The at-home contestants weigh in for the first time since returning to the ranch, some making excuses for their shortcomings. Ultimately, it's lack of motivation by one of the ranch contestants that gets a team sent home

By Jean Bentley
Updated February 04, 2009 at 05:00 PM EST
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After a whole month without their partners, the at-home contestants have finally been beamed down from the Starship Enterprise onto the Biggest Loser ranch. (How else do you explain the hilarious rays of light shining off them in the opening montage?)

Before we start off this recap, I must thank the pink team’s Helen for bringing back her daughter, because I wouldn’t have enjoyed this episode nearly as much without Shanon’s adorable two-syllable pronunciation of the word fat (”fae-ut”) and her spot-on commentary throughout the show.

Okay, down to business. Before the at-home contestants’ weigh-in, the trainers gathered their teams and reiterated the seriousness of the competition to the returned players. And with that, even before the weigh-in, Aubrey started to cry. I might have missed something, but I didn’t notice Mandi crying at all during this episode, so thank goodness her sister picked up the slack. Man, can that family cry (not that I’m one to talk, the Sarah Mclachlan ASPCA commercial makes me well up).

Instead of a temptation challenge, the formerly at-home contestants had their first weigh-in since returning to the ranch. Shanon started off the gang by dropping a respectable 15 pounds (and two pants sizes), but seemed disappointed in her success. As the trainers reminded her, that’s a half-pound per day.

When the contestants are on the ranch, their only job is to exercise. It’s unrealistic to expect those kinds of results in the real world — which is why it was reassuring to hear the trainers actually say that. ”It’s not realistic to go home and lose these numbers. The idea is that if you can lose 12 pounds in a week [at the ranch], maybe the person at home can lose 12 pounds in six weeks,” said Jillian.

Although the homies (oooh, wish I’d thought of that nickname sooner) should have been happy with smaller numbers than their on-ranch counterparts, too small a loss was inexcusable. So when Aubrey ended up with a two-pound loss and tried to explain it away — she said she built muscle and endurance instead — it wasn’t surprising when Jillian called ”bulls—” on the excuses. That wound up being the central theme of last night’s episode — not making excuses.

Sione, the final homie to weigh in, lost an impressive 25 pounds in 30 days, earning immunity for his team. Once he realized that if he could make time for three hours of television per day (it’s okay if you watch it for work, right? …right?), he could make time for exercise if he actually wanted to.

Back in the gym, the teams enjoyed their first post-reunification workout, which was probably a lot harder than usual for the teammates who hadn’t been working out with Bob and Jillian regularly. Shanon, for one, said she didn’t work as hard at home as her mom did on the ranch because of ”the way Bob and Jillian just ride us. I mean literally — I’ve seen Jillian and Bob ride people around the gym.”

It could have been residual excitement from winning immunity, but Sione completely showed up his teammate Filipe with the amount of exercise and effort he was putting into his workouts. Conversely, Joelle and Carla demonstrated that nothing had really changed for them in the last month. Carla still worked her butt off, and Joelle continued her bemused observation of everyone else working instead of actually working herself.

NEXT: That dam challenge

Come challenge time, the contestants were shuttled to a giant dam for the day’s activity. (Too bad the challenge didn’t have anything to do with the dam — so many lost pun opportunities!) Instead of a dam-related obstacle, the contestants were tied together to the end of a rope that was wrapped around a gigantic metal bar. The couples had to unspool enough rope to cross a finish line an undisclosed distance away by heaving their bodies over the bar and unwrapping the rope. As a prize, the winners could choose between $5,000 or a two-pound advantage at the weigh-in.

(Side note: Thank you, Biggest Loser, for giving Alison a wad of cash that looks like it could actually be $5,000. As a former bank teller, I have a major pet peeve about stacks of money not actually being big enough for their amount. I mean, really, a million dollars in twenties will not fit in a briefcase.)

The problem with this challenge was that although it seemed like an exciting idea, it wasn’t terribly interesting to watch. Besides the fact that it was exhausting for the players, no one got hurt, no one blew up at a teammate, and you couldn’t really tell who was winning — resulting in a montage to the finish, when the yellow team managed to just barely stretch their rope across the line first. It was mostly a challenge of rhythm and strategy. You had to get a good groove going while jumping over the bar, and you had to make sure to gather the rope as you unrolled it so it wouldn’t tangle up.

