Biggest Loser 5: Couples, Episode 2 – One Big Happy Familyby Brian Towers -- 01/09/2008
Last time, we met the ten two-member teams that are identified by a myriad of colored jerseys. Although the Blue and Black Teams showed well in both challenges, several other teams struggled. In the end, after daughter Jenni dropped the lowest percentage of weight, her father Lynn threw himself on his sword and the Green Team were the first ones sent home.
These are the surviving teams. I see that although they’ve been married for three years now, the White Team is being referred to as “The Newlyweds” so there aren’t two “Married” teams… not that we couldn’t tell them apart!
The week’s action begins with the teams marching past a series of banners with their goals printed on them and into the gym. Everyone is happy to still be here, especially the also-nominated members of the Purple Team. The trainers arrive, pleased that everyone is working out already. Or maybe, is it because they have a surprise for everyone? Bob announces that the trainers have also decided to become a duo. This means they will unite to train all the couples as one team. That really belittles the first challenge when they competed for choice of trainer, doesn’t it?
The different training styles of the two trainers are revisited next. Jillian calls Bob “Mr. Yoga,” and adds matter-of-factly, “I’m a screamer.” Bob adds (while safely alone), “She’s the craziest person I ever met!
Most competitors soon note that the intensity of the workouts has increased. Yellow Team ex-wife Kelly comments, “Their idea of fun and mine is a lot different.” At one point Pink Team mother Bette-Sue loses concentration and falls hard on the treadmill, getting her hand caught underneath somehow. But, trooper that she is, after a second to orient herself and count her fingers, they help her up and she’s raring to go some more!
Host Alison is back to help the competitors confront some hard facts in “The Hall Of Truth.” No one knows what to expect. Alison warns them that until they are able to realize how bad things were, they will be unable to move forward.
It turns out to be a series of video presentations, one for each team, presenting some scary statistics to each team about their diet patterns. The usual suspects of soda pop, bread, candy, fried food, and more are targeted. For example, Neill and Amanda hear that he consumes over 400 pounds of sugar a year from soda pop alone. The numbers are overwhelming.
Probably the most heavily affected is the married Brown Team. Mallory is reduced to tears, which is probably the correct response to hearing that eating Curtis’s favorite meal of fried chicken strips at every meal would deliver over 890,000 calories a year. Their total diet equates to over 70 pounds of fat and almost 120 pounds of sugar, annually. Curtis moans, “We’re killing ourselves. We are literally killing ourselves. We can’t do this any more!” He later tells us he is embarrassed and disgusted by the proud and joyous way he discussed his diet in the pre-show video. As their presentation mercifully ends, they vow to keep each other alive. Big hug time for the Brown Team!
In the gym, the Orange Team shares a couple of chuckles over the White Team. Although Amanda is working like a demon, Neill is working at a far more relaxed pace and is not visibly sweating. Neill says he always takes things easy, and at work, people sometimes think he isn’t busy. However, he also announces that he doesn’t plan to burn himself out and we see him taking a break while Amanda soldiers on. Amanda thinks Neill doesn’t take extra breaks, but admits she might be a biased judge.
Timing is everything, because he’s standing on the side rails of the treadmill with his head down when Jillian enters the gym. Several times she asks him if he’s quitting. She tells him he needs to resume his workout now and adds, “I don’t care if you’re dying. You need to die to be born again.” She further promises him an hour of treadmill time if he doesn’t start working, adding that no one will leave the gym until he’s done.
Wishing to get back to the dorm in the foreseeable future, several competitors start to encourage Neill. But in a cameo, Black Team brother Jay is frustrated that Neill is not more motivated.
Jillian asks Neill why he’s here. He says it’s to get thin, but she wants a deeper reason. He can’t come up with one. The website suggest his goal is “To play hockey again,” so that might have worked, but he’s got nothing for her. Finally, Neill starts walking.
Series host Alison Sweeney greets the nine teams in the twilight. I’m not sure if that was the plan, or it took Neill that long to walk for a continuous hour without stopping.
