Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Tuesday night. Biggest Loser live finale. 8pm.

Moment of panic as whatever channel DH has turned to switches suddenly from displaying the NBC logo to CTV. Frantic channel flipping. And...

Digitized Final Four, at their largest, projected onto the stage.


Welcome to the live finale of this season's Biggest Loser. Ali, as always the lovely host, takes us back to the initial at-home public weigh-ins, the humiliation of which has got to be some kind of motivator to these people to not revert to the fat lifestyle. We are then taken through the torture of the gym, successes on and off the scale, and we see a montage of ass-kicking in general.

We then focus on the Final Four: Michael, Ashley, Daris, and Koli. We are reminded that Michael and Ashley, by virtue of coming top of the heap at the final weigh-in on the ranch, have secured their spots in the Final Three. The third member is still unknown; America had to vote as to whether to promote Koli or Daris. Being in the Final Three is very important, because the person in that trio with the highest percentage of total weight loss wins a quarter of a million dollars, which is brought to us by Yoplait Lite. (Gawd. Five minutes into the show and already we're starting with the product placements.) Ali also introduces the all-important scale, with the usual accompanying ominous music; and reminds us that all the contestants who did not make it into the Final Three will also be weighing in, for the chance to win $100,000.

The first order of business is to find out who's moving on to the Final Three, Koli or Daris. So let's bring them out. Daris is first, and of course he looks great. Also, we're once again taking a leaf out of the Australian Biggest Loser playbook, by projecting digitized versions of contestants-from-day-one walking down the runway as the actual, slimmer contestants walk down the other side of the runway, to get a more complete idea of just how awesome they've done. (It's a fantastic technique, I love that they're using it in the American Biggest Loser now; I just wish they'd do it for all the contestants like they do in Australia.) It's hard to tell by looking at Daris in a suit how much weight he's lost since the last ranch weigh-in, but clearly he's at least maintained the good lifestyle, so that's great. He was having serious problems at home with binge snacking in the wee hours due to stress. DH remarks on the dangers of obsessing over getting a girlfriend. Ali is completely overcome with how freakin' cute Daris is (probably the best transformation this season, honestly), and she actually squeals. Daris has been spending the last number of weeks working on figuring out why he was stress-eating at night. He talks about managing his stress differently, but also remarks on the foolishness of eating dinner at 5:30, staying up until 3am, and expecting not to get hungry in the intervening time. Grasshopper is gaining wisdom, I see. Oh, also, big news, he's landed himself a girlfriend. She's beautiful and her name is Heather. We see absolutely no indication for the rest of the show that they're particularly into each other, but at least he's probably siphoning off some stress by having sex. Go, Daris.

Koli's up next! He bursts out, looking pretty damn full of himself and roaring insanely. Koli, you have no business putting on that kind of swagger while wearing those red pants. (Urg.) "Too much Red Bull, dude," DH says. As the crowd continues to cheer, though, it no longer seems that it's Koli doing the roaring, because although it's still going on, Koli is clearly mouthing other stuff in a much calmer way. So...maybe he was never roaring to begin with? Maybe not as arrogant as he first appeared? I hope so. Koli talks to Ali about figuring out who he is and having self-worth. He looks sooo nervous. "Don't mistake my confidence and swagger for being cocky," he says. (Then dude, don't swagger. Also, I must mention again the need to lose those pants.)

So anyhoo, Ali has the results of the vote and will destroy Koli's blood pressure by refusing to reveal them until after we get back from commercial. Koli and Daris pat each other buddy-like as DH complains extensively about the too-short length of Koli's jacket. (Poor guy. He is not winning style points in my household with his clothing choices tonight.)

Curtis Stone and Dr. H. are in the house as we come back for the vote reveal. This cannot truly be suspenseful for anyone, can it? I mean, is there anyone who really believes Koli has a shot here? And sure enough, after millions of votes, it's Daris for the Final Three. Koli accepts it sportingly and hunches offstage. (Argh! All that swagger and he's STILL doing the meek posture? Koli honey, walk tall. Please.)

We then focus on some more well-known faces in the audience. Danny (last season's winner), Bill (season 4 winner) and Erik (season 3 winner) all stand up for some cheers. As promised, this is Erik's big moment of accountability, and indeed he looks much healthier. He's gone to the Biggest Loser Fitness Ridge resort (so much for learning how to do it on his own at home) and has lost over 150lbs. Awesome.

And speaking of bringing people back for this season's finale, it's time to check in with Shay! For those not in the know, she was the most overweight contestant in Biggest Loser history. (Yes, Michael from this season was the heaviest, but his starting BMI of 65.7 seems light and airy compared to Shay's staggering 72.4.) At the finale last season, she weighed in at 304lbs, which represented a loss of 172lbs and 36.13%. Very good, of course, but she was still morbidly obese. So Subway gave her a challenge - to lose as much weight as possible, and then weigh in again at this season's finale. For every pound lost between then and now, they would give her a thousand dollars. And of course I'm sure she had to go all over the place in the intervening time preaching the gospel of Subway deliciousness and low-caloriness. She is still quite large, but clearly much lighter. A lot of weight is gone off her face, she looks lovely. Her current weight is 252lbs, which represents a total loss of 224lbs and 47.06% from her starting point, and a clinically obese BMI of 38.3. That's nice. Subway's other spokesperson, Jared, comes out to present her with the giant cheque. However, it's blank. This is intentional, he announces, because Subway isn't done with Shay yet. (Oh, good lord, when are they going to allow this woman to stop shilling sandwiches and just live her life?) They want Jared and Shay to train to do a marathon togetehr at the end of the year. If this challenge is successful, Subway will double Shay's earnings, which translates into a total of $104,000. And, OF COURSE, Shay gets free breakfasts and lunches from Subway to help her do all this. Groan.

Okay, time to flash forward to the current season's contestants. We are introducing them four at a time, and they get to come out from one side of the stage, go down some steps, present themselves on stage to the audience, and then walk over near Ali. Cherita is out first, looking all kinds of good. Victoria is rocking a little blue dress - okay, she's still chunky, but she was the second most overweight woman in the house to start with, so this represents a vast improvement. Sherry looks fantastic and has skinny little arms. Also, she bears an even more uncanny resemblance to Helen Phillips (season 7 winner) than usual. We get a shot of Ashley's sister in the audience looking much smaller than when we saw her in Makeover Week, so it looks like the whole family's been getting in the healthy action! Yay! Last out is Maria, who has been made up far too heavily, but has also clearly lost a lot of weight. Ali reminds us that Cherita didn't spend a single night on the ranch and yet looks terrific. (Oh, she does indeed.)

Before we can see the final weights of these ladies, though, we have to bring out Bob and Jillian, the trainers. They look very nice and are even dressed appropriately. (I believe Jillian was in black spandex and leather boots at the last finale.) Jillian is, however, completely at sea wearing heels and has to lean heavily on Bob, which is pretty funny. The highlights of the season for her were helping Maria (who was deathly afraid of water) in the pool and helping people overcome their fears in general. Bob loved helping O'Neal to walk up stairs properly.

At last, results. Each contestant gets a little fast montage of their start, their at-home profile, and then a moment or two (or three) of particular importance from their time on the ranch. Cherita is 186lbs, Victoria is 222lbs, Sherry is 119lbs, and Maria is 167lbs. Sherry is strongly in the lead and I predict she'll stay there for a good while.

The next group starts with Patti, who hasn't lost her big tummy, but she is certainly looking nice. Stephanie is looking pretty tiny. (DH points out that she trains with Sam.) Twin brothers James and John are still huge, unfortunately, but John is NOTICEABLY trimmer, which is terrific. Stephanie gets to talk about falling in love with Sam. "Who didn't?" Ali counters. (True! :) Patti (who really never got enough air time, she seems like a nice lady) is 170lbs, Stephanie is 165lbs, James is 357lbs (a serious improvement from his starting point, even if he has a long way to go), and John is 335lbs. Sherry's still in the lead.

The next group starts with the villain of the season, Melissa. She looks very nice indeed, and then spoils the effect by giving a pouty face and mouthing "Boo-yah." Lance looks great. Migdalia doesn't look too different at all, although she does a sexy dance move to demonstrate confidence. Miggy looks really good. And she knows it. :) We see that she has a big tattoo on her back (badass), and DH remarks that in her case, "Revenge is best served hot." :) Melissa interviews that for her and Lance, coming on the show was never about the money, it was about changing their lives. "Really?" asks DH, "I couldn't tell that, the way you were strategizing." But later he reflects that maybe Melissa simply can't help trying to win anything she's presented with. I think that's pretty likely. Unsurprisingly, Lance doesn't get to talk, even when Ali offers him the opportunity. Sigh. Instead, Melissa talks about paying it forward to their kids.

Melissa - who, we are reminded, appeared to throw some weigh-ins for strategic reasons and was livid that the trainers didn't believe her scale failures were genuine - blows away my predictions by being 143lbs. "Hey Bob?" she calls over to where the trainers are, "I love you! Do you believe me now?" He grins widely and says she looks great...but I notice he did NOT say that he believed her. :) Lance also destroys my predictions by being 237lbs. Migdalia is 213lbs. Miggy is 149lbs. Sherry's still way ahead.

O'Neal bops out onto the stage looking spritely, jumping down the steps! :) Sunshine looks gorgeous, although DH speculates that she may have put weight back on. I'm not sure, I think it's possible that it's just the dress. We shall see. Darrell looks UNBELIEVABLE - thin neck, thin face, flat tummy; I love it. By contrast, Andrea unfortunately looks quite large and really, REALLY should not have chosen that dress. O'Neal tells us that he feels fantastic. (And looks damn slick, too.) He and Darrell share a warm handshake because they love being fathers of daughters who have grown into womanhood and confidence. Darrell says this is the best thing that could happen to a dad. I am amazed anew by how freakin' awesome he looks. He's a real contender here.

Ali defies the producers and gushes about O'Neal's wonderfulness for a few extra seconds of airtime before we find out that he's 230lbs. The Tongans in the audience go wild for him, which is great. Sunshine is 161lbs, Darrell is 224lbs, and Andrea is 214lbs. Darrell dethrones Sherry for the lead.

The last group is just three people because the number of at-home contestants isn't evenly divisible by four. Cheryl starts us off. She has chosen a ridiculous dress and haircut that make her look frumpy and bigger than she is. :( How unfortunate. She was looking so smokin' when Daris returned home, too. Sam is wearing a short-sleeved buttoned-down shirt with a tie, and has parted his hair on the side and combed it down smoothly. I really, REALLY hate to say this, but the look is evocative of Hitler Youth. I'm not a fan. He makes it a little better when he shows off his extremely impressive guns. Koli grooves down the stairs as DH says, "And here's the man who's going to win a hundred grand." Ali grills Sam about Steph. "Big pictures and bright futures," he responds. (Grey team is all about the catch-phrase philosophies.) We get a shot of Steph looking like she totally agrees with this. I just hope all of this means that the two of them and Koli are all cool now. Cheryl doesn't talk about herself. She says she couldn't be prouder of her son Daris. She's watched him go from a boy to a man, and a "man's man" at that. Koli just gives a cheezy smile and a thumbs up when asked about his chances to win. I thought that was pretty funny.

Let's check in with Jillian, because she needs to plug her new show. This involves her leaving the ranch and actually moving in with families for a week. We get a sneak peek. She's going all over the country making housecalls. And it appears that she doesn't just help people shed pounds, but crap, too - one family has what looks like the biggest yard sale in the history of the universe. DH sums it up when he says that it's basically Supernanny, but for weight loss. The show is called "Losing It," and clearly it's what's going to get me through an entire summer without a Biggest Loser season to watch. :)

Darrell doesn't think much of his chances of keeping the lead here. "Boys look goooood!" he says, leering playfully at the Grey team. :) Ali takes him to task for not giving hetero props to Cheryl. :) Good times. We are shown clips of Cheryl in the gym, the crazy lady screaming at Jillian and earning my love. Ali then points out the contrast between then and now, saying to Cheryl, "You look so dainty and delicate and feminine standing up there!" (She looks like Lucille freakin' Ball is what she looks like, people.) She's also 151lbs. Sam, who is the only person ever to have knocked the boxing gloves off Jillian while sparring with her, is 230lbs. DH marvels that he looks like Ali. (That's Muhammad, not Sweeney.)

