Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Biggest Loser Review, 2010/03/30: Things get weird (aka WTF?!?)

DH notes that we're now at the point of the season where you can REALLY see differences (and indeed, at this week's weigh-in, they start showing us comparison shots as people go up on the scale). We're both fairly pleased about this. We're also down to only nine players, which leads Ashley to start realising that not only does she have a real shot at winning this whole thing, but now she really WANTS to. She starts talking about how close she is to being in the final four, and we see a montage of all the past elimination moments. This, naturally, is a sure sign that all the eliminated players are going to come back this week to compete for a spot in the house, and that Ashley is not nearly as close to the end as she thinks she is. (The TV Guide's description for this week's show was also a huge clue.)

Sure enough, the contestants (Michael sporting a shadow which actually looks rather nice on him) meet Ali in the gym. She says things are shaping up to be "epic", and says they're going to singles. This thrills everyone to no end (despite the fact that this means the beginning of the dreaded Yellow Line), and they put their original duo colours back on. Stephanie really likes that she doesn't have to be concerned about anybody else anymore, and clearly has her game head on. Yes indeedy, Ali tells them, she can certain guarantee that the next Biggest Loser is right here in this's not necessarily one of them. Right on cue, the screen around the scales opens to reveal all the eliminated players, who have clearly been told to look as mean as humanly possible. The on-ranch contestants don't immediately notice this, however, since they cheer crazily to see them, which is really nice. There is one person missing from the group, however - Migdalia's husband has been deployed (Ali says to Iraq, despite the fact that Migdalia kept saying Afghanistan when she was still on the show), and she understandably hasn't been able to make it here today.

Once the realisation hits that someone's coming back to the ranch, though, Stephanie gets annoyed. She's worked hard to get to this point, she doesn't want anyone getting an easy ticket back, etc. etc. CLASSIC on-ranch player defensive reaction to the bring-back week.

Ali tells us that there will be a vote among the on-ranch players as to which eliminated player will be brought back, prompting a completely overblown and embarrassingly fake-dramatic "Whuuuuuuuut?!?" out of Melissa. As each eliminated player gets weighed in, they will get an opportunity to plead their case. John's pretty stoked about this process, because he still has a lot of good friends still on the inside. And indeed, I think he's got an excellent shot. Vicky, on the other hand, is freaking out because she has absolutely zero relationships here (having been eliminated pretty much immediately after arriving), and that she has not, and I swear she actually said this, "conversated" with anyone. (I weep for the future.)

The eliminated players, from worst-to-first in terms of total weight loss percentage, are as follows:

  • James: 14.85%
  • Cherita: 16.97%
  • John: 17.56%
  • Patti: 18.93%
  • Maria: 20.28%
  • Victoria: 20.39%
  • Miggy: 20.42%
  • Melissa: 21.89%
  • Cheryl: 22.47%
  • Lance: 24.93%
  • Darrell: 25.18%
  • Sherry: 28.44%

To put things in perspective, the on-ranch contestants at this point have total weight loss percentages ranging from 22.15% to 29.48%, so the only eliminated players who are "running with the pack" are Cheryl, Lance Darrell and Sherry. However, the total percentage numbers are not the whole story. I think the more important thing to do is to see how well people have done since leaving the ranch. When you look at things that way, the leaderboard looks a bit different. Here I've taken the percentage of weight that people lost at home and divided it by the number of weeks they were at home, to get a weekly at-home average. Lance is not listed here, as he lost zero pounds since his last on-ranch weigh-in, which makes sense since that was only about 12 hours before this weigh-in...although I did notice he managed to get a haircut in the intervening time.

  • 0.68%: Miggy (2.05% in about 3 weeks)
  • 1.04%: John (5.22% in about 5 weeks)
  • 1.10%: Patti (8.80% in about 8 weeks)
  • 1.18%: James (10.61% in about 9 weeks)
  • 1.52%: Cherita (9.09% in about 6 weeks)
  • 1.65%: Cheryl (3.30% in about 2 weeks)
  • 1.69%: Maria (11.81% in about 7 weeks)
  • 1.78%: Victoria (10.66% in about 6 weeks)
  • 2.14%: Melissa (8.54% in about 4 weeks)
  • 2.15%: Darrell (8.58% in about 4 weeks)
  • 4.29%: Sherry (4.29% in about a week, holy cow)

Milestones reached since we last saw people:

  • James has dropped below 450lbs
  • John has dropped below 400lbs
  • Vicky has dropped below 300lbs
  • Cherita has dropped below 250lbs
  • Maria has dropped below 225lbs
  • Patti has dropped below 200lbs
  • Cherita has hit the 25lb mark of total loss
  • Cheryl, Vicky, Melissa, Maria and James have hit the 50lb mark of total loss
  • John has hit the 75lb mark of total loss
  • Darrell has hit the 100lb mark of total loss
  • James has moved from super-obese to morbidly obese
  • Maria has moved from morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Patti has moved from clinically obese to obese
  • Melissa and Sherry have moved from obese to overweight
  • James has hit the 10% mark of total loss
  • Cherita, Patti and John have hit the 15% mark of total loss
  • Cheryl, Vicky, Miggy, Melissa and Maria have hit the 20% mark of total loss
  • Darrell has hit the 25% mark of total loss

As for the pleas to come back in the house, everybody has different angles. Darrell sells himself as a catalyst, saying that his drive helps make other people's drives stronger. He pulls out an "iron sharpens iron" metaphor. Sherry declares her love for the in-house players. Miggy has no idea how to ask for this, and just goes with saying that she's "from the heart". Vicky pulls heartstrings. She points out that she has packed her bags three times to come here and is still not on the ranch yet. She begs for a chance. I bet you anything O'Neal will vote for her.

In an interview, Melissa scoffs at the compassionate, lovey-dovey, nicey-nicey friends angle, and accuses the players of not looking at the big picture. It's not TIME to be friends, doncha know. (DH: "No Melissa, everyone IS looking at the big picture, they're looking at their LIFE." ) At the actual weigh-in, she puts on her dramatic voice and gestures to point out that she should come back in the house because she's not the tiniest bit of a threat. What she has forgotten to account for, though, is that no one wants someone super-annoying back in the house. My heavens, what a nightmare she must be in court. Indeed, Koli actually starts laughing at her during her spiel.

Lance gets a catch in his throat during his speech. He wants a chance to fulfill the purpose he's learned he has: paying it forward. (I have no idea what that means.) Cheryl would love to come back and finish her weight loss but refuses to clean the kitchen. (Oooh, kiss of death.) John makes no sense at all. He needs help to "inspire more" but admits he doesn't know what that means. Riiiight. Oh, and he misses everyone a lot. (Now THAT makes sense.) Patti has decided to stop putting other people first and asks for a chance for herself. Michael whoops as his mom starts talking. She's been having a rough time of it - working hard, but it's been tough with everything going on with her mom. She's been finding herself falling backwards, so she needs the focus of the ranch. (Don't sell yourself short, honey, you're in the top five of at-home performers!) James, like Patti, decides to put himself forward instead of other people. When he left, he fought to keep his brother on the ranch, but now he's asking for himself, which he never does. He says it's his turn. Cherita's priority is to bring Vicky back. (I wondered if she'd do that.) She blames herself for the first time she and Vicky had to go home. She makes a very powerful plea and there are wet eyes all over the place, including mine. Man.

We get a quick Brady Bunch-style montage of everyone blathering on about their thought processes when it comes to deciding how to vote. It's over quickly, thank heavens.

Ashley votes for John. (Take that, Sherry.) O'Neal, no surprise, votes for Victoria. Daris, who has way too much integrity to last much longer in this game, totally gets on board Darrell's metaphor train. Stephanie, noting that James has the worst total weight loss percentage of all the at-home contestants, votes to give him a chance. (If she'd had my spreadsheet, though, she'd have seen that the worst at-home performer was actually Miggy.) Sam and Koli adore John, so they both vote for him. Cherita freaks out, since John now has three votes. Sunshine makes her feel better, though, by voting for Victoria, and then so does Drea! So now it's John's turn to freak out because he's tied three-to-three with Vicky after being in the clear lead. So it all comes down to Mike.

Mike tells us that he vowed to always be grateful, because he feels it's his job to be thankful and pay it forward. He wants to give someone a chance who didn't have the chance that he got. And with those words, John's face goes very sadly glum. Because indeed, Vicky's in. Mike says everyone here is bound for great things and wants to be the first one to, tearfully, welcome Vicky to the house.


Gratitude is just gushing all over the place - from Cherita and Vicky most of all. DH notes that the young players now have a helluva voting block. John is of course disappointed, which is sad, but he tries to convince himself that it'll all work out. (Yeah, it will, buddy, we've seen your at-home profile, you're going to keep losing, it's going to be fine.)

However, surprise! It's not over yet, there's actually another spot in the house up for grabs. Ali announces that there will be a challenge, the winner of which will get back in the house. Melissa says this is her DESTINY. (Gag.) Miggy thinks she has this and is planning to leave it all out there. Between the two of those, I'd put my money on Miggy anytime, but there are a few other people participating in this challenge that we have to account for, too.

The nature of this competition is an "up-down challenge", to symbolise the ups and downs of the overall competition. (Groan.) Each person gets a step and has to get up on to it and back down again. First person to do that 1,000 times earns the last remaining spot in the house. The twins are sad again because they know they have no chance here, especially James, who has no cartilege in one knee. Melissa, no surprise, is manic in anticipation. As we get started, Miggy takes the lead, but then drops behind Melissa. (Dammit.) There's no love lost between these two women, as we see from flashbacks. Sherry's also in a good position, but loses some time as her shoe comes untied. (Curses.) Trouper that she is, she takes it off, but then has to take the second one off too, as being one-shoed is too unbalancing. She tells Melissa she's coming after her, and Melissa gives some back. Miggy looks dead. Lance is also near the top of the leaderboard.

So the only people who really have a shot here are Melissa, Miggy, Sherry and Lance. Koli is not liking these options. (I don't blame him. I'd love to see Sherry back again, but she does represent a massive weight loss threat.)

Melissa slows while Miggy steps it back up and starts to find her kill zone, thank heavens. Mike cheers her on, but then Melissa picks her pace, shrieking that she wants back in. Someone shoot her, please. I don't know if I could stand it if she made her way back onto my television on a weekly basis. But to my great dismay, Miggy hits a wall. Her chest tightens up and she feels like she has no oxygen. Melissa, who's hurting at this point, tells us self-righteously that you have to work through the pain. Oh, be quiet, you are not all that. And yet, she cackles. And wins. Viewers all over North America keen in agony.

