Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Biggest Loser Review, 2009/04/28

Welcome, everybody, to the feel-good love-in week here at The Biggest Loser! We're all going to get retrospective, philosophical, optimistic, and giddy with glee at how far we've come! Feel the love!

But first: gameplay crap.

I missed the beginning and haven't had a chance to watch that part of the tape yet (two sick kids), but DH watched from the beginning, and says that everyone thinks Ron orchestrated Kristin's elimination, and that nobody - even Bob - believes his line about having had nothing to do with it. Bob, in fact, seems to be realising the full extent of Ron's "ugly side" and has lost faith in him, although later on we find that this doesn't affect his ability to train Ron, nor his admiration for what Ron has accomplished. I'm pretty POed with Ron's behaviour, too. Wasn't he the very guy who complained a few weeks ago about despising people who look you right in the eyes and lie to you? Yeah.

On the other hand, I admit it, Ron is looking better and better without the beard each week.

Then we begin the happiness trek, with a trip down memory lane. The contestants gather in the gym to watch videos of themselves from just 17 weeks previously. And THIS is why I watch this show: it's rough going at first to see all these unbelievably unhealthy people struggling every week, but this close to the finale, it always pays off massive dividends. I love seeing the huge physical differences between then and now. I love seeing the healthy glow on the contestants' faces compared to when they first started (of course, a certain amount of that lack-of-glow from days of yore comes from the fact that they always show old footage in black and white, but still). And the contestants are similarly amazed and excited as they watch themselves. They have feelings of accomplishment (as well they should), they're excited about their new lives, and all is well. We top it off by seeing the contestants do the same kinds of exercises as in the old videos (although more advanced now, obviously) from the same camera angles, and then we flash back and forth between old and new to REALLY get an idea of how far they've come. That is good TV, my friends. I'm lapping it up.

Hilarious moment: Jillian musses up Helen's hair in order to get a more accurate "look" compared to her "before" video shots. Helen can't stand the messiness, but is working out and doesn't have her hands free. She cries out, "Jillian! FIX THE HAIR!"

Also, Ali has revealed that this is everybody's last week on campus. Everyone looks confused as hell, as well they should, since there are five of them left, not four. You can see them wondering how the hell this is going to go down. Stay tuned, cupcakes, all will be revealed at the weigh-in.

Tara and Helen then retreat to what I think is Tara's bedroom for a friendly little competition of "Any pep talk you can do, I can do better." Finally they get to the point of this little scene, which is to try on goal outfits. Tara apparently bought a little black dress in Europe some time ago, and tries it on. It actually looks a little too big, and I don't think it's particularly flattering to her, but she's still thrilled and Helen is suitably impressed. Then Helen goes to get her goal outfit on, and I have a serious omigawd moment. My jaw dropped, my hands flew up to my mouth, and I stayed that way for literally at least a minute before almost hyperventilating. Helen looked SO HOT in her goal outfit! It was unbelievably smokin'!!! She completely out-goal-outfit-ted Tara. :) I'm sure Helen and Tara must have broken into a few verses of "I Feel Pretty" off-camera after that. But finally they decide to take their steamy hotness show on the road and show it off to The Boys, who are all conveniently hanging out in the kitchen together. (At this point, they look so awesome that I don't care how staged this set-up is.) The guys are also suitably impressed and Mike is inspired enough to go and get his own goal outfit, which consists of a leather jacket that makes him look pretty hot. (DH on Mike and Tara: "Well, if they haven't done it yet, they're gonna do it now!")

Me, about the new ads for the Forte car: These are going to get real old real fast.
DH: GOING to?!?

The love-fest continues with a trip to the hospital for a visit with Dr. H. He has, of course, excellent news all round. We are treated to before-and-after belly shots of everyone but Ron. Upon seeing their "before" pictures, everyone is disgusted beyond all reason and has to suppress retching noises. Indeed, they're all pretty bad, with the fat and the stretch marks and the unhealthiness. But then we see the "after" shots, and what a marvellous difference. I think it was wonderful to be able to see them - usually beyond a certain point in the season, we don't see people's midriffs, as they're all hidden behind tank tops and muscle shirts. But this is really valuable stuff for the viewing audience at home! These people aren't "perfect" now - there's still some poochiness and in some cases, extra skin, but it's so refreshing to see normal, regular-people bodies; and people struggling with weight loss at home get a realistic picture of what success looks like. Well done, producers.

Helen also gets the good news that she's lost 106lbs of hydrated fat and that her biological age has been reduced by TEN YEARS from 60 to 50. Tara now has a beautiful waist-to-hip transition, and Dr. H tells her that she's "a model again". Filipe's massive gut has been reduced to just some love handle-ness. And Mike's middle (which used to be a staggering 65" at the waist) is looking unbelievably better now - some saggy skin, but it's really quite close to normal.

Ron, presumably because of his moobs (boy oh boy is he going to need some surgery to get rid of those), has a different kind of before-and-after visualization: we're shown the differences on his INSIDE. This is also very revealing (no pun intended), not merely because now he can actually FIT in the MRI machine. We can see how much the internal fat has been reduced, which is great since he used to have fat encroaching EVERYWHERE and messing him up inside something awful. He has normal blood tests, too. YAY. Ron's excited about his future! (DH: "Now you've GOT one.")

Challenge time! And with Kristin gone, we no longer have to listen to anybody talk about the week's "cheeyallenge". :) This is another great retrospective: in the first week, the challenge involved climbing over a big ol' hill of dirt. Sixteen weeks later, they have to climb over SIXTEEN big ol' hills of dirt, carrying the weight that they've lost. The extra weight comes in the form of a series of sixteen packages of varying weights, all stored in a duffle bag that they have to drag around. At the top of each hill, they get to toss out one package, which weighs as much as the amount they lost during the week represented by the hill they're on. So for instance, Tara lost 21lbs in Week 1, so at the top of the first hill, she'll toss out a bag weighing 21lbs. The prize is the same as last week's challenge prize: the choice of $10,000 or a one-pound advantage at the weigh-in. The twist this time, though, is that the person who comes in second gets whatever prize the winner didn't choose.

Filipe gets off to an early lead (oh, you Blue guys never learn about the futility of taking an early lead, do you?), followed closely by Mike. Tara struggles like hell over the first hill but manages to keep pace with Helen about one hill behind the leaders. Finally, Filipe lags behind and Tara catches up to him. (Surprise.) But Filipe encourages her to keep going, which is pretty sweet of him. Finally, at the hill representing Week 9, she passes Mike and goes on to win. Again. Unbelievable. At the finish line, she heaves her duffle bag over the ledge and down into the canyon beyond. It's very symbolic, although I sure as hell hope the show will be picking everybody's bags up after the cameras start rolling. Mike comes in second and actually thinks he has a chance at getting the one-pound advantage. Dude, please! Like Tara's going to give up a one-pound advantage in such a crucial week when she already won $10K last time!

It's then time for the traditional go-back-to-help-the-struggling-person part of the challenge; partly because this season, the contestants are pretty great guys, and partly because if they don't, they'll be out there all day, since Ron is still on the Week 6 hill. So Mike goes back to drag the weight for his dad, and Filipe soon joins them to give Ron extra support and pushes.

Product placement theme music! But wait,'s not a product placement at all! In fact, we are given a reprieve from them entirely this week (well, except for the little before-commercial "tips" segments, which can't be helped)! It's a miracle! By golly, it really IS the week of happiness and light! Cue the happy dance!

Jillian is all evilly gleeful at the prospect of destroying her people at the last chance workout, but the tables of glee are turned as Helen reveals that it's "Train the Trainer" day! Jillian's all pissed off and doesn't wanna, but Bob is really looking forward to seeing Jillian get tortured. And her team doesn't let Bob down. Tara screams Jillianisms all over the damn gym, and they end up making her do sits against the wall while both Tara and Helen sit on her lap. (I notice they didn't get Mike to join them, though; apparently there's only so much one person can take.)

Meanwhile, on Bob's side of the gym, he ain't enjoying Train the Trainer Day so much anymore. Filipe goes ghetto with his gloating and "Shut up, Filipe" becomes Bob's new mantra. :) Best lines:

Filipe: "You ain't doin' crap, boy!"
Ron, with suppressed giggles: "It's okay to cry."

Dudes, this is a GREAT week!

But then we get down to business and the trainers get to do their job again; this time with the added spice of REVENGE. I notice that Mike's boxing skills have stepped up. DH gets annoyed with Jillian getting Tara to make conversation during a high-intensity moment: "I would just say, 'Shut the f**k up, I'm busy.'"

