The contestants meet with Dr. H. for a health update, turn their metaphorical accomplishments into a very literal challenge, and post impressive numbers at the weigh-in

By Jean Bentley
Updated April 29, 2009 at 04:00 PM EDT
Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

The Biggest Loser

S7 E18
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Welcome back to another we’re-really- pushing-it-because-it’s-the-end-of- the-season episode of The Biggest Loser, a.k.a. Let’s see how many inspirational clichés we can cram into two hours of network television! The contestants spouted so many trite (but true) sayings that you could slap any one of those babies on pictures of, well, actual babies (or sunsets — seriously, sunsets seem really popular for these things), and you’d have the artwork for many a high school English classroom. Pick a cliché, any cliché, and I guarantee you at least one contestant said it this week. If they didn’t say it, I’m sure they were either thinking it, or they did say it but the producers cut it due to time restraints. Some examples: Helen: ”I’m getting rid of this weight all over again and I’m moving forward with my life.” Tara: ”Time and time again, I’ve doubted myself. And I’ve come out on top. I just stopped questioning it and I finally believed.” Mike: ”I feel like I came here a boy, and I’m leaving a man.” Ron: ”This place saved my life.” Filipe: ”You can’t help everyone everywhere, but you can help someone somewhere.”

It’s not that there isn’t truth in their statements, but the fact that it was two whole hours of ”I can totally do this! If I can do it, anyone can! This is the start of the rest of my life!” and so forth got a little grating. We know these things — that’s why we’re watching. Of course, I cried anyway because I’m a sucker like that. When Tara, Helen, and Mike tried on their goal outfits and looked super hot — waterworks. Is it because they looked so good? Because even though it was clearly a set-up by the producers, they were still genuinely psyched? Either way, you’ve still got it, BL, even if not much in the way of groundbreaking actually happened this week.

Something interesting did happen when the contestants headed down to Dr. H’s office to check in on the medical progress they’d made in the 16 weeks since they’d been on campus. Helen’s body age (I guess that’s what it is — what do you call the age your body seems based on your overall health?) decreased from 60 to 50, within two years of her true age of 48. Tara’s stomach is now pretty much flat. Filipe lost 15 inches from his waist, Mike lost 20 inches, and Ron was now able to actually fit in the MRI machine. Seeing how the health consequences of the contestants’ obesity have drastically improved even over a period of four and a half months is terrifyingly inspiring for even the most mildly overweight person.

NEXT: The challenge throws subtlety out the window (and down a canyon)

After the Scared Straight portion of the show, the contestants met Alison Sweeney for the week’s challenge. In the first episode’s challenge, the teams had to climb over a giant sand hill. So, fittingly, in their last week on campus, they had to climb over 16 sand hills, one for each week of the competition. Climbing over a hill to represent a challenge — good one. Really deep, NBC. But that’s not all! The contestants had to literally carry the weight they’d lost so far with them in a giant bag, removing each week’s loss at the top of each hill. Way to keep it not at all subtle, NBC. ”Hey guys, for this challenge, how about we create the literal manifestation of the metaphors we’ve been using all season?” ”Good idea!” When the players got to the end, they tossed their empty bags down a canyon and said some of the aforementioned clichés. I don’t think the cliché part was an actual task in the challenge, but it was pretty uniformly followed.

Filipe started strong but used up too much energy in the beginning, his lead petering out to nothing by the end. Conversely, Tara started weak (in the back with Ron), but gradually built up steam and pulled ahead in the end. She won yet another choice between a one-pound advantage or $10,000, but with a twist — the second-place finisher would get whichever prize the winner didn’t take. Mike finished second, pretty much granting him either a clinched spot in the finals (the pound), or what Mike called ”a year’s worth of college,” but what I call ”almost enough for room and board at my ridiculously overpriced private school alma mater” (the $10,000). If you ask me, Mike’s in a better position than Tara. They’re both strong competitors, so they were both probably going to post strong numbers at the weigh-in. This way, the pressure was off Mike to make the decision, giving him a uniformly positive outcome. Tara, on the other hand, could possibly wind up regretting her decision (posting a really awesome number and not needing the pound, or posting a so-so number and wishing she had chosen the pound).

