The 24th season of the Amazing Race will premiere on Sunday, February 23 at 8pm ET with the episode “Back in the Saddle.” As you could guess from the title, if you don’t know already, it’s All-Stars once again, meaning we’ve seen all these teams once, and sometimes twice, before. Three teams (Margie & Luke, the Globetrotters, and the cowboys) were on “Unfinished Business” (season 18), meaning they’re running the Race for the third time. Also interestingly, a full four teams come from a single season (22), meaning we have two groups of Racers that have been together before
I did see an earlier thread on this, but I decided to start my own just so the first post could be the preseason:
Stuck in the Desert and Officially Detained - or, Philiminated with extreme prejudice.
No one yet, but just wait!
Flat Tire - or, not likely to get anywhere soon.
No one yet.
Stopping for Gas - or, not broken-down, exactly, but not a good sign.
Bopper & Mark (5th place, Season 20) - During their original race, Bopper & Mark had the distinction of coming in last place a total of three times. I think that’s a record for a single season, although I haven’t exhaustively checked. They’re also the oldest team on average, although they’re individually younger than Mom Margie and Dad David. I rather like these guys, and (as Phil points out) they’re now unemployed and could use a million bucks more than most, but I think against the stiffer competition this season they’ll soon be gone.
Joey & Meghan (5th place, Season 22) - Joey & Meghan surprised me in their original season, making it all the way to 5th place despite, on paper, not having all that many strengths (seriously - YouTube vloggers? Is there any other single profession whose members would be less prepared to run the Race?). However, they were consistently in the same place for pretty much every leg, finishing 4th, 5th, or 6th in nine of the ten legs they ran (with one top-three finish). Contrast that with same-season John & Jessica (three top-threes before being Philiminated) and Dave & Connor (four top-threes) and Joey & Meghan start looking pretty weak. A good attitude gets you far, but probably not far enough.
Caroline & Jennifer (4th place, Season 22) - Caroline & Jennifer made it to fourth place, gradually improving over the course of the race. However, they did that with a little help from hockey brothers and eventual winners Bates & Anthony. Bates & Anthony aren’t here this time, and the competition is tougher.
Brendon & Rachel (3rd place, Season 20) - Brendon & Rachel are now married. Hurray! That will totally change the intra-team dynamics! Or, you know, not. The last time, Brendon had to carry this team; I expect this time to be no different. However, they honestly didn’t do so bad, getting a string of top-three finishes and eventually crossing the finish line. That makes it hard to pin this team down, but I think there are a string of other teams that look a lot stronger.
"Rapido! Por Favor?" - or, making meaningless ineffectual comments from the back seat, but in no immediate danger.
Margie & Luke (3rd place, Season 14 / 8th place, Season 18) - Margie & Luke are one of the three teams competing this season that also competed on the last “All-Stars” race, the one they called “Unfinished Business.” Amusingly, I looked back at my pre-season predictions for Unfinished Business, and I had predicted the Cowboys, the Globetrotters, and Margie & Luke (the three teams running again this season) as teams 1-2-3. That’s not the way it went down, obviously, because Margie & Luke wound up finishing all the way back in eighth place. Their finish in “Unfinished Business” was due in no small part to a breakdown by Luke, and I’m a little skeptical that he can really handle another race against quality competition. To be fair, he is now three years older, wich might make a difference, and Margie & Luke are now one of the most experienced teams, having run two previous races.
John & Jessica (9th place, Season 22) - This team, if you remember, is the only one to have been eliminated with an Express Pass in hand. Clearly Jessica didn’t strangle John to death directly after their Philimination, which speaks well of her self-control. However, they are now engaged to be married, which brings her judgment into question. I kid, but John’s self-absorption was the direct cause of their earlier elimination, and although I trust he’s learned what not to do on this next race, I’m not sure he’s learned who not to be, if you catch my drift. I would expect John & Jessica to do well at the beginning of the Race, but let’s see how they react the first time they get into trouble.
Leo & Jamal (4th place, Season 23) - I admit I’m one of the people who found Leo & Jamal annoying, because they seemed to jump at chances to be dicks for no other reason than that they could. Still, they don’t rank all that high on the Grand Historical TAR Scale of Douchebaggery, so seeing them again doesn’t bother me that much. I do think, however, that their approach needlessly alienates other teams, so it’s a net strategic minus.
Natalie & Nadiya (4th place, Season 21) - The twins are kind of loud, but they actually performed pretty well before stalling out (zing! - they couldn’t drive a stick) near the end of the Race. I’m not quite sure how their style stacks up against the rest of the teams this season, but we might see this first episode.
In the Passing Lane - or, ahead of the pack, but not quite comfortably.
Dave & Connor (8th place, Season 22) - This might be an interesting team - Dave, if you remember, ruptured his Achilles on the second leg of season 22, and they had to withdraw… but not before racking up first place finishes in legs three and four, with Dave on crutches. That’s pretty impressive on its face, but Dave & Connor did have the advantage that they knew they couldn’t win the Race, and so could afford to run each leg like it was their last. And they did, I think, which helps put their string of top-three finishes into perspective. Still, we really know less about this team than any other, and they have less experience than any other team at running a full race. Contrariwise, they’re a pretty strong team on paper: Dave’s an outdoorsman and Connor’s a professional cyclist. It will be instructive to see how they do in the first few legs this season, when Dave is healthy and they still have a chance to win.
Jet & Cord (2nd place, Season 16 / 6th place, Season 18) - Jet & Cord kind of got hosed on “Unfinished Business,” with multiple other teams helping each other, resulting in the Globetrotters U-Turning the Cowboys and the Cowboys being eliminated. (“Getting hosed” being a relative thing, here: not that the other teams did anything unsportsmanlike in the slightest, just that were I Jet or Cord, I’d be frustrated about that.) Still, they wound up slightly underperforming my expectations. However, they’re a strong team, used to competition, and now with more Race experience than most. They will be hard to beat.
Flight Time & Big Easy (4th place, Season 15 / 2nd place, Season 18) - The Globetrotters have literally the most experience of any team on the Amazing Race, having completed a total of 23 legs (11 in Season 15 and 12 in Season 18). They had their big mental-block breakdown back in their first season, but that didn’t stop them from getting all the way to the finish line in “Unfinished Business.” I expect them to do the same here.
Cruisin’ with Earl - or, drivin’ on the shoulder, takin’ shortcuts, and generally kickin’ butt.
No one yet–this ranking needs to be earned.