So Darrell is still in the lead with only Koli left to weigh in. At this point, I figure out that the only way Koli could lose this is if he GAINED any weight since the final ranch weigh-in. (What an awful situation that would be, eh?) "Pick up your head, man!" DH calls out as we watch Koli assume his typical hunch. I think he's just beyond nervous, he looks really, REALLY freaked out. Before we can hear Koli's weight, though, we have to chat with Darrell some more. (Perhaps they're hoping that Koli will drop dead of a suspense-induced heart attack before he gets a chance to weigh in?) Ali lists Darrell's accomplishments, which he likes hearing. Ali then tries futilely to goad Koli into admitting that he wants to win. JUST WEIGH THE MAN IN, PEOPLE!!! At last, we get Koli's final weight: 188lbs. This blows Darrell out of the water and Koli wins the $100K. Sadly, the man who dreamed of confetti actually gets the most unbelievably cheezy, tinny music in celebration instead. That sucks. "I just wanna go home with my family, it's all I really wanna do right now," he tells Ali. "I feel great." Y'know, he may say he's gained confidence, but the dude is still clearly very shy at heart.

I wish him all the best.

We then get a profile of the Pound-for-Pound Challenge. The deal is that people pledge to lose a certain amount of weight, and for every pound pledged, a pound of food is donated. People are helping at food banks and working out all over the country. We see Coach Mo from last season, Scotty Hamilton, and DH says he saw Katherine McPhee in the montage, too. We get a few people's weight losses profiled. Over 5.8 million pounds of food have already been pledged. You can pledge, too, until June 30. And - surprise! - General Mills will donate a can of soup or vegetables for each pound pledged.

More shilling - Ali tells us that the characters from the upcoming movie Despicable Me visited the ranch this season.'s a CGI movie. The virtual characters visited real live people how? Well, we're never told. Instead, we get a trailer for the movie, folowed by dead air. Ohhhh...kay?

Alright, time to bring out the finalists! Daris's appearance is no surprise, of course, but we still haven't seen Ashley or Michael yet. Nor will we until Ali is finished telling Daris how amazing it was that he ran the marathon in about four hours. Daris confirms that it felt amazing. (Okay, I admit, it was amazing.) But moving on...Ashley and Michael were the heaviest man and woman of the season, and they both made the Final Three. Ashley looks pretty small. I mean, not skinny chick small, but still, definitely holy-crap-you-lot-a-lot-of-weight small. "Never count out Pink," DH says. Alas, her top clashes with her skirt. Ali says she went from the girl who fell off the treadmill to the Pink Ninja. How did she do it? DH wants Ashley to respond with, "Head trauma." :)

Michael comes out looking...well, looking like the person who's going to leave the stage $250K richer, not to put too fine a point on it. Unfortunately, he is wearing a very ridiculous belt buckle. And a low-cut v-neck with a silver chain necklace, leather jacket, and too-tight jeans. Um. Okay, I don't know if he was actually going for a gay biker kind of look, but he certainly managed to achieve it. Regardless, he looks terrific. And he feels terrific. And he's going to keep going.

The biggest loser on the ranch gets to choose the order in which the finalists weigh in. That's Michael, and he chooses to go youngest-to-oldest, so: Daris (who has no chance here), "Beautiful Ashley!!!", and himself. As the three of them go offstage right before the commercial, Michael loses the jacket, and he's got some nice-looking guns under there. DH and I think he's going to take this.

DH: "Owen Wilson as Marmaduke. The role he was born to play."

We're back. And for some reason, Michael is holding a single white rose.

We start with Daris. He started at 346lbs, and pledged to make himself and his loved ones proud. He'd never had a girlfriend in his life. He wanted to have a wife and kids more than anything else. In the gym, Bob watches him work out and asks how he got to be so overweight with the determination and strength that he has. In response, Daris points to his head and says, "Right here." Later in the journey, we see Daris being jettisoned off a whirling treadmill, getting up, and getting back on. Also, he won the marathon challenge in four hours and two minutes. He wants to be #1. He's 178lbs. That's 48.55%.

Ashley's starting weight was 374lbs. Her dad died when she was 16, and he always wanted her to be healthy. So it would mean a lot for her to be able to conquer the weight. We see, for the GAZILLIONTH time, her infamous fall off the treadmill, and then Sherry presenting her with the possibility of success if she goes back in the gym. Success indeed, because we then get a montage of her being determined in the gym. Sherry tells her she knows her dad would be proud of her, and Sherry is proud, too. But she wants Ashley to be proud of herself. We see successes on the scale, and it is reiterated that Ashley is the Pink Ninja. She's 191lbs. That's 48.93%. She's in the lead.

Finally, it's Michael's turn. Standing up there on the scale, he looks like Sly Stallone before the man got all scary-looking. But as good as he looks now, back in the day, Michael was 526lbs, the most of any American Biggest Loser contestant. (Possibly the most of any kind of Biggest Loser contestant.) Bob, who was saddled with 300lbs of strap-on weights at the beginning of the season so he could emphathise with Michael, had no idea how he carried it every day. "I'm gonna do it...definitely," Old Michael vows. "Watch me America." And then...the miracle transformation begins. "Are my abs showing?" he asks gleefully with a pseudo-sexy pose after his first week when he lost 34lbs. He feels proud of himself, which is a new feeling. All the hurt is going away. He breaks show records all over the damn place.

So..."What's with the flower?" Ali asks. Well, it's for his number one motivation and inspiration...his mom. He runs over and gives it to her. DH loves that he was able to run. Michael says it's an honour to face off against Ashley, because she's one of the strongest women he's ever met in his life, strong and beautiful. (Aww. :) So here we go. Michael's weight is...


Nope, no joy, we just get Ali babbling to produce filler for a while. Sigh. She even turns to Bob and asks him what he thinks. Bob says this is what the show is all about. Thanks for that cliché, Bob, can we PLEASE GET ON WITH IT?!?

Finally, Michael gets on the scale, and flings away the ubiquitous white headband. His final weight: 262lbs. That's a total loss of 50.19% and he has won the grand prize.


Michael cries. His family cries. His parents hug him. Ali says farewell for another season.

Yes, the money prize reign of Pink is over. Although admittedly, Pink has never failed to make the finale. Also, Koli may not have won the grand prize, but he certainly - as promised - "won the show" by getting the highest percentage of weight loss of all the contestants this season.


Finalists' names are in bold. Background colours on names show what their BMI category was to start with; background colours on BMIs show their final BMI category. Colour legend:

  • grey = underweight
  • green = healthy
  • yellow = overweight
  • orange = obese
  • red = clinically obese
  • purple = morbidly obese
  • pink = super-obese
Contestant Predicted Actual Since last seen %age BMI
Migdalia 185lbs 213lbs 6lbs 19.62 31.5
James 288lbs 357lbs 28lbs 26.39 42.3
Andrea 201lbs 214lbs 8lbs 28.19 33.5
Patti 172lbs 170lbs 30lbs 30.04 29.2
John 302lbs 335lbs 45lbs 30.79 39.7
Cherita 175lbs 186lbs 14lbs 32.85 28.3
Cheryl 145lbs 151lbs 13lbs 33.48 25.9
Lance 254lbs 237lbs 28lbs 35.07 29.6
Stephanie 141lbs 165lbs 3lbs 37.50 25.1
Miggy 160lbs 149lbs 30lbs 37.92 22.0
Victoria 202lbs 222lbs 18lbs 37.99 32.8
Sam 235lbs 230lbs 6lbs 38.17 28.0
Melissa 162lbs 143lbs 25lbs 38.63 23.1
Maria 148lbs 167lbs 63lbs 40.57 28.7
O'Neal 214lbs 230lbs 20lbs 40.87 32.1
Sunshine 149lbs 161lbs 1lb 41.45 26.0
Sherry 115lbs 119lbs 19lbs 45.41 22.5
Darrell 215lbs 224lbs 69lbs 45.76 32.1
Daris 174lbs 178lbs 19lbs 48.55 25.5
Ashley 186lbs 191lbs 22lbs 48.93 31.8
Michael 264lbs 262lbs 37lbs 50.19 32.7
Koli 198lbs 188lbs 30lbs 53.35 24.8

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Road to glory

Night. Stadium lights illuminating the Final Four. They look mean but lean. Their mean faces (which I'm sure the producers instructed them to assume) dissolve as a big screen behind them starts showing flashbacks of themselves at the beginning of the journey. Koli wanted love but kept pushing women away because of his size; he didn't believe anyone could truly love someone so big. Ashley had a weight problem her whole life. She never felt beautiful. She wants to get married and have kids, but has to stop running. Daris's weight has always been there and he was eventually accepted for his weight. He's the fat kid walking into a fast food restaurant or hiding in his car eating fast food so no one will see him do it. Michael (on whom the stadium lighting is REALLY flattering, I must say) had so many goals and plans for himself that haven't come to pass. His weight is now so bad that his life is at stake; he wants to live.

Now the good news starts to roll. We see Koli's successes on the scale; Ashley's determination in the gym; Daris's strength in training and his first challenge win; Michael's challenge wins and scale triumphs. They smile watching themselves, although Ashley also tries to put on a pouty model face, oi.

The scene shifts to the end of last week's weigh in, right after Sunshine left. Ali congratulates them on becoming the Final Four. They're pretty stoked. Ali then sends them home for 30 days before the last weigh-in.

Group hug!

Everyone goes home to parties. They all appear to be in the exact same places as their first, public, weigh-ins. (Okay, except for Koli, who's in a gym - I guess the football field wasn't available today.) But this time, Michael is going with pride instead of embarrassment. Ashley wants to make people proud. Koli wants to wow his peeps. He's nervous. Daris makes his limo stop by the side of the road so he can look out over the broad Oklahoma farmlands before getting to the party.

Of course everyone goes absolutely wild when the Final Four arrive at their respectives fetes. It's all really, really moving. Love abounds. Vorklemptness is everywhere. The contestants' mothers are particularly overcome. Speaking of whom, Sherry looks terrific. So does Cheryl, she looks spectacular. Maria doesn't look that different, but we never really get a full-body shot of her to double-check.

But the joy doesn't end here, because the contestants each have to weigh in again at their homecoming parties, to demonstrate just how well they've done. Naturally these weigh-ins come with flashbacks to the originals. The scales have obviously been pre-programmed, because each contestant is exactly the same weight as they were in the weigh-in we saw last week. Of course the Final Four are a lot more proud and enthusiastic this time around on the scale. :) They interview about the contrast between then and now. Koli talks about his battle with depression, which his weight exacerbated; and his feelings of shame and embarrassment. But he feels great now - strong, like a winner. He tells the crowd that, as promised, he did better than Sione and Filipe from Season 7. His new promise is to win the whole show.

But hey, guess what. No sooner have they stepped off than Ali appears on the scale screen. She announces that the final challenge will be a full marathon...this time, without the bikes. Everyone who finishes this challenge gets to give $10K to the charity of their choice. Ali says that only a select few people have ever participated in this challenge, but all of them have completed it. "Will you?" she challenges before the screen goes snowy.

Surprisingly, we don't immediately get into the contestants freaking out over having to run 26.2 miles. Instead, it's time for Flashback Filler. To sum up: the contestants' lives all sucked when they were fat. Now they're strong and healthy and life is great.

