The theme of this episode was chance -- the big dice are back, making one team member's results effect the whole team brought that element to the forefront. It also meant that no one could calculate that this would be a good week to slack off -- though on this show it really doesn't seem like that would ever be a great idea. The introduction of "red lines" early in the show means that a team member can't talk his or her way into staying if the numbers aren't there. They all had to lose as if their whole team were depending on them, because they could be.
There is always an element in life that can't be controlled. One of the big things successful contestants always seem to learn is that there are things in their lives that they can control (their own behavior, their choices) and things that they cannot (other people's actions, dumb luck). One of the factors that seems to lead people to the show in the first place is trying to control the wrong things, and there are always situations on the show where people get so hung up in some external drama that they forget to manage the things they can control.
I saw a little of this dynamic in Red Team member Tanya this week. One of her team members spilled water during a challenge where they were trying to fill a fishtank, and she would not let it go. One thing that can't be controlled is the past, and everyone makes mistakes. The challenge was somewhat important, but not so important that it was worth alienating a team member over. In the long run, building good relationships is just as important on TBL as anything else. There were a lot of elements to this challenge that were left up to luck, but teams were also all tied together. This meant that learning to work together was an important element, and it also increased tension for people who want to be in control. Tanya, ironically enough, ended up being the one whose weight counted for the whole team, and she got really lucky because she did not have a good week, and just survived because someone else was worse. Her language when talking about her team bugged me for some reason, describing one as "my little rock star," and another as "my gentle giant." I think it made me think she placed herself at the center of the Red Team Universe. But of course, this could all be editing. This is still reality TV, so the editors still want to invent drama if they can.
There are some areas, though, where the show has really improved. At the beginning of the show, we get an important discussion between Craig and Jillian after she "saved" him the last week. It seems to be the kind of conversation that Jillian was talking about when she said that we never hear the whole story. In this Craig had responded to the death of his overweight father at a young age with so much guilt and pain that he seemed determined to repeat his father's patterns and early death. Letting go of the guilt and the weight, he said, felt like turning his back on his father.
I also liked that we got one in-depth visit with Dr. H. and Ruben instead of a whole bunch of random medical information. Not surprisingly for a guy who ways almost 500 pounds, Ruben has Type II diabetes. There was some real discussion of what that meant for him.
I loved seeing the update with Lindsay from last season -- she seems to have really grown into herself and looked genuinely happy and active. She also seems to have dropped the cheerleader obsession. I think the show did a reasonably good job with the kids who signed up to be on the show. What I really did not like was that Jennifer's daughter's weight issues were dragged so prominently onto the show. The kids from last season were kids who had signed up for the show, but as far as I can tell, Jennifer's daughter has not. I feel sorry for her having to go to school after her friends see her mother crying on national TV about her weight problems. I also think that turning a kid into a problem only makes things worse.
Finally, I felt really bad for Hap for missing the birth of his son, but he really stepped it up this week. He responds so well to Bob's belief in him that it makes me wonder if he didn't have anyone in his life who seemed to have faith in him. I wonder if we will get more of his story.
As always, comments, thoughts, discussion welcome. Thanks for reading!