A chance to control the makeup of the teams backfires for one contestant

By Kate Ward
March 03, 2010 at 05:00 PM EST
Mitchell Haaseth/NBC
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I’m not a believer of many things. Ghosts, UFOs, life after love — good luck convincing me these exist. But one thing I do firmly believe in is karma. And I could look no further than last night’s episode of The Biggest Loser for total and complete validation.

Just look at the way things played out during the course of the episode: We had Mike, a contestant who, up to this point, had pulled at our heartstrings and tickled our funny bones. But three weeks after an Olympics-centric episode that focused on goodwill and all sorts of warm fuzzies, the white team member morphed into a James Bond villain right before our eyes. He was controlling. He was manipulative. He spouted lines like: ”You don’t put up a good weight for my team, you’re going. You’re no use to me.” Seriously, all the guy was missing was a white fluffy cat and a swivel chair!

Yet, like every great Bond villain, Mike got his comeuppance. No, he wasn’t eaten by piranhas, or sucked out of an airplane. Instead, he had to live with the fact that his plan to stack up his own team backfired, leading to the ouster of one of his good friends.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s start at the beginning! After all, before we left the ranch three weeks ago for NBC’s Olympics hiatus, we watched rhyming pals Cheryl and Darrell (yes, he does exist) face off for an elimination challenge. Unfortunately, this wasn’t too much of a cliffhanger, because it was pretty obvious what the results would be. Almost immediately after he began balancing a torch atop his head, Darrell — who suffers from knee problems — began grimacing in obvious pain. Cheryl, on the other hand, boasted a face so stoic it was as if she were watching Bio-Dome. It’s almost not fair — presenting Darrell with a challenge that solely depended on the strength of his knees is like forcing Stephanie and Daris to participate in a beard-off. And as expected, Darrell dropped his torch in just under 10 minutes, leading the black team member to pack his bags after a tearful goodbye with his daughter.

Now, are you ready for more challenges? Clearly trying to compensate for their lame 5-calorie M&Ms-centric temptation a few weeks ago, Biggest Loser producers stocked up on what looked like hundreds of yummy, yummy cookies for a memory-inspired challenge. I understand that the show has to buy a few extra cookies for a safety net when it comes to these challenges, but, really, how memory challenged do they expect our contestants to be? It’s not like this is a memory battle between Grandpa Simpson and Mr. Magoo! But not only did the contestants find themselves face-to-face with a ginormous pile of cookies, they also were greeted by Ali, who was donning a distractingly sparkly pink top under a grey cardigan. (The whole outfit made her look like she was called to the set halfway between her transformation from Jerrica to Jem.) And our dear host told them the news of the week: Whoever won this temptation would be able to divvy up this year’s blue and black teams. As Ashley said, ”Here comes the drama!” Not only that, but the winner of the challenge would also be allowed to grant one contestant immunity for this week’s elimination. All they would have to do is match up two golden tickets on a giant memory board. (If the winner is Charlie Bucket, who’s Slugworth? It’s got to be Miggy, right?)

NEXT: Jillian’s inner fat kid peeks out

So our contestants were presented with the memory board, which was kind of like a giant Advent calendar that I would kill to have in my room. The premise of the challenge: If a contestant could match two foods behind the boards, his/her opponent would have to eat the food matched. If he/she did not match two foods, he/she would have to eat a cookie. Put more simply, we were about to see a lot of eating. Not so surprisingly, only two cast members volunteered to play the game: Mike and Drea. And as the duo began battling, it appeared as though Drea had the advantage, since her ability to match several items forced Mike to down foods like a peanut butter cup, a muffin, and something called ”fruit pie” that did not look remotely like fruit, nor pie.

In the end, Mike matched the golden tickets, but only after downing 2,310 calories, which I believe is the caloric equivalent to one Oompa-Loompa. (Drea, on the other hand, ingested just 1,320 calories.) And right away, Mike knew what kind of drama he was in for. Which is why I never understand why contestants fight so hard for the power to choose blue and black teams. Not only do you end up eating enough food during a temptation challenge to last you two days, but you’re also automatically chastised and alienated.

