The Amazing Race 31 Episode 2 Recap “Knock the Newbie Out of Us”

Episode 2 of The Amazing Race 31 did not disappoint as the teams headed to Laos and the clash of the various reality television shows continued. Along with a u-turn board and the first detour tasks of the season, we also had a fun elephant riding challenge all in the stunning cultural location of Luang Prabang, Laos. Let’s get right into our episode recap for ‘Knock the Newbie Out of Us’ – episode two!


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The episode was off to a bit of a slow start with all the teams starting the leg by seeking out a clue that would eventually lead to them all on the same flight to Laos. However, a few interesting things happened that had an effect on the rest of the episode. First, Rachel & Elissa began to work with Team Fun to find the clue, but it didn’t last long before Becca & Floyd ditched them for Victor & Nicole. This left a bad taste in Rachel’s mouth who declared that they no longer wanted to work with Team Fun moving forward. Meanwhile, Rupert & Laura were just happy to have made it to another leg and declared that the goal for the day was just to beat one other team, taking on the Sandra Diaz-Twine strategy of just surviving day by day.

When the teams arrived in Laos, Rachel & Elissa seemed desperate to team up with another team and it worked in their favour when Elissa used her “zen” like spirit to connect with Colin & Christie. Through working together, Rachel & Elissa got to the u-turn board first (along with Colin & Christie and Nicole & Victor) and after a bit of deliberation decided to u-turn Becca & Floyd for their earlier…betrayal…if you can call it that. After a few more teams made it to the board, Leo & Jamal found their way and were prepared to u-turn a team that they clearly saw as their top competition – Tyler & Korey. But when they noticed Team Fun arriving next, they decided to let Becca & Floyd do it themselves. This was brilliant by the Afghanimals. They got to u-turn the team of their choice and basically strong-armed Becca & Floyd into doing it, without getting any blood on their hands from having done it.

For viewers unfamiliar with the u-turn board, whenever a “detour” pops up on a leg, teams have to strategically pick which one of two tasks they want to complete to move on to the next. But the u-turn board forces teams to complete both sides of a detour, rather than just one. One side of the detour was learning words and then presenting them in front of a group of school children. The other was collecting fish inside of a crowded market and then scaling them. Corinne & Eliza did the word task with Tyler & Korey, while all other teams started with the cooking task. Rupert & Laura were last to find the detour tasks but found their way eventually. Something about scaling fish really screams Rupert. But Team Tie-Dye opted for the word task instead and really, this was their kind of task as it turned out.

The word task proved to be the easier of the two and Corinne & Eliza came out with a surprise lead when they finished first. In the other task, Leo & Jamal along with Victor & Nicole were the teams to finish the fish task first and quickly made their way to the next task. On the way there, Corinne & Eliza and their tuk tuk failed to find the right direction, allowing the BB18 contestants and Afghanimals to pull ahead.

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At the roadblock, teams had to ride elephants and command them forward through a jungle, water and then toward a musician. This task was amazing to watch! There’s something so special about watching elephants and their peaceful nature. The contestants couldn’t help but be in love with the task too and showed no signs of anger or frustration throughout it. Jamal and Nicole worked together on the task, while Leo & Victor waited on the sidelines and tried to stop other teams from finding the clue box. Meanwhile, in behind, Christie gave Corinne, Elissa & Britney some of her “zen” tips as they tried to make up ground. What was really interesting was that although Jamal & Nicole were well ahead, all the teams were at the roadblock together at the same time. This made for a really fascinating challenge and race to the finish for all teams. Given the time we spent at the challenge, the trek must either have been pretty long, or those elephants were just moving so slow. But unsurprisingly, a two-horse race for first place emerged between Nicole, & Victor and Leo & Jamal and after the two top teams finished, they were tasked with racing (and boating) to the pit stop in Xiengkao Palace. Although this was a close race, you just got the feeling that Leo & Jamal were not going to settle for second place. With some smart bit of maneuvering to misdirect Nicole & Victor combined with their general athleticism, Leo & Jamal found Phil in first place for the second leg in a row. Nicole & Victor came in next, feeling happy about their second place finish despite missing out on first by only a few minutes.

Underdogs Nicole & Victor

Nicole & Victor are just so fun to watch. They seem so happy to be on the race and with this being the early stages of their relationship they are making for a really adorable dynamic. The Big Brother 18 stars also had a fantastic leg in Laos. They were first to get the clue for the flight, first to the u-turn board along with other more experienced racers, one of the first to finish the detour, first with Leo & Jamal to finish the detour and second at the line. It was almost the perfect leg for the Big Brother contestants and that will raise their confidence going forward and bond them closer together.

Nicole & Victor are seriously ones to watch in this race and next week could be the week they take Leo & Jamal down. Another team who performed well were Tyler & Korey, who bounced back from an early u-turn to finish in 7th place. Meanwhile as I discussed last week, you can never count out Rachel Reilly, who took herself and Elissa to a third place finish after a surprising u-turn decision. But ultimately, it is Leo & Jamal who are dominating these early stages of the race and for the second week in a row they are our favourites to win.


