Two Biggest Loser episodes in a row -- crazy, right? It tells you a little how things are going for me that I just got to last week's episode recap yesterday.
This week on "The Biggest Loser," Bob teased a live update of two contestants during the taped broadcast of the show. There was a huge group of family and friends gathered outside one of the contestants' houses. I'm not quite sure why this was done, except maybe to generate some excitement for a show that seems to have lost its mojo. People's family and friends tend to look like them most of the time, though, and I had a strong suspicion from the beginning that Aaron might be one of the ones being sent home.
This week there was a stronger-than-usual temptation. Contestants were not going to be grouped into Black and Blue teams anymore, they were going back to pairs. This time, though, the pairs were going to be determined by the person who ate the most calories at a fancy catered dinner where contestants secretly chose their courses from a menu. Contestants would choose an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. For contestants to get "credit" for their courses, they had to clean their plates. Brendan knew right away that he was playing, and ordered what looked like spaghetti and meatballs but was some sort of deep-fried rice ball in tomato sauce. Calorie counts weren't listed on the menu so the contestants just had to guess which choices had the most calories. Most of the other contestants ordered salad, though Elizabeth, Frado, Ada, and Aaron halfheartedly played along for a while. Elizabeth ordered a grilled calamari appetizer which was served on a bed of lettuce -- probably not that many calories. Ada ordered prosciutto and melon, which was probably high in calories and especially sodium for the Biggest Loser, but not anywhere in Brendan's league. Most of the other contestants gave in when they saw Brendon's appetizer. It turned into a battle between Aaron and Brendan. Both looked sick while trying to eat a huge steak and a side of what looked like macaroni and cheese. Aaron could not finish his and Brendan made him a deal -- Brendan would pair Aaron with whatever partner he chose (other than Brendan, Patrick, or Frado) if Aaron let him win. Aaron decided to quit. Then, weirdly, Lisa ordered dessert and ate it, not because she wanted to play the game, but because she thought a "400-600 calorie" splurge would be worth it since she didn't eat a lot of her other food. It turned out that she had chosen a 1400-calorie dessert, and she got an earful from everyone about not being serious about her weight loss.
I could sort of understand her thought process later, as the episode unfolded. She talked openly about not being sure if she wanted to stay or go, but knew that she wouldn't be sent home because she was "a placeholder" for Brendon and Frado's gameplaying. Predictably, Brendan chose teams that were very unfair, setting himself and his friends up so they couldn't lose. Despite Ada's pleas that she didn't want to be put with any of the "weak" female players (she is the second-highest in weight loss so far), Brendan paired her with Jessica, one of the players with the lowest weight loss. Ada was pretty open about her anger over this choice, and I think Jessica was a lot nicer to her than she deserved, though she did say, "I have had my feelings hurt more this week than the rest of the game combined," which should have been a signal to Ada to stop complaining about what a bad partner she had. Lisa and Elizabeth asked to be put together, and Lisa agreed to cook "Bob's special diet" for Elizabeth. We don't know what the diet is, but we can guess from the segment on a previous show that it is vegan.
The rest of the show goes as usual. Bob dials up the drama over how unfair the teams are. There is a lot of whining over whether "girls can lose as much as guys" and "women can be strong." Let's face facts, though. Brendan, Frado, Patrick, and Mark are powerhouses on the show because they were really, really fat when they arrived. There's no secret about why they are losing more than everyone else, and they also had a history of being athletic. That is the combination that it takes to win on "The Biggest Loser." Male hormones don't hurt either. If they weren't playing games, these big boys would consistently be leading the weight loss numbers. Aaron was also a really big man, but he seemed to have crossed that threshold where his weight holds him back from working out as hard as he needs to to keep up. He had a breakthrough with Jillian this week where he let go of his fear of failure and really threw himself into the workouts for the first time, but I think that was possible only because he has lost enough excess fat that he can move well. Bob has a little heart-to-heart with Lisa, showing her a video from the beginning of the show to help her realize how far she has come.
There was a very silly little challenge that had contestants carrying sugar cubes one at a time across the room and then stacking them to try to get 5 feet high. Ada and Jessica win because Jessica is smart enough to stagger the cubes like a brick wall at the base instead of trying to stack one directly on top of each other. The other contestants keep trying the same strategies (like trying to build a 5-foot-high tower that is only one or two cubes wide) and failing. Jesse admits that he is having a lot of fun in this challenge because it's just so ridiculous. There is a point at which the producers must have decided it was taking too long and gave the contestants a 2-minute "sugar rush" to grab as many cubes as they could carry and pile them near their walls.
There are some surprises in the weigh-in. Jesse has great numbers, but his team member Aaron only loses 4, which puts their team in jeopardy. Because of Brendan and Frado's affinity for eliminating strong players, we have a pretty good idea that this weigh-in will be their chance to get rid of two threats. Despite all of the crying about being paired with Jessica, Ada loses half Jessica's number and had to depend on her "weak" partner. The big guys, predictably, put up huge numbers. Bob and Jillian choose to unload on Lisa and Elizabeth over Lisa's choice to cook for Elizabeth, saying that Lisa is "enabling" and Elizabeth is "letting people take care of her." Bob also yells at Lisa for taking time away from the other contestants because he chose to spend a few minutes with her watching a video. I'm starting to wonder if these narratives are just things that Bob and Jillian choose to impose on the players. I was glad when Elizabeth said, "Before this show, I never had anyone to depend on but myself." Lisa was also not enabling, but making a choice to commit herself to losing despite her mixed feelings about being on the show. They both do great, 8 pounds each, but on this show, that's not enough to keep them above the infamous yellow line.
No surprise, though, despite all Frado and Brendon's scolding, they decide to keep Lisa and Elizabeth around as easy targets and send home Jesse and Aaron. Despite the hype at the beginning of the show with family and friends, we don't get to see a big reunion scene. We just get a kind of boring little chat with Bob and the two contestants, along with Aaron's wife/girlfriend (I'm not sure which she is) and son. We don't find out their total weight loss numbers, which makes me think either they didn't lose much since leaving the ranch or that they may be somehow coming back to the ranch again.
I think Brendan is the one setting the particularly nasty tone for this season's competition. Next week the contestants will be weighing in as singles. If Brendan should happen to have a bad week, I hope the other contestants take the opportunity to get rid of him.