Okay, there's a bit more to it than that. Firstly, Koli has a conversation with his dad over breakfast. Koli's dad is extremely non-communicative and undemonstrative, which probably explains a lot about Koli. However, today he is letting it all out. In an unemotional tone, he tells Koli stuff that the guy has been hoping to hear his whole life: His parents were always worried about him, and it hurt watching him struggle to do stuff like breathe; but they're both very proud of their son. Having received the affirmation from his all-important father figure that he has wanted to get since he was born, Koli...nods and responds totally unemotionally. GAWD! This is a stupid man thing, isn't it. Lord, can we not stop doing this to our sons?

Secondly, we need a product placement. Michael - who is taking the optimistic view that although he's still an overweight person, he's an overweight person who can run and hike and do stuff - wants to make meatballs and pasta with his family. But of course they have to do it the healthy way. How can we do that, Michael? How? Why, by using Jennie-O 99%-fat-free extra-lean ground turkey for the meatballs, OF COURSE. Maria is actually caught on camera rolling her eyes. :) Yes, gone are the days of putting breadcrumbs in meatballs and frying them. (FRYING them? Who the hell fries meatballs?) Now, they put chickpeas in them and bake them up. (Oh, MAN, that sounds good.) Michael's heavy sister Rosangela doesn't look tremendously confident about these changes, but too bad, here we go. Michael reflects on how good it is to keep the good Italian tradition of food, in a healthy way.

Thirdly, Cheryl needs to have a conversation with her son that juuuuust borders on icky as she basically tells him how smokin' hot he is. (I give her a free pass because, well, who can argue with her.) Daris wants to talk about the values of hard work that his parents have instilled in him and how he loves that, and he's really grateful for receiving that. Cheryl turns it around and gives him the credit for doing the hard work. She also says he's gone from being a boy to a man. Clearly she is absolutely delighted for him, and can't take her eyes off him and how gorgeous and smiley he is. Daris is really glad he's impressed her because his mom is important to him. It's a feel-good moment.

Fourthly, Ashley - who ran from her father's illness and her weight problems - is happy, happy, happy. Life is good, life is swell, she's happy and healthy, and she finally knows that this is what her dad always wanted for her.

But wait...turns out life is not always flowers and butterflies for our Pink lassie. She has the, like, omigawd, awful problem of a cellphone that doesn't stop ringing and flooding over with text messages. It's, like, sooo distracting! How will she balance her life here? (Well, chickie, try GETTING RID OF THE PHONE!) She tells her mom (who's looking pretty svelte) that she's planning to go out partying tonight. However! She's not planning to drink. This is something she used to do a lot: escaping the pain of her dad's death through alcohol. But now the thought makes her sick and she has made a decision to avoid that lifestyle, there are more important things to do in life. Sherry says this is a huge victory and is absolutely thrilled and relieved to hear it.

Okay, now we have to start thinking about training for this marathon thing coming up. Daris is completely stoked. He's discovered a love and talent for long-distance running, and wants to win this challenge commandingly. (Right, like anyone expects someone beside Daris to win it.) This is a stark contrast to the days when he avoided running trails completely because he was fat. Ashley is intimidated by the challenge, but thinks it's pretty cool to be training for a marathon. Michael is scared to death but reflects on how far he's come. He can't even imagine what it will be like to finish it, but he plans to get it done and be proud. (Also, there's still snow on the ground in Chicago.)

It's pretty daunting training for a marathon, though, so Ashley uses her omnipresent phone to call Michael and gab about it. She gripes about the craziness of being at home. It's not what Michael expected, either, and admits that he actually weighs more now, he's not losing weight. (Oh dear.) He's also bummed because just a few miles of running is wiping him out. "Ya wanna do it together?" he asks her. (It took a while into the conversation for it to become clear that they were talking about the actual marathon, not the training. Because people living over 500 miles apart can't actually train together.) "You and me, Mikey!" Ashley enthuses, and threatens to ride on his back to the finish line. He calls her Shortcake, she calls him Babe, leaving DH and I wondering if there's a little something something going on around here?

Enter Curtis Stone, to make good on Daris's prize from the last weigh-in. Daris remarks that he can't hang out the same way he used to, such as going to his favourite restaurant, "Budrow's", which doesn't serve the sort of food he should be eating now. (It's a rib joint.) What could we possibly do about that? Well, when you have a sexy Australian chef, a major television network, and thousands of sponsorship dollars behind you, you can convince the restaurant owners to let you do pretty much anything. Such as: putting a "Daris" section on the menu. (Yes, seriously.) So Curtis and Daris go shopping (at Kroger!) for the ingredients to let Curtis work his magic. He adds four new things to the restaurant's menu: spicy black bean soup (160 calories), smoked trout dip (240 calories), green bean salad (90 calories), and grilled pork tenderloin (300 calories). Gawd, it all looks amazing, I gotta say. I particularly wish I were eating that soup, boy howdy. At the restaurant, Daris and Curtis serve the new foods and everyone at the restaurant digs in. Even a very, VERY large dude sitting next to Daris says it tastes terrific.

Over in California, Koli and Sam go to their old bar to catch up with old friends. As nice as this is, though, Koli is feeling EXTREME PRESSURE from all the bombardment of love from friends and family! It destroys his focus! So he's having a hard time with the challenge of being at home. He grabs Sam and asks him how he's been coping. Sam has only been at home a week at this point, of course, so he hasn't figured it out, either. He does, however, advise Koli to focus on himself. So they leave the bar and plan for an early day in the gym. (Good plan.)

DH, with a look filled with meaning: "Are the THREE of them gonna work out together?" (He means Koli, Sam and Steph. Heh. That oughta be fun.)

HILARIOUS Jason Alexander commercial for Jenny Craig. There are no words. You must see it.

Roll out the home cams! It's 1am and Daris, resplendent in a wife-beater (urg), just got home (partying?) and decided to eat something because he's been stressed. Stressed about the marathon, stressed about weight loss, stressed about whether he'll find a girlfriend, etc. etc. (Stressed about finding a girlfriend? Hello? Huh? Why is this the ultimate goal at this stage of the competition?) He knows that he's doing the same thing he's always done: eat when he's stressed, because it makes him feel good. And yet, he does it anyway. Snacking now, he's had twice the amount of calories he's had all day, feels like crap, and then...eats some more. So he backslid. He knows this is not the way to make himself feel better, but...he does it anyway. (To be fair, the calories he's sucking back at least look like decent ones; cereal and nuts and something that could be bread or chicken, that kind of thing.)


In response to the bombardment of attention from friends and family, Koli is driving to Vegas in order to focus. Really? VEGAS is the place to go to avoid DISTRACTION?!? Oh, wait, apparently there are gyms in Vegas. This one is a mixed martial arts facility, where a buddy of his works, who's training him. It's very intense. His life right now is to work out, go home and sleep, and then repeat the cycle the next day. DH reflects that Koli's not really learning how to live his life here, he's running away from it; going from one plastic bubble to another.

But fear not, help is on the way! Bob and Jillian are out in the wildernesses of Illinois, Oklahoma, Vegas, and Tennesse, hunting down their elusive Losers. They are expecting their peeps to be surprised. In Illinois, Bob is even disguised by driving a pizza delivery van. (No one will suspect!) Michael is out for a run when Bob pulls up and blocks his path. Michael thinks this is hilarious. In Tennessee, Ashley answers her front door to find Jillian. On the west coast, Bob meets Koli at his gym. "Why am I in Las Vegas?" he asks Koli. "Because I wanted to gamble and eat the buffets," Koli banters. :) The hardest person to find is Daris, who's out for a run. Jillian actually uses a HELICOPTER to find him. She complains about what she goes through for her people. Oh, the humanity of her life. Having to take a helicopter ride over a gorgeous vista of vast plains and running horses. Someone put her out of her misery by shooting her now.

It's time to talk about the challenges and downside of being at home. Michael is feeling good...sort of. Just okay. He's getting his workouts in, harder, he says, than at the ranch. Bob calls him on this crap by immediately saying, "You're not." :) They head over to Michael's place where, doubtless, there will be some Deep Talks and some Hugging It Out. Once there, things take a little twist and we see the real reason Bob has come: Michael's sister Rosangela is this year's Max Morelli. She feels like she doesn't fit in, even into her family, which feels awful. It's basically like a mini-intervention for her. Bob wants her to decide that she's worth it enough, and that her next step is asking for help.

(We do finally get a decent body shot of Maria, though - she looks pretty good!)

Jillian's still in her damn helicopter. "There's a whole lotta nothing out there," she tells us. (No there isn't, that's where they GROW YOUR DAMN FOOD, chickie!) Finally, Daris comes into her sights and she gets the helicopter to land. Cue Wagner's Flight of the Valkyries, for some bizarre reason. (DH: "Yeah, she is a bit of a Valkyrie.") Daris is so surprised that he SWEARS. He can't believe she helicoptered in to see him. They hold hands and walk down the road while he skates vaguely around how he's doing. Fortunately, Jillian recognizes that, for a generally quiet and internal guy like Daris, this translates into not-so-great news.

Back to Koli. Why isn't he at home? Because it's crazy there. Won't it still be crazy when he goes back after the show? Well, yeah, but Koli won't have the show to win when he gets back after the finale. WARNING! This is classic show-winner mentality, Bob tells us, and is very concerned. He needs to know that Koli isn't going to do the same thing as people like Erik Chopin: focus exclusively on winning the finale and then regress once the pressure's off. Koli says he knows Bob's concerned, but he really is committed to stay healthy, this focus is really just for right now. I guess we can only wait and see.

More home cams:

  • Koli: The weight is not dropping as fast as he wants, although it is going along. The big problem is that he lives with a bunch of college guys. He's constantly surrounded by burgers and pizza.
  • Ashley: She went out partying and is feeling a little guilty. Then her phone rings while she's interviewing and we have to fast forward to when she can get back to the camera. Also, she has a cold, but she's still out until midnight. Oh well, live and learn. (Chickie! TURN OFF YOUR DAMN PHONE!!! Why are people calling you at midnight?!?)

With all this struggling-at-home bad news, it's time to infuse the Final Four with a little ranch-style dressing down. (See what I did there? Heh.) Bob and Jillian take their people through their paces at the gym. Ashley loves how Jillian is forcing her to realise what she's doing. Michael had forgotten how psychotic Bob can get in the gym. :) Jillian ends off the Ashley workout with a big ol' smack on her bum.

As we get closer to Marathon Day, we get more home cams:

  • Michael: 3 days until the return to the ranch, and he's been trying to walk 20 miles at a time. Looks like he uses his feet to do errands instead of taking a car.
  • Ashley: She wants to see how well they've all done at home.
  • Koli: He's packing. He does look smaller. He says he thinks he's done everything he can.
  • Daris: Looks like he's been overtraining for the marathon, and now he's wearing a knee brace. Yeesh. Looks like that's gonna screw with his chances to kill the challenge.

And finally...we're back! It's Marathon Day! Hugs of greeting. And it's raining. Oh, that so sucks. Koli tells us it's also freezing cold, which is even worse. "At least it won't be hot!" chirps Little Miss Pink Sunshine. But Koli finds this pretty scary. Daris reminds us that the top time to beat for this challenge (Tara, Season 7, natch) is four hours and fifty-five minutes. He wants to beat that, knee or no knee.

Ali starts us off, but not before informing us that the charitable donation prize money comes from the makers of the Biggest Loser fitness game for the Wii. (I have lost track of the number of product placements we've had so far.) And...they're...OFF!

Koli feels good. He's going to try to keep up with Daris. Behind Koli, all Michael sees is an orange blur. :) Also, he wants to throw up. Further on in the race, Koli isn't able to see Michael and Ashley behind him anymore, they're way back behind. But it looks like they're having a great time; they're ridiculously upbeat and chipper. They even hug and, according to DH, kiss (!!!) while running out of pure exuberance. (What drugs are they taking, because I want some.) Daris, even with the knee thing, is way out in front. He wants to do the best; this has been his goal for a long time. Michael and Ashley stop running and walk. Koli is still running, but slowly. Daris, of course, never stops. Koli reflects on how, five months ago, he was on the couch doing nothing, really. This indicates to him that ANYBODY can do it. That's some good inspiration for the people at home.

