Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Biggest Loser Review, 2010/01/19

We start out with a recap from Week 1. Why is a Week 1 recap relevant to the Week 3 show, you may well ask? Its because we need to be reminded about how the Blue and Yellow teams were booted from the house shortly after their arrival, yet secretly given 30 days to train for a chance at getting back in. And if we need to be reminded, that must mean that we're going to revisit them in this week's show. Sure enough, it appears that we're halfway through the 30-day at-home challenge, so we get to see how everyone's doing.

The Blue team is trying to increase their life expectancy by...playing in traffic. You think I'm kidding? I am quite serious. They are walking strangely up and down a street - not a sidewalk, a STREET. You know, where cars drive? Yes. Very longevity-inducing indeed. The Yellow team, however, is a bit more safety-conscious: they go to a gym. However, Sunshine's devotion to safety is suspect since she chews gum while running on the treadmill! What is with these people? What's next, running with scissors? Cliff-diving? RUSSIAN ROULETTE?!? Ahem. At any rate, O'Neal is seriously in the zone. He has a mission: to get back into the house for his daughter. Man, I wouldn't want to mess with him when he gets going.

Bonus scene: More Blue and Yellow teams at home (contains good workout-creating and nutrition tips)

Back on the ranch, it's time for a temptation. Ali introduces the theme of the week: Student And Teacher. She tells them that when they all go home, they have to take what they've learned at the ranch and pay it forward. To get them started, the teams will be divided up: one member will be the 'student' and the other the 'teacher'. Whoever is the student doesn't get the trainers at all for the week - the teachers have to absorb knowledge from the trainers and pass it on to their student teammate. However, in an ironic twist, it is the student members of the teams who will be the only representatives on the scale this week. Diabolical. Since Stephanie and John don't have teammates anymore, they will be paired up this week as a team of their own. (I don't know what you get if you combine Purple and Brown, but I don't think it's any kind of colour I want to wear.) And how are the students and teachers chosen? Well, that's what the temptation is for, of course! The person who wins the temptation gets to make ALL the student/teacher picks. And what are they eating? Ali reveals two tables filled to the brim with mounds and mounds of chocolate candy. (Probably Smarties; but as Nestle clearly hasn't paid any advertising dollars to the show, the candies remain safely anonymous.) There will be a number of rounds to the game - in each round, you need to eat a candy to stay in the game. The person who eats the most candies wins.

Melissa interviews that she doesn't need the drama of playing God at this stage in the game, and neither does Andrea. Many other teams seem to have come to the same conclusion, as there is a distinct absence of candy-swarming once the temptation begins. However, Pink wants control, so Sherry eats a candy. Michael also eats a candy - later, we find out that he didn't want the power either, he just didn't feel like giving it to Pink on the first round (fair). In round 2, Sherry tries to psyche Michael out by waving a candy in front of her mouth. Michael gives her a priceless look of disgusted amusement. But eventually he lets her have it. Pink has won the power for just 10 calories - Melissa can't believe it. Ashley interviews that as soon as they won, they were sorry. (Duh.) But, since Pink now has the power, they discuss what they're going to do with it. They seem to decide that they don't want to play dirty, and dictate the teams as follows:

  • Black: teacher Drea, student Darrell
  • Purple/Brown: teacher Stephanie, student John
  • Grey: teacher Sam, student Koli
  • Red: teacher Melissa, student Lance
  • Orange: teacher Cheryl, student Daris
  • Green: teacher Migdalia, student Miggy
  • White: teacher Michael, student Maria
  • Pink: teacher Sherry, student Ashley

A lot of these choices seem pretty non-dirty, but some of them are clearly strategized. Melissa, for example, since she waterloaded (or whatever) the previous week, was bound to have a kick-ass number in Week 3, so they put her partner on the scale instead. For White, Michael clearly has the most to lose and has been doing pretty well, so they put his partner on the scale instead. One team that is instantly pissed off at the choice is Green. Miggy believes that everyone knows her daughter is due for a peak week, so she sees the removal of Migdalia from the weigh-in equation as a move designed to screw them. I don't know if that's true or not, but I did have to admire the fantastically proud look of pissed-offedness that came across her face.