This time, they’re going to be challenged by big see-saws! These are definitely industrial-sized teeter-totters, built out of sturdy metal pieces that look maybe thirty feet long. Alison tells them the first team to go up and down 100 times will be the winner. The prize is a pair of phone cards and a chance to phone home.
Alison notes that Brittany of the Blue Team (the strangers) is especially anxious to win this prize. Unlike the members of the other teams, she doesn’t have a support person here. The Brown Team gets weepy just thinking about the possibility of talking to their kids.
Due to the disparity in their weights, Brown Team husband Curtis isn’t sure his wife will be able to raise him high enough into the air. It does seem to me that teams of similar size have a huge advantage, and long, strong legs would be a plus as well.
Alison starts the challenge and teams quickly get the hang of it. I mean, we’re not exactly splitting the atom here. It might be a few decades ago since these folks were last on a see-saw, but this is a pre-schooler activity!
Big Trent has to stop because of trouble with his knee, so the Gray footballers are done after only seven reps. The Black Team of brothers takes the lead once again, trailed most closely by the usual suspects, the Blue and Brown teams. By just a few counts, the Black Team wins, about four ahead of the Blues and maybe seven over the Browns.
The Blue and Brown teams push on to complete the task but surprisingly, none of the others finish out. In previous seasons, “finishing what you start” was a big item. I specifically remember in Season 3, Grey Team members Adrian and Jaron were greatly chastised for quitting on a challenge.
Alison tells the brothers that the calls have to be made before the next weigh-in, and that she has a bit more news – there are three more teams who will get to call home! The decision of who gets the additional phone cards falls to the brothers. The immediate response of both shows they do not relish making this choice. Ah, this could cause some drama! Someone who feels deserving is going to get shut out.
Aware of the pitfalls, the brothers make a list to try and decide how to allocate the extra phone cards. I say the two teams that were right behind you get a call, and then whoever your best friends are in the house gets the other one.
The other teams start to talk about who has small kids, but the point is raised that the others miss their families just as much. As a group they seem to come to the realization that some teams are just going to have to deal with being disappointed.
The brothers come out to announce their difficult decision. They apologize in advance to those who are not about to be rewarded. The first calling card goes to the Brown Team, the second is for the footballers, and the final card goes to the White Team. Brother Mark admits that the last one was a hard decision, but they decided that Amanda deserved a reward, even if perhaps Neill didn’t.
Yes, the two teams who did worst on the challenge got rewarded. It seems the choice was made based on who has kids. As they got to commercial, Neill says, “I’m going to show them I’m working harder.”
In the next scene, it’s the next day and we’re back in the gym. Neill informs Jillian that his call will have to be made in the middle of the workout. Her suggestion is that he go do just that and then lay by the pool as the finish to his workout. So much for the sentiment in the quote at the end of the last paragraph – what the heck is this guy thinking? Jillian hops up on Neill’s treadmill and accuses him of being too ready to quit.
It’s time for a timeout for Neill and Jillian, and the two of them go out on the lawn for a chat. Jillian tells the rest to stay put for five minutes… and you can bet they do.
Jillian tells Neill she is conflicted over how she should approach him – whether she should send him off to think about why he’s here, or to continue to try and encourage him to accomplish what he’s capable of doing. She suggests he uses his size as an excuse to avoid facing difficult situations. Neill seems to agree with that assessment. Jillian fears he will be seen as a slacker who wants to go home, and thus get him sent home before his time. He admits the process has been overwhelming to him, and as they reenter the gym he thanks her for helping him see that point.
Black Team brother Mark is the first to call home. His daughter tells him she kisses her toy bear and can’t stop, so Mark says she should think about him when she does it. Awww! “You’re going to be a mess (for) the rest of the day!” jokingly comments brother Jay. Jay makes his own call and breaks down as soon as he hears his wife’s voice, but she tells him not to. Ha! After the call, he says that knowing they are okay will help him focus on the matter at hand.