And then - the sun comes out! This is definitely cheering, especially for Daris. Nice day for a run!

Koli is really struggling, and starts talking to himself to keep himself motivated running up a hill. He just does NOT want to stop running. Ashley and Michael start having an unbelievably saccharine "Any happiness you can point out, I can point out happier" contest. Ashley reminds Michael that they were the biggest man and woman in the house at the start, and here they are, Final Four, doing a freakin' marathon! (That is pretty awesome, I have to say.) Michael counters by saying he's in the best shape of his life and feels great. Ashley ups the ante by saying she loves living a healthy life and now she's truly happy, not just pretending, like she was before. At mile 9, Koli has not stopped running. Michael, meanwhile, says they're doing great with their time. He feels damn good about himself. Daris passes some running horses. (Heh. Must remind him of home.) He's amazed at how good he feels. Koli has never run this fast before.

If this gets any more cloying, I'm going to throw up. (Spot the reference, David Eddings fans.)

But all this running does wear on people, especially first-time marathoners, I would imagine. So, as is traditional, around the halfway point, the show brings out surprises for the contestants. Daris is the first to the halfway point, and waiting for him is Matt Hoover, the winner of Season 2. Matt is another former contestant who has put a lot of weight back on. However, he seems to be keeping himself fit still - in last season's "where are they now" show, he was just two or three minutes shy of a qualifying time in an Iron Man, which is an amazing accomplishment. Unfortunately, it looks like he's put on even more weight since then. :( He's still able to run with Daris, though, so that's something.

At his halfway point, Koli is in a lot of pain, but is buoyed by the surprise of Sione, his inspiration for going on the Biggest Loser, waiting for him! That is a nice surprise! becomes evident that Sione's put on a lot of weight again. :( Nevertheless, he's here to run. He and Koli do a quick hug and start running together.

Ashley and Michael need inspiration a little earlier than the halfway point, so they get their surprises at Mile 11. Michael is expecting their moms, but nope! Ashley gets a fellow Pink Sister, the Season 5 winner, Ali Vincent! As always, she looks awesome. She and Ashleyi Pink it out. :) For Mike, there's a huge surprise, it's Mike Morelli, Season 7 finalist! It's absolutely wonderful to see Mike again, but it's going to destroy my ability to recap this section of the show. :) Two Italian Biggest Loser Mikes? I'm screwed. Okay, let's use colour to differentiate. White Michael is absolutely stoked and delighted to see Brown Michael. Two Italians? How surreal! He freaks out, seeing Brown Mike gives him a total energy boost. He's utterly star-struck, it's soooo cute! And speaking of cute, Brown Mike is still gorgeous and has kept practically all the weight off. (He's a freshman in college; he's done really well to maintain such a good weight.)

So everyone's energy is cranked up. Daris likes having Matt run with him. Matt advises him that most people find Mile 20 is the hardest. Ironically, though, at Mile 20, Matt peels off. "Thank you, Matt!" Daris yells as he flies on. (Okay, not bad, seven miles of keeping up with Daris; Matt's fitness must be pretty good.) Michael has real problems between Mile 15 and 20. Things are getting really painful. But he is determined to dig down and do it. Brown Michael advises him that you don't have to win the show to be a winner; White Michael already has his life back.

There's more running, and tons more retrospectives.

What's really cool this season is that there seems to be more of a public awareness that the marathon is happenng. Random people clap for Michael as he goes by, which jazzes him, and he expresses thanks. He also flashes the American Sign Language for "I love you" a whole bunch. "You're almost there!" screams a woman with a baby as Daris runs by. Cars beep their horns in support all over the place. That's all pretty awesome. Let's hear it for random Californians.

Back to Daris. We start hearing about his real goal here at the marathon. Not only does he want to win; not only does he want to beat Tara's record time; he wants to do it all in four hours. Um. That's REALLY ambitious! But he wants to be a real marathon runner. And he's by the ocean now, seeing dolphins play. (That is so cool.) His sister Micky meets him at Mile 25 and runs with him for a bit. But he really wants that four-hour time and decides to go for it. He takes off, leaving her behind. "Go for it!" she yells at him, "oh mah gawd!" She is amazed. As am I - he's really running HARD and he's at the end of the freakin' marathon! As is traditional, they throw in that extra bit of torture right at the end by making them do the last stretch on sand. As hard as it has to be, he keeps running towards the finish line. His final time is 4:02:12. That's unbelievably awesome!

Sione may be big, but his fitness is obviously okay because he's still running with Koli by the time they get to the coastline stretch. Good for him! And it gets better - at Mile 24, Sione insists on a faster pace.

Michael is at the end of the pack. He wants to know how far ahead Ashley is, because they promised to finish together. So he and Brown Mike pick it up. White Michael isn't sure where he got the energy and power to do that, but catch up he does, which is amazing. "Your hot male escorts have arrived!" he announces. (That is AWESOMELY hilarious.) Ashley is really glad he caught up to her.

At Mile 25, Sione and Koli are still going strong, and Koli's sister shows up to run the last stretch with him! This is emotional for Koli - not only is his sister there, but he's really close to the finish. "This is the fun part," Sione announces as they hit Mile 26 and head for the sand. With the finish line in sight, Koli really picks it up. I mean, REALLY picks it up. I can't believe he's doing that over sand. His final time is 6:08:09. He's pushed himself incredibly hard, though - he's making unstoppable whimpery sounds and Dr. H has to come over to advise him to keep moving for a bit.

As the last group walks along the coastline, Ali advises Ashley and White Michael that she and Brown Mike will be behind them, but will let them finish first because this is something they have to do themselves. Ashley barely pays attention to this, she is on a mondo runner's high. "Woo! You can do it too!" she screams at the people watching them from the beach. The good times keep rolling at Mile 25, because Ashley's brother, resplendent in pink, is waiting for her. She starts to cry and run when she sees him. Michael starts running too - his sister Maria Stella is his Mile 25 prize! (Seriously. Rosangela, Maria Stella, and...Michael? Not Adalberto? Marcoantonio? Severiano? How come he didn't get a multi-syllable Italian name? Shafted!) Ashley's brother means the absolute world to her and she breaks down completely upon seeing him. For Michael, Maria Stella really pushed him at home, so it's great for him to have her here now. Ashley and Michael run on the sand. RUN. Cue the moving music. Their final time is 6:26:18. Seriously? Two clinically obese people doing a marathon in under six and a half hours?!? That's awesome.

This is GOOD TV, people!

Some time later, once everyone's had a chance to catch their breath and, no doubt, be examined by an anxious-looking Dr., H, it's...giant cheques for everybody! Alliance for a Healthier Generation (Daris), Beast Cancer Research Foundation (Michael) and two other payees that we never get to see, but I'm sure they're good causes.

Final weigh-in before the finale. "This is it," Ali confirms. The two people with the highest percentages will be guaranteed a spot in the finals. The two people under the yellow line will, as is now traditional, be at the mercy of the viewing audience - America will vote which one goes on.

Milestones achieved:

  • Ashley and Koli dropped below 225lbs
  • Michael dropped below 300lbs
  • Ashley hit the 150lb mark of total loss
  • Koli hit the 175lb mark of total loss
  • Michael hit the 225lb mark of total loss
  • Koli went from being obese to overweight
  • Michael went from being morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Ashley and Michael hit the 40% mark of total loss
  • Koli hit the 45% mark of total loss

Michael breaks down and cries at being under 300lbs. He has never done that in his adult life, no matter how he tried or what he did. So he feels wonderful about that accomplishment. Koli's weight loss doesn't measure up to Michael's and Ashley's, though, and he's under the yellow line, which I don't think has ever happened to him before. He admits he was too focused at home and couldn't celebrate the small victories, but that's hard for him. Ashley tops them all and inspires Daris to say some really wonderful things about her strength. He recalls the first week on the ranch that it was very obvious she knew who she was, and he wanted that for himself. He thinks she's amazing, and that she's helped him. "You mean a lot to me, girl," he says, with tears in his eyes. She loves it. :)

Um...holy fuck, where the hell did that come from? I'm not complaining, it's wonderful, but...does this Mean Anything, or was Daris just opening up? They didn't show Michael's face throughout all of that, either, so I couldn't tell whether he looked jealous/outraged/happy/neutral/whatever. Is it just me, or are Romantic Possibilities cropping up everywhere?

And speaking of Daris, he delivers the biggest shocker of the night - a 2lb gain. He tries to explain this away by saying that he concentrated on training for the marathon instead of losing weight. My first reaction is that this makes no sense. I don't seem to be the only one, either. Ali nods sagely like she understands, but her face is saying, "I don't know if I buy that." Surprisingly though, the first person to call bullshit is Bob. Then Jillian gets in on the action and says that she knows that Daris knows that there are other things going on, and he has to face it, not go into denial. "We all fall down," she tells him, but points out that after that, you have to get up and keep going again, and that everyone expects that from him. He nods, clearly upset with himself. Jillian interviews that Daris has obviously just been eating too much. (Wait until she sees the home cam binge footage, she's going to go ballistic.)

Regardless of Daris's backslide, I don't think Koli has a chance in hell against him in a popularity contest, which is what the vote of course is. Daris is:

  • super-nice and sweet and cute
  • extremely popular
  • not focused on the superficial goal of winning
  • without a single instance of gameplay this whole season
  • honest and non-manipulative

Add in the extra whammies that Daris is white and from The South, and you have yourself a winner with American reality show voting audiences. Koli's toast. But they have to plead their cases anyway, so here we go.

Koli admits that being in this position is a very humbling experience. He talks about hard work having been his mantra - stay above the yellow line, and you don't need to worry about votes. Yet, here he is. It's hard for him to ask for things, but he begs for the chance to get that confetti. He leaves it up to the people. He hopes that if he has inspired or touched us in any way, that we can give him our vote. He is sincere, but not really humble.

Daris has to admit that he gained 2lbs, and he's not proud of it. He guesses that Jillian's right in that he sabotaged himself. The tears begin. He says that at home, he would stay up and eat after doing fine all day long. He's not proud of that. DH: "He's still hurting inside." He asks for a second chance and lets out a deep breath before expressing gratitude. That was some seriously sincere humble pie.

Ali uses 'whom' correctly in a sentence as she asks people to vote. The vote, by the way, is sponsored by Yoplait. Product placement to the bitter end, people! If you're in the contiguous United States, you can vote until 12pm the day before the finale.

Next week: (SPOILERS and predictions)

TV Guide: After viewer votes determine the third finalist, the winner of the $250,000 prize is crowned in the Season 9 finale. The eliminated players also return to weigh in for the $100,000 at-home prize, and former contestants share their weight-loss progress since leaving the show.

(Those former players, as we learned in last season's finale, will be Shay from Season 8 and Erik, the Season 3 winner who gained a lot of his weight back. But I'm hoping we see other alums, too.)

Here's how I think things are going to fall out next week on the live show. Projected finalists' names are in bold. Background colours on names show what their BMI category was to start with; background colours on BMIs show what their projected BMI category will be at the finale. Colour legend:

  • grey = underweight
  • green = healthy
  • yellow = overweight
  • orange = obese
  • red = clinically obese
  • purple = morbidly obese
  • pink = super-obese
%age Name BMI Weight
29.22 Patti 29.5 172lbs
30.19 Migdalia 27.3 185lbs
30.41 Lance 31.7 254lbs
30.47 Melissa 26.1 162lbs
32.55 Andrea 31.5 201lbs
33.33 Miggy 23.6 160lbs
36.12 Cheryl 24.9 145lbs
36.82 Cherita 26.6 175lbs
36.83 Sam 28.6 235lbs
37.60 John 35.8 302lbs
40.62 James 34.1 288lbs
43.58 Victoria 29.8 202lbs
44.99 O'Neal 29.8 214lbs
45.82 Sunshine 24.0 149lbs
46.59 Stephanie 21.4 141lbs
47.25 Sherry 21.7 115lbs
47.33 Maria 25.4 148lbs
47.94 Darrell 30.8 215lbs
49.71 Daris 25.0 174lbs
49.81 Michael 33.0 264lbs
50.27 Ashley 30.9 186lbs
50.87 Koli 26.1 198lbs

Prediction is Ashley for grand prize (maintaining the tradition of Pink never having failed to win a prize in American Biggest Loser history), Koli for at-home prize. So technically, I think Koli stands a good chance of making good on his promise to "win the show" by getting the biggest percentage of weight loss out of everyone. But to get the grand $250K prize he has to win the vote, and I just don't think there's any way he's going to do that.


