Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Biggest Loser Review, 2010/01/26: Expect the Unexpected

As if the channel hadn't just replayed last week's episode, we get a recap from last week's elimination: Migdalia is no longer in the house. Miggy interviews that, because the vote was so close, she thought she herself was going home, and that she didn't know if she really wanted to stay. She finds it really hard to lose her daughter off the ranch. I'm not really sure why she's so upset; according to the biographical information available for the contestants, she and Migdalia live almost 500 miles away from each other, so shouldn't she be used to not living with her?

Crisis time! Miggy's having abdominal pain on her lower right side. Sounds like it could be her appendix. She is spirited off in an ambulance.

When the sun rises, we see morning shots of all the players trying to wake up to a new and glorious day on a Migdalia-free ranch. We see that Darrell has to sleep with all kinds of sleep apnea crap over his face. Koli, however, is little better off as he gets woken up by a really hard, aggressive push from Sam. They all go down to the living room, where Ali greets them. She tells the players that Miggy's gone to hospital. The majority of the contestants fail to manifest deep concern. Apparently Miggy's going to be okay, but is undergoing some tests. As for the rest of them, something's up outside, so come on out for the latest unpleasant reality show twist. The Real World is coming to challenge them! Yes, it's the return of Blue and Yellow. Everyone is surprised, but they seem genuinely happy, which is really nice. Andrea says they look great, but is wondering who's going to have to go home to let them back in. Ahh, here's a competitor who thinks like a reality show twist writer.

We get another recap about how Blue and Yellow have been working hard for 30 days and are now back to face off for a spot in the house. Seems like it's time to step on the scale! Psych! Bob and Jillian greet the two returning teams in the gym with the news that they have to go through a last chance workout BEFORE the weigh-in. So...crap. Bob tells us that, since the last chance workout is a rite of passage for all true Biggest Loser contestants, they have to get one in for Blue and Yellow too. O'Neal's face is noticeably thinner as he interviews about the experience. They all seem to handle the workout very well, and are very determined people. Good on them.

At the special weigh-in, Ali reveals that the team which makes it back on the ranch will not only have immunity this week, but will also have the only vote at the weigh-in. Oh, snap! Bob's jaw drops. I guess this means everyone has to be REALLY nice to Blue and Yellow.

Blue starts us off, and O'Neal notes that they definitely look smaller. They have done wonderfully well at home - Cherita has lost 8.66% and Victoria has lost 10.89%. Now it's Yellow's turn, and they're freaking out. But they needn't - they do even better. Sunshine has lost 9.09% and O'Neal has lost a spectacular 13.11%. Dudes, these are ranch-worthy percentages! I mean, Cherita and Sunshine are lagging a bit behind the pack, but not by much; and Victoria and O'Neal are right there in it! Awesome results for all four of these guys, really impressive stuff. But at the end of the day it's Yellow back on the ranch. O'Neal thumps his daughter on the back so hard I'm surprised he didn't break her spine. O'Neal tells us a bit about obesity in the black community and how he wishes he could give his spot up for Victoria. In turn, Cherita praises Yellow, and it's all very friendly and lovely. I'm very vorklempt. I love it when the show gets like that.

So let's catch Blue and Yellow up with some pointing out of milestones:

  • O'Neal and Victoria dropped below 350lbs
  • Cherita and Sunshine dropped below 275lbs
  • Cherita and Sunshine hit the 5% mark of total loss
  • O'Neal and Victoria hit the 10% mark of total loss
  • Sunshine and Victoria hit the 25lb mark of total loss
  • O'Neal hit the 50lb mark of total loss
  • O'Neal and Victoria went from super-obese to morbidly obese
  • Cherita went from morbidly obese to clinically obese

Now that that's over and done with, it's workout time. (Damn, I hope they took it easy on Yellow, they just had a last chance workout, for pete's sake.) O'Neal is kind of freaking out watching everyone else's intensity. Meanwhile, everyone else is speculating about Yellow.

Then Melissa whines a lot. Aaand...we're back on Melissa. (Sigh.) We get repeat old footage of her fighting with the trainers about throwing weigh-ins. Bob interviews that we need to put this all behind us. THEN WHY ARE WE STILL SHOWING FOOTAGE ABOUT IT? However, it's clear that Melissa's days of doing things half-assedly are done. DH: "Now suddenly she's having to work." Indeed, she's weeping when we come back from commercial, which doesn't move Bob in the slightest. He gets in her face and tells her that THIS is what it's all about, finding all your limits and pushing past them. After a moment, Melissa agrees with Bob, puts on her big girl underpants, and gets back on the machine. She starts screaming her head off. Nice. Bob then tells her that he at last believes that she's not gameplaying. His evidence for this is her 11lb loss from last week, which I think is still a slightly-waterloaded number. However, Bob tells her that she has earned his respect back. Oh Bob, you fool. They hug. She cries again. DH: "He told the lie he needed to tell." I don't know about that; I think Bob may actually believe her. Oh, well.