Finally, we move to the weigh-in, which is crucial and very stressful, because everyone wants to make the final four, but the odds are freakish, since the numbers mean that 40% of the contestants will fall below the yellow line. I've been saying since last week that I thought Ron would try and throw the weigh-in to give Mike a better chance of being above the yellow line, no matter what he says in interviews. But he loses an excellent 9lbs, so maybe not. Tara, as I expected, chooses the one-pound advantage, which means Mike is $10K richer.

General thoughts on the weigh-in:

  • Jillian does her cute nervous nose-wrinkle.
  • Y'know, I think Helen would have hit a normal BMI long before this if she wasn't so well-endowed.
  • If I were a girl wondering if Mike liked me and wanted to ask me out, all I would have to do is look at his fingers. When he's nervous, they totally give him away every week on the scale while he's waiting for his number to pop up. If he was rubbing 'em together, I'd know I was in. :)
  • Filipe, on the other hand, apparently bites his nails when he's nervous. I prefer the finger-rubbing.
  • When it was Tara's turn on the scale, she must have been pretty damn glad she chose the one-pound advantage.

Actually, it's a great week all round. Milestones reached:

  • Ron moves from morbidly obese to clinically obese. (YESSS! Finally!)
  • Filipe passes 125lbs of total weight loss
  • Filipe passes the 1/3 total weight loss mark
  • Helen passes the 100lbs total weight loss mark
  • Helen, Mike and Tara pass the 40% total weight loss mark
  • Helen becomes the first person this season to hit a normal and healthy BMI on campus
  • Mike and Ron lose a combined total of more than 300lbs
  • Tara reaches 125lbs of total weight loss
  • Tara's BMI is just 0.1 away from being normal and healthy!

Despite losing 10 and 9 pounds respectively, Filipe and Ron are below the yellow line. Jillian is ecstatic. Her entire team is totally safe and Bob is screwed once again. Helen has had a particularly awesome week, way to go. Jillian highlights Helen's awesomeness by referencing what I've been saying since Michelle's win last season - Pink has never lost.

Back we go to the elimination room, where things are bound to get interesting. We've got Mike, Tara and Helen voting. Mike will of course vote for Filipe, but will Tara or Helen? I say yes, because Filipe is perceived as the bigger threat. On the other hand, Ron's been pissing people off and has more weight to lose, whereas Filipe's been struggling for a while. Tara has no clue what she wants to do. Ron points out to the house that he's not a threat. To counter this, Filipe brings out the always-the-last-kid-in-the-class sob story, and follows it up by pointing out that true glory comes from beating good competition, not taking the safe road. The sob story got me, I must admit; but the "to be the best you gotta beat the best" talk is totally wasted on Helen. Tara might buy it, but it's well established that Helen looks out for number one. With Filipe and Ron having said their piece, and Mike's vote being unswayable, it's pointless for the guys to hang around. They leave Helen and Tara alone to discuss. Helen enjoys the power like a true supervillain, savouring the feel of it in her mouth like a sommelier. :)

Into the voting room we go. Mike votes for Filipe, and of course Filipe has no hard feelings about this, which was nice to see. We move to Helen's vote, which of course is the real question. Alas, nobody can vote to eliminate the final commercial break, so we have to wait a while longer for results. Finally we return, and Helen delivers the killing stroke. Filipe is gone. He heads home and looks pretty damn fly in his leather jacket. His wife has thoughts-of-boinking-glee in her eyes. Then everybody chows down, Tongan-style, highlighting the desperate need for some Biggest Loser intervention. Filipe and Sione try valiantly to make things healthy by getting people to take the skin off their meat, but I don't know how much that'll help.

We then flash forward to however-many-weeks later at the pants-drop profile. Filipe has lost only 13lbs since we last saw him, but with good reason. He struggled after getting home, and then his dad had a stroke. Geez. However, after that, he started turning things around and had the freakin' GENIUS idea of doing free exercise classes at his house for the various Tongans in the neighbourhood, especially kids. (Hey, get 'em young and you've probably got 'em for life, right?) We hear that his dad is also attending the classes and is on the road to recovery. Phew and yay. Filipe's had another haircut and things are looking up. In the past few weeks we've been given some insights on Filipe we didn't have earlier in the season, and it's pretty clear to me now that he's got a lot of hurt inside him. I think he has very low self-confidence, little evidence in his life that he can be successful, possible issues about his relationship with his dad, and he uses humour (and used to use food) to cover it all up. I wish him all the best and really hope that he can learn to be happy about who he is and what he does. Looking forward to seeing him at the finale.

Back at the ranch, the "everybody's going home" deal is explained. There's going to be a beautifully symbolic 30 final days at home for the Final 4, during which they will try to lose as much weight as possible before coming back to the ranch for their last weigh-in before the finale. This is definitely going to be interesting. Tara's still the weight loss percentage leader, but only by 0.25% over Mike at this point, and Mike has much more weight to lose. Who knows what will happen! DH speculates that Helen is doomed, as she has the least weight to lose. We also don't know yet whether the third member of the Final 3 will be determined by a contestant vote or an audience vote. Here are the scenarios:

  1. Mike and Ron fall below
    If America votes, Ron is probably gone. If the contestants vote, Mike is toast.

  2. Mike and Tara fall below
    If America votes, I have no idea who will win. If the contestants vote, Mike is toast.

  3. Mike and Helen fall below
    If America votes, Helen is probably gone. If the contestants vote, it'll be a tie, so lowest-losing person will be out, which probably means Helen goes.

  4. Ron and Tara fall below
    If America votes, Ron is probably gone. If the contestants vote, Tara is probably toast.

  5. Ron and Helen fall below
    If America votes, Ron is probably gone. If the contestants vote, it'll be a tie, so lowest-losing person will be out.

  6. Tara and Helen fall below
    If America votes, Helen is probably gone. If the contestants vote, Tara is probably toast.

Next week, with 30 days between weigh-ins, look for these possible milestones:

  • Ron and Tara could pass 150lbs of total weight loss
  • Mike might pass 200lbs of total weight loss
  • Ron could drop below 275lbs
  • Mike could drop below 200lbs
  • Helen and Tara could drop below 150lbs
  • Ron could pass 40% total weight lost
  • Helen could pass 45% total weight lost, possibly even 50%.
  • Mike and Tara could pass 50% total weight lost
  • Mike could move from obese to overweight
  • Ron might move from clinically obese to obese
  • barring disaster, Tara will move from overweight to normal and healthy

Also next week: (SPOILERS)

The players go home for 30 days to learn to keep up their healthy lifestyles outside the ranch. Upon their return to campus, the players compete in the season's final challenge: running a full marathon. After the weigh-in, the final two are revealed, along with the two players competing for the third spot in the finale. Also: Former contestants Ali Vincent, Michelle Aguilar, Jim Germanakos, Heba Salama and Bernie Salazar turn out to offer inspiration to the players.

(DH never wants to hear these episodes previews, but I had to warn him that Heba was coming. I suspect he will refuse to watch the show live and instead watch the tape so that he can fast-forward through all the bits with her in it.)

Week after that: (more SPOILERS)

The winner of the $250,000 grand prize is revealed in the seventh-season finale. Also: the third finalist is chosen; the at-home players weigh in for the $100,000 prize; and two potential contestants for next season are presented for viewer voting.

This strongly suggests that we're looking at a viewing audience vote to determine the third member of the Final 3. This bodes poorly for Ron and Helen if they fall below, I think. The potential contestant vote sounds very cool. Also, we'll want to pay close attention at the finale to see if Aubrey's and Mandi's dad and Young Max look any smaller.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Just found this latest pic of Kristin and thought you'd be interested:

Associated article at this link.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Biggest Loser Review, 2009/04/21

Week 16: Kristin Takes the Stage

Even though I set my VCR to start taping five minutes before eight o'clock, the show had already started by the time the recording kicked in. (Those damn sneaky networks.)

But according to DH, who was watching from the beginning, the show opened with Tara whining about gameplay and being alone and wah wah wah freakin' wah. Fortunately, Jillian metaphorically grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and shook some realism into her. She puts the cherry on top of her rant by telling Tara it's not always about her, and that Tara is the only thing that Tara can control. It sounds like it was a truly beautiful thing.

But for me, what we opened with was Bob's team's post-elimination discussion. The focus is on Ron and how he will most likely be dropping below 300lbs this week. This is a huge milestone because Ron hasn't been that "light" since about age 13, which was a little over 40 years ago. So we're all excited about it. Before the workout, though, Bob keeps Kristin back for a pep talk. Kristin is afraid to admit that she wants to win the show and that she deserves to win the show. She's plagued with self-doubt, fear, and a lack of self-worth. (Gotta wonder how much of that is due to Cathy's alcoholism.) Kristin tries very hard to have a moment of epiphany, and gosh, I really hope she believes it.

