'The Biggest Loser: Families': Why are you crying?

Jerry_thebiggestloserfamilies_240 And now, a (completely fictional) message from the makers of The Biggest Loser: Families: "Hello, friends. As you probably know, we here at BL Central find nothing so delicious and invigorating as the sweet, sweet tears of an innocent and unwilling public. The tears collected from out contestants are a satisfying appetizer, but we want more. That's why we're doing everything in our power to make you, the viewing audience, get all sniffly this episode. Did it work? Did it? You better say it did! Because if we don't collect enough of your luscious lachrymal nectar, next weeks challenge will involve sad clowns holding dead puppies. Thank you, and keep crying!"

This spoiler is glad to check something off the life list
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That's as good a scenario as I can come up with for why this episode was so heavy on the maudlin and tear-jerking scenarios. Let's put good people in impossible positions, and then verbally poke them with a sharp stick! Gah!

Ahem. Now that I've got that out of my system...

The Road Trip
The competitors participate in the American rite of passage known as the Road Trip -- they're off to the Grand Canyon! Along the way, they stop off at a convenience store for a temptation challenge, where teams got to guess on the calorie content of snack foods. The team that came closest to the calorie count without going over won a product placement. Collect three product placements, and they got to stay in a plus, product-placed RV. Everyone else would be camping. As in, in tents. Oh, and the teams that DON'T have the correct guess have to eat the treat in question.

Team Orange takes an early lead in the challenge, winning two rounds back-to-back. The rest of the teams basically cede the prize to them, declining to even play the last round. Ed and Heba celebrate, and immediately stretch out in the relative luxury of a gas-guzzling behemoth.

At the campsite, the teams find a stack of exercise equipment -- resistance bands, yoga mats, medicine balls -- and are completely clueless as to how to use it. They try throwing the medicine balls at each other, but after Renee gets a bloody nose from an ill-caught ball, that gets put aside. Still -- they're in the Grand Canyon. Just hiking some of the steeper trails will beat the heck out of the Stairmaster or treadmill. But the campers would rather be happy than sweaty, so it looked like they took a couple of gentle walks on flat terrain. Oooh, they're going to be in big trouble when Bob and Jillian find out...

The Challenge
The competitors meet Alison down by the Colorado river, where kayaks and ropes are waiting. One team member gets in a kayak and rows like hell. After 90 seconds, the team member left at the dock gets to try to haul back other teams' kayaks. The last boat to hit to dock wins the product placement RV.

Most teams leave their strongest member on the dock to pull, and send their weaker member out rowing. The only exception: Team Orange. Ed rows like crazy and gets much further out than anyone else. Team Purple screws up royally when Shellay decides to toss the entire wad of rope into the water instead of playing it out gradually. The rope becomes a tangled anchor, and Amy can't get far from the dock at all.

When it comes time to pull, most boats are brought back easily. Ed and Red Amy are the last two out there, and Ed's rowing is stronger, so he's able to hold off the hauling longer. Team Orange wins the Product Placement they're sleeping in. Team Red's Phil has a moderate snit fit -- I really wanted this for my kids! --but he seems to get over it pretty quickly.

Tearjerking, part one
The camping trip coincides with Coleen's 24th birthday. Ed brings out a cake, and then everyone takes turns going around the circle and talking about how great and inspiring and amazing and fabulous and saintly and wonderful Coleen is. When they get to Jerry, he's too overcome with emotion to speak. Coleen tells him he doesn't need to say anything -- she knows what's in his heart. The entire campsite (and maybe, just maybe, a recapper or two) is conspicuously moist-eyed.

At this point, after all the accolades, I decided that Team Yellow was doomed.

Back at the Ranch
Bob and Jillian are, predictably, most put out that their charges didn't take advantage of their vacation to work their asses off. The spend the first part of the last-chance workout showing them what they SHOULD have been doing -- basically, lots of calisthenics and strength moves using basic or no equipment -- and then bring them into the gym. there is much grunting and squealing and hurting and ow.

Michelle is having a particularly hard time of things, so Dr. Jillian and Drill Sergeant Jillian tag-team her psyche. Do you ever stand up for yourself? Dr. Jillian asks. :Ike, say, by telling me to stop hitting you? Drill Sergeant Jillian adds. This goes on for a while, and Michelle finally stops being polite and starts being... well, slightly less polite. Baby steps.

Jerry starts limping during the sprints,  and his right leg is swelling alarmingly. Jillian eventually sends him in to the medical guys, who send him to the hospital to check for blood clots or infection. The good news: It's not either of those, which can be deadly. The bad news: He's torn his hamstring, and he won't be able to work out much, if at all, until it heals in two or three weeks.

The Weigh In
Alison announces yet another twist -- this week, only one team will fall below the yellow line, and the members of that team -- that family -- will have to decide among themselves who is going home. Everyone starts freaking out. Michelle is particularly terrified -- she and Renee just started talking again, and now they might have to talk about which one should get booted? Oy.

