The contestants practice what they've learned on each other, and Jillian tries to break one contestant
Credit: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

The holidays have passed, and the kids have all gone back to school — and it’s only fitting that The Biggest Loser serves up an episode full of valuable lessons this week. So, after last night’s teacher/student-themed show, I decided to list what I’ve learned since last week. Starting with…

Lesson No. 1: An M&M or two won’t kill me.

The contestants at the ranch began their week by greeting Ali, who was surrounded by blankets covering troughs. (The Biggest Loser producers never met an allegory they didn’t like). And just what was inside? What else! This week’s temptation! But first, Ali had to map out the theme for the week: role play. Oh come on, fellow TV Watchers, get your minds out of the gutter. (This is a family show after all!) Turns out, this week, one contestant in each team would be assigned the role of the teacher, and the other, the student. The student’s disadvantage? Not only would they not get the luxury of Bob and Jillian’s training for a whole week, but they would also be the sole team member to step on the scale at the next weigh-in. Plus, they had to trust their partner to adequately teach them the lessons they learned from the trainers throughout the week. Out of all the gimmicks Biggest Loser has used to throw the contestants off from season to season, I actually felt this one was one of the most beneficial ones. Rather than reduce the week’s activities to game play, the producers gave contestants the chance to really learn how to plan a full workout for themselves and others. So, I’m going to tell you to make like James Cameron and pat yourselves on the back, The Biggest Loser producers.

Back to the temptation. Ali informed the contestants that the blankets were hiding… dramatic pause, please… every student’s favorite food. Turns out that favorite food is M&Ms, though I probably would have gone with some sort of ketchup-pizza-pudding concoction that I always see experimenting second-graders dare each other to eat. And, as Ali told the contestants, the person who ate the most M&Ms would be given the chance to assign which person on each team would be the teacher, and which would be the student. And the best part of it all? Each M&M only has five calories. Now, I’m sure that when the producers came up with this challenge, they expected it to be far more entertaining than it really was. I mean, look at that trough. The vat of M&Ms looked like a ball pit, only more enticing. I wanted to face plant that trough and swim around while yelling, ”Yayyyy! Candy!” But it was easier for the contestants to resist temptation than anyone would have expected, and the eventual winner, Sherry, only downed 10 calories worth of M&Ms. (Michael, the only other contestant to eat an M&M, only ate five calories worth.) Even Jillian and Bob couldn’t find a reason to be angry with her! So what did this teach me? I could eat two whole M&Ms, and it won’t kill me. Unless, of course, those M&Ms are laced with arsenic.

NEXT: Jillian tries to break Migdalia

So lets see which team members Sherry and Ashley decided would be the teachers, and which they decided would be the students. (Since John and Stephanie both lost partners in the past two weeks, they were teamed up as a couple this week.):

Black team: Teacher: Andrea. Student: Darrell.

Brown/Purple team: Teacher: Stephanie. Student: John.

Grey team: Teacher: Sam. Student: Koli.

Red team: Teacher: Melissa. Student: Lance.

Orange team: Teacher: Cheryl. Student: Daris.

Pink team: Teacher: Migdahlia. Student: Miggy.

White team: Teacher: Michael. Student: Maria.

Pink team: Teacher: Sherry. Student: Ashley.

Now, onto the next lesson…

Lesson No. 2: Hopscotch is an acceptable form of exercise.

At least, that’s what at-home players Cherita and Vicky seemed to be doing to lose pounds. I was a little alarmed that the blue team hadn’t appeared to step in the gym 15 days after leaving the ranch — and 15 days before getting the chance to come back — but it turns out the duo had checked into their 24 Hour Fitness, and Cherita had even mastered her spin class. Sunshine and O’Neal, on the other hand, were working hard in Minneapolis, with O’Neal even rallying me to cry out with him, ”I WILL be back there!” Inspiration… overload… ack!

Lesson No. 3: Cry, or Jillian will insult you and your entire family.

