The appeal of immunity really pushes the contestants' buttons

By Kate Ward
April 07, 2010 at 04:00 PM EDT
Mitchell Haaseth/NBC
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Welcome to The Sunshine and O’Neal Show, everyone! Take a seat, grab your Kleenex, and prepare to enjoy a whole 120 minutes full of sob-filled entertainment! What’s that you say? There are other cast members on this show? Pshaw! Can they deliver an inspirational moment quite like Sunshine and O’Neal?

No, they can’t. That’s why, yet again, Biggest Loser has delivered to its viewers an entire episode that boasted the yellow team as its centerpiece. Interesting, considering neither Sunshine nor O’Neal went home, scored the highest percentage weight loss of the week, or won immunity. (Sure, Sunshine did win a single challenge — but when has that ever encouraged the show’s producers to highlight a contestant?) No, those titles would go to Melissa, Vicky, and Sam, yet, they didn’t receive as much fanfare as Sunshine or O’Neal.

Not that I blame Biggest Loser‘s producers. Watching the yellow team get emotional is kind of like watching Bambi — even seeing it on repeat, you will get teary-eyed. But I’ve only seen Bambi twice. And how many times have I seen Sunshine and O’Neal cry? Oh, about the same number of times I’ve craved a peanut butter cup sundae at Friendly’s. (Translation: about a trillion times.) I’m not going to say that I’m now bored of all the Sunshine-O’Neal tears, but I fear if the focus remains on these two, I will begin to pick my nails instead of intently tuning in. After all, when Sunshine turned in a big number on the scale, leading O’Neal to talk about for the trillionth week in a row how proud he is of her, I began to wonder what wouldn’t make O’Neal proud. I bet Sunshine could walk in and tell O’Neal, ”Hey Dad, I just came back from robbing a bank and, on the way home, I killed a bunny and met Spencer Pratt and we decided to get married. Oh, and I’ve decided to begin worshipping Satan.” And O’Neal would still weep with pride.

That being said, I am someone who does enjoy all the warm fuzzies this season. And I love the fact that when the remaining contestants were tempted by gameplay, they totally rejected the apple and decided to turn this whole process into a fair game. Even Mike, who some would claim got a bit too crafty weeks back while dividing the teams. This, of course, was much to the chagrin of Melissa, who started off the episode by saying: ”We are in week 12. These people are still not in gameplay. They don’t appreciate the prize at the end.”

NEXT: Immunity — and a one-track mind

But Melissa got the chance to channel her one-track mind into concentrating on the challenge of the week: When Ali greeted the contestants this week, she told them they could win immunity with the push of the Staples Easy Button. Oh, wait, never mind, it’s just a plain game show-esque button which, when pressed, unleashes a siren so loud, these folks will no longer have to listen to Bob push Fiber One. (Silver lining, right?) The sound immediately called Daris to attention, since the Oklahoma resident equates a siren to an approaching tornado. But no! Instead, the housemates would hear that noise when a contestant pushes the button at any point in the week in hopes of losing two percent of their body weight. (If they lose it, they get immunity. If they don’t, well, zero consequences.)

So what did they have to lose? Ashley had to lose six pounds, Mike eight, Koli six, Sam six, Sunshine five, Drea five, and Melissa four. Daris, Vicky, and O’Neal I guess didn’t have a chance in hell of bagging immunity, since the show’s editors didn’t even bother telling us how much weight they would have to lose.

Then good ol’ Bob and Jillian entered the ranch to find the contestants with their target weight loss numbers around their necks. And is anyone else starting to wonder why the trainers act surprised and horrified every week about the twist in the game? It’s like they expect to come in and hear the contestants say, ”Oh, Ali told us we’d all get $250,000, and a magic wizard is going to come in and turn us into 120 pound versions of ourselves. But don’t worry Bob — a consequence of the magic wizard dust is a permanent branding of the Subway logo on our foreheads. So it’s all good!”

This week, however, Jillian decided she was going to break Sunshine: ”There’s a real spark inside of her.” I would have said ”ray of light,” but I suppose Biggest Loser isn’t about punnery. Melissa sequestered herself in a corner with Bob and immediately began discussing the game, leading Bob to remind the red team contestant: ”You’re really here to change your life.” A glazed-over look appeared on Melissa’s face, and she began listening to Bob with the same attention span as a seventh grader learning geometry.

Then we got a chance to hear the soothing tone of Dr. Huizenga’s voice, who told the contestants they needed to take in calories in order to lose weight. ”Right-o, Dr. Huizenga,” I told my TV as I stood up to grab a brownie.

