Biggest Loser 5: Couples, Episode 14 – Way Up There, Down Underby Brian Towers -- 04/03/2008
Last time: Dan played nursemaid to a piece of cake, though his shortcomings provided Roger the opportunity for some fun at Dan’s expense. Another pick-on-the-girls challenge left Jay with a nice hunk of cash, but he traded it in for a one-pound pass it turned out he didn’t actually need. Although the men were confident to the point of cockiness, Mark and Dan fell below the yellow line, and once-a-boy-and-now-a-man Dan was eliminated.
Following is a list of the players still remaining in the game. Bob trains the first three, and the last two are Jillian’s charges.
This week’s action begins right after the last elimination ceremony. Series host tells the remaining competitors they have lost 487 pounds and eliminated 15 other players. She segues abruptly to say that the show is an international hit, and tomorrow, and after feeding them some statistical facts, tells the players that everyone’s going to Sydney, Australia! Everyone’s excited by the prospects of traveling to Australia.
Here’s a little background from my personal knowledge of Biggest Loser Australia. It’s very popular Down Under. Season 3 is well underway, with segments airing six days a week (goofing off only on Saturdays). Additionally, Bob and Jillian have been trainers in some or all of each season.
Ali, Roger, and Kelly take a break from packing to talk in the girls’ room. With Mark speaking for his absent brother Jay, they agree to make a secret alliance to vote out Roger. Mark has no problem with the decision to dump his “Pride!” buddy.
As they pack for the trip, Roger expresses his fear of kangaroos, while Kelly admits she’s barely been out of Florida. Mark thinks this is going to be fun, but intends to get his workouts in and follow a meal plan.
At the airport as they wait for the plane, Mark distributes snack packages he made up for everyone, each with 100 calories. Nice!
The next scene is arrival is Australia, accompanied by music that’s probably supposed to sound more like the intro to native sons AC/DC’s “Thunderstuck” than it does. Alison meets up with the trainers first and they welcome her to what Bob refers to as “my second home.’
In a cameo, Bob says, “What better continent to go to than Australia, the second-most overweight continent in the world? Do you know what number one is? The US of A!” Those of us in the other twenty or so countries of North America are all discouraged at his ignorance of what continents actually are.
The trainers don’t know how the last elimination ended up, as they were not even present at the weigh-in. When Alison tells them the remaining contestants have lost 97 pounds per person, Jillian shakes her head and jokes in mock-disappoint, “It’s not a hundred pounds per person.” Alison laughs. In a cameo, Jillian tells us she’s proud how hard the players are working.
As the contestants march up, the trainers see Dan is missing. Jillian feels sorry for Bob, because she knows they had a special bond. On the other hand, Kelly is happy to see the trainers, because she was worried about not getting her proper workouts in.
Alison tells those assembled that they are about to observe a traditional Australian ceremony. She calls for “Uncle Max.” No, Uncle Max is not a relative of Alison’s; he’s an aborigine, followed by a tribe mate playing a didgeridoo. Both are in traditional garb and body paint. Alison tells us that they will participate in a traditional “smoking ceremony.” There are no details on what’s in that smoke, but it’s supposed to bring luck. Ali is especially moved, and individually thanks Uncle for allowing her to participate in the ceremony.
The next scene is at the house used in the Aussie version of the show. Jay is jealous that this mansion is better appointed than the ranch they are used to. However, when the trainers get them into the gym, it feels very similar to them. Kelly feels the workouts are hard because they lost a training day to traveling and Jillian’s determined to make up for lost time.
Ali is working hard and perspiring heavily. Apparently the gym is not air conditioned, and Jillian asks her if she has her sports bra on and wants to take off her shirt. Ali is having none of that, because she sees many areas in the mirror that need work. Of course this is nonsense; all of her, including her arms, looks good. She obviously has some self-image issues. Calling Jillian’s mom!
As they prepare to go out to dinner, Ali inexplicably has selected a sleeveless dress. However, she expresses further concern over how her arms look to roommate Kelly. Kelly doesn’t understand why Ali is worried about her arms either. I bet in high school Ali was one of those kids who told everyone that she failed a test, then ended up getting 93%.
Mark promises his brother, “I’m going to cut a mean-ass rug tonight. I’m going to look stupid doing it, but I don’t care.” That’s the spirit!
The trainers are taking the five out to dinner tonight. It’s also an instructional event, to show them how to order nutritiously. After dinner, they go dancing. It seems like everyone has fun, but let’s move along.
The next day, the trainers take their charges on a tour of a local market. There’s lots of organic and other fresh food, plus great seafood. The trainers advise that shopping locally and cooking yourself is a good way to avoid hotel food and control what you’re eating. Well, a lot of standard hotels frown on cooking in the rooms and get cranky when the fire alarms go off.