Lance cannot describe how much he loves his wife. Oi vey, poor man. Although I have to admit that I'm very glad they're back in sync with each other. His beloved wife, meanwhile, looks smug as all hell as the rest of the eliminated contestants prepare to say goodbye again. She fist-pumps as Ali announces that the two brought-back players have immunity this week; news which makes all the other on-ranch players look quite unhappy. Naturally, the eliminated players all get to go home and compete for the $100K prize, this time with a better awareness of what kind of competition they're up against.

Workout! Bob and Jillian return. They're delighted to see the singles colours sprinkled around the gym. Poor fools - they actually think that's today's big surprise. Jillian interviews about how now the alliances are all going to go haywire and it'll be all "game on", and cutthroat and so-forth. But I don't think even she knows just how prophetic these words turn out to be. More on that later, though. First, we have to reveal the brought-back contestants to the trainers. First in the door is Melissa. Bob predicts that everyone else will now have to be on their toes. DH reflects that we now have proof that Jillian is a good actress, given how happy she pretended to be to see Melissa. "She must've chewed through half her liver to do that," he remarks.

But of course we're not done. Melissa turns around and announces Vicky's arrival, who is just happy as all getout to be (literally) jumping in that door. :) Now THIS is something that the trainers can be TRULY happy about. Jillian is really pleased that Vicky has gotten her chance, and feels the world is right again. Bob gives a super-cute "awww" face when he hears how Vicky got back in. He gives big props to the people in the house, who could easily have stonewalled Vicky since she has so much weight to lose and is therefore a big potential threat.

As the workout begins, Vicky suddenly realises that now she has to really work. Well, duh! And the displeasure continues across the board. Stephanie is genuinely pissed off that two people have come back in the house. Koli is super-annoyed that Melissa is back. Sam, however, takes out any frustrations he might have by boxing. We get a freakin' FANTASTIC shot of steam coming off his head!

Bonus video: O'Neal is woken up by the sounds of Koli and "Cap'n Sam" doin' a little boxing. He asks if he can join, and they tell him absolutely. So Koli tells him the sequence, and off they go. O'Neal says Koli really worked him out, and there was no way he could have done that before. In fact, O'Neal was so in the moment that he forgot about his knee. Koli really gives him some excellent training, it's very cool to watch. O'Neal calls Koli a man's man.

Poor Vicky is pretty much instantly roped into product placement detail. The scene is that she's making a week's worth of healthy food. We see shots of the canned tomatoes she's using, but the product placement is actually...Ziploc bags! (These are what she's using to freeze her individual servings.) As Bob blathers on about the benefits of disposable plastic bags, DH, hilariously, makes the patented Bob "talk, talk, talk, words, words, words" hand signal at me. :D Vicky makes happy zipping noises as they seal the bags. Good gawd.

Melissa walks around the ranch for exercise, while Ashley and Drea take a break from their construction jobs and wolf whistle at mean...they lament how skinny Melissa is. Yes.

We then go on to hear how freaked out Ashley is about her status here on the ranch. She is so freaked out, in fact, that she has lost her ever-luvin' mind: she has decided that Stephanie, one of her best friends here, is out to get her. She is basing this decision on baseless speculation made by Koli, who has been Ashley's freakin' RIVAL for the past several weeks. THE HELL?!? Not only is this pretty stupid of Ashley, but WTF is up with Koli? Seriously, he starts talking about how it's possible that Stephanie threw the weigh-in the week Sherry left, purely for the purpose of getting Sherry off the ranch. He admits he has no evidence for this, but HE SAYS IT ANYWAY, adding that he "wouldn't put it past her".


This is even more incomprehensible when you remember that Stephanie is the girlfriend of Koli's cousin Sam. What happened to "family first", Koli? Shouldn't you and Stephanie be ALLIES? Wouldn't that be the logical thing to do, since it would give you a solid three-person voting block, a rather valuable commodity in the singles game? Or maybe Koli is jealous of all the time Sam is spending with Stephanie? Or maybe Koli wanted to date Stephanie and is now all bitter and hateful? I have no idea. But it is supremely weird. Also, I predict that Sam is going to be really angry at Koli when he sees this episode. Indeed, here are Sam's latest tweets from last night:

In response to someone's blog calling out Koli for what he did: "I agree. It hurts."


"Holding her. Comforting her. The lies. They hurt."

Geez, poor Sam. What a shitty position to be caught in. And I was really loving me some Koli, too. I just don't understand what could be going on in his head. That was a deliberate and malicious manipulation if ever I've seen one. (Ironic, since he was the one accusing Stephanie of malicious manipulation.)

However, we go on to the last chance workout. Poundings ensue. Bob makes Koli, Sam and Daris do some serious strength training. Jillian is delighted with O'Neal's performance, telling him, "It's almost boring to see you keep defeating this." :) Vicky is hoping to see good results on the scale and Jillian is riding her ass, like's it the Biggest Loser last chance workout, for heaven's sake! Suck it up, cupcake! The big accomplishment today, though, is that Bob takes O'Neal outside to teach him how to climb stairs. O'Neal hates stairs and walks up them worse than a tired toddler. Bob explains that O'Neal has to use his core muscles to pull himself up when he climbs stairs so that it will be easier. o'Neal looks eager to try, and hey...there he goes! Walking up steps like a normal person! O'Neal loves the Bob-man.

Bonus video: For one of the trainer-led workouts, everybody goes to Venice. That's the beach, not the Italian city. They do laps around the court, as throngs of spectators watch and take photos for their Facebook pages. This is all to emphasize that you don't have to go to a gym to get exercise. More gymless beatings. The throngs clap. Koli loves the fame of having fans and being asked for his autograph. (Gag.)

Jillian takes Stephanie for some one-on-one time, and Stephanie proceeds to fall apart, crying things like, "No, SERIOUSLY, Jill!" (like, omiGAWD), before leaving the gym sobbing. Jillian follows her out and refuses to take crap answers for why all this drama is happening. Stephanie feels scared that she won't go home on her terms. Jillian tells her she's a control freak and that she's alienating herself from her fellow players by trying to manage everything. Does Stephanie not see a pattern with this in her life? "Sure," says Steph unconvincingly. And that's the end of that scene. Okayyyy...

But things are about to get worse for Stephanie. Ashley is sick of playing an act that nothing is wrong, so she confronts her friend. To rub lemon juice into the paper cut, she eats in front of Steph while telling her that she can't trust her right now. Stephanie looks genuinely confused and asks why. Ashley says it's been brought to her attention that Stephanie may have thrown the weigh-in. This shocks the snot out of Stephanie and she denies it, having trouble believing that this conversation is even happening. She gets upset. This bothers Ashley, who didn't want to upset her. (Really, Ashley? Really? You tell your friend that you've been believing nasty rumours about her and are bummed because this upsets her?) Stephanie says her heart is broken by this news, and she doesn't know who told Ashley this, or why, but...but...but...they hug it out. Okayyyy...

Being the sort of person with the need to get to the bottom of things and try to manage situations as much as possible (QED), Stephanie tries to get to the bottom of this rumour. (I don't blame her.) She asks Drea if she seeded it. Drea tells her no, but she has certainly heard the rumour, and it sounded plausible because she's been noticing Stephanie being very game-focused recently. She brings up Stephanie's vote for James at the bring-back weigh-in as a quintessential example of a gameplay move. This appalls Stephanie, because all she was trying to do there was help the person who needed the most help. Ashley and Drea are happy that Stephanie told her this because they had no idea. (I call bullshit, since Stephanie SAID THAT WAS HER REASON during the damn vote!) They encourage Stephanie to open up to them because unless she does, they have no idea what she's thinking and will just assume malicious gameplay is going on. Stephanie opening up, however, "changes everything". (The hell it does. With friends like these, who needs enemies?) So apparently, they're all good now. Okayyyy...

We go to the weigh-in. Stephanie is freaking out because she's had such a hard week emotionally, which could well affect her results on the scale. Vicky and Melissa, since they have immunity, weigh in first, and the results are not too good...although Melissa's numbers are much better than Vicky's (DH: "Well, if she waterloaded, it was subtle.") We also get the big stair-climbing moment from O'Neal. We get buildup music to a commercial, and when we come back, it's time for the Ron-finishing-the-marathon symphony for maximum emotional impact. Yay! Bob is thrilled. O'Neal is proud that Sunshine is proud, and happy that Sunshine is happy. (Codependence, anyone?)

Milestones achieved:

  • Ashley drops below 275lbs
  • Victoria hits the 75lb mark of total loss
  • Ashley hits the 100lb mark of total loss
  • Daris moves from clinically obese to obese
  • O'Neal, Sunshine and Stephanie hit the 25% mark of total loss
  • Daris and Koli hit the 30% mark of total loss

But generally speaking, the losses this week kinda suck. Everyone except Sunshine gets less than their weekly average, and the biggest loser of the week (again, Sunshine) does so with less than 3%. So quite disappointing. Sam, however, is positively chipper as he talks about his meagre 2lb loss. He's very inspirational. But at the end of the day, it's the lovers (Sam and Stephanie) below the yellow line. That blows. DH is absolutely convinced that Sam will ask the others to send himself home so his lady can be saved, and that Koli's jaw will hit the floor when this happens.

However, Sam disappoints my husband no end by putting forward a case for himself. He vows to push others and says he's not ready to go. Stephanie's plea is much more lame, and in fact counterproductive, because she points out that she doesn't push people to do their best. (Not a great start, kid. You got anything else?) She cries unintelligibly and finishes off by saying she wants to be here. (Oh well, I guess not.)

Koli brings out his bitchy side again and tells us that he is completely unaffected by Stephanie's display of emotion. He sees her as a gameplayer and her tears are all meaningless. It sounds like he believes her crying is all staged. "I can't have people like that around me," he says. Wow. Is he ever in trouble if Sam and Stephanie get married.

Bonus video: Drea and Ashley deliberate about their voting decisions. They are down because this is a scenario they've never even thought about. But Drea thinks that what Sam said about pushing others to work is true, and then feels guilty. Ashley furrows her brow as she nods. Drea is struggling with the idea of sending Stephanie home. Ashley agrees, noting that it'd be especially bad to do that after all the crap Steph went through this week. Ashley points out that both Sam and Steph did awesome at home, so that's not a factor. Drea finds herself conflicted between guilt and selfishness: sending Stephanie home would make her feel guilty, sending Sam home would put hers at risk because he makes her work. Ashley cries some more (tissue companies must love this show) and talks about thinking about herself. Wow, it sounds like they both really depend on Sam. And possibly not in a healthy way. What are they going to do when they have to go back to Michigan and Tennessee and Sam's out in California? Learn to rely on yourselves, ladies!

