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In Phuket, Thailand, Mike & Rochelle became the first previously-dating couple to win a leg. Harley & Jonathan never caught up after landing in Thailand twelve hours after the other teams, but were saved by non-elimination.
SOME MORE COMFORTABLE THAN OTHERS
In the rural and mountainous city of Nagano, Japan, teams headed to the hotel at the Pit Stop. Blind-dating lawyers Jelani & Jenny chose to stay in separate rooms, as did SoCal couple Laura & Tyler. Tyler said, “It’s nice to have our own time, and then… it makes it exciting and fresh to start the Race again.” Jeff & Jackie, on the other hand, had no trouble sharing their space. Jackie said, “This morning we were picking out each other’s underwear, and it’s crazy, within three legs of the Race we’re that comfortable with each other.” Then she closed their door, on which hung a “do not disturb” sign.
At 4:35 p.m., Jelani & Jenny ripped the clue, which told them to fly to Phuket, Thailand. Once there, they’d have to make their way to Patong Beach, where they’d find their next clue under the Patong Beach sign. Jumping into a taxi, Jelani said he wasn’t surprised they were doing well. Jenny added that as a newly-dating couple they had no expectations of each other, and therefore set the bar really high. They were also still being polite. Jelani added, “When you first meet someone, you meet their representative.” Laura & Tyler left second, believing that the pre-existing couples butted heads more. Laura said she wasn’t getting as frustrated with Tyler as she would in a pre-existing relationship.
Olympians Aly & Steve left in third place, followed by fitness trainer Harley and New Kids on the Block member Jonathan. In flashback, Harley & Jonathan enjoyed Date Night, sitting in a pool of steaming water at a Japanese hot springs. They believed they now had an advantage, being “recharged, relaxed, renewed.” As gay blind-dating couple Bergen & Kurt left fifth, they admitted that they weren’t a match. They said they both liked tough, muscular men – and they’d basically ended up with the same person. But they added that they could run the Race as good friends.
Jelani & Jenny and Laura & Tyler arrived at Narita Airport but found everything closed, with counters not opening until the next morning. The other teams rolled in and realized that nobody was getting tickets that night. As the sun rose, most teams rushed the Air Asia counter, trying to book a flight that arrived in Phuket at 4:50 p.m. Over at Philippine Airlines, however, Laura & Tyler commented on not seeing anyone else, Laura adding, “I don’t think there was an earlier flight.” At the first counter, hairstylists Matt & Ashley and Olympians Aly & Steve got tickets. Waiting in line, truck stop couple Mike & Rochelle, Harley & Jonathan and Bergen & Kurt learned that the flight was almost full. Jeff & Jackie and ER nurse Hayley and Navy surgeon Blair got tickets. Mike & Rochelle did as well. Then the flight was full. Shut out, Harley & Jonathan and Bergen & Kurt left to find another flight.
BLEAKER AND BLEAKER
SoCal couple Laura & Tyler got tickets for a 9:10 p.m. arrival on Philippine Airlines, as did lawyers Jelani & Jenny, who also hadn’t seen any other teams. At Cathay Pacific, Bergen & Kurt found a flight landing at 11:59 p.m. and hurriedly booked it. But Harley & Jonathan had less luck, finding only an ANA flight landing the next morning. Matt & Ashley, Aly & Steve, Jeff & Jackie, Hayley & Blair, and Mike & Rochelle took off on the first flight. Jelani & Jenny and Laura & Tyler met up on the second flight, joking, “We’ve got each other.” Then they took off. Back at the counter, Harley said, “It just keeps getting bleaker and bleaker.” They hoped Bergen & Kurt hadn’t found a flight, but the newly-dating team was currently boarding their plane. As they took off, Harley & Jonathan collected their tickets for a 9:35 a.m. arrival the following day. They remained optimistic though, believing that anything could happen on the Race.