Here I was thinking Jillian was the robotic Biggest Loser cast member, what with her whole ”How do humans feel? What is it like to hurt?” schtick she usually rocks while trying to get the contestants to open up. But this week, it looks as though the trainer met her maker in Migdalia. After the green team member began to cop an attitude, alienating herself from the rest of the group, Jillian decided she needed to make Migdalia cry. So first, Jillian decided to make her squat in pee position — while she had to pee. (SO. CRUEL.) Did Migdalia yell? Scream? Cry? Nope. Barely a peep from the contestant. Jillian then tried her next tactic: She would insult Migdalia herself. ”Only strong people can accept when they’re hurting!…You’re acting like a fool!” she told the green team member. Now, usually, by this point, Biggest Loser contestants are rolling on the floor in fetal position, sucking their thumbs as if they just watched Jillian pull a Linda Blair. But Migdalia? Girl would not give. So then, Jillian tried to unload the ultimate insult: The trainer began insisting that Migdalia’s daughter would become morbidly obese like her mother. Said Jillian, ”Your daughter will be so fat, she’ll sit on a rainbow and skittles will pop out.” (Okay, she didn’t really say that, but that’s essentially how the scene went down.) A few more insults and one bizarre conversation about the role of God later, Migdalia hit her breaking point and tried to walk off the set. But she wouldn’t be leaving the ranch. Thanks to Bob, Migdalia decided to stay for her own health, but Miggy demanded that the trainers not try to change their personalities. So, come on, Jillian, stop trying to make them feel.

Later, Migdalia proved she actually did have emotions during a discussion with her mother, shedding a single tear regarding her unhappiness. And eventually, during her last-chance workout, Bob allowed Migdalia to vent her frustration by beating a punching bag to oblivion. Now, I understand the point of all this transference, but it seems such a waste of gym equipment, no? And it’s just not as fun to break something that doesn’t have candy falling out of it.

NEXT: Stringing them along

Lesson No. 4: Walgreens makes ice packs!

That’s all.

Lesson No. 5: Curtis Stone does the body gooooood.

The Biggest Loser continued to try to convince us that ”celebrity chef” Curtis Stone is the hottest thing since sliced bread. (Though I never understood that comparison, as sliced bread is neither warm, nor particularly good-looking. Unless the bread is toasted, and is covered with a photo of Jon Hamm.) And while I don’t totally get the charm of the hard-jawed Aussie, I was drooling over his cooking just as much as the female contestants were drooling over him. This week, he taught the contestants how to make a healthy chicken cacciatore — a dish they could make at home in lieu of heading to the restaurant. And it’s good that they’re increasing their cooking repertoire — turns out even a small Caesar salad served at a restaurant boasts a ridiculous amount of calories. Of course, this whole scene made me feel bad about myself, as I had consumed a salad for dinner that was at least twice the size of that salad. Jumping jacks break!

Lesson No. 6: Tie a ribbon around the old oak tree — loosely.

Phew, back from that. In a challenge that I can only imagine was created by a pack of mischievous holiday elves, the contestants were forced to unwind 1,000 feet of ribbon through a playground, and then wind the ribbon back up — blindfolded. This, unfortunately, proved to be a disadvantage for anyone who knew how to properly tee-pee a house. And if I were to wager a guess on which contestant had experience pissing off his neighbors, I’d say Michael, based on the way that guy managed to criss-cross that ribbon across the playground like a pro. Of course, while he was unwinding the ribbon, he didn’t know that would have to coach his mother into winding it back up, but still. You’ve got to respect those skillz. I’d guess Sam and Koli were good little boys in their neighborhood, since the guys nabbed the win and immunity — no matter how much Melissa and Lance wanted it — and celebrated like they had just won a Superbowl ring. After all, they had gained an additional advantage stemming from their win: They could choose one team to switch student/teacher roles at the weigh-in. Soon after, we saw a bit of foreshadowing, when some of the contestants began complaining that Michael wasn’t putting in 100 percent. Who, oh who, would Sam and Koli put in danger with a switch-up?