Meanwhile, Jillian is worried about how close Daris has been getting to the yellow line. She's concerned about his self-esteem issues and that he's not really pushing himself. He's not hitting his burn. He admits that he's not doing as much as the other guys, because he's good at accepting and giving up. But, points out Jillian, he's lost 51lbs in the past month. He can't believe he's gotten so far, and Jillian makes him come to the conclusion that such success must take confidence and pride in yourself. She suggests that maybe he should try being the I-lost-51lbs-in-four-weeks guy instead of the fat-funny-guy, and see where that gets him. She also warns him against pissing her off. :)

Cut to Yellow and Black in the kitchen with Bob. For heaven's sake, with those particular two teams standing together like that, they look like a massive bee. Clearly we're in for a product placement. They're talking about making food. Sunshine loves stews and chili, so Bob plugs Jennie-O extra-lean ground turkey for that kind of stuff. O'Neal smiles at this in such a "Testify!" kind of way that I half expect him to cry out a hallelujah. "Serious comfort food!" enthuses Darrell. We get a flashback to Old Darrell, which really highlights the differences in his face between Then and Now. I LOVE it when we can start seeing the differences from Day One!

Onto the challenge. It's Superbowl week! At least, it's Superbowl week here in the outside world. On the Biggest Loser ranch, however, they had to pretend it was Superbowl week when it was really, like, the beginning of November. But O'Neal isn't complaining; he's stoked because he's a football man. (I imagine Koli and Sam are also enthused for the same reason.) Everybody has a swivelling tackling dummy with blocking pads on the end of each "arm". They have to alternate hitting each one. Stephanie reveals that she is a girly girl and is not looking forward to this. Oh, suck it up, cupcake. Each team has to hit the tackling dummy 1,000 times. The winner gets immunity, and the team that comes last gets a 2lb penalty. John accurately reflects that that's a huge disadvantage. Man, this week's setup is really stacking the odds against teams who are unlikely to do well at this challenge. TWO teams getting immunity makes the odds suck harder for other people.

This is a one-person challenge, so all the paired teams have to choose one representative. Orange chooses Daris; Pink chooses Sherry; Yellow chooses Sunshine (so much for O'Neal's football love); Red chooses Lance; Black chooses Andrea (hoping to bring in her softball background); and Grey chooses Sam. Michael interviews about figuring out his groove, and indeed looks pretty good as he starts. Sam tells us that pushing the thing slowly gets heavier and heavier, because the harder you hit, the more impact you get when it comes back on you. DH reflects that this is going to be really hard on John's knee.

As always, Red are very good at seeing the humour at not winning. (I do like that about them.) Melissa talks about how Michael was a "White Knight" who suddenly showed up out of nowhere, just looking like he was pushing a kid on a swing. She imitates his "whoosh"ness, it's pretty funny. Michael can't even believe it himself. DH points out that Michael's mass is an advantage here. But of course Sam is very competitive, so hearing from Ali that Michael is threatening his lead will just jack Sam now Michael has to pull it out too, if he wants any hope of beating Sam.

Jillian quizzes us about how much America spends on snack foods on Superbowl Sunday. The answer is $50 million, but y'know, considering the size of the Superbowl audience, this is not huge. DH says he thinks he remembers that last year's viewership was 100 million. Even if you assume that only half of those viewers were American, that means $1 spent on snack foods for the show per American. Meh. Not so horrifying.

I never thought that I would see Sean Bean and Zac Efron in the same movie. My head may explode.

As we return to the challenge, Koli has brought out his Football Coach Voice big-time to cheer on Sam. Michael looks like he's tiring, whereas Sam looks like he has tons of fight left in him...and yet! Michael pulls ahead! He interviews that he can't believe it. Good for Michael, man, that's awesome! Sam picks up the pace with about 70 hits left to go, and Ali actually starts cheering Sam on. Way to be impartial, host lady. But Michael wins! "I did it! I did it, Mom!" he cries, which is really sweet, albeit further proof of his momma's boy tendencies. Koli and Sam are bummed. They swear, and admit that they're sore losers. (Okay, at least they admit it.) Team by team, everyone finishes, and Pink is last. They cry in an interview about being behind the eight-ball. DH: "They picked the wrong person to do it." To her credit, Sherry does finish off her 1,000 hits. Michael still can't believe he won a challenge. :)

Bonus video: Sherry's stressed about losing the challenge and not hitting her burn. Sherry tells Bob that if they fall below, she wants to go home because Ashley has more to do and more to lose. She's also trying to work very hard to inspire her daughter. I do like Sherry. Not only is she tough, but she's got a good attitude. Bob tells her the disadvantage is a blessing; it will make them work harder.

