Eric and Lisa -- who are both yoga studio owners and instructors from Encino, CA -- were eliminated at the fifteenth season's starting line in the Los Angeles River basin after they were the last team to finish a challenge held before the race technically even began.
"To be the first team eliminated -- the pain, the shame is gone for everybody else," opined Eric after the ouster. "We took a beating for everybody."
"We set them free..." added Lisa.
Garrett, a 28-year-old day trader from Aptos, CA, and Jessica is a 27-year-old freelance editor from Larkspir, CA, were subsequently eliminated at the end of the two-hour premiere broadcast when they were the last team to arrive at the Pit Stop in Vietnam's Cho Cai Be market.
"It's a tough loss. I just feel like we're stronger -- stronger than what are placing shows," said Garret.
"I think Jess kept a really cool head most of the time on the race, and that's what I'm looking for in a life partner -- somebody that's able to keep a cool head and be calm through life's crises. But I don't know if we're closer to marriage. You never know."
The Amazing Race's fifteenth season premiere began with the 12 teams meeting host Phil Keoghan at the starting line in the Los Angeles River basin, where he immediately revealed to them that they would have to complete a challenge before leaving the starting line and whoever came in last would be eliminated.
The teams ran to their bags and ripped open their first clue, which instructed them to fly to Tokyo, Japan. However first they had to search a giant chain-link fence wall that had more than a thousand license plates hanging on it. They would have to find one of 11 license plates from Tokyo's Shinagawa District -- their first destination.
Teams could also notice that the Japanese symbol for Shinagawa was printed at the top of their clue and would correspond to the correct license plate. Teams that found a correct license plate would receive a ticket on one of two flights to Tokyo, while the team left without a plate would be the first team ever eliminated at The Amazing Race's starting line.
Eric and Lisa and "Engaged Couple" Lance Layne and Keri Morrione were the last two teams searching for the final license plate, and when it was finally found by Lance and Keri it signaled the end of the race for Eric and Lisa.
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"I was really looking forward to this, but this is life," opined Lisa after being ousted. "It just means onto the next adventure."
The first six teams to complete the challenge -- Maria and Tiffany, Marcy and Ronald, Meghan and Cheyne, Flght Time and Big Easy, Gary and Matt, and Zev and Justin -- all received tickets on an American Airlines flight leaving L.A. for Tokyo are 12:45PM. While waiting, Tiffany lied to Flight Time about her profession, claiming she and Maria worked with homeless youth instead of playing professional poker.
"We don't want them to know we make a lot of money playing poker because we feel like it's going to make them not want to help us so much," explained Tiffany.
The final five teams to complete the challenge -- Dan and Sam, Mika and Canaan, Garrett and Jessica, Ericka and Brian, and Lance and Keri -- all received tickets on a United Airlines flight leaving L.A. for Tokyo at 1:15PM.
The first flight arrived at 3:55PM and the teams on the second flight caught a big break when their flight touched down in Tokyo 30 minutes early at 4:03PM -- meaning all 11 teams raced to the Tokyo Tower Studios, a television studio at the base of the Tokyo Tower.
Once all 11 teams arrived at the studio they learned they'd be competing in the fifteenth season's first Roadblock, a task that only one person from each team can perform.
Dubbed "Sushi Roulette," a Japanese game show host would spin a wheel containing nine sushi rolls and two wasabi bombs. The contestants had to eat whatever landed in front of them on the wheel, but they needed to keep playing until they received a wasabi bomb. When they did, they had only two minutes to consume the hot bomb to receive their next clue.
Ron and Cheyne were the first to land on the wasabi spot on the first spin, and both ate their bombs in the allotted two minutes and received their next clue -- which revealed they now had to use a colored flag to lead a group of 20 Japanese tourists from the studio audience through the overcrowded Shibuya Scramble Crossing street intersection to a Pit Stop at the Konno Hachimangu Shrine.
Garrett and Justin received the wasabi bombs on the next spin and were also able to finish in time and leave the studio with their tourists. Unfortunately the same couldn't be said for Maria in the next round, as she struggled and eventually ran out of time. Things only got worse for Maria as the wasabi bomb landed in front of her again on the very next spin, meaning she'd have to give the challenge another go almost immediately.
"I can't do another one Tiffany," pleaded Maria.
Despite her lack of confidence Maria was able to eat the second wasabi bomb with only one second remaining, and she left the studio with Tiffany and their tourists.
"I love you so much," praised Tiffany. "That was the most amazing thing ever."
