'The Biggest Loser' recap: Trimming the Fat

biggest-loser-jillian-bob-320.jpgHello friends! Given that it's the holiday season I present to you the following gift: a three-paragraph recap of "Christmas in Rockefeller Center," which was on my TV when I tuned in to start recapping "The Biggest Loser." Don't say I never gave you anything!

Mariah Carey lip-synced beautifully, but given the cheerleaders onstage and the fact that she's pregnant with quadruplets, we can forgive her. Kylie Minogue killed and skinned the Abominable Snowman and proudly wore his pelt; the singing is best ignored. Boyz II Men still exist and lip sync really well in harmony. Whoever committed the Ashlee Simpson-esque gaffe of playing the Boyz II Men harmony vocals during the beginning of Charice's performance is now fired, and/or really hates Boyz II Men. David Foster is maybe Charice's Rene Angelil, in all senses. Charice is maybe an adorable robot, which makes that last fact slightly less creepy. I don't think she was lip-syncing, but can't say for sure. I mean, someone pushed play for a reason, you know?

Susan Boyle didn't look particularly like she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, which I think is progress. Also, leave it to her to rock a boys choir. If NBC had replaced Sheryl Crow with Shelby Lynne, I would have forgiven everything else. Alas, that would not to happen. I actually kind of like Sheryl Crow, but another generic, watery version of "Blue Christmas" doesn't make me happy, and in fact can be that bad. The Katherine Jenkins/Jackie Evancho "Silent Night" duet...well, aside from visually skewing a little Toddlers and Tiaras, it was pretty impressive. Bitches can sing. Fucking Josh Groban. I had to fast forward for the sake of my own dignity. Though full disclosure: I was once in a bell choir. PTSD flashbacks galore, man. I love Annie Lennox more than I can properly explain, and so it especially pains me to say that her performance of "God Rest Ye Gentlemen" scared the shit out of me. I know she had some sort of really bad back injury, so maybe a cornucopia of Vicodin is responsible for her album cover. Shut up, Rockettes.

Jessica Simpson's singing has to make duet partner Petty Officer John Britt want to board the next plane to Afghanistan. It makes me want to board the next plane to Afghanistan. I would like her so much more if she didn't insist on occasionally assaulting my ears in this horrible fashion. She's normally awful, but so much more awful than ever when she sings Christmas songs. The poor Acton family chopped down their tree for this shit. And finally, Al Roker just does not look good skinny. Eat a triple serving of roast beast this year, Al!

Okay, now on to the real weecap! Last week, we learned that Lisa was not the Biggest Loser. Sami tells the contestants that this is their final week on campus, and there's just one hurdle to overcome. Or maybe two. Because at the next weigh-in there will be two lines: yellow and red. Double elimination, bitches! Frado thanks his compatriots for keeping him in the competition, and there are hand slaps all around. Brendan reminds us of the horrible, karma-tempting alliance of himself, Frado and Patrick. He says no matter how much he likes the other remaining contestants, he'll have no problem sending them home. These three assholes congratulate themselves on their spectacular douchebaggery. I mean game playing. Brendan prides himself on the fact that they're beloved by everyone that they intend on screwing, and all three agree that one of them will be the ultimate winner of the show. Boy, do I hope that this is evil foreshadowing.

The contestants head outside to find Sami waiting for them, along with another pretty lady. Turns out it's super gymnast and apparent Subway spokesperson Nastia Liukin. She talks about her crazy training regimen for the Olympics, and how she put a priority on her dreams and goals. Similarly, the contestants have to put a priority on their health. And who better to help them do that but Subway? Subway will give $10,000 to the winner of the upcoming pop challenge, which will be a lot of five dollar footlongs. Today's pop challenge includes five different exercises. After each exercise, one person will be eliminated. They'll start by doing one mile on the StreetStrider, then run for a half mile, then row 1000 meters on the rowing machine, then jump rope 100 times, then climb 500 feet on Jacob's Ladder for the final leg.

