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'The Biggest Loser': A red line and a double elimination

November 11, 2009 |  1:25 pm

How do you lose 17 pounds in one week, set a record for being the first woman to lose 100 pounds in nine weeks -- and then go home for not losing enough weight?

It's happened before on "The Biggest Loser" -- remember Dane last season? -- and it happened again this week to Shay Sorrells, who walked onto the ranch at 5 foot 8 and 476 pounds, the biggest single contestant ever, man or woman.

The 30-year-old social worker from Newport Beach had a heartbreaking history: She ended up in foster care because her mother was a homeless drug addict, and then ate her way up to nearly 500 pounds as a way to deal with the pain. While at the ranch, Shay formed close bonds with many of the fellow contestants, who felt protective of her. But she destroyed some of those relationships by breaking down when things did not go her way. She seemed comfortable falling back into the familiar role of victim, most recently in this week's circus challenge. Shay felt Rudy betrayed her. And perhaps he did; it certainly seemed like he had a "hoop alliance." But instead of accepting it for what it was -- gameplay -- Shay had a meltdown.

She went on to lose 17 pound during this double-elimination week, and it was still not enough to protect her.

It was the topper to a week where we saw game play get nasty, watched Bob and Jillian wrestle with their obligations to the game and to the contestants, and learned a new way to burn calories: Play on a trapeze.

We also saw Daniel, another fan favorite, fall below the red line. That's right, we had a new twist on the weigh-in this week: The person who lost the smallest percentage of their body weight would fall below a red line -- the first time such a concept has been introduced to "The Biggest Loser." And I liked it, kind of like sudden death. But I didn't like the result: I wanted Daniel to stick around a little longer, although it's clear that he can continue his weight loss at home.

I hope we can say the same about Shay. To date, she is doing it: she has lost 154 pounds.

Now, here's the real issue: Do you want your trainers engaging in gameplay? Jillian and, to a lesser extent, Bob wanted to do whatever they could to keep Shay around. But of course, keeping Shay around hurts someone else -- that's just the way the game is. We saw Jillian hammering Shay during workouts, and Bob giving Shay a heart-to-heart. In the end, it didn't matter because Shay went home. But what if it were different? What if Shay had managed to stick around for another week? Would that Bob-and-Jillian intervention have been unfair to someone else? Should Bob and Jillian be above "playing God"? In retrospect, if either Danny or Rebecca went home, would we be sitting here wondering whether Jillian intentionally went too light on them this week?

Other highlights: Those whippersnappers might regret making the game into "the old fogies vs. the youngsters" because it looks like the oldsters might be winning. ... Liz continues to be a firecracker. ("Don't count this grandma out!") ... Gotta hand it to Rebecca, Amanda, Daniel and Shay for concocting a second gym in their bedrooms. ... Rudy has an edge to him. I thought he went a bit far when he accused Shay of not having "character." Granted, she was ripping into him something awful, and she was being unfair, but really? Rudy also seemed to be delivering a little payback when he voted her off. (I don't know how you can look at Amanda and Shay and think that Shay will have an easier time losing weight at home. But that is voting with your heart. This is a game, and Shay has more weight to lose, and therefore when it came down to Shay vs. Amanda, gameplay dictated who went home.)

Each week is good for at least one Jillian-ism, and this episode was no different. I'm referring to Jillian berating a crying Shay for not working out hard enough: "Stop crying. ...You are going to stop crying ... not one more tear is going to come out of your eyeball!"

Speaking of crying: I was teary-eyed watching Daniel meet up with his old friend, David, who is sill morbidly obese. Just not ready to lose the weight yet, he said. When he is, though, Daniel will be a great trainer to help him.

-- Rene Lynch

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