Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Biggest Loser Review, 2010/03/02: In which we continue where we left off

The evening starts off with a minor heart attack as I cannot find my flash stick with all my Biggest Loser stats on it. Fortunately, after rifling frantically through my bag for the first half hour of the show, it appeared. PHEW!!! Thank heavens for my VCR.

Since we've missed two weeks of the show due to the Olympics, we need a recap. (For once, the show's compulsion to recap is actually reasonable.) We are reminded that Melissa got the insta-boot for being under the red line, and that Darrell and Cheryl had to go head-to-head to see which one of them would stick around. We were left with a cliffhanger wondering whether it'd be Cheryl or Darrell to drop a torch off their head. But really, this wasn't much of a cliffhanger, as Darrell's knees suck, and Cheryl looked like an animal going after the win. Andrea's heart breaks watching this, and tears run silently down her cheeks. Naturally, it's Darrell's torch which falls. He's in tears as he realises he's going home. I'm really sad, because I wanted Darrell to stay. Darrell gets encouragement to keep going at home from Daris and O'Neal, and there are hugs all round - I think Darrell must be a very well-liked guy. He vows not to laze around anymore and to take life by the horns. Andrea reassures him that she's not at all disappointed, and they exchange I-love-yous.

Piss.

But enough of the sad, we have to go straight into a temptation. Everyone is simultaneously delighted and chagrined to be facing a very large pile of chocolate chip cookies. Ali reveals that it's time for the historically nastiest leg of the competition: Blue vs. Black. Great. Ashley calls it well: "Here comes the drama." The winner of today's temptation gets to choose who goes on each team, and, because there's an odd number of contestants left, they also get to choose a single person (possibly themselves) to not be on a team yet. That person will have immunity this week, and then next week will join whichever team loses this week's weigh-in. The contestants have to decide if they're in or out before Ali will reveal the nature of the temptation. Many people look thoughtful, but only Andrea and Michael decide to play. Michael because he doesn't want someone else in control and decides to put himself first; Drea because...well, we're never really told.

The nature of today's temptation is a spin on the classic "Memory" game. There is a big "board" set-up near Ali with a whole bunch of cubbies (a 10x4 grid) with doors on them. There's something behind each door - mostly food, but also "the golden ticket" which represents the power to pick the teams. Each item has a "twin" somewhere else on the board. The idea is to match up the items. Players take turns picking two doors at a time. If you make a match and the match is the golden ticket, you win the power to choose teams and the game is over. If you make a match and the match is a food item, your opponent has to eat that item, and you get another turn. If you fail to make a match, you have to eat a cookie from the pile and your opponent gets a turn. Each cookie is 100 calories. Food items differ in calorie count.

This starts getting really painful really quickly. The calorie hit would of course have been less awful per person if more people had chosen to play, but with only two people doing this, things start getting pretty gross. (Michael's disgusting burp does not help matters.) The other contestants start having to look away because of how nasty the calorie consumption gets. Both Drea and Michael end up consuming an obscene amount. Michael gets the worst of it at over 2,300 calories consumed (Drea's much better at remembering where everything is), but at the end of it all, Michael matches the golden tickets and wins the temptation.

Before Michael starts announcing his team picks, he starts out with some crap about how his natural instinct is to take care of others, and this is the first time in his whole life that he's had to put himself first. No one seems to be buying it. Then Michael announces his picks, and there is a lot of unhappiness. Firstly, because it's obvious he's stacked the teams so that one is very weak and the other is very strong, and he puts himself on the strong team; and secondly, because he splits up a lot of the original pairs and gives most people the exact opposite of what he knew they wanted. The teams are:

Blue (Bob):

  • Koli
  • Daris
  • Lance
  • Miggy
  • Sunshine
  • Michael

Black (Jillian):

  • Sam
  • Cheryl
  • Drea
  • Stephanie
  • Sherry
  • Ashley

Immune: O'Neal

Michael says he split up Sam and Koli because he feels they're very powerful together and needed to break them up. (Fair strategy.) But he also make some noise about how maybe they'll learn to be stronger apart. Koli (who's looking rather a lot like Tiger Woods this week in interviews, which is very disconcerting) thinks this is crap. Personally, I agree with Koli - we've never seen any kind of unhealthy codependency between Koli and Sam. Actually Koli's just annoyed with Michael in general - apparently whenever Michael talks, all Koli can hear are Charlie Brown's mom kind of noises. :) Daris and Cheryl aren't thrilled about being split, either. Drea wanted to be Blue but isn't. O'Neal's happy to get immunity, but sad because he realises Michael's set things up for the Black team to lose, which means O'Neal will probably end up split from his daughter Sunshine. Sherry and Ashley are happy to still be together, but not so happy to be on the "weak" team of mostly women. About the only people who are happy about things are Lance, who wanted Blue; Miggy, who's with her ally Michael on the "strong" team; and Michael, whose idea this all was. Sherry is very disappointed that Michael stacked the deck for himself and against everyone else. DH: "Ah yes, but you have just handed Jillian the ultimate collection of underdogs."