The last chance workout/train the trainer day took place at the friendly neighborhood 24 Hour Fitness, where Jillian despised being worked out by her team and pouted, while Bob was good-natured and loved it — a real reflection of their training styles and temperaments, don’t you think? Down-to-business no B.S. (Jillian) and happy-go-lucky inspiring (Bob). The rest of the LCW went like this: Sweat, sweat, sweat; ”You can do it!”; Grunt, grunt, grunt; trainer screaming; counting down; ”Last chance workout!”; Sweat, sweat, sweat. Aaaaand scene.

Cry alert number two! At the weigh-in, the trainers said some inspiring words about how they’ve enjoyed working with their teams this season. As if that wasn’t enough, a few minutes later, Filipe started talking about using the victory money to fly to Tonga and inspire his family. OKAY FINE, you know how to make me cry, NBC. Even when I’m not 100 percent jazzed about the episode.

NEXT: Even a double-digit loss lands one contestant in the danger zone

Tara wisely chose the pound as her prize, then COMPLETELY LIED when she said that at this point in the competition it wasn’t about winning the game. Sorry, sweetheart, that’s EXACTLY what it’s about, especially at this point in the competition. In the beginning, everyone’s trying to get healthy. But once you split into individuals, it’s every woman for herself. Don’t try to lie to us and say you were in it simply to get healthy. You might’ve been before, but that ship sailed long ago. Right now, it’s all about winning a quarter of a million dollars.

Each contestant posted seriously impressive numbers this week (Ron = 9, Filipe = 10, Helen = 7, Mike = 11, Tara = 8) and all lost 3 to more than 4 percent of their body weight this week. Unfortunately, Filipe and Ron both fell below the yellow line. It’s a testament to how competitive the game really gets at the end that Filipe’s double digit, 4.10 percent loss landed him in the elimination danger zone. And, in a purely game-play (and purely smart) decision, Helen and Tara (and obvs Mike) decided to vote Filipe off. Ron wasn’t a big enough threat, but Filipe really had a chance at winning. In his Transformation Moment, we saw that Filipe followed through on his promise of inspiring the Tongan people — he holds free weekly exercise classes in his backyard. I liked Filipe because I thought he was the most honest with his feelings, and nothing epitomized that more than the triumphant ”Woo hoos” he shouted each time he lost big on the scale. Seeing him take that enthusiasm and use it to inspire his family was heartwarming.

Next week, we’ll check in with each contestant after 30 days of being at home and eliminate one more person before the finale. It’s a neat trick, but is anyone else worried that we’re getting major overkill on seeing how these people are going to look at the big show? Show us the final results, already! I’m dying to see how everybody looks now. Alas, we’ll have to wait two more weeks before the live event.

Are you as psyched for the finale as I am? How much am I just asking for criticism by mocking the contestants’ constant use of clichés? Hey, writing these things isn’t easy so don’t judge me too hard. Did Filipe call everyone jackals or jackholes? I rewound my DVR a couple of times and couldn’t tell, but either way — I LIKE IT. Would you be able to write a better soft rock/adult contemporary ballad or a Radio Disney pop song if you strung together all the platitudes uttered this episode? How obvious was the second Trainer Tip (Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry)? Well duh, anyone who’s ever gone to the grocery store and come back with 3 kinds of potato products, two boxes of cereal, granola bars, Twizzlers, and frozen chicken nuggets could’ve told you that (*not necessarily an example from my own life…okay fine. It was just the one time). And because Mike’s description of his father’s game playing was so accurate, I’ll leave you with his quote: ”So far, my dad has played this game masterfully. He’s playing chess. Everyone else is playing checkers.”

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The Biggest Loser

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