Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Biggest Loser Review, 2010/02/09: Five-Ring Circus

So, despite the fact that I told the VCR to stop taping five minutes BEFORE 8:00, it still cuts in well after the show had already begun. F**k. The contestants appear to already have flown to the American Olympic training facility in Colorado, as they're outside in thick coats and team colour-coded hats. Ali is telling them that this week, TWO people are going home. They'll be weighing in as individuals, and there will be a yellow line...and a RED line. The one person who falls under the red line immediately goes home. The two other people who fall under the yellow line will be up for elimination. Everyone looks glum. Sunshine is particularly freaked out because it's sort of like the first challenge, where two teams were instantly booted out, and she was on one of them. Instant booting gives her flashbacks.

To lift everyone's spirits from this news, Ali brings out Allison Jones, who has been named to the Paralympic team a staggering four times. Her two events are Alpine Skiing and Road & Track Cycling. She was born without one leg and has always been involved in sport. This will be her fifth Paralympic Games. Cool. We also see that everyone's hats are different. Unsurprisingly, I like the ones which look hand-knitted the best. :) Allison takes a torch and they all walk over to where a big cauldron torch is, letting each contestant carry the torch in turn. They all feel pretty amazing about that. Allison then lights the big cauldron just as if it were the actual Olympics and the US was hosting it. Ah, the arrogance. To top it off, everyone starts chanting "U-S-A". "That sparked a torch in my heart," O'Neal tells us, "Let the games begin."

(What this all really means is that we shouldn't be surprised when the show gets cancelled next week because the Olympics are on.)

We get a flash clip of Max working out during the ad for Biggest Loser Fitness Ridge resort!

So everyone takes their colour-coded luggage into their rooms at the training centre. "It's crazy that being fat actally got me to the Olympics," says Lance. Dude, the Olympics are in Vancouver. You are in Colorado. YOU ARE NOT AT THE OLYMPICS! Seriously, what is with the delusions of grandeur? Everybody gets a flag signed by all of the resident athletes. O'Neal talks about the pervading attitude in this place of enthusiasm and striving for the best.

Big-ass kitchen. Jillian says the players will be eating the food Olympians eat while they're here. So the nutitionists talk to them about their food. We hear that Olympians have a daily caloric intake of 1600 to over 8000 calories, depending on the sport. Everyone's eyes get all big at the 8,000 calorie number, because that's just insane. (However, I don't think it holds a candle to what Michael Phelps had to ingest at his training peak). The nutritionists talk about different diets being appropriate to different people. We see a speed skater's meal, a weight lifter's meal, a judo fighter's meal, and the guy explains why everything's there on the plates. The nutritionists wind up by saying that they're at the contestants' disposal.

Stephanie notices some desserts in a serving carousel, and confesses she has a sweet tooth. Then - what a shocker - Bob says he would rather she have Extra sugar-free gum. Stephanie agrees that it's a better option for her. Yes, even when off the ranch, the product placements do not stop.

Meanwhile, Koli is really bummed about John. Like, really, disproportionately bummed. He can't get over it. He talks about how John has so many more reasons to be on the show (wife, child) than he himself (who has "nothing") does. He accurately notes that he has a kind of "survivor's guilt" about still being on the show, and says that maybe this goes back to how he values himself. Sam agrees that that's what's going on here. (Ya think? Koli is completely down on himself, which is so too bad because he seems like a really great guy.) Koli says that he keeps fighting the growth he needs to go through during this process. He wants to run away, like he always does. He's never done anything for himself and somehow needs to let the walls down. He also needs to cut out his annoying habit of fiddling with his beard.

We head to the gym to meet some Olympians: gold medallist alpine skiier Julia Mancuso, who's been skiing all her life and loves to be fit; and freestyle skiier Jeret "Speedy" Peterson, who has a special move called The Hurricane, which has three flips and five twists. The contestants will be working out with these people. They're fairly awed. Speedy puts them through a circuit, going from station to station, no stops in between. There's some boxing, situps, running fast in ladder squares, hula hoops, etc. Melissa is completely stoked. Julia can do hula hooping while balancing on one leg on a half-ball thing (later discovered to be a "bosu ball"). Daris does push-ups with Bob on his back. Ashley trips on the ladder and Jillian wants her to do push-ups as punishment. We also see, by looking at Julia, that it must be very cold in the gym, cuz...chicken's done! ;D To DH's credit, though, that's not what he notices about her. Instead, he says, "My god, her feet are so quick." Sherry says that the altitude of Colorado is getting to her. Speedy attempts to give everyone a break, but Bob nixes that idea pretty quickly. The idea of circuit training is to keep the heart rate up. It's "relentless" and "intense", interview the players. Even "horrible", according to Michael, before we see a clip of him pounding the floor in frustration. But they get through it. At the end of it, Speedy says the contestants make him feel like a wuss. :) He says that they're an inspiration to him, and they'd better be an inspiration to themselves.

Bonus video: Julia demonstrates to the female contestants how wicked awesome she is by getting onto an exercise ball in one leap and STAYING ON THERE TOTALLY BALANCED. The contestants watching her are amazed. Julia then reveals the obstacle course they'll be going through (timed, of course). For some reason, all the ladies (Jillian included) have hilarious tiaras on their heads. Their mouths are all completely agape (Jillian included) as they watch Julia demonstrating all the stages of the obstacle course. We then see the ladies going through it and some bits are especially hilarious, such as Miggy being so incapable of getting the hula hoop going that she moves it around with her hands instead. :) Sherry, on the other hand, is surprisingly decent at the hula hoop. The winner is Sunshine with 41 seconds, and as a reward she gets to be the first to check out Julia's gold medal (looks like a donut, so it must be from Torino). She even gets to put it ON! That's cool, man.