In Phuket, Thailand, the first flight landed and teams ran for taxis. Driving through the crowded streets, Rochelle said she and Mike have been underdogs, but were ready to prove they’re worthy of being there. Passing a pickup truck loaded with people, ER nurse Hayley cringed. “I do ER traumas. This is, I feel like, how traumas happen.” Jeff said it looked like they were in the middle of a rainforest, Jackie adding, “It’s nice and moist, for sure.” When Matt asked his driver if there were nice ladies in Patong Beach, the driver replied, “Ladyboys!”
PARTY IN PHUKET
As darkness descended, teams arrived in hopping Patong Beach. Matt & Ashley arrived at the sign first, and found a street hawker with their next clue. It was posted on the end of a selfie stick, and said there were five rooms for teams to share at the Patong Beach Bed and Breakfast. They’d receive their next clue at their selfie stick release time. As Aly & Steve arrived, both teams discovered a release time of 8:30 a.m. With a free night ahead, they went out to dinner as a foursome. Uncorking a bottle of wine, Matt said that Ashley was his other half, and the Race was just going to strengthen their bond.
Mike & Rochelle also got the 8:30 a.m. release time, while Jeff & Jackie and Hayley & Blair got 8:45. The three teams headed out for drinks, Jeff saying, “I’d get in a lot of trouble here.” At the Patong Beach Bed and Breakfast they found their rooms. Jackie said she and Jeff had chemistry, but it was too soon to tell what would happen. She added that at least they could use the room by themselves before the other teams showed up. (Meanwhile Jenny & Jelani arrived and got the 8:45 a.m. release time, while Laura & Tyler and Bergen & Kurt got 9:00.) Jeff joked about what she meant by “use the room by ourselves.” Jackie laughed, “Perv.”
A ROLLER COASTER WITHOUT A SEATBELT
The next morning teams still hadn’t seen Harley & Jonathan. Meanwhile, the guys sat in the airport in Singapore, their layover city. Boarding the plane, Jonathan said they were set to land at 9:35 a.m., and they’d be making a mad dash to Patong Beach. They still had hope, saying maybe the course didn’t start last night. “That’s the thing with the Race – you never know.” They finally took off for Thailand.
At 8:30 a.m., hairstylists Matt & Ashley, Olympians Aly & Steve, and truck stop couple Mike & Rochelle ripped the clue. It told them to make their way to Baan Teelanka, an upside-down house. They jumped into taxis and took off as lawyers Jelani & Jenny, Jeff & Jackie, and medics Hayley & Blair got the clue at 8:45 a.m. It was mayhem on the road, with taxis passing each other up and teams shouting at their drivers to go faster. In the back of an open-air taxi, Hayley described it as “riding on a roller coaster without a seatbelt.” Finally, Bergen & Kurt and Laura & Tyler left at 9:00 a.m.
TEAM MURPHY’S LAW
Meanwhile, Harley & Jonathan landed in Phuket and jumped in a taxi to Patong Beach. They feared being in last place – and things didn’t get any better when they stopped for gas. Harley joked, “We should be hashtag Murphy’s Law.” Olympians Aly & Steve arrived at Baan Teelanka, and were amazed to find an entire house with inverted décor, including a perfectly-made bed and a fully-set table suspended from the ceiling. As Mike & Rochelle and Matt & Ashley arrived, Aly found the clue in the bathroom. She and Steve ripped it in first place and discovered a Detour: Ski or Tree. In Ski, teams had to wakeboard for one lap around the Phuket Wave Park while being pulled by a cable. In Tree, teams had to dress like waiters and deliver a full meal by zipline to waiting customers. If they served the food intact, they’d receive their next clue.
Aly & Steve chose Ski, while the other two teams chose Tree. Then the 8:45 a.m. group arrived. Everyone grabbed the clue and Jeff & Jackie chose Ski, while Hayley & Blair and Jelani & Jenny chose Tree. Back at the Patong Beach sign, Harley & Jonathan got the clue and saw the 9:00 a.m. departure time. Realizing the other teams had had an overnight hold, they took off for the bed and breakfast. “We’re still in it!”
