Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Biggest Loser Week 5: Breakthroughs

I turned on "The Biggest Loser" at the normal time, and started seeing scenes I had seen before. At first I thought they were recapping some things just so we'd know what was going on, but then I checked the listings and realized that they were re-running last week at 8:00, with the new episode on at a "special time." I think they didn't want to go up against the first episode of "Lost." I hope this is not going to be the new time for TBL, because I am not used to staying up until 11:00 and I'm tired this morning. It was a good show, though, and a breakthrough week for a lot of the contestants.

The show opened with a recap of the elimination. We see Miggy return to her room very sad about her daughter being sent home. Then there is an emergency call in the middle of the night and Miggy is rushed to the hospital for severe abdominal pain on the right side of her body. When the contestants are told that she has been taken away in an ambulance, I swear that we see Michelle smirking, as if she thinks that Miggy was faking illness or just being dramatic. I wondered what happened too. I thought maybe Miggy got upset and binged and made herself sick, or that she was suffering such extreme stress that she had made herself sick. When she comes back, we learn that she had appendicitis, and a cyst and a mass in her abdomen that were all removed. It seems like she had trouble brewing for a long time, though the initial medical exam for the show apparently wasn't able to catch it. I wonder if the stress of the elimination pushed her over the edge somehow. Miggy is told that she can walk but can't do any other exercise. She tells Dr. H. that she walked 13 miles on the day after her surgery and feels better than she had in a very long time. Dr. H. warns her that because of the I.V.s and inflammation, she probably will be at a disadvantage in the weigh-in. She takes it in stride, and looks a lot happier in this episode than she has so far in the show. We also learn from this incident that Michael and Miggy are close friends, countering my earlier impression that Miggy and Migdalia were isolated from the rest of the contestants.

The other big news, that we knew but the other contestants didn't, was that at the one-month mark, the Blue Team and the Yellow Team were coming back to compete for a chance to be on the show. You could see that they all were intimidated when they saw the limos pull up and realized that there was a new twist to the game. This was especially true when Allison revealed that the new team was going to have immunity for the first week and was also going to be the only vote at the elimination.

My husband really was rooting for Yellow Team because of how broken up O'Neal was when he realized that he had cost his daughter the chance to be on the show. But Blue Team had pretty much the same dynamic. As I said before, I would have liked to see both teams come on and kick off Red. I liked Blue Team too. It was an odd coincidence that both teams competing for a chance to come back were Black families (they were the two last-place teams in the bike ride challenge at the beginning of the episode). There has not yet been a Black Biggest Loser, not because the Black contestants don't do well (think of Pete from Season 2), but because they tend to be voted off early in the game. I don't think that it is necessarily conscious, but when alliances are formed, it seems that the Black contestants are often left out. This season, I think that NBC has made a real effort to have a more diverse slate of contestants, maybe for that reason. We see both teams getting put through a "Last Chance Workout" by Jillian and Bob, and then weighed in. Looking at the two teams, I thought Yellow Team looked like they had lost more, but Blue Team had an impressive 63-pound weight loss in their month at home -- more than 1 pound each per day -- not far off the average weight loss on the ranch, and probably right on the average loss for women on the show. Then the Yellow Team weighs in and has a 75-pound loss (and a slightly higher percentage). Blue Team is disappointed, but they have obviously proven that they can do just fine on their own with the at-home plan from the show. (By the way, fellow blogger Mal is doing this program, and it sounds like she's doing well with it.)

The players compete in a weird challenge with football blocking pads. The winner will get immunity, and the loser will have a 2-pound disadvantage. They have to push one side of the pad, and then the other as it swings back and forth by the force of their pushing. The first player to 1000 pushes wins. Each team chooses one player to compete, unless there is only one player on the team, and then that person has to do it. It is weird to see that Pink Team chooses Sherry, the mom, instead of daughter Ashley, who is larger and probably stronger. I have never used this kind of apparatus before but it basically works like a sideways see-saw -- the harder they push, the harder and faster the thing comes back at them. This looks like another challenge where Red and Gray will duke it out and everyone else will compete not to be last. It turns out, though, that height is a significant advantage here, and Michael, who is by far the tallest person on the show (a tall Italian, who knew?), has a significant advantage. Sam from the Gray Team is shorter and has to shuffle two steps to get from side to side to push the pads as they swing towards him, then attacks them like he was blocking in football (he obviously has done this before). Michael from the White Team can just lean from side to side, and he is strong enough to just push them with his arms, "like he was pushing a kid on a swing," Melissa says, and he looks relaxed and comfortable. He looks shocked to find out he is competing with Gray to win it, and seems to find a new part of himself when he wins. He starts to see himself, it seems, as a winner.

A day or so after their weigh-in (I'm sure it's not the same day as their Last Chance Workout, though the show's editing doesn't make that clear), Yellow Team gets to go through a regular workout with Bob and Jillian. We get to see Stephanie from the Purple Team acting as a mentor to Sunshine and the other contestants. She hasn't gotten a lot of screen time so far, but I think she's one to watch. She shows a lot of confidence and initiative. We watch Bob push Melissa on the leg press to the point where she is begging and crying for mercy. I think he is getting a little revenge for her weigh-in shenanigans, but also trying to make her see that this is serious business. We also see Daris's moment in the spotlight, when he realizes that he hasn't been working as hard as some of the other big guys because he can't imagine himself as a thin person. It's an important workout for Ashley of the Pink Team (who has a 2-pound disadvantage), who is just sort of phoning it in on the treadmill when Jillian calls her out. She reveals her mixed feelings over her father's death: He had always said cruel things to her about her weight, so when he fell ill and she was called home, she waited a few days because she "couldn't deal with it." When she finally got home, he was unconscious, so she never had a chance to let him know how she felt and she also feels guilty for not saying goodbye. It is obvious that she has a lot of pain to work through.

The weigh-in is also dramatic. Michael is on track to beat Rudy's record from last season of the fastest player to a 100-pound loss. Red Team has only a 9-pound weight loss -- Melissa loses 5 to make it under the 200-pound mark, but Lance has a disappointing 4-pound loss. He doesn't say anything, he just keeps his head down and looks upset. I don't know if Melissa convinced him to water-load because she is under so much scrutiny, but if she did, it almost backfires. She looks panicky as team after team beats them. Pink Team and Green Team easily beat their numbers, and it comes down to the last person, John from Brown Team, before someone takes their spot below the yellow line. Because John is on his own, there is no elimination vote.

John was able to learn to run and do a lot of other things he wasn't able to do before he was sent home, and even though he's disappointed, he has his twin James at home for support. He also has an adorable toddler at home, and when we see his "where are they now" video, we find out that he and his wife are expecting a second child. He is 104 pounds lighter and seems happy with the way things turned out. He has also found a new love for the martial arts to keep him on track with exercise.


  1. Great recap. I liked the way they developed the other characters on the show (finally).

  2. I was definitely sad to see John go home, but he seems like he'll do well. I truly wish it was someone from the Red team to go home, but there is always another week. I gained a little more respect for Miggy after her surgery though...I probably would have used that as an excuse to quit, and I honestly thought she would have done the same. Kudos to her though!

  3. Just found your blog. I didn`t know about some of those apps so i`ll definitely be adding them!


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07