Biggest Loser
Episode 7

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Semper Fry

What have I done today to make me feel proud? Why, voted, of course! I love to vote, and only wish I could do it more often. I take plenty of online surveys, but it doesn't have quite the zing of actual democracy in action.

We begin the episode with a flashback to last week's elimination, when Adam was voted out. Sami congratulates the remaining contestants, and informs them that they're halfway through the season. Already! And by "already" I mean, "Oh God there are seven weeks still left?" This next week is going to be an all-out war, Sami says, and then calls in some real live Marines! They are Sergeant Gonzales and Sergeant Corona. They have no weapons, except for those guns on their arms. Frado is a former Marine, and so is excited about this development. One of the Marines shout-talks at the contestants, in that military way. He says that they'll be living like U.S. Marines for the next week. They'll be staying at Camp Pendleton -- the largest training facility on the west coast. And they'll be walking, talking, and acting like U.S. Marines. Most importantly, they'll train, work and sweat like U.S. Marines. And Marines are no slouches. The other sergeant says, "You think Bob and Jillian are tough? You ain't seen nothing." Cut to some very concerned looks from our contestants.

Sergeants Corona and Gonzales rush the contestants out, get them outfitted in Marine helmets and vests, and put them in a terrifying giant vehicle. Several hours later, they arrive at Camp Pendleton. The contestants are introduced to their combat instructors, which include Gonzales and Corona. They have three minutes to get into their new gear. Staff Sergeant Giaretta tells us that the contestants are in for some hard work, just like regular Marines. While the Marines are training to go into combat zones, the Biggest Losers are training to save their own lives. Frado tells us that he's a veteran of the Gulf War. He's told his wife in the past that if he went back to boot camp he'd never get to this weight again, and thinks this is all meant to be. Aaron's brother is a military vet. He always wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps but couldn't because of his weight, so this is a bit of a dream come true for him. Mark is also excited to be exposed to military discipline, which he needs in his life. We'll see if he changes his tune after a few hours.

Staff Sergeant Giaretta announces that two CH-46s will be coming in to take them to their next training evolution. CH-46s are helicopters, and Jessica is a wee bit scared. Most of the others seem excited, though. It looks like a pretty cool ride, even though it's delivering them to what I assume will be some serious torture. The contestants emerge from the helicopters to meet Sami. She tells them that they're standing in the middle of the largest Marine Corps amphibious training facility on the west coast. It's special to her, too, because it's where her dad was stationed. Roman Brady was a Marine? And an ISA agent! Some people lead really full lives. Sami suggests that the contestants follow the lead and orders of their superiors, and also follow a dirt road that leads to the barracks.

The contestants have to put on their heavy packs and march along with their sergeants. Anna immediately falls behind, claiming she can't breathe. Her attending sergeant gives her some shit for it. When she yells, "Oh my God," he promptly tells her that God isn't going to help her now, and to get moving. Jessica is also falling behind, but her sergeants tell her that crying isn't going to help her. Elizabeth also has trouble breathing. Does this woman actually have an inhaler? If so, why doesn't she ever seem to use it? Combat instructor Sergeant Myers tells us that they're trying to get through the contestants' heads that you start together and finish together. You never leave anyone behind, and if someone isn't keeping up everyone has to go back. This message of teamwork is great until you consider that they're going to have to boot someone out of there in a few days. When the contestants finally make it to the barracks, one of the sergeants yells at them to think about what they've just accomplished, and to believe that they can do anything they put their heart to. Don't quit and don't give up are his ultimate messages. I think the basic Marine strategy is to just keep yelling at you until you un-quit, actually.

The contestants enter the barracks, which are pretty sparse. Aaron works on his hospital corners and plans to get as much sleep as possible, since he knows the next week will be hell. At 5:00 a.m., the contestants are woken up with a scream. Seriously, just when you thought there couldn't be more yelling in this show, they bring in the Marines. The contestants get a few minutes to get dressed and run outside. They are given rifles en route, which aid in their pre-sunrise PT. Then it's time for a quick meal, and training all day until the sun goes down. Lisa simply says, "I hate Marine time." Jesse points out that the options at the mess hall are not what they have at the ranch. There's sausage and French toast for breakfast. It's not ideal, but Jesse says that he needs the calories given the tough workout ahead. The contestants run and do pushups and run some more and observe all sorts of time limits and disciplinary activities. Since it's Election Day and there will be extra news coverage for the returns, the show is only an hour long and so we don't get the sort of deadly dull minutiae that might otherwise fill a two-hour show. Thank you, democratic process!

The contestants are taken to another location where Sami awaits them. She introduces them to Sergeant Bell, who tells them that no trip to a Marine Corps base is complete without an obstacle course. Their job is to get from the starting point to the endpoint, three miles away on the beach, and to complete any obstacle they come to as a team. The first team to get their boots in the water at the finish wins. Each contestant will have a pack with three ten-pound weights in it. Once they begin, they can redistribute the weight as they see fit, and Sami says that it could be a determining factor in who wins the challenge. The reward for this challenge is phone calls home, to be made from the beach.

The challenge begins! The Black Team starts off by redistributing the weight so that every male member of the team has 40 pounds and every female member has 20. The Blue Team, however, opts not to redistribute. The first obstacle is that low rope that you have to crawl under in the mud. The Blue Team makes it through first, while Anna struggles and the Black Team lags. The next obstacle involves pushing a giant disabled vehicle. The military personnel get particularly screamy on this one. The Blue Team remains ahead, but their lead is not an insurmountable one. The third obstacle is a casualty evacuation. The Blue Team completes this first, but the Black Team is catching up. They do so by actually dragging Elizabeth along. At least, that's what they do until she collapses. Awesome. The military personnel rush in to attend to her. Brendan tells us that Elizabeth's eyes rolled to the back of her head, and he just lost it. He reminds us that this is the second time that Elizabeth has passed out. In the end, Elizabeth is okay and she says that she wants to finish. The Blue Team has clearly won the race by this point, but the Black Team realizes that there are more serious matters and they somberly help Elizabeth walk toward the finish line. I mean, I'm no medical professional, but doesn't it seem like a good idea for her to take a freaking break?

Meanwhile, the Blue Team wins and are immediately handed cell pones. As the Black Team finally stumbles toward the finish, the Blue Team cheers them on. Elizabeth says that by not giving up, she proved a lot to herself. This challenge changed her, she says. Patrick tells us that they finished as one big team, which is what The Biggest Loser is all about. It's also apparently about passing out repeatedly and eschewing medical advice. Pushing

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