Enter Bob and Jillian, noting that half the playing field is gone. (They must be so nervous every time they show up at the ranch; there's always some sort of twisty news to get hit with.) The teachers explain what's going on. Bob and Jillian can't believe that the power of the choice was won with only 10 calories, and you can tell that Jillian is actually kind of bummed because she doesn't get to scream at anyone this week for not having any control. But the real story here is that Migdalia is leaking like a badly-maintained nuclear reactor, but with angry vibes instead of radiation (although potentially as deadly, if the expression on her mom's face earlier is any indication). However, Migdalia steadfastly claims that everything is totally cool, despite the fact that the trainers know she's bullshitting. (Yes folks, denial is not just a river in Egypt.) Jillian and Bob manage to get about 30 seconds of private discussion in about this before they go off to the gym.

In a Maybelleine ad, people neck while lying down in the street. Holy crap! WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH PEDESTRIANS COURTING VEHICLULAR DEATHS? (Art imitating life, perhaps?)

Okay, back to the gym. The trainers decide to focus on people one-on-one. Bob interviews that this week will be weird. The trainers drill everyone on what to do with their teammates. Notes are taken.

Bonus scene: Bob and Jillian train the teachers (in which Bob points out that John has weeny little chicken legs holding up massive amounts of torso weight, which DH and I have been noticing for some time)

Migdalia continues to be pissed as Jillian literally leaps onto a treadmill to confront her. (Seriously, what is the deal with Jillian perching on all the equipment? I bet she was one of those kids who kept running around the house by leaping from one piece of furniture to the next. No wonder she screams at people all the time, she probably heard it from her parents while growing up.) Jillian goes full-throttle into Confronting Psychotherapist mode, noting that Migdalia always seems to be playing the role of parent to her mom. When her victim agrees, Jillian asks who takes care of Migdalia? Answer: Migdalia does. "Well, you're doing a helluva job," Jillian cracks. "I'm working on it," comes the response. Jillian interviews that it isn't the game twist that has made Migdalia so pissed off, that's just the trigger. She tries to get a breakthrough out of Migdalia by beating the crap out of her, but is stonewalled by excuses that break the buildup of the torture session, such as having to pee. Jillian starts to look a little outclassed here, because Migdalia isn't cracking. Bob sums it up: "She shuts alllll the way down."

For the first time in her life, Jillian is questioning the wisdom of screaming at a contestant. Bob is amazed by this, and tells her to go for it anyway. Jillian is reluctant, because her instinct is telling her that Migdalia is the kind of person who will walk in response to that. But Bob wants Jillian to try it anyway, so she does. Personally, I think Jillian's right, but here we go. The badgering immediately begins: Jillian starts telling her that her daughter is going to end up fat. Migdalia is excruciatingly defensive about this. The conversation about the daughter continues, and it comes out that Migdalia views crying as a weakness. This is clearly a pivotal moment, as Bob is distracted from whomever he's training at the moment and looks on intensely. Jillian tries to explain that human feelings are there for a reason; they're an indicator that things aren't in balance. However, Migdalia seems to believe that human feelings are sent (by Satan?) to tempt us into weakness.

Jillian makes a very good point: "If you stonewall the process, it will stonewall you." At last, Migdalia reveals that she's not happy with herself. But when Jillian asks why, that's the moment when Migdalia walks. Jillian follows her out and gets in her face. For the first time in Biggest Loser history, the Tiny Perfect Trainer seems to have met her match: you can hear the desperation in her voice, and she even starts begging Migdalia to stay. Migdalia seems like she's starting to crack by the tone of upset in her voice (DH: "Amazingly enough, she has not decked Jillian."), but ends up walking away, vowing to go home.

