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.

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