Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Biggest Loser Review, 2009/11/03

The Losers are ecstatic because this week they're being sent to Washington, D.C.! The nation's capital! Home of the president! D'you think a random group of Canadians would ever be that excited about being told they're going on a trip to Ottawa? Yeah, I didn't think so. Rebecca is particularly stoked because she's a poly-sci major...which I guess means her employability is low. ("Will think for food" and all that.) The contestants are further thrilled to discover that most of them now actually fit into the airplane seats and belts, which is a new experience. (In all seriousness, that change must be an amazing feeling for them.) Daniel and Rebecca sit next to each other, and then Daniel plugs the airline they took, attempting to pass off the plane's advantages as casual conversation. Epic fail. Danny backs up this spiel with a little sitting-down dance of joy at all the legroom. Dudes, just put up a screen that said, "The contestants flew via JetBlue and had a great customer experience." It would be more forthright and far less insulting to our intelligence.

Ali meets them at the Jefferson Memorial and all of their faces are glowy and awe-filled just to be there. Ali tells them their one goal this week is to help their fellow Americans lead happier, healthier lives. (Really, Ali? That's the only goal? No worries about winning the weigh-in? Why do I have a hard time believing that?) To assist in this worthy pursuit, Bob and Jillian have come along for the ride, and jog like the gods they are towards the contestants. Partway through this, they decide to turn it into a footrace, which is pretty fun. (It appears to be a tie, or perhaps a Bob win by a slight margin.) This week, the contestants will get a chance to tell some members of congress about their weight loss journey, and - the piece de resistance (no accents today, sorry) - a visit to the White House. This last bit excites everyone to a fever pitch, and Tracey's mouth gapes open to such an extreme that I'm sure a bunch of bugs must have flown right in. (Extra calories, but hey, it's protein.) Bob waxes ecstatic about how this will totally validate the show. Hm. I didn't know Bob was feeling the need to be validated about his career choices. Interesting.

Ali then makes a kind of lame segueway between Jefferson having fought for individual rights and the fact that they're now going into the singles portion of the game. She reveals the t-shirts they all wore when they were duos, and everyone's quite excited. Ali also makes note of the fact that this is probably Shay's week to drop under 400lbs, which is certainly an awesome milestone. Shay is pretty stoked.

Time for a pop challenge! (Tracey catches more flies.) It turns out that Bob and Jillian will be running a public workout at the Washington Monument that afternoon/evening. The contestants have an hour to round up as many people as they can to attend it. Ali even has packages of stickers with each contestant's colour and name on it that their "people" can wear to identify which contestant they're there for. Whoever brings in the must suckers wins. Ali won't actually tell them the prize, but does hint that it means a big advantage at the challenge. Plus, the winner gets to take all their "people" to Subway for free dinner. Everybody then scatters to wander around Washington making fools of themselves approaching strangers about a free mass workout.

It is, of course, very hard to cold-approach people on the street like this, and it is a bit embarrassing to watch at first. But then once people get going, it's freakin' HILARIOUS. It all starts when Amanda approaches a bunch of girls and they recognize her from last season's finale (where she was voted into the contestant manifest by the viewing audience). That part was really cute - the girls took pictures of themselves posing with Amanda and everything. (Facebook albums, anyone?) This gang of people then spends most of the rest of the afternoon wandering around Washington chanting Amanda's name. They drive Liz off when she happens to run into them. Rebecca laments that she doesn't have a group of rabid fans. However, said fans completely turn on Amanda when they happen to see her wandering around with Daniel. He, of course, is even MORE recognizable as a television personality than Amanda. They're thrilled to hear that he's back on the show, and he actually manages to CONVERT a bunch of them by handing out his own stickers! Unreal! This seems to piss Amanda off quite a bit, and I don't blame her. But, all's fair in love and pop challenges.

Rudy begins by riling up a bunch of teenage boys as a counter to Amanda's bunch of teenage girls, and eventually comes across Shay who screams at him to get off her corner. :) Allen, however, has a stroke of absolute genius, and heads over to the local fire station to talk to his brothers and sisters in hoses, er, I mean, arms. After being repelled by the gang of Amanda fans, Liz finds different people (one of whom is wearing a MIKE HUCKABEE T-SHIRT, for gawd's sake), and uses the enticement of the chance to BE ON TELEVISON. I'm thinking that'll probably work really well, actually. She interviews that, since she isn't cute like the young girls, she needs to use charm and guilt.

