The season 8 finale was full of twists, turns, and even a proposal. And, of course, there was an eventual winner

By Darren Franich
Updated December 09, 2009 at 05:00 PM EST
Trae Patton/NBC

Last night on the season finale of The Biggest Loser: Triumph! Tragedy! Young love! Blond hair! Previews! Montages! Holograms! Audio trouble! Thunderous applause! Our Friends At Subway! Carolina Liar! Confetti! The final two hours of the latest iteration of The Biggest Loser was alternately fascinating and frustrating, much like the season itself. Let’s run down the happenings, from start to finish:

Ali Sweeney

You’d think that a performer with a background in soap operas would be melodramatic, but Ali’s just the opposite: she’s adorably anti-dramatic. That’s an important thing on a show that demands a viewer to cry at least ten times every hour. Ali’s professionalism was on display last night, as she managed to speed through a two-hour live show. Half the things she said were completely drowned out by audience applause; I couldn’t decide if it was an audio problem, or if the producers specifically wanted us to feel the all-encompassing audience love.

After some opening remarks, Ali introduced Amanda and Liz, last seen begging America to vote them into the final three. America’s Choice was all smiles: ”This is so amazing to go from one finale to the next!” Liz looked a bit nervous onstage, but she glowed when Ali said, ”You wanted to quit the show for a month! Now look at you! Here you are!” Between the three of them, that was a whole lot of blond on TV all at once.

Ali: ”After a million votes, America chose… Amanda!” Was anybody surprised? Did anybody care? We all knew it was Rudy vs. Danny all the way for the win. Basically, this vote came down to which minor competitor would somehow manage to ride various waves of circumstance and pure luck to be in the final three. Congratulations, Amanda!

Let’s run through the parade of eliminated contestants. For some people, I’ve included Ali’s one sentence introduction, some of which are practically haikus. For others, I’ve included a quick description of their introductory montage. Coincidentally, all I want for Christmas is an introductory montage of myself.

Alexandra

Alexandra started at 309 pounds and got down to 218 pounds, for a total loss of 91 pounds (29.45%). Since she lost 13 pounds in her only week on campus, that means she lost an impressive 78 pounds by herself. Except not really by herself, thanks to…

Antoine

Sporting a dapper vest and Brad-Pitt-in-Troy arm muscles, Antoine stood up there looking awesome. Did he always have that tattoo? Or did it just spontaneously appear on his triceps after he stole fire from the gods? Alexandra looked on grinning as her BF went from 367 pounds to 215, for a total loss of 155 pounds (41.42%.)

Sean

Introductory montage: Sean on the phone with his pregnant wife, learning that he’s going to have a daughter.

“My wife and I had that baby a month ago,” said Sean. “We named her Jillian May.” I can only imagine that a single tear fell down the Jilliandroid’s liquid metal cheekbones when she heard that. Sean’s original total was 444; he got down to 289, for a loss of 155 pounds (34.91%.) In the process, he went from looking about 16 to looking about 12.

NEXT: A villain’s triumphant return

Julio

Introductory montage: Jillian tearing into him with two all-time great Jillianisms: ”Every time you lay down, I’m gonna think Dead Father!” and ”There’s no crying in tractor tires, Julio!”

Is that an ESPN sportscaster? An investment banker who spends his lunch break on the squash court? The actor playing the President of the United States in the upcoming season of 24? No: that is Julio, completely transformed since last we saw him. He went from 407 pounds to 227, losing 180 pounds total (44.23%), 137 of those off the ranch. Amazing! Incredible! Who could have guessed? Julio: ”My driver’s license is honest now.” Ali: ”Not many people can say that.” (What?)

Coach Mo

Way back in the season premiere, I named Coach Mo my dark horse pick to win. But after a big start, Mo seemed to lose his competitive spirit early; maybe because he was the oldest contestant, maybe because when his teammate finally arrived on campus she instantly poisoned the whole game. Mo went from 355 to 263, for a loss of 92 pounds. Impressive, but at 25.92%, that’s the smallest percentage of the season.

Dina

Dina looked great in a shimmery ensemble. She went from 253 to 174, for a total loss of 79 pounds (31.23 %.) She wins Best Supporting Loser thanks to her early stewardship of this season’s Goliath, Rudy.

Abby

Ali’s introduction: ”She survived a nightmare beyond everyone’s imagining.”

One of the most surreal things on TV last night had to be the you-go-girl manner in which Ali Sweeney would introduce Abby: ”She survived an unimaginable tragedy! Whoopee!” Thankfully, Abby remains a class act. She started at 247 pounds; she went down to 147 pounds, for 100 on the dot (40.49 %.) The crowd went insane.

Tracey

Somehow, not one single mention was made last night about Tracey’s brief but pivotal role as this season’s supervillain. You may remember: she kept on winning power challenges and wielding her resulting influence in the most backwards, guaranteed-to-make-everyone-angry way.

