Funnyman Michael buckles -- and breaks down -- under pressure during a particularly sad episode
Things were sad in Biggest Loser land last night. I know that’s a bit like saying Albert Einstein was a genius, Mother Teresa was a saint, and Dunkaroos were the all-time best snack of the 1990s. But still, there’s no denying a sense of sadness and dread had loomed over our final five contestants last night — and it’s not just because we lost a little Sunshine. (And I do mean little! The girl, like her or not, does look fantastic these days.)
Nope, our contestants were concerned about cracking the final four, and, in Mike’s case, fixated on the weight he still has yet to lose. It was strange watching the mood spread throughout the ranch. After all, any casual Biggest Loser watcher knows this is the point in the season in which everything is supposed to turn into gameplay, gameplay, gameplay. At this point, confidence is supposed to be restored. Each player is supposed to be a mere dozen or so pounds away from their goal weights. And the contestants are supposed to have only one thing on their mind: The final cash prize.
But this season, some of our contestants aren’t so lucky. Both Mike and Ashley have plenty of weight to go, and the mere thought of that fact had the former in hysterics at one point during the episode. And unlike tantrums of episodes and seasons past, it was tough to watch Mike struggle with something so real and (here’s the key word again) sad. Because it’s hard to imagine, in his case, that everything is going to be okay. (Especially when we saw the return of season 3 champ Erik, someone who had gained the pounds back after being crowned the victor.) In fact, I really had a tough time finding anything remotely funny about this episode, something that’s usually as easy as finding a piece of hay in a haystack. So please forgive me if this recap today is a little, well… you know.
We began with a meeting between alliance members Koli and Sunshine, who called Ashley and Daris ”stupid” and ”delusional” for deciding to keep Mike in the competition over Sam. Because, as they figured, they would land big numbers this week, and once again come out the alpha dogs of the competition. Usually, I like underdogs, but I’m having a tough time liking these two. Anyone with me?
Then Ali trotted along to tell everyone the big news of the episode: There would be no yellow line. Instead, she told us there would only be a red line, and as Tom Ridge tells us, red means bad. Or, more specifically, whoever falls below it would be immediately eliminated. But before the crew could get started working out, we saw two previous winners: Helen, who still looks fantastic, and Erik, who, as we saw, doesn’t look quite as fantastic. Anyone who saw Biggest Loser‘s ”Where are they now?” episode a few months back knew that Erik had failed to keep up with his regimen. And really, it’s heartbreaking, considering how incredibly in-shape this guy was when he picked up the win. I mean, he was jacked enough to appear on the next season of Jersey Shore.
NEXT: Smart and honest moves from a reality show? Did you ride here on a unicorn?
But I’m going to take a second to say bravo to Biggest Loser for not pretending this winner doesn’t exist — instead, placing him in the forefront and enlisting him to help contestants in their post-Biggest Loser journey is a smart and honest move. Not every winner goes on to a career as a fitness expert and motivational speaker — some, like Erik, fail to find their place, and revert back to where they were. And as long as they find their way back — as Erik seems to be doing — everything can still turn out fine. Either way, Erik and Helen attempted to teach the contestants about time management at home, and that’s when we first noticed that Mike’s perennial smile still might be shielding some seriously depressed feelings. The white team contestant told Helen and Erik about his own weight-loss progress: ”Who leaves a realty show about weight loss and is still obese?” a phrase he would repeat again before the episode’s end. This led Helen to stand up and hug Mike (because she’s a mom), in a seriously sweet moment. But, at the same time, a very sad moment.
Later, the contestants met up with the trainers, who noticed that there was enough tension in the room to cut with a knife. Koli, hijacking Pauly Shore’s acting skills, claimed there was no animosity, but Daris pointed out the grey team member was likely angry about the loss of Sam. Koli responded with: ”Right now, I don’t give a f—. Final four is mine. I’m f—ing taking it… Sam’s gone. Whatever. I’m going final four.” Because that obviously is the response from someone harboring zero animosity whatsoever! It must be opposite day on the ranch!
So everyone in the gym began working out — until Mike reached his breaking point. Telling Bob he wasn’t in a good place, the white team member suddenly began to hit and kick gym equipment, and walked out the doors, with Bob chasing after him. ”Everything is against me,” Mike cried outside, and echoed his internal pain from last week about having to shop in a big man’s store for makeover week. Cozy, cuddly Bob of course made him feel better — somehow without referencing a five-dollar foot-long — but the scene was completely tragic. There have been times where Mike has annoyed me throughout this whole season, but I’m really starting to pull for him for the win. If he can pull off reaching his goal weight, how can he not prove to be an inspiration for seasons to come?
Meanwhile, Ashley proclaimed she was the ”pink ninja,” but I wonder if that’s enough to defeat the pink ranger?
Challenge déjà vu! Viewers got the chance to vote for the final challenge this season, and audiences chose to recycle season 7’s ”put the weight back on” challenge. Meaning, our final five were forced to carry their weights over 16 hills of sand. Eventually, macho man Daris bagged the win after hurling his weight over the final hill, killing a Tusken Raider hiding nearby. As part of the win, Daris bagged $10,000, which he chose to trade for a one-pound advantage. But our sweet Daris, who finished 10 minutes before the winner of the challenge in season seven, is hardly cocky — after winning the challenge, he went back to help struggling contestants like Mike, who finished his race by throwing his weight over the hill and yelling, ”This. Is. Sparta!”
Then everyone went shopping and hiking with Tony Romo, who was sans ex Jessica Simpson, which is good, because the tabloids would have said she ruined the hike somehow if she came along.
NEXT: The final four
As in every season, the trainers accompanied the contestants as they watched footage of themselves when they first arrived at the ranch, bigger and sadder. It was a confidence booster for most — especially Mike, who needed to see how far he’s come in order to start feeling the fuzzies he so deserves. And things got even better for the white team member when he met up with Dr. Huizenga, who informed him that Mike had traded an Andy Garcia for an A-Rod, reducing his age from 54 to 38.
After last-chance workout, the crew went off to their weigh-in, where Ali announced the winner would win a unique prize: Curtis Stone would come to their house and cook them meals, and hide in their cupboards when he’s not needed! (As long as the cupboards contain hair gel.) The results:
Mike: -12 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 3.59
Koli: -13 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 5.33
Daris: -10 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 5.37 (One-pound advantage)
Ashley: -7 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 2.94
Sunshine: -2 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 1.12
So we discovered who was in our final four — Mike, Koli, Daris, and Ashley — which meant Sunshine was given the boot. Surprising, considering how little screen time the yellow team member had during this episode. (Or perhaps she had exhausted her quota over the past few weeks?) After Ali informed Sunshine she’d have to pack to head home, everyone delivered their parting words: Bob told the yellow team member, ”You have been a sunshine to us”; Stevie Wonder randomly entered the ranch singing, ”You are the sunshine of my life”; and The Temptations ran in, grabbed Sunshine, and ran out the door with her while singing, ”I’ve got Sunshine / on a cloudy day.”
And then she was headed home, where an auditorium greeted her, and she got the chance to throw out the first pitch at a Minnesota Twins game. Her ball didn’t make it quite to the plate, but, hey, girl still did better than Carl Lewis.
Are we happy with the final four? Did you feel sad watching last night’s episode? Are you rooting for Mike to win, or at least, avoid Erik’s pitfalls? Do you think Erik will be able to lose all the weight? Does Koli have a bad attitude, or is he simply a fighter? And who do you think has the best chance to win it all?