So far on this 14th season of "The Biggest Loser," the contestants have worked in teams, so the competition has been very civil. But on Monday night's "Tough Love" installment, the teams were disbanded and the contestants are now teams of one … and that means, the competition has truly begun.
Once host Alison Sweeny gave each contestant a different colored shirt to mark the new status, they were all led into the first challenge, which was Valentine's Day-themed. And that meant all manner of frosted sweet treats, in every color of red, pink, white, and chocolate they could imagine. Each of them was placed in front of a table with the sugar-laden goodies, which were labeled with calorie counts, and told they could win a two-pound advantage … by consuming more calories than any other contestant.
That's right, the show was challenging them to binge eat, with a two-pound weigh-in advantage on the line. Five of the contestants -- Mike, Danni, Jackson, Gina, and Joe -- chose not to indulge, while Jeff ate a few pieces of candy and Alex and Francelina dove in with both hands. In the end, Francelina "won" by scarfing down 1,150 calories in 10 minutes, getting a two-pound advantage for herself and another to give to another contestant, which she gave to Alex.
The challenge was termed a "temptation" challenge, but it's far and away our least favorite challenge of the season. Should the contestants, in their seventh week of leaving their lives behind to dedicate themselves to breaking old and making new fitness and eating habits really even face such a temptation? Yeah, yeah, in the real world, temptations abound every day, but presumably no one will be placed in front of a table full of empty calories, with the lights turned out (that was part of the 10-minute session), and told they can win a huge advantage by stuffing their faces with as many calories as they can, more than anyone else does.
This particular temptation challenge seemed thoughtless, and worst of all, went against the very point of the contestants being at "The Biggest Loser" ranch. It is a reality TV show, and it is a competition, but above all, the trainers and nutritional experts and doctors and everyone else involved in producing the show are helping these people get healthy, and, in many cases, very likely helping them save their lives. This challenge went against that, at the least. The contestants had also gotten into the habit of saying no to sweets for six weeks, and this challenge could only possibly derail that for those who indulged.
Checking in with the teens
On to happier news, the show updated viewers on Lisa, the teacher who went home in week five after losing 37 pounds. Lisa has stayed motivated and continued her get healthy journey, dropping a total of 79 pounds and helping her husband lose more than 60.
Trainers Jillian, Bob, and Dolvett also led check-ins with the teen contestants, and challenged each of them to step outside their comfort zones to help keep them motivated. For Sunny, that meant taking a Bollywood dance class Jillian had arranged for her, while Lindsay went through a cheerleading practice with her school's squad, and Biingo, whose baseball team tryouts have been held up by the fractured foot he suffered earlier this season, found out his cast was coming off.
Back to the gym
The teens had a very small presence on the show this week, which is good in some ways, as the shift to life outside the ranch tends to slow the pace of the show down, but NBC had touted the teen contestants and the focus on weight issues in children as such a big part of this season, yet sometimes coverage of the incredible endearing teen trio feels tacked on to the episodes.
The end of their segment did throw the action back to the ranch, where, with teams disbanded, all the trainers worked with all the contestants, leading to some clashes.
Gina continues to be negative and rides off on her huffy bike at every turn, no matter which trainer is trying to motivate her, though tough, but sensitive Dolvett may finally have gotten her to see she's her own worst enemy at times.
Jeff, meanwhile, clashed yet again with Jillian, who decided to get to the root of the chip he carries on his shoulder. When Jeff was 17, he shares, his father was diagnosed with lung cancer on Christmas Eve. Six weeks later, he died, and had asked Jeff to take over man of the house duties. The only way Jeff could handle that was by shutting down his emotions, and Jillian tells him it's finally time to let that go, let go of feeling like he was a failure at meeting a request that wasn't fair to make of a 17-year-old to begin with.
Phew! Jillian also tells Jeff that he needs to find a new way to deal with his stress and his anger, and even though that's one of those things that he almost certainly recognized himself, it's also one of those things that really clicked for him when someone else pointed it out.
A spotlight challenge
And then we're off to the next challenge, which is going to be familiar to anyone who's ever tried to get their cat or puppy to chase a flashlight illumination. In a sort of musical chairs with a spotlight, the contestants were taken to an indoor arena, outfitted in the coolest tracks suits with glowing stripes, and challenged to chase the spotlight. The light would be flashed on various locations in the arena, and once it settled in one place, all the contestants had to make a run for it. The last one to reach the circle was eliminated, and the rounds continued until there were three people left. Then, the first person to reach the circle would win a very special gift: the chance to invite a loved one to the ranch for 24 hours.
The game proved tougher than it sounds, as it was essentially about all-out sprinting, which, despite their impressive weight losses, some of the contestants are still not up to.
In the end, it was Danni, no surprise, who won -- if she doesn't win this season, it's going to come down to a matter of circumstance, because she is far and away the success story of the season so far.
In a grand gesture of generosity, Danni not only gave her BFF in the house Gina one of the two visits she earned, but she also passed on her personal family visit to Mike, who was missing his wife and baby boy.
A family affair
After Gina and her husband Chad went on a picnic to celebrate Valentine's Day, and Mike's spirit and commitment to the program was buoyed by a visit with his wife Chavelle and son Little Mike, the last chance workouts led to the big weigh-in, the first weigh-in in which a team effort wouldn't save anyone.
The happy surprises of the weigh-in: Jackson, sweet, sometimes struggling Jackson, who racked up a 13-pound loss and brought his seven-week total to 62 pounds shed. Hard-working former pro athlete Joe also lost 12 pounds to bring his total so far to 85 pounds lost, while Jeff dropped 11 and Mike lost 10.
A 10-pound loss in week seven should have meant Mike was safe, right? Sadly -- truly, this is the saddest loss yet -- those two-pound advantages Francelina scored earlier in the episode did Mike in, and with he and Francelina as the two contestants who fell below the dreaded yellow line, his fellow contestants voted Mike to go home.
Mike began the season as the biggest contestant -- at 444 pounds -- and he left 91 pounds lighter, which, even though he won't be the biggest loser of the season, certainly makes him a big loser, in the best way.
He seemed at peace with his departure, and committed to continue his efforts back home in Baltimore, save one little detail; Mike and Jeff had made a pact at the beginning of the season never to vote each other off the show. But when Jeff revealed who he'd voted for, he said he'd promised not to vote for Mike, but just couldn't vote for his friend Francelina, so Mike was sent packing. Mike didn't let him off the hook, either, saying the vote surprised and disappointed him.
But, though he will certainly be missed for the rest of the season, don't feel too bad for Mike. An update at the end of the episode revealed Mike is now down to 320 pounds (a 124-pound loss so far), which should keep him in the running for that $100,000 home winner prize.
Best of all, he's getting healthier for his son, his main motivation in living a healthier lifestyle.
"Before I began 'The Biggest Loser,' I was worried that I would die young and that my son would be raised by another man," Mike said. "Now, I realize that my son will be raised by another man … the happier, healthier, slimmer man you see sitting right here."
See Mike's transformation:
Watch the full episode:
"The Biggest Loser" airs Mondays at 8 PM on NBC.