Next to call is the White Team couple, Neill and Amanda. They call their young son and get weepy right away. He’s very young and there aren’t a lot of words coming back to them, but the parents both feel they’ve had a boost.
The next day, Neill leads the group in calisthenics and Yellow Team member Paul thinks Neill might have turned a corner. Black Team’s Jay seems less impressed, but he thinks it was Jillian’s words that have him trying a little harder.
The third ones to call home are the footballers. Both have youngsters at home and both are happy and relieved to hear that everything there is good.
Finally, the Brown Team make their calls and they are weepy ones once again. Mallory tells her daughter that it’s hard, but she is their inspiration. She replies to Mallory, “You keep on working out. You’ll always be my biggest loser and mom!” Curtis says the call was rejuvenating.
Time jumps ahead to the evening. Everyone has been assembled in warm clothes when Alison comes onto scene to tell the teams that one member of each must come with her and one must stay behind. It’s the first temptation challenge of the season! Here’s how it will work: One at a time, every player will spend four minutes in an area where a massive feast has been set up. No one has to eat, but the team that eats the most (based on posted calorie counts) wins $5,000. Alison also reminds them that there is a weigh-in coming up.
The first few contestants are shown looking at food, sniffing food, touching food, loving and worshipping food, but not eating any food. And so it continues, player after player.
As they sit about waiting their turn, someone off camera (probably Dan, possibly Bernie) teases Mark by wondering aloud if Jay is eating. Mark responds, “He won’t eat, because I’d break his jaw.” Yellow Team’s ex-husband Paul mentions that he has about 900 calories he hasn’t had yet today. And it’s Paul’s turn next. Sure enough, he grabs a corn dog and also eats some cake. Game on!
Orange Team member Dan comments that elder brother Mark has gone very silent. Mark has been mulling over what Paul said, and decides he sees an opportunity for himself. Sure enough, he chows down several items in his four-minute time span.
On the Brown Team, Curtis is extremely confident that his wife Mallory won’t eat. But in the dying seconds, we see her scarf down a chocolate candy.
The challenge is over, and Alison brings the teams back together. It turns out that only three teams have eaten, and although the calorie counts are unknown, we know that at least one member of the Brown, Black, and Yellow Teams are the guilty ones.
Alison asks Brown Team husband Curtis if wife Mallory has eaten. He says no, but he’s wrong. Mallory ate 210 calories. The next team we see asked is the Yellow Team. Kelly is surprised that Paul ate 912 calories, and it makes her very nervous about the upcoming weigh-in.
Alison next goes to the Black Team and asks Jay if Mark ate. Jay says he did not, because, “He told me that if I did, he’d kick the crap out of me, and mom’s not here to protect me.” However, the truth is that Mark ate a combination worth 925 calories, enough to win the $5,000 for him and his brother. Jay is in shock. Mark tells us that if he had to do it again, he’d make the same decision. Paul says to us, “That’s what I get for talking so much.” Alison wraps up the scene by saying she’s glad she’s not the one to tell the trainers how much they ate.
The trainers hear the news the next day. Bob tells us that Mark was the absolute last person he’d have expected to do that. Jillian says that normally she can accept it when someone eats in a temptation if they work the calories into their daily allotment and Paul nods, but she goes on to say, “Not the day before a weigh-in.” The reasoning is that if they ate something that makes them temporarily retain fluids, it could be enough to send them home. Jillian shouts out the question, “You’ve left work for four months, how important can five thousand dollars be? If it’s that important, go home and work, I think you’ll make more money!”
In a cameo, she expounds on that thought for us. She says that people spend thousands for one day of this experience, so why risk throwing this opportunity away? Jillian continues to tell the group that they need to put their health in front of everything. Paul sees the logic of this and recognizing that he’s disappointed the trainers, apologizes to them.
Later that night is the weigh-in. For a change, there is no footage of last-chance workouts.
