious on the turns because that’s where they could wipe out. He finished his lap in 1:47, and then Aly took her turn. Steve said, “Who else can say they have an Olympian on the back of their chair?” Despite her skating experience, the fact that Steve weighed twice as much as she did meant Aly had to use all her strength to push him. Nevertheless, they finished comfortably at 3:31, and got the clue. Of having a Detour where her skating career first began, Aly said, “Everything came full-circle.”
BLIND-DATING DOMINANCE - AGAIN
Lawyers Jelani & Jenny arrived first at the Pit Stop, and learned that they’d won Fitbit wellness kits. Jenny described their relationship as a budding friendship, and said they were very focused on the Race. Then Laura & Tyler joined them on the mat. When Phil asked if they’d looked into each other’s eyes and seen anything. Tyler said, “Dollar signs.” Laura added, “I don’t think we can complain - we’re in second place and we met each other hours ago.” The teams ended with a group selfie on the mat.
Back at the Roadblock, Harley, Bergen, Ashley and Hayley all worked on their puzzles. Harley finished, and as he and Jonathan ripped the clue in sixth place, they found the invitation to Date Night. They were thrilled to learn that they’d get to relax at a Japanese hot springs during the Pit Stop. Bergen then completed his puzzle in seventh place. Back at Matsushiro Castle, Libby opted to do the Roadblock. Ashley finished her puzzle in eighth, leaving Hayley struggling alone. Relegated to the sidelines, Blair told her to “Try to make progress.” Finally she got the box open.
SLIPPING AND SLURPING
At the Detour Decision Point, truck stop couple Mike & Rochelle chose Chair. Then Harley & Jonathan and Bergen & Kurt arrived together, and both chose Share. Libby began on her puzzle at the Roadblock, while Aly & Steve arrived at the Pit Stop. Aly called Nagano “one of the best cities ever. It has a place in my heart, for sure.” As Libby got her box open, hairstylists Matt & Ashley arrived at the Detour Decision Point and chose Chair. Medics Hayley & Blair also arrived, but had trouble finding the clues. In their taxi, Libby saw an advertisement for Komachi Wedding and said it was an omen. CJ denied seeing it. “It’s not an omen unless we both see it.” At the ice arena, blind-dating couple Jeff & Jackie joked around as they laced up their skates. Jackie said, “He’s so cute. I feel like I’ve known him for years.” They began their first lap with Jackie pushing, but she soon fell. Harley & Jonathan and Bergen & Kurt arrived at the noodle restaurant. They sat down in front of the massive fans and began awkwardly digging into their noodles. Jeff & Jackie completed their second attempt at Chair, but missed the required time of 3:55, coming in at 4:10. Truck stop couple Mike & Rochelle then arrived. Jeff considered switching Detours, but Jackie said, “We’re not going anywhere else.”
Jackie began pushing Jeff on their third attempt, while Rochelle simultaneously pushed Mike on their first. Meanwhile, medics Hayley & Blair finally found the Detour clues, and chose Chair. At the ice arena, Mike fell, but Jeff managed to push Jackie across the finish line in 3:54. They left for the Pit Stop in fourth place while Mike & Rochelle regrouped for another attempt. After finding the Detour clues, Alabama couple Libby & CJ chose Share. At the restaurant, Kurt struggled to eat the noodles. “I hate the taste - it’s making me sick.” He was also annoyed at Bergen for pressuring him rather than letting him eat at his own pace. Harley & Jonathan fared better, laughing and downing large mouthfuls. Bergen said it was a disadvantage not knowing his partner: “We’ve got to get on the same page really quick, or else we’re going to fall apart.” Meanwhile, Harley & Jonathan finished and ripped the clue in fifth place. They took off in their taxi, figuring they’d just “crushed” Bergen & Kurt. The blind-dating couple finished their noodles shortly thereafter, and left for the Pit Stop sixth.
PLAYING IT SAFE
Back at chair, Mike & Rochelle struggled through their second attempt. But five seconds from the cutoff time Mike slipped and fell. The chair then crashed into the wall, sending Rochelle sprawling onto the ice. She got up complaining that her wrist hurt, and asked to see a medic. After getting checked out, she and Mike contemplated switching Detours. Hairstylists Matt & Ashley then arrived, donning “I (heart) NY” hats and dancing around in their skates. Mike & Rochelle decided to switch, not wanting to incur more injury. “We have such a long race ahead of us, it’s not worth the risk at all.”
Matt & Ashley failed in their first attempt, so Matt said Ashley should push first and he would finish. Medics Hayley & Blair and Alabama couple Libby & CJ headed to Chair and Share respectively. At the Pit Stop, Harley & Jonathan arrived fourth. They were excited to relax on Date Night, and joked about being the old guys on the Race. Back at Chair, despite some sketchy skating, Matt & Ashley finished in 3:47. Bergen & Kurt arrived at the Pit Stop fifth, followed closely by Jeff & Jackie. Jackie said she was happy to be paired with Jeff, calling him “perfect.” When Phil asked about the last time he’d been called perfect, Jeff joked that it was by his mom.
At Share, Mike & Rochelle began eating their noodles. But after attempting to swallow a huge bite, Mike choked and spit everything back into the bowl. Rochelle, however, had no problem, and slurped up her mouthfuls effortlessly. As Matt & Ashley arrived at the Pit Stop in seventh, medics Hayley & Blair began Chair. Mike & Rochelle finished their noodles and left for the Pit Stop in eighth, saying, “Eating challenges - right up our alley.”
FOUR SKATES ARE BETTER THAN TWO
After a vigorous lap by Blair, Hayley took her turn pushing. But as the seconds ticked by, she barely even got moving, and they didn’t drift across the finish line until almost seven minutes later. Libby & CJ then arrived at Share, happy to be eating noodles since they were hungry. On their second attempt around the arena, Blair kicked his skates along the ice as Hayley pushed. But only a few feet from the finish line, Hayley fell. Re-lacing her skates, she suggested going first and letting Blair finish. Mike & Rochelle arrived at the Pit Stop in eighth. Meanwhile, in their third attempt on the ice, Blair plowed down the homestretch. They crossed the line at exactly 3:55, and ripped the clue in ninth place. They struggled to find a taxi, however, and Libby & CJ then finished their noodles. As the Alabama couple received the clue, the medics found a taxi, Blair saying, “I hope the other Detour isn’t super easy.” Both teams raced to the Pit Stop, Hayley saying, “Phil may break us up today.”
But their partnership was saved when the medics arrived first. Blair told the greeter he looked like a break-dancer, and (sort of) demonstrated the Windmill on the mat. As the greeter pulled him to his feet, Phil told them they were still in the Race. Blair said, “We can be tons better. We’re just not hitting our stride yet.” Finally Libby & CJ arrived, and were eliminated. CJ said, “Just being around her, I’m always happy…. I’m in love with her.” Libby added, “Still working on my ring.”