Bonus video: Michael is very frustrated trying to do a handstand with his feet on the wall because the floor is wet and he keeps slipping. This is actually the part where he pounds the floor in frustration. Speedy hunkers down and tells Michael he can do anything if he puts his mind to it. However, he follows up this pithy cliche with some good stuff - Speedy reveals that he gets p***ed in workouts, too, all the time, you just have to work through it, that it's almost all mental. He then references the lazy viewing audience sitting on their asses, quitting their weight loss resolutions after two weeks, watching Michael really doing it. He calls Michael a champion, and Michael says he guesses he doesn't give himself enough credit for everything he's accomplished so far. He tells Speedy that Jillian wants him to lose 300lbs by the end of the show (which, incidentally, would put him down to an overweight BMI and give him 57.03% of weight loss), but that he can't even remember being under 300lbs. He did come close, though, once in junior college, hitting 301. He says his problem is that he sets goals for himself which are too high, and when he comes up short, he gives up. Speedy draws parallels between them: Michael's goal is 299lbs, Speedy's is a gold medal. Speedy tells Michael to think of his goal like a ladder. Michael reveals that he gets so burned out sometimes, and Speedy tells him that yeah, that happens - and look at all the other contestants, who are going through the same thing. Speedy tells Michael that even though they're all competing with each other, they're still a team. They have to support each other, because in the end, nobody's going to lose. He urges Michael to use his stubbornness to keep him going, and then they keep going on the workout. Wow, this Speedy guy is good. And yes, Michael ends up doing the wall stand for a count of ten. Right on.

Bob has sussed that Koli doesn't think he deserves to be here. They have a talk after the workout. Bob tells him not to get wrapped up in all that 'not deserving to be here' stuff. He says he thinks Koli is fantastic, and that when Koli sees himself the way Bob sees him, he'll be invincible. Sadly, it's clear that Koli is not buying it.

Speedy shows us how to do lunges and tells us to do them while the commercials are on.

Pop challenge! Ali says that being a champion comes down to pushing harder than everyone else. To illustrate this point, she brings out Olympian J.R. Selsky to show them how the challenge is going to work. He's a short-track speed-skating Olympic hopeful, competing in three different events. He's been speed-skating for 16 years, but was recently in the hospital, as he managed to slice up his leg with a skate blade during the Olympic trials. The scar is indeed a nasty-looking thing, he must have bled like crazy. However, he bounced back. He says that you always have to get back up, no matter what situation you're in. Hopefully Koli's listening to this.

So each person has a slide board and they need to slide back and forth. Every time they hit a side they get a point. They have to get to 500. Top three people (gold, silver, bronze) get prizes: some kind of advantage in the main challenge. J.R. demonstrates how the slide board works, and we see that it's basically a speed-skating simulator. Miggy doesn't look too hopeful about her ability to do well here. However, she needn't worry, because she, O'Neal and Darrell have to sit out for medical reasons. As we get started, there's a lot of slipping. Melissa's the first one to 100. But about 25 away from the finish line, Sam catches up, while Melissa can't catch her breath. J.R. limply tells people to push through the pain. (Yeah, cheerleading is not his forte.) Melissa tries to distract Sam by trash-talking. It doesn't work. Instead, she falls, and Sam takes the lead, winning. Melissa comes in second and gives Sam a congratulatory hug. Sunshine and Lance battle it out for third place (as Melissa snaps at Lance to "Focus!"), and Sunshine edges Lance out! Nice. O'Neal goes wild and Sunshine cries with joy. And for heaven's sakes, there's an actual podium and cheezy medals for the top three.

Bob and Jillian tell us to support the American athletes financially, and cheer them on at the Olympics. Sorry, but I won't be. :)

Next stop is "Garden of the Gods State Park". It's apparently gorgeous, "something that only the gods could make," says Sam. Ali introduces them to Kelly Underkofler, who will be competing in her third Paralympics this year. She doesn't have a left arm. Miggy interviews - against a totally fake winterscape background - that being obese means having problems moving, so it's a bit humbling seeing the Paralympians achieve what they do.

The challenge is a biathlon, only with running instead of cross-country skiing. Lance gloats about the shooting component, since he has a lot of gun experience - he actually hunts food for his family's meals. (I guess if you can't help bring in the bacon with a commercial diving job, the least you can do is bring in the venison with a rifle.) So the contestants have to run around the field they're in. After each lap, they get to take a shot on someone else's target. Whenever you get five shots on your target, you're out. Kelly shows them how to use the laser gun. Sunshine, as the bronze winner from the pop challenge, gets to assign one shot to someone's board right before they start. Melissa gets to assign two shots, and Sam gets to assign three shots. Sunshine gives hers to Sam. Melissa gives both of her points to Sam also. In return, Sam gives one shot to Sunshine and one to Melissa. Melissa interviews about the pointlessness of these choices and how all three of them just kind of shot themselves in the foot. (Groan.)

