The remaining contestants head to D.C., and the monuments steal the show
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The Biggest Loser | Liz had no qualms using guilt as a weapon in her bid to win but ended up under the yellow line and with one vote…
Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

On last night’s Biggest Loser, things got serious. ”Millions of Americans look to you to be inspired,” said Ali Sweeney. ”Obesity is an epidemic, and the numbers get worse every year.” What’re we gonna do, Ali? ”You wanna make a change in this country, where’s the best place to do it? Washington, DC!” Yup: Road Trip to the capital! The Losers were overcome with happiness. ”I’m a Poli Sci major,” said Rebecca, ”I wanna meet Barack Obama!”

I’ve been pretty open about what interests me about the show: the competition, the players’ internal struggle with the demons that drove them into an unhealthy lifestyle, the politics of the elimination room, Jillian Michaels. But it’s the players’ personalities that interest me the most.

Unfortunately, last night’s episode barely paid any attention to the players. The real stars were the national monuments. The episode took place in front of the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, even inside the White House. The monuments lurked in the background of the entire episode like shiny trophies; the producers demanded that you admire how important The Biggest Loser is. ”We’ve never been to the White House,” said Bob, ”If this doesn’t validate our show, then let me tell you, nothing’s going to.” It sounded a bit like a threat.

The Jefferson Memorial

First stop: the monument nobody remembers! Ali Sweeney on Thomas Jefferson: ”He wanted to preserve our rights as individuals. Which is appropriate, because today, you guys are going to singles!” No more Black vs. Blue. We’re into the final phase of this season: Pink & Orange vs. everyone else.

The Pop challenge was pretty clever: The Losers had one hour to gather together a team of random people on the street for a workout at the Washington Monument. Whoever brought the most people would win ”a huge advantage” and a free trip to Subway.

Everyone had a different strategy. Rebecca hit the streets. Shay worked the corners. Allen walked to the closest firehouse — ”What better people to talk to then my brotherhood of firefighters?” — and lit a beacon summoning every firefighter in the country.

Liz had her own strategy. Talking to a couple of twentysomething guys, she said, ”I’m the old person on the show. But there are some cute young girls.” She admitted to the camera, ”I’m not cute. I lost cute 30 years ago. I gotta do it on charm and guilt.” I know that some people don’t like Liz, but you have to admit: she’s a funny, self-aware lady.

The Washington Monument

The players brought their gangs to the Washington Monument. Ali came onstage and said, ”It came down to one vote!” Rebecca: ”It’s like the 2000 election!” She’s a Poli Sci major!

It was Liz vs. Allen, Guilt vs. Brotherhood. The winner: Guilt! ”I beat Allen and those firemen over there!” said Liz. And so, Allen’s once-impervious exoskeleton of badassery took yet another beating.

Bob led the Great Washington Workout while Jillian prowled through the ranks. One woman dressed in a bright orange jacket said she was too tired to go on. Jillian: ”Everyone has to do twenty more because Tangerine said she can’t.”

The workout climaxed with Bob standing on the back of a firefighter who was doing push-ups. So, just to recap, the firefighters got beat by a grandma and then became footstools for a glamourpuss fitness professional. A great day for Americans!

NEXT: Penny for your thoughts, Daniel

The Senatorial Summit

What politician, you ask, would be brave enough to appear on a reality TV show which dares to put skimpily-dressed overweight people on display for our entertainment? Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, that’s who! That’s right, 1/50 of the upper house of Congress devoted a complete afternoon to speaking with the Losers. And you say our political system is broken.

Daniel told us his life story. (I think he has a future in politics. That’s not a compliment.) The Senators made lots of speeches. Bob made lots of speeches. Jillian was mostly silent and respectful, sensing that she wasn’t powerful enough to make US Senators cry. (Yet.)

Constitution Gardens — Immunity, Part One

The Immunity challenge began. ”You’ll be visiting four iconic landmarks in our country,” Ali explained. The first portion of the four-part challenge was a one-mile run (because politicians have to ”Run for election,” get it?). This tied back to the very first challenge of this season.

Tracey swore, ”It will not be like the first day!” (You remember: her brain imploded, or something.) As the Losers ran the mile, a montage showed them all on Day One. Boy, do these people look better, or what? The montage was set to ”The Climb” by Miley Cyrus, the most gosh-darn American pop star in world history. It was a bummer to see that Danny and Shay still had to walk most of the mile, but hey, small steps.

Pennies at the Lincoln Memorial — Immunity, Part Two

For the second part of the immunity challenge, each of the six remaining contestants had a pile of 17,954 pennies lying on the Watergate steps. (17,954 is the number of pounds lost to date on The Biggest Loser.) They had to run up and down the steps and put the pennies into their containers (Because politicians have to ”Raise funds, ”get it?) Liz won the Pop challenge, so she got to sit out the Penny Challenge. Rudy had a simple strategy: ”These hands!” He ran up and down the Watergate steps two at a time, carrying Ben Franklins of pennies. Daniel’s girlish hands could only manage Alexander Hamiltons at best. ”Rudy’s got banana hands!” he complained. Rudy won the challenge so quickly that he had time to fix the American economic system before Daniel came in second.

