As if life on the ranch isn't hard enough (pull a semi truck?!), contestants also have to take on a full-time job
Credit: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Well, I thought I had it all figured out. Just before last night’s elimination on The Biggest Loser, we were treated to a montage of Sam, voiced over by a tear-soaked Koli delivering inspirational Nike ad-ready lines like: ”Before, he was just a cocky kid with no future.” All that was missing was Ruben Studdard’s version of ”Celebrate Me Home” playing in the background. Because, really, it was obvious: Sam was going home. He had already described how tired he was earlier in the episode. He would only be packing on pounds of muscle from here on out, making it difficult for the black team to pull big numbers during the weigh-in. And, of course, he had that whole montage! Foreshadowing, right? Right?!

Wrong. Oh, damn you, reality TV. I’ve watched you for 10 years, and you still manage to surprise me! Though Sam had all but packed his bags, ”Mama” Cheryl was sent home — and only one contestant voted for Sam’s ouster. And, yes, I’m sad to see Cheryl go. She was a quiet force, and also one of the sweetest people left in the competition. But I will say one thing about her elimination: I’m just glad it wasn’t O’Neal.

After all, O’Neal was the star of last night’s episode. So much so, that I worried we eventually would watch him bite the dust, based on all his airtime. First, we had to watch him endure the cruelty of the members of the blue team, who walked in the room after elimination one-by-one, without telling him that Sunshine had survived the elimination vote. Is it just me, or did O’Neal go grayer in those five seconds? He was sobbing, banging the table like it was a Whack-a-Mole board, and was thisclose to throwing his hands up and screaming ”Khhhhaaaaannnnnn!” Yet there Sunshine was, walking into the room with a blue shirt for her dad, and a face that seemed to say something like, ”Oh my gawd, Dad. So. Embarrassing.” But O’Neal saw the Sunshine in his life — I bet after 24 years, Sunshine is pretty sick of Stevie Wonder, don’t you think? — and he was raring to go. So much so, that he delivered this epic speech:

”This is our team. And it’s time for me to step up. And I’m stepping up right now tonight. I’m sorry for Miggy being gone, but she’s gone now. And a man that live in the past, don’t live at all. And I’m telling you guys, we have to start acting like a team. This is the time right now for all of us to gel. We’re all individuals as the fingers on our hands, but we come together as a fist. And that’s exactly what we’re gonna do. We’re not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we’re going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks!”

Okay, I’ll admit I stole that last part from General Patton, but this really was the Biggest Loser equivalent of the general’s 1944 address to the troops. And it sure riled me up — I’m all for the underdogs, but after that, I couldn’t help but start rooting for blue! (The blue team is mighty lucky: Miggy for O’Neal was like trading smog for a rainbow.)

NEXT: Sunshine pulls her dad through

And it was time to put their strength to the test. Soon after powwowing, the blue team met up with the black team and headed to their first challenge of the day. And Ali, who was dressed like a 19th century Spanish swordfighter who collided with Aspen Barbie, delivered the theme for the week: Work week! The contestants were all going to work full-time jobs! Now, I figured this meant Biggest Loser was channeling Real World, which meant the contestants would have to open some sort of a smoothie shop that required only one hour of real work, and 12 hours of Jacuzzi make-out time. But no! Instead, Ali told them they would be working with the volunteers of Feeding America. But they’d have to endure plenty of hardship for their good karma: Not only would they have to commute and work an 8-hour shift, they would have to cope with the fact that their gyms weren’t open a full 24 hours.

First we had the challenge: The two teams would have to face off and pull a 33,000-pound semi truck. But there was also a mental aspect to the challenge: After pulling the truck, the contestants would have to solve a puzzle involving crates from the truck. Daris, clearly a fan of extreme weight lifting, was psyched about the challenge. And who wouldn’t be? I might be able to tell my friends how sore I am from a night of weight-lifting with my trainer, but to be able to tell people: ”Oh god, my chest muscles are so sore. You know. From pulling a semi and all. Just another day.” Well, I’d say the unlucky-in-love Daris could pick up any girl with that line!

However fun the challenge might have been, it seems the producers are constantly introducing challenges that value brawn over endurance, and therefore clearly cater towards the blue team. Seriously, at this rate I fully expect Ali to tell the teams next week: ”Whichever team looks more blue is the winner of this challenge!” And without Eiffel 65, black would be screwed!

Regardless, the black team gave it their best. But it was clear who the winner would be. The blue team was ahead for the majority of the challenge, no doubt thanks to Sunshine, who had Salt-N-Pepa on the brain. (”Push it!”) Especially since the gal pushed her Dad to hang in the competition, regardless of his bad knees. Confession time: Who else was bawling during that moment? It was like Terms of Endearment in my office!

After the challenge, the groups informed their trainers about the week ahead. (And I always love how exasperated Jillian is each week during this moment. It’s like she expects them to walk in one day and say: ”Oh, Ali told us that we could workout whenever, eat only healthy food, and eliminate no one. And also cuddle puppies all day.”) Bob told Sunshine and O’Neal to stick around after meeting up with the blue team, because they had yet to be subjected to his painful product pushing. Really, I know this is part of his gig, but I’m surprised Bob has yet to tattoo his body with company labels. After all, he is the human equivalent of a Nascar car. So why shouldn’t he look like one? (He’s got to afford those posh leather jackets somehow!)