Big Easy and Lance were both able to finish their wasabi bombs fairly quickly following the next spin, and they also left the studio. Canaan got it on the next spin and was also able to finish.
While Gary and Brian were the next two contestants to try the wasabi bomb, Brian was unable to finish in the allotted time as Gary did and left the studio with his son. On the next spin it landed on Dan and he ate the wasabi bomb with plenty of time to spare -- leaving only Brian and a frustrated Ericka.
"I should have done this challenge," she said to him.
Brian gave it another shot and was able to eat the wasabi bomb in the two minutes, as he and Ericka were the last team to leave the studio.
"You can throw up later," she told him.
As the teams led their tourists through the crowded crossing, Meghan and Cheyne were the first to reach the Pit Stop at the Konno Hachimangu Shrine. For finishing first they won a trip for two to Aspen and Vail. Zev and Justin finished just behind Meghan and Cheyne, followed by Lance and Keri in third, Marcy and Ron in fourth and Flight Time and Big Easy in fifth.
Despite being the last team to leave the studio, Brian and Ericka received help from a person they described as "an angel" -- who led them straight to the Pit Stop in sixth place.
"It keeps our faith renewed that you absolutely have to just fight until the end," said Ericka.
Tiffany and Maria and Sam and Dan were both having a hard time and decided to help each other try to find the Pit Stop. Tiffany said they befriended the brothers because they're "young, hot, 20-something guys" and was unaware that they're gay; while Sam said they befriended Tiffany and Maria because they work for a non-profit and seemed "passionate," unaware they were lying about their profession.
Despite running around the crossing together initially, Sam and Dan eventually decided to part ways and not continue following Garrett and Jessica. Gary and Matt reached the Pit Stop and finished seventh, with Garrett and Jessica coming in eighth and Sam and Dan in ninth.
Maria and Tiffany were the next team to arrive at the shrine but didn't enter because they realized they were missing two of their 20 tourists.
"This cannot be happening," lamented Tiffany, as she subsequently began to argue with Maria about whose fault it was.
"In the moment, there's so many things going on that I don't necessarily think it's realistic to sit there every second of the way and count if there's 20 people," subsequently explained Tiffany. "I made a mistake."
That mistake allowed Mika and Canaan to reach the Pit Stop in tenth -- however they too were missing a tourist. They quickly recovered the straggler right outside the shrine and finished in tenth.
Maria and Tiffany eventually went back to the shrine minus their two final tourists and were the last team to check in at the Pit Stop -- however they were happy to be informed by Phil that it was a non-elimination leg.
As a result, Maria and Tiffany would incur a two-hour penalty for not checking in with all of their tourists and would have to perform a Speed Bump task at some point during the next leg.
Meghan and Cheyne were the first to leave the Pit Stop at 12:19AM and they learned they needed to fly 2,600 miles to Vietnam. Once they landed in Ho Chi Minh City, they would have to find a bus station and take a two-hour bus ride to the rural village of Cai Be and race on foot to the Ben Tau Du Lich boat docks.
They were followed by Zev and Justin (12:36AM), Lance and Keri (12:40AM), Marcy and Ron (12:41AM), Big Easy and Flight Time (12:42AM), Brian and Ericka (12:44AM), Gary and Matt (12:45AM), Garrett and Jessica (12:51AM), Sam and Dan (12:54AM), Mika and Canaan (1:03AM) and Maria and Tiffany (3:22AM).
Most of the teams used the Internet to book a JAL flight leaving Tokyo for Ho Chi Minh City at 10:30AM, and four teams -- Meghan and Cheyne, Gary and Matt, Brian and Ericka and Maria and Tiffany -- went right to the airport. Unfortunately for them the flight was sold out, but they were able to secure seats on the same flight by buying economy class tickets but sitting in business.
Several teams were upset with Maria and Tiffany for being able to make the same flight as everybody else.
"I can't believe they gave those two chicks a Speed Bump," said Lance. "Bastards should have been sent home."
Making matters worse for Maria and Tiffany was the fact that they were spotted as professional poker players by a fan, meaning the jig was up on their ruse.
"I felt bad for them that they were almost eliminated, but now, game on," said Flight Times.
All of the teams subsequently arrived in Ho Chi Minh City -- with Maria and Tiffany and Sam and Dan sharing a taxi to the Xe Mien Tay bus station, where they arrived together in first place. They were followed by Flight Time and Big Easy, Mika and Canaan and Marcy and Ron. All five teams bought tickets for the 3:30PM bus to Cai Be, as the remaining six teams would have to wait for the 4:45PM bus.
