It’s the final before the finale, and you know what that means – a super-sized two-hour episode! And if you guessed that it’s full of filler footage, then yes, you picked the million-dollar suitcase! Ooops…wrong NBC program. Sorry ‘bout that, I got a little confused there. But then again, I’m not your regularly-scheduled recapper – I’m filling in for the lovely Critical, who is nursing her sick computer back to health. So suck in those bellies and buckle up for a 120-minute ride that will take us through the travails of troubled teens and yards of sweat, tears, and workout clips of the final five.
My gym teachers never looked like that
The Biggest Loser has decided to leave behind crass, exploitative reality show schtick for the first 45 minutes tonight and go the socially responsible route – they’re taking on the childhood obesity epidemic. Trainers Bob and Kim, along with Season 2 winner Matt Hoover, are going to visit two high schools – Kim’s alma mater, Lewis-Palmer High School, and Matt’s old stomping grounds, Belle Plaine High.
Bob & Kim will each take a team of overweight kids and attempt to impart a quickie lifestyle transformation-slash-dramatic weight loss plan in a few days. The trainers bemoan the sad state of high-school cafeteria offerings, and the lack of physical fitness among America’s youth. Some scary statistics are tossed around – 12 million obese kids in the U.S. today, 4,000 pounds of french fries to be served up at Lewis-Palmer High this year, fast food is becoming the norm in school cafeterias, and that these heavy kids are likely to become overweight adults. Bob & Kim want to help turn this junk-food teen nation around, but the kids’ goals are less lofty – they’re just looking to fit in, to attract a boyfriend/girlfriend, to make the varsity team, and to get stronger (so as not to get beat up for their lunch money, perhaps). Some of the kids seem pretty well-adjusted (and really not that overweight), while others, like Belle Plaine junior Shannon, are tearful and heart-breakingly unhappy about their weight.
At their respective schools, Kim and Bob call the overweight kids up one by one in front of their classmates – not sure how that will help with the self-esteem thing – after brief motivational speeches from Kim and Matt, who apparently is a former high-school sports hero. Kim has six kids on her team - Dylan, Ryan, Kevin, Melissa, Brandie, and Katie, while Bob has five – Tony, Kandace, Shannon, Scott, and Brittany.
Kim takes her team through the paces of their first workout in the school gym. She’s intent on making the workout “fun”, but I must have missed the fun part, because all I see are a series of jumping jacks and jogging on the spot. No doubt the boys on her team think it’s pretty fun watching Kim do jumping jacks, though. Bob eschews fun in favor of running laps around the track and some motivational patter. There’s some video montage of the kids working out, and then the trainers set the kids’ goals for the next 3 weeks. Bob wants his team to be able to run the track 10 times (!!!!) and “sit on the wall” (in a sort of squat position) for 2 minutes. Kim – well, Kim wants her kids to have “fun” goals. Again, I missed the fun part – she wants them to make up some kind of squat/lunge thing, and run the track 3 times. Either the Lewis-Palmer track is a lot bigger than the Belle Plaine one, or Kim doesn’t have a lot of confidence in her team.
When good doughnuts go bad
The kids’ fitness needs thus taken care of, Bob heads out to the school cafeteria to take on the lunch ladies. He turns up his nose at the offerings of the day – pizza, breaded chicken in various forms – and asks the ladies where the vegetables are. There’s an embarrassed silence for a moment, then one brave caf worker slides a metal cover off a massive tray of…tater tots. That, my friends, would be the veggie du jour for Belle Plaine students. Bob, who has obviously never met a tater tot he liked, looks horror-stricken. It only gets worse when he learns that the average calorie-count for a school lunch is 890 calories, plus of course there’s dessert. Oh, and doughnuts count as breakfast – and not just any doughnuts, but doughnuts covered with some kind of revolting green icing and sprinkles. At least, that’s what I think it is, because it couldn’t possibly be what it looks like. There’s nervous giggling among the lunch ladies, but there’s one brave soul who tartly informs Bob that the cafeteria has to make money and sell stuff the kids will eat. She does relent a little, though, and admit that there’s a wellness program afoot, which basically means the pizza has a whole grain crust and they use turkey pepperoni. Bob perks up a bit at this, but on the whole, he’s not impressed with school lunch offerings.
