By the end of the first episode, Jet and Cord get left behind in Oz

By Kate Hogan
Updated February 21, 2011 10:30 AM
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Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

What do two cowboys, a Goth couple and a super-sized pair of basketball stars have in common? They’re back for redemption in the newest season of Amazing Race: Unfinished Business, which features a roster of 11 all-star teams who didn’t win their own races and have returned to compete for glory – and $1 million.

Sunday’s season premiere kicked off in Palm Springs, Calif., where we met our teams: Goth couple Kent and Vyxsin; father/daughter Ron and Christina (season 12); newly engaged Amanda and Kris; sisters LaKisha and Jennifer; father-son Mel and Mike; mother-son Margie and Luke; former NFL cheerleaders Jaime and Cara (season 14); Harlem Globetrotters Flight Time and Big Easy; pals Zev and Justin (season 15); cowboy brothers Jet and Cord (season 16); and father-daughter Gary and Mallory (season 17).

Standing in a windy field, teams were told they needed to search a forest of paper airplanes and find one marked for Queensland and Northern Territories Aerial Service – or Qantas, the Australia-based airline flying contestants to their first destination: Sydney.

The first eight teams to give their airplanes to host Phil Keoghan would take one flight, and the final three teams – which ended up being LaKisha and Jennifer, Gary and Mallory and Amanda and Kris – would take off 90 minutes later. Amanda and Kris, the last team to check in with Phil, also faced a future U-Turn at the first Detour.

In a crazy (and sad) twist of fate, a passenger aboard the first flight suffered a heart attack, re-routing the plane through Honolulu, Hawaii. The second flight landed first, allowing the three teams aboard to take off for Sydney Harbor, where they hopped a ferry to Oceanworld Manly. There, they hit their first Roadblock: one person would have to swim through a shark-filled tank to find a coded compass, then use a system of flags to decode the clue.

As the first three teams tackled the Roadblock, the remaining eight pairs began to catch up. But Gary and Mallory took the lead, cracking the compass code – the nautical idiom “I am between the Devil and the deep blue sea” – then reported to a yacht club, where they boarded a 16-ft. boat and sailed trapeze to steer toward their next clue, leading them to their first Pit Stop: the scenic Shelly Beach.

As the father-daughter duo led the charge, some racers struggled at the Roadblock. Vyxsin had trouble keeping calm and using her scuba gear to breathe underwater, while Jet couldn’t crack his compass code. In fact, several teams got it wrong, but a few ended up sharing their correct answers, helping fellow racers along. Cheating, or good strategy?

As teams arrived on Shelly Beach, they were greeted by a shirtless surfer and Phil, who presented Gary and Mallory with the all-important Express Pass – a ticket which lets them skip any challenge along the race – and gave racers some interesting news: this leg wasn’t done yet! So off they went, racing elsewhere in Oz. However, Jet and Cord were still stuck at the Roadblock, grappling with their clue.

Tell us: Who are you rooting for? Do you think Jet and Cord will catch up with their fellow racers?