Sam and Stephanie hold hands under the table of the elimination room as they wait for everyone to arrive with their platters. Koli, naturally, votes to keep his cousin on the ranch. (I would certainly expect him to do that even if he didn't have a hate-on for Stephanie.) Melissa is thinking strategy and wants Sam gone so she has a better shot of staying on the ranch as long as possible, since he's a threat to her. (Fair.) Daris is still enamoured with the 'iron sharpens iron' metaphor and wants Sam to stick around. None of these three votes are surprises. The big surprise comes, though, when Stephanie's supposed "friends" start revealing their votes. Sunshine, Drea and Ashley all vote for Stephanie. Stephanie is surprised, and notes that there are a lot of game players here. She's trying not to take her ousting personally, and will keep going. Ashley admits tearfully in an interview that she betrayed a good friend who's supported her during bad times, and hopes Steph understands. (Yeah, keep tearing up there, kiddo, it won't bring back your integrity.)

Seven weeks later, Steph is out shopping for an outfit for her thirtieth birthday party, which is tonight! This is extremely exciting, because she's down to a size 12 and can focus on elements like style and shape as criteria for buying clothing. This is a new and very welcome experience. She tries on a bunch of really nice outfits, does a little fashion show for all of her enthusiastic friends, and looks great. She doesn't choose any of my favourites, but still looks very nice on the big night. Everyone cheers her. She's lost 96 pounds, which is awesome, and we get the official announcement that she's fallen in love, although she doesn't reveal who it is. (That's okay, we all read the Internet.) She's really happy, and wants to be in a size 8 by the finale.

Despite this, there's really not that much to feel good about this week. DH is seriously disappointed in Sam's lack of chivalry, and we're both stunned badly with what Koli did this week. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel very connected to Stephanie as a personality, but I don't think there's any justification to think that she threw the weigh-in the week she lost 2lbs, and I think Koli deliberately set out to get rid of her, and I think her friends betrayed her, and that's just all nasty. Add onto that the fact that Melissa's back on the show, plus the weigh-in results this week were poor...and I have myself a pretty unsatisfying Tuesday night. The only bright spot is that Michael seems a lot more relaxed and genuinely happy lately. So perhaps things will get better.

Next week (SPOILERS)

Look for these potential milestones:

  • Koli could drop below 275lbs
  • Andrea could drop below 225lbs
  • Sunshine could drop below 200lbs
  • Melissa could drop below 175lbs
  • Andrea and Sunshine could hit 75lbs of total loss
  • O'Neal could hit 100lbs of total loss
  • Koli could hit 125lbs of total loss
  • Michael could hit 150lbs of total loss
  • O'Neal could move from morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Andrea could move from clinically obese to obese
  • Andrea and Melissa could hit 25% of total loss
  • Sam could hit 30% of total loss

Weight predictions:

  • Andrea: 221
  • Ashley: 263
  • Daris: 229
  • Koli: 272
  • Melissa: 174
  • Michael: 370
  • O'Neal: 284
  • Sam: 254
  • Sunshine: 196
  • Victoria: 281

Video preview: Melissa thinks her competitors are dumber than sand, because they are still not in gameplay mode. "Everybody wants to be friends? Are ya CRAZY?!?" There are many shots of her looking infuriatingly smug. Also, we get a few hints about the immunity challenge. There's something about losing 2% of your bodyweight and a big red button. It sounds like you have to be the first person to push the button and weigh in with at least a 2% loss for the week in order to win immunity. Naturally, Melissa is gunning for it. We then see clips of red lights flashing around and a siren going off throughout the house, indicating that the button has been pushed. "Someone hit the button!" a woman says. "ALREADY?" asks a man. From the clips, it looks like a woman's hand attached to a blue shirt pushes the button...but the hand is white, so there's no way it's Vicky. We also see a clip of Sam being treated by Sandy The Medic and sitting up in surprise as the alarm goes off. Drea is in the background of that shot, so it can't be Drea pushing the button. The hand looks too thin to be Ashley's, so it must therefore be Melissa's. (Surprise.) Whether or not she'd managed to lose 2% by the time she pushed that button, however, is anyone's guess.

TV Guide: The players have a chance to win immunity by becoming the first competitor to lose 2 percent of his or her body weight. Each person only has one chance to weigh in, however, adding a critical element of timing to the challenge. Later, the contestants hit the water for a race involving weights. Those who finish may help others complete the challenge.

Week after next: Suze Orman assesses the players' financial health and predicts who will win this season. Also: The contestants balance quarters on a platter to win a cash prize; a challenge to find keys in the pouring rain yields the winners a huge prize; and Bob holds workouts in the mud.


# This wk % Overall % This wk lbs Overall lbs BMI
1 Sunshine (2.88) Daris (31.50) Michael (8) Michael (145) Melissa (28.7)
2 Daris (2.87) Koli (30.27) Daris (7) Koli (122) Stephanie (30.1)
3 Melissa (2.20) Sam (29.57) Koli, Sunshine (6) Sam (110) Sam (31.9)
4 Andrea (2.16) Michael (27.57) Daris (109) Sunshine (32.6)
5 Koli (2.09) Ashley (27.54) Andrea, Ashley (5) Ashley (103) Daris (34.0)
6 Michael (2.06) Sunshine (26.55) O'Neal (98) Andrea (35.5)
7 Ashley (1.81) O'Neal (25.19) Melissa, O'Neal (4) Vicky (75) Koli (37.1)
8 O'Neal (1.36) Stephanie (25.00) Sunshine (73) O'Neal (40.6)
9 Sam (0.76) Andrea (23.83) Sam, Victoria (2) Andrea (71) Victoria (41.8)
10 Victoria (0.70) Melissa (23.61) Stephanie (66) Ashley (45.1)
11 Stephanie (0.50) Victoria (20.95) Stephanie (1) Melissa (55) Michael (47.6)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Biggest Loser Review, 2010/03/24: Home, sweet (cupcakes), home

So Sherry's been voted off, but everybody gets to go home for a week (for the Christmas holidays). Everyone is really excited about this. Ali reminds them that the last time they were home, they stood up in front of their families and friends and promised to make a change. So no pressure. She warns them about succumbing to the temptations and pressures that got them all fat in the first place, and sends them on their way.

Sunshine is briefy bummed because she has to leave her beloved Tempurpedic bed. Thank you, sponsors.

Also, at some point between elimination and arrival, Koli has managed to find a razor and is clean-shaven. It's quite a difference! I'm not sure I like the sans beard look better, but since I'm not in charge of his facial hair decisions, I guess that's my too bad.

Contestants arrive home and families go insane. Seriously, seriously insane. It's wonderful to see the crowds so happy. Patti seems like she just can't believe her eyes when she sees Stephanie. Melissa gets this gleeful "OMG, I get to hit that" glint in her eye at the sight of Lance. Apparently Daris has changed in just a week or two because Cheryl is amazed upon seeing him. Sam's mom puts a lei around his neck as he tears up with happiness. I particularly adore how much love there is in the room with Sunshine/O'Neal and Koli/Sam's families. All the moms in particularly are rapt with happiness. Patti tells of her delight about how glowy Stephanie is. Lance and Sam's moms are similarly overcome, Sam's mom telling us that her baby has grown up while on the ranch. O'Neal's wife Sarah says she's getting flashbacks to the O'Neal hotness she had about twenty years ago, and is happy to be able to fit her arms around him again. Darrell is tearful about how much change he can see in Andrea.

Michael, however, doesn't get screaming throngs. He just walks anticlimactically into his living room and gets a few 'hey's and 'glad to see you's from his family. I know they're all coping with the poor health of Grandma, but come on, you can't work up a few cheers for the guy who's lost almost 130lbs? Michael is glad to be home because he's looking forward to spending time with his grandmother. Things are very bad on that front, though, and she's not really conscious/responding/aware.

Naturally, a week at home doesn't mean just a week at home. (Someone should have sent O'Neal that memo; he thought it would be a relaxing week. Fool! Have you not ever seen the show?) There are Biggest Loser packages waiting for everyone, in the form of giant wooden crates. The contestants approach them with great trepidation and, eventually, crowbars. "Is Jillian in this box?" Ashley asks, to my great amusement. Personally, I would be less freaked out by the crates than the fact that practically the entire background of my house - art, shelves, fridge contents, etc. - is being blurred out post-production. Finally the crates are opened to reveal...styrofoam peanuts! Oh, and stationary bikes. O'Neal is unimpressed. He hates bikes. "Is this a cheeyallange?" asks Andrea on the crate cam. Of course there's more in the crates to tell the full story: boxes containing an instructional DVD...and a whackload of mini-cupcakes (which honestly look a lot like Timbits wrapped in tiny cupcake papers). Everyone takes a whiff and is transported to heaven.

Once the DVD players get going, we see Ali, looking deceptively cheerful and insanely gorgeous. (Seriously, all she's missing is a strategically-placed wind machine.) Turns out that each contestant (except for O'Neal and his cartilege-challenged knee) has to do 26.2 miles on the bike, in front of supportive crowds. $10K is the prize for first place. Everyone goes insane, demonstrating just how bad an economic crisis America is in. (Not that I wouldn't be excited if someone handed me a ten thousand dollar cheque, but from the way people are going on about it, it seems like there's no one among the contestants who doesn't have that much saved up somewhere if they really needed it, and that's baaad.) There is also a temptation component to this challenge: for every cupcake you eat (100 calories per), you can add five minutes to the racing time of a player of your choice.

I suddenly realise that Sam is wearing a SHINY TIE. Yowza.

Lance doesn't want to get involved in the temptation component, but does really want the money. Melissa immediately starts instructing him to give Sam minutes. Gawd, lady, can you knock off the micromanagement complex for five seconds? Ashley accurately notes that eating cupcakes against people is not going to make or break her in this competition. Melissa turns up the whining factor by several notches trying to get Lance to scarf cupcakes. Sam says he and Koli are not here to play games, and they kick the cupcakes all over the gym. (Great sentiment, guys, but I bet the janitorial staff now hates you.) Daris resists the cupcakes too, saying that he's played the game right the whole way so far, and will continue to do so. Stephanie totally looks like she's going to indulge, but tosses away a cupcake at the last moment. Other people, however, dig in to the goodies. Lance eats cupcakes for Sam, as do Mike and Drea. Melissa then orders Lance to down one for Daris, too. Drea adds a cupcake for Sunshine, and so does Lance, who is really going to town here since he has a spinal deficiency when faced with the power of Melissa's stridency. Poor Sunshine, for her part, resists. Lance and Mike then turn their confectionary attentions to Stephanie, Mike with a hilarious little Stephanie-style hairflip as he does so. We don't, of course, see everything that everyone eats or exactly who gets what time penalties, but we do see Lance topping out at SEVENTEEN damn cupcakes and Andrea at nine. Mike seems to still be going at six.

Michael is really aggravated because OMG, it's such a distraction to have a sick grandmother. Yeah, bub, I'm sure she's not too thrilled about being at death's door, either. Maria encourages him to make himself a priority this week, since it's his grandmother's obesity that's killing her now. So he's driven to get better and healthy, despite the guilt.

