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.)

Standings

# 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.

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