After Bob praises soy and abandons us to mindless commercials, we return for a combination nutritional quiz/Good Housekeeping product placement. The show has brought in, for the second time this season, I believe, the editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping magazine. She tells us about the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, which is a big building containing people dressed up in lab coats and geeky glasses trying to look extremely scientific and authoritative. The winner of the quiz will get to visit and tour this super-exciting-looking facility (the plinky-plunky sound you heard there was the dripping of my sarcasm) as part of a three-day, all-expenses-paid trip for two to New York City. The contestants try very hard to seem enthused, especially Kristin. The quiz is the usual deal: FOUR WHOLE QUESTIONS. It's a wonder nobody fainted from mental overexertion. (More plinking and plunking. I mean, seriously. If only my university exams could have been so gruelling.)

First of all, everybody's fooled by the first question, which asked how many servings the packaging said were in a small pizza. Next up is a question about good grease choices. Ron fails to choose olive oil as the correct answer and gets totally dissed by Helen in interviews for betraying his Italian heritage. Eventually, after we've gone through all four questions, Mike and Kristin are tied for the lead, and Kristin displays a shocking lack of skill in her victory pump. Finally, we have a tie-breaker: how many calories in a fried, fast-food fish burger? Mike's guess (which he gets to by breaking down the burger's components and adding them all up) is off by only 5 calories and he wins, thanking fast food in his acceptance speech. Kristin is disgusted by the results and is a remarkably sore loser.

Don't know what it is, but Ron's looking better without the beard this week. I still don't like it, though. Kristin, on the other hand, is looking seriously cute.

Back in the house, Kristin is still bitter about not getting the New York trip and Bob is highly dismayed that none of his team managed to win at a nutrition quiz. To reassure himself that they've actually learned something about food over the past fifteen weeks, he tells them to do a video diary of their food preparation for a day. He refers to the camera they'll be using as "Bob Junior" or "Little mini-me", and oh, Bob, that just gives me the WRONG visual image, thanks ever so for going there.

Once again, we go to Jillian's team for the painful product placement. "Oh, we're just using our Ziploc zip-n-steam bags to make our meals quick and easy, Jillian! You just happened to catch us at it! What a laugh!" Gag.

This week's challenge takes place in the dead of night, and it's so cold that you can see everybody's breath. The deal is that everybody gets into one-person cages which are raised 45ft into the air. Contestants have to hold onto a rope which bears their own weight. This rope keeps the cage in the air. If they can't keep a hold on the rope and thus keep the cage up, they're out. The prize is the choice of either $10K or a one-pound advantage at the weigh-in. Tara expresses doubt that she'll win. Everybody has to wear goofy helmets. There is a serious amount of freaking out as they get lifted; queue the girly screams.

I swear, you couldn't hear more "omigods" if you went to an all-valley-girls college dorm. All that had to be really distracting for everybody else. Also distracting is Ali's insistence on talking to the contestants and asking them questions during the whole thing instead of just doing straight commentary. Mike goes out of the competition first, on purpose, because of his fear of heights (not that you would've known he was freaking out since he wasn't screaming, for which I commend him). Ron, on the other hand, has no fear of heights and a lot of upper-body strength, so he seems to finally, FINALLY have a chance at winning a challenge, which has to make him feel pretty good. Unfortunately, his hands slip on his rope when he's adjusting it, and he's the second person gone, which bummed me out. Incidentally, when he let go, Helen screamed. Yeah, that made sense.

After that, everybody gets even more annoying, which I didn't think was possible. Filipe talks it up a lot (and his voice sounded really weird, too, I guess it was the strain of holding the rope). There is a huge load of trash-talk - he and Tara start fighting. Helen uses her "mom voice" to try and get them to shut the bleep up. Filipe bounces around in his cage which wiggles everybody else's cages, and Kristin freaks out. The trash talking goes to another level and Filipe ups his being-an-ass factor. Tara does a lovely job of ignoring him. Helen threatens to kick his ass when they're both on solid ground. My husband calls him the Clown Prince. :) Finally, Filipe shakes too much and is out. (Ahhh, karma.) Only the ladies are left - damn, I love this season for the woman power. :) Tara then turns her attention to Kristin, to hilarious effect:

Tara: Kristin, how you doing?
Kristin: [shortly] No good.
Tara: [gloatingly] I feel gooood.

And Kristin drops out. (Kristin's freaked-out tone of voice throughout the whole challenge was very amusing.)

This leaves only the two lightest people in the house left in their cages. It's clearly getting tough for Helen, and she starts leaning over; she's running out of rope. She looks pretty doomed and Tara's smirk tells us that she totally knows it. Helen then tries to make an arrangement with Tara to split the money. Mike calls up to Tara that Helen knows she can't win this and that's why she's trying to bargain.

That one comment alone from Mike made DH and I sit up and pay some serious attention. Tara is the only person in the house with a bigger percentage of weight loss than Mike; Helen, on the other hand, has the smallest BMI in the house and therefore has much less left to lose, so is definitely not a threat to him. So why would he try to help TARA? Is there, perchance, some hanky-panky going on in the now-a-one-person-bedroom Green nightchamber? Has Mikey indeed become a man in the Biggest Loser house? :D One wonders!

Anyhoo, Tara totally isn't buying. Helen's face is puffing up and turning red with strain. She looks over at Tara and asks in wonder, "Nothing touches you, does it?" Tara gives a fantastic "hell, no!" face in return, and just WAITS. (Machine, I tell you. Machine.) Helen is beaten mentally and physically and lets go. She's devastated. (And she has good reasons to be: she's the lightest person in the house, so one pound means more to her than anybody else; and she had a spectacular week last week, so this week she probably really needs the extra whammy.)

Now it's time for Bob to view the results of his team's video food diary, in which we discover that Kristin's ability to ham for the camera knows no bounds. The team's goal seems to have been to eat as few calories as possible. This pisses Bob off no end, since their level of activity necessitates way more fuel. Ron disses olive oil AGAIN and is proved wrong about it AGAIN. Every meal the video shows, they get prouder and more enthusiastic about their menu choices; the yummy noises get lamer and lamer; and Bob gets more and more annoyed, and finally hits the sarcasm zone: "Oh, dinner. Whadd're you gonna have? ICE? Lettuce cups with nothing in 'em?" :D Finally, the killing stroke is delivered as we find that this has all been the biggest, most painful, and lamest product placement setup in the history of the show! Biggest Loser-branded protein powder? AUGH!!!!! Seriously, dudes, kill me. Kill me now.

Last chance workout! A phrase which the trainers will repeat eight THOUSAND times before the end of the segment!

Helen looks small and fast. Mike looks sweaty and pained. Filipe looks tough and mean (it's the jutted-out chin; I have no idea what he thinks he's doing there). We get another flashback to a black-and-white photo of Little Ron, at approximately the last time he weighed under 300 pounds. Jillian makes her people run a LOT and Tara actually starts vocalizing and crapping out before Jillian counts down to zero, so you KNOW it must be tough. On the other side of the gym, Kristin looks agonized. Bob sets her a ridiculous running goal, which she makes (yay!), demonstrating abundantly the need for a good sports bra. Back on Jillian's side of the gym, she makes Helen cry, then turns to Mike, making him deal with his shit.

Mike's mad. Specifically, he's mad at his father for making him grow up fat. Jillian encourages Mike to talk to Ron, so he does - with great trepidation. However, he needn't have worried. Ron, totally to his credit, knows he deserves the anger and takes full responsibility. He also completely validates Mike's feelings by telling his son that he should be mad, that it's good to be mad. We also learn that Ron's skinny wife used to be very overweight, too, but decided to turn things around for herself some years ago. (This makes me feel a little better - I've spent a number of weeks being kinda mad at her, since she obviously knew how to be healthy, but raised two massive kids. Now we find out that for over half of the boys' lives, she didn't actually know how to live healthily. So the whole family is learning.) Then Ron finishes up by telling Mike he's a good kid. I completely well up. I don't know how cathartic that was for Mike, but I sure hope it helped.

Everybody goes into the weigh-in with huge pressure. Everybody wants to be a finalist. Before we start, Tara has to make a choice about her challenge prize, and to my utter astonishment, she chooses the MONEY. Jillian wince-smiles. However, on Tara's way up to the scale, the accountants for the show must have started freaking out ("She chose the MONEY? WHAT?!? We can't afford THAT, we're in a RECESSION!"), and told Ali to give her another chance to choose the pound. But Tara sticks by her guns and runs with the cash. The show's producers curse her to the ends of eternity.

