Biggest Loser 5: Couples, Episode 15 – Another Sign of the Upcoming Apocalypseby Brian Towers -- 04/09/2008
Last time: A trip to Australia threw all our players into a tizzy. Schedules were disrupted and despite the lessons of twelve weeks of prior training, results tanked across the board. Brothers Jay and Mark actually gained weight. When it came to elimination, Jay fell on his sword and the others let him.
Following is a list of the players still remaining in the game.
Right off the top, voiceover guy spills the “secret” about the big twist at the end of this episode – that America will decide who makes it to the finale. In my mind, this is a really bad idea. More on this later.
This week’s action begins some time after the last elimination ceremony. Mark vows to do his best for his brother Jay. Roger, however, is focused on getting past the final weigh-in and making the finale. Kelly speaks of how tough it has been and how proud she is to be keeping the Black Team from going extinct. As for Ali, her goal is unchanged – she just wants to be the first female biggest loser.
Series host Alison welcomes the four back from Australia. She reminds them of the prize at stake, and that they are here this week without a trainer. Actually, I think the players remembered both those things. Alison sends them to get changed into workout gear after their 14-hour flight to “meet an old friend.” Kelly moans; she wanted some recuperation time.
A little later, all are reassembled in the yard. Alison is standing behind a table that’s holding four silver platters, each labeled with a player’s name. She tells them there’s something special for each of them, but someone else can explain things better… and from just off-screen, celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito pops out. You probably remember that Rocco was on hand to judge a competition back in Episode 6.
Rocco tells the contestants that he spoke to their loved ones to find out what their favorite foods used to be, and based on the recipes he was given, Rocco has made each. Roger likes his mom’s pepper steak, Kelly’s weakness is chicken Alfredo, Mark likes ice cream, and Ali goes for a big steak and potatoes. The calorie counts of each are enormous.
Rocco tells them that he’s going to make healthy versions of their favorite meals. Alison says, “This time, Rocco is going to be cooking for you guys!” Everyone is excited by the prospects of learning from Rocco.
In a cameo, Rocco recommends using very hot pans. With hot pans, less fat is required to cook the food.
It’s time to start cooking, and Rocco makes Roger’s meal first. It looks wonderful, with a nice, thick sauce. By substituting items such as balsamic vinegar for red wine, Roger’s meal has changed from over 1700 calories to a mere 385 calories!
One of the changes to Kelly’s chicken meal is to replace white flour with chickpea flour. The result is an improvement from almost 1500 calories to a mere 500.
Ali’s Mexican meat-and-potatoes has been improved from 1500 calories to just 511. Lean tenderloin is replacing her prime rib, which Rocco assures her it will taste just as good.
For Mark, Rocco is making ice cream. Using skim milk and fat-free yogurt are among the changes to the normal recipe that reduces his calorie count from 810 calories for three scoops to only 270.
As they sit down to dinner together, the competitors are appreciative of their feast. Mark toasts both Rocco and his fellow competitors. Rocco’s recipes are here on the NBC website if you’re interested in further details.
The next day, contestants are shown in the gym adjusting to life without a trainer. We see video evidence of their first workouts interspersed with today’s efforts, and the advances they’ve made are stupendous. As Kelly works out, she marvels how far she’s come and tells us, “I might, one day, even enjoy running!”
As he’s working out, Mark asks himself, “W. W. B. D.?” which stands for, “What Would Bob Do?” He thinks he has the knowledge from Bob to be successful and hopes he can get through this week without him.
Time has advanced, though we’re not told how far. At a beach, the teams meet hostess Ali, who is looking sharp in a soft leather cowboy-inspired hat. Nearby, a wooden box big enough to comfortably hold the trainers stands beside her. Kelly thinks it’s big enough to hold “a really nice gift.”
Alison tells the players that it’s time for the fifteenth and final challenge, and that today, they must battle their greatest adversary. As the huge box falls open, a garish fat suit is revealed! Everyone moans. The picture that accompanies this article shows Alison standing behind the suit. Thanks God it’s a rear view, though that’s bad enough. Fortunately, they don’t make the players wear the boots!
Alison tells them that a body suit has been prepared for each, tailored to recreate their body shapes from day one and loaded with equivalent weight to what they’ve subsequently lost. Ali asks us, “I spent fifteen weeks getting it [her weight] off, and you’re going to make me to put it back on?” Apparently, yes.
Wearing the fat suits, they must run to the other end of the beach, shed their suits, and then carry a flag with their name on it up a very big hill and plant it at the summit. The flag is mounted on about a twelve-foot pole and will be unwieldy to lug up the hill.
The winner will win a brand new The Biggest Loser Meal Plan. They will receive food prepared by professional chefs and approved by The Biggest Loser’s doctors and nutritionists, and have it delivered to their home every day until the finale. They also win $10,000.
The challenge begins. Everyone is struggling to run along the beach in the fat suits, and Mark waddles to an early lead. Kelly gets the bright idea to walk closer to the water where the sand is more compacted. However, Mark is first to cross the beach and shed his suit, followed by Roger with Alison close behind. Alas, poor Kelly is lagging in her traditional position.
Ali says she felt like a superhero running up a mountain carrying a flag with her name on it. But as usual, Mark wins the challenge. Roger is next, followed by Ali and a determined Kelly. Each sprints up the hill to the finish line. You know, Kelly may finish last rather often, but she finishes, and that’s good on her. They celebrate with a group hug… and a “Pride!” chant that also includes hostess Alison.
Mark tells us the money represents a nice vacation for his family in the near future. He also realizes that knowing his exact caloric intake in the months ahead will be a big advantage, as is the time saved by not having to prepare his meals.