A FEW ITEMS SHORT
On the way to Ski, Steve said that he and Aly were athletes and were confident they could pick up wakeboarding quickly. As locals performed some fancy moves off the ramps at the wave park, Aly began her first attempt – and almost immediately fell. Steve got only a little further before wiping out. At the Flying Hanuman park, medics Hayley & Blair, hairstylists Matt & Ashley, lawyers Jelani & Jenny, and truck stop couple Mike & Rochelle got into their waiter uniforms. Jelani & Jenny started up the rocky hillside first, followed by Hayley & Blair. At a food stall halfway up the path, they found plates of fruit and sandwiches, bowls of soup, and glasses of champagne and juice. Missing the full menu posted behind the counter, Jelani & Jenny took only sandwiches and juice. Behind them, Hayley & Blair did the same, but when Hayley saw the menu, she said, “Why is all that stuff on there?” Blair replied, “It doesn’t matter,” and kept walking. Behind them, Matt & Ashley and Mike & Rochelle noted the full menu, and took one of everything. Heading up the hill, Blair pointed out that Jelani & Jenny had the same items that he and Hayley did. Hayley said, “Well, that doesn’t mean it’s right.”
Back at the Patong Beach Bed and Breakfast, Harley & Jonathan ripped their clue and jumped in a taxi to the upside-down house. At the Phuket Wave Park, newly-dating couple Jeff & Jackie arrived as Olympians Aly & Steve made their fourth attempt. Aly did well until she was suddenly pulled into a faceplant. Then Steve, after a little wobbly going, also wiped out.
Rigged to the zipline at Tree, Jenny stepped off the platform and sailed through the trees squealing, “This is awesome!” Jelani followed, but their meager delivery of sandwiches and juice wasn’t enough, and they were rejected. On the start platform, Hayley & Blair noticed Matt & Ashley arriving with the full meal, and realized their own mistake. Hayley said, “We need to stop and think. Because now we’re going to be back at the bottom again.” In interview she said, “Doctors don’t know everything. As a nurse, ninety-nine percent of the time we’re the ones who say, ‘Wait a second, this isn’t right.’” She added to Blair, “Your listening skills are sub-par.”
Matt & Ashley ziplined next, but Matt’s sandwich flew off his tray. As blind-dating couples Bergen & Kurt and Laura & Tyler got dressed, Jelani & Jenny returned to the food station and took one of each item. Over at Ski, Jackie got off to a strong start, making it all the way down the straightaway on her first attempt. But then she, too, had a nasty faceplant. For his part, Jeff fell ten feet from the starting point. When he shouted, “What was that?” Jackie replied, “A lake enema.” Back at Tree, Rochelle began her first attempt, while Hayley continued to henpeck Blair: “Don’t even listen to me, because what do I know? Why would I open my mouth if I thought I was wrong?” Mike ziplined, and then he and Rochelle delivered their meal. They were approved, and Rochelle said, “We’re used to being on the bottom and fighting, so being ahead in first felt so good.” They ripped the clue, which told them to make their way to My Way Cabaret. Jenny then made her second attempt, but an item fell from her tray.
In the parking lot, Rochelle mentioned My Way Cabaret, and a local said, “Ladyboy show cabaret.” They pulled out in their taxi, Mike saying, “A ladyboy show? Oh, boy.” The medics’ second attempt on the zipline was successful, but Hayley still wasn’t satisfied, complaining that they could’ve been in first. Blair said, “I know it’s going to be hard to squash it, but you’ve got to squash it.” Ashley lost a few items from her tray on the hairstylists’ second attempt, but Laura & Tyler got it on the first try and ripped the clue in third place.
