“To Be Continued” seems to be the perfect name of the opening night of “The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business,” the 18th season of the CBS-TV reality series.
Oklahoma cowboy brothers Jet and Cord McCoy took off on their second trip around the world for $1 million in the 12-week series that premiered Sunday night. Through the hour-long episode, there were plenty of twists and turns as the 11 teams faced their first challenge, finding the answer to a clue issued by host Phil Keoghan.
As the show concluded, 10 of the 11 teams had reached the first “pit stop,” the ending point of each episode and usually rest area for the competitors. The one pair that didn’t meet up with Keoghan were the McCoys, ranch-raised cowboys from tiny Tupelo, Okla., that have been rodeo stars throughout much of their lives. The other teams, though, learned the pit stop wasn’t much of a break though; Keoghan urged all the teams to continue racing and handed them their next clue.
“Stakes are high, but as you know, second chances don’t come free,” he said, referring to the theme of this season’s series, which features some of the most popular teams from previous seasons – the McCoys were on Season 16, which aired last spring.
The first challenge had each team running through a plethora of paper airplanes to find the name of Qaantas. The first eight teams to do so earned the right to fly from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia, on the first leg of the race, while the final three teams were scheduled to land 90 minutes later. The McCoys were on the first flight.
“Man, it is awesome,” Jet said as he drove to Los Angeles International Airport.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity … again,” Cord responded.
But that didn’t mean they arrived first in Sydney. Another passenger on the first flight became ill, so the plane diverted to Honolulu, putting those eight teams behind.
The McCoys fell behind the pack a little, then missed a train and a ferry. That put the brothers in last place, but they remained upbeat.
“This race can turn anywhere at any time,” Cord said.
Once in Australia, the teams faced their first “road block,” where one of the partners must scuba dive into a tank filled with sharks, stingrays and other sea life in search of a compass. Jet took to the water for Team McCoy.
“I’m from Oklahoma; I don’t do water. I don’t even take a bath,” Jet said with a laugh.
The teams then used the compass to help decipher the massage made with the flags: Go to the “MANLY 16 FT SKIFF SAILING CLUB. FIND THE COMMODORE. (Tell him) I AM BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA.”
Every team found the club and the commodore, and all but the McCoys were able to give the message, the last piece of the puzzle, to the commodore. In fact, Jet was still having trouble deciphering the puzzle when the show ended and the bold letters, “To Be Continued,” blared across the screen.
The father-daughter tandem of Gary and Mallory Ervin won the first leg of the race and the “express pass,” which will enable the team to skip a challenge along the way.
The McCoys, however, don’t know their fate. As the only team who didn’t reach the pit stop in the opening episode, they may be eliminated. But that information is “To Be Continued.”