At the public workout, a whole mess of firetrucks show up. "My brothers are here!" exclaims Allen, who is getting all kinds of warm fuzzy feelings about seeing the support of his fellow firefighters. (That is pretty cool, I must admit.) Ali announces that the difference between first and second place was just ONE PERSON. The two people at the top are Liz and Allen, but Liz walks away with the win, thus bumming out a legion of firefighters. Liz's response? "You go, girl!" (She can actually pull that phrase off.) The crowd goes wild when Bob and Jillian appear. Bob struts around on the stage with his little ear mike and a thrown-out chest, while Jillian goes out into the crowd to torture people. So basically, fun for everyone. Especially Liz's team, who all get to be part of the Subway product placement afterward. Munch, munch.

Now it's time for the Losers to go and speak with the aforementioned members of congress, to tell them about the problem of obesity in America. Daniel breaks out his size-54 pants which he wore in high school, and points out the lack of education in schools about health. He talks about how his grades went down the fatter he got, and points out the self-confidence/self-worth/depression issues inherent in that. He also points out that to graduate, he only needed one health credit, and pushes for better health education. Jillian (wearing a shirt with really cool sleeves) backs this up by saying that Americans have no idea what's in the food they eat. Rebecca - who is sitting next to Daniel, and he smiles appreciatively at her as she starts talking - mentions her lifelong weight problems and her lack of knowledge on what to do about it.

The male senator has a serious face on throughout this whole presentation, but really looks like he's thinking about the groceries he has to pick up on the way home, and can't wait to get outta there. The female senator, on the other hand, actually takes notes and looks sort of sincere and interested. But they're both politicians through-and-through. They do a lot of thanking of the group for courage and commitment. Odds are that they'll actually do anything? Mmm, doubtful. But hey, at least the show tried.

Onto the challenge. It will have four stages, one at each of four major national landmarks. The prize is immunity. They start in Constitution Gardens, running (Ali notes here that politicians in Washington also have to "run") two laps around the lake. (Of course we're running, says Rebecca, who by the way is standing next to Daniel.) These two laps equal one mile. This means a major freakout for Tracey, who tears up at the memory of the last time she tried to run a mile. The first six contestants to cross the finish line get to move on to the second stage of the challenge. Liz's pop challenge win has earned her the right to skip any of the first three stages of the challenge, but she decides to run the mile anyway and save the skip for later. She interviews that she's going to feel like a total idiot if she doesn't place in the top six. Well, she doesn't actually say "total idiot", but you know that's what she's thinking.

(You know what pisses me off? These new Kleenex commercials with the grown man switching mothers every time they do something that isn't perfect. There's so much sexism in the imagery, I can't get over it. There's even a whole fuckin' WEBSITE on the theme. Bite me, Kleenex.)

Daniel reflects on how, although he kicked everyone else's ass the first time they all ran a mile, he is in serious trouble this time because his competitors are all now much fitter. Shay reflects on how far she's come and we watch her busting out a seriously determined face as she goes. Rebecca turns out to be one of the leaders. DH remarks that he didn't think she would be the challenger and he's really impressed. We get a montage of everybody doing the mile now vs. Day 1, accompanied by sappy country music which utterly fails to get an emotional response out of me.

The winner is Rebecca! Followed by Daniel (I guess he wanted to be next to Rebecca again), Allen, Amanda, Rudy, and finally - phew - Liz. (Her ego takes a serious sigh of relief before she collapses into the arms of the Pink girls.) Next to follow are Danny and Tracey, the latter of whom lets us in on the big secret of how to finish a race: Just put one foot in front of the other. (Thank you, Captain Obvious.) Shay is, of course, last. But it's a strong last, dammit. As Ali wraps up this stage of the challenge, Daniel and Rebecca - who are standing next to each other - give each other winky winky nudges.