Alison tells us that the two teams that have the worst results will be up for elimination. Trainers are again on hand, and elimination will again be shortly after this ceremony. She also says that the team with the best results will be deemed “the biggest losers of the week” and win “a fabulous prize I’ll tell you about later.” “Later” is relative, I guess.
The following chart shows the results, in the order they mounted the scale. The red boxes indicate the teams at risk of elimination. This chart is getting to be quite the rainbow, isn’t it? At any rate, here are the results:
About three-quarters of the players are visibly discouraged by their results. Mallory feels certain her gain didn’t come from the candies and although I don’t know what her intake for the day was, I think I agree with her.
The Purple Team’s Jenn tells us she is amazed how Neill seems to be losing so much weight while putting in the least amount of effort. Neill’s partner Amanda, who stayed the same weight, is probably beginning to process similar thoughts.
After the third team weighs in, Jillian says that even though results are usually lower in the second week, she’s still “pretty shocked” by the results she’s seeing.
When all is said and done, the Orange mother-son team of Jackie and Dan are the biggest losers of the week for the second time. Alison tells us they have a prize coming, but we never do hear what it is – boo!
The ones facing elimination are The Yellow Team (the (the divorced couple) and the married Brown Team, Curtis and Mallory. In one hour, one of them will be gone.
I played around with the numbers a bit. Had Paul lost one more pound, they’d have escaped the worry of elimination and sent up the Purple Team instead. How big are those 912 calories? They could cost them their spot in the game!
Back in the dorm rooms, Kelly is overcome with stress and cannot stop crying. She knows that for Paul, this is a life or death situation. Meanwhile, Curtis tells us they aren’t going to lobby to stay because their genuine nature is evident. However, Yellow Team’s Paul realizes they need to get it together and go work the room for votes.
And that’s what they do next. Twenty minutes before the vote, Kelly tells the gang in the kitchen that she’s ready to work harder, and the Yellow Team clearly need to be here. It is an honest speech, but not overbearing, and might have swayed an undecided voter.
Young Maggie of the Purple Team isn’t sure how to vote, because it feels like she’s playing with someone’s life. Kelly knows that when her team goes home, they go their separate ways and she’s not sure if she’s strong enough yet to keep losing weight on her own.
It’s voting time. I’ll show the voting team first, their vote second, and if it seems worthy, the stated reason.
So, it’s all tied up with only the Blue Team to vote. Normally, sitting in the last seat is a good thing because you don’t have to reveal your vote and potentially make an enemy of someone who stays in the game. The Blue Team feel the Brown Team will do better at home, so it is they who are eliminated.
Both Brown Team members are emotional, but Curtis encourages the others, says he understands that they did what they had to and has no regrets. After several tearful hugs, they are gone.
In next-day video, Curtis says he’s “a little heartbroken” but both vow to keep working when they get home. In more current video, we learn Curtis now weighs 298 pounds and is justifiably happy to be under the 300 mark. That’s a total loss of 83 pounds so far. Mallory is doing well too, down to 184 pounds and wearing a size nine. As good as she looks, Curtis looks fantastic. Mallory says she has changed the whole family’s diet. Curtis vows to be eligible for health insurance by the finale, and Mallory wants to lose another 45 pounds by then.
Good luck to you folks, you are nice people.
My Opinion: As much as I love their spirit, I think the right decision was made. The Brown Team did well in challenges and would have the potential to post some big numbers in future weeks. I wish they’d tried to win some last minute votes though, as it might well have made the difference.
Numbers, especially on the distaff side, weren’t big this week. So far, mom and son Jackie and Dan (the Orange Team) lead the race after two weeks with a little over ten percent weight loss. The Pink ladies are next, just shy of nine percent. At the other end we find the Purple Team (best friends Maggie and Jenn) at 5.27 and the divorced Yellow Team, just over 5.9 percent.
Well, that’s it for now – next week, a hint of drama threatens to surface. And maybe we’ll find out what the Orange Team won?
Join me here 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!
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!
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