This was the all-important week where the final four contestants will be chosen. Bob and Jillian rightly focused on getting the contestants ready to transition from the artificial environment of the show to their real lives, with all the problems and complications that come with those lives. At first, all the contestants gave "Miss America answers" that they were going to have no trouble getting their fit on at home, but then after some prodding, Danny admitted that he was really scared.
There were a couple of little "moments," like Amanda and Bob having a heart-to-heart and Danny and Liz talking about how great it was that they were able to support each other. I felt like these were awkward to watch and went on for a little too long. I was waiting for Allen and Rudy to have their own "moment," but it never happened, and no one cuddled with Jillian either. I felt like Amanda had real feelings for Bob but Bob saw Amanda as mostly another contestant, albeit a really pretty and engaging one. Liz and Danny's ended kind of weirdly, like a couple on the telephone where neither wants to be the first to hang up. "Thank you," "No, thank you," "No, thank you." If I were the director, I would have yelled "CUT!" a lot sooner on this one."
Interestingly, they had a segment with Suze Orman about financial fitness this episode. I wouldn't have thought about it, but it makes sense: Many of the same issues that contribute to out-of-control weight gain also contribute to financial messes. Being afraid to face reality, for example, or not having a sense of security. Danny especially seemed to equate his weight problems with his financial problems. All along he has suggested that he sometimes feels like a failure as a husband and a father, and as a TV cameraman, he may not have a secure and stable income. There was a financial quiz that focused on the costs -- to employers and employees -- of obesity, but there was no mention of the fact that discrimination also plays a role. I was stunned by the figure of 4.4 billion dollars spent on the U.S. on gastric bypass surgery, and also of the $1,000,000 cost to the average person of being overweight for 40 years. Suze Orman sort of looks scary to me, with all those teeth, but the contestants appreciated the advice and really appreciated the $3,000 - 4,000 emergency fund each one was able to earn during the quiz.
There were some inspiring workout segments that showed the Day 1 contestants struggling, and the Week 11 contestants smiling through what was now an easy workout. The fact that they have come so far in 11 weeks is just stunning -- sure, the weight loss is great, but the achieving the kind of fitness they've built in 11 weeks would take a normal person in a normal situation years.
There was also the obligatory challenge where they carried their old weight and "tackled" their former selves. This time the challenge had a football theme, with the contestants harnessed to a barrel that contained 10 footballs, each of which represented 1 week's weight loss. For Rudy, they had to somehow make the first football weigh 28 pounds. The contestants had to run to the end of a football field, which lifted the barrel containing 9 of the footballs and carrying the first one, and drop off the Week 1 football on the 100-yard line. Then they ran back, dropping the barrel so they could pick up the next football. At the end, they ran to the end of the field and knocked over a tackling dummy that had a life-sized picture of them from the first day. Allen was the only one who really knew how to tackle, and it was fun to see him make his big hit when he won.
Because of the Danny-Liz-Rudy-Allen alliance, Amanda knew that she had to have a great weight loss week to have a chance at the final four. Because she is one of the fittest contestants, she was able to really work hard in the gym, doing lots of running. After a dramatic weigh-in, in which Danny finally set his own record of the most double-digit weeks of weight loss in a row, Allen and Liz ended up below the yellow line. Amanda got to cast the final vote. I like Allen and really wanted to see him in the final four, but Amanda had more of a friendship with Liz, so that was what made the difference in the end. As much as Liz talks about how her tendency to give to her relationships has been a problem to her, it also turned out to be her biggest strength in this game.
Allen looked great and seemed really happy to be back with his family and have a chance to give back to his community. I stayed tuned to Leno so I could see more of Allen, and he had lost even more weight and looked terrific. The interview with Leno wasn't all that interesting, though, and I turned it off before the "Cooking with Charles Barkley" segment.
Next week is the finale. I think I'm rooting for Amanda.