It wasn’t quite as dominant this time around, but Leo & Jamal had another fantastic leg in Laos. Where they seem to gain the most ground is always in the navigation portions between challenges. They’re fantastic in pretty much any task you can give them, but they always seem to make up ground on teams that are ahead of them through urging their drivers to go faster or simply by outmaneuvering other teams when they’re racing on foot. Like Nicole & Victor, you can tell that the Afghanimals are having so much fun doing the race. You can’t help but find them endearing, even with their win-at-all-costs attitude and status as anything but underdogs. A couple of fun/smart moves by the Afghanimals this episode included misdirecting Nicole & Victor in the race to the pit-stop and u-turning their biggest competition without actually being the ones to do it. Beyond that, their general race know-how like knowing to look for names on the helmets and having the awareness of the need to use other teams to get ahead, continues to raise their profile as genuinely one of the best the race has ever seen. For their first place finish, Leo & Jamal claimed $2,500 each. We’ll see if the previews for next week, that suggest they get themselves into danger, hold true. for now, Leo & Jamal are the favourites to win after week 2!


Rupert & Laura were a joy to watch in the two episodes they were on the race and they were really nice to everyone else in a way that is very rare to see on this show. However, they are just not cut out for The Amazing Race unfortunately. Indications of their navigation skills suggest that Rupert probably couldn’t navigate his way through his own neighbourhood. They actually left the detour in good time simply through doing the easier task, but then Rupert for whatever just could not get that elephant to follow his instructions. So as predicted in last week’s recap, they were eliminated from The Amazing Race after two episodes. With Rupert & Laura now being gone, this race is wide open.


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Unlike last week, the leg design did fantastically well in presenting Luang Prabang, Laos as a fantastic cultural experience that viewers watching should want to visit. The tasks were also really fun and we saw quite a bit of culture sprinkled in every challenge. And not to forget, that elephant challenge was really spectacular. Sure it’s been done before, but when animals are involved on The Amazing Race, you just can’t help but not take your eyes off of it. The design of the leg was also really well-structured given that every team ended up on a level playing-field throughout. Doing well relied on skill and race ability rather than luck, separate flights or severely imbalanced detours having an effect. The race to the pit stop was also really fun because it incorporated four elements. First the teams were in tuk tuks, then on foot, then they made their way by boat before one final sprint up a set of stairs. The only knock I’d give against this leg is that the detour tasks were not the most entertaining and one was evidently easier than the other. But with that fantastic elephant task and the amount of culture we had sprinkled in throughout the episode, I give this leg design a 9/10.


This week I don’t think there was one standout moment, but I have to give it up to the Afghanimals for the way they pulled away from Nicole & Victor in the race to the pit-stop. First they told the BB18 contestants they were going the wrong way, and then when they got to the helmets before the boats they had the knowledge to look for their names and ended up finding their helmets right away. Two back to back subtle pieces of superiority and they pulled ahead of Nicole & Victor, who are very much still learning this race as they go. That is our moment of the week!


Janelle and Britney were under-edited again this episode despite their 5th place finish, while we didn’t see much of Chris & Bret as they found the pit stop in 8th place. Corinne & Eliza had a much better leg this time around and claimed 6th, while Becca & Floyd barely survived their u-turn. Here is the full table of who finished where for episode one!

Team Previous Show Position in Episode 2
Leo & Jamal The Amazing Race 1st
Nicole & Victor Big Brother 2nd
Rachel & Elissa Amazing Race/Big Brother 3rd
Colin & Christie The Amazing Race 4th
Janelle & Britney Big Brother 5th
Corinne & Eliza Survivor 6th
Tyler & Korey The Amazing Race 7th
Chris & Bret Survivor 8th
Becca & Floyd The Amazing Race 9th
Rupert & Laura Survivor 10th


From the previews, Leo & Jamal appear to struggle next week. Judging on that alone, we predict next week won’t be an easy time for the Afghanimals and that they find themselves in trouble. Meanwhile Team Fun and Tyler & Korey will likely find a resurgence back toward the top but some of the other teams have greater momentum. Here is our predicted finish for the next leg of the race.

Team Previous Show Predicted Finish –
Episode 3
Nicole & Victor The Amazing Race 1st
Colin & Christie The Amazing Race 2nd
Rachel & Elissa Amazing Race/Big Brother 3rd
Janelle & Britney Big Brother 4th
Tyler & Korey The Amazing Race 5th
Becca & Floyd The Amazing Race 6th
Corinne & Eliza Survivor 7th
Leo & Jamal The Amazing Race 8th
Chris & Bret Survivor 9th


This was another fun opening episode of The Amazing Race 31 and I am very excited to be back writing about this show. The dynamic between contestants from different reality shows continues to provide for entertainment but slowly and slowly its becoming less and less about what they did on their original outings on reality tv, and more about the race, which is nice to see! That elephant task was amazing, while the leg design overall was truly fantastic. Another great episode of The Amazing Race is in the books and I can’t wait to see you next week for another one! Thanks for reading and see you then.

To see where some of these former TAR teams rank on our list of the best Amazing Race teams, see Top 28 Amazing Race Teams After 28 Seasons.

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