The last-chance workout was a final opportunity for Jillian to whip her teams into shape, since she only had three couples left to Bob’s five, and a fall below the yellow line for one of them would probably mean a trip home. But it wasn’t all bad, because with fewer teams, Jillian was able to give them more personal attention. And by attention I mean fear, because as Aubrey put it, ”Working out with Jillian is terrifying.” Proof: Laura held her hand to her heart after a vigorous exercise, to which Jillian responded, ”Your heart could explode; I wouldn’t give a s— today.” Just the attitude you want in a person entrusted to help you improve your health!

As for Bob, he switched from riding on his teams to making his teams ride on each other: 255-pound Shanon carried 324-pound Sione on her back for a not-so-leisurely stroll across the gym.

The weigh-in kicked off with Sione and Filipe losing a combined 11 pounds. For the most part, the teams lost respectable amounts. The yellow team took the lead after choosing the two-pound advantage for their challenge winnings, but only lasted until Tara and Laura kicked some ass by losing 25 pounds total. Below the yellow line were the brown team, and — surprise, surprise — the silver team.

Before Joelle even weighed in, it was obvious she wasn’t going to perform well. She talked about how she hoped Carla would lose a little more weight this week now that she was back on the ranch, and that she thought Bob’s team wouldn’t vote off one of their own. However, once she hopped on the scale, the giant goose egg spoke more than any of Joelle’s platitudes ever could. Simply put, she wasn’t trying as hard as everyone else, as evidenced by the excuses she sputtered out — something about working out at a higher intensity and challenging herself to do things she hadn’t done before — the exact kind of crap the trainers called out in the first weigh-in of the episode. Carla calmly returned to her spot for the rest of the weigh-in, but I wonder how much rage she hid behind her tight smile.

NEXT: A friendship is broken

When the silver and brown teams plead their cases in front of the other teams, we finally saw a flash of emotion from Joelle’s glazed-over eyes. It wasn’t enough to prove to me that she deserved to be there, because I’ve come to the conclusion that Joelle is actually a robot. Besides not being able to answer a simple yes or no question, whenever she’s pressed for anything to say, Joelle just racks her brain for the most appropriate cliché and spouts it off without thinking. After Carla berated her for not trying, all Joelle could sputter was a group of disconnected buzzwords: ”I have gained significant insight to me being here physically and growing.” Is that even a sentence? It sounds like she’s gathering words for an exercise-themed Mad Libs. As Shanon astutely pointed out: ”It’s like she’s not even on this planet.”

The brown team once again begged to remain in the competition, and although Mike’s ”Words are cheap and actions speak” was accurate, he and his dad are really going to have to step up their game if they want to make it further. And Ron needs to think of a new speech — tearfully pleading that he and his son need to be there isn’t going to cut it. As evidenced by the promos for next week, I fear their days are numbered — though it was clear they would stay this week since they got about as much screen time as the amount of weight Joelle lost (that would be zero).

The final, unanimous vote gave Joelle and Carla the boot, to which I say: Carla, I’ll miss you and your fabulous Missy Elliott hair. Apparently Joelle doesn’t feel the same way I do, because by looking at body language in the post-elimination interview, it’s obvious things were tense between the ”Silver Bullets” — they faced away from each other and didn’t even make eye contact when speaking. Carla gave Joelle some Yoda-like advice: ”You have to stop saying ‘I’m going to try and do it’ and just start saying ‘I will do it,”’ but that’s about as much communication they had once the cameras stopped rolling. In fact, when we caught up with them this week, the two hadn’t even spoken since they left the ranch. Joelle walked out on the meeting the producers set up, saying they weren’t friends anymore. I understand Joelle and Carla being mad at each other, but don’t you think being able to observe your behavior from an outsider’s point of view (on national television, no less) would make you step back and take a good long look? Neither of them acted perfectly, nor did they apologize for their behavior, though Carla did seem to handle the meeting more rationally than Joelle.

In the previews for next week, the show’s 100th episode, it looks like the brown team will once again be on the chopping block. Is anyone else annoyed that it seems like they’re revealing the outcome of next week’s show in the previews?

This week’s moments:

Biggest Loser: Laura, 13 pounds

Foxiest-looking trainer: Bob, when he wore a dress shirt, tie, and sweater to a Midwestern elementary school that raised money for the Biggest Loser charity

Missed Product Placement Opportunity: The un-branded trainer tips — Jillian could’ve chosen a brand of coffee to endorse

Awkward Product Placement Moment: Blaine and Dane nodding to Jillian’s voice-over that lauded the benefits of Cheerios

Did you enjoy last night’s episode? Were you happy to see Joelle go? Who do you think will be eliminated next? And whose off-ranch progress were you most impressed with?

Episode Recaps

The Biggest Loser

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