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Guest stars run amok, the contestants help those in need, and NBC decides to go for a cliffhanger

By Jean Bentley
Updated March 04, 2009 at 05:00 PM EST
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The Biggest Loser
Credit: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC
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Prepare, Overcome, and Win Every Round. Prepare, Overcome, and Win Every Round. Oh, hi, didn’t see you there. What’s that? You’re looking for this week’s Biggest Loser recap? It’ll be along shortly, as soon as I finish meditating to my new friend Sugar Ray Leonard’s P.O.W.E.R. mantra for success. What am I preparing to overcome, you ask? Well, just the fiery, burning rage I’m currently enduring over the fact that NBC made me sit through a bizarrely constructed two-hour episode of The Biggest Loser and then, you know, NOT AIR THE ENDING. You’re right, NBC. I love sitting through two hours of something only to reach zero conclusions at the end — in fact, I paid $12.50 for the privilege on Saturday when I saw The International (a poor life choice. Just say no, kids).

After the two eps of one-hour deliciousness that aired last week, last night’s disappointment felt a little like following your low sodium broth-based soup and salad sporting non-fat dressing with a 1,200-calorie hamburger and fries. Tasty ’til the end, when you realize it’s full of fat and ultimately unsatisfying. Things started off fine and dandy — celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito dropped by, then Sugar Ray Leonard dropped by, then the show’s doctor dropped by, then David Arquette dropped by (that really is how it happened, there weren’t any transitions between the segments) — until these words of doom appeared on screen: ”To Be Continued…”

Here’s how it started. The first challenge brought the contestants to a kitchen somewhere in Los Angeles (I assume), where ”world-class chef” Rocco DiSpirito (their words) told them just how bad fast food actually is (you know, like in the Super Bowl episode just with a different chef). Then the contestants drew knives to find out which fast food dish — burger, burrito, or pizza — they’d have to make healthier in the Quickfire challenge. Kidding — it wasn’t Top Chef, but it was pretty similar (NBC and Bravo are sister networks, so I guess they were cool with the ripoff). Each team had to make a healthy, tasty version of a fast food monstrosity in 30 minutes. The team that made the best-tasting food with the fewest calories won a dinner cooked by Mr. Ninth-place-on-Dancing-With-the-Stars and an extra vote at elimination for one person (chosen randomly).

Ron and Mike had a father/son pizza rivalry (Ron won), the sisters and the cousins had a burrito-off (Sione and Filipe won by default, since the burritos were both gross but the boys’ had fewer calories), and the blue team accidentally sabotaged their burger effort by including ketchup and mustard in their dish, upping the calorie count by a couple hundred. Surprise, surprise, it was another black team victory, with Laura landing the extra vote.

NEXT: The spoils of victory (and defeat)

While the black team enjoyed a gourmet dinner of mashed sweet potatoes, crispy chicken, and salad, the blue team washed dishes. It worked out okay for the losers, however, because Bob decided to take them to a shadowboxing class taught by none other than pro boxer/weight-loss competition show motivator Sugar Ray Leonard. We then learned two useful pieces of information: one, shadowboxing gloves come in a variety of fun colors (taste the rainbow), and two, Aubrey used to be a boxer (I know, right?!). I’m sorry, did I say useful? I meant random. The useful part was Leonard’s P.O.W.E.R. mantra, which helped me successfully overcome my ”To Be Continued…” rage and not throw my laptop at my TV screen.

Later, in the gym, Dr. H came in and told the contestants how well they’ve been doing: Tara has lost 29% of her body weight, Mike has lost 134 pounds of fat, Mandi went from having the fitness of a 68-year-old to being fitter than other women her age, and Ron’s blood sugar has gone down. This information would’ve been a little more interesting if it wasn’t sandwiched between segments, and if Dr. H hadn’t told Tara she’d done well for having been there three months when it’s only the ninth week of the show. Is my timeline off or was this shot at a different time than the rest of the episode?

