Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 6: Red and Black

Note: There is a pretty big spoiler in this post -- the result of a temptation figures heavily into the plot of this week's episode so it would be hard to write a good recap without it. 

This week, everyone was back at the ranch to compete as Red and Black teams. The episode started with another temptation -- this time, because it was Valentine's Day week (at least for the audience, the episode was filmed months ago so it was probably more like Thanksgiving for the contestants), the temptation was chocolate candy. Contestants had to spend three minutes alone in a room with hundreds or even thousands of pieces of candy.

Of course, on "The Biggest Loser," the real temptation isn't just food -- it's power.  The contestant who consumed the most chocolates would have a chance to keep the Red Team and Black Team exactly as they were at the start of the episode or choose two players from each team to switch places.  Most of the players don't take the bait. A few players decide to have a couple of candies hoping to assure that the teams stay the same. The two teams seem fairly evenly matched at the beginning, with maybe a slight edge for the Red Team.  But then there is Arthur, who is terrified that he and his dad will be the target of the next elimination.  He decides that he is going to take control, and stuffs candy by the handfuls into his mouth.

Does anyone besides me find it interesting that on "The Biggest Loser," every temptation is about overeating high-calorie food in an attempt to take control?  I think the message of this show is that this never works. Players would always be better off to stay focused on their real goals and ignore the temptations. In this case, it was an especially bad idea. Arthur wins and trades two of the strongest players on his team for two women he perceives as weak players on the other team in order to have "sacrificial lambs" (that term is used several times in the show) to take the fall the next time his team loses a weigh-in. Of course, this makes his team more likely to lose the next weigh-in, and has also angered all of his teammates, who feel that his actions have put them at risk. Of course, his two new teammates are really not happy about being chosen as weak players who would be easy to let go.  As Jillian tells Arthur, "You've let your fear talk you into creating the thing you were most afraid of." His team knew how important weight loss was for him, and had been trying to protect him, but now I think all bets are off. Arthur has not been losing at the rate that would be expected for a guy his size on the show, and his teammates now have a sense that not only is he wasting his time on the ranch by not working hard enough, he is willing to sacrifice everyone else's interest to protect himself.

On several episodes, Bob has worn a weird horizontally-striped shirt that makes him look like a mime.  He has it on again this week, and becomes an angry mime when he hears what Arthur has done.  Jillian sympathizes with the fear that motivated the decision, and then works him out like crazy.  There is some tension with both teams sharing the gym. The Black Team is annoyed by the distraction.  Cara and Brett decide to show off by working themselves out before working out their team, which seems like a strange choice motivated by feeling intimidated by Bob and Jillian (or wanting to show off to them). As a member of the Black Team says, the Red Team was not burning any calories watching their trainers work out.  The Red Team then makes as much noise as possible because they want to rattle the Black Team. The competitive stuff between the two teams seems silly -- they are all working for the same goal. A little friendly rivalry is one thing, but they should try to get along as well as possible because there is always the possibility that the teams could shift again, as they always seem to on this show.

This week's challenge was really interesting, and the teams were playing for a big prize, videos from home. They are told that they should pick two players on each team to represent them on strength, speed, agility, endurance and knowledge.  The teams pick the people they think would be best for those skills. Of course the prompt was misleading -- strength becomes strength in balance, for example, so the big players the teams chose were not that great at the task.  The agility task was about mental agility in arranging dishes from most to least calories, and the Red Team chooses a duo that seems completely hopeless at it.  They struggle with it so long that the Black Team wins easily, an upset when the Red Team is so heavily stacked with big, strong players.  The Black Team has a cozy movie night under the stars watching their videos together curled up with blankets (it looks cold, we can see the players' breath).  It was most shocking to hear that Deni and her daughter (the "sacrificial lambs") missed Deni's other daughter's wedding by choosing to be on the show.  She gets to see the video, but Arthur's trick seems especially mean after realizing how much the mother-daughter team sacrificed to be on this show.

The weigh-ins are intense. It's Brett and Cara's first on-camera weigh-in.  There are some big surprises.  The biggest one for me was seeing the "sacrificial" team each lose as much in pounds as Arthur, who lost 9 pounds but bigger than both of them put together. The team he got rid of each lost 14 pounds.  The weigh-in isn't close. Once we know what team is going to lose, there isn't much surprise about who they choose to send home. There has been plenty of foreshadowing. What is great, though, is that player seems to really thrive at home, and has lost a lot there when we see the "Where are They Now" video.

Hope you have a great Valentine's Day and that you don't eat two dozen chocolates in an attempt to control your life. Take it from Arthur, it doesn't work.


  1. It occurred to me that the temptations are a metaphor for how the contestants deal with weight loss in their actual lives. The only thing people can control is themselves and yet some people try to control their environments thinking this is the key to weight loss. Arthur was so scared that he couldn't do it without the change in environment when the opposite is true. If he doesn't learn to alter his own behaviours then he will ultimately matter what he does to his environment.

  2. good job on the recap!


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07