Second stage takes place at the Lincoln Memorial. Here, things are all about the very-political theme of fundraising. 17,954 pennies per person (Hm, I wonder how many of them are actually Canadian pennies?) are on the steps of the memorial. This number signifies the number of pounds ever lost on the show. The challenge is to grab as many pennies as you can and carry them up to tube-shaped banks at the top of the steps. The race is to fill your bank up to a line of team-coloured duct tape on your bank. Liz decides to use her skip for this activity, so the first three people to fill their banks to the line get to join her in the third stage of the challenge.

DH on Daniel: "He and Rebecca keep giving each other looks."

Rudy's massive hands and arms are a big advantage here, and he wins by a country mile. Allen reflects that it's getting harder for him to lose weight so he has to get this. All I'm wondering is why nobody uses their freakin SHIRTS AS PURSES, PEOPLE!!! Think, dammit!!! But eventually other people besides Rudy start to finish. Daniel comes in second, but the third spot is really close between Allen and Rebecca, who are finally reduced to kneeling on the ground desperately scooping up pennies so they don't have to waste time taking another run down the steps. Ali actually shows some real excitement and hops up and down because it's so close. But at last, it's Rebecca (who squeals and runs around in a tiny cute circle), and they all head up to the Capitol, where, according to Ali, the members of Congress all work very hard.

The third stage of the challenge is to stand on a narrow ledge holding a Pilates ball over your head. So it's all about balance...which is what the members of Congress always try to achieve...get the connection? The two people who last the longest move on to the fourth and final stage to duke it out for immunity. And before you know it, all four of the competing contestants look like Atlas sporting the Biggest Loser logo. Rebecca and Liz look the most focused. Rudy tells us that he has size-15 feet, which make this task incredibly tough for him. Daniel's the first to lose his balance and he tosses his Pilates ball behind him in disgust. Rebecca looks beautifully focused and fierce, while Rudy wibbles and wobbles. Liz is the one to fall off, though, and Rudy and Rebecca are the victors.

Rebecca is still manic in interviews as she tells Rudy it's on - only this time, with blatant attempts to be cute. (It's not working for me.) She also pulls out the tired old "it feels like my heart was literally jumping out of my chest" simile. She and Rudy each get a step class step, and will have to race to see who can do 206 steps the fastest. (206 being the number of contestants that have ever been on the show so far.) DH predicts Rebecca for the win as he figures she'll have quicker feet. And indeed, by about the 50 mark, she is slightly ahead, and Tracey starts comparing her to a rabbit. Eventually it's clear that Rudy hasn't got a chance unless Rebecca takes a misstep and breaks her leg. Fortunately though, she doesn't, and goes completely twittery about this accomplishment in interviews.

Before we cut to commercial, Bob leads us in to a 30-second endorsement of a particular senator. That seems...strange. And icky.

As we come back to the show, the announcer describes the challenge that just happened as "monumental". Ugh.

Bob, who's delighted that they're in the singles stage since he gets to train Amanda again, has a heart-to-heart as the two of them walk around Capitol Hill. Bob tells her to focus on her diet, and not to eat a 200-calorie ice cream snack like you can get at, oh, say that ice cream stand right over there that we just happen to be passing at this moment. Fortunately, to sway Amanda from the temptation of ice cream, he has a pack of Extra gum in his back pocket, which he palms and offers her in one smooth, slick movement. Yes folks, you saw that right: gum-pushing in the nation's capital.

The trip to the White House means we get to see Bob in a tie. His shirt is untucked, though which looks absolutely ridiculous. Everybody crosses the fabled White House lawn to meet...the assistant chef of the White House. (Woo-freakin'-hoo.) But he's very friendly, and takes them on a tour of the vegetable gardens. We learn that President Obama loves broccoli, unlike other past presidents who shall remain nameless. Bob tells us that he now loves the administration even MORE than he did before, because they have their own vegetable garden! (Even though the gardens have been there since 1943 when Eleanor Roosevelt planted the first one.) He gets pretty girly-squealy about it and says that he wants to squeeze them. Creepy. Anyhoo, they all start harvesting some lurvely fresh veggies, whilst reflecting on how this healthy produce must be the reason Michelle Obama always looks so damn fly. Then they all go off to the kitchens to whip something up with all this veggie goodness.

