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'Biggest Loser' recap: Ruben Studdard is back? Again?

Ruben Studdard is back at "The Biggest Loser" Ranch. Possibly for good. Just one more lucky break for the "American Idol" winner and the most famous contestant the show has ever seen?

Maybe Studdard should have bought a Mega Millions ticket.

To be sure, such a move is not unprecedented. Remember Ali Vincent, for example? She was eliminated early on in Season 5 but returned to win it all and become one of the most popular ambassadors for the show.

Asked to respond to the skepticism, the show released the following statement: "If you’ve watched 'The Biggest Loser' in previous seasons, you know that this twist of bringing back eliminated contestants to try and win a spot back in the competition is a common one seen in many seasons of the show. And with this season’s theme of 'Second Chances,' it seemed more fitting than ever to reward one eliminated player with a 'Second Chance' to return to the ranch and the competition."

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Ruben and the other competitors eliminated so far this season returned to the ranch for a chance to return on a more permanent basis if they win a yet-to-be-named challenge. (And we won't find out about the challenge any time soon. The show returns after the holidays, on Jan. 7.)

The twist followed a dramatic double elimination in which two of the season's most affable players -- Hap and Matt -- fell below the dreaded red line, resulting in their immediate elimination.

Even though Hap and Matt are husky guys who have been working their tails off at the gym and supposedly sticking to their diets, they just haven't been making big strides on the scale. (A situation no doubt familiar to many Americans.) But many of their competitors have. David, for example, lost 12 pounds at the same weigh-in, and Tayna lost seven pounds.

Hap, though, lost only five pounds, an amount that left Bob puzzled considering Hap's size and dedication in the gym. "I'm very baffled by the five," Bob said. He suggested, nicely, of course, that Hap's lack of consistency in the kitchen, and a resistance to following a strict diet, might be to blame. Still, though, Hap has lost 87 pounds so far and there was no questioning his work ethic in the gym.

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Matt lost five pounds -- like Hap's, an accomplishment in the "real" world -- but not nearly enough at the ranch. At one point earlier in the season, Matt was up for elimination for his failure to lose enough weight at a weigh-in, but Bob used his one and only "save" to keep Matt on board. Bob said this week that it was a good move: "I'm so glad I used the save on you," he told Matt. Overall, Matt has lost 93 pounds. Not too shabby.

Hap and Matt weighed in on the return of previously eliminated contestants during a conference call Wednesday morning. Both men said they were neither upset nor surprised by the twist, and wouldn't be upset it Ruben was able to return to the house for good.

Matt, for one, noted that his save by Bob puts him in the same spot as Ruben: "I've had the same chances as Ruben, but I'm not a celebrity."

Hap said he believes he will have the edge if the challenge to get back into the house involves strength or endurance, but he said: "If it's Ruben and not me, I'm fine with that."

The double elimination capped an episode that saw many twists and turns. Among the most significant, the teams have been disbanded and players are now competing as singles. And yet a new competition was unveiled: the Biggest Loser Triathlon. The winner of this event (which would seem to benefit Rachel, as she is a former competitive swimmer) will have an automatic berth in the finale and a shot at the $250,000 prize waiting at the end of the competition.

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At least some fans -- see below -- don't think it was just luck that got Ruben a third bite at the apple, having been eliminated twice so far this season. What do you think?

Can we PLEASE stop bringing Ruben back onto the biggest loser. WE GET IT HE IS FAMOUS PLEASE STOP

— Tawnee (@tawn5flip) December 18, 2013

And this one:

Biggest Loser...I'm over u. U can't just change the rules every time the famous guy gets eliminated.

— Michael Denslow (@MrMikeChiCity) December 18, 2013

Quote(s) of the night, courtesy Jillian to David: "Straighten your arms or I swear to God I will rip them off your body," and, "Don't run at 15 when you can run at 11."

Final thought: Were you fumbling for the Kleenex while cheering on Bobby's dad? Regardless of what he may (or may not) have felt in the past about having a gay son, dad is now on Bobby's side, and saying that no matter what he loved Bobby and endearingly called him his "favorite boy." Awwwww. The icing on the cake, so to speak: Bobby's nearly 100-pound weight loss. No doubt he will be a stunner at the finale.

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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