What have I done today to make me feel proud? Well, I discovered that a good diet aid is Crest 3D Whitening Rinse, which appears to make you LOSE YOUR SENSE OF TASTE. Seriously, I have been using this stuff for a week, and then I realized I couldn't taste the salt on my edamame. What. The. Fuck. The internet tells me that my taste bud cells will regenerate in 10-14 days, which I hope is true, because I am kind of freaked out right now. For days I've been like, "Hmm, these chocolate chip cookies are kind of bland. Maybe I should have added more sugar?" In fact, it's MY MOUTH that is the problem. Chew on that. Tastelessly.
We begin the episode with our final four, dramatically lit as they stand by a screen upon which is emblazoned "Final Four." There are vignettes for each one, which appear on the screen. Skinny Koli watches fat Koli cry and talk about how he thinks he's unlovable. Skinny Ashley watches fat Ashley talk about how she never felt beautiful. Skinny Daris watches fat Daris say that he's the fat kid who eats fast food in his car. Skinnier Michael watches fat Michael say that life is passing him by, and that his life is at stake. And then they watch their moments of victory -- losing 25 pounds in a week, pulling Jillian in a tug of war, getting in a doggy-style position with Bob, winning immunity in a challenge. This really does seem like a lovely, deserving final four. There's no one who snuck in there through trickery, or is an out-and-out asshole. I like it.
Sami tells the final four that they're going to go home for thirty days, put what they've learned to the test, and then come back and face the scale one more time. Before we can blink, Michael is back in Chicago for his welcome home party. Ashley heads to Knoxville, ready to show her friends and family how far she's come. In Rohnert Park, California, Koli dons a suit and wants to wow the people who initially saw him weigh in publicly. In Ardmore, Oklahoma, Daris is ready to start taking phone numbers from hot ladies who heretofore did not adequately appreciate him. Big crowds wait for each contestant, and there is serious cheering and happiness and soundtrack music. The best part is seeing the former teammates -- particularly the parents -- glowing as they see their gorgeous, healthier spawn.
Daris -- who appears to be getting more crushworthy with every episode -- addresses the crowd in his high school gym and tells them that he's going to hop back on the scale and show them how much he's lost. He then flexes. We flash back to Daris throughout the weeks, starting very doughy and hairy and growing increasingly buff and groomed. Daris says that weighing himself shirtlessly in front of a crowd before the competition began was one of the scariest things he's ever done. We flash back to him giving his very sincere and sweet speech: "I will do everything I can to make you proud, and I look forward to seeing you again in six months, 150-160 pounds lighter than this." Daris steps on the scale. He initially weighed 346 pounds, and now weighs 195. That's 151 pounds that he's lost. The crowd leaps to their collective feet as Daris says, "I did it." He tells his league of supporters that they kept him going, and it means a lot.
Then there's Mike, who is in good spirits as he steps on the scale in front of his hometown. He says that the first time he did this he felt embarrassed, ashamed and out of place. He was very sad because of the state he was in. At this point, however, he's feeling great all around and positive. He's not embarrassed -- he's proud. I'm glad he's gotten over the confidence crisis of last week. Michael steps on the scale, and everyone can see that he's gone from 526 pounds to 322. That's a loss of 204 pounds. There is much applause, and a beaming and well-groomed Mike tells everyone that he set the record for most weight lost at the ranch.
Next we see Ashley. When she first weighed in, she says, she was so ashamed. Now, she's a completely different person. A confident and glowing Ashley steps on the scale and shows everyone that she's gone from 374 pounds to 231 for a loss of 143 pounds. She tells the crowd that she wanted to change her life, and she's done it. She's also lost more weight on campus than any other woman on the show to date. There is much celebration at this announcement.
Finally, there's Koli. He says that when he first stepped on the scale, he had been depressed for years. The weight had added on to that. Koli always felt mediocre, and never felt strong or like a winner. Now, however, he's changed. He's gained self-confidence and feels great. Koli steps on the scale and we see that he's gone from 403 to 231 for a loss of 172 pounds. The crowd, including Sam (who is wearing an "I heart Koli Bear" shirt), cheers wildly. Koli tells the crowd that he made them a promise to do better than Filipe and Sione, and he has -- he's lost more weight than they did at the ranch. He wants to make another promise today, which is that he's going to win at the finale. The audience goes nuts.
But wait! Have you ever seen an at-home celebration without Sami somehow materializing to be her customary buzzkill self? I didn't think so. Nor will you. She appears on a screen at each contestants' hometown, much to their dismay. Sami reminds them that on the first day of the competition they each rode the length of a marathon on stationary bikes. So they might imagine, she says, what their final challenge is. Yes, people. They're going to do a marathon on foot. Ashley says, "Hell yes!" while the others mostly look nervous. Sami says that the players who finish the marathon will be able to give $10,000 to the charity of their choice. For some of them, the charity may end up being "My Knees."
When we return, there are more flashbacks. Koli was very fat. You know this. He also didn't love himself or his body. You know this, too. But now he's happy! And he's not going to beat himself up. Koli talks to what I think is his dad about how eating healthy makes him feel better on the inside, and for the first time in his life he has peace of mind and is happy. Koli's dad says that they always worried about him and his health. Now, with what he's done and accomplished, they're very proud of him. Koli's family doesn't have a lot of touch-feely talks, so this is a really special moment for him. Dad continues that he loves Koli so much. Thankfully this moment is not interrupted by a product placement.
Then we flash back with Mike, who said at the start of things that he was the size of two overweight people. Now, he's still overweight but he can run five miles and hike the ridge tops at the ranch. This isn't a nightmare anymore -- it's a pretty pleasant dream. Mike, Maria and I think Mike's sister get together in the kitchen for...a product placement. I knew they couldn't resist! They're making meatballs with Jennie-O Turkey. That fucking turkey. Mike says that now that he's back, Sunday dinners are going to be lean, and everyone will have to participate. Mike sells the fuck out of the turkey. His big Italian family can still have their traditions, but they're going to make it healthy.
Then there's my boy toy lover Daris. In week one, he said he was the biggest he'd ever been, and was determined to change. Now he's home, living life, and going after his dreams. He's not shying away from things any longer. Daris meets up with Cheryl at what I think is their family store. He says that he's accomplished all he has by hard work and doing the right thing. His parents deserve part of the credit, because they instilled in him a top-notch work ethic. He cries as he expresses his appreciation to Cheryl. She tells him that he deserves some credit, too. He's making great choices, and that makes her proud. Also, he's turned from a boy to a man. An adorable man who is TOTALLY old enough for me. If Daris wants to impress anybody, he says, it's his mom. He has, and she loves him a bunch.
In week one, Ashley talked about what a crappy life she's had. Her dad got sick and died, and she let he