The first heat, with the StreetStrider, begins. Frado and Elizabeth duke it out for last place, and it's Elizabeth who is narrowly eliminated. Next heat! Half mile run. Ada, who is fast on her feet, takes a solid lead and easily finishes first. Mark is eliminated. The remaining four contestants move on to the rowing machine, and asshole Brendan tells us that the three guys should win this. I know "asshole Brendan" isn't a particularly clever nickname, but I do find it the most fitting. If he wants a different nickname, he should try being less of an asshole. Sadly, Ada does indeed come in last, and is eliminated. It's too bad, too, because none of the remaining d-bags know how to jump rope. Frado is eliminated next. This means that Brendan and Patrick duke it out on Jacob's Ladder. Brendan takes a sizeable lead, and wins the $10,000. He apparently has a lot of debt, so is happy about the victory. He then tries to reverse his overarching shiteous karma by saying that he'll donate $1,000 to Warriors in Pink. Everyone has a Subway sandwich, though it's unlikely that any are the supremely delicious BMT.

The contestants work out, and Elizabeth tells us that this week she's really giving it her all. She's an underdog, but she thinks she can work it out and surprise some bitches. Bob is pissed because though Brendan thinks he's giving 100%, he isn't. Bob intends to ride Brendan until he is, in fact, giving 100%. Brendan looks annoyed. Good. There is serious working out, lots of sweating, screaming, and the usual.

And hey! Then Jennie-O turkey makes an appearance! It's been too long, old friend. The contestants talk about what they'd do with the $250,000 prize. Brendan tries to win back our love by talking about the inner-city kids that he teaches, and how he wants to start a foundation to be able to take them to places like Fitness Ridge. He starts crying. Still not working. Mark would travel with his father, who was diagnosed with melanoma two years ago and has never had traveling opportunities. We get a flashback to Mark and his adorable father, and then Mark seriously cries as he says that even though his dad is cancer-free now, he doesn't know how much time he has left. Patrick already has a new car thanks to Ada, and so says that he'd pay down a whole lot of debt racked up when he became unemployed. Ada says that she'd like to start an afterschool center to give kids a safe place to develop confidence and get positive reinforcement and support. Especially kids who have whack families, like her own. Frado talks about paying it forward. Why have we not started a "paying it forward" drinking game?

Oh man, and then it's time for Frado to visit with Dr. Huizenga. Frado had lots of health problems when he came on the show, including seriously out of control diabetes. If you'll recall, Dr. H. told him that he was on a one-way trip to the morgue. When it comes down to it, aren't we all? Dr. Huizenga looks more and more like Cynthia Nixon's girlfriend with every episode. In any case, Frado is now off all of his myriad medications. He's gone from out of control diabetes to well-controlled diabetes verging on normal. Dr. H. says that this is an endocrinologist's dream, and he's thrilled to be a part of it.

Jillian and Bob then sit down for a chat with the contestants about the trials and challenges involved in going home. The Biggest Loser campus is like a fantasyland away from all the messiness of real life, which is great for losing weight. But at the same time, the contestants haven't learned the coping mechanisms needed to deal with everyday reality. We've seen the repercussions of this on many a "Where Are They Now" special. Bob notes that it's obvious during finale nights which contestants are really motivated, and which made no progress after they left campus.

Mark says that he works in a bar, which isn't the most conducive for a healthy lifestyle. He doesn't know what to do when he gets home. He worries that he'll have weak moments and turn back to food. Ada says that she's striving to be a perfect person, and despite everything that she's accomplished on campus she still fears that it won't be enough. She's been shutting down over the past few weeks. Ada wants to go home and have her family tell her how amazing she is and how proud they are, but given their enduring crunkness they'll probably be assholes. Having your parents tell you that you should have died instead of your sibling really fucks you up for all eternity, I guess. Jillian is scared about the fact that Ada is still seeking approval from others, which is setting her up for failure when she gets home.

Patrick is also stressed about keeping up his workout schedule while spending significant time looking for a job. He fears that he'll fall back into old habits, but says that you have to not let the small doubts bother you. Patrick calls the finale his beginning point, and has all the confidence in the world that he'll be healthy for the long haul. Bob tells the contestants that they have the strength, information, and knowledge to be successful at home... if they decide they're worthy enough to do it. He hopes his message has sunk in, but says that only time will tell.

