Big Brother Recap: Rock the Veto

Finally! We’ve waited weeks for the first major turn in Big Brother‘s 13th season, and on Wednesday night we may have just witnessed it. Was it Rachel’s tantrum? Was it the awful balance beam skills of several players? Or was it the applause-worthy outcome of the Power of Veto competition? Join us for the recap of the (thankfully) fascinating episode.

As the night starts, Rachel is yammering about HOH Jordan’s trustworthiness, cooing in her best World According to Paris voice about how Jordan should’ve elected Cassi and Shelly for elimination, not Dominic and Adam. I love Rachel’s grudge against Cassi, because we’re always treated to several shots of Cassi looking suspicious and jutting her eyebrow like a backwoods Jessica Biel. Fortunately for Rachel, several of her housemates share that contempt: Porsche (who I still call “Car”) thinks Cassi’s “controlliness” is becoming a problem. No word yet if she thinks her own illiteracy is of similar concern. More importantly, Daniele agrees about Cassi.

“I don’t hate Cassi, but if I see a bus, I’m not afraid to give her a little push,” Daniele tells us. She sees Dominic as a viable companion during the game, and if she can arrange for him to stay, she’s overjoyed — well, as overjoyed as Daniele gets, which is still pretty deadpan. I can’t disagree with that strategy, but there’s an obvious air of haplessness about Dominic’s gameplay that reminds me of Survivor: Nicaragua‘s Fabio. Yes, the lank-haired gent won that season, but it took luck in the challenges to earn the prize, not a mastery of the social game.

‘Power of Veto’ Competition | After Daniele is chosen as the POV competition’s host, Jordan randomly selects Rachel and Brendon to face off against Jeff and herself, and chopping blockees Dominic and Adam. Oh, good. I was just thinking I needed to hear more of Rachel’s braying and Brendon’s sputtered whines! The competition goes like this: Each teammate competes for himself, chews up a gumball, races across his/her own balance beam, and sticks the saliva-drenched gob on a board at the other end. The first to fill the board wins, and if a competitor ever topples from the beam, he/she has the option of signing up for two weeks of slop and reentering the game or dropping out and accepting defeat. I can barely type the word “slop” without imaging the mouthfeel of that molten garbage. Shivers.

Adam, who planned to sabotage his team’s efforts and earn the Golden Key from the veterans’ votes later, is no longer able to screw up Dominic’s winning attempts. As the whistle’s blown, the six contenders launch across the beam like an overcaffeinated Nadia Comaneci. Dominic powers hard against Jeff, who is equally capable and Romanian in his beam mastery. As expected, lightweight Jordan falls from the beam first, and thanks to Jeff’s cajoling, she opts not to compete again in the game. Rachel wobbles and tumbles next, and for reasons I cannot begin to describe, she chooses to accept two weeks of slop and continue in the game. Is she mad? Driven? Psychotic? All three, like Lady Macbeth? If you guessed that she fell again soon after and eliminated herself from the game for good, you’d be right. That’s Rachel for you: a real challenger whose thoughtlessness and ego undermine her tenacity.

In a victory so great that I emitted a yelp as it happened, Dominic wins the game. For once, the newbies earn a modicum of power in this veteran-commanded competition. He is ecstatic. Rachel, meanwhile, races off into the bushes to weep by herself, and worse, Jeff yells at her for snidely remarking when Jordan fell off the beam first. “No wonder America hates me!” Rachel sobs. Aw, Rachel: literally and spiritually sloppy. Forever.

Aftermath | Jordan’s left to select two new nominees for tomorrow’s eviction. As Rachel and Daniele’s eyes widen with demonic glee, Jordan selects Cassi and Shelly. Nooooo! I think we can agree that Cassi and Shelly were the two most humane players in the game, even if Cassi allegedly spouted off the homophobic “f” word during Big Brother: After Dark once. Shelly’s my all-beige Jerri Blank lookalike! Cassi’s my expressionless champ! I tremble in anticipation of tomorrow’s vote — but I sigh a breath of relief that I’m finally enjoying this game.

What did you think of Wednesday night’s episode? A thrilling turnaround? Do you find yourself impressed with Dominic’s efforts? Are you OK with watching Cassi or Shelly leave? Drop it in the comments, read me regularly at Movieline.com, and find me on Twitter at @louisvirtel!