In one funny scene, Jillian and Kelly butt heads over eating an oyster. Kelly doesn’t want any part of it, but Jillian always gets her way. Sure enough, Jillian makes her do it… and Kelly does not enjoy the experience at all.
Adro shows up at the house. Adro is the winner of season 1 of Biggest Loser Australia. In his season he was known as “Little Bull” (Wal was “Big Bull”), and he has to battle hard and well against some taller and heavier competition. He offers to take the group on a tour of Sydney. As they eat, Adro shows them his before-and-after pictures and tells them a weird little tale of an experience he had when trainer Bob got him to bungee from a tree. The story ends with Adro explaining how he broke through a mental barrier as a result. Methinks Andro got some of that smoke…
After sharing some more traditional words of inspiration, Adro passes on an envelope from hostess Alison that invites them to the next challenge. It starts at the TOP of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Mark confesses he has a fear of bridges and does all he can to avoid them. This one is well over 400 feet high. Ali thinks that with Mark’s concerns, maybe they rest of them will have a chance this time.
The next scene is at the base of the bridge. Brother Mark decides he doesn’t want to go up the bridge and Roger’s fine with that, but the girls say they’re not going without him. Indeed, all five set off on the trek. Roger and Ali seem to enjoy it the most, and Jay is glad to see he has overcome his fear of heights. We don’t see Kelly much, but in Florida, 400 feet is a long way up.
Ali comments that parts of the route are not too wide and earlier in the season, it would have been too hard for some of them to make the climb. That’s actually not true. In Adro’s season, the very first challenge also had the two teams climb to the top of the bridge, and trust me, that crew was at least as big as our current contestants ever were. Plus, this is just exercise and there’s no desperation or concern over letting one’s teammates down in a challenge. But make no mistake – you wouldn’t catch me up there for love nor money!
Sure enough, with varying degrees of comfort, all five complete the stroll to the top. Maybe while they’re up there they can change some light bulbs, like I saw Mike Rowe do on the Dirty Jobs program when he was working on the Mackinac Bridge? Man, I love that show! But I digress…
Mark reveals in an interview that he’s willing to admit when he feels weak and fearful, and dealing with these feelings are a part of his growth process. Maybe there’s hope for this guy after all?
Alison is ready to explain the challenge, but first, she tells them that the winner gets a seaplane ride and a great lunch, and can take another player with them.
Alison tells them this is the hardest challenge they’ve ever held. Essentially, I’d call it a mini-triathlon with an extra leg at the end!
A jet boat will take them to a starting point. The race begins with a 300-meter swim across open water. Then, they must mount a healthy series of steps to find bikes they must ride along a path to the Botanical Gardens. After running across the Gardens, there is a second climb, up 44-flights of stairs in the Aurora Place Building. Wikipedia tells me it’s about 480 feet to the roof. Alison (who will probably know where there’s an elevator) will be on the roof of that building, and the first one to get to her is the winner. Plus, they have to do it all… blindfolded!
April Fools! That last part isn’t true. The rest of it is, though!
As they start off, Ali (wearing swimming goggles but no blindfold) takes the swimming lead over Mark. Jay’s in the middle, and Kelly’s ahead of Roger. Ali hits the bikes first, but by a very small margin. Jay’s still competitive in third, and Kelly’s a determined fourth. A shot of Roger shows he’s on a bike, so I guess he didn’t drown.
Mark passes Ali on the bike ride, and is still leading as they hit the Aurora Place Building. Farther back, a woman who happens to be a person trainer and has stumbled on the event stops to encourage Kelly, even running along with her. That’s so nice!
Now, ascending 44 floors is a mighty tough test at the best of times, and these folks have been ground down by the three earlier phases, so it’s going to be rugged. Indeed, after the first few of flights, no one is running.
At about the 13th floor, Roger passes Kelly. Meanwhile, although Ali is determined to reel in Mark, he gets to the top first.
However, instead of negotiating the last few yards (meters?), Mark sits down and decides to wait. When Ali reaches the top, she is very surprised to find Mark calmly sitting on some steps. Mark has Ali carry him across the line, piggyback style. He tells us that instead of just dominating the challenge, he was going to wait for Ali and have them cross the finish line together. He says, “I learned I don’t have to be the competitive, crazy person everyone expects me to be. It was a lot more enjoyable knowing I shared victory in a fun way with Ali.”
Maybe Mark is learning something important from this game, and it’s not even about weight-loss techniques!
Jay crosses the line, then Roger. When Roger can breathe again they all decide to go back and find Kelly, who’s now only a couple of flights away. Kelly is impressed she was able to finish this challenge. I’m impressed by all of them.