The prize for winning is immunity. Darrell says that he totally wants immunity this week. This trip has been like a vacation, and two people are going home instead of one. He wants the security of immunity. Everyone targets Lance right off the bat - Sam, Lance, Daris, Koli, and - finally - O'Neal. Melissa is out next thanks to a final shot from Andrea. (Hm. Guess the rest of the house doesn't want Red to have immunity again?) Then Andrea does the final shot to take out Miggy, then Daris. She's on a big executioner high now, boy howdy. :) Stephanie takes Michael out before he can get a chance to take a shot, despite the fact that he asks her to wait so he can do another shot. Cheryl takes out Andrea. Sam takes out Sunshine. O'Neal takes out Koli. O'Neal says the only thing that compensates for how slowly he makes it around the field is his shooting ability. Then he takes out Sam. :) Darrell takes out Stephanie as revenge for shooting his board. Cheryl takes out Sherry. Ashley takes out Cheryl. Only O'Neal, Darrell and Ashley are left. Ashley figures she can take out the guys since they have knee problems, but is taken out by Darrell. Ashley is bummed, but says she feels good to have been up so high on the board. What she's failing to notice, however, is that this is not a best-person-wins game, it's a threats-go-out-first game. That's why the bad-knees guys are left: Darrell and O'Neal. Darrell interviews that he never felt his knees during the challenge and that he now has strength and stamina he hasn't felt in twenty years. (Love that.) It's EXTREMELY close, they actually aim their guns at each other's boards at the same time! But it's O'Neal for the win. Sunshine is totally proud.

The contestants head back to the ranch...with gum. However, the Olympians are still stalking them! They see Rockne "Rock" Brubaker, pairs figure skater, waiting for them at the 24-Hour Fitness that they've gone to for the last chance workout. They're doing a boot camp class, which, naturally, 24-Hour Fitness is great at. (Thank you, paid sponsor.) Bob remarks that the workout should be easy, now that they're back down at sea level. Miggy vows to give it all that she has, and then all that she doesn't have. Jillian makes Sam freakin' wheelbarrow on the treadmill! Michael points out that he has to lose 17lbs this week if he wants to beat Rudy's record of dropping 100lbs in seven weeks. Bob has a moment with O'Neal: he gets O'Neal to stand on a bosu ball all by himself, doing SQUATS. Sunshine is completely vorklempt about this. As am I. That was awesome. Bob testifies that it's all about giving people ownership of their bodies again.

Bonus video: Everyone's back at the ranch and worried about the two lines. Everyone sits around and talks about how there was some slacking off this week and they're all scared. Melissa reveals to Ashley that she had pancakes and didn't count calories. Ashley interviews that this bad decision-making surprised her.

As we go to commercial, Jillian tells us to get the hell off the couch and apply to be a contestant for season 10.

Onto the weigh-in. With two lines this week, everyone's feeling the stress. But I love Michael's precious little shruggy shoulder action as he quips, "No pressure" in response to Ali telling him he needs to lose 17lbs to beat Rudy's record. He doesn't make it, but odds are that he'll hit 100lbs next week - probably beating Rudy anyway since he'll most likely have lost more than Rudy's seven-week total of 101lbs. Koli seems to have found a bit of self-worth. Miggy squeals like a little girl at her success on the scale, very cute. Andrea at last gets a good number. (Yay!) Lance looks a lot thinner as he goes up.

For a long time, it looks like Darrell's toast. But Melissa gets on the scale and gains a freakin' pound. DH points out that this may be proof that she's actually been telling the truth about not throwing weigh-ins all along, and we all doubted her. I am willing to concede that this could be true, but I still think it was all very fishy. Jillian is wearing a glum and reflective expression which suggests she may be thinking the same thing.

Melissa is pretty fatalistic about things, noting that she's closer to her goal weight than anyone else and has fewer health problems than anyone else. Most of what she's thinking about right now, though, is making sure Lance doesn't slack off. She asks everyone to motivate him, and says that he canNOT come home before he hits 250lbs. "I'm going home, don't follow me," she orders him. "Yes, ma'am," comes the response. Wow, there's some dysfunctional relationshipping right there. Is she his wife or his mom? DH and I both agree that being alone on the ranch could end up being extremely good for Lance.

Milestones achieved:

  • Sam drops below 300lbs
  • Daris drops below 275lbs
  • Stephanie drops below 225lbs
  • Miggy drops below 200lbs
  • Koli and Darrell hit the 75lb mark of total loss
  • Andrea and Daris go from morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Miggy moves from obese to overweight
  • O'Neal, Lance, Miggy, Cheryl and Stephanie hit the 15% mark of total loss
  • Daris hits the 20% mark of total loss

With Melissa gone, we turn to the two people who fell below the yellow line: Cheryl and Darrell. I would prefer to see Cheryl go. Firstly, because I really like Darrell (not that Cheryl sucks in any way, but I just really like Darrell); and secondly, because he needs to be there more: he has health issues, way more weight to lose, and I absolutely believe that Cheryl has the capability to kick serious ass at home at this point - she is a rock underneath that meeky exterior. I'm actually pretty stoked for Darrell's chances here, because I think the other contestants will probably see things the same way...however, there IS no vote tonight. Instead, there's an elimination challenge. What?!? That's BULLSHIT. Sherry's relieved, though, because it takes her off the hook of having to vote, which she definitely wasn't looking forward to. (I imagine she's close with both of them.)

