UPDATE: 4/18/12, 6:05pm: We just spoke with NBC publicity, who shared an update on last night’s episode. As of now, Mark and Buddy are planning to attend finale, although we’re told they will not be eligible for any prize money. There will also not be any legal ramifications for their decision to leave the show. “They chose to leave and the show wishes them well,” said Jill Carmen with NBC.
In the nine seasons we’ve watched Biggest Loser, we’ve never seen an episode like this. In the second to last episode before finale, the first 20 minutes were filled with packed luggage, executive producers, and lawyers. The contestants were walking out.
The episode opened with camera crews searching for the contestants, only to find empty rooms and no one with a mic on. Kim started to come out of her bathroom but quickly shut the door. Passing through the kitchen, Mark requested that he not be filmed. The five final contestants (Mark, Buddy, Kim, Conda, and Jeremy) had just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Washington, DC for makeovers and meetings with the first lady, but when they caught wind of a game-changing twist, they were out.
What kind of twist could create such a storm? All fourteen eliminated contestants would be returning to the ranch for a spot as a finalist. The current contestants didn’t think it was fair. The producers explained it’s all part of the game. “This is a matter of right and wrong. In my heart I feel like this is wrong,” Jeremy told Jeff Friedman, the show’s attorney.
It appeared to be a frantic scene on the set as faces from behind the cameras started revealing themselves. Todd Lubin, executive produer, met with the rogue five and explained that a member of legal would soon be out. Bob and Dolvett tried to intercept their seemingly rash decision, but Kim remarked, “This isn’t about you.” Dolvett replied, “Are you prepared to leave?” Mark’s intentions were clear, saying, “Yep. I’m good with that. I’m ready to go.”
Alison met up with the contestants in the dining room, followed by Friedman. The two of them met with each contestant one-on-one as he showed them their signed contracts, within which it states that “All contestants would be invited back and whoever won the challenge would earn a spot in the finals,” a twist that they signed off on before setting foot on the ranch, Friedman explained. “It’s something we decided to do right before the start of the season, it says it as a definite, under the prizes.”
Buddy defended that, “[Those contestants] could win the game. I don’t feel any pride about competing in that game.”
As Alison tried to restore order, she said the contestants receive lodging, food, world class trainers, doctors, and nutritionists, among many other prizes, gifts, and care. “The exchange is that you help us inspire people at home. It seems you’re not willing to hold up your end of the bargain,” she said. To that, Mark replied, “I can’t make the trade off any more.”
With that, Mark and Buddy placed their suitcases in a large white van and exited the Biggest Loser. Buddy’s final remarks were, “I have to take a stand … I Don’t feel like a quitter though I’m quitting the show.”
And quit they did. The episode moved on with only three. If they’d only stuck around they’d know that their spots on the ranch weren’t to be jeopardized by the ousted players, but by their current competitors. Kim, Jeremy, and Conda weighed in one last time at the ranch, posting numbers reminiscent of their earliest weeks. With a loss of 15 pounds, Kim secured her spot as a finalist. Conda and Jeremy each lost 10 pounds, but Conda’s percentage of loss was higher, placing her in the finale, not her brother.
As the episode closed, 14 eliminated contestants walked in to the gym with hopes of claiming one last finale position next to Kim and Conda. Jeremy has a chance to compete for that spot.
With the episode organized the way it was, Buddy and Mark only needed to fear some pretty steep competition they were already facing. The eliminated contestants wouldn’t have necessarily taken one of their spots. Anyone who’s ever watched a previous season, or for that matter read their contract, would have known something like this was possible. After all, in last year’s season 12, Ramon Madeiros won a finale spot after being eliminated by winning the all-contestant marathon.
If Buddy and Mark had stayed, they’d at least have had a chance to compete amongst the other eliminated contestants for their spot, or even been eligible for the $100,000 at-home prize. Now, they’ll be remembered amongst a very, very small group of contestants who walked out on something millions of Americans would die to have a chance to do.
We can’t know the whole back story, as Courtney explained in this week’s Biggest Loser reaction. But based on what we did get to see, people had their minds set on much more than just restoring their health.