Other things about the weigh-in:

  • I was really surprised that Helen lost only one pound over the week, because she looked SO FREAKIN' SMALL! (DH: No wonder her husband has hungry eyes!)
  • Mike assumed his standard on-the-scale Stressed Face and Arm Twitch.
  • Filipe's face looks terrific.
  • I felt so sorry for Kristin's result - a GAIN. That sucked hard. I suspect it was probably a combination of self-doubt and lack of adequate caloric intake. (Quick! Bring in the protein powder!)
  • Mike has almost caught Tara for biggest percentage of total weight loss.

Milestones achieved:

  • Ron goes under 300lbs
  • Ron passed 30% total weight loss
  • Mike passed the 150lbs total weight loss mark

Once all the dust settles, it's Helen and Kristin on the chopping block this week. Of course Kristin can count on Filipe's vote, and of course Helen can count on Tara's vote. It's the Brown votes that are going to matter this week. So Kristin talks to Ron and gets his commitment that he won't vote for her. He pledges his undying loyalty; he promised her mother that he would always protect Kristin and Mike to the end; he will NEVER put Kristin's name down. And he interviews to that effect, too. Sounds good for Kristin. But Kristin points out that if it goes to a tie, she's going home because she's got the lowest percentage of weight loss this week, so she needs Mike's vote, too. Ron promises to talk to Mike and do what he can. Still sounds good for Kristin.

BUT, then, right before commercial, we are played a whispered conversation between Mike and Ron where it totally sounds like Ron threw Kristin under the bus. Of course, the producers could have spliced that conversation any way they wanted; but it sure did sound like Ron did absolutely nothing for Kristin. Rather the opposite, actually - the conversation seemed to open by Ron pointing out to Mike that Kristin was a bigger threat. Then he basically told his son, sure, go ahead and vote for Kristin, I won't be mad. (Of course! You're always supposed to get official permission before making the hit.)

And in the voting room, sure enough, Mike's the wild card. He makes it totally clear that he's voting for himself, and reveals Kristin's name on his card. It's a tie. Kristin has to go home. At this point, Kristin makes veiled references to the idea that this was a deliberate, orchestrated move. Then, to my surprise, Brown shows their hand and practically admits it! Mike brags that yeah, it's in the bag for him, and Ron backs him up: "My son will win." The camera focuses on Tara and Filipe, and you can see that they totally just realised the extent of the game Ron's playing. I have to admit, the guy is a master at manipulating situations and relationships. He must be a devastating impact on his city council back home. DH actually speculates that Ron told Mike not to tell him (Ron) how he (Mike) was going to vote so that Ron could honestly say in the voting room, "No, I didn't know how he was going to vote." I dunno. But all this sure does leave a very nasty taste in my mouth. It really seems like Ron went completely against his sacred promise to Cathy to protect Kristin, which is just nasty. I think Cathy's going to be out for Ron's blood after she sees this episode. However, I'm definitely not ruling out the possibility that the whispered conversation was strategically pieced together for "good TV" effect. DH speculates that after this season is over, Ron might bring a lawsuit against the show for defamation of character.

Anyway, all that aside, Kristin heads back home. Her family and friends are ecstatic to see her, and Cathy is totally gobsmacked about how much weight she's dropped. Two months later, Kristin has streaked her hair again (oy) and is doing motivational speaking. She's lost a total of 132 pounds, and wants to lose at least another 29 by the finale. (Since she lost only 16 over the two months she was at home, I don't think much of her chances, but I wish her scads of luck.)

Two of the best lines of the night both came from Kristin:

  • "Are you even OLD enough to go to New York by yourself?"
  • "I'm gonna die, I love you, mom..."

Next week, look for:

  • Tara and Mike could hit the 40% total weight loss mark
  • Filipe could hit the 1/3 total weight loss mark
  • Filipe could hit the 125lbs total weight loss mark
  • Helen could hit the 100lbs total weight loss mark
  • Ron could move from morbidly obese to clinically obese

Next week: (SPOILERS)

The players create workouts for Bob and Jillian. Later, the contestants scale hills while lugging bags matching the amount of weight they've shed; Dr. Huizenga provides updated "real ages"; the players try on goal outfits; and the Final 4 return home for 30 days before the final ranch weigh-in.

Week after that: (SPOILERS)

The players go home for 30 days to learn to keep up their healthy lifestyles outside the ranch. Upon their return to campus, the players compete in the season's final challenge: running a full marathon. After the weigh-in, the final two are revealed, along with the two players competing for the third spot in the finale. Also: Former contestants Ali Vincent, Michelle Aguilar, Jim Germanikos, Heba Salama and Bernie Salazar turn out to offer inspiration to the players.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Biggest Loser Review, 2009/04/14

I was having some lovely reading time with my older daughter right before 8:00, so I missed the first minute or so of the show. But I don't think I missed much - as I came downstairs, it seemed like Filipe was talking about how devastated he was that Sione was gone, and vowing to the Tongan gods that he would avenge him. Or something like that.

Every season now, it seems that they do a freaky frightening challenge over the local canyon to scare the crap out of the contestants. And apparently this season is no exception. In the past, we've seen contestants ziplining (or something similar) over the canyon, or going hand-over-hand with a wire over the canyon. This time, it's more lame - they have to walk sideways across the canyon on a wire, holding onto a second wire above their heads. It looks a little silly. Everyone gets straps and harnesses and wires attached to them like crazy so that they don't die if they screw up. Mike reveals that he has acrophobia to the point where he can't climb ladders, so this could be interesting. Filipe pledges that this will be for Sione! Kristin just looks generally freaked out. The challenge begins.

Ron gives up about 40ft into the challenge because his knee kills like a sonovabitch walking sideways. Tara falls off her wire and looks absolutely ridiculous for a few minutes trying to get back on, like a turtle on its back struggling to roll back the right way up. But eventually she makes it, and starts up a "glide-step" chant which gets her into the zone. Filipe has a massive lead, and she cuts it down.

We cut to commercial. DH ponders: WHY does anybody care about the Kardashians? They're as shallow as a summer rain puddle, and as reflective as a lump of lead.

And we're back. Tara is a goddamn machine. I know I say that every week, but it's SO TRUE! She is the most amazing role model for women, you gotta love her. Even though Filipe had a really big lead over her, even though she fell off her wire and seemed to take forever to get back on, she still wins it. Unbefreakinlievable. Her prize is a kitchen makeover, which sounds pretty sweet, unless of course she rents or still lives with her mom.

Kudos also to Kristin, who looked absolutely petrified in every shot of her throughout the challenge but did it anyway; and for Mike, who totally overcame the fear. Well done.

As they're all still coming down from the adrenalin high, Ali pumps it right up again by announcing that it's makeover week! The squeals commence. Filipe points out the obvious need for a haircut, and makes a funny-because-it's-so-true joke about a haircut taking care of all of his weight loss requirements for the week. :)

Off to macy's we go! With a sample perfume mean, Tim Gunn! I simply know that he's from something called Project Runway, which I believe is some kind of fashion-related reality show, but that is all I know about the dude. Everybody else, however, seems to know exactly who he is and why this is important, and is completely tickled. Tara is so gleeful that she goes inappropriate and rushes in for a hug. Once he's extricated himself from Tara's grip, Tim tells everybody that they're getting dressed up for a Hollywood movie premiere, and everybody's thrilled.

Tim - who seems just as nice as he did two seasons ago - then lets us know that makeover week is not all joy and rapture, but also terrifying and emotional. We then cut to various clips of the contestants looking dazed/confused/overcome while shopping through the racks as proof of this assertion. Tara tries to get used to the idea of showing skin again. Helen gets teary about being able to shop like this again. Mike confesses a dislike for pink...right to the face of the guy wearing THE PINK TIE! Way to subtly insult the famous guest, Mike. DH has no idea if his gaydar's going off with Tim, or whether it's just a metrosexual thing. Finally, everybody gets surprised with $1000 macy's gift cards. (Isn't macy's pretty expensive? Won't that buy, like, two pairs of pants or something?)

After clothes shopping, it's off to the salon of the undead! Er, I mean, Tabatha Coffey. (Same diff.) We are treated to shots of the contestants getting their hair coloured, cut, and styled. There are some vague allusions to the question of whether Ron's beard will survive the makeover.

Next up, the reveals! Which all went waaay too quickly, I might add. They seemed horribly rushed and I never really got a satisfactory full-body eyeful of anybody. But anyway.

As usual, the producers have flown in a loved one to surprise each contestant at the reveal. (Why it's still a surprise to these guys after all these seasons of doing it, I have no idea.) The reveal occurs with each contestant walking down a grand staircase towards their loved one. This is a really crappy way to do a reveal, because a) it's more awkward to go down stairs than it is to, say, walk a runway or stand in front of a mirror, especially when you consider that a lot of the contestants are wearing HEELS; and b) it's quite an unflattering shot when the camera is looking up at you from below, especially when you consider that a lot of the contestants are wearing DRESSES! However, they clearly didn't ask my advice before setting this thing up, so their loss, and all the women get screwed.