The challenge is to balance some kind of torch stem on your head. Above the torch stem is an actual lit torch, which is set up so that if the stem falls off, the flame will go out. Crap. Darrell's toast. It even involves bending your knees. Predictably, Darrell starts wincing in pain pretty much instantly, while Cheryl looks tough as HELL. (Good on her...but I still want Darrell to stay.) Tears start running down Andrea's face watching this, as it looks pretty hopeless for Darrell. I'm close to tears, too. Daris is worried because Cheryl's torch stem is angled and kind of off, but I think they threw that in in an attempt to make the contest seem closer (and therefore more suspenseful) than it actually is.

Even worse, just as we're about to find out who wins, a "to be continued" sign flashes up on the screen. Oh, fuck OFF!


Time to focus back on Melissa, though. She extols the virtues of Bob Harper The Training God as she makes her exit. (Take that, Jillian.) At home, she's down to 175lbs, which is awesome. She's been basically living as a single mom and dealing with work, all while implementing her new lifestyle. So it's a struggle. However, one advantage she has is that she's fallen in love with boxing. (Why does this seem oddly appropriate.) Also great is that her children come to the gym and work out with her. Her son Wyatt thinks his mom looks "HOT!" And that's...more than just a little icky. Melissa talks about wanting to pay things forward. She hopes we'll identify with all her struggling with her weight on the scale and realise that weight loss is still possible even when some weeks blow goat. Her goal is 145lbs, which sounds totally do-able.


# This wk % Overall % This wk lbs Overall lbs BMI
1 Sam (3.87) Daris (20.81) Sam (12) Michael (94) Miggy (29.4)
2 Miggy (3.40) Sam (19.89) Michael (11) Koli (77) Melissa (32.1)
3 Daris (3.18) Koli (19.11) Daris, Koli, Lance (9) Darrell (75) Cheryl (32.8)
4 Lance (2.87) Sherry (18.81) Sam (74) Sherry (33.4)
5 Koli (2.69) Darrell (18.16) Daris (72) Stephanie (33.6)
6 Andrea (2.67) Michael (17,87) O'Neal (8) O'Neal (64) Sam (36.3)
7 Michael (2.48) Miggy (17.08) Andrea, Miggy (7) Ashley (63) Lance (38.1)
8 Sunshine (2.45) Ashley (16.84) Lance (60) Sunshine (38.6)
9 O'Neal (2.40) O'Neal (16.45) Ashley, Sunshine (6) Andrea, Stephanie (43) Daris (39.3)
10 Ashley (1.89) Lance (16.44) Andrea (39.9)
11 Stephanie (1.78) Stephanie (16.29) Darrell (5) Miggy, Sherry (41) Koli (43.0)
12 Sherry (1.67) Cheryl (15.86) Stephanie (4) O'Neal (45.3)
13 Cheryl (1.55) Melissa (14.59) Cheryl, Sherry (3) Cheryl, Sunshine (36) Darrell (48.5)
14 Darrell (1.46) Andrea (14.43) Ashley (51.7)
15 Melissa (-0.51) Sunshine (13.09) Melissa (-1) Melissa (34) Michael (54.0)

Next week

It looks like the show will be pre-empted for the Olympics. Hopefully we'll be back the Tuesday after that.

Potential milestones next show:

  • Lance could drop below 300lbs
  • Andrea could drop below 250lbs
  • Sherry could drop below 175lbs
  • Andrea could hit the 50lb mark of total loss
  • Daris and Sam could hit the 75lb mark of total loss
  • Michael could hit the 100lb mark of total loss
  • Andrea and Sunshine could hit the 15% mark of total loss
  • Darrell, Sherry, Sam, Michael and Koli could hit the 20% mark of total loss

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Biggest Loser Review, 2010/01/26: Expect the Unexpected

As if the channel hadn't just replayed last week's episode, we get a recap from last week's elimination: Migdalia is no longer in the house. Miggy interviews that, because the vote was so close, she thought she herself was going home, and that she didn't know if she really wanted to stay. She finds it really hard to lose her daughter off the ranch. I'm not really sure why she's so upset; according to the biographical information available for the contestants, she and Migdalia live almost 500 miles away from each other, so shouldn't she be used to not living with her?

Crisis time! Miggy's having abdominal pain on her lower right side. Sounds like it could be her appendix. She is spirited off in an ambulance.

When the sun rises, we see morning shots of all the players trying to wake up to a new and glorious day on a Migdalia-free ranch. We see that Darrell has to sleep with all kinds of sleep apnea crap over his face. Koli, however, is little better off as he gets woken up by a really hard, aggressive push from Sam. They all go down to the living room, where Ali greets them. She tells the players that Miggy's gone to hospital. The majority of the contestants fail to manifest deep concern. Apparently Miggy's going to be okay, but is undergoing some tests. As for the rest of them, something's up outside, so come on out for the latest unpleasant reality show twist. The Real World is coming to challenge them! Yes, it's the return of Blue and Yellow. Everyone is surprised, but they seem genuinely happy, which is really nice. Andrea says they look great, but is wondering who's going to have to go home to let them back in. Ahh, here's a competitor who thinks like a reality show twist writer.

