This week, not only did Sherry go home because of the vote, everyone on the show went home. When Michael goes back to Chicago and we see icicle lights and bow-covered evergreens, we get a pretty good idea why this was "Home Week." But there's another good reason for it -- it gives contestants their first taste of what their challenges are going to at home and then get a chance to go back to the ranch to figure out how to deal with them. We also get a little peek at what contestants' real lives are like. Contestants (other than Sunshine and O'Neal) haven't been home since they weighed in with their family, friends, and sometimes whole hometown watching.
Daris goes back to an enthusiastic town in Oklahoma ready to cheer him on. At the beginning, we learned that even though he is 25, he has never had a girlfriend or even kissed a girl. He actually asked a female friend of his to go out with him for a night on the town -- they had only been friends before, but obviously the feelings are more than friendly on his side. She seems impressed with his new confidence, and even though they seem a little awkward together when they're holding hands, just asking her out was a big step. He also does something I've never seen anyone do -- does a straight-sober Karaoke number and actually sounds OK doing it.
Of course there are the required meals out to eat, where everyone but the contestant seems to order big ;plates of cheesy appetizers and deep-fried munchies. Ashley dutifully ordered plain tuna and steamed spinach at her favorite restaurant, which sounded pretty horrible, but contestants have to watch their salt as well as their calories. Drea has an even harder task -- ordering a healthy meal at a bowling alley. She gets a salad, which surprises me because I didn't know bowling alleys even sold salads. One contestant (I can't remember which one) took a big plate of tempting-looking food, smells it, and said, "That's the stuff that made me fat," and walked away. It's obvious that their attitudes have changed a lot. We see Sam's mom making a huge breakfast of eggs, sausage gravy, biscuits, and bacon. I thought, "How could she make all that stuff when she knows he has a weigh-in coming up?" until I saw the integration coming. Sam pulls out his Verizon Blackberry with its exclusive "Biggest Loser Healthy Swaps" application and figures out a better breakfast choice for them (but doesn't tell us). In another integration, we also see Lance playing "The Biggest Loser" for the Wii with his kids, and genuinely having fun being with them.
Michael has a tough time, because his grandmother is still in the hospital, unconscious and unresponsive. He wants to be with her but he also knows that to stay on the show, he needs to work out and take the time to make himself healthy meals.
There is, of course, a challenge for the contestants while they are home. They each get an identical exercise bike, box of mini-cupcakes, and a video. When they pop the video into their players, Allison explains that each of them will be racing to complete 26.2 miles in the shortest amount of time. The cupcakes, of course, are a temptation to let them add time to another person's score. Eating 100-calorie cupcake gives contestants the chance to add 5 minutes to another player's time. The winner will get $10,000. All of them start at the exact same time, and each has a family member on a conference call so that everyone can get live updates. We see that Ashley, Drea, Lance, and Micheal eat cupcakes (Melissa, of course, eggs Lance on and we remember why we don't like her), but the rest decide to let the best The race was really exciting. Sam begins and ends, of course, in first place, but Koli and Lance aren't far behind. Sunshine finishes seconds behind the boys. Stephanie, Drea, Ashley, and Michael round out the field. Everyone who ate cupcakes identified Sam as a threat, so he ends up in 8th place. Maybe because they always compare him to Sam, no one thought to give a penalty to Koli, so he squeaks out with the win. I was glad to see him beat Lance, because it was obvious that Lance and Melissa make a good living, while many of the other contestants look like they could really use the money. Lance was at his most unlikeable during this challenge, getting everyone to root against Sam instead of for Lance.
Then, of course, we have the Main Event: The weigh-in. The blue team has mostly good numbers, but both Michael and Daris lose less than they should have for their weight. The black team's weigh-in goes really well. Sam, as the last one to weigh in, only has to lose 2 pounds to win the weigh-in for the team. Just by looking at him, I knew he would get more than that, but 14 pounds!? On someone as fit-looking as him, that just seemed amazing.
Lance has seemed ambivalent about remaining on the ranch all week, and even though there is some talk about Michael not pulling his weight (sorry, couldn't resist) and dragging the team down, he plays the Fat Card. "Everyone else on the ranch is under 300 pounds, and I still weigh more than 400." I think that sooner or later Michael will be sent home if the team perceives that he's not trying, but with his grandmother sick, the team couldn't do it to him. Lance seems happy to be home with his kids, and in his "Where Are They Now" video, I even start to like him a little. Melissa, on the other hand...