"Give me the case and I promise I won't throat punch you."

When we last met our intrepid adventurers, red and black team were rounding up sheep in a challenge that would make a New Zealander weak at the knees. The object of the exercise was to get as many sheep into a pen in twenty minutes. This task was designed to prepare the contestants for many hurdles they would face in the outside world, such as how to select lean meats at the butcher, being able to tell wool from other fabrics, and, this being Biggest Loser singles of course, how to force recalcitrant prospective dates into the back of your van.

At many stages it was neck and neck, though this early in their weight loss journeys necks aren’t exactly the most visible body part amongst the contestants. Black team was hampered by the fact that all their team members were carrying an injury of one kind or another, while red team was hampered by Lisa. Notwithstanding this or that hamper, red team prevailed and went into weigh in with a 2kg advantage. Afterwards, while all the contestants were sitting around basking in red teams greatness, a ghost of weigh-ins past walked through the door in the shape of Selena, and the joy that welcomed her return was somewhat underwhelming, especially from Margie and Lydia.

Learning their lesson from last week, all the contestants replied “Hi Hayley” when the host offered the now usual greeting of “Hi everyone” at the weekly weigh-in. Unfortunately, their efforts were wasted when Hayley again forced them to ascend the scales. But before she did, she had a question for James. “James” she began “last week you won temptation and with it the opportunity to be handcuffed to a briefcase full of $30,000 worth of gold bullion until this very moment, when you would be asked whether you want to stay and relinquish the gold, or keep the gold and leave. So, without further adieu, James….?” Hayley paused, uncertain what she was supposed to say next. She was meant to learn her lines the night before, but instead she’d stayed up late watching AJ Rochester fumble about like some latter day, overweight Inspector Clouseau, in a week’s worth of ‘Excess Baggage’ episodes, which she’d taped on her VHS. Fortunately Shannan, who is not only a trainer on the show but is also understudy to Hayley should some terrible accident befall her, was on hand to provide the necessary prompt. “What have you decided?” he whispered in her ear.

“What have you decided?” Hayley asked of James. James paused to allow the advertisers who have nailed their mast to Biggest Loser their chance in the spotlight and the opportunity to showcase their wares. On return, though, James wasted little time in confirming that he was indeed leaving the show. Hayley asked James if that was his final decision and James felt it was likely that he would continue to make decisions in the outside world. Shannan expressed disgust at James’ decision, noting that James had only been there 13 days and couldn’t possibly have learnt the ancient secret of weight loss. The secret of course being that if you expend more energy than you put in, you will lose weight. And in 13 days, James had yet to quite grasp that formula, according to Shannan.

Shane's last name is near unpronounceable

Without James of course the show became that much less handsome and the flame of potential romance between James and Michelle was snuffed out quicker than the life of an illiterate rat mistaking a cat fanciers meeting for a rat fanciers meeting. But romances and rodents aside, there was no respite from the dreaded scales.

Hamish was first and lost what seemed a disappointing 3.3kg, though in retrospect was one of the better numbers. Hayley referred to his father as having been a professional cyclist and asked Hamish what sort of relationship they had. Hamish said it was hard growing up knowing he wasn’t that perfect son who could go out and have fun with him, particularly when his father’s idea of fun was a gruelling 73 km bike ride up the Princess Highway. Mind you, if a father isn’t proud of his son just because he doesn’t ride a bike with him, then perhaps Hamish should tell his father to go f**k himself, because a person’s worth should not be judged on their athletic ability alone. Who knows what other attributes Hamish has that makes him a worthwhile person? Apparently not his father, who spent all Hamish’s childhood riding a cocking bike! [/end rant]

The rest weighed in and brought home some disappointing numbers, though Margie did well and was the Biggest Loser for the week. The results saw white and black teams going head to head in elimination. White put up Michelle because of their pact to always nominate the person who lost the least weight during the week, and black put up Shane because of their pact to always nominate the person who lost the least hair during the week.

Entering the elimination room, viewers were reminded of the great divide between what is real and what is not. What was real was Hamish’s totally misplaced shame at not being the perfect son for his father. What was not real was the cavalcade of tears that ran from the eyes of the contestants like so many Spaniards and tourists in Pamplona at about the same time they release some bulls for no obvious reason other than to gore a few Spaniards or tourists. Each of the voters expressed their heartbreak at having to vote one of the two wonderful people in front of them by breaking into tears as soon as the camera fell on their faces. If only the cameras had actually fallen on their faces, then they would have had something to cry about, and we would have had something to cheer.

Lydia said she was voting with her head as she shoved the pen up her nose and scrawled ‘SHANE’ onto the paper. Ryan eschewed new inventive ways of writing and stuck with his hand when he produced a very neat facsimile of the word ‘Michelle’, which was also a very strong indication that he had cast his vote for Michelle. Lisa, unable to break the bonds of the red team also used her head to cast her vote for Shane, as did Brenda. Luke used his heart to vote, and after the set was hosed down Hamish was last to cast his vote, because Margie’s was deemed worthless. Hamish put the final nail into Shane’s coffin, metaphorically speaking.