That left one spot up for grabs. Allen was taking the challenge seriously. ”It’s getting harder for me to lose weight,” he said, desperate for immunity. The match came down to Allen and Rebecca dead even, both of them literally just a few dozen pennies away from their line.

Just a few pennies! They both fell on their knees and picked up pennies they had dropped earlier. Ali Sweeney lost her cool: ”THIS IS COMING DOWN TO THE WIRE!” Rebecca won by a nose… Lincoln’s nose! Allen retreated to his fortress of solitude, wondering what vile kryptonite was robbing him of his superpowers.

The Capital Building — Immunity, Part 3

Ali pointed to the home of Congress. ”Every day, the people in that building work very hard to make our lives better.” No one in America agrees with that statement, but I digress. Rudy, Liz, Rebecca, and Daniel had to balance on a tiny brick, while holding a yoga ball over their heads. (Because ”the key to success is balance” — get it?)

As usual, what makes you strong in one challenge makes you weak in another. Banana-Hands Rudy moaned, ”I’ve got a size 15 foot.” He was unsteady. But Daniel and Liz couldn’t keep their balance. Rebecca was the picture of poise.

NEXT: Veggies all around

The White House — Immunity, Part 4

The setting for the classic Wesley Snipes thriller Murder at 1600 was also the setting for the final portion of the immunity challenge. Rudy and Rebecca both had a workout step (because, um, politicians need to step all over the little guy?). First one to 206 steps would win. ”There have been 206 contestants on The Biggest Loser,” Ali helpfully noted. Totally knew that.

Now this was an interesting match-up. Rebecca was racing neck and neck with Rudy, but whereas Rudy’s form looked haphazard, Rebecca kept at it with purpose. (”Look at her go! She’s like a rabbit!” I told my girlfriend. Two seconds later, Tracey said, ”Rebecca, she’s like a rabbit!” No joke.) She won handily and let out a victorious giggle that sounded both ladylike and badass.

A Nondescript Pathway

Bob took Amanda for a walk to talk to her about how to keep her head in the game. ”What can we do to keep your head in the game?” he asked, rhetorically. Bob pointed at an ice cream vendor, handing out his sugary poison to unknowing children. ”Stay away from those snacks!” Bob said. Good advice, Bob! ”What you have to do is, carry around some Extra Gum! If you chew a piece of Extra Gum, it’s only 5 calories!” Look out, a surprise commercial!

The White House

The Losers got to pick vegetables from the First Family’s garden. ”No wonder the President and his family look so fabulous, they’re eating fresh fruit!” said Daniel. ”It’s so inspiring to see that this is how the first family eats,” said Jillian. ”They’re got their own garden that they eat from, and that makes me love them so much. I want to grab them and squeeze them,” said Bob. I voted for Obama, but this was seriously way too much.

Last Chance at the Four Seasons

The Last Chance Workout felt pretty perfunctory. At one point, the camera showed us Daniel chewing Extra Gum inside of the Four Seasons. If he had been holding a Subway sandwich, your TV would have exploded.

The only fun moment here came from Jillian and Tracey. Jillian has never really had a chance to take Tracey down; first Tracey was on the injury bench, and then she selected Bob as her Blue Team’s trainer. Well, revenge is a dish best served cold. The sight of these two enemies pushing each other back and forth with a yoga ball was epic.

Weigh-In at the Lincoln Memorial

At the base of the Watergate steps, Ali Sweeney made a somewhat tenuous link between how Abraham Lincoln inspired America and how the Losers inspire America. Let’s run through the weigh-in results, along with which President they’re most like:

Rebecca (Harry S. Truman) lost four pounds.

Shay (Lyndon Johnson) lost 9 pounds, going under four hundred pounds.

Tracey (Richard Nixon) lost 3 pounds.

Daniel (Andrew Jackson), who hasn’t lost any weight in two weeks, lost 11 pounds. ”193 pounds ago, I didn’t have a neck! It just kind of sat on my shoulders like a snowman.”

Allen (George Washington) lost 9 pounds. This didn’t make him happy, but nothing really makes him happy, except maybe crushing his enemies, seeing them driven before him, and hearing the lamentations of their women.

Danny (James K. Polk) lost 12 pounds.

Rudy (Theodore Roosevelt) lost 9 pounds. That’s his first single-digit week.

Liz (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) lost 3 pounds.

Amanda (Ronald Reagan) lost 7 pounds.

That left Liz and Tracey under the yellow line. They both pled their case, but I think we all knew exactly where this was going. Liz isn’t really a major competitor for weight loss, and nobody wanted crazy Tracey running rampant. On a deeper level, people just like Liz. They don’t like Tracey.

Except, out of nowhere, Shay voted to send Liz home. ”I want to see people fight to be here. I want to see people have that passion.” Shay finally recognized that Tracey’s drive was not so different from her own. It didn’t matter; Danny would never betray his old brown teammate, and the rest of the Pink/Orange Alliance sent Tracey packing.

What did you think, viewers? I’m not denying that there weren’t great moments, but most of this episode felt like a weird, even disgusting mix of rampant product placement and simplistic patriotism. Has there ever been another TV show that praised the accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson and then threw an infomercial for diet gum in our face? Then again, maybe Jefferson would have liked Extra Gum. I mean, only five calories!

Episode Recaps

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