Workout time! Andrea and Darrell work out together. Darrell reflects that it's tough to work out at home without someone to push you. Drea is indeed discovering how much she deepends on Jillian's hardass qualities. Daris says that it used to be hard to work out because he didn't feel he belonged there, but now he's totally at home. And look out! Here come the Tongan Terror Twins! Koli plugs 24 Hour Fitness and he and Sam whip each other up. DH reflects that without the beard, Koli looks a lot more like Sam. True. Sam, apparently forgetting about the whole cupcake thing and the fact that he is a massive challenge threat, actually has delusions of being able to win the $10K. DH: "You're not." Steph and Patti work out together,and Stephanie finds it fun. Lance and Melissa run around their ranch when they don't have time to hit the gym. They also break out the old gym equipment, which they bought years ago but which has been collecting dust until now. Lance also plugs the Wii Biggest Loser game while spending time with his son. (I checked it out online; it sounds a helluva lot like Wii Fit Plus.) Sunshine hates being one of the bigger people in the gym but tries not to focus on it. She also reflects that the last time she was at the gym she couldn't do what she's doing now, so that part's good. O'Neal goes insane on the ellipticals and reflects that he doesn't care about Bob telling him to take it easy, pain is temporary. Dumbass, screwing up your knee is not temporary! Sometimes pain is there to STOP YOU from doing the permanent damage! O'Neal is a bit tiffed that his kids are telling him what to do. But he heads off to the pool anyway. He vows not to be stopped by injury. Ashley gets the job done because she absolutely doesn't want to be back in the elimination room this week.

Now that we've covered the exercise component of losing weight at home, it's time to cover diet. Sam comes downstairs one morning to find that his mom is cooking biscuits and gravy, bacon and eggs. The horror! Right on cue, he points out all the flaws in his mom's cooking choices. He shills the Biggest Loser app for the Blackberry. His mom pretends to be utterly fascinated with this information, and not at all pissed off at having to throw out good food.

Bonus video: Sarah, who's been preparing food for her family for the last 31 years, calls out O'Neal for not cooking his own damn turkey chili. After all, he's supposed to be acquiring all these mad cooking skillz at the ranch. So this is the perfect opportunity for him to pull out what is probably a Biggest Loser cookbook before mangling an innocent onion right on the kitchen counter instead of a cutting board. (Sarah must've been shitting herself through all of that.) Their itsy bitsy poodle, obviously sensing "food rain" in the offing, wanders around O'Neal's feet as he works. And to Sarah's absolute credit, she keeps her mouth shut about O'Neal's cooking incompetencies so that he won't have an excuse to send her back into the kitchen. And the chili comes out great. Hooray.

Ashley goes out to dinner with her family to a fave restaurant. She talks about what her favourite dishes were before going to the ranch, which still look pretty good to her. Not to me, man. We're treated to closeups of some pretty disgusting-looking food, dripping with fat and whatnot. But, Ashley tells us wisely, "It doesn't taste as good as I feel right now." Good on her! She orders healthy alternatives. She also says that no longer is a "family outing" going to have to equal "going to a restaurant". Rather, it's going to be more like "hiking in the mountains". (Begging the question of why they're not in the mountains right NOW, but anyhoo.) Drea and her buddies go bowling, and she wonders how many calories that burns. Of course, there is serious crap food to be had at the alley. Drea makes choosing from the menu look like rocket science. Her friends are stunned upon hearing from her that a caesar salad has 1300 calories in it.

So we've covered diet and it's time to talk about the personal changes that people have experienced while on the ranch. The ultimate example of this is Daris. He goes out jogging in the morning, which is a big step, because he was always embarrassed before to show his body in public. (This is backed up by nasty pictures of Fat Daris with spread legs, a shirt rolled up above his belly, and a beer. Thanks for that.) But NOW, he's going to a karaoke bar holding hands with a woman! Hooray! The woman is his friend Randi, and their friendship seems to have blossomed. She likes that he's a lot more confident with her now. The only problem is that he is limited to ice water instead of the beers his buddies are having. But even with "liquid courage", he gets up and sings...and is pretty good! (Except that his tempo's painfully off toward the end.) Randi is amazed. Daris is proud and is pretty much living the live he's always wanted.

With that, we move on to the challenge, where Daris is still holding hands with Randi! Hee hee! Ashley goes for some poetic irony by doing the challenge at the same shop she used to eat massive steaks at. Sunshine knows that this bike ride will be different from the first one, when she was sent home. We get a video from Ali to start us off. She instructs the players to reach under their bike seats, where they will find secreted previously undiscovered cellphones. The players are to give these cellphones to someone among their supporters, who will use them to dial in for race progress reports - everyone's doing the challenge simultaneously across the country.


Sunshine is fired up. (Love it.) Daris is focused. O'Neal shifts his weight from foot to foot nervously as he watches Sunshine. "Looking good," someone tells Michael. "I know," Michael quips back preciously. Michael's fans offer to dance and sing for his amusement. I start thinking this could go to Lance, because all the people who might have eaten cupcakes against him were too honourable to do so. But then I remember that we didn't see a single person eating for Koli, who's right behind Sam. So that's verrry interesting.

Sunshine pays close attention to her dad's voice. Michael isn't trying to win, he just wants to finish. Sherry tells Ashley that she's inspiring. Cheryl's going nuts on the phone with her big voice. Some little girl does push ups in front of Sam and Koli as they bike, which is hilarious. Some dude holds up a sign reading "$10,000" in front of Daris for motivation. Melissa starts shrieking (no, there is no other way to describe it other than shrieking) at Lance to step it up. Lance overtakes Koli. DH and I get all tense hoping Koli catches Lance.

The family/friend support for all these people is fantastic.

We then start to finish. After Sam's done, he starts chanting "Grey Team!" enthusiastically at Koli, who catches and passes Lance to come in second! Awesomely, Sunshine finishes fourth, causing O'Neal to weep with happiness. Ashley does the same when she finishes, in addition to screaming in delighted triumph. Michael simply doesn't have the same level of fitness as the rest of them, which is completely understandable, and finishes last. The fact that someone almost 400lbs could do that is awesome. Go, Michael.

Original finish times:

  1. 1:17 Sam
  2. 1:18 Koli
  3. 1:19 Lance
  4. 1:23 Sunshine
  5. 1:25 Daris
  6. 1:36 Drea
  7. 1:37 Stephanie
  8. 1:40 Ashley
  9. 1:41 Michael

After everyone's done, we get a live video update from Ali revealing the results of the cupcake temptation. Stephanie, Sam, Drea, Sunshine and Daris all got some serious cupcake handicaps, taking them out of the running. Lance, Ashley and Michael were cupcake-free, which means it's all down to Koli. Amazingly, no one ate for Koli, and DH and I fist-pump like crazy in triumph. I'm SO happy. Sam goes insane. I bet Lance is feeling really stupid now, having gone after Sam almost exclusively.

Revised finish times:

  1. 1:18, 0 cupcakes, Koli
  2. 1:19, 0 cupcakes, Lance
  3. 1:40, 0 cupcakes, Ashley
  4. 1:41, 0 cupcakes, Michael
  5. 1:45, 4 cupcakes, Daris
  6. 1:53, 6 cupcakes, Sunshine
  7. 2:01, 5 cupcakes, Drea
  8. 2:07, 10 cupcakes, Sam
  9. 2:12, 7 cupcakes, Stephanie

Okay, I kinda really like Big Mark from the Public Mobile commercial.

Back to the ranch. Everyone's delighted to see Bob and Jillian again, and they break out how the week went. Daris confessses that there were a few days where he didn't get the work in that he wanted. O'Neal, being an institutionalized former military guy, prefers the routine of the ranch. Also, he is wearing a very cute little hat and looking very jazzy and fly. Michael says his mind was on other things, his grandma never woke up, and every day was emotionally up and down. Lots of stress. So we're not sure how great a week he's going to have, weight-wise. But Bob is happy to see that Michael is dealing with his problems proactively, which is definitely a step up. Bob and Jillian are thrilled to hear the results of the challenge. It appears that Sam and Koli have decided to exchange facial hair looks, as Sam has quite the shadow going on in interviews. He is thinking of using Koli's challenge winnings to to taunt the cupcake-eaters by buying them lots of cupcakes. :)

Bonus video: Bob's keen yoga senses have detected some kind of attitude shift which he wants to discuss. Mike was really looking forward to the break of not being at the ranch but instead found himself overloaded at home. He was watching his diet, he was working out, and he was just so overloaded with home stuff too that he was having trouble sleeping, etc. etc. etc. And sorry, but I have to say, my sympathy here is low. From what I understand, Michael is a part-time DJ. He doesn't have steady employment, he doesn't have a romantic relationship to maintain, and he doesn't have kids. Yes, having a dying relative is VERY hard and draining, but it's not like he's juggling a whole lot of responsibilities as he deals with that! Especially when you think of Rudy from last season who had to jump right back into a SEVENTY HOUR WORK WEEK when he got home, complete with a wife, two small kids (i.e. sleep interruption), and (I seem to remember) a nasty commute. Does your home life include all that, Michael? No? Then come back later to complain when it does. We do find out, however, that his grandmother died, which is very sad and sucky - and on Maria's birthday, too, which is extra-hard. I sincerely wish his family all the best. The good thing is that Michael has realised that he now has CONTROL over himself in these bad situations, and isn't turning to food as a crutch. But he gets really disheartened to think of how much weight he still has to lose. Bob snaps him back to reality by pointing out what a huge accomplishment he's already achieved, and that Michael has to take care of Michael. They hug it out.

Bonus video: Koli and Sam return from the ranch and plug their Tempurpedic beds before talking about how things went at home. Koli feels that being at home was stressful but energizing, and that the challenge was a turning point. He's really proud to have won. (And I'm sure the money don't hurt, neither.) Now he wants to win, because he knows he can. He thinks he's starting to see the thing in him that people have always told him they see. Sam is going totally vorklempt listening to this and says Koli's growth is a beautiful thing to see. Koli is done with doubt and fear of failure. Also, it looks like his easy career as a bouncer is over. They vow to conquer as they head off to...

Last-chance workout!

Sunshine says it feels really good to be back in the gym. Ashley pukes. Right on camera, too, nothing hidden, with full sound. (Thanks for that.) Koli is on a new high with his newfound confidence, and boxes like a maniac. Ashley pukes again. "Who pukes two times in Week 10?" she asks, suspicious that Jillian gets internal joy when her monkeys puke. (This sequence is unfortunately immediately followed by Bob yelling, "Leave it all on the floor!") Bob takes O'Neal to a place that he didn't know he had by looking deeply into his eyes. Hm. That sounds pretty romantic taken out ofcontext, actually.

