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Sherry, left, and Ashley work together on this week's immunity challenge.
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TODAY contributor
updated 1/26/2010 9:54:24 AM ET 2010-01-26T14:54:24

“The Biggest Loser” surprised the contestants in episode 3 by declaring it “student/teacher week.” Instead of both players on each team working with trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels, the teams would be divided into one teacher and one student.

The teacher’s job was to work out with Bob and Jillian, then communicate what they learned to their partner, the student, to guide their workouts. At the week’s end, only the student’s weight loss would be counted for each team at the crucial weigh-in.

The power to decide how each team would be divided into teacher and student was up for grabs on this season’s first temptation. This time, players were presented with two enormous troughs of chocolate candies. The team that ate the most candy would win the right to determine how each team would be split.

Though most of the contestants bowed out of the challenge and didn’t eat any candy at all, the Pink team’s Sherry and Ashley were determined not to allow the others to choose their fate. Sherry ate two candies, defeating her only challenger, the White team’s Michael.

Next, in the week’s immunity challenge, each team was presented with a coil of ribbon in their color, which the teachers were required to unravel around a playground. The players incorrectly assumed that a different team’s student would have to retrieve the ribbon, so many of them — particularly the White team’s Michael — tried to make their ribbon difficult to follow, untie and rewind.

But there was another sneaky twist: The students were told they had to retrieve their own team’s ribbon — and they had to do it blindfolded, with only verbal help from their teachers to guide them. In the end, the Gray team’s cousins, Sam and Koli, won the challenge, with the Red team’s Melissa and Lance right behind them. Along with immunity, the Gray team won the right to switch one teacher and student’s roles at that week’s weigh-in.

Knowing that any teacher and student position could be switched at the weigh-in made most of the players work out extra hard, with the exception of the White team’s Michael. Although he was the heaviest man coming into the game — his 526 pounds at his first weigh-in made him the biggest player in the show’s history — many of the other players grumbled that he wasn’t putting in enough effort at the gym.

At the final weigh-in, Koli and Sam announced that they were switching up the White team. Maria, who had been the student all week, would now be the teacher. It was Michael’s weight, now as the student, that would count.

It proved to be a shrewd move. Although Michael did succeed in losing 10 pounds, it wasn’t enough to keep the White team above the yellow line. But before the vote, Michael’s mother, Maria, pleaded for him to be allowed to stay. “He needs this more,” she told the other contestants, equating his early return home with a death sentence.

Although most of the contestants agreed that Maria had more drive to succeed, they abided by her wishes and voted to send her home and keep her son Michael, now weighing 471 pounds, in the game.

Did the contestants make the right call by keeping Michael? Weigh in!

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