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)

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