We get another recap about how Blue and Yellow have been working hard for 30 days and are now back to face off for a spot in the house. Seems like it's time to step on the scale! Psych! Bob and Jillian greet the two returning teams in the gym with the news that they have to go through a last chance workout BEFORE the weigh-in. So...crap. Bob tells us that, since the last chance workout is a rite of passage for all true Biggest Loser contestants, they have to get one in for Blue and Yellow too. O'Neal's face is noticeably thinner as he interviews about the experience. They all seem to handle the workout very well, and are very determined people. Good on them.

At the special weigh-in, Ali reveals that the team which makes it back on the ranch will not only have immunity this week, but will also have the only vote at the weigh-in. Oh, snap! Bob's jaw drops. I guess this means everyone has to be REALLY nice to Blue and Yellow.

Blue starts us off, and O'Neal notes that they definitely look smaller. They have done wonderfully well at home - Cherita has lost 8.66% and Victoria has lost 10.89%. Now it's Yellow's turn, and they're freaking out. But they needn't - they do even better. Sunshine has lost 9.09% and O'Neal has lost a spectacular 13.11%. Dudes, these are ranch-worthy percentages! I mean, Cherita and Sunshine are lagging a bit behind the pack, but not by much; and Victoria and O'Neal are right there in it! Awesome results for all four of these guys, really impressive stuff. But at the end of the day it's Yellow back on the ranch. O'Neal thumps his daughter on the back so hard I'm surprised he didn't break her spine. O'Neal tells us a bit about obesity in the black community and how he wishes he could give his spot up for Victoria. In turn, Cherita praises Yellow, and it's all very friendly and lovely. I'm very vorklempt. I love it when the show gets like that.

So let's catch Blue and Yellow up with some pointing out of milestones:

  • O'Neal and Victoria dropped below 350lbs
  • Cherita and Sunshine dropped below 275lbs
  • Cherita and Sunshine hit the 5% mark of total loss
  • O'Neal and Victoria hit the 10% mark of total loss
  • Sunshine and Victoria hit the 25lb mark of total loss
  • O'Neal hit the 50lb mark of total loss
  • O'Neal and Victoria went from super-obese to morbidly obese
  • Cherita went from morbidly obese to clinically obese

Now that that's over and done with, it's workout time. (Damn, I hope they took it easy on Yellow, they just had a last chance workout, for pete's sake.) O'Neal is kind of freaking out watching everyone else's intensity. Meanwhile, everyone else is speculating about Yellow.

Then Melissa whines a lot. Aaand...we're back on Melissa. (Sigh.) We get repeat old footage of her fighting with the trainers about throwing weigh-ins. Bob interviews that we need to put this all behind us. THEN WHY ARE WE STILL SHOWING FOOTAGE ABOUT IT? However, it's clear that Melissa's days of doing things half-assedly are done. DH: "Now suddenly she's having to work." Indeed, she's weeping when we come back from commercial, which doesn't move Bob in the slightest. He gets in her face and tells her that THIS is what it's all about, finding all your limits and pushing past them. After a moment, Melissa agrees with Bob, puts on her big girl underpants, and gets back on the machine. She starts screaming her head off. Nice. Bob then tells her that he at last believes that she's not gameplaying. His evidence for this is her 11lb loss from last week, which I think is still a slightly-waterloaded number. However, Bob tells her that she has earned his respect back. Oh Bob, you fool. They hug. She cries again. DH: "He told the lie he needed to tell." I don't know about that; I think Bob may actually believe her. Oh, well.

Meanwhile, Jillian is worried about how close Daris has been getting to the yellow line. She's concerned about his self-esteem issues and that he's not really pushing himself. He's not hitting his burn. He admits that he's not doing as much as the other guys, because he's good at accepting and giving up. But, points out Jillian, he's lost 51lbs in the past month. He can't believe he's gotten so far, and Jillian makes him come to the conclusion that such success must take confidence and pride in yourself. She suggests that maybe he should try being the I-lost-51lbs-in-four-weeks guy instead of the fat-funny-guy, and see where that gets him. She also warns him against pissing her off. :)

Cut to Yellow and Black in the kitchen with Bob. For heaven's sake, with those particular two teams standing together like that, they look like a massive bee. Clearly we're in for a product placement. They're talking about making food. Sunshine loves stews and chili, so Bob plugs Jennie-O extra-lean ground turkey for that kind of stuff. O'Neal smiles at this in such a "Testify!" kind of way that I half expect him to cry out a hallelujah. "Serious comfort food!" enthuses Darrell. We get a flashback to Old Darrell, which really highlights the differences in his face between Then and Now. I LOVE it when we can start seeing the differences from Day One!

Onto the challenge. It's Superbowl week! At least, it's Superbowl week here in the outside world. On the Biggest Loser ranch, however, they had to pretend it was Superbowl week when it was really, like, the beginning of November. But O'Neal isn't complaining; he's stoked because he's a football man. (I imagine Koli and Sam are also enthused for the same reason.) Everybody has a swivelling tackling dummy with blocking pads on the end of each "arm". They have to alternate hitting each one. Stephanie reveals that she is a girly girl and is not looking forward to this. Oh, suck it up, cupcake. Each team has to hit the tackling dummy 1,000 times. The winner gets immunity, and the team that comes last gets a 2lb penalty. John accurately reflects that that's a huge disadvantage. Man, this week's setup is really stacking the odds against teams who are unlikely to do well at this challenge. TWO teams getting immunity makes the odds suck harder for other people.