Lance tells us that there were times he felt so guilty about not spending time with his family at home that he let the workouts slide somewhat. So Bob has some one-on-one time with him to get Lance's head back into the game. The problem is that Lance has guilt about Melissa being a single mom at home. Lance honey, suck it up. Melissa's tough, and it's just temporary. Bob gives Lance the perspective that being at the ranch is HELPING his family. Lance agrees, and realises that the guilty feelings will just take him right back to being fat. He vows to finish what he started.

At last, it's time for the weigh-in. Stephanie reflects that this is the report card to their week at home...and she wants an A. DH: "Ali and Jillian have got a sweater contest going here." We see some excellent results this week - almost everybody did better than their average weekly loss percentages, which is terrific. Perhaps it has to do with all the snow shovelling a lot of them had to do in order to make their way out to the gym. The high point of the evening, though, is when Sam gets up there. DAY-um, he looks good shirtless now! Seriously, there is a huge contrast between last week and this. He knocks it out of the park with a whopping 14lb loss. Koli is literally giggling at this result. Love it.

Milestones achieved:

  • O'Neal drops under 300lbs
  • Lance and Sam drop under 275lbs
  • Stephanie drops under 200lbs
  • Daris and Sam hit the 100lb mark of total loss
  • Lance moves from clinically obese to obese
  • Ashley and Michael hit the 25% mark of total loss

With Black's spectacular results, it's Blue voting someone off this week, so they head back to the house to discuss. Michael gets depressed about how far away he is from his goal and begs his team to keep him here to help save his life. I agree with Michael. Personally, I think they should vote off Daris. He's the biggest loser in the house, has lots more weight to lose, and is therefore the biggest threat. Also, it's unlikely they'll get another opportunity to get rid of him. However, clearly there are some team dynamics issues going on behind the scenes that we don't know about, because a whole bunch of people vote for Lance, who is both shaking and jiggling his leg as Daris recites his pre-written vote-revelation speech. Sure enough, it's Lance going home.

Lance is amazed at the kind of success he's seen on the ranch. Indeed, the comparison to Lance Day One is massive. In his after-ranch profile, we see he's down to 265lbs. Unfortunately, that's actually kind of bad, since that's just nine pounds since leaving the ranch and it's probably been a while since that point. (There is still snow on the ground around his home, but he's walking around out there in a t-shirt, so I'm guessing it's been a while since the Christmas trip home...but then, I'm not familiar with Texas weather patterns, so I could be way off.) But he takes his son out tracking, which is pretty cool. Melissa tells us tearfully that he's amazing. She loves that Lance now believes he can change, which was what their family needed. So, good times, I guess.

Oh, and by the way, last week's confusing product placement that I thought maybe wasn't a product placement? Yes, it turns out that the Biggest Loser is indeed shilling Mexican avocados, there are ads for them all over the show's website. Don't know what happened to the gung-ho "buy American" spirit, but there you go.


# This wk % Overall % This wk lbs Overall lbs BMI
1 Sam (5.04) Daris (29.48) Sam (14) Michael (137) Stephanie (30.3)
2 Stephanie (4.33) Sam (29.03) Ashley, Koli (10) Koli (116) Sam (32.1)
3 Sunshine (3.70) Koli (28.78) Sam (108) Sunshine (33.6)
4 Ashley (3.50) Ashley (26.20) Stephanie (9) Daris (102) Lance (34.2)
5 Koli (3.37) Michael (26.05) Lance, Michael, Sunshine (8) Ashley (98) Daris (35.0)
6 Lance (2.84) Lance (24.93) O'Neal (94) Andrea (36.3)
7 Andrea (2.52) Stephanie (24.62) Lance (91) Koli (37.9)
8 O'Neal (2.32) Sunshine (24.36) O'Neal (7) Sunshine (67) O'Neal (41.1)
9 Michael (2.02) O'Neal (24.16) Andrea (6) Andrea (66) Ashley (45.9)
10 Daris (1.61) Andrea (22.15) Daris (4) Stephanie (65) Michael (48.6)

Next week (SPOILERS)

Look for:

  • Ashley could drop under 275lbs
  • Ashley and O'Neal could hit the 100lb mark of total loss
  • Koli could hit the 125lb mark of total loss
  • Daris could move from clinically obese to obese
  • Stephanie could move from obese to overweight
  • Sunshine and Stephanie could hit the 25% mark of total loss
  • Daris, Sam, O'Neal and Koli could hit the 30% mark of total loss

Weigh-in predictions:

  • Andrea: 226lbs
  • Ashley: 268lbs
  • Daris: 236lbs
  • Koli: 277lbs
  • Michael: 377lbs
  • O'Neal: 287lbs
  • Sam: 255lbs
  • Stephanie: 193lbs
  • Sunshine: 202lbs

The teams are dissolved as eliminated contestants return to vie for spots back on the ranch. One player is chosen through a vote while another wins a spot during a step-up challenge. Later, a friendship between players begins to falter.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Biggest Loser Review, 2010/03/09: It's not easy being Black

We begin with Daris being bummed that his mom is gone.

Then, a pop challenge. The teams have to go head-to-head, one-on-one, with nutrition trivia. Koli is nervous about having to use his brains. (Eep. It's a good thing he's pretty.) Stephanie predicts a Black win because boys (aka the Blue team) are just dumb sacks of muscle. (Doncha just love stereotypes.) The winners of the challenge get a limo ride to the local Four Seasons Hotel to spend the night. This prize also involves world-class meals and luxurious spa treatments. Koli does a seriously girly dance which is rather frightening. Of course, the history of the show has shown that this kind of prize is not necessarily an advantage for a team when it comes to the weigh-in, because of the potential for overindulgence and the time away from working out. Nevertheless, we get a montage of Ashley hurling all over the place (thanks for that) to emphasize how important it is for her to get to feel like a girl again. But it gets even worse - not only does the losing team get stuck on the ranch while the others are off enjoying the lap of luxury, but they have to clean the kitchen. And, wait for it...the gym, too.

First pair to face off is Daris and Ashley, with a rice fibre question. Daris wins it, and Sam smacks Ashley upside the head as she returns to her team. The second face-off is Koli vs. Drea. Koli is very intimidated because he says Drea really knows her stuff. And indeed, it's a ridiculously easy Omega-3 question that even I know the answer to...and Drea gets it WRONG! Koli takes it for the point. (Duh, chickie, everyone knows Omega-3 comes from fish, holy crap!) It's looking really bad for the Black team, but they manage to get points for the next two questions, which brings it all down to Michael and Stephanie. Stephanie interviews that Michael really knows food, so this could go badly. The question is about the calorie content of avocado. Michael buzzes in first with the correct answer, and it's Blue for luxury; Black for pissed-offedness. Blues look like dicks for gloating a bit too much, too.

There is no denying that Blue has got it good. Koli and sunshine hug with pure glee and joy as they enter the lobby. (Hm. A possible love connection there?) Everyone's excited, especially O'Neal, for whom a chandelier on the bedroom ceiling equals the pinnacle of wealth and good taste. (Um.) Michael dive-bombs his bed, which seems like a pretty stupid move to me. I mean, I know he's lost over 100lbs, but he's still massive! Hopefully the bed (and the floor beneath) survived. O'Neal is smart and goes swimming.

By contrast, Black has to toil in the cleaning of the kitchen while Daris gets a massage. He interviews about how great it all is with therapeutic mud all over his face, which is quite hilarious. He reflects on how amusing it is that it's the mostly-guy team that's getting the pampering. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, one has to wonder why the kitchen is so disgusting to begin with. Wouldn't it be easier to just keep it clean in the first place? (Says the woman who never keeps anything clean.) After the kitchen is done, it's onto the gym. Sherry works out on the ellipticals as she cleans them, which is pretty smart. Not so smart, unfortunately, is when Sam overturns his bucket full of soapy water. ("Oh, you did NOT just DO that!" exclaims one of his teammates.)

Bonus video: Jillian hears about the lack of spa reward winning and the kitchen/gym cleaning. Jillian tells them it's a blessing they lost and reminds them about when the Black team went wild with their spa getaway rewards in Season 7. Jillian advises them on directing their energies towards their long-term goals. She tells them they all look amazing and tells them to focus on the prize, blah blah blah.

At dinnertime, Michael tells us that the hotel food is healthy and delicious. Everyone looks quite nice all dressed up, especially Sunshine, who's all fancy and sparkly. Lance reflects how he was much further away from the table the last time he was at a restaurant. :) Back on the ranch, Black tries desperately to regroup. Sam encourages the ladies to stay strong and not to think of themselves as losers. However, his rhetoric is starting to be less motivating in light of all the losing they've been doing lately. Still, they head off to the gym. Jillian's there to help out and to tell us how bummed Black is. But, she says, "You didn't come here to go to the Four Seasons. You came here to get 200lbs off the back of your ass!" Jillian is so quotable.

In the middle of the workout, Blue returns, aware that they don't want to be left behind. Bob shows up and starts worrying that his team might get cocky. Then everyone sweats all over the nice, clean gym. "I'm sweatin' like Tiger Woods in divorce court," says Michael, giving us a nice timeline reference (i.e. it's at least early December).

Time to focus on Ashley. Jillian tells us that she's starting to get to the bottom of deeper issues. Ashley is overwhelmed because she still has over 120lbs to lose, and is feeling a lot of pressure to lose double-digits. She also feels that she focuses too much on Sherry. So Jillian takes Ashley over to where Sherry is for some communication of feelings. (I have no clue why Sherry is relaxing in her room while everyone else is working out, but whatever.) The show tries to build this up as a huge, meaningful confrontation, but Sherry really doesn't seem to have a problem with what Ashley's telling her, and supports her daughter completely. Ashley seems to feel relieved. But what it really means is that she's lost the excuse of "focusing on her mom too much". So we'll see if she really gets down to work or retreats to a different excuse.

Bonus video of more overblown Ashley drama: Ashley complains about losing stuff all the time. Sherry tries to perk her up but she's determined to be all bummed and swears at her mom for trying to give her a pep talk. So they go for a walk.

We move on to what looks like a classic product placement setup. It's lunchtime and Bob needs his team to have a little bit of protein, carbs, and good fat. This means whole wheat bread and Mexican avocados. Surprisingly, there is not a single mention of Jennie-O turkey. That's weird. I wonder if the setup was for Mexican avocados? Very odd.

Unfortunately, Michael gets a call that his grandmother is very ill. She is a big part of his life - she took care of him a lot growing up and was there more often than his mom. So the prospect of losing her is particularly grim, and things do not look good here. Michael goes home to be with her. DH: "Shit."