First up is Helen, and her loved one is her husband, Russell. He tells us that this isn't really a movie premiere at all, which is sure to piss off at least a few of the contestants. Helen is resplendent in a really nice purple dress and she looks awesome. Russell is sooo sweet and starts crying and whimpering about how beautiful she is. (Awwwww!) Helen tells us that she feels beautiful and that it's been a long time since she's felt that way. DH tells them to get a room.

Tara's loved one is Tara's mom. Tara is, of course, knockout gorgeous and RUNS down the steps faster than anyone should who's wearing heels. However, she manages to do it without a single wobble. Is there any physical feat that this girl cannot accomplish? (Hey, maybe "running downstairs in heels" should be a future challenge?) Tara is wearing a dress of a gorgeous green colour and complains that her mom showed her up by losing 40 pounds herself.

Filipe's loved one is his wife. The best part of his reveal is that he has decent hair! And he's looking really nice. Wearing a tie still makes him look thicker than he is, but he's also the only guy on the show who could pull off a burgundy blazer like that.

Kristin's loved one is her husband, and she is wearing a freakin' FANTASTIC dress. The only problem with the dress is that by the time the finale rolls around, she's going to be too small to fit into it, which is a shame, because it is sooo flattering. Maybe she'll buy a new one with her gift card. She should. Her hair looks good, although during the reveal it unfortunately made her face look fatter.

Laura's loved one is her best friend. (This may say interesting things about her relationship with her parents?) She limps down the stairs. She's gone auburn with a pink dress - gee, that's an interesting choice.) But seriously, she does look great. She obviously has a lot of weight still to lose, but she's now got SHAPE, which is awesome.

We then get the one-two punch of Ron and Mike's reveal. Ron's loved one is his wife, and Mike's loved one is his enormous younger brother Max, so both mom and Max are able to be there for both of these reveals, which is really nice. (If you'll remember from the going-home-for-a-week episode, Max is the only one left in his family who hasn't gotten on the weight loss bandwagon and did the ugly cry when his dad and brother showed up because he was feeling left out and, well, fat.) First up (er, down) is Ron, who has indeed gone beardless. I can't believe he let them do that, and I think it was a horrible decision, as it makes his face look older and fatter. (Although admittedly a lot more like John deLancie, which is kind of weird.) Since Ron is a very handsome man, I think, this constitutes a travesty as far as I'm concerned. But he's also scads smaller than he used to be, so Max starts getting sad again. But the let's-make-poor-Max-feel-like-crap extravaganza isn't over yet, because next down the stairs is Mike! With a gloriously confident swagger, no less! (So cuuute!) The one-button-done-up-on-the-balzer thing, though, looks really dumb. Why this is a tradition, I have no idea, it makes men's bellies look bigger, which is not - as I understand it - a look that men actually want to have. However, partially buttoned blazer aside, Mike looks awesome, and Max gets really upset. His family rallies around him and spews pithy encouragement until Mike takes him aside for an intimate little one-on-one...intimate, that is, except for the CAMERA CREW AND THE ENTIRE CONTINENT WATCHING! Gosh, my heart breaks for Max. Growing up so large probably did a number on his self-confidence, and now he doesn't even fit in visually with his family at home. Add in adolescent hormones and you have one sad kid on your hands, the poor sweetie. Mike does his best to infuse Max with the belief that he CAN do it, and reminds us all that most people are never going to get on the show, but that they don't need it in order to succeed. Way to go, Mike.

After the reveals, everybody goes in for a celebrity-style red carpet photo shoot. There is much hamming it up. Some of the hamming (as with Filipe) is totally joking; some of it (as with Helen) is trying to be a star a wee bit too seriously, making it a bit awkward to watch.

Turns out they are watching a movie premiere, but the "movie" is a Biggest Loser retrospective about the season. Everyone is shocked at the differences they see, physically and emotionally. (Hey, movie therapy!) One of my favourite moments was Tara's mom's jaw dropping straight to the floor, with accompanying gasp, when she saw the before and after shots. Incidentally, Kristin's hair looked way cuter when she was watching the movie than when we first saw it.

Well, all that shopping, pampering and glamour was fun, but sure enough, everyone has to head back to the ol' grind. And yeah, I'm totally not going to get used to Ron's beardlessness. We go to the last chance workout, in which Kristin still fails to figure out that she has to clip back her hair. Having those locks dripping down into my face would piss me off something fierce. Bub cusses like a sailor to try and motivate Filipe to work harder. Finally, we see Filipe and Kristin working side-by-side on those weird combination medicine ball/tray doohickies. As they balance, I cannot help but notice that Filipe is wiggling like jello while Kristin is solid as a rock, completely in the zone.

Finally we find out why Laura's been limping for several shows. Apparently it's her hip - she's got a stress fracture.


This is apparently the most severe sports-related injury in the history of the American Biggest Loser, but that's certainly no comfort to Laura. Dr. H and his cottonball-stuffed cheeks say that they need to be totally conservative if they're going to fix the fracture and avoid making it worse, which would necessitate some serious surgery to correct. Laura can't do any impact running, or anything which causes her pain. So basically...she's toast. Jillian and Laura are devastated. I feel so sorry for Laura, that sucks a whole lot. :(

Cut to commercials! And then, once we've gone through those, we come back to...another commercial! Milk rocks! Helen and Jillian click tall, frosty glasses and, I must assume once the camera is off them, give themselves big ol' white moustaches.

Then, cue the dark sky and serious music, it's weigh-in time!

  • Mike breaks Roger Shultz's record of weight loss on campus, in the same number of weeks as Roger did (as Mike said, "no asterisks" - he's too funny)
  • Filipe moves from clinically obese to obese
  • Filipe drops below 250lbs
  • Ron passes 125lbs of total weight loss

Other things of note:

  • Ron says that the last time he weighed this little, he was somewhere between ages 9 and 13. Mike interviews that he doesn't think his mom was even ALIVE the last time his dad was at this weight. This explains why Mike's mom looks so young and hot - it's because she is! Ron! Day-um, you tiger! ;)
  • For added dramatic effect, the guys carry Laura to the scale and Jillian pretends to weep at the humanity.
  • Helen stuns the crap out of everybody by losing 7lbs. The show totally got me this time with the facial expression preview shots right before the commercial, I absolutely thought it was going to be a horrible result.

In the end, though, it's Kristin and Laura below the yellow line, which makes deliberation really tough. Kristin begs beautifully for people to save her, pointing out that although she's lost 117lbs, she is still at the weight that many people are when they START the show, which means she still really needs to be here. She reminds people that she is trying to get healthy so she can have babies, which of course is one of the most worthy causes ever. I'm pretty sure I teared up at this point. So we have the what's-best-for-Laura issue and the Kristin-needs-to-be-here issue, and those are both pretty serious things to consider. Throw in the various alliances and you have a whole bunch of confused voters all trying to do the right thing. Ron, despite the fact that Kristin is a bigger threat than Laura (yeah, right, Ron, like you wouldn't hold up your ages-old alliance with Kristin at this point no matter what kind of a threat she was), wants everyone to vote Laura home so she can stop being in denial about her injury and get the therapy she needs. DH doesn't buy this. He speculates that Laura probably doesn't have the medical coverage to get proper treatment at home, and that they do have people who could help her at the ranch.

Ultimately, however, alliances stay strong (except for Helen, who gameplays like crazy) and Laura is sent home. We are given the absolutely FANTASTIC news that The Biggest Loser is providing her with all the therapy and support she could possibly need at home in order to recover from her injury. I'm getting vorklempt just writing about it. Laura goes home, seems to be doing very well at healing the stress fracture, and has apparently maintained her weight. I don't know how she's going to manage to lose another 23 pounds by the finale with her injury, but I wish her all the best. She certainly looks happy and healthy, which is great.

Next week, watch for these potential milestones:

  • Helen could hit the 100lbs of total weight loss mark
  • Mike could hit the 150lbs of total weight loss mark
  • Ron could drop below 300lbs
  • Ron could move from morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Ron could pass the 30% total weight loss mark
  • Filipe could hit the 1/3 total weight loss mark
  • Tara could pass the 40% total weight loss mark

Also next week: (SPOILERS)

The players take part in a health-trivia challenge to win a trip to New York. Later, Bob and Jillian critique the contestants' grocery purchases; the players face a balance challenge; and someone hits a milestone at the weigh-in.

(Gosh, I hope that "milestone" is Ron dropping below 300. But it'll probably be Helen losing 100lbs.)