Night. Miggy returns to the house, walking really slowly and painfully. Turns out that she did indeed have to have an appendectomy. Well, that's a few pounds lost right there, right? We hear that they also took out "a cyst, a mass". (Crap. Hope that's benign.) This all means that she's only allowed to walk as exercise. However, she vows to kill the walking thing. Later, Michael and Miggy walk together, and we find that they have some kind of bond/friendship/alliance. Michael seems pretty surprised that Miggy is so into doing all this walking so soon after her surgery, and does some cute teasing: "Oh wait, oh wait, you hear that? [pause] No birds. Y'know why? Because they're SLEEPING." :)

Bonus video: Miggy finds out about the challenge and Yellow coming back. All good news - she missed a brutal challenge AND her buddies are back! She also assumes Grey won the challenge but is pretty happy and surprised to hear Michael won. "Well, I'm sorry I wasn't there to beat everybody on that one," she jokes. It's also interesting to watch the different expressions people have during the conversation. Also, Red is completely ignoring the entire group, reading something off in a corner. Guess when Miggy's the centre of attention, they have nothing to contribute. :) Miggy says she's relieved that her bad weight loss last week was probably due to her health crisis and not because of anything she did wrong.

Time for another product placement! After all, we must have snacks before workouts, right? We're makin' smoothies! Of course Bob has to come in during this to make sure the contestants make appropriate yummy noises. Dammit, now I want a smoothie.

Dr. H has a post-op consult with Miggy. She tells him she walked 13 miles the day after surgery. He's amazed. (As am I. Holy shit.) He says she can stay at the ranch, but a few more things need to change: she needs to eat a bit more, and she can't jiggle or bend in a major way. He also points out that they poured 8 to 9 pounds of salt water into her during the operation. (POURED? Damn, he makes it sound like they took a pitcher of seawater and just emptied it right in there.) So the surgery may end up hurting her at the weigh-in. Miggy doesn't feel that she can make it at home, and this forced waterloading news makes her feel pretty hopeless, so she's kind of going to pieces.

The trainers arrive and need to be caught up on all the news. Firstly, they're quite surprised that Grey didn't win the challenge, and that Michael DID. They also hear about Pink's 2lb disadvantage. Bob also notices that something is off about Miggy. (Ya think?) When he hears she's had abdominal surgery, Bob is pretty damn gobsmacked. He's also worried that she's losing the will to fight because she misses her daughter and is feeling like she has no chance at the weigh-in this week.

But look out, John's running on the treadmill! Hooray! He's kind of stoked to finally be with everybody else in the gym. Bob thinks John's going to "blow up the scale this week". But generally he feels the workout is going all weird. White is immune, Green has just been in surgery, Pink has a disadvantage. He kind of doesn't know which way to turn. DH: "Well, why are YOU running it? What about Jillian?" To hell with that, though, I'm still marvelling over Miggy's grit. She's sweating like a rutting pig.

Jillian wants to see smoke coming out of the treadmill! She works Daris out seriously on it, both running and doing pullups. Then she boxes with Sam. Bob tries to get Ashley to jump. Koli screams on a leg machine. O'Neal puts on his oogly face as he holds a pushup for-freakin'-ever. Shit. What was I saying a few weeks ago about not wanting to meet him in a dark alley? Yeah. I think he's the master of getting in the zone. Jillian gives Ashley crap for not going as fast as she's supposed to on the treadmill. Ashley tells Jillian it's just not going to happen today. This doesn't exactly impress Jillian, especially with that 2lb disadvantage hanging over Pink's head. Ashley reveals that when things get too hard, she stops. Oh, wait, but she's WORKING ON THAT. Really? Working on it how? By continuing to stop when things get too hard? Yeah, Jillian isn't buying it, either. Ashley then retreats to another tactic: blaming the way Jillian's talking to her. Because, my gawd, it's like Jillian's trying to get into her head or something. Geez, chickie, ya think? And have you ever actually WATCHED this show? Jillian is in full-on psychotherapist mode now, dammit, and Sherry tears up as she watches the moment.