With that, it's time for a classic Biggest Loser challenge -- the strapping on and gradually getting rid of the equivalent of all the lost weight. The contestants are going to relive both challenges they competed in to earn a spot on campus -- a one mile run and 500 step-ups. They'll start on the step-ups. After the first 100, they'll drop the amount of weight that they lost during the first weigh-in, and ditto after each successive 100. After 500, they'll run the mile and drop the remaining weight at a series of four check-ins. The first player to shed all of his or her weight and raise a flag wins the challenge, and a one-pound advantage at the weigh-in. At this point, that's a really valuable prize. The winner will also get a home gym from Cybex valued at $25,000. What's more, that home gym will be delivered and installed right when they get home from the ranch. Not bad!

Elizabeth reminds us that she had to go to the hospital the first time she did the 500 step-ups, and isn't looking forward to reliving the experience. Copious amounts of weight are strapped on. For Elizabeth that's 48 pounds, for Ada it's 73 pounds, for Mark it's 122 pounds, for Frado it's 104 pounds, and for Patrick it's 109 pounds, and for Brendan it's 97 pounds. Ada is first to 100 steps, and gets to drop 18 pounds. The others follow. Ada is in the lead, but Brendan is close behind her. Elizabeth closes in on 360 steps, the number at which she fainted in Boston. She doesn't faint this time, which is a bit of a letdown.

Ada makes it to 500 steps first, and is off on her one-mile run. Brendan is behind her, but vows to work his hardest to catch her. Patrick is about a minute behind Brendan, and wants to finish strong. Ada tells us how she opened up more every week on campus. Her weights not only represent what she used to weigh physically, but the weight she carried emotionally. The other contestants provide similar examples of the metaphorical nature of this challenge, as some terrible inspirational music plays. You know how it goes. Eventually, Ada wins! Hooray! She tells us that she finally appreciates the weight loss from week to week, and realizes what she's accomplished.

And then it's the last last chance workout. Jillian and Bob are determined to make it extra brutal. Patrick gets special treatment from Jillian, who wants to wreck his ass. The screaming is really unparalleled. Patrick is very motivated by his family, and assures a screaming Jillian that he's not going to quit when he goes home. Mark is giving it his all, and says that the only person who can beat him is himself. Frado tells us that during the last chance workout, you put it all out there or you go home. He's doing the best he can do. Bob continues his mission to ride Brendan within an inch of his life. He tells Brendan that he needs to take "can't" out of his vocabulary. He then says that Brendan can't go home with the word "can't" in his vocabulary, a directive which in itself contains a "can't." Brendan says that previously, he thought that trainers were useless. Now he gets it, because when he's with Bob he works out much harder.

Jillian isn't convinced that Ada is totally in a good place, because she's still looking to others for her self-worth. And so, Dr. Phillian gets to take one more crack at her. Jillian asks Ada if she's going to pull herself up only to sail back down by shutting herself down. Ada says she realizes this, and is working on it, and doesn't want to talk about this right now. Jillian points out that the time to Dr. Phillianize is short. Ada says she's coming up with a plan, and can't just make a switch because she's been like this for 27 years. She's trying to accept her situation, and doesn't know what else there is to do. Jillian tells her that what she's doing, which is a lot of whining "I don't know," isn't good enough. Ada wonders how she'll know what's good enough if she isn't in the situation where she'll feel all the painful crap. Jillian says that you feel it inside if you're good enough for you. Finally, Ada has a little breakthrough and says that her parents won't be satisfied with anything -- with her, or themselves, period. Jillian asks when it's good enough, and Ada says that she has to feel like it's good enough. Well, finally. While Jillian and Ada share this tender moment, Bob screams in the background. Ada realizes that seeking validation and approval from people who might not be able to give it to her could set herself up for failure. She needs to figure out what's good enough for her, so she can be happy with herself.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth seems to be making some progress, even though the red line has her in its sight. She gets a little panicky feeling about losing her breathing, but takes a moment and decides to go forth with everything Bob tells her to do. She seems to do a great job, and Bob tells her to open her eyes and look how far she's come. Elizabeth starts crying as she tells Bob that she'll miss him. She's scared at the idea of going home, but Bob tells her that she can do it and blow them all away at the finale.