This is a one-person challenge, so all the paired teams have to choose one representative. Orange chooses Daris; Pink chooses Sherry; Yellow chooses Sunshine (so much for O'Neal's football love); Red chooses Lance; Black chooses Andrea (hoping to bring in her softball background); and Grey chooses Sam. Michael interviews about figuring out his groove, and indeed looks pretty good as he starts. Sam tells us that pushing the thing slowly gets heavier and heavier, because the harder you hit, the more impact you get when it comes back on you. DH reflects that this is going to be really hard on John's knee.

As always, Red are very good at seeing the humour at not winning. (I do like that about them.) Melissa talks about how Michael was a "White Knight" who suddenly showed up out of nowhere, just looking like he was pushing a kid on a swing. She imitates his "whoosh"ness, it's pretty funny. Michael can't even believe it himself. DH points out that Michael's mass is an advantage here. But of course Sam is very competitive, so hearing from Ali that Michael is threatening his lead will just jack Sam now Michael has to pull it out too, if he wants any hope of beating Sam.

Jillian quizzes us about how much America spends on snack foods on Superbowl Sunday. The answer is $50 million, but y'know, considering the size of the Superbowl audience, this is not huge. DH says he thinks he remembers that last year's viewership was 100 million. Even if you assume that only half of those viewers were American, that means $1 spent on snack foods for the show per American. Meh. Not so horrifying.

I never thought that I would see Sean Bean and Zac Efron in the same movie. My head may explode.

As we return to the challenge, Koli has brought out his Football Coach Voice big-time to cheer on Sam. Michael looks like he's tiring, whereas Sam looks like he has tons of fight left in him...and yet! Michael pulls ahead! He interviews that he can't believe it. Good for Michael, man, that's awesome! Sam picks up the pace with about 70 hits left to go, and Ali actually starts cheering Sam on. Way to be impartial, host lady. But Michael wins! "I did it! I did it, Mom!" he cries, which is really sweet, albeit further proof of his momma's boy tendencies. Koli and Sam are bummed. They swear, and admit that they're sore losers. (Okay, at least they admit it.) Team by team, everyone finishes, and Pink is last. They cry in an interview about being behind the eight-ball. DH: "They picked the wrong person to do it." To her credit, Sherry does finish off her 1,000 hits. Michael still can't believe he won a challenge. :)

Bonus video: Sherry's stressed about losing the challenge and not hitting her burn. Sherry tells Bob that if they fall below, she wants to go home because Ashley has more to do and more to lose. She's also trying to work very hard to inspire her daughter. I do like Sherry. Not only is she tough, but she's got a good attitude. Bob tells her the disadvantage is a blessing; it will make them work harder.

Night. Miggy returns to the house, walking really slowly and painfully. Turns out that she did indeed have to have an appendectomy. Well, that's a few pounds lost right there, right? We hear that they also took out "a cyst, a mass". (Crap. Hope that's benign.) This all means that she's only allowed to walk as exercise. However, she vows to kill the walking thing. Later, Michael and Miggy walk together, and we find that they have some kind of bond/friendship/alliance. Michael seems pretty surprised that Miggy is so into doing all this walking so soon after her surgery, and does some cute teasing: "Oh wait, oh wait, you hear that? [pause] No birds. Y'know why? Because they're SLEEPING." :)

Bonus video: Miggy finds out about the challenge and Yellow coming back. All good news - she missed a brutal challenge AND her buddies are back! She also assumes Grey won the challenge but is pretty happy and surprised to hear Michael won. "Well, I'm sorry I wasn't there to beat everybody on that one," she jokes. It's also interesting to watch the different expressions people have during the conversation. Also, Red is completely ignoring the entire group, reading something off in a corner. Guess when Miggy's the centre of attention, they have nothing to contribute. :) Miggy says she's relieved that her bad weight loss last week was probably due to her health crisis and not because of anything she did wrong.

Time for another product placement! After all, we must have snacks before workouts, right? We're makin' smoothies! Of course Bob has to come in during this to make sure the contestants make appropriate yummy noises. Dammit, now I want a smoothie.

Dr. H has a post-op consult with Miggy. She tells him she walked 13 miles the day after surgery. He's amazed. (As am I. Holy shit.) He says she can stay at the ranch, but a few more things need to change: she needs to eat a bit more, and she can't jiggle or bend in a major way. He also points out that they poured 8 to 9 pounds of salt water into her during the operation. (POURED? Damn, he makes it sound like they took a pitcher of seawater and just emptied it right in there.) So the surgery may end up hurting her at the weigh-in. Miggy doesn't feel that she can make it at home, and this forced waterloading news makes her feel pretty hopeless, so she's kind of going to pieces.

The trainers arrive and need to be caught up on all the news. Firstly, they're quite surprised that Grey didn't win the challenge, and that Michael DID. They also hear about Pink's 2lb disadvantage. Bob also notices that something is off about Miggy. (Ya think?) When he hears she's had abdominal surgery, Bob is pretty damn gobsmacked. He's also worried that she's losing the will to fight because she misses her daughter and is feeling like she has no chance at the weigh-in this week.

But look out, John's running on the treadmill! Hooray! He's kind of stoked to finally be with everybody else in the gym. Bob thinks John's going to "blow up the scale this week". But generally he feels the workout is going all weird. White is immune, Green has just been in surgery, Pink has a disadvantage. He kind of doesn't know which way to turn. DH: "Well, why are YOU running it? What about Jillian?" To hell with that, though, I'm still marvelling over Miggy's grit. She's sweating like a rutting pig.