Back in the house, almost a week has passed and the trainers are back. Bob tells us it’s been killing him not knowing what’s going on. Roger tells Bob that he’s had “little Bob” sitting on his shoulder and urging him on all week. No, not that “little Bob” – this is an imaginary little urchin that never lets him slack off. Roger also informs Bob he’s chasing Neil’s record of losing 143 pounds while in the house. He predicts a 15-pound loss for himself this week, which is exactly how much he needs.
Outside, the women are walking along a road and suddenly Jillian skips up to surprise them. She thinks they are looking a little tired and stressed. They are very happy to see her, though.
Mark needs to talk to Bob. He feels beat down, being without his brother. Mark begins crying that he can’t handle the stress and he seems to be having quite a meltdown. Eventually, Bob calms him down. Of the 103 pounds Mark has lost so far, I’m sure six of it has to be tears!
Indoors, Alison meets with the foursome plus the two trainers once again. She has a surprise for them that she thinks will motivate them for tomorrow.
Accompanied by their trainer, each sees their transformation on video, starting pre-show and ending up at fairly current times. As I’ve written about these events already, I’m moving on. Suffice to say, everyone ought to be inspired to strive for that last step and the big prize.
After their videos end, each has a comment. Roger jokes, “There was a fat guy on a video. I’ve no idea who he was!” Kelly says she feels a sense of accomplishment. Mark says, “I’m a totally different man, all for the better.” Ali reveals she had forgotten how fat she used to be.
It’s last-chance workout time. Trainer Bob starts talking how this has been “the season of one pound,” so I’m expecting a close result at the weigh-in. Myself, I think it argues strongly for weights to be measured in smaller increments!
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. No one is overly confident. This week, trainers are on hand to witness the proceedings.
Note that because he gained weight last week, Mark’s starting weight is actually the lower value from the week before. Here’s how the big board read after all results were posted.
Roger has now lost more weight than anyone ever has on campus – 144 pounds. Alison has now set the bar at 99 pounds for women at the ranch. Those are going to be tough numbers to match in upcoming seasons!
As the weigh-in completes, Alison notes that the men are below the yellow line and up for elimination. Overall, those are some stunning loss numbers! Mark would have been exempt, except he had to make up the pound he gained last week!
Kelly, Ali, and Jillian can’t believe how three times, they’ve survived elimination. This time, Roger is their target. He knows this and is sure his journey is over.
Alison then announces that she has one final surprise for them, saying, “Tonight, this elimination is not going to be your decision!” Alison continues by telling them that America will decide who will be the final competitor at the weigh-in. They will do so via an Internet vote.
The stunned responses of all attending echo my own feelings – that this is an idiotic and indefensible twist, and the producers ought to know better. Let the players IN the game PLAY the game!
This twist gives Roger some hope, but I doubt it will change anything. I believe America wants a woman to win, and that will put Roger out of the game because long-range, he’s the bigger threat. We’ll see.
Alison tells the guys that they have one last chance to enter the confessional and make a final appeal to America. Like there’s something about their stories that will be new to us? Ridiculous!
Roger goes first and delivers a low-key appeal that’s folksy but not heavy on content. Mark talks about his journey and says he did this for his family. Their videos are then interspersed, but little comes from either that’s going to matter much. Mark says that whatever decision is made, he won’t feel it’s a wrong one. Roger offers America a hug.
It’s time for all four players to share teary goodbyes with the trainers and cardboard cutouts of their day-one bodies. Kelly is glad the Black Team isn’t extinct. Lord, I’m getting tired of hearing that again.
Alison is next. Alison tells us that as much as it’s about the pounds, it’s also about why you hold on to them. She confides the key question is, “Where did I give up on myself?” Jillian tells her she was always lovable and didn’t know it.
Now Bob talks to his charges. Mark looks at his cutout and tells us, “I didn’t even realize I was that unhealthy.” Bob tells Mark, “What you have achieved on The Biggest Loser is one of the greatest success stories I have seen on this show.” Mark says he’s learned, “Showing emotion is not weakness, it’s strength.” If so, he is one of the strongest dudes in recent memory. In separate cameos, Mark tells us he’s indebted to Bob, but Bob says it’s time for Mark to move on.
It’s Roger’s turn. Roger says he’s still the same guy he was before, happy with his life, except now he’s learned how to live healthily. He tells Bob he respects his friendship and ends by requesting another hug from America.
There’s time left over, so we see another round of “final thoughts” as the players leave the ranch. Roger and Mark both miss their families. Mark says that he spent five months away from his family so he could be with them for another twenty years.
Ali says she had given up on herself and came to the ranch to get back control of her life. She feels she has wrestled and defeated the issues in her life that led her astray. Kelly feels she has gained a sense of confidence and pride in what’s she’s done. Kelly also wants to be the first female winner.
Kelly has some significant ground to make up, as evidenced by the following chart. By playing with those numbers, I’ve determined she needs to shed twenty pounds to essentially tie her with the other three. It’s not impossible for her to catch up, but it’s one heck of an uphill battle!
As we head to the last stage of the competition, here’s how everyone stands:
The players are now delivered to their homes. As usual, the penultimate episode of the season ends as the players are about to enter the front door of their homes.
Next time: The live finale, including tape of events between when this episode was filmed and now. Do we call that “live tape”? The third finalist will be announced. That means we’ll find out who’s been training like a fiend for three or four months with no chance at financial reward… how’s that for a kick in the head? Finally, the consolation prize will be assigned, and a champion will be crowned.
My Opinion: I think this twist makes no sense. It’s also unnecessarily cruel to the one not chosen. In fact, I place this one right up there with the imbecilic idea from Survivor: Palau that a “schoolyard pick ‘em” should eliminate two players on the second day.
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!
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