Shay and Rebecca totally geek out over the fact that they're cooking in the White House. I mean, come on, people, Shay tells us, THIS IS THE PLACE WHERE THE PRESIDENT WALKS IN AND GETS A BOWL OF CEREAL! One of the cooks brings in the biggest-ass sald bowl I have ever seen. The show then highlights how affordable it is to eat healthy because the Losers were able to make a salad big enough to feed millions for the cost of only $12. (Not counting the wages of the cooks or the time spent planting, tending and harvesting the gardens, of course.) Also, we are shown a quick clip of someone paring the largest, most phallic cucumber I have ever seen in my life.

DH: So the closest they get to him is the executive chef?

The last chance workout is at the hotel they've been staying at. At first it looks like there's no gym, because the contestants are crawling about the grounds on their hands and knees. Jillian says she's in charge of everybody. Don't know where Bob is, but Jillian doesn't care because she wants to torture everybody. She starts with Rudy, who has to carry Jillian up a bunch of steps and then walk on his hands and feet backwards up more stairs while other guests look on in horror from a patio.

Oh but wait - there IS a gym, and Bob is working some other people out in it. I guess Jillian isn't as in charge as she'd like to believe.

One of the highlights of the workout is that Jillian works with Tracey, despite the fact that she kind of hates Tracey's guts. Jillian tries to get Tracey to realise that there's more to Biggest Loser than the gameplay. Tracey does a lot of meaningless nodding and breaking down, then tells us that, really, Jillian has a huge heart and can really get into your head. Jillian inerviews on a totally fake Washington landscape backdrop that she thinks Tracey has had a breakthrough this week. I'm guessing the producers made Jillian say that in a lame attempt to make the audience ease up on some of the Tracey hate. It's not really working on me.

Bob and Amanda are very happy to be back together. Bob asks Amanda to tell him her side of the story as to why she ran out of the gym last week. Translation: "I know Jillian is a total bitch, so welcome back, honey, Bob's here now." They hug and then he tells her to do 9mph for one minute. Amanda doesn't whine ONCE. Her nostrils flare with determination and she finishes strong. Clearly she and Bob are a match meant to be.

Onto weigh-in. The moon shot is the same as on the ranch, but the setting is totally different: the freakin' Lincoln Memorial. D'you think Lincoln would really want to watch this? But I digress. Anyway, zero score and seven weeks ago, we were all fat and unfit. Now it's time to bring on the yellow line. Oh, and by the way, Rebecca is standing in front of Daniel. She is also interviewed throughout the weigh-in sequence in an excruciatingly unflattering lighting situation which actually makes her look really, really jaundiced. Ew. However, she makes up for it by positively glowing in a very flirty way at Daniel's success on the scale.

Milestones achieved this week:

  • Shay goes below 400lbs
  • Daniel hits the 50lbs of total weight loss mark
  • Shay hits the 75lbs of total weight loss mark
  • Amanda and Daniel hit the 15% total weight loss mark
  • Allen and Danny hit the 20% total weight loss mark
  • Shay's BMI gets under 60
  • Daniel moves from morbidly obese to clinically obese (I am SO freakin' thrilled by that one)

When the dust clears, it's Liz and Tracey below the yellow line. Liz tells everybody it's hard for her to ask for help, and that she wants to stay. This isn't passionate enough for Shay, though, who wants to see people really fighting for it. However, really, I think Shay is POed at Liz because of the blender incident from last week. Tracey then gets up and starts crying, then says she really wants to stay here and isn't ready to go home. Daniel points out to her that previously, she was into the game, rather than her own health, and Tracey assures him that she is now here for her health. This assertion is met with pretty stony faces all round. And indeed, although the producers try to make us wonder about the outcome by showing Amanda waffling about the threat vs. revenge choice, everybody but Shay (take that, blender bitch!) votes to send Tracey home until a majority vote is achieved.