Jillian wants to see smoke coming out of the treadmill! She works Daris out seriously on it, both running and doing pullups. Then she boxes with Sam. Bob tries to get Ashley to jump. Koli screams on a leg machine. O'Neal puts on his oogly face as he holds a pushup for-freakin'-ever. Shit. What was I saying a few weeks ago about not wanting to meet him in a dark alley? Yeah. I think he's the master of getting in the zone. Jillian gives Ashley crap for not going as fast as she's supposed to on the treadmill. Ashley tells Jillian it's just not going to happen today. This doesn't exactly impress Jillian, especially with that 2lb disadvantage hanging over Pink's head. Ashley reveals that when things get too hard, she stops. Oh, wait, but she's WORKING ON THAT. Really? Working on it how? By continuing to stop when things get too hard? Yeah, Jillian isn't buying it, either. Ashley then retreats to another tactic: blaming the way Jillian's talking to her. Because, my gawd, it's like Jillian's trying to get into her head or something. Geez, chickie, ya think? And have you ever actually WATCHED this show? Jillian is in full-on psychotherapist mode now, dammit, and Sherry tears up as she watches the moment.

What is it, presses Jillian. Well, turns out that it's that Ashley watched her father die in front of her face. Okay, yes, that's sufficiently awful for Jillian to take her outside for a private heart-to-heart. Private, as in, just you, me, and the rest of the national television viewing audience. Jillian talks about how heavy the baggage is when people have regret about someone they've lost. Not only does Ashley have a food problem, she also smokes and overdoes it on the booze. Ashley talks about the constant verbal berating she used to get from her dad about her size. It made her feel like crap, although she knew he loved her. But it prevented her from coming home when he was dying, because she couldn't deal with it. By the time she finally got there, he couldn't talk anymore, and died the next day. That is harsh. Jillian urges Ashley to say what she would have said. "You hurt my feelings all the time," reveals Ashley. She's also very sorry that she wasn't there for him.

Hopefully this is a bit of a breakthrough for Ashley.

Next, Andrea, Stephanie, Cheryl, Michael and Sunshine are told to run for five minutes. Sunshine freaks out about this, but Stephanie is really chipper and encouraging for everyone. "We can do this! Push through it!" she tells everybody. Wow, she's a really good cheerleader. She gets everybody through it and praises their grit beautifully afterwards. I'm liking me some Stephanie. Sunshine is amazed that she did it.

Bob tells us that the players go through so much on campus, so he loves giving them a yoga session right after a hard workout. Shit, Bob, that's REALLY hard after you've just been going all-out on a workout. But he makes them all hold hands and go all zen anyway. Sunshine is optimistic that she will find her purpose while she's in the house.

But what would an episode of this show be without a little gameplay, right? O'Neal and Sunshine take a private moment to discuss the shittiness and politics of having the only vote, and probably to discuss some strategy in advance. O'Neal is apparently willing to do whatever it takes to stay here, even if it means stepping on and crushing someone. He says he wants the confetti raining down on them at the finale. Er, wow. And not a good wow. I don't like this side of him. Sunshine, however, says her dad has never steered her wrong (except for that whole obesity role model thing, of course), so she's going to stick with him. Also, she really needs to lay off all that blue eyeshadow.

Bonus video: O'Neal goes swimming with a few of the players, and talks about having to determine "genuineness" of the other players since he and Sunshine have the only vote. He talks about keeping his cards close to his chest and is holding judgment. Cheryl talks about how it's very nervous-making leading up to weigh-in, and advises O'Neal that there's not a whole lot he can do about things - someone's going to fall below the yellow line, and he has no control over that. O'Neal interviews that people have been coming to him and filling him in on stuff, for whatever reason. He reiterates that he is here to stay as long as he can and he's not giving away anything to anyone that will hurt him.

At last, we move to the business end of the episode: the weigh-in. Everyone freaks out in interviews about it. "This weigh-in is..." is the phrase of the day. (Unsurprisingly, the show plays this line to death until we're all heartily sick of it.)

Ali talks about the week, and discusses Miggy's ordeals a bit. She can't believe how much Miggy did following the surgery, and Jillian looks pleased as punch about Miggy's determination. Then we get the lay of the land: One team will fall below the yellow line this week. If it's a paired team, Yellow will vote for which person in the team goes home. If it's a singleton team, however, Yellow is off the hook, and the person automatically goes home. Ali then turns her attention to the possibility of Michael breaking a Biggest Loser record by losing 100lbs in six weeks. Michael grins big-time when she tells him it's attainable - he just has to lose 30lbs in two weeks. For someone of his size, this is not impossible. And I like his grin; it's full of hope and self-confidence. Indeed, he interviews that he's proud of himself and feeling great in general, which is terrific.

Some interesting stuff happens at the weigh-in. O'Neal's number isn't that hot, but he may have waterloaded since he had immunity and is very concerned about using whatever strategy is necessary to keep him and Sunshine in the house. Lance doesn't do all that well, either, but all Melissa can do is talk about her accomplishment of going below 200lbs. Oh yes, and also, she's disappointed in him. !!! One highlight of the evening comes when Stephanie goes up - look at her waist! She's got one! Koli also gets a low percentage and takes it personally. I'm not so happy with how competitive the Grey team is. Andrea is justifiably sick of the small numbers she keeps getting. Miggy says this weigh-in is for her daughter. Good grief, lady, she didn't die. Fortunately, Miggy does really well, and is gleeful. She's been much more open this week with her emotions, it's good to see.

