This was an all-important week on "The Biggest Loser." When we last saw Daris and Ashley, they had made a deal with Michael to keep him on in return for his loyalty in future votes. Obviously, since Sam is at his goal weight, this seemed like a fair vote, and Koli, who all along said he was not a gameplayer, seemed angry that they had made the choice to keep someone who was "a threat" instead of Sam. I think he underplayed the threat Sam posed as support for Koli. He was angry at first, but luckily he seemed to get over it. The advantage that Ashley and Daris thought they were getting was neutralized, because this week there was a Red Line instead of a Yellow Line: The person with the lowest percentage of weight had to go home, no vote.
Michael had a tough week, because he got all caught up in the fact that he was almost sent home and that he has already "lost an overweight person" but still probably has 100 more pounds to lose.A lot of this episode was Bob trying to get him to see the progress he had already made instead of feeling like a failure for still having so much to lose. Who would have thought it was possible for anyone, even a 500-pound guy, to lose almost 200 pounds in 16 weeks? Still, instead of trying to talk Michael out of his feelings, I would have liked to see Bob let him work through them. The last thing TBL contestants need is to feel that they have to apologize for their feelings. They have already talked on the show about how eating can be a way of stuffing down "unacceptable" feelings instead of feeling and expressing them, but then Bob gets Michael to say "I'm sorry" for getting mad that he still has so much to lose?
We had some interesting special guests this week: Helen and Eric, both past season winners. Helen has maintained her unbelievable weight loss, but Eric gained almost all of his back and is down 70 pounds again. The contestants all looked really uncomfortable at having an example in front of them about how it can all go wrong. Kudos to TBL for addressing this, which has been a criticism of the show for a long time. Eric said he focused too much on winning the game and not enough on building a lifestyle. Helen also talked about the difference between losing on the show and exercising 7+ hours a day, and real-life maintaining, which she manages with 1-2 hours of exercise a day. That is a lot, much more than I do most days, but I can see that someone with Helen's past experiences could think it was totally worth it.
This week's challenge was the usual "Put the weight back on" challenge. Apparently there was a viewer poll to see which previous season's challenge like this to recreate, and contestants got to lug around a big bag with their before picture on it containing weights for each week, which they had to drag through a sand pit, dropping weight at each hill, then fling the bag and the last few pounds over a cliff. Daris, who has become a superstar runner, outdid Tara's previous record on this by more than 10 minutes. Sunshine and Koli finished almost neck-and-neck, and then everyone went back to help Michael and Ashley, who were struggling.
Daris won $10,000 for completing this challenge, which he traded for a 1-pound advantage in the weigh-in. That's apparently the new going rate for 1 pound on TBL.
Participants get to watch some old footage of themselves with Bob or Jillian. They all, even Michael, see how far they have come. Michael also finds out from Dr. H. that his health is vastly improved, and his premature aging and stroke risk have already almost been eliminated by the weight he has already lost and the activity he does.
The weigh-in itself was dramatic. Michael weighs in first and passes the 200-pound mark, a new record for the show. Daris's pound advantage was totally unnecessary -- he was in first place even without it. Koli also has a good week. Then Ashley weighs in and has a lower percentage lost than Michael. She looks really worried. Luckily for her, and unluckily for me, Sunshine only loses 2 pounds and is the one to be sent home. She is very gracious, and says that she feels like a winner anyway because of all the changes she has made.
Sunshine goes home to a huge supportive crowd at her high school. She looks great in her black-and-white dress with a yellow sash. We get to see her throw out the first pitch at a Minnesota Twins game. Seeing her bounce the pitch in the dirt makes me happy that I'm unlikely to ever be asked to do something like that, but she looks great in her new, smaller Twins gear. She has lost more than 100 pounds and seems really happy.