Tracey is then sent home via helicopter which freaks the crap out of her, since the last time she went in a helicopter she was on her way to hospital in the first week of the show. But she gets over it. She's delighted to be back with her husband and four children, and thanks the Biggest Loser tearfully for the wonderful opportunity. In her at-home profile, she looks really, really good, and we find that she has gone back to California to run the exact mile that almost took her out on day one. It takes her 11 minutes and 22 seconds. Her kids are pretty impresed. She tells us, "It can be done." She's lost a total of 85lbs and is training for a marathon in December.

Fantastic quotes this week:

  • Jillian, during the public workout: "Oh, Tangerine says she CAN'T!"
  • Daniel: "Rudy's got banana hands!"
  • Danny, on his weight loss: "I am lovin' this double-digit stuff!"

Potential milestones for next week:

  • Allen could go under 250lbs
  • Liz could hit the 20% total weight loss mark
  • Rudy could hit the 25% total weight loss mark
  • Liz could hit 50lbs of total weight loss
  • Allen could hit 75lbs of total weight loss
  • Danny could hit 100lbs of total weight loss
  • Rudy could move from morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Allen and Rebecca could move from clinically obese to obese

Also next week (SPOILERS):

TV Guide: The players learn that two contestants will be eliminated at the next weigh-in, causing tension to soar within the group. Also: The contestants participate in a circus-themed challenge in which the winner receives immunity at the weigh-in; Bob conducts a last-chance workout using a trapeze while Jillian waits to lead a second round of exercise at the ranch.

Personally, I just want to know whether Rebecca and Daniel are really shacking up, or whether it's just total coincidence that they keep being next to each other and giving each other flirty, giggly looks.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Biggest Loser Review, 2009/10/27

We start off with the Black team returning from the elimination, sans Dina. Naturally, Rudy - Dina's former teammate - looks bummed. Liz, however, seems unreasonably incensed and invites Black in an interview to "kiss my ass". She accuses them of crocodile tears and having some kind of "young people" alliance. I'm not sure where all this venom is coming from - I mean, it makes sense that there would be, if not an alliance, at least a strong connection, among people who have a lot in common, so that's not the most awful thing to do, as far as I'm concerned. And I also don't think that just because a voting block saved one of their own means that they can't be genuinely sad that the person they did vote off is gone. Maybe Liz is just petrified for Danny's safety and it's coming out as viciousness, but it's not making her look very nice. Combine that with a bonus scene I found at where it turns out that she hid all but one of the blenders because she felt the Black team wasn't cleaning up after themselves and thus did not "deserve" all the blenders until such a time as they proved they could keep things clean? She's starting to look like a bitch. And not in the good way. (Although I must say that she really deserves to be pissed off after having to clean mould and slime off a bunch of blenders, and I do agree with a bunch of her logic...she still comes off as a bitch.)

Link to said video

This week is face-off at the weigh-in. Black and Blue team members will face each other one-on-one, and the person with the bigger percentage of weight loss wins a point for their team. The team with the most points at the end of the weigh-in wins the weigh-in. When he finds this out, Danny's jaw hits the ground and stays there. It's a gormless look for him, I don't recommend that he keep that up. DH: "Anything they can do to pit the teams against each other to create drama." This is, however, an opportunity for Shay to recall last season for us, with Kristin's hilarious tactic of putting a picture of Filipe on her treadmill as motivation.

So how are the face-offs arranged? Why, the team who wins the mini-challenge gets to pick, of course! Liz tells us that this mini-challenge is crucial, as this is the pivoting point of the game. But it's a pretty strange challenge, which focuses on the contestants' ability to move fast while switching between different levels. Each team gets a really short "track" kind of set-up. At each end of the track is a hanging medallion tag kind of thing that they have to reach up and tap when they get to them; and in the middle of the track is a low bar that they have to duck under. Each team has to complete 500 circuits of this track. And the rules are that only one team member can run the track at a time, and each person can only get one turn to do so in the whole game. (So if you have to bow out before your team hits 500, that's it for you and the rest of your teammates have the responsibility of finishing.) First team to hit 500 wins.

