There are eight teams left on The Amazing Race 27, but so far this season has mostly been about two: the Green Team of Justin and Diana vs. Team Texas' Tanner and Josh. "It's super intense between them, isn't it?" Phil Keoghan tells TVGuide.com. "They just do not get along. It's a lot of brash personalities. Justin lives and breathes the Race and is a bit of a know-it-all about it. Everyone sees [the Green Team] as a threat. There are a lot of teams who would like to see them go away besides Texas."
But it is Tanner and Josh who are leading the charge to boot them. At the end of last week's episode, with the Double U-Turn in play this week in Zambia, the boys had an alluring offer that teams might not be able to refuse: Should anyone get to the Double U-Turn before Team Texas, they will give their Express Pass to the team who U-Turns Justin and Diana.
Will their best laid plan go awry? Keoghan gives us the scoop on the big showdown, who he had pegged to win, next season and more.
Justin is rubbing everyone the wrong way. What do you think of him and his racing style?
Phil Keoghan: He wants to let people know that he knows a lot about the Race. It might be to intimidate them, which I think is actually working because everybody has identified him and Diana as a dominant force. Let's not leave out Diana in this. She's just as strong, but he's obviously the one people have issue with. He's decided to let everyone know they're a dominant force and I think it's psyching a lot of teams out. Everybody's like, "Oh my God! They know so much." People are nervous with them around because they are walking encyclopedias of The Amazing Race. We've had superfans on the show before, but these guys are a whole other level. I would not think that's an exaggeration [that he has seen every season three times].
He's clearly excited about the Race, but he is so laser-focused on it that he can't see the forest for the trees. He's so easily frustrated when things don't go his way.
Keoghan: Right. He gets to a point where he's so super excited and so emotional. His face says it all. He broke down crying the first leg. The idea that they could've been out the first leg — I don't know if he could've lived with himself. I can't say this to Diana, but this is definitely the biggest thing in his life and he has a fight in him that is threatening the other racers. ... We're set up for a really fantastic fourth leg because Team Texas has everyone on board to get them out. ... I think it's a smart move for Texas to target them. They have the power of the Express Pass, which is to be used to get ahead. If ever there is a time to get ahead and get rid of a threat, this is the time to use it. They have to use it by the end of the fifth leg, so all the planets are aligned right now to execute something to push out their biggest threat.
It's rare that the whole cast plots so vocally to get one team out and have a game plan. Do you think it's consequence of getting the Express Pass from Texas or just Justin's personality?
Keoghan: My personal feeling is that it has a lot to do with him. I think if this were a weaker team, nobody would be having this conversation. The only reason everyone is targeting them is strictly their presence. They're the most impactful team that is on the Race right now. I think fans are either loving Justin's enthusiasm or they are annoyed by him. They either love to hate him or they love him.
Obviously you can't spoil it, but how successful are they? It's one thing to have a game plan, but it's hard to execute it on the Race.
Keoghan: What I love about the Race is that even if you want someone gone, it's not that simple. You can't just gang up and vote them out. There are always elements that neutralize teams. There's the flight factor. There's getting through the challenges. There's adapting to the new city or country. You can never just look at the way it is in the beginning of the leg and make an accurate prediction. Team Texas is taking a really big risk, being so bold as to announce to everyone what they're doing. If they're not successful, they have to deal with continuing the Race with them.
How will Justin and Diana try to save themselves?
Keoghan: The Green Team is smart enough to know everyone wants them out. What's really interesting is whether the other teams are going to stick their necks out like Team Texas is. If they're not, that could backfire. It was kind of fun at the mat and telling them there's a Double U-Turn ahead. Again, all the planets have aligned for a major showdown in Africa. We have all the ingredients for a dramatic leg in Africa and it is really dramatic. Team Texas also has that pressure of having to use the Express Pass and not knowing what's ahead, which is the best task to skip.
Tanner pulled his hamstring in Leg 2. Is that going to foil them?
Keoghan: That's a big issue. A lot of fans have been comparing it to Dave [injuring his Achilles in Season 22]. We jam them into these planes on these long flights and that's like the worst thing to do to your legs. I don't know if people realize the toll the travel aspect takes. It's definitely taking out one of their biggest strengths, speed. They're just not as fast as they were. They don't have that advantage over the other teams now. But you know they're not going to give up with Justin and Diana there. ... I can say that as long as they're on [the show] together, they're gonna be rivals. So I guess cross your fingers both those teams stay in for a long time.
Almost all the other teams have taken a backseat to these two. Which other teams do you like?
Keoghan: I like the mixture, like Denise and James Earl. I did penalize her for cheating. ... It's incredibly difficult for team members to stand back and watch during Roadblocks. You're gonna see in an upcoming episode someone get really frustrated with their teammate because they're just struggling like crazy. Their teammate is just beside themselves watching them fail over and over again. It's really hard. There's a tremendous amount of guilt for people when they feel like they're letting down a teammate. We've seen it before. That's one of the great things about splitting them up during Roadblocks. You can't just rely on one strong team member. Who do you like?
The reporters are pretty competent and are flying under the radar.
Keoghan: The newsreaders have been very composed, but if they do stay in it, they might not look like they're sitting at a news desk anymore. When you do 12 shows in 21 days, it breaks some people. I also think it's comforting for all of us watching to see really smart teams make mistakes. I do like the doctors and the dynamic between them. They are both so bright. I think they are used to having control over things in their life, going to med school and dental school. This is forcing them out of their comfort zone where they're failing.
How bad were your predictions this time?
Keoghan: Always wrong. I was very sad about the dancers. I think of all the teams, from a personal level, that was the team I wanted to see win. I wanted to be part of the story where these dancers come in, one of whom is living in his car, and they have this once-in-a-lifetime experience around the world and walks away with enough money to change his life. I was surprised they were eliminated as early as they were. It felt like they would've gotten stronger as they went on. They were like Dave and Mary, completely out of their element. This was something so fresh and so new for them. Talking to fans online, they really love them and miss them.
They were a fun contrast to the fighting between Texas and Green.
Keoghan: Yeah, they were the team everyone fell for because of their demeanor, their relationship and the way they went out, dancing and trying to look at the bright side of life. I had them in my final three. ... I'm always surprised by the final three. I look back at Mike and Rochelle. No one expected them. I picked Mike and Scott to win [Season 25]. I really saw them going a lot further. And the border patrol guys, Art and JJ.
They got second.
Keoghan: Yeah. At the beginning, you think a certain thing about a team and then they surprise you. You see their vulnerability or them weak against a team. Maybe that's one of my closest predictions: second place!
I loved seeing you on Big Brother this summer and bringing in Jeff and Jackie. Did you watch or keep up to see how they did?
Keoghan: I would love to tell you that I sat there glued to the TV. I'm so bad with TV. I apologize. I got updates and apparently people liked them and thought they added to the show, so that was good. Would you agree with that?
Yeah. Jeff went out early, but people liked Jackie a lot. She was a surprise eviction in the first double eviction and people were very angry about that. I think she could've done well had she stayed or come back into the game.
Keoghan: I like her. She's fiery. I always felt like she had more potential on the Race too. They got unlucky in Monaco with directions.
I just liked that racers finally invaded Big Brother since five houseguests have been on the Race and Brenchel did it twice. Will there be another crossover soon?
Keoghan: We might have something interesting lined up for next season. Season 28 might surprise you. Having talked to you as much as I have, I think you'll like it.
The Amazing Race airs Fridays at 8/7c on CBS. Watch an exclusive sneak peek of Friday's episode below.
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