I usually DVR "The Biggest Loser" and start watching about 20 minutes in, because I like to skip some of the commercials for pizza and weight loss programs. However, the DVR can only record 2 programs at a time, and inadvertently, we had 3 programmed in. Somehow TBL lost the rock-paper-scissors game and was not recorded. I missed the first 19 minutes of the show.
When I turned on the TV, Black Team and Blue Team were pulling semi trucks. Someone was also tossing crates into the back of one of the trucks. It was pretty clear that this was another challenge that would favor the Blue Team, and they were ahead of the Black Team by what looked like a small margin, but in semi-pulling terms was an insurmountable gap. Once they got to the finish line, they had to unload the crates and put together a puzzle with "pieces" printed on one side of the crates. The prize was free groceries for a year for the winning team. For a second, Black Team looked like they might catch the Blue Team because they were putting the puzzle together faster, but Blue still won, and Black seemed demoralized, because not only had they lost another challenge, but they knew they would probably continue to lose challenges.
Later in the show, though, a Black Team member said, "Earlier today, I was pulling a semi! Who would have thought I could ever do that?"
The focus of this show seemed to be to show the contestants that they were ready to go back to the real world. It was "Work Week," and the contestants had not only acquired day jobs at a downtown L.A. food pantry, including a long bus commute, but their gym now had limited hours. They would have one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening for working out, but that was it. They were experiencing a simulation of the life they faced when they went back home. The contestants quickly learned to sleep on the bus ride home (maybe not recommended if this were actual public transit) and get right into the gym even if they were tired.
I liked the food bank segments. Contestants seemed to enjoy their jobs, which ranged from sorting and arranging food to calling donors to thank them for their contributions. It seemed like a couple of people from each team had to choose various slots. There was a nice segment with Cheryl and Sherry working inventory and laughing together like Lucy and Ethel. We also got to see the contestants interacting with clients of the food bank and feeling really humbled by the realization that while they had been overeating, so many people were going hungry. I think that it also built their confidence to realize that they could help people and make a difference.
Another thing that really seemed to build their confidence was talking to one of the workers at the food bank. He was an overweight, overstressed guy with a family -- someone who reminded them of their old selves. He told them how much he loved the show and asked for tips. They offered a few, but the main thing they wanted to tell him was that he could lose the weight. I think this was the moment when a lot of them realized not only how far they had come, but how much their mindset had changed since their first days on the ranch.
Of course we had to have a Subway integration. Sam "forgot his lunch" and had no idea what to do. Luckily Stephanie remembered that she had seen a Subway restaurant nearby. If I've learned nothing else from TBL, I know that the correct order at Subway is a veggie sub on whole wheat with apples and a water. Surprisingly, they didn't end their meal with a stick of Extra Sugarfree gum.
We had a little vignette with Cheryl and Sherry where they talked about how close they felt. They were both the same age, 51, and both had overweight kids who were their partners on the show. Cheryl told Sherry that she felt ready to go home and continue losing on her own if the Black Team lost the weigh-in.
The weigh-in was fairly dramatic. We knew that it was unlikely that Black Team could win twice in a row, but at first, as some of the larger Blue Team members had low weight losses, there seemed to be some hope. I was really ready to see Lance go -- his voice and mannerisms and scraggly beard grate on my nerves -- but he pulled a 10-pound weight loss and was his team's Biggest Loser for the week, shattering the 300-pound barrier in the process. On Black Team, Ashley also got under 300 this week. The team had mostly good numbers, and if Sam had managed a 10-pound loss, Black could win again, but we could see when Sam was standing on the scale that he had already lost most of the easy pounds. He is starting to look like a bodybuilder, albeit one with a saggy belly from stretched skin. He only lost 5, so the team had to decide who to send home. My favorite Black Team member, Stephanie, had the lowest percentage, but the three young women on the team have formed an alliance and won't vote for each other. Sherry has immunity, or she might have been the one to go home. There is some talk about sending Sam home because his weight loss is starting to slow, but Sam is their only man and is a powerhouse in the challenges. I was not surprised that "Mama Cheryl" was the one who left. I think she wanted to go home and see the rest of her family. She seems happy in her "Where Are They Now" video.
At this point, I think the contestants, except maybe Michael, seem to have gotten their heads in the right place and would probably be fine if they were all sent home tomorrow. Now I'm just rooting to see my favorite people stay on the show (like Stephanie and Drea) and to see Lance sent home to his charming wife Melissa.