# This wk % Overall % This wk lbs Overall lbs BMI
1 Ashley (7.79) Koli (45.91) Michael (23) Michael (227) Daris (28.3)
2 Michael (7.14) Michael (43.16) Ashley (18) Koli (185) Koli (28.8)
3 Koli (5.63) Daris (43.06) Koli (13) Ashley (161) Ashley (35.4)
4 Daris (-1.03) Ashley (43.05) Daris (-2) Daris (149) Michael (37.4)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Geez, don't you people ever get sick of saying "Final Four"?



Mist rising from the swimming pool.

Looks like we're in for a deep and meaningful conversation. It appears to be right after the elimination, and Michael is expressing his appreciation and debt to Ashley and Daris, whose votes were responsible for keeping Michael around and giving Sam the boot. Ashley tells him that all he has to do to show his gratitude is pay it forward. She expects him to vote with their three-way alliance next week.

(Given the way the producers obviously think, showing Ashley saying this probably means that Michael will be breaking ranks and betraying her and Daris this week.)

Michael reflects on how the three of them have gone from being the underdogs to the alpha dogs. Ashley reminds us that this is the do-or-die week: one more person is going to be eliminated, and then we're into that goal of goals, the Final Four. And because the "outsider" alliance of Ashley, Daris and Michael has superior numbers over the Grey/Yellow alliance, as long as at least one Grey/Yellow person is below the yellow line, everybody in the outsider alliance will be safe.

Koli, meanwhile, is shellshocked at the ousting of Sam. He thinks the logic of keeping Michael around is just dumb, because of what a huge threat Michael is in terms of what a big percentage of weight loss he can ultimately lose. Sunshine comes to visit Koli in his room and expresses the same opinion. Koli reflects that the outsider alliance just took a Final Four spot away from themselves, because he himself is going to be above the yellow line this week, and he plans to take Sunshine with him, so one of the outsiders will be gone. Koli then interviews that Michael is his strongest competitor and now there's a fire lit under him. He wants to win the whole show, and believes his opponents have created an animal.

DH: "You still have to deal with Daris, boys."

A new day dawns, and Ali greets the contestants as they walk outside. She immediately annihilates everyone's strategic plans for the week by announcing that there will be no yellow line this week, and no vote. Yes, this week there's just a single red line, and the one person who falls below it will be automatically gone. Alliances are irrelevant.

Koli smirks. Ashley looks pissed. Michael looks terrified. Ashley can't believe it. Her alliance FINALLY has the voting numbers to give them the upper hand, and it's been rendered totally useless. (Thus demonstrating the real reason we were shown that clip of Ashley instructing Michael to pay it forward - to highlight the irony that he's not going to be able to do so!) Koli, however, loves this news, of course. He also anticipates serious tension in the house as a result. Michael interviews that he doesn't want to have come so far in the competition and go home empty-handed. He believes he deserves a chance. Sunshine just sits there looking gorgeous, with a shrewd look on her face.

But enough with the gameplay discussions - Ali has some visitors to spring on the contestants. First, we have Helen Phillips, the oldest grand prize winner in Biggest Loser history, from Season 7. She looks great. She's obviously put on a little weight, but since she was verging frighteningly close to an underweight BMI at her finale, that's a good thing. Ashley loves Helen. (That's because she's almost indistinguishable from your mom!) Helen, for her part, is happy to be back.

Our next visitor is the Season 3 winner, Erik Chopin. As has been widely publicized, he is fat again. However, although there's always tons of talk about how he "gained all the weight back", he never did. He gained a lot back, true, but never got as bad as he originally was at the start of his season. The good news is that he's been working on it, doing a lot of soul-searching as well for the reasons behind his regain, and he's lost 70lbs. That's great! Sunshine, though, is confused about his situation. How could he gain so much weight back? She's looking forward to hearing what he's gone through to get a better idea of his story. Erik assures the contestants that they don't want to do this process twice. Ashley tells us that she definitely doesn't want to be in Erik's position.

Ali sods off to give the champions some alone time with the contestants. Erik starts telling them about tell-tale signs which are warnings that they're on the path to regaining weight. He gives them some really good things to watch for, such as associating food with good times and giving yourself "passes" as excuses, that sort of thing. Helen then gets them to break off and talk one-on-one. Naturally, as a former Pink team member, she insists on taking Ashley first. :) Ashley is stoked because she has tons of questions for Helen. Ashley has realised that she needs a lifelong game plan to keep the weight off. They talk about wine and partying. Ashley wants to know what to do about the fact that her friends and family still have this party-hardy lifestyle while she's trying to be good about her health. Helen recommends sitting these people down and telling them that she's on a journey, this is her life, and she has to live it right.

Daris knows he's going to have struggles at home. He's single and thinks that'll be a distraction, because the dating scene could be tempting in terms of food and alcohol and whatnot. He tears up in an interview about not ever having been able to find someone to love him...including HIMSELF. That's a big thing he's gotten out of this process - he loves himself. And now he's going to go looking for someone who can love him, too. Awww. That's really, REALLY sweet.

Sunshine talks to Helen about going to the gym after the finale. What's that going to be like? Once the finale's over, will she have the same drive to work out? Will she let herself down? Helen reveals that she felt the same way. She started working out too much after the finale, thinking that she had to continue the same intensity at home as she did at the ranch. She had a lot of fear. Then she realised that she should be in maintenance mode, she no longer had to do 6-8 hours of working out each day. If you're eating properly, she tells Sunshine, working out just an hour a day is okay.

Koli tells Erik that he's having a hard time at the moment because finale is all he's thinking about right now. Erik says yup, that was him at this stage in his own season. Erik tells Koli that he looks great. (True.) Koli reflects that sometimes, being so strong now and looking so much better, that it's easy to think 'I'm so strong, the issues that got me fat aren't going to affect me anymore,' but he's realising that they actually could. Erik's big concern is that right now, Koli is so totally focused on winning. That's fine, Erik tells him, but you have to remember that the finale isn't a finish line. There's stuff beyond that. He hopes some of his message is sinking in. For his part, Koli's really happy he met Erik.

Michael has asked to talk to both Helen and Erik together, so of course, they oblige, leaving him a little star-struck. He tells them his starting weight and his current (much lighter) weight. However, he's very frustrated because everyone's putting emphasis on the weight he's lost, when all he can see is where he needs to go. It's upsetting to him that his finish line is so far away, and what's making it harder is that all his fellow competitors are so close to their finish lines. (I'm not sure why he's glossing over the fact that Ashley has a rather whopping 88lbs to go before she hits a healthy weight, but anyhoo.) Michael's even getting anxiety just talking to them, because he's feeling pressure to go and work out. He starts tearing up. Erik tells him not to get caught up in the whole 'how much left to lose' thing. (Yes. Brilliant advice there, Erik. Just switch off the worrying! Why didn't I think of that before?) Helen assures Michael that he will be able to find the balance he needs. Michael starts crying and Helen can't help but hug him. She's a mom, after all. Neither of them, however, have solved Michael's problem. "Who leaves a reality show about weight loss and is still obese?" he vents. Helen and Erik tell him that he can't start thinking like that. Michael admits in an interview that he's getting kind of neurotic about this issue. (Ya think?)

Next, everyone's in the gym starting to work out on the treadmills, and Bob and Jillian arrive. They seem to want to have A Talk with everyone, because they make them get off their treadmills and line up in front of them so they can hear what happened at elimination. But Bob, Yoga Man, with his Super Emotion Sensing Powers, quickly turns the conversation to something else. "There's so much tension in this room, what's going on?" he asks. The trainers are promptly told about the red line. Ah. That explains the tension. "Boy," is Bob's response. (Deep.)

Koli assures the trainers that there's no actual animosity, it's just pure tension. "This air is thick in here," confirms Bob. Ashley agrees. Daris says that he knows Koli isn't happy with the decision to boot Sam, and nobody expects him to be. This statement is delivered with honesty and understanding. In return for this consideration, Koli gets completely snitty. He goes off on Daris and the rest of his alliance about how they shouldn't try to guess what he's feeling. (Dude, guessing what people are feeling based on situations and reactions is what humans do ALL THE TIME, including YOU in a moment, wait for it.) Then Koli starts making the censors earn their pay as he talks about how badly he wants to be in the Final Four. Wow. It's just a tirade that seems to come from nowhere, and it makes him look kind of nasty. What the hell. I'm not the only one who's surprised by this, either. Bob's eyes narrow, and Jillian is obviously really flustered about it. "Oooookay..." she says, and suggests that they just get right down to the beatings. Great idea.

It is immediately obvious that Michael is not on his A-game. Koli, however, is, boxing hard with Jillian. Bob tries to get Michael to focus, and just keeps going on and on and on about how far Michael has come. Michael is just not buying it. Yes, it's nice he's lost all that weight, and wow, but he's still FAT. Bob isn't listening and keeps trying to get Michael to celebrate his success instead of looking so far into the future that he can't appreciate what he's already done. I get increasingly frustrated watching this because nobody is telling Michael what I think he's needed to hear for about two weeks. And that is this:

Nobody can get from 526lbs to 250lbs without first going through the 334lbs point. That's where you are now, and that means that you're doing it. Really DOING it! This moment is you IN THE PROCESS OF MAKING IT HAPPEN. You're getting hung up at the moment on where you are and how much there is left to do because this is a long journey and you're getting tired, but that's to be expected. If you focus on the finish line you'll just get discouraged and it will sabotage you. What you need to do to get through this rough spot is to focus only on what you can do NEXT. Then once that's done, focus on the next thing after that. And so on. But you are doing it. THIS IS WHAT DOING IT LOOKS LIKE. Just keep going.

(My first daughter was born after over 44 hours of labour with absolutely no pain-relieving drugs. So I know a little bit about long, arduous, seemingly insurmountable slogs. If you've come a long way, and have a long way yet to go, and you place your focus on the finish line, you're SCREWED. At that point in the game, you have to keep your head down and concentrate only on what you can do next, or the process will beat you.)

Alas, however, no one in the gym with Michael is me, so Bob just keeps making things worse. He actually tells Michael that he's been singing Michael's praises around the country and that people will be looking to Michael for inspiration.


Have you ever seen that episode of Cheers where Sam and Rebecca are trying to have a baby, and Sam's having a problem getting it up for the baby-making sex because it's no longer dirty and sexy; whereas Rebecca (because they never actually communicate with each other) thinks his hang-up is due to not fully appreciating the wonder and glory of having sex for baby-making purposes? So what ends up happening is that Sam is trying to think sexy and dirty thoughts and Rebecca won't shut up about babybabybaby. Finally, in desperation, she suggests that they get down on their knees and thank God for the gift of conception that he is about to bless them with. This is, OF COURSE, the absolute WORST thing she could possibly have said and Sam lets out a roar of frustration.

Yeah. That scene.

Well, Bob's 'you will be an inspiration to a nation of millions' speech is exactly the same sort of thing. The WORST thing he could possibly have said. The opposite of what Michael needed to hear. Unsurprisingly, Michael loses it completely, bashes around a few machines to let out his feelings, and storms out of the gym, slamming the door behind him. It's a rather impressive temper tantrum, actually. Normally I have intense contempt when people go in for that sort of behaviour, but in Michael's case I'm thinking it was actually pretty justified.

