The Biggest Loser - Season 14
SPOILER ALERT: The recap for the "We're Back ... and So Is Jillian" episode of "The Biggest Loser" contains contestant spoilers.
Oh, "Biggest Loser," you're just two hours into the 14th season, and you've already shocked us and broken our hearts.
OK, technically, the shock comes courtesy of our inability to quickly calculate percentages in our heads, but the heartbreak is all you. Let us start at the beginning.
Part one of the season premiere (part two airs on Jan. 7 at 8 PM) kicks off with host Alison Sweeney introducing this year's newest category of contestants: teens. The totally enthusiastic and adorable Biingo (real name: Noah), Sunny, and Lindsay will not be subject to weigh-ins or eliminations, but their participation is part of the show's mission to help educate viewers about childhood obesity this season (hence the "Challenge America" subtitle for Season 14).
Next, Alison introduces the season's trainers, including Bob Harper, Dolvett Quince, and -- yes, she's baaack! -- Jillian Michaels, who returns as a new mom of two after a two-season absence.
Are you rooting for someone already?
Finally, Season 14's competitors are plucked from the audience, and we're guessing we're not the only ones who have instant faves: Jackson, a 21-year-old gay man (who sort of looks like a grown-up version of Biingo) who relates that he's been tortured about his weight and his sexuality for years, and TC, 31, a married, guilt-stricken dad whose young son was severely injured in a car accident in which TC's driver seat broke and crushed his son.
The son is fine now (sorry, should have led with that), but TC blames his 376-pound frame for the seat break, and he's made a promise to his son to lose the weight and be a healthier, more active papa.
The stakes, as always, are high, and as the contestants head off to the "BL" gym, we're already emotionally invested in how they'll do. Which means we wince sympathetically when Jackson (a member of Dolvett's Red Team) faints within the first few minutes of treadmill action, while TC, also challenged by the treadmill speed Jillian has set, is one of three members of Jillian's White Team to be kicked out of the gym.
Yeah, as show promos and countless preseason interviews with her suggested, motherhood has not mellowed Ms. Michaels. Thankfully.
Meanwhile, with Jillian and Bob trying to whip the adults into shape in the gym, Dolvett has taken the teen trio off to get some exercise via fun and games. Does the interaction with the teens slow the show down a bit? Indeed it does, and, several times throughout the premiere, it seems more like a PSA than a reality competition.
On the other hand, the show is making the point that it's important to develop good physical fitness habits when you're young, and the best way to do that is to find fun ways to engage kids in regular physical activity.
[Related: Meet the Season 14 contestants]
Otherwise, they might grow up to be overweight adults running their butts off on treadmills while a very loud woman gets all up in their Kool-Aid. For instance.
Later, the teens -- who will make appearances on the show throughout the season but will largely continue their get-fit efforts at home -- have the chance to participate in the season's first challenge, in which they will be suspended above a giant pit of balls and must direct the adults to find letters in the pit that will spell out the name of the show.
Jillian's team, directed by 16-year-old Sunny's navigation, wins, earning a 5-pound advantage for the first weigh in.
But things are about to get crazy for the White Team.
Nikki, a 26-year-old White Team member, has shared her desire to slim down her 280-pound frame so she can have a baby. But the pressure of her goals, the fact that she feels alone in the house without her family, and, just guessing, the intimidating presence of one Jillian Michaels in her face combines to send Nikki into meltdown mode.
When Jillian calls her on her half-hearted efforts in the gym, Nikki breaks down. When Jillian bottom lines it -- "There's the door or you do the workout" -- Nikki takes option A, and the White Team is down to four members.
Her teammates, and all her fellow contestants, are shocked and sad to see her throw in the towel, and even Bob tries to tell Jillian what a bummer Nikki's departure is. Jillian's response (and we're paraphrasing here): "Yeah, so? The other contestants want to take advantage of this opportunity they've been given badly enough to work hard every day. Nikki gave up, quickly and easily. Bye, Nikki."
The rest of the aspiring Losers pull themselves together -- led partially by spunky, positive White Team member Pam, who's another of our early faves -- and prepare for the season's first big weigh-in, which will determine who else might have to continue his or her weight-loss efforts at home.
With everyone gathered in front of that giant, oh-so-public scale, we learn whose gut-wrenching efforts (seriously, poor Jackson was hurling during most of his workouts) have paid off with major pounds dropping: The Blue Team's Jeff lost an incredible 29 pounds, followed by Red Team Joe with 26 pounds lost and our guy Jackson with an impressive 22 pound loss.
Get ready to shed a tear (or 20)
But even though all the contestants have racked up numbers to be proud of, the celebration is short-lived because of the impending cut. Yes, Alison announced that even though Nikki ousted herself, the person with the lowest percentage of weight lost on the losing team will be sent packing.
Oh, no. The White Team, Jillian's team, came in last, with the four remaining team members shedding 5.61 percent of their weight. And sadly, since Pam -- endearing Pam who has acted as a cheerleader for all her fellow contestants -- lost the least amount of weight (10 pounds), we think she'll be the one to go.
But, as we hinted earlier, math reared its ugly head, and though Pam lost the lowest number of pounds, it was TC, though he shed an inspiring 15 pounds in just one week, whose percentage of weight loss is the lowest. He, and more than a few viewers, we'd bet, was emotional upon hearing the news.
The upside: A postscript revealed that TC returned home to his family, and, motivated by his fantastic one-week effort and his commitment to keep his promise to his son, used the gym membership he was given on the show and has dropped his current weight to 320 pounds. He says he hopes to pare that number down to 245 by the show's May season finale.
As for the final results, the Red Team won the week, with team members dropping 6.59 percent of their weight, followed by the Blue Team's 5.79 percent drop.
As for Jillian's White Team members, they won the first challenge, lost the first weigh-in, had a teammate quit, and saw another leave because of weigh-in results, despite an impressive effort by that teammate.
The White Team contestants have their work cut out for them, and with just three of them left, that makes for a very small pool to soak up Jillian's "encouragement." Very loud, in-their-faces encouragement.
Watch the full episode:
"The Biggest Loser" moves to its regular time slot, Mondays at 8 PM on NBC, on 1/7.