And then, it's time for the weigh-in. The person with the lowest percentage of weight loss will fall below the red line, and be immediately eliminated. Two others will fall below the yellow line, and one of those will be voted out. Ada, who has a one-pound advantage, is first on the scale. She goes from 185 pounds to 179, for a loss of 6 pounds. At her size, I think that's not so bad, particularly with the bonus pound. At this point, though, there's no telling. Ada has lost 79 pounds so far in the competition, and her total percentage lost this week is 3.78%. Elizabeth is next. She goes from 196 pounds to 192, for a loss of 4 pounds or 2.04%. It's not what she expected, particularly after working so hard all week. It also will probably put her in danger. Elizabeth has lost 52 pounds altogether.

Mark is next on the scale. Before he weighs in, he says that this is his father's 60th birthday, and he wants to make him proud. He's so sweet, and Sami assures him that he has a lot to be proud of, and his father doesn't suck like Ada's and so will recognize this. Mark goes from 299 pounds to 292, for a loss of 7 pounds or 2.34%. At least he's not going to be under the red line. Mark is very disappointed. He says that he's worked harder this week than in his whole time on campus, and took advantage of every second. A loss of 7 pounds is unacceptable for him, even though he's lost 129 pounds in total.

Patrick, who often seems to be the least vile of the horrible alliance, is next. To guarantee his safety and make sure he's above the yellow line, he needs to have lost more than 11 pounds. Patrick goes from 291 pounds to 279, for a loss of 12 pounds or 4.12%. He's excited, but Elizabeth and Mark look like they're having trouble being happy for him. Patrick has lost 121 pounds total, and is in the final four. Elizabeth is definitely under the yellow line, at least.

Frado is up next, and thinks he might throw up. That's a good way to get rid of that extra pound! He's unsure of how things are going to go tonight. Frado needs to have lost more than 9 pounds to make the final four. He goes from 263 to 248, for a loss of a whopping 15 pounds. That's 5.70%. He's extremely safe, and psyched to be in the final four. Mark is less psyched to be below the yellow line, and Elizabeth is quite unhappy to be inching toward the red line.

Brendan is last to weigh-in, and his weight loss will determine whether he or Ada is guaranteed to make the final four. He will need to have lost more than five pounds to be above the red line, and more than ten pounds to be above the yellow line. Bob kicked Brendan's ass, and so is expecting a big number. Brendan goes from 265 to 260, for a loss of 5 pounds. COME ON! Brendan's ass is OUT. I know I should be happy about this, and about the fact that there's karma in the world, but I think that Jessica Simpson knocked all the joy out of me in the 8:00 hour. I feel neutral tingeing on a strange little bit of sadness for him. Brendan says that he sees the silver lining, and that it's okay that he's going home. The five pound loss doesn't define him. Frado extols his love for Brendan, and calls him "my bro" and then bangs his chest like he's Celine Dion. Patrick also gives a small tribute to Brendan, and tells him that he's going to be fine. Bob tells Brendan that he's leaving the house a changed man, and has worked incredibly hard. He's the strongest person in the gym, and Bob thinks that he's great. Jillian says that she's disappointed for Brendan because he's such an incredible athlete and has worked so hard. She tells him that he's a bad-ass, and is focused on what matters to him. She knows that he'll go after all of his dreams, and everything he's passionate about will happen for him.

Brendan tells the remaining five that he's glad they're the ones who are still here. Mark tells Brendan that he's overcome more than any of them have. He has? Brendan cries some tears of sadness, and some tears of joy. In less than three months, Brendan has lost 102 pounds, and Sami reminds him that this is reason for pride. Plus, he still could be the at-home winner and get a cool $100,000. With a total percentage weight loss of 1.89%, Brendan is below the red line and has been eliminated. Karma has a box of Girl Scout cookies. Brendan says that no matter what people think of him, he's lost 102 pounds, and that's unbelievable. He's changed mentally, emotionally, and physically, and will never go back to the painful time of the last few years.

Sami congratulates Ada on being in the final four, and is sorry to tell Mark and Elizabeth that they're below the yellow line. They get one hour to plead their case. If these skinnies have any integrity, they'll bump Elizabeth and make it a fair fight. That's probably not going to happen though. Mark tells the others that they're family to him, and he doesn't want to stop fighting. It would mean the world to him to finish with them, and he wants to be there at the end with all his heart. Patrick tells us that Mark has worked hard all season and never been below the yellow line, while Elizabeth has fallen under a whopping eight times. He wonders when enough is enough and it's her time to go. Elizabeth tells the others that she pushed herself hard this week, and she doesn't know what happened. She hopes that they'll allow her to finish the competition with them.