Well, Tracey’s appearance last night should have given pause to anyone (Shay) who insisted that the lady was just a shallow gameplayer. She was crazy thin. Almost unrecognizably thin. (Maybe a little too thin? Seriously, she looked like a young Agnes Moorehead in a purple T-shirt.) When she got on the scale, Julio visibly shuddered, sensing that his beautiful $100 grand was slipping through his fingers like tears in the rain.

From a high of 250 pounds, Tracey got down to 132, losing a total of 118 pounds (47.20 %). That meant she was the new Loser to beat. This excited me to no end. It felt like some of the air went out of this season after Tracey was eliminated. Weren’t you briefly excited at the prospect that the contestant who nearly incited Jillian to a homicidal rampage would actually win the elimination prize?

NEXT: In defense of the show

Dr. H.

Dr. Huizenga beamed into the audience from his headquarters in the red spot on Jupiter to deliver some praise for Shay and Daniel. That praise quickly turned into a weird defense of the show: ”They say people your size can’t exercise! They say our exercise-centric approach wouldn’t work! What they don’t tell you is that, when people your size have bypass surgery, you might die the first year!”

Dr. Huizenga’s whole monologue felt like an indirect response to recent inquiries into the medical practices of The Biggest Loser. Those inquiries aren’t really surprising. This season felt a bit like the McGwire/Sosa Home Run Derby, with Rudy and Danny battling for weight-loss records. That mentality trickled down to the other contestants: several times tonight, Ali Sweeney expressed her disbelief at how big the weight-loss percentages were getting. It feels like there’s a gradual, burgeoning suspicion about the show. Dr. Huizenga’s anxious defense of the show last night was not entirely convincing. Calm down, Doc! You’re in a cheering auditorium, not a courtroom! (Although that would be freaky.)

Shay

Introductory montage: A Jillian-induced freakout.

The show’s biggest and cryingest contestant ever was all smiles. She went from 476 pounds to 304, for a total of 172 (36.13%.) It had to hurt that she didn’t even come close to dethroning arch-nemesis Tracey, but Shay was surprisingly philosophical about her situation: ”My journey’s not over yet.”

Daniel

Introductory montage: A Jillian-induced freakout.

Agent Orange looked healthy and satisfied. He went from 312 to 201, for a total loss of 111 pounds (35.58%.) He looked more blond than ever, although maybe that was just a reflection from…

Rebecca

Ali’s introduction: ”Rebecca came to campus wanting a body guys would have to chase after. Now, she has it… if they can catch her!”

From my notes upon seeing the transformed Rebecca: ”BLOND HAIR WOW WOW WOW WOW.” I leave it to you to decide if Rebecca’s new hair was movie-star hot or a beautiful train wreck supernova. But lest you think all that post-Leno Google-fame made her go soft, she instantly reminded us all that she was the most competitive Loser this season. She went from 279 pounds to 140, for a total loss of 139 (49.82%.) She did her adorable weigh-in happy dance, which is a combination of clapping, ’90s funk dancing, and running in place.

Rebecca was my favorite contestant all season, so I was stoked to see her post such an impressive number. However, I was a bit confused that there was no mention of her and Daniel dating. Brilliant commenters, you sussed out this relationship weeks before it was revealed on the air. Now, I send you out into the digital wilderness to figure out what happened. Are they on a break? Is she trading up? Has all that blond hair gone to her head?

Allen

Introductory montage: The Tim Gunn Makeover that briefly turned Allen into the best-looking man on the planet.

The Son of Zeus looked happy and healthy, but as predicted by several commenters, he simply didn’t have any more weight to lose after he left campus. He went from 325 to 209, for a total loss of 116 pounds (35.69%). He remains the Last American Hero, and will ascend into the heavens when the world ends in fire and ice. I have to include Ali’s introduction, just because it makes Allen sound like the pulp noir hero he so clearly is: ”The person he needed to rescue most… was himself!”

NEXT: Antoine’s big surprise

Liz

Liz was one of the most divisive contestants all season. Sometimes, we loved her for her straight-to-the-point cutting remarks. Sometimes, we couldn’t stand her for her cosmically defeatist attitude (at 49 years old, she regularly talked about the ”20 years I have left to live”). Total for the season, she went from 267 to 176, for a loss of 91 pounds (34.08%.)

Rebecca & Shay

So Rebecca won the consolation $100 grand. She hugged Ali Sweeney and lifted the host up (wow, arm muscles!) She jumped into Bob’s arms. She hugged Jillian. She was completely ecstatic. NBC, You’re really gonna want to nail that down. May I suggest hosting duties on Still Later Today?

But the festivities weren’t over! ”We’ve got a surprise for one of our other contestants. Shay, I need to ask you to come over here for a second,” said Ali. ”Our friends at Subway want to invite you back to Season 9’s finale,” explained Bob. Jillian: ”For every pound that you lose, Subway would like to offer you a thousand dollars.”