Speaking of whom, Jillian and Bob come in to see the results of all this, and are stunned. Jillian declares it's the most f**ked-up thing she's ever seen. Unfair and impossible, she says. She's furious at Michael and wishes he'd given people a chance. In an interview, Michael wonders what she expected him to do with the game, make everyone "equal"? "I have to look out for myself! Isn't that what you said, Bob?" he asks. DH and I have to agree that Michael has a point: the game sets people up to pull this shit. The sort of person who would be very fair and equitable about team-choosing is also the sort of person who probably wouldn't want the power to begin with and therefore wouldn't bother participating in the challenge.

Faced with this logic, Jillian actually concedes! She admits that okay, Michael hit a nerve and took her back to that time in her life when she was a fat, loser kid in junior high, and she hates unfairness like that, it's her trigger. Wow. A first. That done, it's time to work out. Bob mockingly calls Michael "cookie" to try and get him to work off his temptation binge.

In the kitchen (eating Subway, of course), it is AWK-ward! Michael sits alone and resents being the jerk, before his buddy Miggy sits with him. Koli also has resentment - he wants to be on the show but doesn't like being on Michael's team. Meanwhile, Stephanie is pulling out her awesomeness. She tells Ashley that she doesn't want Black to look at themselves the way Michael wants to: weak. Stephanie wants to work with Ashley and Sam to win challenges. I love the way Stephanie gets tough when the going gets rough. She and Ashley consider an alliance within the Black team. Over at Michael's table, he tells Miggy he'll drop her like a stone if she doesn't pull her weight on the team. Nice.

Bonus video: Stephanie confronts Michael directly about the fact that she's hurt that he considers her worthy for the "weak" team. He reassures her that it's just a game and that he doesn't want her to go home. He also reveals that he put Koli on his team because Koli needs to be here more than Sam so he was trying to buy him more time. Stephanie can't seem to get over being perceived as weak, that's her main issue. She talks really fast about game dynamics, never lets Michael say much of anything, and actually it's pretty annoying. At the end, they hug it out.

Jillian is going to fight the team inequality by feeding her people all-natural food snack bars. Sam has to give her a cheezy thumbs-up about it, poor guy. Also, Jillian's hair looks killer. Honestly, she should be telling us what hair products she uses instead of shilling snack bars. THAT would be some effective in-show advertising, baby.

Challenge! I'm hoping the goal is to somehow tame Michael's hair, but unfortunately that's not it. Instead, each team has to haul its team coloured banner all the way to the top of a building...from the roof. The team that wins the challenge gets letters from home, which everyone's pretty enthusiastic about. Sherry gets all teary at the idea of hearing from her other daughter. O'Neal is the odd man out, so he has to pick a team to root for. If his team wins, he also gets letters from home. Naturally, he goes with Sunshine's team. Sam believes that they just need the right technique to win - if Black can work in unison, they can make it happen.

Sunshine tells us the challenge was a lot harder than she thought it'd be. Lance says it took just a few minutes to feel the burn. And despite the number of really big, strong men on Blue, it's pretty close the whole way up. But it's only been a few seconds since our last commercial break, so of course we have to have another one before we can find out who wins. When we return, Blue pulls way ahead and takes it. Michael thinks winning feels amazing and says the victory is helping the Blue team to bond. Sherry weeps because she doesn't get letters. Lance and Miggy weep because they do. Miggy even finds out that her fiance has lost over 30lbs so far, which is great! Michael gets a letter from his best friend Francesca, and she's enclosed a picture of when he was at his thinnest: 301lbs. He finds this very inspiring. (He should, he looked pretty awesome.) Daris reads us excerpts from a letter by his friend Patrick in his signature monotone.

Time for some good news from Dr. H. He shows Ashley and Sam their new biological ages, which are down quite a bit after seven weeks of healthy living. Ashley's gained an extra eight years of life expectancy (57 to 49), and is happy, relieved, and more driven...not to mention proud of herself. Sam has gained five years (51 to 46), a lot of which came from cutting out smoking and boozing (ouch). His risks wil disappear even more after a year of abstaining from cigs and alcohol. He's happy to be able to leave a doctor's office with a smile on his face. (He's also looking quite handsome this week.)

Bonus video scene: O'Neal checks in with Dr. H, too. The knee is still bugging O'Neal, and it turns out that he's low on cartilege in the joint: severe osteo-arthritis, bone grating on bone. Dr. H puts him into a knee immobilizer and tells him to use the pool for his workouts. The true solution is to lose the weight, because even if he gets a knee replacement, it won't work if he's over 300lbs. And of course that's why O'Neal's here, so we're on our way to good knee times, hopefully. And now for the good news: O'Neal is off his diabetic medication because of all the exercise he's doing. His sugar levels are textbook good. Hooray!

Last chance workout. Much sweat. Many determined looks. Bob gets everybody into the team mentality, which of course he's highly skilled at. Michael interviews that Black is very tight and competitive and strong together, and we see Jillian getting them to do some martial arts-style stuff, which Sam looks pretty good at. The Black players interview that they've really been putting in the effort this week and that Jillian was impressed. And Jillian does indeed hand out some good compliments. DH worries about O'Neal, who doesn't seem to have anyone training him this week. That does suck.

