We began TAR‘s 19th season once again in California because, frankly, it was convenient to the production crew. Also because how else would we get our fill of fake boobies and Baywatch references (three points for spotting the yellow rescue truck in the opening shots!)? You’ve already met the teams on EW.com, but here was your chance to get to know them as stereotypes anew! As the team made make their way into Los Angeles’s Hsi Lai Temple, we met stoned-looking snowboarders (is that redundant?) Andy and Tommy, greedy bastards (and former Survivor winners) Ethan and Jenna, world-sailing father-son duo Laurence and Zac, OCD Cindy and her hapless fiancé Ernie, sassy Southern siblings Justin and Jennifer, farmhand grandparents Bill and Cathi, ditzy blonde twins Liz and Marie, divorced daters Jeremy and Sandy, gay flight attendant partners Ron and Bill, ultra-competitive former NFL couple Marcus and Amani, and former Vegas showgirls Kaylani and Lisa, who claimed to be smart… more on that later.
The teams headed into the temple, where our beloved Phil Keoghan was looking swarthy as usual. He laid out a challenge so simple it was complicated all over again. Basically, it was a word puzzle in which the letters on a paper parasol would unlock the clue to the next location, which somehow featured the letters in the phrase “WANPEI.” In short, it was up to the teams to open up as many parasols as quickly as possible and hope to Confucius that they happened upon the right combination of vowels and consonants on it. According to Google, the Chinese for “needle in a haystack” is 在一個草堆針. So that’s basically what this was. After a moment, Phil explained that the teams were looking for a parasol with the letters “TAI” on it because they’re going to TAIpei, TAIwan. But everything was so new, and Phil went about laying out this process in such a perplexing manner that I suspect no one actually came to that conclusion on his/her own. Adding more insanity to the proceedings, Phil introduced a new element: The last team to figure out the first clue would receive a new penalty, the hazard, which would slow them down somewhere in this leg. Because the challenge was essentially luck-driven, Team Stoner was first out the gate, followed quickly by Team NFL, Team Twin, Team Survivor, and so on and so forth until Team Showgirl brought up the rear.
NEXT: Who needs a passport anyway?