The show's unlikely power-broker is finally on the block as the contestants merge into two teams. Now what?
The Biggest Loser
Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

After four weeks of bright team colors, we’ve reached the pivotal point of the TBL season where the remaining 12 contestants were blended into teams Black and Blue. (Your usual recapper Darren Franich couldn’t be here tonight, so I’ll be your guide through this fifth week of competition.) Though it seems that all this color meshing might have messed with the contestants’ brains because what occurred by the episode’s end was as twisted and crazy as one of Tracey’s unfocused stares.

And to think it all started benignly with that ginormous wheel of fortune. It was Blue Versus Black time, and under one of a circle of silver platters was a Golden Ticket, which allowed the contestant who landed on it complete and utter power over all of the universe. Or at least the ability to choose who gets put on what team, and with which trainer. Danny declared that he wanted to be He Man and Master of the Universe, but all he got saddled with was a cupcake with sprinkles. Actually, everyone who took a spin at the wheel got slapped with a mouthful of empty calories (though it was funny to hear one of the contestants gasp ”It’s huge!” when Rudy uncovered his heaping 1,000 calorie slice of chocolate cake).

Everyone except for Tracey, of course. This season’s wild card somehow summoned her uncanny power to conjure up the wind and oh-so-conveniently landed on the Golden Ticket, to the complete and utter disgust of her fellow players. Coach Mo, in his sage wisdom, attributed Tracey’s unbelievable luck to something deeper. ”It was supernatural,” Tracey’s purple partner attested. ”She has the ability to gain control whenever she needs it, or wants it.” That’s got to be it, right? It’s too unlikely that it could have been rigged.

Usually, with great power comes great responsibility. But wispy-haired and crazy-eyed Tracey had at best been an inactive weeper, and at worst an impulsive and not-so-kind control freak, and the other contestants were rightly concerned when the Blue and Black teams fell to her discretion. Dina didn’t want to be away from Rudy. Liz didn’t want to be separated from Danny. But Tracey, now flush with power and clutching the Golden Ticket in her hands like a mad Willy Wonka, separated Rudy from Dina, Liz from Danny, and Amanda from her beloved trainer Bob to stack the Blue team in her favor, thus spurring vows of revenge, countless stink eyes, and more tears than a Steel Magnolias convention.

Tracey, who has yet to see the inside of the gym, much less work out with either of the trainers, opted for a less-than-thrilled Bob as the blue team’s trainer (thereby saving herself from a Jillianesque a—whooping — Tracey may be cuckoo for cocoa puffs, but she’s not dumb), and padded her team with Coach Mo, Allen, Rudy, Liz and Rebecca.

Which left Danny, Daniel, Shay, Amanda, Abby, and Dina on the underdog Black team with Jillian. ”This is the beginning of World War III,” declared Danny. Lizzy, particularly, was in a tizzy, even to the point of collapsing on a machine. The 52-year-old from Tennessee did not take her separation from former Brownie Danny so easily. ”To know that he is going to be on the other side of the gym…it kills my soul,” she said tearfully. The tears quickly gave way to anger as Liz resolved to send Tracey home. What happens to a Southern woman when she gets mad? ”We get even,” Liz responded resolutely. ”You stab me in the back, I’m done. She wants to win? She’ll do it at home.”

NEXT: Dina can’t get on the good foot

The first workout between Black and Blue relieved a little bit of tension. Well, for the trainers, at least. Bob took out his stress by wailing on a big guy (good ol’ Rudy), while Jillian resolved to ”beat the crap out of” her team. ”Nothing like a good beating to snap them into reality,” she said. Though while no doubt Jillian employed her usual hard-line workout tactics on the new team, there wasn’t as much senseless berating as I thought there would be. Sure, she made Amanda puke (”there’s Granny Smith right there”), but other than that, Jillian’s barking seemed a little muzzled.

Well, until we got to Jillian’s one-on-one with Dina and the stool. Dina hates the stool. The stool, for all intents and purposes, hates her. Dina wants to show it who’s boss, but the stool is a formidable opponent, taunting her at every turn. It’s her white whale. Her Achilles heel. Jillian pushes Dina to confront what it is about the stool that makes her so afraid, and Rudy even takes his turn to get Dina to confront her inner fears. But Dina could not for the life of her seem to get her proper footing on that platform.

(Maybe what she needed was a picnic, like the one Bob hosted for his team, featuring a pastoral setting and a generous helping of Jennie O turkey product placement.)

The competition between the black and the blue teams was an obstacle course in which each team carried a platform with one player sitting on it the entire race. Dina, fresh off her stool challenge, insisted that she wants to change her own position and carry rather than be carried. She still ended up on the platform the first leg of the race, but got to take the helm when Amanda lost her shoe in the mud. The blue team finished first, of course, armed with its abundance of sturdy men and Liz’s winning imitation of the little engine that could (”I think I can!”), and each member was rewarded videos from home.

And how sweet was it that Liz decided to give up her family video for Danny? Liz may have had vengeance in her heart, but it still allowed room enough to be considerate of her former partner. It also gave him a much-needed boost. ”I feel like I can run the marathon right now,” Danny said.

Liz wasn’t the only one showing great heart in this episode; Rebecca was magnanimous in offering her own family video to Dina, even though Dina ultimately didn’t accept it, and Rudy did a nice job encouraging Dina that their separation was what she needed to learn to depend on herself.

NEXT: Tracey flips the script

Bob and Jillian went two entirely different directions with their Last Chance Workouts. Jillian opted for team-building exercises, which included pushing teammates on some kind of roller, literally carrying partners, and a trust fall that comically zoomed in on Abby’s, Danny’s, and Jillian’s concentrated faces.

Bob went the more conventional route, taking his Blue team to 24 Hour Fitness for a group class, which marked the first time we’d seen Tracey on a treadmill. It was also the first time I’d seen Mo wearing a boot on his leg. I thought he just complained about back pains, but now his leg is hurting? What?

Turned out that boot, like the silver platters and the changing of the wind, was a harbinger of doom. The blue team weighed-in first and lost a solid 43 pounds in total. But the black team did them one better and lost 54 pounds altogether, thanks to Shay, who put her team over the top by shedding a whopping 16 pounds.

And here’s where things got crazy. The blue team had to kick off a member of their team, and of course Tracey was Public Enemy No. 1 — she was the loosest screw, the unknown variable who had yet to be tested in the gym and who had caused nothing but strife and dissent among her fellow contestants. This elimination round seemed the perfect opportunity to be rid of her once and for all. Tracey sensed it. Rebecca seemed all for it. And of course Liz, who had immunity in this round, had spent most of this episode resolving not to rest until this witch was dead (or at least banished forever from Fitness Ranch). But then Coach Mo delivered some words about being injured and not being able to carry his own weight, and then everybody crumbled and voted him off? Granted, his weight loss of 6 pounds was the lowest of all his teammates this week, but let’s not forget that Coach Mo all but carried Tracey for the first weeks of this competition. It seemed as though he delivered his own self-fulfilling prophecy: Tracey has the ability to gain control whenever she needs it.

What just happened here? Is Tracey the craftiest player of them all, or just someone who just lucked into staying another week? Were those longhorns on Tracey’s husband’s seat? Will Dina ever conquer that platform?

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