'The Biggest Loser' Faces an Ethical Crisis
'The Biggest Loser' Faces an Ethical Crisis
Eleanor Bryan
Eleanor Bryan
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
I don't know about you guys, but I am still in a fight with The Biggest Loser. We're not on speaking terms. They sent my boy Jesse home last week, and they haven't apologized. They're lucky I tuned in this week at all, but I did. Alison assembles both teams together after elimination and tells them this week's big surprise. Is anyone else beginning to hate Alison's surprises? They always mean something bad is going to happen.

Alison tells the teams that they are going to be going home for two weeks. When they come back, they will have to compete in a 5K. This will be the ultimate test of how they will function in a post-TBL world, Alison tells them. Everyone gets all weepy and excited. Hmph. I'm not buying it. At least I'll get to see Jesse again, right?

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Welcome Home!

We see shot after shot of welcoming committees from our contestants' hometowns. My heart begins to melt. Everyone is cheering and screaming for their hometown heroes. Their reactions when they get to see the people they love almost choke me up. Rulon gets to see his wife, and Arthur gets to see his kids. Sarah is reunited with Deni. Olivia gets to see her husband, who is on his own weight-loss journey at home. (He's lost 57 pounds. Olivia has him beat at 59!) Hannah gets to see her mom and dad, and Courtney and Marci are greeted with uproarious applause at their health club in Indiana.

Ken has a heart to heart with his wife:



Temptations and Breakthroughs

There are challenges at home. Courtney immediately goes back to work at her parents' ice cream shop. She talks about how hard it is to be constantly surrounded by tempting foods, but I never for a second worry that Courtney is going to give in to temptation. This, after all, is Courtney we are talking about here. She eats salads and feels good about them and I feel good about how much I adore this girl.

Austin is also being tempted at home. It's his 21st birthday, and his friends take him out to a bowling alley and ply him with cake, beer, pizza and cheese fries. Austin grips his hair and shakes his head over the conundrum of whether or not to have a slice of birthday cake. His pretty female friend robotically says, "But Austin, what harm will one piece of cake do?"

Good job reading your cue card, honey. Ultimately, Austin chooses to abstain from birthday treats. He pats himself on the back, but it kind of makes me feel a little sad. It's kind of like how Deni skipped her daughter's wedding in favor of more face time with the treadmill. Is there no room for celebration in Biggest Loser land?

Arthur and Jesse go to the gym at home. Jesse takes Arthur to the gym where he started working out at the very beginning of his weight loss journey. Then he sits Arthur down and they have a talk. Jesse talks to Arthur about his divorce from Arthur's mother, which took place when Arthur was about 15. He admits that he was not as emotionally available to Arthur at that time because he had his own problems with drugs and alcohol to work out. Jesse? Really? I'm shocked. What's not shocking, though, is how Jesse owns up to his mistakes and apologizes to Arthur for them. "I think that is when you started putting on weight," he says. He tells Arthur that he regrets not being there for him and worries that it caused Arthur to vent his feelings via food. Arthur forgives Jesse, but then tells him that he takes full responsibility for his body, but is choosing to learn from Jesse's mistakes. Guys, I LOVE JESSE. Someone explain to me again why he had to go?

Hannah goes to the gym with her parents. It's her old volleyball gym, and her old volleyball trainers just happen to come in and challenge her to a friendly match. What a coincidence! She plays for a while, but she's not doing as well as she would like and she's frustrated. "Try your overhand serve, honey," her dad says. Hannah is skeptical as to whether or not it will work, but she tries it and nails it. Over and over again. Her dad is so proud of her. They hug and it's super sweet.

Training for the 5K

Everyone is training hard for the 5K. Olivia makes a big deal about how she commutes all the way from Astoria to Manhattan so she can jog in Central Park with her husband. Um, because they don't have gyms in Astoria, I'm guessing? Jen runs and whines about her she got traded to the Red team. Shut up, Jen. No one cares anymore.  Arthur also runs. Courtney and Marci run. Irene runs pretty darn fast. Kaylee sets her family up in stations at the gym and plays trainer, but doesn't run herself.  She has a stopwatch and everything and yells at her little cousins about the form of their planks. Kaylee, these girls have Uggs on. Priorities?

Everyone leaves their families and is sad, but they shouldn't be. They know that Alison is going to be waiting for them back at the Ranch with some kind of hideous sequinned outfit and a whole slew of manual treadmills. Who wouldn't be excited about that?

5K Challenge ... with a Twist

Here we are, for the first episode of The Biggest Loser, season 11 ... oh wait. Never mind. I saw the row of manual treadmills and got confused.

In reality, this is just this week's challenge. Just like in the first episode, everyone is going to have to run a 5K on a manual treadmill. I don't remember the treadmills having that devious dip in the middle last time, like a tiny perpetual hill, but I could be wrong. This time, every contestant is going to have to run the 5K on their own. This time, like last time, the order in which they finish determines the order in which they will get to pick their trainers.

That's right, guys. The show is trying to switch up the teams AGAIN. Is anyone else tired of this yet?

Jen, of course is pumped because it gives her a chance to win her place on her old team back. Arthur is terrified because he knows that, if he finishes last, he isn't even going to have a choice. His goal is just to not finish last.

Rulon and Justin start out fast, just like last time. They are the first ones to hit 1K, and then 2K. Jen picks it up to a jog when everyone else is still walking. Sarah, however, is moving kind of slowly and arousing suspicion. She tells the camera that, as someone who has worked on both teams, she doesn't want to have to make a decision. Her goal is to come in last so that the decision is made for her.

