The Biggest Loser 4, November 6: It’s Not Easy Being Green!by Brian Towers -- 11/07/2007
Last week, Neil, Ryan, and Amy all followed up their cheating by posting nice numbers, and thus were able to aid their teams in avoiding elimination. As a result, David was sent home. There were probably challenges and workouts going on too, but the primary focus of the episode was really on various responses to Neil’s questionable game play of the previous week.
Mid-week, I learned that tonight is going to be a two-hour episode. Shockingly, as the show came on my local station tonight they aired the warning, “Due to some graphic and mature adult content, parental control is advised.”
What, on this show? Does Bill kill Neil? Over dinner, does the topic lurch toward religion or George Bush? Are clandestine lovers caught on a fuzzy night cam? Does Jillian cuss in the gym? Does Julie (sorry, Julie, I had to pick on someone) have a “Janet Jackson moment” during a challenge? And if so, why hasn’t NBC been promoting the heck out of it all week long?
The show begins with a series of cameos from the players. A sad Bryan is lamenting that with David gone, he is now alone in the game. He worries that if he is sent home, Kim won’t have anyone to train. Next, Neil tells us he welcomes the target on his back, and Isabeau informs us she’s “in it to win it.”
Accompanied by some of the most cheerful music this side of Sunnybrook Farm, series host Alison Sweeney tells the teams, “It’s Green Week!” Everyone will wear a green shirt with a recycle logo on the back. Alison tells them, “You are all going to be doing some recycling… starting with your teams.” The trios are now history, and new duos will be formed.
Alison uncovers a serving platter, and inside is a large meat pizza. Standing beside it all along has been an oversized soda that probably had not been overlooked by any of the participants. In a cameo, Bill describes the pizza as “a dream come true for anyone but us.”
The contestants will have to guess the combined caloric content of these two items, and the closest will win the right to pick their own partner. As a duo they will name the next duo, who will in turn select the third duo. That will be repeated once again, and by default, define the two remaining players that will comprise the fifth and final duo.
Guesses range from Bill’s guess of 2,145 calories up to Hollie’s idea of 4,079 calories.
Before we learn the answer, Bob has a “Green Tip” for us, suggesting we recycle used aluminum cans. Gosh, is it actually necessary to tell people that in this day and age? Maybe everyone doesn’t live in an area supported by a recycling center or collection process, but is it unknown that aluminum cans ought to be recycled wherever possible? Scary.
Back from an ensuing commercial spree, Alison finally tells us that the real answer was 3,253 calories… only 13 away from Nicole’s guess! That is broken down as 2,880 calories for the pizza and 373 calories for the soda. What, is there no double-cheese on that pizza? No dipping sauce? I had guessed 5,000, myself, so I wasn’t even close!
Winning the first pick, Nicole selects Neil as her partner. In an aside, Neil confides he’s not thrilled by this development, and Nicole has had trouble putting up big numbers. But it’s a done deal, and together, they partner up Ryan and Isabeau, who then name Julie and Bill as the third team. As the first team was all-Blue, Isabeau created this all-Black team by design.
The next team formed by Bill and Julie is comprised of their own teammate, Hollie, and the free agent, Bryan. That means Amy and a displeased Kae are left together. A flashback reminds us that Amy had a noisy moment over Kae while talking with the Black Team in the last episode, saying that she wanted her to go home. Kae knows this and figurers it will be an uncomfortable partnership.
Keeping the “green” theme going, Alison next informs the team that they will not be working out on electronic equipment this week. Julie knows she’s going to miss electricity, while Bill is afraid they are going back to the desert.
Kae wonders if Amy will work as hard as she can, or just try and ride Kae’s success. She fears that if they fall below the line, the others will oust Kae because she’s been losing so much weight. Sure enough, after returning from a run, Kae comes inside to discover Amy sleeping on a couch. She fears that Amy searches for “the easy path” and she does not want to be dragged below the yellow line.