Towards the end of the challenge, it's Daniel and Rebecca going head-to-head. Rebecca looks prety fresh and fast, and pulls ahead. She interviews about it as we go, talking at about a million miles an hour, she's so excited about the need to win. And indeed, she pulls it off, leaping for the last tag and actually breaking it off entirely. Daniel, meanwhile, is getting frustrated that he can't pull through. As Shay tells us, "Losing every single"

After some consultation with each other, which Tracey is freaking out about, Blue decides the faceoffs will be as follows:

  • Rebecca vs. Amanda (good friends, but very competitive; as they step forward to face each other, Rebecca attempts to get all Black Girl on Amanda's ass, to pathetic effect)
  • Tracey vs Abby
  • Allen vs Danny (this'll be interesting)
  • Rudy vs Shay (who were hilarious with each other as they stepped forward, I love them)
  • Liz vs Daniel (Tennessee vs North Carolina)

For some bizarre reason, Liz is selling herself short. She says that her odds against Daniel are not good. I think she's on crack and I beg to differ; the stats are waaay in favour of Liz. Don't they have freakin' spreadsheet programs on the computers at the ranch? Shay isn't particularly worried, though, because courage and your heart can get you further than your head and the numbers. Okayyy...that's a nice sentiment, Shay, but it's the numbers which actually keep SCORE around here, so you might want to pay attention to them. DH reminds me at this point that we should not factor out JILLIAN as an advantage which the Black team possesses. Tracey interviews that she's all set to kick some Black ass at this face-off weigh-in, and actually RUNS OUT OF THE INTERVIEW to get into the gym. I am not appreciating her attempt to be cute.

But speaking of manic...has Rebecca been upping her caffeine intake? Like seriously, the girl is now completely Micro Machines guy when she speaks!

So, it's time to work out. Bob works out his people in the pool. DH, who used to swim at the master's level and is sick of not seeing people in the pool: "FINALLY!!!" Meanwhile, Jillian has her people sweating buckets in the gym. Amanda does a lot of whining; a LOT. Like, at one point I think only dogs could hear her. This week's excuse is that she can't focus when the cameras are in her face. Yuh huh. Jillian reveals that the reason she's a bitch when she trains is purely for therapy. Alas, though, it doesn't work this time, and Amanda quits, actually leaving the gym. Cut to commercial.

(Me to DH: "Are you feelng sorry for zis saltshaker? Zat is because you are crazy.")

It's World Series week in real life, so we're at the baseball field; even though for the contestants, it's actually around the time of the All-Star game. Everyone has their weight loss poundage as their jersey numbers, and this is deeply symbolic for Danny, who's sporting number 73. He gets totally emotional about this, and believes it means that he really will become Danny the Champion of the World. (Not without pheasants and raisins, baby.) On the field, the contestants are presented with life-size pictures of themselves at the back of enclosed cage-type things, and are truly horrified. Especially Daniel, I'm guessing, because his picture is from the beginning of LAST season when he was 454 pounds, as opposed to the comparatively svelte 312 he started this season with. They're then greeted by baseball great Derek Jeter. No, not in real life. Apparently they couldn't get Jeter to actually come to California; no, he's on the jumbotron. He explains the challenge: there are a bunch of baseballs scattered around the field. Everybody has to gather balls up and throw them at the pictures of their competitors, so that they land in the cages. Once anyone has 316 balls in their cage, they're out of the challenge. (316 is significant because this is Jeter's career batting average, which is extremely impressive, especially considering I'd never heard of the dude. What can I say, I became jaded about the game during the strike and stopped following it.) The winner of the challenge gets Curtis Stone personally cooking lunch for their team. Tracey (like a lot of women who appear on this show, don't ask me why) has a huge hard-on for Curtis Stone, so this is good news for her. Oh, and also? The winning team gets a two-pound advantage at the weigh-in, to be either split up among two people or given to one person.

Abby can't play, so Tracey sits out to make the sides even. Allen heads out to the field first and starts targeting Amanda. Amanda in turn targets Allen, and so does Danny. There's a whole bunch of back and forth that I wrote down but honestly I don't think you all have the patience to read exactly who targeted whom and when, so I'll just tell you that Liz is the last person to be taken out on the Blue team while Shay and Danny are still alive on the field for Black. Black engage in a heck of a group hug in celebration, since this is the first challenge they've ever won. Blue looks bummed. Oh, also, Shay didn't appreciate Blue heckling her during the challenge because her aim sucks. Fortunately, Danny made up for it because his aim was terrific.