Justin finishes first, then Rulon and then Kaylee. Jen is next, and ecstatic. Austin is fifth, Marci is sixth and Olivia is seventh. They are all guaranteed choices, but I can't really anticipate anyone but Jen wanting to switch teams. 

Hannah finishes next, followed by Moses, then Irene, Courtney and then Ken.

It's down to Sarah and Arthur, and by this time everyone has figured out what Sarah is up to. Justin, in particular, yells to her that she has to step up and control her own fate. She realizes, belatedly, that she can't just cop out in life when something is hard and picks up the pace. At this point, it is only Sarah and Arthur left in the race. I'm really hoping Arthur wins, but I'm nervous about Sarah's sudden change of heart.

Sarah finishes first, and Arthur is visibly crushed. However, his team encourages him and he finishes the 5K.

Picking Teams

Before the weigh-in, Alison has the contestants come into the room one by one and reveal to the trainers who they picks. Justin comes in first, and reveals that he is staying with the Red team. Rulon, also decides to stay with the Red team. Kaylee stays Red. Jen, however, switches back to Black, like everyone knew she would. 

Austin stays Red. Marci stays Black. Olivia, also, stays Black. Hannah tells Bob and Jillian that she is looking for more of a challenge and wants to train with Brett and Cara, but then opens up her hoodie to reveal her black uniform and says that she's only kidding. Jillian is NOT amused.

Moses stays Red, and Irene stays Black. Courtney stays Black. Ken stays Red.

Now, only Sarah and Arthur are remaining. No one knows which way Sarah is going to go. However, she decides to stay with the Black team, which means that Arthur is now relegated to the Red team, which means that he is going to go home because there's no way they're going to keep him. I am crushed at this point. Arthur is crushed, too. He walks into the room in his red shirt crying, and everyone else cries, too. He hugs Bob and Jillian and apologizes for coming in last place. Even Bob looks like he's going to cry. Arthur equates the red uniform with the suit he is going to wear to his funeral. He walks over to the Red team like a man walking toward his death.

Weigh-In

And now we get to weigh in! How cheerful and fun.

Jen loses 14 pounds in two weeks, which lands her in One-derland. She's almost indecently happy about it.

Irene loses 10, Hannah loses 11, and Olivia loses 12 which plops her squarely in One-derland, as well.

Courtney loses 10. Marci loses 14, which is great, but when she sees her number she starts crying. She says that she promised Jesse that she wouldn't let anything happen to Arthur, and she views her achievements this week as her contributing to Arthur going home. She comes up to him and hugs him, sobbing. It's hard to watch.

Sarah loses 10 pounds, which puts the Black team's total at 81 pounds and 5.62 percent. They had a fantastic two weeks, but for the first time, I'm not rooting for them to win. The Red team has to lose over 120 pounds, an average of 17 pounds each, in order to beat them and win for the week.

Rulon starts his team off strong with 17 pounds. Austin loses 10. Ken only loses 5. People start to get concerned. Moses, too, also only loses 5. Five? For Moses? Am I seeing this right? Kaylee only loses one pound. Justin loses 8.

Arthur is the last to weigh in, of course. At this point, there is no chance of the team winning the weigh-in, so his only hope is to lose 18 pounds to be this week's biggest loser and gain immunity. Arthur loses 16 pounds, which is outstanding, but not enough. He stands on the scale and cries. I can barely watch. He had so many great moments and feelings of accomplishment at home, and now he's about to be sent home because of game play. It's just not fair.

He tells everyone that 16 pounds is actually all right, that he should be proud of himself for losing as much as he has in the past two years. Jillian is all choked up and yells at him to please fight for himself. Bob tells everyone that, at this point, The Biggest Loser should not be about games, it should be about who really still needs to be there. "It is a matter of life and death at this point," he says, mostly to the Red team.

"I need to be here," Arthur says. "What more can I say?"

Elimination

The Red team claims that they vote based on merit and effort, but now it's time to see if they stick to their word.

Rulon, as this week's biggest loser, has immunity this week. Justin sits at the table and gives Arthur this huge pep talk about how wonderful and strong her is, how he is America's hero, and then votes him off anyway. Justin always does this, and it irritates me. Just man up and vote, Justin. Don't give little pep talks like it makes anything better for the people you're voting off. It doesn't.

Rulon also gives a little pep talk and then votes for Arthur, and I know already how this is going to be.

Arthur himself votes for Ken, but it's obvious that it's a throw-away vote. Arthur knows he's going home.

Kaylee says that she just couldn't send any of "her boys" home. If you ask me, Kaylee herself could stand to go home. She's downright skinny at this point, and doesn't need it the way Arthur does.

Moses also votes for Arthur, saying that when it comes down to it, the team is his family and you stick with your family. Arthur is sent home. I feel vaguely sick. When did I start caring about The Biggest Loser this much, you guys?



At-Home Results

Arthur maintains a fairly positive attitude, considering the circumstances. He vows to never let his size be an excuse for him anymore. At home, he now weighs 345. He has lost 158 pounds and he looks awesome! We get to see lots of cute shots of him interacting with his kids. He walks 5.5 miles to and from the gym every day, and works out with Jesse a lot. Jesse, by the way, looks super skinny. Arthur's goal is to be at 250 by the finale, and to have lost the most weight of any person in the history of the show.

I'm going to miss Arthur so much, but I will say that I cannot wait to see Bob shame the Red team next week. It's about the only thing I can look forward to in a Biggest Loser with no Jesse AND no Arthur.

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Image courtesy NBC.



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