NEXT: It’s all work

Time to work out! Jillian was clearly worried about this week, and was still insecure about the sizeable difference between her team and Bob’s team. So she decided to work her team hard by talking dirty to Cheryl — ”Are you my secret weapon this week? Huh?” — and stringing Sam up into two leg straps that looked like they belonged to some S&M apparatus. Sam then attempted to rally his own team by telling them: ”We are the small axe that cut down the big tree in week one.” Who else is starting to think that Biggest Loser keeps a book of metaphors on top of the ranch’s toilets?

In other news, Cheryl looks adorable with her hair up, no? And in similar hair news, Mike’s locks are getting out of control. I’m trying to determine who he resembles with the wild mane, but I’m coming up empty. So, please, fellow Biggest Loser fans, help me complete the following sentence: ”Mike’s hair looks like ___.”

Off to work! Our contestants all boarded a bus, and headed off to what I can only imagine is the best job ever. Because who wouldn’t want to wear sweatpants to work? Then we watched O’Neal call up volunteers and thank them for their time, which made me oh-so-jealous, because I would love nothing more than a call from a blue team member on a bad day. Others had to do grunt work, and Sherry and Cheryl were bonding over inventory. Who else loves the friendship between these two dirty-minded ladies? (Surely, I’m not the only person who could imagine what the gals were really thinking when they counted ”condiments.”)

Then our contestants took a break from working to meet an overweight inventory clerk named Steve, who commended them for their work. And the guy boasted one sad story: Steve’s lost his own overweight father when he was 13 years old. Methinks this guy is close to nabbing a spot on the next season.

After going home and working out, our contestants headed to the food bank once again for work. And it seemed Sam forgot his lunch at home! (This, I believe, was code for: Bob stole my lunch.) Then, luckily, Stephanie remembered there was a Subway nearby! (This, I believe, was code for: Bob, our product-pushing leprechaun, just ran all the way from the ranch as soon as he heard ”lunch,” stuck his head in the food bank and panted to Stephanie: ”Tell…(pant)…Sam…(pant)…to go (pant)…to Subway (pant)…nearby!”)

After work, we saw more Cheryl and Sherry bonding time. It was a sweet scene, especially since Biggest Loser usually solely focuses on the relationship between family members. It’s nice to see two people who bond so well on the ranch. And it was nice that they both lifted each other up too: As Sherry told Cheryl, ”Because we’re worth it!” (Somewhere on the ranch, a light bulb appeared atop Bob’s head. Cut to: Bob, furiously looking through the phone book for L’Oreal’s number.)

NEXT: The weigh-in

Last chance workout! While Jillian was busy feeling up everyone on the bikes, Bob was working the blue team hard. As he said, this time around, last chance work out would have to be the Duncan Hines cake and the icing too. And whatever Bob was doing was working: O’Neal spent a whole hour on the treadmill for the first time in his life, and Sunshine gave Sam a run for his money as leader of the team. (See, Sam? Women can be in charge too!) As for Lance, what he called his 300-pound brick wall last week suddenly became his 300-pound electric fence, and he was buzzing to get through it.

And he did! Let’s see the weigh-in results:

Blue Team:

O’Neal: -5 pounds

Sunshine: -7 pounds

Mike: -9 pounds

Koli: -10 pounds

Daris: -9 pounds

Lance: -10 pounds

Total: -50 pounds

Percentage weight loss: 2.71

Black Team:

Drea: -7 pounds

Ashley: -8 pounds

Cheryl: -5 pounds

Sherry: -5 pounds

Stephanie: -3 pounds

Sam: -4 pounds

Total: -32 pounds

Percentage weight loss: 2.27

Yep, it was a close one, folks. Though it seemed the black team might actually pull numbers large enough to send another blue team member packing, the black team failed to deliver, much to Daris’ odd joy. (Anyone else think his ”Ye-ah!” was a bit inappropriate, and odd, considering his mother was a member of the black team?) Because his mother was facing elimination, Daris told her he was proud of her before parting ways. And when Ali told Koli if he had any (possible) last words for his cousin, he said…nothing. Except to the cameras. When the black team had left, Koli said in confessional: ”Love that kid. I don’t want to see him go home.” Well, why didn’t you tell him that?!

Though, as mentioned above, we were tricked into thinking Sam was going home, Cheryl was eventually ousted, much to Sam’s shifty-eyed surprise. (What was up with those reaction shots?) But the mama was doing more than okay at home — Cheryl, who started her journey at 227 pounds, was down to 164 pounds at home! And the woman looked tiny!

But now it’s time for you to weigh-in (heh). Where you sad to see Cheryl go? Did you also think Sam was going to be eliminated? Were you, like me, a bit uncomfortable watching him box Jillian? Do you think Biggest Loser is setting up a ”young vs. old” story line? Do you still love O’Neal as much as I do? And how ’bout those photos of the formerly buff yellow team member? And this quote about Sunshine: ”I want to put her on my shoulders and lift her up. Lift her up to stay here.” Baaaawwwwwwwlllllllll.

Episode Recaps

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