Week after that: (more SPOILERS)

The players create workouts for Bob and Jillian. Later, the contestants scale hills while lugging bags matching the amount of weight they've shed; Dr. Huizenga provides updated "real ages"; the players try on goal outfits; and the Final 4 return home for 30 days before the final ranch weigh-in

Ooh. Now that sounds like good TV.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Biggest Loser Review, 2009/04/07

Voting aftermath. Mike feels betrayed by Sione, Filipe and Helen. Kristin is wowed at what's going down. Ron does a ha-ha-not-really-a-joke death curse on everybody who voted for him. (Which kinda scared me.) We see a flashback to when Filipe attempted to prop up his integrity on a technicality: when asked whether he would vote for Ron, he replied "You'll be fine." Since Filipe thinks Ron will "be fine" whether or not he goes home, and since "you'll be fine" is technically not a yes or no answer to the will-you-vote-for-me question, Filipe maintains that he did not actually lie, per se. Ron, of course, points out the obvious: "What the hell did you think I thought you meant?" So okay, if we're picking nits, "lie" is not the correct verb. "Deceive", though? Hell, yes. Dumbass move on Blue's part there, I think - although of course if it had actually succeeded in voting Ron off, it would have been a good move. (Which Ron admits.) They risked a lot and kinda screwed themselves. So Filipe gets served by Ron and interviews that he kept his mouth shut during the tonguelashing because his culture teaches him to respect elders. But in reality it's pretty obvious that he kept his mouth shut because he's freakin' intimidated by Ron. :) Plus also I think he knows he done wrong.

So Mike and Ron go back to their room so Ron can give his first-born son a little lesson on what happens when you break with Da Family. He talks smack about Filipe, then we see everybody else talking smack about Ron. Tara makes horsehead jokes. Ron talks Sonny, er, I mean, Mike, down from punching the wall and tells him not to get his emotions involved. (Damn, he's a cool customer. Totally reminds me of my dad there.) Nuthin' personal, you realise, but business is business, and when tings start ta stink, ya gotta take out da garbage. Mike rubs his chin thoughtfully. In the background, we hear strains of string music which seriously evoke the love theme from The Godfather, as we are shown clips of Ron being the father figure, getting pampered with a glass of wine and cucumbers on his eyes, and finally standing nobly alone beside the pool as he talks about being the house father. Good grief.

So, moving on from Italian stereotypes...

(I hate the gameplay and the fractured harmony. Why can't these people just like each other and do their best to lose weight? Damn you, reality TV!)

Temptation? And how! Complete with desperately obvious product placement! (DH: Most jawdropping temptation? Most jawWORKING temptation!) The set-up: There are 100 covered food platters (like the ones they use in voting elimination, but bigger and fancier). Ali tells everybody that most of these platters contain high-calorie foods, but some of them contain a combination of Extra gum packets and money prizes! Everyone gets really excited about this, because wow! GUM! However, just ONE of the platters contains the ULTIMATE prize, a golden ticket: the ONLY VOTE at this week's elimination.

Well, money and power (and gum!) are up for grabs, so of course everybody loses their minds and goes for the platters. (Anybody else think that Tara's legendary barfing skills would come in handy about ten minutes after the temptation was over?) People starting revealing and wolfing down cupcakes, pop, pretzels, PB&J sandwiches, etc. Ron at first appears to be the lucky one, as he gets two plattersful of gum and a total of $1500, which he's really excited about because he immediately pops a stick of the wondrous chewy stuff. Laura and Filipe also luck out with the gum, and they get $5000 and $500 respectively. Platters continue to be opened and calories continue to be snarfed. We are treated to belching sounds, complaints about pretzels going straight to the ass, threats of ralphing, and so-forth. Finally, Kristin emerges from the feeding frenzy long enough to realise how stupid all this is. She says the ultimate way to save yourself is to stop sucking back empty calories and just stay the heck above the yellow line, so she stops opening trays.

Finally, Laura gets the golden ticket, which sends Tara into leaps of glee. (Laura's pretty good at managing to luck out with the extra votes, huh?) Everyone else looks bummed and nauseous, while Laura immediately goes off on a massive power trip. She ruminates on the possibility of extorting massages and stuff from her fellow competitors, and tops it all off with a rather skillfully executed evil Margaret Hamilton laugh. (I'll vote you off, my pretty! And your little dog, too!)

Then Laura and Tara huddle in their bedroom and discuss strategy. For some bizarre reason, Laura thinks that Tara should deliberately fall below the yellow line. Tara interviews that the purpose of this strategy would be to help guarantee that Laura doesn't fall below (we're later told that Laura has to stay above the yellow line if she wants this single vote to remain in her hands, otherwise, we'll revert to the usual everybody-votes elimination process). Of course, if they BOTH end up falling below the yellow line, Tara's completely screwed. Tara says that she's conflicted about deliberately falling below the line, and DH and I agree with each other that it's a strategy that could seriously bite her in the @$$ if she goes along with it.

Anyway, back to the aftermath of The Ultimate Temptation - everybody's trying to clean up the evidence, and Bob and Jillian come in mid-carnage. Kristin (getting all holier-than-thou because she slammed on the willpower partway through) outlines to them what just happened. Jillian nearly loses her shit and starts talking about disrespecting weight that no longer exists. (The hell?) Bob tries to turn it into a "lesson" for everybody, but then learns from Ron that his own team almost voted Ron out, so BOB nearly loses his shit. (Certainly his jaw gets a good workout.) Bob and Ron then go outside and discuss a) Ron's miraculous skill at evading vote-off, and b) Ron's desire to wreak revenge on anybody who screws with him. (Never mess with a Sicilian when WEIGHT is on the line!)

(Okay, I don't know if Ron is actually Sicilian. But the takeoff of the line scans really well.)

Bob and Jillian are so disgusted with their people that they beat the crap out of them in the gym, and even trade off people in their teams. Jillian works a bit with Kristin and Ron, and Bob destroys everybody else on the spin bikes. Later, Helen is still feeling gross from all the calories she ate, and takes a lifelong vow of cupcake celibacy.

Kristin decides to be (hilariously) blatantly obvious about sucking up to She With The Power, and brings Laura breakfast in bed, complete with some lovely flowers and bed number adjusting. Just about the only thing she didn't do was fluff up Laura's pillows. DH threatens to be ill. :)

Jillian brings her team to Subway and brings out Coleen and Jerry from last season to shill the joint. Coleen is wearing a poofy apron and is kind of waddling, which makes me she pregnant? Dunno. She's still looking lovely, and Jerry's looking terrific.

We then move to this week's challenge, which takes place in the Rose Bowl stadium. Being American, all the contestants are thrilled. I couldn't care less, myself, but since everyone else seems happy, so am I. The deal is: boys against girls racing up and down 2,156 stadium stairs. Top boy and top girl then do it all over again to determine the final winner. The prize is...wait for it...a two-week trip for four people to Utah.


Geez. You know the economy's bad when. Anyhow, anyone who couldn't see right from the start that this would be a face-off between Tara and Sione obviously has not been watching the show very long. My money was on Tara, and of course she wins. Sione is bummed and Ali rubs it in.

Then we get right back into gameplay and headgames, because Blue, Purple and Pink all have a nice, brisk walk together. At least, it looked nice until everybody tried to pressure Kristin into promising to vote against Ron. Sione, Filipe, and Helen are all apparently terrified at Ron's Evil Mastermind-like ability to manipulate everybody into voting the way he wants it to go. Guys, it's called leadership. Ron didn't get a place on his city council back home for nothing, you know. He's charismatic, likeable, is good at persuading people to see his side of things, and is a natural leader. He is also probably pretty used to petty little backstabbing plots going on behind his back, so unless you want to choose the open and honest route, your plots are likely going to fall flat. Sure enough, Kristin doesn't want to promise a damn thing (remember, she was with Ron on Bob's team this whole time, whereas Blue went Black for a while and Helen's still with Jillian), and after weeks of hearing how Kristin considers Sione and Filipe to be her brothers and how Filipe and Sione adore the team camaraderie of being with Bob...Filipe interviews that he doesn't think he knows Kristin anymore. Nice.

But the headgames-disguised-as-nice-brisk-walks don't end there. We next see Helen talking to Laura. She advises Laura that getting Tara to go below the yellow line is not good for Green. She almost has Laura convinced that it's a bad strategy and that she has Laura's best interests at heart, until she brings up the possibility that if Tara does drop below, Laura might do the old bait-n-switch and vote Tara off because Tara's such a huge threat. Laura tells Helen that she would NEVER do that (right, cupcake, like you never thought of it) and then interviews that now she's wondering if Helen's really being honest with her. She brings up the possibility that maybe Helen's trying to play both sides? Well, DUH! I think Helen is super-spunky and that she will absolutely help others out when her own heinie isn't on the line, but ultimately, Helen is totally looking out for number one. And in this environment, who can blame her.