Kim’s cafeteria visit begins with her urging her team to order whatever they usually get for lunch. I guess she’s carrying on with her “fun” theme. The lone Lewis-Palmer lunch lady has the same fat-laden, greasy offerings as Belle Plaine, though she also has healthy options in the form of sandwiches and salads. Predictably, she tells Kim the kids tend to go for the fries and leave the salads behind to wilt. Kim’s repulsed by the cafeteria food, and to prove it she’s packed her own lunch – a turkey wrap, grapes, almonds, and a super-healthy Jello pudding – because remember, kids, the sponsor’s food has got to be good for you.
Nutritional lessons now disposed of, Bob & Kim leave the kids to their own devices for the next few weeks. The first kids’ confessionals are full of yearning for chocolate and pizza, and moans and groans about the workouts, but gradually
are editedturn into positive, upbeat bits about how they refuse to give up, are packing their own lunches and giving up soda, and running and lifting weights. In 3 weeks’ time, Kim & Matt (no Bob in sight – the green doughnut must have scared him away permanently) return to find the kids have improved their fitness levels and lost weight. Freshman Tony has already lost an impressive 20 pounds. Matt has the Belle Plaine kids do Bob’s mandated 10 laps, and they manage the “wall sit” for 3 and a quarter minutes. To reward their efforts, the kids will all receive a Power Box fitness mat, which is a kind of video game that you have to physically interact with – throw punches, kicks, etc. It actually looks pretty fun, and the kids seem excited with their gift. There’s also a donation of $15,000 going to their respective school’s phys ed departments, and the principals look pretty psyched about their gift, too. It’ll all make a lovely picture for the yearbook, I’m sure.
In case you missed anything from this past season…go back and read the recaps, for crying out loud
That’s right, it’s time for that filler I mentioned – but don’t worry, this filler is light and fluffy, with hardly any fat or calories at all. And you know that when food is described like that, that means that it has hardly any taste to it, either. Which perfectly describes the next 20 minutes or so – it’s re-hash browns, with past eliminations, success stories, the return of Jaron & Adrian, challenges, the horrors of the scale, and triumphant video montages of the final five – last remaining blue team member Erik, and the (newly) thin red line of Heather, Wylie, Jaron, and Kai. I’m pretty full of this particular filling, myself, and ready to move on…shall we?
Our final five are still hard at work to peel off enough pounds to get to the last round of the competition. Erik is pushing Bob around on a dolly, and I just know by the look on my kids’ faces that they can hardly wait to get their hands on the one we have downstairs and try this particular workout. Better than chugging root beer and playing video games, I suppose. Heather is bellyaching about her injuries, and is swimming rather than running. Wylie is leg-pressing an impressive 400 pounds. Bob anxiously tells us that he’s out of a job if Erik goes home this week, and that his staying “means everything”. Really? Everything? He takes Erik on the hike from day 1, and the last two blue team boys do some serious bonding during their walk. Erik’s obviously a New Age, emotional type like Bob (except without the tats and washboard abs) because both guys get teary as they look back on Erik’s BL journey.
Back at the house, Kim & Heather are having a catfight over Heather’s refusal to do sprints, due to her leg injury. Heather angrily cusses out Kim, who thinks Heather just won’t push herself and is lagging in this final week. Lest we are left with the impression that Personal Trainer Barbie is a heartless bitch, we see Kim run off to find Kai, who is apparently a gentler, more amiable soul than Heather. Kim & Kai have a heart-to-heart – though we don’t get to hear them talk trash about Heather, darn it – and Kim assures Kai that she can win this whole thing. Foreshadowing or just playing favorites?
Train the Trainers
Time for a little fun and payback for our final five – it’s train the trainers day, and the Losers eagerly snatch up the megaphones provided and put Bob & Kim through the paces – they are made to jump up on tables, run on the treadmill, do crunches, and ride the stationary bike. I was kind of hoping they would tie Bob to the Bow-Flex and force-feed him tater tots, but maybe next season. Kim suggests that they walk on their hands, and starts down the field, but Bob claims he can’t do that and instead does a series of backflips. Not to be outdone, Kim matches him backflip for backflip. Too bad Matt wasn’t there – maybe he would have suggested a wrestling match, and we could at least have had the pleasure of seeing Bob kick Kim’s butt. Maybe for the finale? Are you listening, BL producers?
