Warning, I just can't resist putting some spoilers in this post, so be forewarned and go check out the full episode video on the NBC.com site if you'd rather see for yourself.
After reading my grumpy post about the makeover episode (Hannah said she cried for about 10 hours when she first saw her hair), you will be happy to hear that I loved almost every minute of this week's show. Of course there was a big emphasis on "how far we've come." Hannah and Olivia even pull out their 4X t-shirts and wear them over their current size, Small, just to make that point. It is really hard to believe the changes they've made in 19 weeks. One of them has lost 100 pounds and the other has lost just a little less. They are both really hoping to make it into the final four together.
I thought the "Final Exams" week thing was cute even if a little hokey. Players were competing for $10,000 in a series of test with each trainer and one with Allison. Bob's test was interesting, asking the players to teach him how to Spin. I think I could have done pretty well with this one, but Olivia and Hannah were pros, as good as any instructor I've ever seen in Spinning. Austin did pretty well too, but Jay and Irene were pretty hopeless. Irene didn't give much instruction, and Jay decided to get radical and take off the seats. Bob was roleplaying someone who hadn't ever been on a Spin bike before, and obviously was not impressed with Jay's attempt at creativity.
Cara's fighter test would have made me laugh as much as Hannah did. Cara looks like a little spider monkey, and she wanted to the contestants not to laugh or smile when she got up in their face and threatened to beat them up. Even the girls have to have 50 pounds on her still, and so the effect was more comical than hardcore. Only Olivia managed very well, but Cara was an easy grader.
Bret's test was a health and wellness quiz. Most of the questions seemed pretty easy to me but some of the contestants still got them wrong. How could Irene still not know what a macronutrient was? I have to say that I still really love her on the show and think she doesn't get as much attention as she deserves, though.
Jillian's "motivation test" was interesting. Jillian role-played a contestant who needs help getting motivated and the contestants had to help her. Hannah realized early on that Jillian was feeding her all of the same stories and excuses that Hannah had told Jillian, and said that hearing it said by someone else made her realize how stupid it all sounded. Jillian seemed pretty impressed by all of the contestants.
With most of the points in, it all came down to the final challenge, which was an integration and workout and one. Allison has them play the Biggest Loser game for the XBox Kinect. I think this gizmo looks way cooler than a Wii Fit, because there are no controllers, just a camera. It worked well enough to tell when the contestants were cheating. Hannah was doing so well on that one that a lot of the other contestants just gave up. Olivia was a close second so, because she had more points on the other tests, she beat Hannah out for the $10,000 prize. I figured it out and if Hannah had been able to keep a straight face when working out with Cara, she would have won the prize instead.
The challenge this week was a really tough-looking sandbag stacking contest. Contestants had to pile up a bunch of sandbags to be able to climb a set of mega-stairs. It looks like really hard work, lifting heavy bags overhead and then placing them all right. They are competing for a 1-pound advantage at weigh-in. Austin wins it easily and secures an advantage that everyone thinks he won't need.
This week Jillian turns her laser-focus on Jay, but we don't find out that much about what has been behind his last few lackluster weeks. The process seemed to work, though.
The weigh-in was really suspenseful this time. At the beginning of it, Allison says that Olivia has won $10,000 and Austin has won one pound. Both of them are given the chance to switch to the other prize. Both opt to keep what they've won. Olivia wants the money to help them start a family, and Austin wants to cement his place in the final four. It turns out that neither has chosen correctly. It looked bad for Olivia, who looks like she is going under the yellow line with her sister. Instead, Austin's pound isn't enough to help him win. He only loses 1! Jay finally pulls a good number again, and everyone seems to be feeling confident and happy.
Speaking of confident and happy, Austin gets eliminated but puts his knowledge learned on the ranch to travel to schools, speaking to kinds about obesity. He looks good. It looks like he and Courtney plan to turn it into a joint venture.
One of my coolest discoveries is that you can follow current and past contestants on twitter and "Like" them on facebook. Here is one good Tiwtter list that follows contestants, trainers, and other professionals: It's fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at them all.
Next week the Final Four becomes the Final Two plus two the two the audience gets to choose from for the third contestant.