Bring on Curtis Stone. Danny makes an unfortunate reference to getting a "hands-on experience" with Curtis. Ahem. Anyhoo...Curtis shows them how to make healthy burgers. To start with, the burgers are based on ground turkey. And then there's an interesting twist: replace the bun with grilled portobello mushrooms! That is so cool. And the whole thing looks really freakin' delish, not to mention that each burger is only 280 calories. Nice. Danny testifies to the flavourfulness of it. Curtis then tells us how to make our own stock out of veggies. Wow, good cooking tips this week!

Back we go to the Black team working out. Everyone's on the treadmill except for Abby, who is rowing, and Jillian has a chin wag with her. It turns out that Abby is finding a purpose again, which is awesome. Jillian stops Abby from rowing for a minute and asks her very seriously what it's like to lose everything you've ever loved. Wow, way to rub lemon juice into the paper cut there, Jillian. We then get more details about the last moments of Abby's family's life, and Abby talks about her survivor's guilt a bit. Jillian, unfortunately, even though she started this sob-fest (and I'm speaking about the viewing audience too, not just Abby), has zero advice. Zero. (And really, who could?) Abby wants to live, rather than exist. Jillian wants to help. Abby tells us that she's finally "in it" again, not just going through the motions. Gosh, Abby's an amazing person. DH reflects that he has no idea how he'd recover from that situation, and I agree.

Then we move on to Amanda, a figure far, FAR less capable of generating audience empathy, but who nonetheless wants to discuss her breakdown in the gym. Jillian tells Amanda that she didn't walk out on her trainer, she walked out on herself. Amanda thinks that Jillian's expectations of her are too high. But the point that Jillian's trying to drive home, of course, is that Amanda is dead wrong about that. (While making every kind of excuse in the book to try to appear right about it, I might add.) Turns out that Amanda is frightened by all these new "powers" she's discovering about herself. She can't let go of the fat girl image she has playing in her head. Also, she's afraid of failing; of starting what Jillian tells her to do and then not being able to do it. I think that's pretty silly; I mean, be afraid of tripping and bonking your head on the treadmill bar, be afraid of passing out, be afraid of puking; but to be afraid of failure ITSELF? Suck it up, cupcake! Jillian seems to agree with me; she tells Amanda she needs to redefine what "failure" means. If she can't run really fast, that's not failure, it's a learning process. So they go work out and try again.

Cut to Allen working out, where the camera keeps wiggling annoyingly every time he impacts the ground. (A few more weeks of this and the contestants will all be able to lurch in unison when this happens, just like the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.) To up the ante (not to mention the nausea factor of the camera jiggles), Bob breaks out an INSANELY high stool for Allen to jump on. It sure looks unscalable to me. DH: "Free. Your. Mind." :) And Allen actually DOES it, man! Day-um!

Cut to Allen's opponent Danny, lifting weights and breaking out his crazy eyes. Then we go to Rebecca and Amanda spinning while facing each other. Shay, meanwhile, is on the ladder again, which she uses as a metaphor of her life. Shay reveals that instead of turning to heroin like her mom did (which probably would have been so easy for her to fall into), she turned to food. She also turned to food because her mom used to turn tricks for drug money while Wee Shay was hiding in a closet in the same room. And wow, I'm really despising her mom right now. I can't be the only person who wanted to hug Shay at that moment. Or better yet, go back in time and give Wee Shay the biggest, most loving cuddle and reassuring her that she's a wonderful kid and that her mother's behaviour is NOT HER FAULT. Particularly during the very heartrending moment where Shay confesses that she couldn't make her mom love her, nor could she save her. Fortunately, though, Jillian is there with the reassurance, and tells Shay that unless she forgives herself and stops blaming herself, nothing will change. Jillian says very clearly that it was Not. Shay's Fault. She was a CHILD. And she can be angry about it. Shay sobs. DH: "Does she [Jillian] have a psych degree or something?" Me: "No, but her mom's a psychotherapist."