In response, Jillian breaks the no-talking-to-the-students rule and appeals to Miggy, begging her not to validate Migdalia's decision. Green hashes it out in subtitled Spanish. (Damn, I love listening to Spanish.) Jillian appeals to Bob to "close the deal", so Bob goes in and plays Good Cop to the absolute hilt. Migdalia has decided that she's mad because Jillian told her she's a bad mom. She's not here to be told that kind of crap, she's just here to lose weight and get nutritional information. Miggy follows up by saying that they're here to change their lives, not change their personalities. Bob fails utterly to make the point with these ladies (probably because they could take him out in about two seconds flat) that being on the ranch means that something is wrong inside and needs to be dealt with; it's not just the surface crap like eating right and exercising. Instead, he's totally outclassed. However, although Migdalia shoots him a look of death that I'm surprised didn't incinerate him on the spot, she decides not to quit, and she and Bob "hug it out".

Green 1, Trainers 0.
For now.

Back to the ousted teams. Blue is taking their first spinning class. Cherita was pretty scared, given her epic fail in the bike challenge on Day 1, but it turns out that she loves it. Meanwhile, O'Neal and his wife Sarah have a 'moment'. She confides something that he never knew before. Her worst memory is the day he heard his mom died of a stroke. His mom died when she was just ten years older than O'Neal is now, and this, frankly, scares Sarah shitless. The need to change is driven home once more.

(Is it just me, or does O'Neal have a serious Michael Clark Duncan thing going on?)

Back to the ranch once again, and the teachers are training the students. It seems to be going pretty well, especially for Darrell, who does the ladder machine for ten minutes. This is quite an accomplishment; I've heard the ladder machine is really brutal. Hell, I wouldn't want to climb a ladder for ten solid minutes, and Darrell is three times my weight. Needless to say, he looks wiped when he's done.

Meanwhile, a new character, "Sandy the Medic", takes a look at John's knees while everyone else is lying on gurneys getting their joints iced and looking generally done in. However, this is not actually an update on John's health - we are sideswiped AGAIN with a freakin' product placement! Sandy plugs some kind of handy-dandy Walgreens icepack. Unbelievable.

Fortunately, it's time to make the ladies happy with Curtis Stone. He's there to make the girls swoon...I mean...give nutritional information to the teachers; educational gems such as the fact that restaurants serve ridiculously large proportions. He shows the teachers a whole bunch of restaurant dishes which all have mammoth calorie counts. The dessert alone is 1,679 calories. Michael confesses that pre-ranch, he would have had ALL of those dishes in one sitting (!!!), which totals something in the neighbourhood of 8,600 calories. For ONE MEAL. Melissa, like the rest of the viewing audience, is appalled.

So what is a standard portion? Well, let's cook chicken cacciatore and find out. Whilst plugging a specific brand of canned tomatoes. They all cook a healthy meal together, and Curtis points out to Michael that he could have EIGHT servings of the healthy chicken dish they made and STILL have fewer calories than one of the nasty dishes that was shown earlier. Michael is, rightly, amazed. Good times.

So the teachers take all this great knowledge back to the ranch, and while eating a good, healthy meal, Green talk about how Migdalia isn't happy with herself. Miggy explains that Migdalia doesn't know how to handle her feelings. Attempting to elicit maximum emotional reaction from the viewing audience, the cameras close up on a single tear running slowly down Migdalia's nose. (Oh. Mah. Gawd. Producers, STOP TRYING SO HARD! The human drama as-is, plus the fantastic transformations are sufficient to make us want to watch the show, trust me.) Miggy does a pretty good job; she seems to get Migdalia to admit that she a) has a problem, and b) needs help. Big steps.

(DH: "Okay, Miggy, now it's YOUR turn!")

