This week's episode started with a hangover from last week's episode. Tina, who had pleaded to be kept on the ranch in the elimination that sent home Allie, started saying that she didn't want to stay after all. She had withdrawn $16,000 from her 401(k) plan to take her family on a vacation, and then got sent to be on the show. Why this hadn't occurred to her the night before was unclear. Maybe she was just feeling guilty about letting Allie get sent home, but she came across as flaky and irresponsible and a bit of a martyr besides.
I'm no financial wizard, but taking money out of a retirement account to go on a vacation seems ridiculous to me, especially if Tina is going to have to repay it with interest and penalties. It seemed like an extravagant and silly thing to do. Even sillier was to take a bunch of people who were feeling remorse about sending home a young girl who obviously had no support system at home and give them someone to use as a scapegoat for their own guilt. Tina did not have a good week. She had the required conversation with Bob telling her that she gives too much and needs to give to herself first and then decided she was happy to be on the show again.
Lisa, the player who had been Allie's partner started to think that she should go home and help Allie. She lived near Allie and was sure she had learned enough to help them both succeed. She's a mom and I think she was also feeling guilty about being away from her kids. She did seem to realize that she was being silly and started to take her time on the show more seriously.
I am going to commit Biggest Loser heresy here, but I don't think that giving too much to people in order to win their love is selfless and giving at all. I think it's selfish and manipulative. I think it's just a different way to be the center of attention.
One of the things that The Biggest Loser does seem to do, in its better moments, is to help people learn to take themselves seriously. Instead of trying to seem helpless to get attention and love or at least deflect abuse, some contestants seem to learn that by building confidence in themselves through accomplishments (starting in the gym), they become better people who can be a real help to those around them. People who take themselves seriously and take other people seriously seem to go far.
Though some players like Lisa and Aaron seemed to be learning that lesson this week, this week's episode also had its silly elements. Tennis player and Internet pinup girl Anna Kournikova (best known for the Internet virus named after her) was on, and though she was supposed to be there to help the contestants work out, there was a lot of emphasis on how hot the guys thought she was. Creepy contestant Brendan even described giving one of those inappropriate, too-long hugs to her. Yuck yuck yuck yuck.
They also had a tennis-ball challenge that was one of the typical unpopularity contest challenges for immunity -- players knocked each other out of the running by putting tennis balls in bins. There was the depressing boys-against-girls dynamic. Three players, Brendan and Frado of the black team and Patrick from the green team, have clearly formed an alliance even though Frado claims not to be a gameplayer. He wins immunity.
We see at the midweek weigh-in, which was announced to the players the day before, that Frado is more than willing to play games with his weight loss numbers. I would like it better if the weigh-ins were truly a surprise -- the players could be weighed daily but wouldn't know which day would count. Maybe all the stuff in last week's episode that suggested the show was taking itself more seriously was just window-dressing.
The weigh-in was the same as last week -- mostly women below the line and mostly men above it. The women are left (with Creepy Brendan, who is probably going to be Creepy Brendan to me from now on) to scramble in the sand for brass rings. It turns out that the two players who had talked of going home earlier in the week are the two left up for elimination.
After Tina is sent home, we learn that it wasn't really her idea to be on the show, it was her daughter's. Her daughter didn't make the cut, and for some reason Tina did. I had more sympathy for Tina after hearing this -- she probably had auditioned just to support her daughter and then got stuck on this crazy show. I hope that she still got to take her vacation. She and her daughter seemed to do well at home, so maybe her time on the ranch was worth something after all. She looked great and also seems more confident in her "where are they now" tape.
I will be curious to see which show we're watching next week -- the educational one that asks us to take ourselves seriously, or Fat Survivor. Hopefully it's the first.