Shay takes it out on some boxing.

As we head into the weigh-in, Danny reflects on how much of a rollercoaster week it's been, how high the stakes are, and how seriously the rivalry is getting. Uh, yeah, dude, like, welcome to the Biggest Loser.

Ali points out that this could be a pretty historical weigh-in: if Rudy loses 13 pounds, he will have broken the Biggest Loser record for how quickly anyone has lost 100lbs, that record currently being held by Dane from last season. The Black team decides that the two-pound advantage is all going to Amanda. However, things are not going well for Black. They lose the first two face-offs. When Tracey wins her face-off, she gloats unbecomingly, thus reminding me that I despise her. But OMG! At Rudy's weigh-in, they bring Dane from last season in to witness the potential recordbreaking! This intimidates Rudy, especially since Dane's looking pretty good, not to mention that he's doing a triathlon the next day with twelve other former Biggest Loser contestants. Bob interviews that he loves hearing stuff like this, and how he's had a part in making morbidly obese people get from Morbid to Triathlon.

Despite Dane's hilarious-and-totally-in-fun tactic of sending Rudy a pepperoni, ham and sausage pizza right after his last chance workout, Rudy DOES IT! Awesome! He thanks Dane for the inspiration. Good times.

Besides Rudy's triumph, other milestones this week:

  • Danny and Rudy drop below 350lbs
  • Daniel drops below 275lbs
  • Liz and Rebecca drop below 225lbs
  • Tracey drops below 200lbs
  • Liz and Shay hit the 15% of total weight loss mark
  • Rebecca and Rudy hit the 20% of total weight loss mark
  • Rebecca hits the 50lbs of total weight loss mark
  • Danny hits the 75lbs of total weight loss mark

Black goes on to lose the weigh-in. And they didn't just lose, they lost CONVINCINGLY. Danny, however, had an awesome week and earned immunity. Liz is elated by this and cackles witchily over the prospect of seeing "real tears" when Black comes out of elimination this week.

Ali doesn't permit Black to go back to the house and talk amongst themselves for an hour; they've got to go into elimination pretty much right away. So they do a quick chat. Abby points out how important it is for everybody else BUT her to stay at the ranch; basically, she falls on the sword for all of them, saying that she's achieved the purpose of her journey. Tears are actually RAINING out of Shay's eyes and she interviews about how amazing Abby is. In a poignant statement, she says that she spent years fighting for her mother's love, but she walked into the Biggest Loser house and Abby just GAVE it. Shay's testimonial in the elimination room is also ridiculously moving. She never had a mom and Abby doesn't have children anymore. Gawd. Like my cold isn't already making me congested enough. As she prepares to leave the house, Abby tells us that she's starting to have new dreams again.

In her at-home profile, Abby looks fantastic! She seems to be doing motivational speaking to youth. She's lost a total of 80lbs, and right at the end, we see that this episode is in memory of her husband and children.

Great quotes this week:

  • from Abby: "Tracey's um...well, she's crazy."
  • from Shay to Rudy: "You're not THAT tall."
  • from Daniel: "Derek Jeter just said my NAME!"
  • "The world is fixin' to be a better place because Abby is BACK."

Next week: with Abby gone, Danny's doomed. Also, watch for these possible milestones:

  • Shay could drop to under 400lbs
  • Amanda could hit the 15% of total weight loss mark
  • Allen and Danny could hit the 20% of total weight loss mark
  • Rudy could hit the 25% of total weight loss mark
  • Liz could hit the 50lbs of total weight loss mark
  • Shay could hit the 75lbs of total weight loss mark

Also next week (SPOILERS):

From The contestants, now competing individually, go to Washington, D.C., for a series of challenges. Included: a large-scale public workout with other volunteers at the Washington Monument; a meeting with members of Congress to discuss health education; a trip to the White House, where the players prepare a salad using ingredients from the garden; and a weigh-in by the Lincoln Memorial steps.

from jam! listings: The remaining contestants take a trip to Washington, D.C., including a visit to the White House kitchen; the players compete to get people to participate in a public workout; the trainers and contestants meet with members of Congress; elimination.