Jango! Twist! Shyamalan! Just when you thought you were done, they keep pulling you back in! I almost wish we could see a little miniseries in the spring about Shay, losing weight, every pound lost equaling more money in the bank. (The title of this series would naturally be Dollars or Donuts?)

Antoine & Alexandra

”This is a night full of surprises,” said Ali. ”Antoine has one, too.” Um, what? What What What? Yes, in full view of a screaming apoplectic audience and millions of viewers at home, Antoine got down on one knee. Screech! Whaaa! Fiesta bowl! ”I’ve accomplished the impossible,” said Antoine, ”And now we’re going to live our lives together forever. Please, will you accept this ring?” No fricking duh she accepts the ring! They had a totally demure onstage makeout sesh, while two ladies (I’m guessing their moms?) were dancing in the audience.

In the short canon of Reality TV Season Finale Wedding Proposals, I’d put this at number one (just ahead of the Rob & Amber demon-lover proposal from Survivor All-Stars.) Not to be a killjoy, but did anyone else think it was kind of sad that the most emotional moment of the season finale belonged to two contestants who were eliminated by the fourth episode?

The Big Two

When Rudy came onstage, he looked like a bearded Michael Phelps. But then Danny came out, and he looked like someone had taken the unformed clay of his old body and carved out Paul Newman circa Absence of Malice. Danny blessed us with one last brilliant non sequitur: ”I’ve walked the streets and no one knows who I am. They just go, ‘Who’s that guy with the brown socks on?”’

At last, it was time for the final weigh-in.

NEXT: Rudy vs Danny

Amanda

Amanda went from 250 to 163, for a total loss of 87 pounds. That leaves her total loss percentage at 34.8%, the fifth-worst percentage of the season. Let’s all take a moment to dream of a Final Four made up of the people with the top four weight-loss percentages: Danny, Rudy, Rebecca, and Tracey. Wouldn’t that have been awesome?

Rudy

I forgot to mention the weirdest thing about last night: whenever one of the Final Four walked onstage, they were walking next to a freaky Will.i.am Hologram of themselves from the very first weigh-in. The Will.i.am Hologram has now bested the Fast-Motion Full-Moon as the most egregious special effect on The Biggest Loser. Kill, please.

When Rudy walked onstage, he actually gave his Will.i.am. Hologram a little butt tap. I was worried this would cause both Rudys to explode, since we all learned from Timecop that you can’t make contact with your past self. Fortunately, Rudy is more powerful than the space-time continuum.

He went from 442 pounds in the season premiere to 208 pounds, for a total loss of 234 (52.94 %). Would it be enough? Would Rudy be the Michael Jordan to Danny’s Charles Barkley, destined to win every single thing possible and leave nothing for second best? Or would be he Moses to Danny’s Joshua, leading the charge all the way to the Promised Land, but doomed to never see the Promised Land with his own eyes?

Brief Pause to Be Really Shallow for Just One Second

Viewers, who do you think looked the best after this season? On the male side, I’d say that Antoine looked the most studly (he’s the one contestant I think could actually become an athlete now). Julio looked the most refined, in a George Clooney kind of way. On the female side, I thought Abby looked Red-state-politician-mom-hot. Rebecca is this year’s honoree for Person No One Will Ever Believe Was On The Biggest Loser. I miss the brown hair, though.

Danny

Danny freaking did it. From 430 pounds to 191 pounds, Danny lost 239 for the season, for a whopping 55.59% loss. High School Rock God forever! Danny gave Rudy a big hug. Those men are warriors.

If you stuck around for Jay Leno, you got to see Danny prove that his charm wasn’t all in the editing. He reminisced about being unable to wash his back in the shower: ”Sometimes I would just squirt some soap on the wall and rub my back against it.” And, when the interviewer asked him what he was going to buy with his quarter of a million dollars, he deadpanned: ”Carpet.”

What were you final thoughts, viewers? Do you wish that there had been a bit more drama in the Final Four? Were you excited that Rebecca won the $100 thousand, or do you secretly wish that Tracey had, at the last second, come out of nowhere to win the prize? Was Antoine’s proposal the best TV moment of the year? Do you think anyone will gain back all the weight? Did the preview get you excited for The Biggest Loser: Couples 3? And is there anything you’d like to change about the show going forward?

And that’s it for me! Thanks for a great season, fight fans. There are at least two dozen distinctive camps of Biggest Loser viewers: people who love the gameplay, people who hate the gameplay, people who fast-forward to the Weigh-In, Jillian lovers, Bob lovers, Jillian haters… This show really does contain multitudes, and it’s hard to capture that week by week. I hope that, somewhere in all these recaps, I managed to hit on the particular thing that makes you enjoy watching The Biggest Loser. If I missed anything, be sure to let me know in the comments (preferably in all caps, because I deserve that.) Random Weight Loss Number Generator: Go!

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