And now, all focus was back on that button. Sam decided to love the button, and began caressing it with his hand. (Somewhere in California, Stephanie just giggled.) Maybe that sight just switched on my dirty mind, but all the talk of the button — ”I wonder when Melissa’s going to do it?” ”I kind of want to be the first one to do it.” — made me feel like I was in a college freshman’s dorm room.

But then — someone did it! No, I’m not talking about sex. Vicky, in the workout room, said out loud, ”It’s time to play Family Feud!” pushed the button, and the siren went off.

Daris immediately ran to the bathtub and placed a mattress over his head. All the contestants gathered together to watch Vicky step on the scale. And… she didn’t make it to six. Sadtrombone.com. The whole scene was a little like watching a lovelorn high school student put together an elaborate way to ask his crush to prom, only to be turned down in front of the whole school. In a word, embarrassing.

NEXT: No whammy, no whammy, no whammy… stop!

On to the challenge: Ali told the contestants they’d have to carry 100 button candies from the bottom of one side of the pool all the way to the other. They were not allowed to bring up more than two at a time, but once they completed the challenge, they were allowed to help whoever they wanted finish. The prize for this challenge? A two-week trip for two to the Biggest Loser resort at Fitness Ridge. So their prize is… to do exactly what they’re doing right now. It’s kind of like me winning and all-expense paid trip to New York, where I can sit at my desk and watch The Biggest Loser.

But there was a penalty for the last-place finisher: a one-pound disadvantage. And we all knew where this one was leading. After Sunshine — a swimmer — finished first, she decided to help her father. As soon as the other contestants finished, they decided to help everyone else… except Melissa, who finished last place.

Melissa, however, wanted to stay strong — she decided to get up in the middle of the night to train. Too bad Sam had the same thing in mind. The grey team member decided to work out with Koli so he could ”do it” before Melissa. And Sam did indeed ”do it” — the guy stepped in front of the button, yelled, ”No whammy, no whammy, stop!” and pressed the button, causing the siren to go off.

Daris immediately sat down next to a wall, put his hands on top of his neck and crouched down.

The house grouped together to watch Sam — looking teensy — step on the scale, which showed that Sam had lost one pound… two pounds… three pounds… four pounds… five pounds… Six pounds! He did it! Sam won immunity! But, wait a tick — the scale is still going? Seven pounds? Eight pounds? Holy crap, nine pounds? Great Odin’s Raven! Sam lost a whole 10 pounds?! Dude, even the scale understood how dramatic this moment was. So after losing 3.82 percent of his body weight, Sam basked in immunity.

Let’s take a second away from the competition to praise Vicky for those acting muscles she flexed in order to pretend she cared about Bob’s lecture on Fiber One.

Last chance workout time. Koli said he’s got confetti on the mind, which, in turn, makes me have confetti cake on the mind. Daris worked out on two Bosu balls, which kind of looked like giant yellow Marge Simpson implants when placed side-by-side. And Jillian taught Sunshine how to mime driving a car before encouraging her to open up to her father and tell him to let her go.

Time for the weigh-in:

Koli: -5 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 1.78

Daris: -4 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 1.69

Mike: -9 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 2.36

Ashley: -7 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 2.58

Sunshine: -7 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 3.47

O’Neal: -8 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 2.75

Vicky: -11 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 3.89

Drea: -2 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 0.88

Melissa: -3 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 1.12

Some highlights: Sunshine finally dipped below 200 pounds, and Mike surprised Ali by telling her to feel her biceps before pulling away and saying, ”Didn’t your mom tell you not to play with guns?”

Of course, Melissa was sent home by her housemates, who all decided to resist gameplay and keep Drea in the running, since she needed the house more. And though I’m happy to see her go, I wish we hadn’t already seen her transformation moment, like, a dozen times. (At least this time her son didn’t make any Oedipal comments.) Nevertheless, Melissa has been successful since leaving the ranch, running half marathons, and deciding to fill her wardrobe with only red items, not unlike Nickelodeon’s Doug.

That’s it for me — were you happy with the outcome, fellow Biggest Loser fans? Did you like the twist of the week? Are you still into the emotional rollercoaster that is Sunshine and O’Neal? Wasn’t Sam’s weight-loss insane? And what’s your favorite game show?

Episode Recaps

Contestants battle the bulge and each other in the competitive weight-loss series
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seasons
  • 10
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  • Bob Harper
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