I’ve long thought that the producers of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” try too hard to manipulate the game itself, and last night they went way too far in doing so. The more I think about it, the more clear it becomes that last night’s challenge was a ploy to have Arthur, the so-called “unhealthiest” contestant in the show’s history, sent packing–or more to the point, figuring out a way to have the evil red team send him home.

It began innocently enough, as the contestants were told at the start of the episode that they would be going home for two weeks to return to normal life for a bit, and then return to a 5K challenge. The contestants, based on how they finished in the 5K, would get to choose their trainers–i.e., if they wanted to stay on their team or switch teams. Now think about that for a second. How did they think that would turn out? Arthur would finish last and be forced to switch teams, because there had to be at least one red team member that would switch to the black team–Jen, who knew her days were numbered with the red team’s “alliance.”

Anyway, more on that in a minute. They showed them all going home, and it was pretty cool to see, especially when Austin had to celebrate his 21st birthday at a bowling alley with friends, and resisted the urge to eat pizza and cheesecake and drink beer. Good for him. They also showed Courtney working in her family’s ice-cream shop and eating a salad in the back for lunch.

Then it was time to return to the ranch and the contestants had to participate in the 5K on treadmills. Sarah was going very slowly, because she wanted to be the one without a choice for some reason. Whatever. Justin finished first, followed by Rulon, Kaylee, Jen and Austin. A red-team top 5. Marci was next, followed by Olivia, Hannah, Moses, Irene, Courtney, and Ken. So it was down to Sarah and Arthur, and Arthur had a lead, until Justin decided he wanted Arthur to finish last, so he went and encouraged Sarah to speed up, and so did most of the others, who were annoyed by Sarah’s indifference. Sarah won, and Arthur finished last, of course.

So before the weigh-in, each contestant came in to the room wearing a jacket, and shed their jacket to reveal which team they wanted to be on going forward. Justin, Rulon and Kaylee all chose to stay on the red team. Well, duh. Jen switched back to the black team. Well, duh. Austin stayed red, and Marci, Olivia and Hannah stayed black. Moses stayed red, Irene stayed black, Courtney stayed black and Ken stayed Red. Up came Sarah, and her decision was crucial. She stayed on the black team, meaning Arthur was forced to join the red team. As he came in sporting his new red shirt, Arthur was in tears because he knew he’d be going home as soon as his team lost a weigh-in, which could be immediately.

Really, producers? Really????? Of course you knew the red hillbilly alliance led by Justin and Rulon would get rid of Arthur if their team lost a weigh-in. But I digress. On to the weigh-in….

Jen lost 14 pounds, Irene 10, Hannah 11, Olivia 12, Courtney 10, Marci 14 and Sarah 10. All double-digit weight loss, which was awesome. Then the red team went….Rulon lost a whopping 17 pounds, followed by Austin with 10. But Ken and Moses lost just 5 pounds each, and Kaylee lost just 1 pound. Yikes. You could see Arthur’s face reddening. Just lost 8 pounds, and so Arthur’s only hope was to be granted immunity if he lost the most weight on his team. Arthur had to lose 18 pounds, and he’s put up numbers like that before. But alas, he lost just 16 pounds, and immediately began to cry and then made himself stop crying, instead talking about the fact that he would keep on his journey at home.

But Jillian shouted “No!” and asked Arthur why he wasn’t fighting to stay. Bob chimed in, saying this should never be about the game and he hoped the red team would think twice about their “alliance” and keep Arthur on campus.

So they had the big red hillbilly Justin go first, and after giving this speech about Arthur and even stated, “No more finishing last for you, Arthur,” I thought for a split second that he and his teammates had a collective heart. But then Justin added, “But I had to vote for ya, buddy.” Wow. What a douche. Of course, Rulon also voted for Arthur, because an alliance is an alliance–yeeeeeeeee haaawwwwwww! Arthur voted for Ken, but that didn’t matter. Kaylee voted for Arthur, which means Moses voted for Arthur, and that was that. What pisses me off beyond the fact that this was a horrible moral decision, is the fact that Kaylee, despite losing just one pound and maybe being the healthiest contestant there, got to stay.

Well, as Mrs. Mike pointed out, this is going to come back to bite them in the collective red ass. And the problem now, is that the alliance is all that is left–meaning, they will have to start voting off their own. Unless the producers decide to make it all individuals now, which is entirely possible.

Ugh. About once a season I get so disgusted with the game portion of this show, but I’m more pissed now than ever about this, which was a blatant cry for ratings and controversy. You producers should be just as ashamed as the red team should be this morning.

Okay, so there you have it. Arthur, of course, went home and lost another 50 pounds or so to date, and is down to 345 pounds, which is amazing considering he once was over 600 pounds. I sure hope this guy wins the at-home prize of $100K. I also hope there is a red line next week and that Justin falls below it. Alliance, schmalliance.

Off soapbox, see you all next week….