As it looks like it could be Red below the line, O'Neal starts ruminating on whether he should vote someone off because they're a threat (unspoken definition: Lance), or because people want him to vote a person off (unspoken definition: Melissa). Clearly, people have been talking to him about house politics!

Milestones achieved this week:

  • Michael dropped below 450lbs
  • Darrell dropped below 350lbs
  • Sunshine dropped below 250lbs
  • Melissa dropped below 200lbs
  • Sunshine hit the 10% mark of total loss
  • Ashley, Sam, Daris, Melissa, Sherry and Michael hit the 15% mark of total loss
  • Ashley and Lance hit the 50lb mark of total loss
  • Michael hit the 75lb mark of total loss
  • Darrell and John moved from super-obese to morbidly obese
  • Sunshine moved from morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Sherry and Stephanie moved from clinically obese to obese

Sadly, however, it's John who dips below the yellow line. He says he's going to go home and beat up on his twin brother James. :) But it's a brave face he's putting on. DH is crushed, and it looks like all the contestants are crying as John's small loss is revealed. Even Ali looks really close to tears. John must be awesome, they all seem to love him a lot. Sam says John is a brother to him and Koli. But John has found a lot of optimism on the ranch - he reflects on his many successes, and believes he can do this. He's taking responsibility for his own choices and will not blame his weight on tragedies anymore. I like him a lot, very sad to see him go. John vows that he and James will just keep going. He wants to be in the 200s, healthy, and a great husband.

At home, he's now 380lbs, which means he's lost 104lbs. That's great! He did have a tough time going to the gym when he first got home, though - his weight loss started to slow and things weren't clicking. (Unlike James, he does not have a job that he can take extensive time off from and focus exclusively on his weight loss.) But what he's learned since is that the entire weight loss process needs to be a lifestyle change. You have to incorporate something into your life which you love and will actually do. For John, it's jiu-jitsu! (DH: "Jillian will be proud.") He's really into it and can't wait to go train when he gets off of work. For the profile, he's invited his family to come and watch. They're all pretty excited. And it turns out that his wife is expecting another baby! DH gets really happy over that. John and James play basketball together, and all appears to be going really well. Hooray.


# This wk % Overall % This wk lbs Overall lbs BMI
1 Daris (4.07) Daris (18.21) Michael (13) Michael (83) Miggy (30.4)
2 Sherry (3.23) Sherry (17.43) Daris (12) Darrell (70) Melissa (32.0)
3 Sam (3.13) Darrell (16.95) Sam (10) Koli (68) Cheryl (33.3)
4 Michael (2.85) Koli (16.87) Ashley (9) Daris, John (63) Sherry (34.0)
5 Ashley (2.76) Sam (16.67) Darrell (8) Stephanie (34.2)
6 Melissa (2.46) Michael (15.78) John, Koli, Sherry (6) Sam (62) Sam (37.7)
7 Miggy (2.37) Ashley (15.24) Ashley (57) Lance (39.2)
8 Darrell (2.28) Melissa (15.02) O'Neal (56) Sunshine (39.5)
9 Stephanie (2.17) Stephanie (14.77) Andrea, Melissa, Miggy, O'Neal, Stephanie, Sunshine (5) Lance (51) Daris (40.6)
10 Sunshine (2.00) Cheryl (14.54) Stephanie (39) Andrea (41.0)
11 Andrea (1.87) O'Neal (14.40) Sherry (38) Koli (44.2)
12 Koli (1.76) Miggy (14.17) Andrea (36) O'Neal (46.4)
13 Cheryl (1.52) Lance (13.97) Melissa (35) Darrell (49.2)
14 O'Neal (1.48) John (13.02) Miggy (34) John (49.9)
15 John (1.41) Andrea (12.08) Lance (4) Cheryl (33) Ashley (52.7)
16 Lance (1.26) Sunshine (10.91) Cheryl (3) Sunshine (30) Michael (55.4)

(Jillian really needs to point this out to Daris. That'll boost his self-estteem, boy howdy.)

Next week: (SPOILERS)

Potential milestones:

  • Sam could go below 300lbs
  • Daris could go below 275lbs
  • Stephanie could go below 225lbs
  • Sherry could go below 175lbs
  • Darrell and Koli could hit the 75lb mark of total loss
  • Cheryl, Stephanie, O'Neal, Miggy and Lance could hit the 15% mark of total loss
  • Daris and Sherry could hit the 20% mark of total loss
  • Daris could move from morbidly obese to clinically obese
  • Miggy could move from obese to overweight

The players travel to Colorado to train like Olympic athletes with help from real Olympians Julia Mancuso, Jeret Peterson, J.R. Celski, Rockne Brubaker and Allison Jones. Also: The teams are dissolved, leaving the contestants to compete individually.

Individuals? ALREADY? No Black vs. Blue large team competition? How odd.

Also, Jillian Tweeted 12:41am ET on February 2 that one of the male contestants had his brother die the day before. :( Given the time lag between taping and airing, we're not going to find out which contestant this is until much further down the road...but watch for it. It's gonna suck large, no matter who it is. :(