A school bus takes the contestants to a kid's playground. Everyone is confused. (DH: "Y'know, if I was on this show, I would dread seeing Ali.") However, all is explained: this is a student/teacher challenge. The twists and turns of the show's competition are going to be metaphorized in today's activity. The teachers must unwind 1,000 feet of ribbon through the playground. The students will then draw for which ribbon they'll have to untangle. The first student to unravel their ribbon and get it all the way back to the starting point wins. The prize is immunity, AND the ability to choose one team to switch teacher/student roles. All the teachers then go nuts with their ribbon spools, trying to make tangles that make my knitter's heart quake. Michael gets particularly into it - NOBODY wants to draw the white ribbon.

However, Ali has completely psyched them out. She tosses away the random draw box and tells them that everyone will be bringing in their OWN ribbon...and...wait for it...BLINDFOLDED! The teachers have to guide their students in without touching the ribbon or the student. Maria, obviously, is particularly unhappy, as she has to untangle that goddamned white ribbon. In fact, everyone's pissed off. (Welcome to the Biggest Loser.) However, a few teams seem to have a bit of an advantage. Firstly, Red looks strong, because Melissa's a lawyer, which means very good communication skills; and Lance has a background as a commercial diver, so he's totally used to working in the dark. Grey looks good too, because Koli has lots of experience with ties and knots. And Green might also be one-up on everyone, because they speak Spanish to each other, thus keeping everyone else in the dark about what they're doing and how the ribbons look where they are.

Not everyone is so lucky. Pink has the disadvantage of having Sherry as the teacher. She likes to say super-helpful things to Ashley like, "See the ribbon?" and "Put it through there!" Gold. :) And everyone seems to run into knots of white ribbon. Michael is just not everybody's favourite person now, I would wager. DH thinks Red has this, and it does seem to be pretty close, but in the end, Grey takes it. Red are very good losers, I must say; they laugh it off with ease.

Last chance workout! Which, according to Bob, is weird. (We need to start a Biggest Loser drinking game; and Bob saying "weird" needs to be one of the triggers.) The trainers have to give the teachers their last chance workout, and then the teachers have to turn around and give the students a last chance workout. Sounds like it's going to be a long day. And the whole time, nobody knows who's going to be on the scale, because Grey could choose anyone to switch. Bob gets Migdalia to work out her frustrations by beating the crap out of a punching bag with what looks like a bowling ball. She ends up breaking it, and stuffing flies around the room. Jillian loves it.

DH doesn't understand how Daris can be "the entertainer" to all his friends when he comes across as dull as sand.

Unfortunately, a bunch of people interview that Michael hasn't been putting in a lot of effort, and isn't taking the process seriously. For emphasis, we see clips of Michael joking around in the gym. Sam and Koli's work ethic, however, is fired up. They're working like demons, despite the fact that they have immunity. Miggy also gets to beat the crap out of something, and tears it up on the treadmill to boot, refusing to stop and pushing herself even when Migdalia offers to dial the treadmill back. I love her. LOVE her. Migdalia to Miggy, post-treadmill: "Love ya. You wanna go hit the bag again?"

Bonus scene: Sherry and Cheryl attempt to be Jillian during the student last-chance workout

As the weigh-in begins, Pink is doubting their decisions. However, that's over and done with; it's Grey's turn to make a decision now, and they choose...a commercial break. During which I have to mute the Sidekicks commercial because DH always gets vorklempt when he sees that sad salt shaker. Anyhoo, Grey ends up choosing the White team to switch, because of how disappointed they were with Michael's efforts this week. They emphasize that their decision is not meant to eliminate him, but rather to give hi a wakeup call. Michael is annoyed by this. Who are they to dictate how hard he should or shouldn't work, he asks? Well, they're the guys who won the ability to switch a team, so...

Onto the weighing, during which Daris points out that it doesn't actually matter how you do, it's how you do compared to everybody else. This is a very acute observation, and I think it's the key problem with this show. Kristin from Season 7 has a video clip on her website from one of her motivational addresses, where she says that one of the worst things you can do in your weight loss journey is compare yourself to others. And yet, every week on this show, we have the yellow line. Sigh.