Team Red
Amy:  209 to 204, -5 pounds
Phil: 300 to 290, -10 pounds.
Together they lost 15 pounds, or 2.95 percent.

Team Orange
Heba: 280 to 275, -6 pounds
Ed: 309 to 299, -10 pounds
Together they lost 16 pounds, or 2.72 percent.

Team Purple
Amy: 219 to 213, -6 pounds
Shellay: 201 to 198, -3 pounds
Together they lost 9 pounds, or 2.14 percent.

Team Pink
Michelle: 223 to 220, -3 pounds
Renee: 248 to 242, -6 pounds
Together they lost 9 pounds, or 1.91 percent.

Team Brown
Vicky: 223 to 220, -3 pounds
Brady 306 to 301 -5 pounds
Together they lost 8 pounds, or 1.51 percent.

Team Yellow
Coleen: 202 to 195, -7 pounds
Jerry: 358 to 360, +2 pounds
Together they lost 5 pounds, or 0.89 percent.

Coleen and Jerry are devastated, and Alison (at the producers' behest I know, but that makes it no less galling) asks the usual questions about are they disappointed and don't they feel horrible and shouldn't they just curl up and die, etc.

But that's not even the galling part. The absolute worst is Team Brown's reaction. Vicky just starts grinning when she sees Jerry's weight. I know, I know, Team Brown wants to stay on campus as much as anyone else. But still, reveling in Jerry's misfortune, after you spent the camping trip talking about how awesome Coleen was and how special Coleen and Jerry's relationship was? Tacky is the least of it. At least pretend to be concerned about someone else, ok, Team Brown?

The Elimination (aka, Tearjerking, part two)
Coleen and Jerry retreat to their room and OH! the PAIN! Coleen wants Jerry to stay -- if he doesn't lose weight, he'll DIE! Jerry wants Coleen to stay -- it was her idea, it's her opportunity, he doesn't want her to grow up like him, he's injured, it's a far, far better thing I do, etc. Coleen fights the logic for as long as she can, but eventually, she gives in. Jerry is going home.

But not before Alison brings on Tearjerking, part three: Hey, everybody, why don't you all go around the table and talk about how utterly awesome and touching and inspiring Coleen and Jerry are! Oh, and here, why don't you chop this onion while you're doing so? And do you mind if I spray a little Mace in your general direction? You get the picture. Tears all around.

Realistically, Jerry had to be the one who went home. The ranch isn't the right place for him -- it's too intense for someone with as many physical problems as he had. His body just couldn't take the strain. But back at home, he's exercising sanely, eating well, and has dropped 70 pounds. Dr. H even comes to visit to tell Jerry how much healthier he is. "This is what The Biggest Loser is all about," Dr. H says. Wrong, Dr. H -- it's about collecting tears, remember? Keep up!

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends

  • Team Red's Amy says that the Grand Canyon is on her life list -- you know, one of those things she wanted to see before she died. You and Dean Winchester, Amy.
  • Team Purple brought every piece of hairstyling equipment and item of makeup that they owned. Methinks they haven't really experienced camping before.
  • Jerry was actually great this episode, very loose and funny. He says he believes Paul Bunyan got bored one day and dug the Grand Canyon with the help of his trusting companion Babe, the mule. babe's an ox, Coleen clarifies. "It was a half-breed ox-mule," Jerry says. Hee!
  • Then there was Jerry's contemplation of the challenge. He was an Olympic kayaker, until he was traded to the Polish team.... yeah, ok, he's never been in a kayak in his life.
  • Either Ed doesn't know much about pimps, or I'm behind on my prostitution trends -- I can't quite imagine any self-respecting pimp driving around in a massive motor home, but Ed insists on saying he feels like "a big pimp" in the RV. "I'm sure Heba feels like a big lady pimp," he adds. Um, sure. That.
  • Heba was so sweet at the weigh-in -- she was so thrilled for Ed for dropping below the 300-pound mark, and she immediately went over to hug him.
  • Ed gets the quote-of-the-week honors. Alison asks him if dropping below 300 pounds makes him feel different. "I do feel different," Ed replies. "I don't feel as fat anymore." Hee!
  • Coleen may be the most well-adjusted and supportive people on the face of the planet.
  • Hey, you know what? The grand Canyon is a nifty metaphor for weight loss, since it's an awe-inspiring natural feature that was created by tiny changes over long periods of time. You know how I know that? Because they beat me about the head and shoulders with that analogy for a full five minutes. We get it. Move on!
  • I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating (which is slightly ironic, in context): This would be a nice, tight, satisfying one-hour show if they cut out all the recapping, reprising of what just happened, repeating scenes we just saw, product placement crap, and unnecessary cuts and reaction shots to build tension. If only...
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