The Red Team have died and gone to Loser heaven

The fallout from the vote was intense. Graham made some serious threats directed at the other contestants who had voted Shane off. “Youse had better watch your back” he began, as if a group of people could have one collective back, “because we’re gonna put in 110% into everyfink”. Presumably Graham is not only referring to exercise and eating, but also studying for his upcoming Mensa application test. But why stop at 110% Graham? If 110% is an unattainable figure because it is 10% more than giving everything, then why not 200%? 1000%? 1,000,000%? Infinity percent? Truth be told, the threat was as empty as the calories in a cream bun.

To lighten the mood, Hayley showed the trainers some secret footage of their charges sitting around not exercising, eating double, and in some cases, triple portions, and arguing about the current state of the international economy and whether Australia can again avoid the damage caused by a global financial crisis. They also saw some heart warming vision of Margie rescuing a distressed cheese sandwich from the evil clutches of Lydia, by first hiding it behind her back and then hiding it in her mouth.

Hayley then explained to the trainers that there was a secret room in the complex called the bunker where the trainers will be able to watch the contestants 24/7. Hayley further explained that there were only two rules in regards to the bunker, which she called ‘Bunker Club’. The first was “You do not talk about Bunker Club”. The second was “When using Bunker Club’s toilet, if it’s yellow leave it to mellow, if it’s brown flush it down”. The trainers agreed and were shown into said bunker, where they marvelled at the array of TV screens and images before them and not once considered the grotesque invasion of privacy that they were a part of.

Speaking of grotesque, Shannan and Michelle came out of nowhere to inform the contestants that they would be taken to a secret location at the Concourse in Chatswood. When they got there, Hayley soon appeared before them like some gaunt apparition from a Japanese horror film, and said that “there are two things in life that people fear: death and public speaking.” “What about sharks?” asked Ryan, looking perplexed, “Sharks are a thing.” “People are also scared of heights” said Brenda “loads of people in fact.” “You know, some people are scared of chickens” added Hamish helpfully. “In fact, people are scared of all kinds of things, some which seem reasonable and some which seem downright ridiculous.” Suddenly for Hayley, death didn’t quite carry the same dread as it had before the conversation had started.

Nothing - NOTHING - good can come of this

The contestants had to tell their stories in front of a packed auditorium, with the audience consisting of people also dealing with weight issues and taking up two seats each. Generally though, their stories were uninspiring. They rolled out a litany of excuses and regrets that could apply to anyone, whether overweight or not. Only two people look to have really suffered and therefore would be able to claim with some legitimacy to be in need of an external intervention. Hamish described his childhood and how it involved constant bullying, to such an extent that he was on one occasion hospitalised. Add to this a father who appears to be ashamed of his son and you can see the difficulty Hamish will face in changing his life. Lisa lost her youngest son four years ago. No more needs to be said.

As reward for their superhuman feats of public speaking, on return to the camp the contestants were provided with family photos and letters to peruse. The letters had come from family and friends. Simon’s from his sons, Michelle’s from her mum, Luke’s from his sister, and Hamish’s from Blockbuster Video, explaining how ‘Steel Magnolias’ was now six weeks overdue.

Following on from this, the teams were each locked in a room for 12 hours full of tasty, tempting, calorie laden treats, with the team who consumed the most calories gaining a team wide immunity. Unbeknownst to the contestants, the trainers were watching on in the bunker. The question of course was what could each team do in that 12 hour period that would keep them occupied and away from the nasties? White team spoke about boys and general boy related things, with Michelle reckoning that a good man was pretty hard to find, particularly as she has been looking within a radius of 100 metres of her bedroom and mostly only under her bed. So far, the only man she has found under her bed has been Warwick Capper. Red team talked about the ongoing struggles that each of them were having at Camp Biggest Loser and notably none of them bothered to struggle off the bed and do a bit of exercise. Black team painted each other’s toe nails and platted their beards in an effort to burn some calories. Blue team adopted a novel approach to taking their mind of the food in the room by eating most of it. The result was that, quite by accident, blue team had consumed more calories than the others, much to Shannan’s disgust, and were, as a result, immune from elimination, but not from Shannan.

For the final challenge of the week the teams were taken to the country to undertake a 2km obstacle course. Two members of each team, Bek and Kasey, Luke and Hamish, Lydia and Lisa, and Graham and Simon, had to battle it out with the losing team getting a 2kg penalty at weigh-in. The obstacles included pipes, ropes, netting, slides, swings, water, mud, and for Luke, Hamish. In a not so surprising development, red and white team came in first and second respectively.

At the conclusion of the week’s proceedings, third and fourth place, and by extension the 2kg penalty, had yet to be decided. Black was still battling blue, Luke was still battling Hamish, and Hamish was still battling his pants.

The Biggest Loser – Mon-Thu 7pm, Ch10.