Back at Ski, Aly began her eighth attempt, but neither she nor Steve could complete the required lap. They finally decided to switch Detours. After Jackie crashed on her second attempt, she and Jeff decided the same. At the upside-down house, Harley & Jonathan chose Tree. Jonathan said he didn’t like heights, but he wasn’t going to let fear get the best of him.
As truck stop couple Mike & Rochelle arrived at My Way Cabaret, Phil explained that teams had to dress in costume, and then learn and perform the choreography to a song. Mike & Rochelle walked past the ladyboys performing in heels, sparkly outfits, and feathered headdresses. As the couple changed into stockings and shimmering yellow leotards, Mike said, “I feel fabulous.” They then began applying their makeup, Rochelle cracking up at Mike’s thick, penciled eyebrows.
As he came to a stop on his third attempt at the zipline, Matt’s soup spilled in a wave over his arm. Bergen & Kurt, however, had more luck, getting approved on their second attempt. They received the clue in fourth place. Then Jelani & Jenny made their fourth attempt, Jenny covering her eyes as Jelani slid up to the platform. But they were successful, finishing fifth. Back at My Way Cabaret, Mike & Rochelle’s makeup was approved by the ladyboys. They passed Hayley & Blair going down the stairs, and the medics hooted and clapped at the sight of them in costume. Then Laura & Tyler arrived, Tyler saying, “You’re about to see a lady-man, fellas!” Getting dressed he added, “Those boys downstairs better get out that Baht! Better make it rain!”
A GLASS OF CHIVES
Stepping awkwardly through rehearsal, Rochelle said they were stressed to see another dancing challenge, since they’d struggled so much at the dance in Tokyo. Back at the zipline, as Matt & Ashley prepared for yet another attempt, they saw the Olympians arrive. Matt said, “We cannot let that team pass us.” Then his champagne glass tipped over into his soup. In a vain attempt to remedy the situation, he scooped back up a mixture of soup and champagne. Ashley added, “Take the chive out of the champagne glass, babe.” But they knew it wouldn’t be accepted. Aly & Steve, however, got the clue on their first attempt, and left in sixth place.
While ripping the clue at the cabaret, newly-dating couple Bergen & Kurt found Date Night. Mike & Rochelle finished rehearsal and headed in to perform, while up in the dressing room Jelani & Jenny arrived, and Hayley applied Blair’s eyeliner. Blair said, “I’m surprised she’s not jamming this into my eyeball.” Hayley said, “I’m not as upset anymore, but he just has to start listening.” Tyler complained that he’d break an ankle in his high heels, but Bergen & Kurt seemed to enjoy the experience, saying, “I bet those other guys are so uncomfortable.” On their fifth attempt at the zipline, Matt & Ashley were finally approved, and they left in seventh place. Jeff & Jackie then completed their second attempt, and left in eighth.
Mike’s beard amused the audience as he and Rochelle made their first attempt at the dance, but they were rejected. Because no other teams had finished rehearsing, however, they could immediately start over. Back at Tree, Harley & Jonathan got into their waiter uniforms. As Aly & Steve, Matt & Ashley and Jeff & Jackie got into costumes and makeup at the cabaret, Mike & Rochelle began their eighth attempt at the dance. They were finally approved, holding onto first place. The clue told them to make their way to the Pit Stop at Baba Nest Rooftop Bar. As Mike & Rochelle hurried back to the dressing room, medics Hayley & Blair and SoCal couple Laura & Tyler took the stage together. But missteps and bad timing meant rejection for both teams. Jelani & Jenny also failed in their first attempt.
Back at the zipline, Harley was proud of Jonathan for conquering his fear of heights. Jonathan said, “Harley, he’s my rock. He’s the calmer in the relationship.” They successfully delivered the food and ripped the clue. Back at the cabaret, Jelani & Jenny made their third attempt, while Hayley & Blair made their fourth. By putting adequate pizzazz into it, the medics received the clue second. Matt & Ashley headed out of rehearsal in bubblegum pink outfits (“This is outrageous!”) along with Aly & Steve, while Jeff & Jackie continued to rehearse.