Cue the female screams, because it's Curtis Stone time! I gag as Ashley tells us he's sooo hot. As the players arrive, we notice that Lance, in anticipation of a cooking challenge, has put an elastic around his beard to get the facial hair out of the way. I appreciate his commitment to hygeine, but it really looks moronic. And speaking of a cooking challenge, Koli is bummed because Michael, who's gone, was Blue's best cook, so there's a loss of Blue advantage there. The challenge is to prepare an appetizer, entree, and dessert using only 12 ingredients, which the teams have to take turns choosing from a big table. At the end of the challenge, Curtis is going to judge the food based on nutrition and taste. Oh, and did we mention that the teams only get thirty minutes to do all this? THIRTY FREAKIN' MINUTES?!? That's just crazy. However, it's worth giving this challenge your all, because the winning team gets a five-pound advantage at the weigh-in. FIVE. POUNDS. Ashley's jaw hits the floor.

Black gets first choice, and Sherry goes for shrimp, thus ruining Blue's plans for doing something with shrimp. Next, Sunshine chooses tomatoes, thus ruining Black's plans for a shrimp and tomato appetizer. Oh, well. The ingredient selection continues apace, with Lance making the dumbest choice of all, given the 30-minute time limit: pomegranate.

We find that Black is doing shrimp for the appetizer, salmon and wild rice for the entree, and a pear/goat cheese/strawberry something for the dessert. (That dessert sounds AWESOME.) Black is doing a salad for their appetizer, a pork tenderloin entree, and raspberries with chocolate drizzle for dessert.

Curtis doesn't seem to be helping very much, just bumming people out. For instance, he comes over while Daris is making the pork tenderloin (which Daris maintains a lot throughout this process that he's cooked a lot of successfully in the past) and starts hinting that it's being overcooked. This makes Koli really nervous. Curtis then takes his portents-of-doom self over to the Black team and asks them leadingly if they think they'll have enough time to cook their wild rice. (Apparently it takes the longest to cook of all the rices.) So now Black is all nervous, too. And as if that weren't enough, Curtis starts getting all passive-aggressive on their asses with zingers like, "Is that creative genius, or is it just messy?" (Sam insists that it's creative genius. Good for you, Sam.)

Time's up, and who knows how it's all gone...although the fact that the pork didn't turn out the way Blue thought it would doesn't sound good.

Naturally, the appetizers get presented first. Drea gives Curtis the Black team's shrimp, and is nervous as hell. "Okay," says Curtis cautiously, since he doesn't know about the wisdom of combining shrimp and red pepper. But apparently it worked, and was very low in calories, too. For their appetizer, Black has used spinach, feta and pomegranate for their salad, which sounds unbelievably good and I'd like some now, thank you very much. Curtis backs me up by saying he loves the taste. Alas, the calorie count of the salad is quite high, so Black gets the appetizer point.

The entrees: Black presents salmon, wild rice and broccolini with an orange/marmalade sauce. Sherry admits that the wild rice was a tough choice given the time limit. Also, they made a fatal (and rather dumb) mistake: leaving the skin on the salmon. This gives the entree a total calorie count of 557. Damn. Blue's entree is a pork tenderloin with cauliflower. Koli, who spent the entire thirty minutes of preparation time worried that Daris had overcooked the pork, finds his worst nightmares coming true as Curtis takes forever to chew that meat down. Curtis admits the pork was tough, but likes the cauliflower choice and of course the Blue team's entree wins on calorie count. So we're now tied.

It all comes down to dessert. Ali makes Sunshine admit that the Blue team has shamelessly copied Curtis's raspberries-and-drizzled-chocolate tip from last season. Black has gone with something more original, which Curtis calls an "attempt". That doesn't sound good. Fortunately, though, it's tasty, and the calorie count is very low. Black wins the dessert point, which elicits even more squeals. They're all thrilled to have won SOMETHING, and the fact that it's a 5lb advantage makes it even sweeter. The Black team is so excited that the ladies don't even notice Curtis leaving as they high-five each other. Now THAT is excitement.

Jillian is really happy and relieved about the 5lb advantage. "All contributions are happily accepted these days," she tells us. But she tells her team not to take it for granted and ships them off to the gym for the last-chance workout. The Blue team takes a little longer to get to their last-chance workout, since they have to finish off their delicious and nutritious Subway sandwiches. Also, they need to give Bob a whole lot of bad news, not just about the 5lb disadvantage, but also about Michael being at home. Bob cannot believe how badly his team is disadvantaged and starts venting at Curtis about it, of all people.

And as if we hadn't JUST had a product placement, it's time for another one. Jillian starts extolling the virtues of drinking milk. It gives us calcium for strong bones, protein as a building block, and potassium (to help blood presssure) and vitamin D. Jillian breaks out the glasses and they all give themselves white moustaches. Yes, it does a body good. (I may vomit.)

Bob's voice sounds very desperate as we head into the last-chance workout. We also get a closeup shot of sweat on the floor. Thanks for that. Bob points out that Michael will be coming into the weigh-in bloated from air travel, so Blue has a lot of work to do. To combat this, Jillian vows mucho cardio. And beatings. Sam psyches himself up into "beast mode" again and it looks like he might have broken the punching bag chain. Sherry reflects on the fact that she and Ashley are the only intact mother-child combo left on the ranch. She's happy about this accomplishment, but wants to stay as long as possible. Lance and Koli have to hold weights while cycling. Bob smiles smugly as Koli roars out "last-chance workout!"

And speaking of Koli, he has an awesome week of accomplishments coming if he gets a good number. He talks about dropping under 300lbs and hitting 100lbs of total weight loss, but what he doesn't mention is that he also stands a good chance of hitting the 25% mark of total weight loss this week AND moving from morbidly obese to clinically obese. So he's got a lot to work for. Accordingly, Bob whips his team up into a serious frenzy, making each of them crawl on the floor underneath their teammates who are doing planks. Daris's elbows are raw at the end of it, and I'm not kidding. (That's just not right.) I also suddenly realise that Daris would not look out of place on the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies team.

Bonus video: Bob talks to Daris about when he saw the clip of this season at last season's finale, with Daris saying how he's never had a girlfriend. Now, of course at that point, they'd already started filming this season, so Bob had already been working with Daris, and was apparently SHOCKED at this revelation of zero love-life. He doesn't get it, since he thinks Daris is awesome and has tons to offer. But apparently what would happen continually is that Daris would start to like a girl, introduce her to his friends, and then she'd fall for one of his friends. (Ouch. that sucks.) So he just stopped trying. Bob thinks this is a damn shame and wants to help Daris "evolve" in the safe environment of the ranch. Daris admits that, since a relationship generally means intimacy, he's going to have to been seen naked, which has previously scared the crap out of him. But now he's starting to like the way he looks. Bob reflects that this confidence is translating into more confident behaviour. So it's all good. Bob also sees leadership qualities in Daris, so he's going to continue to push Daris into that role on the team.

Night: Michael returns. Things are bad and he is sad. His grandma's on a ventilator. He interviews that one of the last messages she sent to him was "kick some ass", which makes him laugh. But the show seems to be making it clear that she's not long for this world. Blue tells Michael that they've been killing themselves so that they can do well in the weigh-in, and Michael tells them that he's been working out twice a day at home. He's actually pretty proud because he managed to balance family and self while at home, and Blue's pretty stoked about that, too. Michael thanks them for the support. As we wrap this scene up, I notice that they didn't tell him about the 5lb disadvantage. Maybe they're waiting until later to break his spirit.

Weigh in! Blue is not confident. However, Black's numbers are quite low, especially Stephanie, who has a second straight week of sucky numbers, to her intense dismay.

The highlight of the evening is, of course, Koli. He's REALLY nervous going up to the scale, and, once there, is overcome at the prospect of hitting such big goals. As the numbers flash on the scale, Sam mouths a silent "come on" and looks just as tense as Koli. But they needn't have worried - Koli loses nine pounds and hits everything. He's down to 297lbs, he's lost 106lbs total, his BMI is 39.2, and his total overall loss is 26.30%. Sam starts thumping his chest Tonganishly as he goes up to the scale to hug his cousin. Koli's crying. It's a GREAT moment. "I'm overjoyed," Koli tells everyone with great understatement. Sam tells Koli he's becoming the man that everyone else has always seen. He tells Koli he loves him and is proud of him, team colours be damned.

Oh, that's good TV.

Milestones reached:

  • Michael drops below 400lbs
  • Koli drops below 300lbs
  • Daris drops below 250lbs
  • Sunshine drops below 225lbs
  • Koli hits the 100lb mark of total loss
  • Michael hits the 125lb mark of total loss
  • Michael moves from super-obese to morbidly obese
  • Koli moves from morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Sunshine moves from clinically obese to obese
  • Andrea and Sunshine hit the 20% mark of total loss
  • Koli, Sherry and Sam hit the 25% mark of total loss

Sad times for Black, though, who are heading to the elimination room for the second straight week as we go to commercial.

Sara Rue, you don't need to be this annoying.

After tearful discussion, it ends up coming down to Drea and Sherry, with Stephanie as the deciding vote who sends Sherry home. For her part, Sherry reflects that the pre-Biggest Loser her didn't take care of herself at all. It was all part of the abyss she fell into after her husband died. She realises that her husband fought so hard for life, but she wasn't. At the ranch, she's found life and energy inside her. She knows her husband would be proud of her. She promises to be tiny at the finale, but strong enough to carry a $100,000 cheque. :) After two months, we find that there's a boat race going on at her home. This was one of the things sherry wanted to get back into doing, so out she comes to take part in the boat race, looking damn good. Her giant tummy is pretty much gone! And she's down to 138lbs! (That's quite close to a healthy BMI.) She can fit into the boat, and off she goes. Life is good.

(DH reflects that he got married for the first time right around the same time as Sherry. Ouch.)


# This wk % Overall % This wk lbs Overall lbs BMI
1 Sunshine (4.00%) Daris (28.32) Michael (11) Michael (129) Sherry (30.8)
2 Daris (3.88) Koli (26.30) Daris (10) Koli (106) Stephanie (31.6)
3 Koli (2.94) Sam (25.27) Koli, O'Neal, Sunshine (9) Daris (98) Sam (33.8)
4 O'Neal (2.89) Sherry (25.23) Sam (94) Sunshine (34.9)
5 Sam (2.80) Michael (24.52) Ashley (88) Lance (35.2)
6 Lance (2.76) Ashley (23.53) Lance, Sam (8) O'Neal (87) Daris (35.6)
7 Michael (2.70) Lance (22.74) Lance (83) Andrea (37.3)
8 Ashley (2.39) O'Neal (22.37) Ashley (7) Andrea (60) Koli (39.2)
9 Andrea (2.06) Sunshine (21.45) Andrea (5) Sunshine (59) O'Neal (42.1)
10 Sherry (1.81) Stephanie (21.21) Sherry (3) Stephanie (56) Ashley (47.6)
11 Stephanie (0.95) Andrea (20.13) Stephanie (2) Sherry (55) Michael (49.6)

Coming up: (potential spoilers)

Next week, look for:

  • O'Neal could drop below 300lbs
  • Lance and Sam could drop below 275lbs
  • Daris and Sam could hit the 100lb mark of total loss
  • Daris and Lance could move from clinically obese to obese
  • Ashley and Michael could hit the 25% mark of total loss
  • Daris could hit the 30% mark of total loss

Video preview: Contestants go home for the holidays! (We're not told it's the holidays, of course, but it is.)

