‘The Amazing Race 20’ episode 3: Rachel Reilly finds a rival

You have to want them around.

We know there are haters of Rachel Reilly out there, but we will say this until we are blue in the face — she is guaranteed entertainment from the standpoint of drama. Even if you don’t want to see her win, it’s impossible not to cheer for her to go far since she is going to bring something interesting to the show she is on.

Case in point? Sunday night’s new episode of “The Amazing Race.” By the time we were halfway through the episode, Rachel & Brendon (who has been mostly a silent partner so far this season) already found themselves a rival in Vanessa (of team Vanessa & Ralph). Where did this stem from? Shortly after the teams arrived in Paraguay on the second of two flights to the country, Rachel quickly found herself being mocked by Vanessa at the watermelon-stacking Detour choice over a certain part of her body that was supposedly visible under her pants. Rachel took this as a major insult, walked away, mocked Vanessa’s “overdone makeup” as she and Brendon went to a drama-free zone in the harp-repairing detour. There, the two actually rocked it out … and thanks to some luck falling in the right places, they ended up finishing the leg in second place.

Let this be a sign that while “Brenchel” still brings the entertainment, they also have grown up. During “Big Brother” two seasons ago, Rachel would have stayed there and allowed Vanessa to sink her ship. Instead, Vanessa & Ralph barely escaped elimination after their watermelon tower repeated to collapse.

Of course, this look at Sunday night’s episode is not just centered around these two — after all, there are plenty of other teams.

Domination – From a likability standpoint, we would rather listen to a jackhammer than Art & AJ continue to talk about how they are a higher power’s gift to the “Race.” The race in the sort of obnoxious way that almost stereotypes border patrol agents, and it’s easier to root against them but for them.

With that being said, we will give the two credit for running one of the best legs we’ve ever seen on the show. From getting on the first flight to the watermelon challenge to a near-perfect Roadblock balancing a wine bottle using only the head, they have built up an enormous lead that only a flight-based equalizer (which will likely happen next week) could erase.

Decimation – As surprised as we were to see Art & AJ win so easily this week, we were also stunned to watch twins Elliot & Andrew leave the race just three weeks in. On paper, the two looked like the sort of team you would expect to win — they are young, athletic, and have some pretty defined skill sets.

Somewhere right now, we’re expecting that a musician is getting made fun of by his friends over his failures to string a harp over a notorious reality TV personality and a Kentucky guy who screams nearly every other word. This Detour really ended up destroying these two more so than the Roadblock, and we have proof that being physically strong pales in comparison to focus under pressure.

Other highlights – While many of the other teams were lost in the shuffle, we have to give our beloved country boys Mark & Bopper credit for finishing fourth despite having to switch their Roadblocks. Meanwhile, Joey “Fitness” & Danny actually escaped their “barely alive” performances from the past few weeks to surge to third — mostly because they actually stuck with the watermelons when many other teams quit.

Rachel & Dave, meanwhile, accomplished a feat that has never been done before — despite failing to complete the Detour (which they used their Express Pass to skip) and the Roadblock (which led to them taking a penalty), they still finished without even coming close to being in last. This is not so much praise for them, though, as it is a further example of just how terrible Vanessa & Ralph and Elliot & Andrew were on this leg.

Next week, the remaining teams are off to Italy … and it looks as though Rachel and Brendon’s relationship is going to boil over fast.

Photo: CBS

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