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'The Biggest Loser': A second, second chance

October 20, 2009 | 11:02 pm

Maybe Coach Mo was right. Before he basically volunteered to be sent home after the blue team fell below the yellow line, he remarked on Tracey's seemingly supernatural ability to control the game. The same thing happened again this week -- and she didn't have to lift a finger. The blue team won the dig-in-the-sand challenge, and won tickets home for the week. (Tracey was one of the players watching from the sidelines.) At first, there was joy at winning the tickets. But of course, such a prize comes with a downside. Yes, it means being home with loved ones. But it also means being home without the discipline of the ranch and without the tutelage of Bob and Jillian.

So the blue team did the unthinkable. They gave the tickets to the black team, and sent them home for the week.

Throughout the history of "The Biggest Loser," there has always been debate about whether challengers can do it at home, or whether the key to success is really the ranch and the trainers. To be sure, there's no shortage of players who have indeed succeeded at home. But we also gained a little insight into why it is so difficult for contestants to do it at home.

Shay's homecoming seemed awkward. Her husband seemed to be genuinely happy to see her, but her stepkids certainly didn't leap into her arms as might be expected, and seemed to not even know where she had been. But perhaps that was the presence of the cameras, because they seemed heartbroken when she left.

But when the family went out to eat dinner, Shay noted that her husband ordered exactly the way he would have ordered before she went to the ranch. (And maybe I misunderstood, but it sounded like he ordered two entrees for himself for dinner, including a set of sliders.) So Shay had to sit there surrounded by the temptation of fatty foods.

Dina, meanwhile, was revolted when she went out to eat dinner with her family and friends and saw the artery-clogging fare they ordered, and the way her husband was pounding the food. "Why don't you just stop," she asked him at one moment, and suggested a doggie bag. Her husband was having none of it: The Doggie Bag would be for dessert, he said. "Sad," Dina said afterward. "I was pretty disgusted by it, honestly." One bright spot for Dina: Her cutie-patootie son, who looked on in amazement as he saw his mom hitting the treadmill, hard: "I never knew she could run as fast as she was running. ... I believe she can do anything."

The rest of the black team seemed to hang tight during their week at home, including Danny who cooked many of his veggie-filled meals at home with his wife and kids, and spent much of his time at the gym. Danny seemed to have an epiphany during his stay. He regretted that he was no longer the confident man his wife had married. "She married a champion, but I didn't give her that champion." But he drew a parallel between the sand challenge and his life, which he said had been threatening to drown him in recent years. "My sand has stopped caving in," he said.

Abby, who just seems to blossom week after week, said the trip home only hardened her resolve: "The last thing I ever want to do is fail, and that will keep me centered and focused on the task at hand."

There was also an epiphany for Daniel. While he has been a fan favorite, so much so that he was brought back this season to finish what he started in this season of second chances, Jillian detected that Daniel was falling short, that something was amiss. "Daniel's numbers have been the weakest," she said. "I'm not seeing the intensity. Something is going on." Cut to Daniel crying on the treadmill. Daniel said he realized that he'd spent much of his life eating in defiance of his mother, who was constantly trying to get him to lose weight. "I mistook it for not accepting me the way I was," Daniel said. And the guilt of how he'd been treating his mother was eating away at him. Jillian reminded him that he had the ability to make it up to his mother.

But then came the weigh-in.

The blue team put up stellar numbers, no surprise given their time at the ranch with Bob. (I am still wondering why the blue team didn't get rid of crazy-eyed Tracey last week.) Most of the black team members also put up impressive numbers given that they were home for the week.

And then there was Daniel. He gained a pound.

Dina put it best: "Daniel is the last person who I'd expect to go home and gain a pound."

Jillian fake-punched him.

In the eliminaton room, it was Dina who went home. But was that fair, given that Daniel has had more "Biggest Loser" experience than anyone else on the team?

And it seemed like Daniel was doing everything he had to do while he was at home. So how did he gain a pound?

-- Rene Lynch