Mitchell Haaseth/NBC
Jean Bentley
February 04, 2009 AT 05:00 PM EST

After a whole month without their partners, the at-home contestants have finally been beamed down from the Starship Enterprise onto the Biggest Loser ranch. (How else do you explain the hilarious rays of light shining off them in the opening montage?)

Before we start off this recap, I must thank the pink team’s Helen for bringing back her daughter, because I wouldn’t have enjoyed this episode nearly as much without Shanon’s adorable two-syllable pronunciation of the word fat (”fae-ut”) and her spot-on commentary throughout the show.

Okay, down to business. Before the at-home contestants’ weigh-in, the trainers gathered their teams and reiterated the seriousness of the competition to the returned players. And with that, even before the weigh-in, Aubrey started to cry. I might have missed something, but I didn’t notice Mandi crying at all during this episode, so thank goodness her sister picked up the slack. Man, can that family cry (not that I’m one to talk, the Sarah Mclachlan ASPCA commercial makes me well up).

Instead of a temptation challenge, the formerly at-home contestants had their first weigh-in since returning to the ranch. Shanon started off the gang by dropping a respectable 15 pounds (and two pants sizes), but seemed disappointed in her success. As the trainers reminded her, that’s a half-pound per day.

When the contestants are on the ranch, their only job is to exercise. It’s unrealistic to expect those kinds of results in the real world — which is why it was reassuring to hear the trainers actually say that. ”It’s not realistic to go home and lose these numbers. The idea is that if you can lose 12 pounds in a week [at the ranch], maybe the person at home can lose 12 pounds in six weeks,” said Jillian.

Although the homies (oooh, wish I’d thought of that nickname sooner) should have been happy with smaller numbers than their on-ranch counterparts, too small a loss was inexcusable. So when Aubrey ended up with a two-pound loss and tried to explain it away — she said she built muscle and endurance instead — it wasn’t surprising when Jillian called ”bulls—” on the excuses. That wound up being the central theme of last night’s episode — not making excuses.

Sione, the final homie to weigh in, lost an impressive 25 pounds in 30 days, earning immunity for his team. Once he realized that if he could make time for three hours of television per day (it’s okay if you watch it for work, right? …right?), he could make time for exercise if he actually wanted to.

Back in the gym, the teams enjoyed their first post-reunification workout, which was probably a lot harder than usual for the teammates who hadn’t been working out with Bob and Jillian regularly. Shanon, for one, said she didn’t work as hard at home as her mom did on the ranch because of ”the way Bob and Jillian just ride us. I mean literally — I’ve seen Jillian and Bob ride people around the gym.”

It could have been residual excitement from winning immunity, but Sione completely showed up his teammate Filipe with the amount of exercise and effort he was putting into his workouts. Conversely, Joelle and Carla demonstrated that nothing had really changed for them in the last month. Carla still worked her butt off, and Joelle continued her bemused observation of everyone else working instead of actually working herself.

NEXT: That dam challenge

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