So, the reward is to be shared by Mark and Ali. As well as the sightseeing plane and the luncheon, they also get to call home. Mark breaks down, telling us that the worst part of this experience is not sharing it with his wife.
The reward begins. Both agree that it’s a spectacular trip, and the view from the restaurant is pretty awesome, too. Ali says, “It’s the best experience of my life.”
We next see solo interviews with both in which they size up the opposition. Each sees the other as their main contender. Ali thinks she can beat Mark, while Mark says that if he doesn’t beat her, he’s lost to a real competitor. I can tell you that statistically, they lead the active players with less than a single percent between them. I hope they haven’t overlooked Roger. More on that later.
Mark calls home to his wife Erica. He soon gets blubbery. Erica says, “Are you crying again?” and then, “You need to snap out of it. Toughen up!”
Ali calls her grandmother, and is surprised when her mother answers. That’s former contestant Bette-Sue, for those keeping score. After a very brief chat, Ali wants to talk to grandma. That confuses me too, but it turns out grandma is originally from Australia. They have a nice, tear-minimalized chat.
It’s last-chance workout time. Mark expects it to be brutal, and he’s not disappointed. It’s yoga time! Roger says, “If people think yoga is easy, they’re crazy,” and he’d rather be pumping weights. Meanwhile, Jillian is shouting at the girls as they work out on the beach, soaked in perspiration. The juxtaposition of the scenes as they shift from the boys’ serene yoga poses to the grunting, sweating girls is actually pretty funny, in a sadistic sort of way.
We’ve reached the point in the show when Alison meets the teams in front a big faux scale to announce the weigh-in results. It’s the scale used in the Aussie show.
Roger’s aware that if he falls below the line, he’s going home. In fact, no one expresses any confidence about what’s coming.
This time, the two trainers are present. Here’s how the big board read after all results were posted.
Pretty much everyone who mounted the scale was discouraged this week, and felt the disruption in their routines was problematic.
By the timer on my VCR, the weigh-in took a numbing 23 minutes of air time, counting from when the teams were assembled in the weigh-in room until that scene disbanded. 23 minutes to weigh five contestants – that’s inexcusable!
As the weigh-in finally completes, Alison notes that brothers Mark and Jay are below the yellow line and up for elimination. Ali is the biggest loser again, and I note, the only one who lost more than one percent of their weight. That’s three times out of four Ali has won, so good on her. As usual, they have an hour before voting.
All five are weepy as Jay decides it’s his turn to fall on his sword and asks the others to vote for him. In a cameo, Mark, who has experienced elimination already, tells us he wants to spare his brother that agony. Oh come now, didn’t mama tell you to share with your brother?
The women ought to see that while Jay might be a threat next week, Mark is a bigger threat overall. However, we never see them talking as a duo. In fact, we are spared the rest of the tearful deliberations. Probably it was just a big hugfest.
It’s time to vote. Ali’s up first, and although she says she’s bonded with both brothers, she votes against Jay. Roger cries over having to vote out Jay, whom he says is coming out from under his brother’s shadow. But he does, and that’s all the votes it takes. As requested, Jay is out.
Mark weepily tells us how much he’s enjoyed doing this with his younger brother. What follows is lost to the sobbing. Jay’s goodbyes are even more tearful, if possible.
With Jay gone, hostess Alison tells the four that they have made it to the final week at the ranch. However, the trainers are not coming home with them, and the four must face the final week alone!
On video, a still-tearful Jay tells us, “I can’t say I have my life back, because I never had one.” He sees the show as the moment he and his brother changed their lives forever.
Arriving home the next day, Jay is greeted by his wife, who thinks he’s “a hottie.” His kids are in the next room, and they give him big hugs. His oldest (but quite young) daughter missed him a lot while he was away.
Jay has now lost a total of 100 pounds from his first day at the ranch. He’s organizing a 10K run in aid of a condition that struck his daughter, Beckwith Wiedemann Syndrome. Good for you, Jay!
As we head to the last stages of the competition, here’s where we stand:
Jay left the game at 31.06 percent. That’s nothing to sneeze at in real-world terms, but to win he would have had a lot of ground to make up.
Good news for Jillian – with Jay’s elimination, the weight lost in the house averages exactly 100 pounds per person. That has to be a record. I have nothing else to add – I vented as I went this week (so far).
Next week: a return visit from chef Rocco Dispirito.
Plus, an incredibly stupid and ridiculous twist is introduced into the game. It’s too late for such nonsense; just let them play the game and let the numbers decide what happens!
Do let me know what you think about it all at the eAddress below.
More at home with popcorn than push-ups, Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email!