Not to be outdone, the Pound for Pound segment of the episode even had a guest: David Arquette talked about how he volunteers at the food bank. America, if he can make the time between guest-starring on TV shows to volunteer at the food bank and guest-star on a PSA during another TV show about volunteering at the food bank, then you can find the time to volunteer too.

Speaking of the food bank, the challenge was held there this week (in case you couldn’t tell by one of the 87 establishing shots of the building). Each team had to take donated food, assemble it into 100 kits, push the boxes all the way through the warehouse, and load them onto a truck (along with 50 pre-made kits). All said and done, the teams would pack enough food to feed 1,200 people. The winning team would be featured in a national advertisement for Cheerios, and each member would receive letters from home along with free groceries from General Mills for a year.

If you had to take one guess, who would you pick to win the challenge? If you picked the blue team, you are probably a member of the blue team because no one else in their right mind would think they had a shot at winning. If you picked the black team, you correctly picked the winner!

The blue team was sad about losing; but the black team was pretty psyched about winning. They got free food and letters from home! The letters weren’t terribly exciting, because they all said the same thing. Guess what: the black team’s families love them. But if you play footage of them reading their cards in slow-mo and set it to a sappy song, you get an instant montage!

NEXT: The weigh-in results…or not

All the feel-good feelings from feeding the needy rubbed off on college student Mike, who didn’t need his grocery prize and decided to give it to mother of five Aubrey instead. It was a genuinely nice sentiment and both sides were sincere in their intention and gratitude, though the actual gifting was staged pretty awkwardly and transitioned immediately to the last chance workout.

Jillian, after hearing that Laura sat out of the challenge instead of Sione, who sprained his ankle earlier in the week, decided she was fed up with Laura’s negative attitude about her own abilities. Jillian, in ”the meanest thing [she’s] ever done,” polled the black team to find out who they thought their weakest link was: Laura. The thing she didn’t tell Laura was that she didn’t think Laura was the weakest link, it’s just that Laura keeps behaving like she is and thinking that she is — therefore other people perceive her as such. Clearly, Laura’s problem with weight is directly related to how she thinks others view her. So when Laura said she wanted to lose weight so other people would respect her, Jillian was upset — Laura shouldn’t want to lose weight just to get validation from others, she should want to do it for herself. I hope Laura took that advice to heart, because it’s true.

Finally, it was time for the weigh in. Ali Sweeney was lookin’ all ’80s mermaid chic with her green peephole top and wavy blond hair, the contestants were sporting the latest in cotton/spandex blend gym wear, and the trainers were wearing pastels to make them look less threatening. So Ali was all like ”If you collectively lose enough weight to equal one pound each per day, you can all stay! But if you don’t, two of you have to peace the eff out of here.” The contestants stepped on the scale one by one. Some did well (Tara, obvs), and some didn’t (Ron, obvs). Then Mike went up, and Ali was all like ”Mike, you need to lose 10 pounds for everyone to stay. No pressure or anything.” But it wasn’t actually up to him — the producers just picked him to go last. It was up to everyone to lose seven pounds. Too bad we won’t find out what happens until NEXT WEEK.

An excerpt from my totally professional notes: ”WHAT TO BE CONTINUED SERIOUSLY WHAT IS THIS S—.”

To be honest, I figured since it was clearly the happy, feel-good Christmastime (in March) episode they’d succeed. There were only a couple minutes left until the end of the show and they hadn’t finished weighing in, so I assumed they had it in the bag. How naive I was — to think NBC would give us a show with a conclusion. But I was young then. Now I’m a full three hours older and I see what they were doing, trying to switch up the format so we didn’t get bored. But older and wiser as I am, I’d like to tell NBC that if they pull something like this again, they can _____ my _____ (fill in the blanks with your own choice words and I’m sure you’ll catch my meaning).

Were you as royally TO’d by the ending as I was? Or did this episode fill you with filmed-at-Christmas non-holiday related (since it’s actually March) cheer? What did you think of the celebrity guests who dropped by? Did everyone pull their weight in the challenge? How many people do you think will be kicked off next week?

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The Biggest Loser

Contestants battle the bulge and each other in the competitive weight-loss series
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