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.

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