Emotionally tormenting Michael doesn't end there, though, oh, no. He wants to walk it off away from the guy who's making things worse, and Bob is having none of it. Bob follows him out and demands that they talk it out. What the HELL is going on, he asks. Michael feels ashamed. He feels that everything is against him, just like it has been his whole life. Wow! What a great opener to help Michael discover his deeper issues! Does Bob jump on it? Of course not. He simply doesn't want the pain to get the best of Michael.


Moving on...

Bonus video: Bob and Koli talk about the elimination and how Koli feels. Koli thinks that Daris, Michael and Ashley are walking on eggshells around him because they think he's mad at them. (Hold on, wait...Koli, did you just...GUESS HOW SOMEONE WAS FEELING? Oh, look at that!) But he actually isn't mad at them, he gets why they did what they did, he just thinks it was stupid. He thinks they should be concentrating on keeping themselves above the yellow line instead of worrying about voting power. But he also brings up something Sam said at the elimination - that Koli is a champion in his heart, and that making Final Four or winning the whole competition or whatever doesn't change the fact that Koli is a champion, and that Sam sees him as such. Koli reflects that he has indeed been using the achievement of hitting Final Four as a measuring stick for himself, and thinking that if he doesn't make it, he's worth nothing. But now he's seeing it differently - if he doesn't win, hey, he's still lost a lot of weight, and that's great. He still wants to win, though. :) Bob approves of this attitude shift, but warns Koli about Erik's story. Erik was so focused on the finale that he had no goals beyond it, and lost focus. Bob then gives Koli all kinds of compliments about his strength and potential. Koli feels the conversation helped him not only focus, but also calm down. (Thank goodness.)

Sunshine notes, rather unnecessarily since I think all of us had already figured it out, that "Final Four" is the focus of this week. It's all anyone is thinking about. (Unfortunately for audience interest, it's all anyone is TALKING about, either.) Daris also has the blinkers on in this regard. Ashley vows to make good on her promise to sneak up like a ninja on everyone's asses. :) Michael is glad he let his emotions out earlier because now he feels like he can breathe, and is more centred. Well, that's something.

This week's challenge looks long and gruelling. It should also look familiar. We've come to the point in the competition where the challenge theme is "put the weight back on", and apparently, viewers got to vote this season on which manifestation of this kind of challenge they wanted to see. So we've gone back in time to Season 7, where everyone has to climb over 16 hills of sand (representing 16 weeks of ranch time), carrying a backpack with 16 packages of various weights inside, each package representing the weight lost for each week. (I'm not sure how this thing works for Sunshine, who wasn't on the ranch for the first 30 days, but that's never really explained.) The backpacks, incidentally, are emblazoned on the outside with a picture of themselves all fat on Day One. As they get to each hill, they get to drop a package of weight symbolising their loss for that week.

Daris wants to win. I'm sure he wants to win even more when Ali reveals that the prize is ten thousand dollars. (Cue the Doctor Evil finger on the lips.) But of course this challenge is also an emotional retrospective journey. To start with, it's going to suck having to carry around all that weight again. Sunshine's backpack contains 97lbs, Ashley's 136lbs, Daris's 141lbs, Koli's 159lbs, and of course Michael's 192lbs. Michael is not happy. He doesn't want to deal with that weight anymore. (I don't blame him.) Although actually, he says "no more". (His grammar has totally gone to hell this week.) Koli looks at the picture of himself on the backpack and can't believe how fat he was.

DH says his money is on Daris, and sure enoughk, Daris takes the lead right off the bat, with Sunshine and Koli close behind him. Koli reflects on his wildly successful Week 1, when he lost 29lbs. Michael says this is an awesome reminder of how miserable he was. By the time we get to Week 5, Daris is still in the lead. He remembers how good his 12lb loss that week was, and it feels just as good to throw it out of his pack. Ashley grunts makng her way up the Week 4 hill, it's a real struggle for her. She can't believe she had that weight on her. No wonder she was miserable, she reflects. It's the same misery she felt while struggling on that hill.

Daris just keeps making it to each hill first, time after time, and after he throws out his Week 13 weight, he starts to really motor. Once the Week 15 hill has been taken care of, he has only 9lbs left, and runs all the way up the big hill. This challenge is obviously his, he's way out in front all by himself. He hits the finish line and then roars as he tosses his bag over the edge. He's hoping he also get rid of a little emotional baggage in the process.

The wonderful surprise is that Sunshine reaches the finish line SECOND! Good for her! Koli's not far behind, though - they throw their bags over the edge simultaneously, Koli promising never to see the 400lb him ever again. Sunshine says it felt so good saying goodbye to her old self.

Daris, grand guy that he is, runs back to help Ashley and Michael, who are still struggling over the hills. They're also helping each other, as they're both really stuck. Koli and Sunshine also go back, but to offer mostly moral support, it looks like. Despite their struggles, Ashley and Michael make it to the end and feel good about the journey. Ashley reflects that she's just not the same person anymore. Michael tells us that we all have the common denominator of getting healthy and bettering our lives. "NEVER AGAIN!" he cries as he tosses out his bag. This makes him feel a lot better. He likes to think that the bag took all his pain and anger with it over the edge.

Top dog today, of course, is Daris. In fact, Ali tells us, he bettered Tara's winning time from Season 7 by a whopping ten minutes. DH: "Whoa! Someone who can beat Tara!". (Hm. Maybe Tara and Daris should get together. They'd make stunning children, boy howdy.) Ali then presents Daris with the same choice that Tara had after she won the challenge: he can exchange the $10K for a 1lb advantage at this week's weigh-in. What'll it be, Daris? Well, he's got some student loans, but he takes the 1lb advantage anyway. I think this was a dumb move and that he should've bet on himself. But we shall see.

It's been far too long since we had a product placement, so now it's time to pay the piper. What's up, Bob? Why, we're cooking some delicious Jennie-O! And once we finish gobbling that down, Bob has a stress-relieving treat that turns out to be another product placement: they go shopping for athletic clothes, specifically, Danskin performance apparel, all branded to the hilt with Biggest Loser logos. Bob also brings out Tony Romo, who is apparently a football player. DH informs me that he is also the ex-boyfriend of Jessica Simpson. Really? The contestants are supposed to take advice from a guy who thought that dating Jessica Simpson was a good decision?

Tony tells the Losers that they're inspiring, and terrific, and special, and then plugs Danskin some more. And after the shopping, he tells them, they're invited to come out on a hike with him. Michael can't wait to run past Tony. :) At the end of the hike, they get to some kind of lookout point which has a really lovely view. With this as the backdrop, Tony assures them all that when they go home, they'll have people at home they can lean on. Bob nods in agreement, looking particularly scruffy today. Time for a beard trim, Bob.

No deep and meaningful retrospective-filled episode of how far the contestants have come would be complete without video flashbacks. Daris starts us off. Bob takes him into a room filled with a massive screen, upon which is displayed a flashback of Daris's massive self. Whoa. He really is unrecognizable now. Tears fall from Daris's eyes as he watches. Then, the miracle of weight loss begins, and we see clips of Daris killing it in the gym. Finally, the video ends with Fat Daris talking to Future Thin Daris. "I hope you're never this way again, and I know you won't be." Watching, Daris gives Bob a big smile and wipes away tears.

Sunshine gets to watch her video with Jillian. She cries as she watches herself say that she's never been on a date or kissed a boy (oh lordy is THAT going to change once she gets back home), and that she's not happy even though she's always smiling. But Sunshine's tears turn to delighted joy as she watches the clip of herself and O'Neal at the weigh-in that got them back on campus. There are a lot of fantastic flashback clips of her, and then we see Fat Sunshine encouraging her and saying that she deserves happiness. "Unbelievable," Sunshine tells Jillian. She knows she can go home and be okay. Yay!

Koli watches himself weigh in at 403lbs. "I was so scared," Koli reveals watching that moment. He cries watching his big successes on the scale, and Sam tearing up telling him he's proud of him. We also watch Koli winning the at-home bike marathon challenge, which was a great moment. Fat Koli tells Future Thin Koli to remember all the times he felt inadequate and didn't want to wake up in the morning; he wants himself to become a husband and father. "I'm just so proud of what I've accomplished," Koli tells Bob. He interviews that he is the happiest he's ever been and that he's gained self-confidence.

Ashley's immediately reaction to seeing herself weigh in is, "Ugh, my GAWD!" :) Of course we have to play the famous clip of her falling off the treadmill in Week 1. She laughs and says, "Oh no" when she realises that's coming up, and then a gleeful "Here we go!" as it plays. But then we start seeing some successes in the gym. We also see the moment where she confronts her mom Sherry, saying that she can't worry about her anymore. "Love her, man! She's great," comments Ashley about her mom. We also watch the three-way scream of her sisters showing up in makeover week. "Hi Skinny Ashley, this is the Fat Ashley that you used to know," her old self tells her, wearing the stupid headband that I thought we'd seen the last of in Week 1. Ashley is stoked at how far she's come. She's got a terrific attitude about what a great headstart she's gotten.

Last up, of course, is Michael. Bob knows this retrospective is going to be a very important one. Michael grins as he watches himself lose 34lbs in the first week. We see him winning immunity in a challenge. We're also reminded of when his grandma got sick. We watch him do his first 5K. It's all good. (Well, except for the grandma thing. :( ) Finally, we see Fat Michael telling himself to never quit. "You can see the pain in my eyes," marvels Michael watching all this. He has a lot of bad memories, and soon he's going to be reborn into his new life. For the first time, he starts seeming enthusiastic about the 192lbs he's already dropped. Yay!

Sadly, the product placements have not ended - Subway gets a nod, too. It's the only fast food place that Bob would go to. Ashley follows up on that thought by revealing that she lives right across from a fast food joint, so she was in and out of there every morning for breakfast, but now she can do fast food in a healthy way.

The feel-good train continues on its madcap journey as Dr. H arrives to give great news. He starts by calling Michael "big guy" before realising that this is not so appropriate anymore. Michael had a lot of nasty health problems at the beginning of his journey. To illustrate, Dr. H. whips out Before and After shots. "Wow," Michael interviews, his eyes going scary big. (And I mean SCARY big.) Michael likes seeing his new jawline, alert eyes, and all those good things. It's not just his appearance which has improved, either - his biological age has dropped from 54 to 38, and he has only a 1% chance of a stroke now. That's EXCELLENT.

Bonus video: When Sunshine started, she had 54% body fat. She's halved that and is now at 27%. Sunshine's pretty disgusted by what it looked like when she had so much fat on her. But she's heartened to hear that she's gained 10 years of life expectancy. When Daris started on the show, walking around was really hard on his back, his knees hurt, and he waddled. The waddling was due to a massive gut, which we get to see a picture of in side view. It ain't pretty, but we get a comparison shot of what his stomach looks like right now - much reduced. The sight of the old gut kind of horrifies him. "I look like I was fixin' to have a litter!" he says. :) His biological age is down from 46 to 28. He loves that his hard work is what has made him healthy.

Bonus video: Koli, like Sunshine, gets to see a scan of his fat surrounding his frame. Dr. H. points out how it was eliminating his neck and forcing his arms to stick out even when he was relaxed. This illustrates very clearly to Koli where the 159lbs he's lost came from. It's something he couldn't see on a daily basis because he was used to it, but when viewed in contrast like this, it's obvious. It makes him feel a lot better about the work he's put in. 17 weeks of healthy living have brought his biological age from 51 down to 33. Dr. H. asks about how this change will affect his coaching work? Koli responds that his whole mentality has changed - before, he was always telling his trainees that they had to gain weight and get bigger, all technical stuff. Now he can also teach health - nutrition, good treatment of one's body, etc.. He's glad he's getting healthy. Last up with the good health news is Ashley. We see Before and After shots of a front view of her face. Of course her face is scads slimmer now, but the changes are internal, too. She remarks on how the smile in the before shot was fake. She was very unhappy, but never saw it. Now when she looks back, she can't believe she let herself get to that point. She's reduced her biological age from 57 to 31, and her health risk has gone down to 1%. Ashley reflects on the idiocy of drinking, smoking, and overeating, and that the biggest change is what's happening to her on the inside. She's motivated to keep going and looks forward to an even more improved health score in the future.