What is it, presses Jillian. Well, turns out that it's that Ashley watched her father die in front of her face. Okay, yes, that's sufficiently awful for Jillian to take her outside for a private heart-to-heart. Private, as in, just you, me, and the rest of the national television viewing audience. Jillian talks about how heavy the baggage is when people have regret about someone they've lost. Not only does Ashley have a food problem, she also smokes and overdoes it on the booze. Ashley talks about the constant verbal berating she used to get from her dad about her size. It made her feel like crap, although she knew he loved her. But it prevented her from coming home when he was dying, because she couldn't deal with it. By the time she finally got there, he couldn't talk anymore, and died the next day. That is harsh. Jillian urges Ashley to say what she would have said. "You hurt my feelings all the time," reveals Ashley. She's also very sorry that she wasn't there for him.

Hopefully this is a bit of a breakthrough for Ashley.

Next, Andrea, Stephanie, Cheryl, Michael and Sunshine are told to run for five minutes. Sunshine freaks out about this, but Stephanie is really chipper and encouraging for everyone. "We can do this! Push through it!" she tells everybody. Wow, she's a really good cheerleader. She gets everybody through it and praises their grit beautifully afterwards. I'm liking me some Stephanie. Sunshine is amazed that she did it.

Bob tells us that the players go through so much on campus, so he loves giving them a yoga session right after a hard workout. Shit, Bob, that's REALLY hard after you've just been going all-out on a workout. But he makes them all hold hands and go all zen anyway. Sunshine is optimistic that she will find her purpose while she's in the house.

But what would an episode of this show be without a little gameplay, right? O'Neal and Sunshine take a private moment to discuss the shittiness and politics of having the only vote, and probably to discuss some strategy in advance. O'Neal is apparently willing to do whatever it takes to stay here, even if it means stepping on and crushing someone. He says he wants the confetti raining down on them at the finale. Er, wow. And not a good wow. I don't like this side of him. Sunshine, however, says her dad has never steered her wrong (except for that whole obesity role model thing, of course), so she's going to stick with him. Also, she really needs to lay off all that blue eyeshadow.

Bonus video: O'Neal goes swimming with a few of the players, and talks about having to determine "genuineness" of the other players since he and Sunshine have the only vote. He talks about keeping his cards close to his chest and is holding judgment. Cheryl talks about how it's very nervous-making leading up to weigh-in, and advises O'Neal that there's not a whole lot he can do about things - someone's going to fall below the yellow line, and he has no control over that. O'Neal interviews that people have been coming to him and filling him in on stuff, for whatever reason. He reiterates that he is here to stay as long as he can and he's not giving away anything to anyone that will hurt him.

At last, we move to the business end of the episode: the weigh-in. Everyone freaks out in interviews about it. "This weigh-in is..." is the phrase of the day. (Unsurprisingly, the show plays this line to death until we're all heartily sick of it.)

Ali talks about the week, and discusses Miggy's ordeals a bit. She can't believe how much Miggy did following the surgery, and Jillian looks pleased as punch about Miggy's determination. Then we get the lay of the land: One team will fall below the yellow line this week. If it's a paired team, Yellow will vote for which person in the team goes home. If it's a singleton team, however, Yellow is off the hook, and the person automatically goes home. Ali then turns her attention to the possibility of Michael breaking a Biggest Loser record by losing 100lbs in six weeks. Michael grins big-time when she tells him it's attainable - he just has to lose 30lbs in two weeks. For someone of his size, this is not impossible. And I like his grin; it's full of hope and self-confidence. Indeed, he interviews that he's proud of himself and feeling great in general, which is terrific.

Some interesting stuff happens at the weigh-in. O'Neal's number isn't that hot, but he may have waterloaded since he had immunity and is very concerned about using whatever strategy is necessary to keep him and Sunshine in the house. Lance doesn't do all that well, either, but all Melissa can do is talk about her accomplishment of going below 200lbs. Oh yes, and also, she's disappointed in him. !!! One highlight of the evening comes when Stephanie goes up - look at her waist! She's got one! Koli also gets a low percentage and takes it personally. I'm not so happy with how competitive the Grey team is. Andrea is justifiably sick of the small numbers she keeps getting. Miggy says this weigh-in is for her daughter. Good grief, lady, she didn't die. Fortunately, Miggy does really well, and is gleeful. She's been much more open this week with her emotions, it's good to see.

As it looks like it could be Red below the line, O'Neal starts ruminating on whether he should vote someone off because they're a threat (unspoken definition: Lance), or because people want him to vote a person off (unspoken definition: Melissa). Clearly, people have been talking to him about house politics!