With that, it's time for the elimination ceremony. Mark, clearly an adorable naïf, says that he doesn't know how Ada will vote, but Frado and Patrick should have his back. He's confident that they'll keep him around. Elizabeth, on the other hand, is never confident going into eliminations. People may have friendships, she says, but in the end they'll do what's best for them. Ada is first to vote. She says that she has to choose what's right for herself, and there's one person she's closer to. For that reason, she votes for Mark. Bad call, man. Bad call. Patrick has a special place in his heart for both Elizabeth and Mark, and says this is the hardest elimination yet. No it is not! Gah. Patrick votes for Mark, and then apologizes and says that he is a huge threat. Mark is a little surprised by Patrick's vote. I'm not. Patrick says that if the situation were reversed, Mark would have also given himself the best opportunity to win. He hopes that Mark doesn't take it personally. Mark says he understands, which really means, "I understand that you're an asshole." He looks kind of blank and sad and it's really very depressing. It's also infuriating that Elizabeth has made it to the final four.

Mark tells us that this hurts. Not only did he not make the final four, but he though Patrick had his back and was mistaken. Patrick was wrong when he said that Mark would make the same decision if the situation were reversed, Mark says. I believe him on that one, too. Being on The Biggest Loser has been the experience of a lifetime, Mark says. He adds that life at 421 pounds was not great. He let his weight define him, but discovered how hard he can push himself. He's back, and back to stay.

Cut to Mark heading home to New Brunswick, NJ. A party in his honor is being held at the bar where he used to work. Brendan, meanwhile, is back in West Roxbury and ready for his party. His friends and family, one of whom may be Burt Reynolds, cheer when he enters. His mom says that she first noticed his smile, which she hasn't seen on him for years. Mark gives his dad a great big hug. His dad says that if he passed Mark on the street, he wouldn't recognize him. He's so sweet. Mark tells the crowd that he was stuck in a rut before he left, and had lost his zest for life. Brendan tells a similar story, adding that he was a sad, sad soul and it was tough for him to live. He realized that the ultimate prize was getting his life back. Mark is now ready for life to catch up to him, instead of the other way around. Brendan tells us that before coming on campus he was really depressed, and had a lot of anxiety and other issues. Hm, maybe this is what the others were referring to when they talked about how much Brendan had been through. His issues are not all gone, but they're starting to dissipate and he's feeling really good now. Mark, meanwhile, has his eyes on the $100,000 prize.

When Brendan started the show, he weighed 362 pounds. He now weighs 237 pounds, for a total loss of 125. Brendan tells us again that he was lost, and felt that his life was a black hole. He wore the same jeans and fat sweatshirt every day. It feels good to try on clothes now and have them fit. He feels like he can move on, start dating, and be happy again. We see Brendan on a date with a pretty lady. He thanks The Biggest Loser, and admits that even though he was a game player, the show saved his life. He tells us that he's been working in inner-city schools for eight years, but before he came on the show he was kind of faking it. He wasn't physically or mentally ready to really teach his kids to his full capability. Now he feels like he can be an example, and show the kids the right path to go down. Except for the assholery. He should selectively omit that. Brendan's students are proud of him, and do seem to be inspired by his journey. Brendan is running the Boston Marathon again and hopes to beat his previous time of 4 hours, 58 minutes.

When Mark started the show, he weighed 421 pounds. He now weighs 248 pounds. That's serious! Mark moved in with his cousin who lives in Phoenix and has lost 100 pounds. They're going to finish their journeys together. A lot of former contestants live in Phoenix, including Sunshine from season nine. Sunshine says that although they're meeting for the first time, they're family. They hike together, and Mark is happy to get the help and advice of someone who's been where he is now. She tells him that it's hard at first after the finale, since normal life is no longer normal. It's good to set goals, stay involved and surround yourself with positive people who want you to do well. Mark says he knows he's going to accomplish what he set out to do, and will kick start his new life. He knows how he used to hurt, and how good he feels now, and there's no way he's going back. Mark has lost a total of 173 pounds and plans to travel the country educating people on health and fitness.

Next week: the final four go home! And we find out who will make it to the live finale.

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