Bob asks the contestants if they'll miss having him scream at them at the gym? Yes, it's time for the last-chance workout. There's a red line in their immediate future! Koli is excited and nervous. We flash back to his first last-chance workout and he says he's expecting the best workout they've had all year. (No pressure, trainers.) Jillian dials up the treadmill freaky fast. Sunshine looks at it, says she can do it, and then gets on and kicks ass. Ashley, also asked to do fast treadmill running, gets on her stank face and zones into it.

DH and I reflect on what a good group this is. :)

Also, seeing Daris doing interviews this week, I no longer think his red stuffy nose is due to it being cold outside. I think he actually has a cold. That sucks.

Michael does pushups with Bob on his back! He likes waking up with happiness. Hell, all the contestants are blissing out. Koli loves his future. Sunshine believes she is beautiful, and worth it, and can do anything. It's a completely different level of happiness. "See what I can do now," she tells Bob. She's so special.

And now, finally, the last hurdle. The red line. The weigh-in. But surprise! For the biggest loser of the week, Curtis Stone will be coming to your home and helping you with your food preparation. Ashley practically vibrates at this news - you can tell she's THIS CLOSE to getting on her knees to beg God for this prize. (Needless to say, she has a serious thing for Curtis Stone.) Michael just wants to lose 200lbs on campus. He's up first to find out whether he's done it. Bob crosses his fingers. It works! Michael hits 204lbs of total loss and is deliriously happy. Hooray! Koli also has a good week - he shrieks with happiness at his number and whispers that he wishes Sam was there. He looks into the camera in an interview and thanks Sam for believing in him.

SCIENCE ingredients? Really, Raid?

Once all three guys have weighed in (Daris, incidentally, didn't need to spend $10K on a 1lb advantage, but the extra pound did edge him out over Koli to win the Curtis Stone prize, so I guess that's something), Ashley starts freaking out, because the men pulled out big numbers. Her number isn't great comparatively, but nonetheless, there is good news for her - Ali tells her that she has broken the record for most weight lost by any woman on campus. That's excellent.

Last up is Sunshine. She looks ill. She goes up and Ashley looks deeply distressed as we go to commercial. When we come back, we find that Sunshine has lost a paltry 2lbs. She's going home, and Ashley's in the Final Four.

Milestones achieved this week:

  • Daris goes below 200lbs
  • Daris hits the 150lb mark of total loss
  • Michael hits the 200lb mark of total loss
  • Koli hits the 40% mark of total loss

Sunshine, the dear, is so lovely with her immediate congratulations to everyone else. She's really happy at what she's accomplished. As Bob compliments her tenacity, Koli looks completely stunned. Ashley tells Sunshine she's beautiful and strong. Sunshine is diappointed, but won't let that beat her up. Bob and Jillian walk her out. Michael looks after her as she goes...longingly, perhaps?

With the ranch behind her, Sunshine heads home in a limo, and there's a massive crowd waiting for her at a high school. She looks awesome. O'Neal loves her dress, smile and confidence. He's happy and proud. The crowd chants her name. She thanks them for being here. It's a huge step to get started, she says, but do it, and celebrate the small victories. How bad do you want it, she asks. She advises the crowd that if they fall, that's okay. Get back up and do it again, but don't quit. She wishes everyone could be as happy as she is right now.

Flash forward, and she is going with her family to a baseball game. She is a rabid Minnesota Twins fan, which disgusts my husband and seems to bring her down a notch in his estimation. "The TWINKIES?" he asks indignantly. (Dude, she's from MINNEAPOLIS! Whom else d'you think she's going to root for?) She used to have to wear oversize men's jerseys, but today that's all changed. She's actually wearing a jersey that the Twins gave her, which warms the cockles of her Twins-fan's heart. :) But gets better! She gets to throw out the first pitch! WOW! Before the game, everyone eats really heathily and the food all looks great, I gotta say. She starts crying on the field at the prospect of her dream come true. We find out that she's lost a total of 113lbs and wants to lose another 20.

Next week: (SPOILERS)

Look for the following milestones:

  • Koli could drop below 225lbs
  • Koli could hit the 175lb mark of total loss
  • Michael could move from morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Koli could move from obese to overweight
  • Michael could hit the 40% mark of total loss
  • Daris could hit the 45% mark of total loss

TV Guide: The players train for a marathon at home and must work to stay on track while away from the ranch. During the race, the contestants receive support from former players and family members. Later, Bob and Jillian hold last-chance workouts before the weigh-in, which determines who's moving on to the final round.

Week after next: After viewer votes determine the third finalist, the winner of the $250,000 prize is crowned in the Season 9 finale. The eliminated players also return to weigh in for the $100,000 at-home prize, and former contestants share their weight-loss progress since leaving the show.

(Those "former contestants" will, of course, as promised in the previous finale, be Shay from Season 8 and Erik from Season 3. For every pound Shay's lost since we last saw her, she'll win $1,000 from Subway. Erik is just apparently doing this as a face-saving thing.)

Standings (eliminating advantages/disadvantages)

# This wk % Overall % This wk lbs Overall lbs BMI
1 Koli (5.33) Daris (43.64) Koli (13) Michael (204) Daris (28.0)
2 Daris (4.88) Koli (42.68) Michael (12) Koli (172) Sunshine (28.4)
3 Michael (3.59) Michael (38.78) Daris (10) Daris (151) Koli (30.5)
4 Ashley (2.94) Ashley (38.24) Ashley (7) Ashley (143) Ashley (38.4)
5 Sunshine (1.12) Sunshine (36.00) Sunshine (2) Sunshine (99) Michael (40.2)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

I feel pretty

With the departure of her father last week, Sunshine is now alone on the ranch. This is a very new experience for her, so things are weird.

Ali breaks in on the contestants' breakfast, which is really a product placement for Multigrain Cheerios. At first it looks like a product placement merely by virtue of showing the product while they're eating, but wait for gets worse. Ali points out that the six of them together have lost 805lbs, all thanks to the Cheerios, of course. (But wait for gets worse.) Ali then announces that it's makeover week, and everyone is thrilled. "Make me prettier!" yells Sam. :) Michael wants his hair gone. He is not alone. :) Limos are going to pick them up to take them shopping, and everybody gets $1,000 to do work with, again, thanks to...the Cheerios people. (I did warn you it was going to get worse.) Sam is especially stoked about this, because he loves clothes and fashion. And a good thing too, because he, like his fellow contestants, is on his own with the shopping thing. Whither Tim Gunn? Guess they couldn't afford him this season. Of course there will be hair and makeup, too, followed by a concert of some kind. Sunshine remarks that she's always gotten so excited for the contestants on makeover week on the show, and she's really excited that this time it's for her. Yay!

Swanky music, swanky clothing shops. Sam really likes looking at the sizes and knowing he can fit in them. He's tired ofdriving tons of miles to get to the nearest Big and Tall store. "This is my new reality, and I love it," he says of the sizes he can just pick out off the rack. Sunshine claims she's forgotten how to shop. Ashley is a bit nervous because she still has 100lbs to go, so this shopping expedition isn't really for her permanent wardrobe. Sunshine tries on something huge. The store doesn't even have her SIZE, she's so much smaller. Hee hee. Good times. In another shop, Daris reflects that he used to wear t-shirts and jeans at farm & ranch supply stores, right next to the tarps. So where he's at now is a totally different world, he has no idea what he's doing. usually all the nice stuff he's ever had was picked out by his mom or sister. Naturally, given a chance to do this himself, he picks out a plaid shirt and jeans. Oi.

But all is not fun and games and slipping into small sizes. Michael, for example, is bummed that after losing a whopping 183lbs, he STILL has to go to a specialty store for big and tall men. He doesn't even get to shop with any of his fellow Losers, and the stuff he likes still doesn't fit. He's very frustrated. I feel really bad for him, that does indeed suck. But Michael, you just have to keep remembering: if you're going to get down from 526lbs to your ideal weight, you can't possibly do that without passing through 343lbs first. Keep on keepin' on, Mike.

Bonus video: Michael's not the only one experiencing disappointment. Koli was thinking that this would be the day he could try anything on and not worry about the size. But it turns out that that hasn't happened. While Sam is capering through the store grabbing anything that catches his eye and looking sizzling in it, none of the pants in the store fit poor Koli. So he's thinking he hasn't done enough. He wants to know he can walk into a store and know he can get anything. He reflects that he is progressing, but he's still got a lot of mental stuff to work through; stuff that will take longer than it'll take to get the weight off. He's had twenty-nine years of beating himself down and doesn't know what it will take to get him to the mental place he wants. :(

Salon time! No Tabitha Coffey of the undead, thank goodness. Instead we have Jonathan Antin, the head judge of Bravo's new show, "Shear Genius". He calls himself the "go-to hair guy". (Clearly, incredibly modest as well.) For Sam, he's feeling the "classic penitentiary look...the handsome version". I don't know what the hell that means, but I'm sure I'll find out. Sunshine is nervous. We see colour applied, locks being clipped, etc. Michael's hoping to walk out of there feeling great. We get funny shots of Michael's hair falling to the ground and the camera shaking with the weight of it all as Jonathan says he's clipping off the pounds. He waxes eloquent about how they're just "raw canvases". Daris is another guy who's (fortunately) ready to shed some hair. Alllll the contestants stop and watch as the curly locks come off. Jonathan reckons he's chopping off about ten inches and asks Daris to consider donating the hair to Locks of Love. That's cool.

With hair, makeup, and clothes all set, the contestants enter the 360-degree mirror room. Sunshine is first. Holy shit, does she look hot. She can't believe it's her. She can't stop smiling. (Duh, honey, you're GORGEOUS!) Behind the mirror are two of her brothers, Jazz and Arece. It's a two-way mirror, so they can see what she looks like, and they're amazed. She screams as the mirror opens and they grab her and lift her up. It's pretty awesome, the sibling bond in that family has always seemed so terrific. Oh, she looks like such a star.

Koli's next. We get flashbacks from 16 weeks previous. He's put himself in really geeky glasses (which DH isn't keen on) and given himself a kind of Poindexter look. (I read an article online somewhere where Sam interviews that Koli doesn't actually need glasses, it's just a "look".) Koli's parents are behind the mirror with a lei to drape around his neck. The lei is traditionally given on occasions of great importance and/or accomplishment, so of course this is very significant for him. He cries to see them and his mom is really delighted. She pats his stomach because the big belly isn't there anymore. She's so happy that he's happy and healthy. Koli's really happy that they're proud - he hasn't had a lot of that for a while.

Ashley is floored at the changes she sees, even though she's elected to go with spandex leggings for this auspicious moment. (QFM.) She's still very large, but there are big, big differences. She feels more sexy and womanly than ever. (She should, her waist-to-hip transition is stunning.) Her sisters are behind the glass flabbergasted at her tiny little waist and neck and gorgeousness, etc. etc. Cue the three-way scream as they're revealed. They assure her that she looks different and great and you can even see her collarbones. They slap her butt as they freak out over her waistline and reduced ass size. And with the three of them in that tiny little mirror room, that is a whole lot of cleavage. :)

Time to see Sam! Ladies, start your engines. Oh, they've given him a niiiiice. goatee. That looks great. His parents are all vorklempt behind the mirror. He gives this fantastic roar when he sees them, and of course his mom puts a lei around his neck.

