'The Biggest Loser' recap: Sweet Sixteen

biggest-loser-jillian-bob-320.jpgLast week on "The Biggest Loser": The Magical Blistery Tour commenced! Bob, Jillian and Sami embarked on a journey to find 21 unhealthy and overweight contestants, some of whom they tried to kill with physical challenges. In each of seven sites, two of three contestants gained access to the ranch by not falling over and/or having asthma attacks. Victory?

Our fourteen contestants are now at the ranch, where sun shines on free weights in a rather ominous manner. Stay-at-home mom Lisa from Oklahoma City tells us that she's on campus to find herself amidst all the marbled fat. Tucson Jessica, a 26-year-old wedding planner, pushed through the one-mile challenge in Phoenix and is ready to gain the life of a skinny lady. Special education teacher Brendan wants to show the inner city kids of Boston that there's hope. If there's hope for him, he says, there's hope for them. I am a New England-based education reform researcher in my real life, and I will tell you that it would take impossible feats of jerkitude for me not to root for Brendan. Seriously: he wins.

Sami officially welcomes the contestants to campus and tells them that getting to campus was easy -- staying will be the hard part. Because the competition is about to get 700 pounds bigger. Bob and Jillian each got the chance to save one person from among the seven rejected potential contestants. We get sepia-toned flashbacks of Bob and Jillian calling their chosen ones with the good news. Jillian picks Elizabeth, the domestic violence survivor from Boston who went so far as to faint before giving up on her challenge. Bob chose adorable and awesome and gargantuan Aaron from the Detroit competition. With the contestant pool full at sixteen, Sami drops the news that this is an individual game -- no teams this year, despite some matching shirts.

The contestants run to the gym to meet Bob and Jillian, who scoff at their cheering enthusiasm. They are all about getting to work. Jillian says that she doesn't want to hear the sob stories yet -- she wants them to get on the treadmill and show her what they've got. Bob and Jillian take pains to drive the fear of Dom DeLuise into the contestants, and we get past season flashbacks to let us know they're for serious. Jillian seems amused that the contestants are still smiling. This does not last for long. With a quick cut, the contestants are sweating and miserable and in hell. And puking in buckets! And puking on the treadmill. That is disgusting, and I imagine it's also really hard to get out of the underside of the treadmill. Lisa assures us that the pain of natural childbirth is no match for the day one workout.

Patrick, 27 from Vicksburg, Mississippi understates, "I am sweating profusely." Bob asks Patrick how he got to be 27 years old and over 400 pounds, and Patrick says that he met his wife and got comfortable. And, soon enough, uncomfortable in airplane seats. Patrick has two sons who are four and two years old, and Bob wants him to make them proud. Tina, 58, is from Boring, Oregon but is not herself boring. To wit, she totally flies off the treadmill and hits her shoulder and ribs. She gets back on after a few minutes, saying that falling off the treadmill was her biggest fear. The others give her a round of applause, and really it must be a relief to get your biggest fear out of the way so soon. Tina looks around at all the youngsters in the gym, and tells us that she has something to prove.

Rick, a 54-year-old physical therapist, looks like he's going to die, and Bob uses him as an example to show us how tough the day one workout is. Rick had to stop working out because he was about to pass out. Good Lord. Elizabeth is wheezing and gasping for breath, which also can't be good. Bob looks at her really intensely and gets all weird when he's talking to her. The physical and mental torture inflicted by the trainers is starting to be less funny and more grody.

And speaking of grody, Dr. "Death" Huizenga is on site to grim reap the contestants into submission. Lisa meets with him first and is forced to see her own saggy stomach in close-up. She has cholesterol problems and plaque inside her blood vessels. That is bad. And what's even worse, Lisa smokes. And then Dr. H. says, "We have a way of trying to put together all these risk factors that you have -- family history, cholesterol, the effects of the weight and the cigarettes -- and we've put it together in a "Biggest Loser know your numbers" score based on... whatever science that we have... to try to predict how much longer you're gonna live." Okay, let me reiterate: "whatever science that we have." That sounds super technical and accurate and precise, doesn't it? Why not just say, "We tabulated your numbers in our hoodoo machine!" I feel like I'm rapidly turning on this show, and my biggest indicator is the fact that I'm not even interested in making out with Jillian anymore. I'm going to go eat a brownie in protest.

In any case, the Biggest Loser Know Your Number science tells us that while Lisa's biological age is 31, her inner age is 62. Dr. H. gives her a serious talking to and asks if she wants to live. She says yes and he yells, "Well you're not acting like it!" When did he turn into someone's mean dad? And ha! Lisa asks if it's reversible. It is, but as Dr. H. says, "It's not reversible if you don't kick some serious ass!" Seriously, this show does not need to get MORE dramatic.

Ew! And then Dr. H meets with Tina and totally pulls a heart out of a box. HEART IN A BOX! It's, like, encased in Tupperware. What the f*** man. He's talking about all the fat that Tina has around her heart, which is a sign that there's fat in her organs. I seriously can't even concentrate on what he's saying, given that he's handling that thing like a pork chop. So gross. Aaron meets with Dr. H. next, and learns that his body is 51% fat and he has diabetes. Aaron seems shocked at this news, which seems odd. If you weigh 450 pounds wouldn't you just assume that you're a diabetic? Patrick has significant cholesterol plaque in his neck arteries -- in fact, he has the arteries of a 65-year-old man. Rick is practically dead already. Dr. H. makes him "Pal Talk," which is apparently like Skype, with his family and tell them how he's going to kick the bucket any minute. Rick says "diabeetus" just like Bret Michaels! And then he cries a lot and his family tries to act like everything is cool.

Adam's mom died of diabetes, and he's so fat that he might too. Adam also has to "Pal Talk" with his family, and his grandma starts crying profusely and I just want to die. Then there's Allie, who had gastric bypass surgery at 14. Dr. H. explains that people who have gastric bypass lose fat, but they also tend to lose muscle ...

Photo credit: NBC