TV Guide description: The contestants visit home and must continue dieting and exercising while away from th eranch. Soon after arriving, the players receive stationary bikes and learn they'll have to ride the distance of a full marathon. They can also add time to an opponent's ride by eating up to 48 mini-cupcakes.

Week after next's TV Guide description: The teams are dissolved as eliminated contestants return to vie for spots back on the ranch. One player is chosen through a vote while another wins a spot during a step-up challenge. Later, a friendship between players begins to falter.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Biggest Loser Review, 2010/03/09: Blue vs. Black redux

So in this week's show, we all get to watch Sam and Stephanie interact with the newfound knowledge that they're seeing each other. Could be fun. :)

But first, we get a recap. The odd thing about this recap is that it's NOT in black-and-white! That's a first. We're seeing it because we need an explanation of why O'Neal is about to join the Blue team. Flash forward to just after the weigh-in, and we have him waiting in the kitchen for his new team, absolutely terrified that Sunshine will not be walking back in through the door. For their part, the Blue team has decided to be kinda cruel and psyche O'Neal out by having Sunshine be the last person through the door. O'Neal is shitting bricks until he sees his daughter, at which point he kind of loses it a little bit with relief. Sunshine's pretty surprised that he was taking it so hard, since she thought the vote last week was clearly a choice between Lance and Miggy, and she was in no way under consideration for the boot. Her expression in interviews clearly tells us that she thinks her dad needs to lighten up a bit. :) At any rate, Michael welcomes O'Neal to the team and tosses him a blue shirt to put on. O'Neal says it feels fabulous, and vows to step up and be part of the team. He then effortlessly usurps Michael's leadership role and starts motivating them to start acting like a team. He's great - I'm reminded of Coach Mo's teambuilding efforts from last season. The new Blue team strategy is to pick up their game and start picking the Black team off one by one.

The next day, Ali is waiting for them at an airpark ranch. I have no idea what exactly an airpark ranch is, but they are at one. I cannot help but notice that Lance is in need of a haircut. Like, NOW. Ali tells the players that when they go home, they need to learn how to handle a busy schedule whilst simultaneously continuing their weight loss journey. In preparation for this, the theme for this show is Work Week. The contestants will have jobs, to which they will have to commute by bus every day, and the gym will only be open from 6am to 7:30pm. (So much for "24 hour" fitness, I guess.) Nobody's particularly enthusiastic about this news - Stephanie tells us that her high-pressure job is why she got fat in the first place, and she's nervous going back into that experience. Michael reinforces his label as The Lazy Guy On The Ranch by telling us that he's not too excited, either. But it's not all bad, because the players will be doing good - they'll be working alongside the volunteers from Feeding America, helping people who fight hunger every day. O'Neal likes this, because he used to struggle to make ends meet, too, and he's a giving-back-to-the-community kind of guy.

The busy week ahead means that they need to do the challenge now to get it over with. Each team has to pull a semi truck, each weighing 33,000lbs. Daris, for some godforsaken reason, has always wanted to pull a semi, so he's stoked. (I'm not exactly sure what it says about this guy that this sort of thing is his lifelong "wow, I've always wanted to...". I mean, climbing Mount Everest or running a marathon I can understand, but pulling a SEMI? Obscure. And kinda redneck, no?) Sam, the only guy on an otherwise all-woman team, is wondering how Black is going to manage this. No shit. And I say that, not because I think mostly-women teams are by definition "weak", but because of the weight differential between the two teams. The five people pulling the semi for the Black team (Andrea, Ashley, Cheryl, Sam and Stephanie) total 1,241 pounds. The five people pulling for the Blue team (Daris, Koli, Lance, Michael and Sunshine) total 1,532 pounds. The Blue team is almost TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT HEAVIER than Black! Monstrously unfair.

But it's not just a truck race, oh, no. There are three stops along the way, and at each stop are a bunch of crates that have part of a large picture on one side - they're puzzle pieces. At each stop, the non-pulling member of the team (O'Neal for Blue, Sherry for black) has to grab all the crates at that stop and dump them in the back of the semi. Once the semi goes through all three stops and then hits the finish line, the teams have to unload all those crates and put the puzzle together. First team to complete the puzzle correctly wins free groceries for a year. Sam is apparently broke, so for him, this'd be a damn good prize. Lance predicts that Blue won't have any trouble beating Black, while Sam tries desperately to whip his team up. Blue is first off the line, while Black has nothing for a really long time. (I've seen these kinds of challenges before on the Australian Biggest Loser, and the deal is that you just have to pull and pull forever, and eventually the thing will start to move.)

The disadvantage Blue does have, though, is O'Neal and his cartilege-deficient knee. Because Blue has to rely on O'Neal to keep up with the truck (which they're pulling at a really good clip) and then load all the crates into the truck, they can only ever be as fast as O'Neal...who really isn't that fast. This is Black's saving grace, because Sherry is a quick little crate-loader, so they always end up catching up to Blue in time by the end of each stop.

Finally, though, O'Neal manages to push past his struggles when he hears Sunshine's voice encouraging him on. His spark is lit aflame, and we cue the Ron-finishing-the-marathon-in-season-7 music for maximum emotional impact. Sunshine in turn starts screaming like a banshee to encourage her team. It's pretty excellent, actually.

Blue gets their truck to the finish line first, so they've got a bit of an edge with the puzzle assembly leg of the challenge. Daris notices that there's a colour transition in the image, which seems to help Blue, but Black seems to be doing very well with the puzzle, too, and catches up. Finally, however (after a bit of a mixup where Koli realises they have to exchange a few pieces), Blue wins and goes nuts with glee. Michael lets out an extremely scary scream in an interview. Like, seriously. Dude. Valium. Koli is really hopped up on the glory of teamwork. Sam, however, reflects that the weigh-in is the main event.

Bob arrives to see his new team, and is happy O'Neal is with them. Then he and Jillian get the lowdown on Work Week, and realise that the time to get the gym would be, y'know, now. Except that Bob needs to talk to Sunshine and O'Neal first. You see, they haven't been at the ranch as long as everyone else, so they're seriously behind on their product placement duties. Bob fixes that ASAP by making them wax enthusiastic about some protein bars. Woohoo.

Because there's limited time to be in the gym, the workout with the trainers has to be short. Drea reflects that she hates short workouts, because the trainers stuff EVERYTHING into them and it's brutal. Jillian once again has righteously good hair in her interviews about the workout...and this week, she's even got some good cleavage to go with the hair! My goodness! Sam breaks out the manly-man talk and tells us he's the leader of the Black team, so he has to rally the troops. Uh, dude? You let the ladies talk you into painting your fingernails black last week. You may think you're the leader...but I don't think you're the leader. ;) Nevertheless, he gives his team a rousing pep talk filled with football metaphors. (Which generally work so well for women. Yes.)

Next morning, alarm clocks go off bright and squirrelly at 5:30am. Ouch. To compound the misery, the sun is not up completely, so it's kind of dark in the gym. Stephanie reflects that this sucks, but she's also realising that a morning workout gives her a good jumpstart to her day. Koli tells that usually, it's pretty luxurious on the ranch, with nothing to do but workout and prepare nutritious food (and sneak out to hold hands and kiss, I guess, if you're Sam or Stephanie), so this Work Week thing is a rude awakening.

Michael tells us more about the food bank they're working at and how great it is. And for the love of heaven, the show is actually making them CLOCK IN. (Sad. Like they'd be able to secretly slack off on the job with cameras following them everywhere.) Some of the players are given the task of calling people to thank them for their donations. Other contestants haul food around, which Koli likes because that's sort of like working out. Sherry and Cheryl do inventory, and we find out that they're really good friends who enjoy working together. They giggle about the word 'condoments' (I love it) and Sherry announces that she wants to drive a forklift. Watching this, Daris comments: "Watching Sherry and my mom together, it's like...watching the Cheryl And Sherry Show". Um... (DH summed it up: "Profund.") Michael, meanwhile, is completely at sea doing inventory and wants to know if it really matters what aisle they're in. (The answer would be yes, dude. Geez.) He also complains about the monotony of the job, and confessses, "I don't consider myself the most smartest person, but..." (I weep for the future.) There is also a "Caution/Look out for forklifts" sign, which I love.

On the players' lunchbreak, Steve The Inventory Clerk shows up to say hi and tell them they're inspirational. This is relevant because Steve is enormous. Michael sees his own story in Steve, who asks for tips on weight loss. Sherry tells him to just walk around the block...and then when he's used to that, do it twice. Michael tells Steve to go to the park instead of the movies. We find out that Steve's dad died at age 33 because of his weight, and this was very hard for the then-13-year-old Steve. The guy gets teary-eyed as he reflects that he doesn't want his kids to go through the same thing as he did. O'Neal swears to Steve in the name of all that is holy that his weight loss dreams are achievable, and that he knows Steve can do it. Drea says Steve reminds her of her dad. Steve does indeed seem really nice, I hope we see him again - maybe at the finale, or, as DH suggests, next season.

All in all, a pretty successful day. Ashley in particular has a great time. She gets all bright-eyed telling us how much she loved working there - she is so damn cute when she's enthusiastic and happy like that! Koli loves the feeling of helping less fortunate people. Sam makes a good comparison between the obese ("living to eat") and the needy ("eating to live"), and says his perspective on food is changing.

But it was a very tiring day. Everyone's wiped on the bus home, and of course they need to hit the gym right after they arrive back at the ranch. Sunshine says they're just going to have to suck it up. Cheryl reflects that if she was at home in this situation, she would just gone straight to the couch, but going to the gym instead actually feels really good. We get a countdown clock as to how long they have until the gym closes. DH reflects that this gym restriction thing shouldn't be such a horrific deal, since they can always run the "Presidential Mile" or swim in the pool.

Bonus video Drea and Ashley get creative with workouts because they have injuries - they bring punching bags outside and box with them. Ashley breaks hers and keeps going. They then do kicks and planks, which Ashley has never really been able to do before, so that's good.

Day two! Coffee is much more prevalent this morning. Also, it's cold and raining, which does not help the mood. The contestants are at a distribution site today, bagging veggies and fruits. Koli roars mannishly as he bench-presses a squash. (O...kay...) O'Neal, faced with people who are so desperate for food that they'll stand in the cold rain waiting for it, starts thinking about his food choices.