It’s Jillian’s turn for a “Green Tip,” and it’s about the massive number of plastic shopping bags in the world. She suggests employing a reusable canvas bag instead. Me, I have a few almost-the-same-size boxes that I keep reusing, because they nest tightly together for storage in the trunk and they hold the cartons and cans better than a bag. Hey, any solution that isn’t generating more of those can’t-be-recycled plastic bags works for me!
The trainers stride up. Jillian confesses she expected to see Hollie gone. When they hear the news of the duos, Bob realizes Kae has been targeted and vows that he will make sure she has a good week.
Bryan notes that Kim has become very quiet. The two of them discuss the possibility that Kim may be at the final with no contestants. It could happen. With three trainers this season, depending on how many make it to the finals, that’s a possibility anyway. Last year, with two trainers, four finalists were named, though a pregnant Heather had to drop out. We’ll see.
Kim says that in his training, Bryan is doing well, but with nutrition, she is frustrated. Some of that frustration comes out in her tone as they go over his food journals, where she points out that he’s only eating about two-thirds of his target calories. She says he’s actually not eating enough calories to keep his energy levels up sufficiently to support his workout levels. Apparently he is eating three times a day, not the four to six meals a day that Kim has repeatedly told him he ought to be eating. Bryan is having trouble with the concept of eating more food to lose weight, because his personal history has taught him the opposite.
Shifting scenes, Kae tells Bob that last week, Amy told her she wanted her (Kae) to be the one going home. Bob tapes a big “X” onto her back, to show everyone that Kae knows she’s a target and she’s going to beat it.
In a black “Disco Sucks” tee-shirt, Jillian tells her team about the benefits of eating organic, which is better for your body and better for the planet. Well, maybe if it wasn’t so much more expensive… This stuff is starting to get a little preachy, actually.
Hold on… that tee-shirt isn’t the reason the episode was preceded by a disclaimer, is it? Jeepers, I hope not!
With the equipment turned off, Bob falls back on his old standard, “let’s run up that hill.” Kim uses the treadmill, but with the power off. Jillian focuses on exercises and activities using non-electric tools, and she has plenty of alternatives.
A smiling Neil notes, “Just because we can’t use certain pieces of gym equipment does not mean it’s not going to hurt and won’t be just as miserable.” Julie says, “I think Kermit said it best – it’s not easy being green!”
It’s Kim’s turn to supply a “Green Tip.” This one is to unplug electronics that are not in use, such as computers and video games. Monitors are an electricity hog too, but I cannot recommend turning off your freezer, your home security system, or your alarm clock!
Bob is not just a trainer, he’s also a chef! He tells his team about the turkey-burgers he makes for all his BBQs. Extra-lean turkey is the key, and he has some that is 99% fat-free. Bob has his team make up some burgers, and they all seem to enjoy chowing down together!
Hostess Alison is back with another challenge. The contestants arrive to find piles of waste that comes from the selling of fast food, such as pizza boxes and Styrofoam take-out containers. The piles are supposed to represent the bad food the contestants used to eat in a year.
To top it off, two dump-trucks unload about a zillion pop cans! No, apparently that estimate is high, as Alison tells us there are 148,000 cans, or about 2.6 tons of them. This is the estimated amount of soda the contestants have consumed to date in their lives. She shares the stat that in the U.S., 80 billion cans are consumed in a year. Neil jokes that they might have all come from his house. Actually, there was some nice camera work here, making the flow of cans out of the trucks seem more than the result indicates actually happened.
The team have to “recycle” these cans. They will do this by putting as many cans as possible into their own recycle bin, which is a tall wire cage only open at the top and sitting on a scale. The distance between the pile and the receptacles is estimated by Julie as about a hundred yards, and there’s a 30 degrees (or so) ramp to be ascended to get to the open end of the bins.
They have 30 minutes to perform the task. All of them know this is going to be no walk in the park! Alison is again coy about the prize, telling the contestants, “It’s the prize that everyone wants!”
But before we see what the prize is, it’s Bob’s turn for another “Green Tip.” He says that turning down the heat one degree in your house can save up to ten percent off your fuel bill. I can add, it works with air conditioners, too.