Can Black pull off an upset? Well, let's go to weigh-in and find out. O'Neal goes up first and it looks like he has a massive bruise at the top of his chest. It looks awful, I hope he's okay. Michael, who's on the cusp of hitting the 100lb mark of weight loss, tells us that he's "peeing himself" with nervousness wondering if he's going to break Rudy's record of 101lbs in 7 weeks from last season. Oddly enough, no one seems to appreciate this imagery. But he makes it, which is great. Sam, meanwhile, has painted his fingernails black in solidarity with his team colour - Koli hides his face in shame. :) Hee hee.

Bonus video: Black pulls together. Turns out they all got girly and did their nails black. Funny pretend trash talk from Sunshine. Sam is revealed as the token male. My god, he is getting a serious estrogen infusion from being on this team. :) No wonder he has to walk away by himself for a while. :) Ashley, Stephanie and Drea speculate about how kick-ass it would be to actually win the weigh-in.

RELEVANT GOSSIP ALERT: InTouch Weekly reveals that Sam and Stephanie are in loooooove!

Milestones achieved this week:

  • Sherry drops under 175lbs
  • Stephanie hits the 50lb mark of total weight loss
  • Sam and Daris hit the 75lb mark of total weight loss
  • Michael hits the 100lb mark of total weight loss
  • Andrea and Sunshine hit the 15% mark of total weight loss
  • Koli, Michael, Sam and Sherry hit the 20% mark of total weight loss

The big news is that Black actually wins the weigh-in, which Michael just cannot get over. Or, as DH puts it, "The best laid plans of Mike and men..." :)

In elimination, it looks like Blue has an agreement to vote off the weak. (DH and I wonder briefly if Michael is at risk to be voted off for being the "jerk" who chose the teams, but that theory's soon put to rest by the news that Michael is the biggest loser on his team this week and thus has immunity.) However, although "weak" by weight loss numbers for the week means Lance, other people interpret this agreement a little differently and consider Lance to be better for their team, challenge-wise. Also, some people have loyalties, like Michael, who simply cannot vote for his buddy Miggy. However, ultimately it's Miggy who gets the nod to go home. She predicts that her "spice" will be missed. She does, however, use this spice to her advantage, because when we check in with her at home, she's down to 179lbs. She admits her stress levels were insane all the time, and so she's been learning how to meditate! She says it's been helping her lose weight, and that she's released a lot of negative energy. She's refocused herself and thinks differently. Good for her! And it gets even better - Nicole from Season 7 visits her! (I love Nicole.) Nicole's there to welcome Miggy into the "Biggest Loser Family". Miggy's really excited about this. DH speculates that Nicole could be really good for Miggy because Nicole is "unrelentingly positive".

We then visit Darrell at home. We see him pre-ranch, showing off the black leather jacket he wore when he met his wife Karolee, whom he loves a whole lot. (He's pretty mushy about her, it's very sweet.) His goal is to fit back into that jacket. For her part, Karolee has been terrified for a while about Darrell dropping dead on her. But now he's down to 293lbs, which is a total loss of 120lbs! Right ON!!! Karolee is delighted that they're concentrating on health, and works out with him. They seem really happy and I'm so delighted for them. Plus, we are told that he fits into his old leather jacket! (Although we never see it - it's probably still embarrassingly tight.)

Standings

# This wk % Overall % This wk lbs Overall lbs BMI
1 Stephanie (3.62) Daris (22.83) Michael (15) Michael (109) Miggy (28.8)
2 Michael (3.47) Sam (22.04) Ashley, Koli (10) Koli (87) Cheryl (32.1)
3 Sherry (3.39) Koli (21.59) Sam (82) Sherry (32.3)
4 Ashley (3.22) Sherry (21.56) O'Neal (9) Daris (79) Stephanie (32.4)
5 Koli (3.07) Michael (20.72) Sam, Stephanie (8) Ashley, O'Neal (73) Sam (35.3)
6 Sunshine (2.93) Ashley (19.52) Sunshine (37.4)
7 O'Neal (2.77) Stephanie (19.32) Daris, Sunshine (7) Lance (65) Lance (37.5)
8 Sam (2.68) O'Neal (18.77) Stephanie (51) Daris (38.3)
9 Daris (2.55) Miggy (18.75) Sherry (6) Andrea (48) Andrea (39.2)
10 Cheryl (2.09) Lance (17.81) Andrea, Lance (5) Sherry (47) Koli (41.7)
11 Miggy (2.01) Cheryl (17.62) Miggy (45) O'Neal (44.1)
12 Andrea (1.96) Andrea (16.11) Cheryl, Miggy (4) Sunshine (43) Ashley (50.1)
13 Lance (1.64) Sunshine (15.64) Cheryl (40) Michael (52.1)

Next week: (potential SPOILERS)

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

TV Guide: The teams pull trucks and load crates onto the vehicles for a challenge that ends with a puzzle. Later, the contestants work eight-hour shifts at the food bank and must learn to fit workout sessions into their schedules.

Video preview: O'Neal's stoked to be back together with Sunshine. The Blue team is determined to beat the Black team in weigh-in.

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