We then get a montage of the whole schedule (bus home, workout, bed, alarm clock, workout, bus to work, clock in, haul, bag, etc.) but are stopped short at lunch time because Sam has forgotten his lunch back at the ranch. He made it, he set it out all nice on the counter, but sadly failed to bring it onto the bus with him. Poor guy. I can relate, I forget crap at home all the time. Surprisingly, no one is that sympathetic to his plight, not even his girlfriend Stephanie, who suggests a vending machine. Alas, it turns out that the vending machine is filled with crap. Stephanie then says that she saw a Subway on the corner on their way in. Perfect! She and Sam grab the opportunity for some alone time (not including the television cameras) and walk over there together. It's such a perfect product placement setup that I am convinced the show's producers actually stole Sam's lunch so they could do that.

With that, the montage continues. Bus home, workout, night, alarm clock, workout, bus, clock in, haul and bag, bus home, workout, lights out, etc. Everyone is pretty damn sick of this routine, I'd imagine...and they know it's going to be over after just one week - the rest of us have to do it every day, endlessly!

We pause for a little peek at Sherry and Cheryl having a girl-to-girl chat in their bedroom slippers one evening. Cheryl is reflecting that maybe her time on the ranch is up. (Given the alliances that are on her team, I'm thinking she may be right.) It turns out that this is the beginning of a big ol' Older Women Realise Their Potential And Start To Put Themselves First scene, because Sherry tells Cheryl that it's entirely possible Cheryl could be the biggest loser this week and get immunity. We see old shots of Cheryl with the fat and the smoking and the mowing down on cupcakes. Cheryl tells us she's doing things now that she never dreamed of. We end with a hug.

Bonus video: Cheryl appears to have pulled a muscle in her chest carrying crates of oranges at work. The chest pain scared the crap out of her because her dad died at age 40 of a heart attack. She also tells Daris she has anxiety about the weigh-in because she believes she'll be the one to go home. Daris tells her not to worry - she's been doing great and he believes she'll keep doing great no matter where she is. She tells Daris that she loves him and she's very proud of him. He gives a big happy grin and returns the sentiment. More hugging it out.

Bonus video: Bob checks in with his team. He likes Work Week because it's so helpful to teach players how to manage their time. Bob tells us that a combination of apathy and poor time management skills is what does people in. He extols the virtue of the morning workout and tells us that he would never end up working out if he didn't put it in right at the start of the day.

So. It's been a very exhausting week, obviously, but it ain't over yet. The trainers are back for the last chance workout, even though it'll be short since the gym still closes at 7:30pm today. Jillian puts the seal of approval on Sam's emergency Subway meal choice before they all head to the gym. Bob tells us that usually he sees the last chance workout as the "icing on the cake", but this week it's really more like the whole cake plus the icing. Dude, you think making a metaphor using CAKE is a good idea on a weight loss show?!? At any rate, Bob vows that the last chance workout will be so tough that it'll straighten Daris's hair right out. (That would be one helluva workout indeed.) As we focus on Daris a little bit, I'm starting to see how cute he's going to be once the weight is all off. O'Neal is absolutely gleeful because he does a whole hour on the treadmill for the first time in his life. In his own words, he tells Bob that he's "happy as s**t!" (Love it.) Sunshine takes charge of part of her team on the treadmill, which impresses Bob and O'Neal no end. Michael, unfortunately, is still doing the whining and excuses thing. But Sam looks like a machine. He tells us that he's been getting himself in the right frame of mind for workouts by imagining himself as a lion bringing home the kill for the family. He spars with Jillian, making DH think of Mohammad Ali. I just think Jillian must have loved that session.

Another story to think about this week is that any weight Lance loses this week will push him under 300lbs. This has apparently been a massive barrier for him for a long time. He's been seeing that 300lb mark as an "electric fence" which makes him back off and gain weight again. But this week, he is "fixin' to push through".

We also get a bit more love-fest going on with O'Neal and Sunshine. I think this might be to make up for their lack of airtime in the first three shows. As an added bonus, we get to see some pictures of O'Neal when he was young thin, and, I'll just come out and say it, damn hot. He says that he was always very strict with his sons on their nutrition, but not with Sunshine, so he and his daughter kind of got fat together. O'Neal came on the show as atonement for this. Also, he's nervous about not having immunity for the first time ever. He's particularly terrified that Sunshine could go home, and he'd do anything for her.

So, the moment of truth: weigh-in. (WHAT is Ali wearing.) Can Black pull off another upset? Their motto, apparently, is "Little Ax, Big Tree." Sherry wants to chop down another big Blue tree this week. But it could be tough - Lance says that Blue is now working as a team and things are going to go great. He is hilariously cute when Ali brings up the prospect of busting through that 300lbs, and gives an awesome little giggle.

Blue does very well, but they do have some low percentages from Michael and O'Neal to bring down their average. It looks like Black will beat them...until Sam and Stephanie get on the scale and lose just 7lbs combined. Clearly, there is not enough sex going on between them - good cardio, y'know? Daris's fist-pump reaction to Stephanie's number was kind of gloating, but very funny. Sadly, he should have stopped while he was ahead, because he then went on with something sort of nasty: "I feel bad for Stephanie,, I really don't." What killed me, though, was Jillian. I recall that in the past, she has said that the whole "you didn't lose this week because you're gaining muscle" thing is crap. And yet! She actually hauled it out this week as an excuse to comfort Sam. The hell?

It's not all bad news, though:

  • Ashley and Lance dropped below 300lbs
  • Andrea dropped below 250lbs
  • Andrea, Sherry and Sunshine hit the 50lb mark of total loss
  • Ashley, Lance and O'Neal hit the 75lb mark of total loss
  • Ashley moved from super-obese to morbidly obese
  • Sam moved from clinically obese to obese
  • Ashley, Lance, O'Neal and Stephanie hit the 20% mark of total loss
  • Daris hit the 25% mark of total loss

So Black has to go into elimination. Before they leave the gym, Ali offers Daris and Koli the opportunity to say goodbye to Cheryl and Sam in case either of them is eliminated. Daris offers some nice platitudes to his mom, while Koli just stands there and says, "He knows." (Meaning: Sam knows how Koli feels about Sam.) However, looking at Sam, DH and I both think Sam would have liked to have heard what Koli was thinking. Later on, though, Koli loses it in an interview and dissolves into tears talking about how Sam is like his little brother and he doesn't want Sam to leave the ranch. So I'm thinking Koli put up the "he knows" front just so he wouldn't break down in front of everybody.

Sherry is the biggest loser this week on her team, so she's immune. This leaves Andrea, Ashley, Cheryl, Sam and Stephanie up for elimination. Drea pulls out the how-close-are-you-to-your-goal-weight card, which of course screws Sam, since he's very close to his goal weight. However, I think kicking off Sam would be an insane move at this stage of the game, since they need his strength around for the challenges; not to mention that he could very well have a very good weight loss number next week. Sherry interviews that she's really upset that she has to vote one of her team off.

In the end, though, Cheryl and Sherry never end up consolidating their votes to try and keep Cheryl around; the alliance of young people wins out; and Cheryl goes home. She does so knowing that she can do anything she sets her mind to. She's really proud of having made it to the eighth week, and has learned a lot about herself. She's also really proud of how much Daris has been learning and growing. So things seem pretty great. Cheryl vows to have a big voice and a small body the next time we see her. :) At home, Cheryl has dropped to 164lbs! She culled her coset once she arrived home, donating all the too-big clothes to charity, which seems to have been pretty cathartic. And now she likes to speak out with her big voice! (DH: "She's gonna need an operation on her vocal chords.") Her daughter Nickie is really proud of her. All is well.


# This wk % Overall % This wk lbs Overall lbs BMI
1 Daris (3.37) Daris (25.43) Koli, Lance (10) Michael (118) Cheryl (31.2)
2 Lance (3.33) Koli (24.07) Koli (97) Sherry (31.4)
3 Koli (3.16) Sherry (23.85) Daris, Michael (9) Daris (88) Stephanie (31.9)
4 Sunshine (3.02) Sam (23.12) Sam (86) Sam (34.8)
5 Sherry (2.92) Michael (22.43) Ashley (8) Ashley (81) Lance (36.2)
6 Andrea (2.80) Ashley (21.66) Andrea, Sunshine (7) O'Neal (78) Sunshine (36.3)
7 Cheryl (2.67) Lance (20.55) Lance (75) Daris (37.0)
8 Ashley (2.66) Stephanie (20.45) Cheryl, O'Neal, Sherry (5) Andrea (55) Andrea (38.1)
9 Michael (2.16) O'Neal (20.05) Stephanie (54) Koli (40.4)
10 O'Neal (1.58) Cheryl (19.82) Sherry (52) O'Neal (43.4)
11 Stephanie (1.41) Andrea (18.46) Sam (4) Sunshine (50) Ashley (48.8)
12 Sam (1.38) Sunshine (18.18) Stephanie (3) Cheryl (45) Michael (51.0)

Next week (potential spoilers)

  • Michael could drop below 400lbs
  • Koli could drop below 300lbs
  • Daris could drop below 250lbs
  • Sunshine could drop below 225lbs
  • Koli could hit the 100lb mark of total loss
  • Michael could hit the 125lb mark of total loss
  • Michael could move from being super-obese to morbidly obese
  • Koli could move from being morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Andrea and Sunshine could hit the 20% mark of total loss
  • Koli, Sherry and Sam could hit the 25% mark of total loss

TV Guide: The players compete in a 30-minute cook-off, which requires them to prepare an appetizer, entree and dessert using only 12 ingredients. Judges Curtis Stone and Ali pick the best-tasting entries and name the winners, who receive a weigh-in advantage. Also: The winners of a surprise food-trivia challenge receive a day of pampering.

Video preview: Black is all bummed at being on a "losing streak". Michael looks like he has to go home for some kind of bad reason: "This is the one thing that I did not wanna go through while I was here." Perhaps a family death? :( We also see him crying at the weigh-in, so I don't think he had to be booted from the competition for health reasons or anything like that. Sam makes a tearful "This is what it's about. No Black and Blue...I'm proud of you" statement at the weigh-in, which suggests that Koli does really well at the weigh-in (unsurprising, as it would take only 3lbs for him to hit 100lbs of total loss next week).

Week after next (more spoilers)

TV Guide: The contestants visit home and must continue dieting and exercising while away from the ranch. Soon after arriving, the players receive stationary bikes and learn they'll have to ride the distance of a full marathon. They can also add time to an opponent's ride by eating up to 48 mini-cupcakes.

Note: If the contestants are visiting home, this must be the episode that was filmed over the Christmas holiday break. So, filmed around December 25 and airing March 23 - that gives us about a 3-month time lag. Good to know. We also know from Twitter and Facebook pages that contestants who visited home for the holidays and then went back to the ranch included Sam, O'Neal and Sunshine, so whoever gets eliminated in Week 9 and 10 isn't any of those three people.