Bob makes a last desperate bid to restore harmony and talks to his team about reconciliation. Tensions build. Bob is powerless to stop the avalanche. At least things didn't get violent.

(Hey, Ron's eyes are looking really nice this week. Maybe it's because of the revenge glinting out of them?)

Jillian also tries valiantly to pull everybody out of their gameheads and into themselves. She tells Tara not to throw the weigh-in. Helen confesses that she's nervous she'll fall below the yellow line, and I also think she has a lot to worry about since she had such a kick-ass week last weigh-in.

Bizarre product placement: DVD plug for a movie I've never heard of and which certainly doesn't sound like appropriate entertainment fare for a bunch of grownups with no children around. The contestants fake enthusiam totally unconvincingly. Then, a further plug: healthy popcorn! Sione gobsmacks us with the shocking news that 300 calories is LESS than 1000 calories! Amazing!

Off we go to the last chance workout. Jillian plans to open up a serious can of torture. Tara wimps out all day and butts heads with Jillian. But Helen, bless her, sums it up for everybody. She may be the one person here who gets that the only person you can control is you. Helen looks like the strongest woman ever with all the weightlifting, it's awesome. Mike boxes and, I'm sure, makes teenage girls all over the continent swoon. Bob tells Filipe mid-stairclimbing to tell him how good he feels! If Filipe had a hand free, he totally woulda flipped Bob the bird right there. Finally, Sione has a crisis of confidence. He never wins against Tara. His best isn't good enough. Wah wah wah. But Bob takes him in hand and leaves pools of Tongan sweat all over the floor. (We even get a closeup. :P )

Off we go to the weigh-in: Laura's still limping, and Ali is wearing a goddamn FANTASTIC dress. Mike's up first and twitches with uncontrollable nervousness. He obviously still has a lot to learn from his dad about staying cool under pressure.

(DH points out that Tara could totally guarantee Brown's support for her for the rest of the show if she popped Mike's cherry. Now it's my turn to feel slightly ill.)

Results of note:

  • Mike and Sione go from clinically obese to obese.
  • Kristin moves from morbidly obese to clinically obese. I do a little happy dance on my sofa.
  • Laura DESTROYS the 25% total weightloss mark
  • Filipe passes the 30% total weightloss mark
  • Kristin and Mike drop below 250lbs

Other things that happened at the weigh-in:

  • Ron gets sad that his weight loss might push Mike below the yellow line. Mike rightly tells him to shut up and be happy. :)
  • Tara loses only 3 pounds. Laura swears up and down that she didn't do that on purpose.
  • I think it might just be shadow, but Kristin looks like she has freckles on her face in her weigh-in interviews! They make her look totally cute!
  • Filipe foreshadows that Sione is doomed by interviewing that if HE lost seven pounds, Sione will of course lose even MORE. Kiss of death, dude. You shoulda kept your trap shut.

So, weird week, weird results: The top three contestants in overall weightloss (Tara, Mike and Helen) are three of the four lowest losers of the week. Sione and Helen fall below the yellow line, and Laura alone holds their fate in her hands. She meets with each person separately. Sione is really nice about it. Helen plays the game for all she's worth.

As Laura's agonizing over what to do, Sione and Filipe bond in their room. Then they get it all out of their systems by haka-ing like crazy. (Filipe is REALLY good at that, I love watching him.)

Personally, I thought it was a tough decision. Helen's a serious gameplayer and an excellent loser, she's a big threat. Sione, on the other hand, is half of one of the three intact pairs left in the house. If Laura gets rid of him, she will be part of one of the only two twosomes left. Plus, Sione is a huge threat in challenges to her partner, Tara. Overall, I thought it was a better move to get rid of Sione, and apparently Laura agrees with me. I'm sure Ron is doing the happy dance inside (one down, two to go) as Sione says goodbye and vows to be a Tongan Brad Pitt. He goes home to his family and his dad says he can't even tell Sione is his son anymore. Uh, dude? Have you seen you? We can TOTALLY tell he's your son. Flash forward to the "Sione Today" segment, and we find that he's down to 235lbs. Part of the loss is no doubt due to the haircut that he FINALLY decided to spring for. Yay! And he's a trainer now! And he channels Bob! And his wife is thin, too! Everybody's happy! We end the week on an up note. (In all seriousness, I think Sione will make a fantastic trainer.)

Potential milestones for next week:

  • Kristin could drop below the 1/3 total weightloss mark
  • Laura and Ron could pass the 30% total weightloss mark
  • Ron could pass 125lbs total weightloss
  • Filipe could drop below 250lbs
  • Laura could drop below 200lbs
  • Filipe could move from clinically obese to obese
  • Laura could move from obese to overweight
  • Mike could break the record for pounds lost on campus (144lbs, previously held by Roger Shultz in Season 5)

Also next week: (SPOILERS)

The players receive makeovers with guidance from Tim Gunn, Tabatha Coffey and Brandon Martinez. Elsewhere, a player sustains an injury that will affect her workouts, and the contestants reach new heights in the challenge.

Week after that: (more SPOILERS)

The players take part in a health-trivia challenge to win a trip to New York, Later, Bob and Jillian critique the contestants' grocery purchases; the players face a balance challenge; and someone hits a milestone at the weigh-in.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Biggest Loser Review, 2009/03/31

So the Tongan Terror Twins are POed because Ron made a case during deliberation last week for sending Filipe home. Now, Ron has one priority in this house, and everybody knows it because he's been completely honest about it from day one: Mike. He wants Mike to stay as long as possible, bottom line. And keeping himself around as long as possible too is a good way to help that along. Filipe's a big threat; Aubrey could probably have been counted on to help keep Ron and Mike safe by falling below the yellow line again. So it shouldn't have been a huge surprise that Ron put forward the idea that Filipe should be voted off. However, because there was an alliance formed among Bob's original team, this move puts Ron in the doghouse, despite the fact that he ultimately was the guy that sent Aubrey home. Bonds have been broken, alliances are in the dust, harmony in the house is crumbling, Tongans are whining, producers are licking their chops at the dramatic possibilities...

Thus opens the Week Of Total Insanity.

We go to the gym to find that we've traded Ali-the-usual-host for Ali-the-season-five-winner. Ali S. has had her baby (Megan Hope), and is now on mat leave. I fully expect Ali V. to be great at this gig. The preview texts for this week's show also tell us we should expect Michelle (last season's winner) to show up and do some hosting as well.

Also thanks to the preview texts, it was fairly clear that this week, at least one person would be coming back into the house. I expected the usual everybody-shows-up-and-weighs-in deal, but instead, just three people were given the opportunity: the three people who only spent one week on the ranch and who were eliminated before the 30-day bring-'em-back mark. I thought that was a FANTASTIC idea! Really wonderful, beautifully fair. (Although I'm really disappointed that we didn't get to see how Dan was doing.) And even before the doors opened and we got to see Estella, Nicole and David, I fully expected that Nicole would be a slam-dunk, whether the method of choice was weigh-in or challenge. Heck, I thought Nicole would be a contender back when I figured ALL the eliminated contestants would be brought back for a weigh-in. I mean, after Week 3 when we saw her at-home profile, she'd lost 58 pounds and had reduced down to an "overweight" BMI. And this bring-back weigh-in takes place AFTER the at-home profile, chronologically, so I expected she'd be even further along with the weight loss than that 58 pounds we saw before. Anyway, we find out that Estella's down to 197 and David's down to 347. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised by David's 46-pound loss, I thought it was going to be a lot less. And Ali V.'s words of encouragement and positive spin on that 46 was wonderful. Dave's not going to win a place back on the ranch, and he's not going to win the $100K at-home game. But if he keeps going with the gradual weight loss, he WILL EVENTUALLY GET THERE, and that's the important thing.

So anyway, we're told that Nicole needs to have lost more than 50 pounds to get back on the ranch, and they actually attempt to put us into suspense at the results by going to commercial. Hello?!? Like the at-home profile hadn't already told us she'd done it? Like we couldn't see her freakin' six-pack RIGHT THERE? (Damn, she's looking gorgeous and vibrant!) Anyway, back we come from commercial and it turns out Nicole's weight is an astounding 182, which gives her a BMI of 27.7, which is the LOWEST IN THE HOUSE. And, as Ali V. points out, she's got the 2nd-highest overall weight loss percentage in the house, too. Mike had it right - anybody who isn't scared of her is so totally lying.

So we go back to the house, and poor Nicole is completely ambushed by every single person. They all want to talk to her about the game. They all want to give her advice (which is really just a front for talking to her about the game). They all want to tell her what's going on in the house, and the alliances, and the drama, and get her to not want to vote for them ever, and on and on and on ad nauseum. I thought Nicole's head was going to start spinning around! You really have to feel sorry for anybody who comes back into this game, doncha? Poor girl can't even go for a relaxing morning run, because Tara talks her ear off about percentages and pressure and blah blah blah freakin' blah.