As we go to commercial, we see the contestants melting down as they see the prize. Sure enough, the winning duo will both win a new vehicle. Specifically, it’s 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid SUVs. SUVs? This excites a weepy Julie, who gave up her car to be a stay-at-home mom.
They’re off! Bryan is the first one to the cans, and he stomps on them so he can carry more in the same amount of space. Hollie stomps cans, too. After all, the cans are bulky much more than they are heavy. Amy and Kae are working as a team – Amy gathers a bunch of cans in her shirt, then takes them to Kae, who takes them to the bin. I’m fairly sure they’re losing time in that extra transfer step, but maybe Amy doesn’t think she can handle the ramp? Meanwhile, Bill is getting the biggest loads, but he’s walking back to the bins when some with smaller loads are running.
As the horn blows to end the challenge, most are glad it’s done. If they weren’t so anxious to hear if they won a car, some would probably want a nap right about now. By looking at the bins, no one thinks they can identify a clear-cut winner.
Alison announces the results, starting with the bottom three. Isabeau and Ryan hauled 43.2 pounds of cans, Neil and Nicole carried 47.6 pounds, and Hollie and Bryan had 75.4 pounds.
Alison says that one duo hauled 75.8 pounds of cans, while the other hauled 98.4 pounds. That’s quite a margin, really. And the winning duo is…
The “Green Tips” interrupt us again. Jillian tells us to recycle our paper. Wow, really? Let me print that one out! No wonder this episode is bloated up to two hours.
As usual, the green tips are followed by an endless stream of momentum-crushing commercials. When they return, it’s Bill and Julie who have won. Julie is highly appreciative to have won herself a car after suffering the indignity of life without one.
Some time later, Neil and Julie have a chat over lunch. Both think they have a target on their back and are nervous about the upcoming weigh-in.
Off alone, Bryan talks with Kim. Oh wait, they’re always alone – because Bryan is her last trainee. He’s having trouble accepting that eating when he’s not hungry is a right thing to do. She assures him that it’s the right path. I think academically he believes her, but after years of eating all the time, he finds it hard to eat when he’s not especially hungry.
There’s super-sad music played as the topic turns back to Kim potentially losing her last player. Bryan says he feels alone, but Kim assures him that she’s with him. Bryan feels the talk improved their relationship, and it ends with a hug.
Accompanied by happier, more bubbly music, Jillian meets with her team to hear about the reward. They are all excited and want to show her what they won, but she petulantly has no interest in a prize that she has to go and look at – she’s only interested if they win immunity. After they literally drag her outside to look, even Jillian is forced to admit, “Yeah, that’s a pretty great prize... but I wanted immunity… but it’s a heck of a prize.”
At the last-chance workouts, we see several mighty efforts. Bob says to us, “This is a green workout that will turn them black and blue.” Kim has turned herself into workout equipment for Bryan (the last hope of the Red Team), while Jillian confides to us, “The workouts that I’m putting my people through right now are workouts I do; workouts that kill me!”
As the players walk to the weigh-in, each seems to feel they are the biggest targets. Did you know that if Bryan is eliminated, there will be no more Red Team? I think the teams are fairly evenly made up, actually.
One thing is visually obvious right away. The women all wear ugly, ill-fitting, and unflattering khaki tops with shoestring straps. What is so wacky is that these are worn over top of their original classy sports bras. Apparently, green sports bras were unavailable, or too expensive. Since the red/blue/black ones were blatantly obvious underneath due to their thicker straps, what are these cheesy $3 khaki items all about? Are we supposed to be reminded of the original team assignments? Then why are the guys just in green tee-shirts? I guess it’s all part of trying to maintain the illusion that the real weigh-ins didn’t happen several hours ago… that stepping on the big display device is actually a “weigh-in”?
