WARNING: Spoiler Alert! Do not read on unless you've seen "Amazing Race Canada" Season 2, Episode 2. Unless you like spoilers, then go right ahead!
Are you a Kung-Fu master, or a "Master Chef" (Canada)?
Whatever your flavour -- "The Amazing Race Canada" is in China, and international, for the first-time ever, giving the show a necessary energy boost. For the past two years, the second episodes of the series were set in Vancouver or Tofino, B.C., and were a snore at best, due to dull task selection and an overdose of reality-show cheese.
Even though the Hong Kong leg certainly was cheesy, the all-new environment lit a fire in the racers' bellies.
"Oh my god, we're going to China!" shouted Jinder, who always seems surprised that he's on-camera.
"Being the first 'The Amazing Race Canada' racers to fly outside of Canada is very exciting," said Meaghan.
"Back in 2010, Jackie and I went to Asia, and that's where we got engaged," said Laura. "So, it's a very special place to us."
A special place, sure, but perhaps Laura and Jackie were more keen on sightseeing and travelling together than succeeding in the race. Bested by "Master Chef Canada" judge Alvin Leung, the two stumbled in the Detour task and could not recover, resulting in their elimination. But, at least Laura got to have a fangirl moment in front of her favourite reality show judge. Sure. Seems like CTV's brand integration is everywhere, even in Hong Kong.
Looking to make up for lost time after taking a six-hour penalty last week, Rex and Bob dedicate the rest of their race to Jen and Shawn, who were removed due to injury. Of course, what better way is there to race than to pirouette through an airport, right?
It must have worked -- because Rex and Bob were in first, for a moment. Using Hal Johnson's tactics from last season, they called for a cab before their arrival in Hong Kong, as others were stranded on arrival. Sukhi and Jinder even tried to hail a bus to help them out, which was about as successful as you would imagine it to be.
Then, with another even-steven catch-up, they remained at the top of the pack with the hockey players, before receiving their morning blessings at 8 a.m. Heading into the Detour, Rex comes face-to-face with my favourite reality TV show trope: hubris.
"I'm Rex Harrington, I have a star on the Walk of Fame!" said Rex. "I have an Order of Canada for my dance career!"
Naturally, when Rex hits up the "Kung Fu Master" Detour, he hits a wall, much like "Survivor: Borneo's" Kelly Wigglesworth before him (a river rafting guide who lost a rowing competition to Gervase Peterson, someone who "couldn't even f**king swim!").
Eventually, they succeed, as do Alain and Audrey, despite the former's prediction that his years of martial arts training would give him any advantage. It didn't. But after three episodes, Natalie and Meaghan are getting harder to beat. They're racing smart, using their Express Pass to skip the challenging Detour, and Meaghan drank the #SnakeShots like a champion. She even gave herself a victory spanking, as she should.
How about that Road Block? "etalk" and "The Social's" Lainey Lui insists she was "bottle-fed on that s**t," but it didn't make the constant shots of snake gallbladder and reptile cages any more appetizing to the viewer. Once the teams worked through their fear factor, they were on to the next task, which was suspiciously easy (and possibly cheap for the producers): to pose in front of a Bruce Lee statue while giving their best "Enter the Dragon" stance.
Once again, Natalie and Meaghan land at the mat in first place.
"Ladies, that's a hat trick!" said Jon. Clever.
Despite the Olympians' seemingly-unflappable dynamic and frontrunner status, some of the other pairs are starting to crack under pressure. We now know that when Alain and Audrey are upset, or frustrated, they will yell at each other in French. We also learn that Pierre and Michel will misdirect teams to keep a minimal challenge advantage. Perhaps they're not afraid of karma, like last season's Brett and Holly. We know how that worked out.
Plus, there's our first real look at Ryan and Rob. The bromantic bartenders have had little-to-no screen time so far, and when we hear from them this time, it's strictly strategy only. Maybe they'll show some more personality as the show continues, since the sophomore season is finally hitting its stride ... just like Rex, who gets recognized on the streets of Hong Kong.