Of course, Tara has issues of her own. First of all, she's totally threatened by Nicole's presence. Didja notice how she gave the fuck-off laugh to Kristin when Kristin implied that now Tara will have serious competition in the challenges? :) But finally, FINALLY, we see Tara trying to wrestle with her issues, and Jillian actually talking to her about them. Hooray! So Tara has no idea where the weight gain came from, but really wants to know. Okay, fair enough. It's obvious to the viewing audience (major control issues), but often, knowing ourselves is the hardest thing, so I can get that she just doesn't know. Why Jillian didn't slap her upside the head and plain out TELL her is beyond me, but at least Jillian had a great point that just being aware that there's a problem is a huge start. Hopefully we can see Tara sussing it out a little more as the weeks go on.

DH was wondering which trainer Nicole would go with, but of course she started out as part of Bob's team, so it looks like that's where she goes. She walks in, and Bob is totally gobsmacked and delighted. I got a lot of glee out of seeing his reaction.

Bob then discusses Drama with Kristin and Sione. They complain again about Ron's actions in last week's deliberation, and speculate about how far he'll go to protect Mike. Bob, as always, has no control over what his team is doing. Also as usual, instead of trying to fix things by, say, gathering everybody up to teambuild and mend fences, he compounds the divide by pointing out that Ron will drop them each like a hot potato if Mike's at risk, and then plays favourites by giving just Kristin and Sione a tough workout. What Bob is thinking is beyond me.

One thing I've been thinking about since last week is that this season's done a really good job of blurring the lines between Black and Blue. They've done so much team-shifting and trainer-switching that it's not surprising alliances are starting to fall by the wayside. It truly is, for possibly the first time ever, a game of individuals. This might be what's messing Bob up. He's used to unwavering loyalty.

Then suddenly, we're utterly sideswiped! What we think is going to be Jillian discussing house drama turns around into the week's painful product placement! Augh!

And more insanity for the week: Ron's having chest pains with lightheadedness and dizzyness, and goes to the hospital. It looks bad. We find out right away that it's not a heart attack, but it is some kind of bloodloss. Swell. We're treated to closeup shots of Ron's large and hairy chest before cutting to a commercial, during which various famous people are asked to determine who would win if you pitched Celine Dion against Shania Twain. We are treated to Jacob Hoggart imitating Celine Dion. Gold. This puts us in a happy mood, which is totally dashed when we go back to the hospital to totally violate Ron's privacy and hear more about his medical condition than anybody who isn't his immediate family has a right to know. As if seeing his moobs and back hair every week isn't embarrassing enough for him, we also get to see the inside of his intestines! Geez. Fortunately, it's nothing serious, which is an IMMENSE relief to me. Ron's a pretty hard-nosed ruthless guy when it comes to gameplay and making sure Mike is safe, but I love him. And as Ron's interviewing about his diagnosis, I'm struck by how much thinner and better his face is looking. Way to go, Ron. Unfortunately, he later interviews that he had so many fluids pumped into him at the hospital (not to mention three lost days of working out) that he expects to be doomed at the weigh-in. Rats.

Challenge time! With Michelle! This week it's one huge mother-bleepin' "balance" metaphor. The prize is a one-pound advantage at the weigh-in. Mike confesses that his balance sucks so badly that he's doomed. (This turns out to be prophetic, as he becomes the first to poop out of the challenge.) Nicole gets told that her win (since she already has immunity for the week) would allow her to give a one-pound PENALTY at the weigh-in to anyone she wants. DH points out that she does NOT want to win this challenge. She's already overwhelmed by all the drama crap going on, does she really want to sabotage herself by being able to hand out a weigh-in penalty to anyone she wants? I think he makes a good point.

The challenge is to balance on a platform above the pool, which is being held up by 40 ropes, with a single rope dangling down to hang on to with one hand for assistance with balance. The ropes will be cut one-by-one until only one person is left standing on their platform. Filipe complains about the rope-cutting process being too slow, and gets his just desserts shortly after that by being second to go into the water. Tara also pitches into the drink, making this the first time ever that she has failed to win at a challenge as an individual. Kristin, on the other hand, is COMPLETELY in the zone. She didn't even bother to look over at Sione when he cast his Tongan Death Stare at her (Mike's description of that made me laugh pretty hard; y'know, now I think about it, Mike's a funny guy - he almost always makes me laugh when he's interviewing). Anyway, good for Kristin, bless her. I was sad to see her fall off her platform. However, finally winning a challenge had to feel awesome for Sione.

To continue with the insanity of the week, we have to endure TWO painful product placements! Whimper!

General thoughts about the last chance workout:

  • Kristin's face is looking much sleeker this week.
  • How about that Sione doing pushups with Bob ON HIM? Nice.
  • Mike and Jillian wrestle. It doesn't look very tidy, I think they both need to work on their technique.

Finally we make it to the weigh-in. Ali S. is back! And she's crazy. I would certainly not want to go on national television one week postpartum. However, I guess with an entire makeup and wardrobe crew at your disposal, and a poofy top to hide the baby pooch, I guess it's not so bad. Anyone want to take a guess as to how many breaks they had to take in shooting because Megan had to nurse or was crying? :)

And thus begins possibly the saddest weigh-in ever. (And I thought it was bad a few weeks ago.) Suddenly we have this new rule sprung on us: in order to keep her immunity, Nicole can't gain any weight. Sorry, since WHEN? Obviously, this is a special new rule for people coming back into the house, not for regular contestants, since Kristin gained once with immunity and she was still safe. Sure enough, disaster. Nicole GAINS FIVE POUNDS. Maybe she tried to waterload? Maybe she was stressed? Maybe she couldn't get any sleep because people wouldn't stop pestering her about the goddman game? Who knows. And she's not the only one to gain, either. Ron does, as expected, but so does LAURA. Seriously! What the HELL is up with this week?

Lamest commercial ever: the singing Encore guy.

Random weigh-in thoughts:

  • Tara spouts off meaningless psychobabble before her weigh-in. I still have no idea what she was trying to say.
  • It's never a good sign when someone interviews that they EXPECT a good number, and yet, Helen got away with it. She's a machine.
  • Sione's arms are now getting BIGGER...with muscle!
  • DH pointed out that maybe some of Ron's good weight loss the last few weeks was actually fluid loss? Who knows.

Milestones reached:

  • Kristin and Sione pass the 30% total weight loss mark
  • Helen and Mike pass the one-third total weight loss mark
  • Unfortunately, Laura dips back UNDER the 25% total weight loss mark

We do have some good results, but with one third of the house gaining weight, it's still an exceptionally sucky week. I bet Laura was stunned as all hell to end up safe, though. Back we go to the house for the traditional begging and deliberation. I thought Nicole made a BRILLIANT pitch for herself. Ron didn't say much (and he said it lamely to boot), but Mike, obviously desperate, pulled it all out and did a very good job of guilting people into keeping his dad around. After a commercial break that contained an unbelievably surreal ad for Canadian Tire, we find out that Mike was successful. It was a very near thing, but Nicole (with bitter looks) goes home. So after all that "Nicole coming back changes EVERYTHING" stuff we were treated to throughout the show, it turns out that meh, not so much with the everything changes. :) Poor Nicole. Turns out being on the ranch may actually have sabotaged her. Back at home, though, we see that she has continued to kick ass and is NOW AT A NORMAL, HEALTHY BMI! She looked unbelievably good shopping for wedding dresses (although I didn't think much of her choice) and her friends are screamingly thrilled.

All is well. At least, for Nicole. Back on the ranch, lines are drawn. Bad blood occurs between Brown and Blue (and I must admit that the hypocrisy which both teams have been showing - specifically Filipe and Ron - is starting to annoy me), and this throws up a schism in the Church of Bob, not to mention that it threatens to destroy the harmony in the house. Even Helen took a stand against Ron, and Kristin voted differently from Blue! Great. The next few weeks should be fun. (Not.)

Next week, look for the following milestones:

  • Laura could dip back below the 25% total weight loss mark
  • Kristin and Mike could drop below 250lbs
  • Filipe could hit the 30% total weight loss mark
  • Kristin could move from morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Filipe, Sione and Mike could move from clinically obese to obese

Also next week: (SPOILERS)

The players compete for the sole vote at the elimination during a risky temptation challenge. Later, Rocco DiSpirito teaches the contestants how to make healthy versions of restaurant dishes; two former contestants offer advice; and the players scale stadium steps during a challenge.

Week after that: (SPOILERS)

Yippee! The makeover episode is coming: Tim Gunn helps the contestants look their best after they receive complete makeovers; one contestant is sidelined with an injury.