Cupcakes are a recipe for sabotage when the contestants head back with their families

By Kate Ward
March 24, 2010 at 04:00 PM EDT
Mitchell Haaseth/NBC
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Each week, there are three moments in any given Biggest Loser episode that are guaranteed to make me cry: when Jillian finally breaks down one troubled contestant, when a cast member beats a major weight-loss hurdle during the weigh-in, and when we see an astounding Biggest Loser transformation moment. (Like Sherry’s last week.) This all means, of course, that I manage to stay dry-eyed for at least the first hour of the show.

But that all changed last night. Biggest Loser, you did not prepare me. Here I was, watching the episode in my office, convinced that I would have to put on my snark hat while watching the contestants compete in some sort of silly challenge introduced by the wardrobe-challenged Ali. But five minutes in, I became a blubbering mess. I was sobbing, my fellow Biggest Loser fans. Which means last night’s episode completely made up for last week’s blah fest.

What can I say? Those at-home visits get me every time. The contestants pass through their doorways, and greet their loved ones, who immediately begin screaming and crying in glee. And even though I’m fully aware what the contestants look like, and how much weight they’ve lost, their sentiments are completely contagious. Who else was crying? Don’t be shy! (P.S. Sam in his Burberry scarf — lookin’ fine!)

After the contestants got all their hugs and greetings out of the way, their families informed them the show had sent a very large, very mysterious gift, which was kept inside a large wooden crate. Naturally, there seemed to be only three options when it came to its contents: Jillian, Bob, or a stripper. Right? Wrong! Turns out the crate actually contained an exercise bike — and a small box to boot. And we all knew what would be inside that box — a Dirt Devil! Because how rude would it be to package a crate so thousands of Styrofoam peanuts pour all over a family’s living room without offering them some sort of cleaning aid? But no, inside the small box was the temptation of the week: dozens and dozens of mini cupcakes. And here’s where I get a little ashamed: As a cupcake enthusiast, I immediately ID’ed those treats as Crumbs cupcakes. (Sad story: I could even identify the flavor of most I saw in that box.)

And I became immediately depressed when Ali told the contestants — via DVD — that each cupcake has 100 calories. (Oy vey. That’s an extra day at the gym for me!) Every cupcake the contestants ate would add five minutes onto another player’s time for the challenge. And just what was the challenge? Like on their first day at the ranch, the contestants would be biking a marathon. (The winner would nab $10,000.) Impressive yes, but not nearly as impressive as the folks last season who had to run a marathon, right?

NEXT: One of these contestants has intestines of steel

Either way, only a few of the cast members were eager to gameplay. No one more so than Lance, who I’d like to believe was swayed by wife Melissa, who sat next to her husband saying, ”Dooo it,” like some devil-horned succubus on his shoulder. The guy ended up downing 17 cupcakes. Seventeen! That guy either has a digestive system stronger than the Brawny Man, or we were just spared the footage that followed. But while Lance opted to gameplay, he didn’t think strategically: The guy ate cupcakes for Daris, and others on his own team. At least when Mike chose to give into the temptation, he only ate for those on the black team! (Drea also ate a cupcake for a teammate, Sam.)

Everyone else wanted to compete fairly. Daris even slammed his box of cupcakes on the floor and stomped his foot on it. And hundreds of miles away, a loud ”Nooooooo!” was heard echoing through EW’s offices from this writer’s room. Daris, why didn’t you just send them to me?!

So then we got a chance to watch everyone work out at home. Daris said he felt comfortable in the gym, Koli was glad to be working out in a place where he could ogle women, O’Neal began working so hard he nearly injured himself, and Lance — well, he said something about his personal gym and exercising outside, but I got too distracted by footage of kittens to be invested in his segment.

But our contestants had to cope with managing their nutrition as well. Methinks the producers had a little talk with each of the family members, telling them to go crazy for the week the contestants returned home. Because, really, a supportive family that wasn’t swayed would not be comfortable eating potato skins, pizza, and beer in front of our players. That’s like putting a handle of vodka in front of an alcoholic. Or a porn star in front of Tiger Woods. (Obvious joke alert!)

And now, can we give it up for Daris? The dude who’s never had a girlfriend managed to nab quite a looker while karaoking with his pals! Though I’m not too sure if I liked Randi, based on the few seconds we saw her on television. (I love me my snap judgments.) Did I see the girl laughing — and not in the ”with him” kind of way — during Daris’ karaoke song? Tsk, tsk. Thoughts, fellow Biggest Loser fans?

No more time for partying! It was not time for our contestants to face-off in their bike-off. And as soon as Ali appeared like a poltergeist on the TV screen, the race begun! It was clear fairly early on who would win — our powerhouse, Sam, maintained his lead the entire race. And we got plenty of cheesecake shots of the now-sexy guy as well. Did you see him pour that water over his head, Flashdance-style? And I think at this point, I was crying enough tears to refill the guy’s water bottle. The way O’Neal was encouraging Sunshine like Mickey Goldmill? The way Daris’ friends all rallied for their bud? Tears!

NEXT: Tipping the scales

As expected, Sam won — but ended up finishing 8th place when you added in all the cupcakes eaten for him. But it was a victory of sorts for the black team member anyway — his cousin, who ended up finishing second, stole the top spot from him, and the $10,000. Can you guys please make me stop crying?

Back at the ranch, our contestants prepared for their last-chance workout, which included a lot of aggressive ball bouncing and vomiting. Ashley managed to puke twice, something that, as she said, gave Jillian ”internal joy.” Lance, on the other hand, was having trouble committing to his workout — he told Bob that he felt guilty that he was on the ranch and Melissa wasn’t. But after Bob offered him sufficient therapy, it was onto the weigh-in:

BLUE TEAM

O’Neal: -7 pounds

Sunshine: -8 pounds

Lance: -8 pounds

Mike: -8 pounds

Koli: -10 pounds

Daris: -4 pounds

Total: -45 pounds

Percentage weight loss: 2.58

BLACK TEAM

Drea: -6 pounds

Stephanie: -9 pounds

Ashley: -10 pounds

Sam: -14 pounds

Total: -39 pounds

Percentage weight loss: 3.86

Some highlights? O’Neal broke through the 300-pound mark (crying again, guys), thanks to his efforts shoveling snow back in Minnesota. Lance lost eight pounds, thanks to his own snow shoveling as well. (Methinks NBC should consider a relocation for next season, no? Biggest Loser: Arctic Edition?) Stephanie is now under 200 pounds. (Girl’s going to be a babe!) Yet, even though the blue team had some monster numbers, they still lost to the underdog black team, and had to choose someone to go home. And even though Mike has gotten cocky the past few weeks, I did feel for him watching him tell his team, ”I have to beg you guys to keep me here and save my life.”

Ultimately, his begging worked: The blue team decided to send Lance home to Melissa after an emotional vote. And Lance continued his progress at home — he lost 9 more pounds, and hopes to make it down to 220 by the finale.

Well, I think I’ve shed enough tears to keep me dry-eyed for the next few months. But what did you all think of the episode? Were you crying as much as I was? Were you surprised how well the players were able to perform at home? Did you feel for Mike? And when are we gonna see some footage pointing to Sam and Stephanie as a couple?!

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