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.

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