Yet, Mike decided he needed to look out for No. 1, and created two of the most unevenly matched teams in Biggest Loser history. Training with Jillian was Sam, Cheryl, Drea, Stephanie, Sherry and Ashley. Training with Bob was Koli, Daris, Lance, Miggy, Sunshine, and Mike. (Mike granted O’Neal immunity, forcing the former yellow team member to play ”cheerleader” for a week.) Of course, after watching Mike line up the teams, we were all eager to see Jillian’s reaction…

…And she certainly didn’t disappoint! As soon as the trainers walked into the room, Jillian let out an expletive or four, telling the contestants: ”This is, like, the most f—ed-up thing I’ve ever seen.” (Obviously, Jillian hasn’t seen this.) After taking a few minutes to lash out at Mike, Jillian and her vulnerable side took over: ”The underdog thing brings out, you know, the loser fat kid in me from junior high. And it pisses me off.”

It pissed off plenty of the other teams as well. It wasn’t long until we saw a shot of Mike eating solo in a booth, being shunned as if he were a pimply faced, back brace-wearing 13-year-old with a love for LARPing. Stephanie — who is quickly becoming my second favorite contestant next to O’Neal — spent her time strategizing, rather than mourning the sorry state of her underdog team. And that was the moment in which you knew the black team was going to overcome the hurdles that sat in their way. From that point on, I felt like every piece of footage of the black team should have been paired with the score from Chariots of Fire and an inspirational voice-over from O’Neal.

Even if they couldn’t manage to bag the challenge win. But let’s face it: That was one lame challenge. Totally devoid of suspense, the challenge forced our contestants to lift a banner to the top of a building — from the roof. And the winner was hardly a surprise. Since the challenge was based purely on upper body strength, we knew the blue team would bag the win, and letters from home. (The one highlight? Seeing pics of a 301-pound Mike!)

NEXT: The weigh-in

After a brief interlude with the good Dr. Huizenga — who told Ashley she had lowered her body’s age by eight years, and Sam that he had lowered his by five years — it was on to the last chance workout, where we saw the triumphant return of Tai Chi and leather jacket Bob. Then it was time for the weigh-in. Let’s see the results:

O’Neal: -9 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 2.77 (immune)

Blue team:

Mike: -15 pounds.

Sunshine: -7 pounds.

Lance: -5 pounds.

Miggy: -4 pounds.

Daris: -7 pounds.

Koli: -10 pounds.

Total: -48 pounds.

Percentage weight loss: 2.70

Black Team:

Drea: -5 pounds.

Cheryl: -4 pounds.

Sherry: -6 pounds.

Sam: -8 pounds.

Stephanie: -8 pounds.

Ashley: -10 pounds.

Total: -41 pounds.

Percentage weight loss: 2.82

Some high points from the weigh-in: Mike nearly peed himself while waiting to find out he had broken Rudy’s record by losing 109 pounds in seven weeks; Stephanie lost a whopping eight pounds; Sherry’s hair looked oh-so-fantastic and Veronica Lake-esque! (I would label Sam’s manicure a high point, if only he hadn’t said about being the only guy on his team: ”It’s not so much responsibility. There’s an opening there to step up and take that leadership role.” Paging Betty Friedan! Last I checked, women were fully capable of leading themselves, friend!) The low points: Lance hoped to break through his 300-pound brick wall, but learned he would have to wait another week to impersonate the Kool-Aid guy; Miggy unleashed an ”Oh, s—!” learning she had lost just four pounds, leading Bob to talk about her like she wasn’t there: ”This woman, she’s doing everything she can right now!” (Did anyone else spot Cheryl smirking after seeing Miggy’s low weight-loss total?)

Though it was a sad moment for the Blue team, Jillian was more than proud of her team. Said the trainer: ”The only way the black team could have beat the blue team…” (We pause to watch Jillian point to herself.) ”…is pure heart.” Twist!

So the blue team was left to decide who would go home. Mike, however reviled he was this week, was deemed safe, since he bagged the highest percentage weight loss on his team. That’s not to say he was immune from emotion — at the elimination, the big guy began to break down, leading Miggy to turn to him and say, ”Don’t cry!” Though it came down to Miggy v. Lance, Miggy was ultimately sent packing, and told cameras: ”The house is not going to be the same without me.” Because what will they do without the human equivalent of Eeyore?!

But at home, Miggy, bless her heart, decided to take up meditation to filter her angry energy, and has become a more positive person. And she’s down to a respectable 179 pounds! (Thanks to last season’s Nicole, who has kindly taken it upon herself to help Miggy lose weight.) Darrell also is getting closer to his weight loss goal, trimming down to 293 pounds at home.

What did you think of the episode, fellow Biggest Loser fans? Were you as disappointed as I was with the challenge of the week? Do you dislike Mike now? Do you also dig Stephanie? Does the black team have any chance of winning in subsequent weeks? Until next week!

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