Lesson No. 7: Slack off, and face the wrath of Bob.

I’ll just go ahead and answer the previous question I posed. Once the contestants had arrived at the weigh-in, Sam and Koli announced that they would reverse the white team’s roles, since Michael, according to Koli, hadn’t ”done much in these three weeks. You haven’t shown why you want to be here.” Okay, I know I’m not in the workout room, but the guy has lost a considerable amount of weight the past few weeks, no? It’s not like he’s, oh, Melissa or anything.

NEXT: Melissa’s great escape

And speaking of Melissa, looks like the contestant might be taking her game play a bit too far. We’ll get to that in a second, but first, here are the numbers for this week:

Grey team: Sam: -11 pounds. Koli: -13 pounds. (Immune from elimination)

Green team: Miggy: -7 pounds. Migdalia: -8 pounds. Miggy’s percentage weight loss: 3.20

Black team: Andrea: -7 pounds. Darrell: -12 pounds. Darrell’s percentage weight loss: 3.22

Orange team: Cheryl: -7 pounds. Daris: -9 pounds. Daris’ percentage weight loss: 2.90

Purple/Brown team: Stephanie: -7 pounds. John: -14 pounds. John’s percentage weight loss: 3.10

Red team: Melissa: -1 pound. Lance: -12 pounds. Lance’s percentage weight loss: 3.57

White team: Maria: -4 pounds. Michael: -10 pounds. Michael’s percentage weight loss: 2.08

Pink team: Ashley: -12 pounds. Sherry: -6 pounds. Ashley’s percentage weight loss: 3.48

As Ali told Melissa, the red team contestant was lucky that Sam and Koli hadn’t decided to reverse her team’s roles, as she had only lost one pound this week. Said a (seemingly) frustrated Melissa in response, ”All I want to do is sit on my butt and eat a cheeseburger.” Jillian, thinking Melissa was just playing the game, told the contestant, ”You’re full of s—.” (Yes, you would be after eating a cheeseburger.) But this time around, Jillian wasn’t the only trainer to turn red — Bob got into the action too! Dialing up his rage-o-meter from huffy bunny to irate kitten, Bob got into a screaming match with Melissa, demanding that she admit she’s playing the game: ”Don’t lie to me!” he screamed at her. Aw, Bob. I can’t help it — though I’m utterly petrified of an angry Jillian, whenever I see angry Bob, I just want to walk up to him, bop him on the nose, and tell him how oh-so-adorable he is.

Melissa, naturally, hardly felt the same way, and her husband even appeared irate, what with the way he fumed and grabbed his shirt from Bob after his successful weigh-in. The duo, however, will have to reckon with Bob next week — Michael and Maria were the duo that had to face elimination this week. And though John felt as though Michael hadn’t done enough to deserve to stay on the ranch, the rest of the contestants ultimately decided to honor Maria’s wishes, and send the Chicago momma home.

And what progress Maria has made since leaving the ranch! Looks like her whole run-in with her greatest fear, water, was worth all the blood spewing à la Saturday Night Live‘s ”The French Chef.” Now, not only has Maria lost 51 pounds, but she’s also come close to conquering her fear, and even has plans to swim in the ocean. Keeping in mind your injury-prone self, I just gotta say one thing, Maria: Watch out for this.

Well, I think I’ve learned plenty enough for one week, fellow Biggest Loser fans. So I’ll turn things to you: After checking in with the yellow team and the blue team at home, any predictions as to who will come back to the ranch? (I bet yellow team.) Were you surprised about how hard it was for Jillian to make Migdalia crack? Do you think Melissa is playing the game? And did anyone else besides me chuckle during this exchange?: Jillian: ”I can scream like a crazy person. You want me to try?” Bob: ”When have you ever worried about anything like that?”

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