MAKING MAGIC HAPPEN
In their taxi to the Pit Stop, Hayley & Blair agreed to move on from past mistakes. Hayley added, “You should be happy that… at least I have a backbone.” Blair had no comment. At the cabaret, Jelani & Jenny got the clue in third place. Then Mike & Rochelle arrived at the Baba Nest Rooftop Bar, where Phil stood on a deck with a spectacular view of the Andaman Sea. He told them they were team number one, and awarded them with a trip to Prague. Mike said it was awesome to be the first previously-dating couple to be number one. “Maybe we’re the most compatible, who knows?”
At the cabaret, in regards to Matt, Ashley said, “It was focusing on looking like you were having a fabulous time, and he was having a phenomenal time.” They were approved, receiving the clue in fourth place. Next went Laura & Tyler and Aly & Steve, in their seventh and third attempts respectively. Tyler joked that he and Steve were able to show off their legs together and “make magic happen.” Both teams got the clue. Finally Jeff & Jackie finished rehearsing and headed into the theater. Jackie said that as a dancer it was an easy challenge for her, but you’re only as strong as your partner. Bergen & Kurt were approved on their sixth attempt, and received the clue in seventh place.
Aly & Steve and Laura & Tyler jumped into taxis to the Pit Stop. Steve said, “Luckily I have no shame,” while Laura joked about Tyler being a hot commodity. In their taxi, Ashley asked Matt where the fanny pack was, and he gasped in horror, realizing he’d forgotten it. “I left it there! Oh, no!” He and Ashley shouted at the driver to turn around. As Jeff & Jackie worked through their third attempt onstage, Matt & Ashley arrived back at the cabaret, grabbed the pack from the dressing room, and jumped back in their taxi. Jeff & Jackie then got the clue in eighth place. Riding to the Pit Stop, Ashley took Matt’s hand, telling him she loved him. He said, “Ashley always has my back, no matter what.”
Harley & Jonathan arrived at the cabaret and began getting dressed. They joked, “Let’s make the gays proud.” Harley added, “Harlisha is about to make an appearance.” At the Pit Stop, Hayley & Blair, Jelani & Jenny, Laura & Tyler and Aly & Steve ran in on top of one other. On the road, Matt & Ashley came up behind Bergen & Kurt, and after a foot race, the hairstylists eked out sixth place. Finally Jeff & Jackie arrived in eighth. Phil asked the group if there was any new romance on the Race, and Ashley said that Jeff & Jackie “babe it.” Jeff countered, “I only said babe once!” Hayley said it was a hard situation in which to develop a dating relationship, because there was so much other stress. When Phil asked if she and Blair have seen each other at their worst, Tyler chimed in, “He’s wearing makeup.”
WILL YOU MARRY ME?
Matt then stepped forward, saying he had a promise to make to Ashley. He said he promised to tell her every morning that he loved her, and that every night he’d give her a kiss goodnight – if she promised to make him the happiest man in the world. He then got down on one knee: “Ashley Michelle Gordon, will you marry me?” Ashley drew him into a big kiss, and he slipped a ring on her finger. Bergen & Kurt then offered them their Date Night. Bergen was crying though. He said he’d wanted something like that for so long, and he’d hoped to find love on the Race. Giving him a hug, Ashley said, “I’m taken now, but I love you.” Everyone ended with a group selfie on the mat.
Finally Harley & Jonathan arrived. Phil told them they were the last team, but that it was a non-elimination leg. They jumped for joy, Harley saying, “I have post-traumatic flight disorder.” Phil warned them that they’d have to complete a Speed Bump on the next leg. Jonathan said, “Non-elimination was the shockitiest shock of all shocks.” They added that the Race was an emotional roller coaster going up and down, and now they were back up.