Once they learned that the first bus had already left, the later six teams decided to pool their money together to pay the driver to buy the remaining empty seats and leave a little early -- which worked and got them on the road a little quicker.
However it turned out to be money that wasn't very well spent since they learned upon arriving at the Ben Tau Du Lich boat dock that it wouldn't open until the following morning at 7:00AM.
After camping out on the dock, the teams got their next clues then next morning and learned they'd have to race through the Mekong Delta using sampans to get to nearby mud pits located along the water. Once there, they'd have to collect mud, carry it to a nearby orchard, and use it to fertilize a fruit tree. Once they covered the tree's root system up to the designated red line, a farmer would hand them their next clue.
Prior to leaving in the sampan, Maria and Tiffany were hit with their Speed Bump -- which required them to find a soup stand and order the ingredients for a traditional Vietnamese soup known as pho. When they returned to the dock, they would have to combine the ingredients and serve the soup to the dock master's liking in order to receive their next clue.
The Speed Bump task was easily completed by the girls, with help from Maria who prepared the soup.
"I'm a big eater of pho," she said. "I've served pho. I love pho. Everything pho."
Just as Maria and Tiffany arrived for the mud challenge, Cheyne and Meghan were leaving after completing it and received their next clue -- which told them to return their boats to the dock and travel by foot to the Cai Be Field.
Meghan and Cheyne were followed by Garrett and Jessica in second, Brian and Ericka in third, Gary and Matt in fourth, Big Easy and Flight Time in fifth, Sam and Dan in sixth, Marcy and Ron in seventh and Lance and Keri in eighth.
Zev and Justin had left in ninth place, however Justin fell in the water while trying to get back into the sampan -- unknowingly dropping their clue.
The friends only realized it once they were back on the delta, and they were forced to return and retrieve the clue. Having lost the lead they had over Maria and Tiffany, the poker players and friends were now neck-and-neck as they left for the field.
Meghan and Cheyne were the first to arrive at Cai Be Field -- where they were met by a Roadblock which required one member of each team to use two flags to herd a group of 150 ducks out of their pen, across a bridge and back again before returning them to their pen. If a team didn't complete the task within the 10-minute time limit, they would relinquish their spot and wait for another open course.
Meghan, Jessica and Ericka all chose to herd the ducks for their teams and quickly found it wasn't as easy as it seemed -- as time expired on all three of them. Jessica opined that she wasn't a big fan of herding animals, and Garrett seemed upset with her.
"Jessica can be very difficult to deal with," said Garrett. "She has a very quick fuse when something isn't going exactly her way."
Sam, Matt, Flight Time and Keri did much better and finished the Roadblock in that order. They received their next clue and learned that they had to race on foot to Cho Cai Be -- a market at the edge of the Mekong River. Once there, they would have to search along the dock for the riverboat Bassac III, which was the Pit Stop for the second leg of the race.
Gary and Matt were subsequently the first team to arrive at the Pit Stop, and they won a pair of kayaks. They were followed by Sam and Dan in second, Flight Time and Big Easy in third and Lance and Keri in fourth.
Zev used a zen-like technique to herd his ducks, completing the Roadblock quickly. Meghan admired Zev's technique and finished right behind him. Zev and Justin arrived at the Pit Stop and finished fifth, while Meghan and Cheyne got there in sixth.
Despite the Speed Bump penalty, Tiffany showed her skills at herding ducks -- which she claimed to have owned growing up -- allowing her and Maria to finish the Roadblock and reach the Pit Stop in seventh place.
While it took her several attempts, Mika was also able to complete the Roadblock. She and Canaan reached the Pit Stop in eighth place, followed by Marcy and Ron in ninth.
It was then down to Jessica and Ericka, as both girls continued to struggle with the herding. While Garrett offered vocal support for Jessica as she tried to finished, he knew it could possibly be falling on deaf ears.
"She doesn't want to hear it from me. She's shut off," he opined. "That's the biggest problem with us. I can never calm her down.
Time expired yet again, and Jessica and Ericka each began another attempt at the Roadblock. Both took a calmer approach to the task and were able to complete it, with Ericka and Brian having a slight lead over Jessica and Garrett as they left for the Pit Stop.
Garrett and Jessica were never able to catch up, as Ericka and Brian were the tenth team to reach the Pit Stop -- eliminating Garrett and Jessica. Garrett was visibly upset following the news that he had been eliminated.
"Does he get angry like this?" Phil asked Jessica.