My younger daughter cries and I go up to settle her. But I don't miss much; mostly ads. When I return, we're onto Daris. And...Ho. Lee. Shit. Wow, does he ever clean up good. He looks completely different! He loves it. I can see more of Cheryl in him now, too. His dad and sister Brandi are there and he's very surprised. He's really missed his family. "What happened to this, it all went away!" exclaims his dad, touching his stomach. Daris is now in size 34 jeans. We see another flashback to Fat Daris, and holy crap, he really is totally different. His dad thinks he's looking good. Daris loves the reaction. DH: "He's going to be in demand!"

Lastly, we have Michael's reveal. Oh, WOW. He's got a slick goatee and a really nice haircut and DH sez: "He's got a bit of Ed Robertson going." Michael's sisters are gobsmacked behind the mirror. Rosangela, who is quite large, wants him to teach her what to do. He says she's missing a lot because she's hiding behind her weight. She doesn't like that she's the bigger sister now, and she's very emotional about the journey she knows she has to take.

Chandeliers. Other fancy lighting. Persian rugs. No chairs. It's like the Sultan's Tent restaurant! "Pull up a pillow," Ali offers to the families as they arrive. She also says that the journey is far from over - they've committed to the rest of their lives, and are celebrating a new outlook on life. Someone named Ashanti has come to give them all a private performance. Sunshine and Ashley are pretty stoked over this. And I'd imagine the guys are particularly stoked, too, because having to sit on the floor enables them to see up her skirt even better. She tells them to always shine no matter how hard it is. DH: "Profound."

She sings.
Okay, she sounds good.

We get montages of the contestants during the music. It's all very emotional. There's a particularly wonderful little clip of Ashley and Sherry from probably about Day One with Ashley turning to her mom and saying, "What happens if I go in there and I can't do it?" Sherry pauses, then turns to Ashley and says, "But what if you go in there and you CAN?" Koli looks like he's thinking really hard and I have to wonder what's going through his head. Maybe he's contemplating the deeper meaning of his life and how maybe he is worth a damn. Or maybe he's trying to peer further up Ashanti's skirt. Who knows.

DH: "Challenge time. And it looks wet."

"It's the Jacob's Ladder to hell!" exclaims Ashley. This is a pretty straightforward challenge - everybody has a Jacob's Ladder suspended over the pool. If they stop climbing, they're in the drink. Last person climbing wins a 1lb advantage at the weigh-in. Sam muses that that means more to him than to anyeone else because he has less to lose. And the first person in the water gets a 1lb disadvantage. Michael rolls his eyes and looks at Daris knowingly.

The problems begin immediately. First, Sunshine tells us, it's faster than she's used to. Secondly, it's all wobbly. Ashley tries to focus on a single point and ignore Ali mentioning that she's behind everybody else. She looks across at her competitors and loses focus really quickly. Good-bye, Ashley. She slaps the water in frustration. She's disgusted that she's out at less than three and a half minutes. But this is good news for Michael, who doesn't have to worry about a 1lb disadvantage this week. He is, however, next to go at about the five minute mark. Susnhine starts getting intimidated being up there with a bunch of boys. Oh, suck it up, sweetie, don't get hung up on chromosomes. Remember Tara pulling the car?

Everybody else lasts way longer than five minutes, and I bet Michael and Ashley are feeling pretty stupid watching them go on and on. Over 40 minutes later, Ashley can't believe it, she doesn't understand how they're doing it. DH points out that Ashley and Michael have the highest BMIs, so it makes sense that they would have had the most trouble with this challenge. Daris points out that a bit of a wrong move on the Jacob's Ladder can hurl you off. Everyone remarks in interviews about how really hard this is. Sunshine gets to the bottom of her ladder but pulls herself up...and then falls off at about 45 minutes. Sam's prety happy about this because it brings him closer to the weigh-in advantage. He believes that Koli would jump off the ladder if it's just the two of them left (I'm sure he's right), so really the two of them just have to beat Daris. For his part, Daris is tired of Grey winning challenges all the time, and is determined to stay on.

Koli gives Sam a pep talk to try and keep him on the ladder. But Sam is genuinely struggling and falls in at 55 minutes. Koli claims not to be tired at all (which I believe, because he looks really strong, but I am amazed at it). At one hour, Daris isn't particularly struggling, either, and predicts this could take a while. He tells Koli he won't judge him if he jumps off. :) They exchange remarks to feel each other out. Koli doesn't really want the prize, but he's feeling good and does want to win. Daris slips down a bit, chides himself for daydreaming and climbs back up near the top. He's visualising his dad and sister's reactions at the makeover and his mom's reaction when he returned home, and it keeps him going. At about two hours they're both starting to struggle. "Would it be considered peeing in the pool if I did it from up here?" asks Daris jokingly. Like, ew, man.

Hey, y'know, if nothing else, they're burning a lot of calories.

Sam sees each rung Koli climbs as him climbing to success. He loves the new Koli. DH: "Maybe a Koli that doesn't need to drive girlfriends away from Sam." Finally, Daris hits the wall, and jumps into the water at two and a half hours. Koli's pretty stoked. He reflects that he doesn't win stuff in his life, this is new, and he did it on his own strength. He's really confident now. Yay!

So later, Bob and Jillian are waiting for the results of the makeovers and they love what they see. "We got Lyle Lovett in the house! You've got a pompadour!" exclaims Bob. "I hope you feel as great as you look," says Jillian. She reflects on the emotional changes, too. Then we get down to business. Ashley explains how the challenge worked. Hey, she's pretty funny sometimes when she relaxes into her storytelling. Bob and Jillian are gobsmacked that the challenge last two and a half hours. They're very impressed. Daris admits that he quit and jumped off, and he's mad at himself for that. Koli pats him on the back as comfort. Bob says that there's a mental thing there that still needs to be worked on. DH believes this means Daris is going to be stuck with Jillian's psychoanalysis today.

Bonus video: Bob comes to hang out with Michael, who breaks out the pants he was wearing when he came to the ranch. Bob actually gets his whole self into ONE LEG of them. Bob thinks this is hilarious and waddles off to show this to Koli. Sam takes pictures, most likely destined for Facebook. Michael reflects on how far he's come. They compare pants then and now and there's a massive difference. Michael looks forward to the moment when he can laugh about the size of his current pants just as much.

Last chance workout begins with Sam getting taped up like he's going into battle. Because this. Is. War. They all do crazy things, like walking with their hands on the treadmill. Ashley stands on one foot on a half-medicine ball while lifting dumbells. Jillian doesn't want her going home without a fight. Ashley struggles on the treadmill, but takes a deep breath and soldiers on. Her speed is 9mph. "Are you going home?!?" Jillian roars as Ashley gets into the zone.

Surprisingly, Bob takes Daris. I guess that does make sense - Daris is one of his special people. They go outside. Bob begins the conversation with "I need to know where your head is right now." He's mad because Daris broke. He wants Daris to get into an "I'm gonna win this" mentality, and doesn't want him tripping up at the 1-yard line, which is where the competition is at the moment. Daris tears up. DH points out that maybe Daris feels that he feels that he's already at his goal, so there's not much left to do, that the fire is gone from his eyes. "I don't think the haircut is doing him any favours," DH reflects. Bob puts Daris through a whole bunch of paces, and day-um, Daris is looking good. Finally Bob gets Daris to do a low crouch for 20 seconds. This is the moment where Daris has to fight for it, but he gives up halfway through. Oh dear, giving up goes against the lesson of the day. So Daris has to try again. Bob starts telling him that he WILL NOT GIVE UP, and in response, up. Bob interviews, though, that he and Jillian couldn't do what they made Daris do today. Finally Daris does the crouch for 20 seconds. Yay. Later, he wipes out on the treadmill, but gets back up again. Ashley watches with amazement. Jillian later advises us that hanging onto the handrails onthe treadmill reduces your bodyfat burning by 20-30%.

Weigh-in. Nobody knows how it's going to go down. Koli's feeling confident, though. And well he should be, since he blows everyone else out of the water.

Milestones achieved:

  • Koli drops under 250lbs
  • Ashley moves from morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Daris and Sunshine move from obese to overweight
  • Ashley, Sunshine and Michael hit the 35% mark of total loss
  • Daris hits the 40% mark of total loss

It's Sam and Michael below the yellow line, with Sam at the bottom.

Bonus video: This is a scene which took place just prior to the weigh-in. Daris and Ashley are discussing how tough this vote is going to be. Daris thinks Sam is awesome and a great friend, but this is the third time Sam's fallen below, and he's already gotten two extra weeks out of the experience. Enter Michael, who wants to see where their votes are at. Is their outsider alliance still in place? He feels like he let them down, which Ashley denies. He promises to look out for them if they keep him around. Ashley says that she knows neither Grey nor Yellow has her back, and knows that she and Daris would be gone if either of them fell below. She acknowledges that Michael will be big competition at the finale, but she needs him to stick around if she wants to actually make it there herself. She points out that staying together this week will give them the advantage next week.

And indeed, since the votes are split evenly between the Grey/Yellow alliance and the outsiders, it's Sam who gets the boot. He's really happy to be home. And damn, he looks like a rock star. :) His sister Sheri's breath is taken away at the sight of him. He feels love walking into the house. He tells people that he is living up to the potential that he was throwing into the toilet over the last few years. He feels he can do anything he wants.

Some time later, he's at 236lbs, which is just 2lbs less than when he left the ranch. This doesn't bother him, though, because he had already hit his goal weight on the ranch - the only contestant in Biggest Loser history to do so, apparently. So he's done losing weight, he's just maintaining it now. And what a life he's maintaining it for - he now has a new roommate in Los Angeles, which, as anyone who's been following story knows, is Stephanie. They started their relationship in Week 3 on the ranch. They've gone through the transformation together, which means they've been through the worst, and are now coming into their best. That's a nice way to look at it. Steph believes she was chosen to go on the show to save her life, save her mom Patti's life, and meet Sam. For his part, Sam feels that even though he's not going to win any of the money prizes on the show, he already has his prize, every day. Awwww. They work out together. "I have a case of the Sams," Stephanie tells us. For his part, Sam is happy as a pig in shit. They run romantically on the beach together and everything. His new goal is to help Stephanie reach her goal weight.

Next week: (SPOILERS)

Look for these potential milestones:

  • Daris could drop under 200lbs
  • Sunshine could drop under 175lbs
  • Sunshine could hit the 100lb mark of total loss
  • Michael could hit the 200lb mark of total loss
  • Koli could hit the 40% mark of total loss

Preview video: Michael is still bitter about being large despite his massive weight drop, and he goes on a bit of a rampage in the gym as he lets out his feelings about that. Bob vows to not let Michael forget about how far he's come. Another downer comes in the form of Erik, Season Three winner, who's gained a whole lot of his weight back. We also find out that this week's elimination will be automatic - lowest percentage of weight loss automatically sends you home.

TV Guide: Quarterback Tony Romo takes the contestants on a hike; past winners Helen Phillips and Erik Chopin discuss the challenges of keeping weight off away from the ranch. Also: Dr. Huizenga offers health updates; the players race over hills of sand while carrying the amount of weight they've lost; Bob and Jillian review videos of the contestants' weight-loss journeys; and the final four are determined at the weigh-in.

Week after next: The players train for a marathon at home and must work to stay on track while away from the ranch. During the race, the contestants receive support from former players and family members. Later, Bob and Jillian hold last-chance workouts before the weigh-in, which determines who's moving on to the final round.


# This wk % Overall % This wk lbs Overall lbs BMI
1 Koli (5.79) Daris (40.75) Koli (15) Michael (192) Sunshine (28.7)
2 Sunshine (4.81) Koli (39.45) Ashley (10) Koli (159) Sam (29.0)
3 Daris (4.21) Michael (36.50) Daris, Michael, Sunshine (9) Ashley, Daris (141) Daris (29.4)
4 Ashley (4.03) Ashley (36.36) Koli (32.2)
5 Michael (2.62) Sam (36.02) Sam (134) Ashley (39.6)
6 Sam (0.83) Sunshine (35.27) Sam (2) Sunshine (97) Michael (41.7)