I'm starting to feel like this season of TBL is dragging on forever. Still, there were a few interesting takeaways from this episode, all centering around fears.
The first one was Tara's fear of success. As fit and amazing as she is, she still seems incredibly insecure. I think Jillian's speech to her was exactly what she needed to hear: "You're afraid people are targeting you and that they're jealous of you? Welcome to being successful! Get used to it!" In desperation, she seems to be clinging to anyone she thinks might help her in the gameplay rather than counting on her own efforts to carry her through. I thought she showed pretty poor judgement in trusting Helen, who does not seem to be anyone's friend. Someone who chose her own interests over her daughter's is not the kind of person to count on in a crisis. I noticed that Helen's daughter has not come to any of the family reunion events on the show.
The next was Kristen's fear of admitting she wanted something for herself. I understand that superstitious fear of saying something aloud for fear that you will jinx yourself somehow. Or, as my husband suggested, the misguided belief that you can avoid disappointment if you pretend you don't really want something.
Finally, Mike's fear of expressing his anger at his dad for setting such a bad example for his family. I imagine that in a family where everyone is overweight (his mother, we found out, was also very heavy until a few years ago), it might seem disloyal to want to be smaller. We see how Max feels abandoned by his father and brother now that they're losing weight -- there might have been a lot of pressure at home to be part of the 400-Pound Guys Club and to pretend that you didn't mind being that big. If the whole family is living on fast food and pizza, it's hard for a kid to ask for something different. I thought Ron handled it well when Mike expressed how he felt -- and I'm sure there was a lot of that discussion that didn't make it on camera. I really feel like it was an important step in Mike's development to finally stand up to his dad, who seems to be hard to confront.
I was very disappointed at how the elimination turned out. The people I like seem to be systematically being eliminated from the show. Helen only got to stick around because no one sees through her whiny powerless act and realizes how ruthless she really is. I would have had a lot of respect for the players on the show if they had chosen to keep all the tough competitors around instead. Ron's choice to honor the letter of his promise to protect Kristen but violate the spirit of it (not only did he not try to convince Mike to vote for Helen, but he asked Mike to make sure that Tara would vote for Kristen too) confirmed my negative opinion of him. I'm afraid it might end up as Ron, Helen, and Filipe as the final three, and then I'd have no interest in watching the finale.
I had a pet theory on why Kristen was suddenly gaining weight, but if I was right, they didn't let me know. I was hoping she might be pregnant, since one of her reasons for wanting to lose weight was so she could start a family. She's had a few visits with her husband where there might have been opportunities. I noticed that she participated in the champagne toast when her family welcomed her home, though her mother (who talked about being sober for many years now) obviously had something else in her glass.
One thing I thought was put in for foreshadowing: Ron and Mike's confidence that Mike was going to have no trouble winning now that Kristen was gone. I am sure that they will be "rewarded" for their overconfidence. If Mike and Ron end up under the yellow line together, the other players would have no reason to keep Mike around -- after all, Mike and Ron had no compunction about getting rid of Kristen.
I am starting to wonder about the future of "The Biggest Loser." It seems to be losing steam as the focus shifts from weight loss to gameplay. I think the best possible outcome at this point would be to convert "The Biggest Loser" from a television show to a chain of weight loss camps. They have obviously perfected their system for taking massive amounts of weight off people in a short time, and I know a lot of people would pay big bucks for the chance to go away for a couple of months and come home transformed. As much as people see this as "unrealistic" and "unhealthy," it doesn't seem any more drastic to me than weight loss surgery. If they could get approved for insurance payments, TBL could be a gold mine and a really good option for people who were healthy enough to do the exercise.