But wait, it IS Matt! He’s back after all, with fiancé Suzy in tow. The love match from Season 2 is still all googly-eyed over each other, and they enter the house hand-in-hand to give a pep talk to the final five. Well, Matt talks, anyway – Suzy nods her head and sheds a few tears. Pretty much like she did all through Season 2.
The Biggest Triathletes
It’s final challenge time, and Caroline Rhea must be yearning for her high-school days after the first segment – or rather, her mother’s high-school days, because she’s decked out in a polka-dotted drindl-type skirt with red pumps that’s reminiscent of one of Frenchy’s outfits from the movie Grease. Judging from Caroline’s ensemble, her stylist is a beauty school dropout herself. The challenge today is a race for pink slips – er, a triathlon. There will be a 200-yard swim, a 5-mile bike ride, and a 1.5 mile foot race. Bob & Kim will be on hand to
drag the finalists’ unconscious bodies across the finish linecheer their teams on. A triathlon probably sounded really exciting when the producers dreamed it up, but they didn’t count on the remaining five to turn it into a group effort. When Wylie struggles during the swim, his teammates wait for him to finish and have a group hug afterwards. They play the waiting game after the bike ride as well (man, the Cho Brothers team from The Amazing Race would so rock this kind of triathlon!) and start the run together. Heather and Kim have patched up their differences, and Kim gives Heather some extra support as she paces Heather, who is power-walking the foot race. The guys finish the foot race first, with Kai coming in next, and Heather (with Kim in tow) bringing up the rear. There’s another group hug that includes Caroline, hopefully ruining her outfit.
Last kick at the elliptical machine
Erik has a visit from the resident doctor, who has some good news about his test results – he’s no longer insulin-resistant, which means he’s at less of a risk for developing diabetes. Erik is the only one who appears to get a doctor visit – maybe Heather is being a big baby about her injuries after all, hey Kim?
There’s the last-chance workout that has everyone feverishly pedaling away, visions of the dreaded yellow line dancing in their heads. And finally, it’s time for the last weigh-in. Caroline is still doing the school theme fashion thing, but she’s now dressed like a 3rd-grade teacher. She gets the students all lined up and ready to step on the gigantic scale, and it weighs out like this:
Heather: 167 (7 lbs / 56 lbs total) – 4.02%
Jaron: 217 (6 lbs / 106 lbs total) – 2.69%
Wylie: 217 (7 lbs / 90 lbs total) – 3.13%
Erik: 283 (12 lbs / 124 lbs total) – 4.07%
Kai: 185 (4 lbs / 77 lbs total) - % not shown (and my math is nowhere near good enough to figure that out)
It leaves Jaron & Kai below the yellow line, and their fates in the hands of Heather, Wylie and Erik.
Jaron, the outsider since his arrival back at the ranch, must know he hasn’t got a hope in hell of making final 4, and the voting, fortunately, is quick and merciful. Wylie says Jaron is a fierce competitor and a big threat, and casts his vote for him. Erik is more blunt, saying his vote is based on loyalty and friendship, and as his second vote for Jaron makes Heather’s choice irrelevant, Jaron’s fridge light is snuffed out. Poor Jaron doesn’t even rate a quick clip of his further weight loss.
Comes the time we have to say…so long
Time for Kai, Heather, Wylie & Erik to bid adieu to their trainers, but not before Kim gets a few seconds to brag that she, as the new girl on the block, has 3 of the final 4 contestants. I like her even more now, don’t you? Both trainers have a “surprise” for their teams – life-sized cardboard cutouts of themselves, when they arrived at the ranch. Hey, they didn’t say it was a nice surprise, did they? Erik & Bob’s farewell proves the most painful to watch, as the tears flow from Erik. Bob’s eyes are suspiciously shiny too, but whether it’s tears or his fervor for fitness, I’m not sure. He congratulates Erik on the biggest weight loss in three seasons of BL, and the men embrace before they part.
The Losers head for home, determined to drop yet more weight and claim the $250K prize. Next week are the homecomings and the finale, and the Season 3 Biggest Loser is named. Critical will be here to run you through another 2-hour marathon, so bring your running shoes and water bottles – and Jello pudding, of course.
Mmmmm….tater tots. firstname.lastname@example.org.