This week, contestants were informed that the dreaded Red Line would be making an appearance. For those who fell below it there would be no pleading, no challenge, just an immediate departure from the ranch. This dialed the drama factor to 11. Everyone was freaking out about the Red Line, and the trainers were just egging them on. Every week, someone will be eliminated. Whether they have a chance to win their place back in a challenge or beg other players to save them really doesn't seem to make that much of a difference. Many of the challenges seem to be just luck, and the votes by other players are hard to predict. Everyone should be acting like each week on the ranch is going to be their last and make the most of it. The trainers should have focused on that instead of scaring the contestants to death and raising their already-high stress levels.
This episode clinches it: If we had a brief hope that this season was going to be different and the focus was going to be more on educating the audience, the producers reminded us that this is a reality TV show. I feel silly for ever thinking things would be different.
There was a cupcake challenge, where contestants could search for a token that would give them a 1-pound advantage this week (but an extra pound per week until they use it, up to 8 pounds if you keep it for 8 weeks) by eating cupcakes. For every cupcake the contestants ate that did not have the token in it, they would get one clue about where the cupcake was. Elizabeth ate one cupcake, kind of choked it down, and then quit. The real contest was between Rick and Adam. Rick had a smart strategy -- he stuck to the smallest cupcakes, which were the easiest to eat and had the least calories, so he could get more clues. Adam just happened to grab the winning cupcake a second before he did and won the prize. Then, of course, the other players started talking ominously about him having "a target on his back." The little alliance between Brendan, Frado, and Patrick seems to take a nastier turn and they pull Ada into their little circle.
There was a segment with Curtis Stone about how to make healthy cupcakes after learning that the three cupcakes that one of the contestants ate during the challenge had 1,300 calories. I'm not sure if they were just packed with lard, but that sounds really high. Curtis Stone's cupcakes are only 100 calories. The recipe was supposed to be on the NBC website, but I can't find it. They were mini angel food cake cupcakes with a raspberry puree frosting. To promote gender equity, it was Lisa's turn to give a Creepy Inappropriate Hug. Bob and Jillian seem totally unfazed by the whole cupcake challenge this time. No beatings (other than the usual) were administered.
There were a few calls to sanity. Bob brought up the fact that even though only one contestant gets the $250,000, all of them can win the real prize and lose the weight. The fact that this obvious fact was just brushed off by so many of the contestants makes me wonder: Do they really think losing the weight is that easy? If so, why did they never do it before? There is a lot of value in losing the kind of weight contestants lose on TBL, and some of the ones who get serious, lose the weight, and don't completely alienate the audience get speaking contracts and endorsements.
As usual, most of the contestants who fell below the Yellow Line in the weigh-in were women. I was happy that Sophia, who was the unlucky person under the Red Line, seemed confident that she could lose at home. After the weigh-in but before the challenge, we learn that Burgandy has tendonitis and can't compete. Since she has been so strong in the challenges, this seems likely to seal her fate. Mark throws out his back but seems to recover before the challenge. Frado decides to use his Biggest Loser power to save Jessica, who was just barely below the yellow line. There was a goofy carpet-unrolling challenge that Elizabeth lost by a lot. It was obvious that height was an advantage in the challenge, and she's short and weak. I didn't think she had much to worry about, because the other contestants like her and don't see her as a threat.
There were a couple of breakthroughs this week. Jillian helps Elizabeth understand how stress and helplessness are aggravating her asthma, and she also rips Ada apart and gets her to talk about how cruel her parents were to her after her brother died because they left a two-year-old in charge of an infant while they were in a pool together. Jillian acutally calls the situation "abusive," and it seemed like a revelation for Ada to think of it that way. I remember in the first episode when she said she thought that if she could lose the weight, her parents would finally love her. That made my heart ache.
Burgandy is, as I thought, the one who is sent home, but she doesn't seem too sad about going home to see her family. She manages to get her whole family and even her whole neighborhood involved in hikes and other activities. She looks pretty amazing in her after shot. Sophia also seems to be doing well. I was shocked to hear that even when she was severely overweight, she had been a Spinning instructor, but she sounds like she is bringing more intensity and focus to the workouts after her time on the ranch.
The previews for next week show even more drama: The weigh-ins will be moving back to the end of the week, and there will be scale shenanigans. Fat Survivor, anyone?