At the weigh-in, Alison reminds us that duos will be ranked by the percentage of weight lost. There is a Yellow Line on the results chart, with room for the names of four duos above it and just one below. The members of that one team below that dreaded Yellow Line are the pair up for elimination. I am listing the teams in the order they weigh in. Here are all the results:
Some nice numbers all around this week! Alison tells Neil that he is only the fifth person to lose a hundred pounds before going home on this show. After all the weights are recorded. Alison announces that Isabeau and Ryan are the ones up for elimination.
With all the commercials, it took a full 30 minutes to air the weigh-in. Painful! Maybe the network could have promoted this episode by touting it as, “The Most Drawn-Out Weigh-In Ever!”
The trainers meet with their charges. Kim is happy, naturally. Bob, not so much. Neil tells us they decided to partner those two because they wanted to keep Ryan safe, and had figured the two of them would be safe together. They are aware that if the vote is tied, Ryan had the worse numbers this week and will be going home.
Over with the Black Team, Jillian sees Isabeau is a little nervous. Isabeau keeps saying, “I trust nobody,” all the while sitting in front of the people she needs to trust. She says, “I’ve been up on the elimination block three times, and this is the second time I’ve been specifically targeted.” I don’t agree that she was targeted this time, but her emotions are ruling her right now. Her teammates voice support and as Isabeau starts to cry, she finally admits she trusts them “90%, but that’s the best I can give you.” Jillian tells her she needs to learn to trust those around her, because they have been true to her. The scene ends for us, but I bet it went on for a while in that bedroom!
All ten players file into the Elimination Room. Alison, who looks delectable in a sassy yellow and black dress, asks the two potential evictees if they think of life at home. Isabeau says she doesn’t let that interfere with the task at hand. Bryan admits he’s thought about home every day, but he still wants to stay here and learn more. With that, they vote.
The ladies (Amy and Kae) vote first. Amy announces that they struggled with their decision, but ended up voting for Ryan.
Bryan and Hollie are up next. Bryan thinks both of them have the ability to win the game, but they vote for Ryan as well.
Next up is the former-Blue duo of Neil and Nicole. In a bit of a surprise, Neil announces that although they don’t feel he ought to be going home, they were confident how the others were going to vote and they want to send home their buddy “the right way, the honorable way.” As Nicole weeps freely, Neil announces that they vote out former teammate Ryan, adding, “I’m sorry, buddy.”
The votes of Black duo of Bill and Julie remain undisclosed, though surely they also voted for Ryan.
Ryan says he’s met some people who will be his friends for a long time. He adds that he had an idea it was his last day on campus, and he’s okay with that.
In his funeral video, Ryan says he now has “more fight and a little less fear.” A day later, we see him coming home. He has a very nice house! As he plays with his four-month-old daughter he says, “I feel complete again.” He also says, “It’s not really about food and exercise. It’s about what’s up here (indicating his noggin). That’s the growth that I’m most proud of.”
Current video shows us Ryan now weighs 265 pounds, having lost a total of 109 pounds. He feels he is now in control of his life and it’s empowering. Ryan concludes by saying, “Progress and good things only come when you push.”
My Opinion: Why that one had to be two hours long, I have no clue. I never got the impression I was getting extra content, just that things were being dragged out. The Green Tips didn’t really take all that much time, but I heard Kim whine about losing her team so often that I stopped typing about it. The bulk of that extra half hour must have gone into the weigh-in.
I’d like to include an important link for you readers, to a journal entry on the NBC site from a member of the show’s medical team, Dr. Jen Kerns. Dr. Kerns explains some of the details of how it is possible to put on 17 pounds in a week, plus the multiple potential dangers of doing so. It’s worth the read, so here’s the link.
Next Time: Drag your cursor between the square brackets to see the scoop on next week’s show. Don’t do it if you don’t want to be spoiled! [ We won’t have to face the prospect of a one-person duo, as they will be dissolved. Individual play has arrived. Does that mean more game play, or less?]
Join me here next week for a recap of all the action, sprinkled with my own reactions and opinions. And let me know what you think about it all at the eAddress below!
Born and raised in Toronto, Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email.
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