Milestones achieved this week:

  • Michael dropped below 450lbs
  • Darrell dropped below 350lbs
  • Sunshine dropped below 250lbs
  • Melissa dropped below 200lbs
  • Sunshine hit the 10% mark of total loss
  • Ashley, Sam, Daris, Melissa, Sherry and Michael hit the 15% mark of total loss
  • Ashley and Lance hit the 50lb mark of total loss
  • Michael hit the 75lb mark of total loss
  • Darrell and John moved from super-obese to morbidly obese
  • Sunshine moved from morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Sherry and Stephanie moved from clinically obese to obese

Sadly, however, it's John who dips below the yellow line. He says he's going to go home and beat up on his twin brother James. :) But it's a brave face he's putting on. DH is crushed, and it looks like all the contestants are crying as John's small loss is revealed. Even Ali looks really close to tears. John must be awesome, they all seem to love him a lot. Sam says John is a brother to him and Koli. But John has found a lot of optimism on the ranch - he reflects on his many successes, and believes he can do this. He's taking responsibility for his own choices and will not blame his weight on tragedies anymore. I like him a lot, very sad to see him go. John vows that he and James will just keep going. He wants to be in the 200s, healthy, and a great husband.

At home, he's now 380lbs, which means he's lost 104lbs. That's great! He did have a tough time going to the gym when he first got home, though - his weight loss started to slow and things weren't clicking. (Unlike James, he does not have a job that he can take extensive time off from and focus exclusively on his weight loss.) But what he's learned since is that the entire weight loss process needs to be a lifestyle change. You have to incorporate something into your life which you love and will actually do. For John, it's jiu-jitsu! (DH: "Jillian will be proud.") He's really into it and can't wait to go train when he gets off of work. For the profile, he's invited his family to come and watch. They're all pretty excited. And it turns out that his wife is expecting another baby! DH gets really happy over that. John and James play basketball together, and all appears to be going really well. Hooray.


# This wk % Overall % This wk lbs Overall lbs BMI
1 Daris (4.07) Daris (18.21) Michael (13) Michael (83) Miggy (30.4)
2 Sherry (3.23) Sherry (17.43) Daris (12) Darrell (70) Melissa (32.0)
3 Sam (3.13) Darrell (16.95) Sam (10) Koli (68) Cheryl (33.3)
4 Michael (2.85) Koli (16.87) Ashley (9) Daris, John (63) Sherry (34.0)
5 Ashley (2.76) Sam (16.67) Darrell (8) Stephanie (34.2)
6 Melissa (2.46) Michael (15.78) John, Koli, Sherry (6) Sam (62) Sam (37.7)
7 Miggy (2.37) Ashley (15.24) Ashley (57) Lance (39.2)
8 Darrell (2.28) Melissa (15.02) O'Neal (56) Sunshine (39.5)
9 Stephanie (2.17) Stephanie (14.77) Andrea, Melissa, Miggy, O'Neal, Stephanie, Sunshine (5) Lance (51) Daris (40.6)
10 Sunshine (2.00) Cheryl (14.54) Stephanie (39) Andrea (41.0)
11 Andrea (1.87) O'Neal (14.40) Sherry (38) Koli (44.2)
12 Koli (1.76) Miggy (14.17) Andrea (36) O'Neal (46.4)
13 Cheryl (1.52) Lance (13.97) Melissa (35) Darrell (49.2)
14 O'Neal (1.48) John (13.02) Miggy (34) John (49.9)
15 John (1.41) Andrea (12.08) Lance (4) Cheryl (33) Ashley (52.7)
16 Lance (1.26) Sunshine (10.91) Cheryl (3) Sunshine (30) Michael (55.4)

(Jillian really needs to point this out to Daris. That'll boost his self-estteem, boy howdy.)

Next week: (SPOILERS)

Potential milestones:

  • Sam could go below 300lbs
  • Daris could go below 275lbs
  • Stephanie could go below 225lbs
  • Sherry could go below 175lbs
  • Darrell and Koli could hit the 75lb mark of total loss
  • Cheryl, Stephanie, O'Neal, Miggy and Lance could hit the 15% mark of total loss
  • Daris and Sherry could hit the 20% mark of total loss
  • Daris could move from morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Miggy could move from obese to overweight

The players travel to Colorado to train like Olympic athletes with help from real Olympians Julia Mancuso, Jeret Peterson, J.R. Celski, Rockne Brubaker and Allison Jones. Also: The teams are dissolved, leaving the contestants to compete individually.

Individuals? ALREADY? No Black vs. Blue large team competition? How odd.

Also, Jillian Tweeted 12:41am ET on February 2 that one of the male contestants had his brother die the day before. :( Given the time lag between taping and airing, we're not going to find out which contestant this is until much further down the road...but watch for it. It's gonna suck large, no matter who it is. :(

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