Some interesting results this week. The big shocker is that Melissa only loses one pound. Jillian believes she threw the weigh-in...again. DH predicts that next week, Melissa is going to get some one-on-one TLC from the Woman in Black. Ali remarks how fortunate it is that Grey did not choose to switch Red, and Melissa tries to pretend that she's upset about not losing weight. Jillian calls bullshit while Bob just looks really pissed off. The trainers are angry at the insult to their intelligence and expertise, and Melissa says she's angry that they're questioning her word and integrity. Eventually it degenerates into a yelling match, which demonstrates that if Jillian ever tries her usual screaming tactics on Melissa, they will fail miserably. Jillian is having one helluva season, eh, with all these nuts she can't crack? Lance, meanwhile, when asked for comment, makes the excruciatingly smart move of announcing that he doesn't want to say a damn thing right now. :)

Milestones achieved:

  • John drops below 450lbs
  • Andrea drops below 275lbs
  • Ashley, Stephanie, Sam, Miggy, Migdalia, Michael, Lance, Koli, Darrell and Cheryl hit 10% of total weight loss
  • Andrea, Stephanie, Sherry, Miggy, Migdalia and Maria hit the 25lb mark of total weight loss
  • Darrell, Michael and Koli hit the 50lb mark of total weight loss
  • Cheryl moves from clinically obese to obese


  • Lance is the week's biggest loser (3.57%)
  • Top overall loser is Daris (13.01%)

When all is said and done, it's White below the yellow line. And actually, it turns out that Grey's switching decision made no difference whatsoever: with the exception of Melissa's one-pound loss, Michael and Maria were the smallest losers of the week. In fact, Michael had the bigger loss. Back in the house, Maria - no surprise - asks, nay, begs, everyone to keep Michael in the house. Michael gets all pissy in an interview, saying that if he gets sent home, it will just prove that all the other contestants are cowards...which is kind of crap. Michael is not coming across as very likeable this week, I must say. (Although I don't begrudge him the going-insane-with-the-ribbon thing.)

People make some noises about wanting to send Michael home because he has disrespected the process, but ultimately, respect for Maria mostly wins out; she's sent home long before all the votes are revealed. Purple/Brown is the lone vote for Michael that we are shown, which unfortunately ends up making them looks like jerks. Also, they have now earned the enmity of an Italian family. Oops.

Back at home, Maria is down to 230lbs, and she's really proud of herself. Moreover, she has a swimming instructor! She invites a bunch of family and friends to her club to watch her swimming. They are amazed. "Who needs the noodles now, huh?" someone says. Her husband Dominick seems outrageously proud of her, which is very sweet. She wants to swim in the ocean for the first time on her family's next vacation. Aw.

Predictions for next week:

  • Darrell and Koli could go below 350lbs
  • Daris could go below 300lbs
  • Cheryl could go below 200lbs
  • Andrea, Melissa and John could hit the 10% mark of total weight loss
  • Daris, Lance, Miggy, Sherry and Darrell could hit the 15% mark of total weight loss
  • Cheryl could hit the 25lb mark of total weight loss
  • Ashley, John, Lance and Daris could hit the 50lb mark of total weight loss
  • Darrell could move from super-obese to morbidly obese
  • Lance and Sam could move from morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Migdalia, Stephanie and Sherry could move from clinically obese to obese

Also next week (SPOILERS):

The players compete for immunity during a surprise challenge. The winning team also has the chance to influence the weigh-in for three other groups. Later, the trainers are dismayed by one team's game-playing tactics, and the contestants take part in a lifting challenge.

Preview clip: Melissa takes issue with Jillian questioning her integrity

Week after next (SPOILERS):

The eliminated blue and yellow teams return to the ranch to try to reenter the competition after 30 days at home. Later, the winner of a footbal challenge receives immunity; and Ali makes an exciting announcement.

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