The problem with a demented social experiment like Big Brother, where the cameras always roll and the CBS.com live-feeds percolate day and night, is we know exactly what doesn’t make it to TV. We know what conflicts have been truncated, misrepresented, or eliminated entirely in the edit bay, and in the case of our HOH Kalia’s decision-making this week, we didn’t even get to watch one of her fellow houseguests sway her judgment. And I mean really sway her judgment.
Big Brother fans are clamoring on Twitter about the real story behind Kalia’s gameplay on Wednesday night’s P.O.V. show, since we saw a strange, contorted version of the truth. Now, do editing tricks infuriate me? Not really. I expect some dubious cutting here and there for the sake of brevity, and this particular short-change isn’t too devastating. I will say, though, that the real story paints Shelly (the manipulator in question) as a much different kind of player, a true Svengali in the house who cleverly protects her alliance with Jeff, Jordan, and their ally Rachel. Shelly is one of the few fascinating puppeteers on Big Brother this season, and I personally watch the series because of its creepy characters and their fascinating, endlessly conspiratorial powers. It’d be nice to see more of those from Shelly, whose gawky Ace Ventura expressions conceal her schemes. On TV, she’s a casual two-timer — but on the live feeds this week, she proved she’s a bit more cunning and effective. We’ll revisit this business momentarily.
The episode begins with caterwauling frightwig Rachel, who throws herself to the floor and shrieks about the
death eviction of her histrionic preteen companion fiance Brendon again. Shelly uses her favorite technique (lies) to calm Rachel down.
“You have more class than this!” Shelly belts, her beige face beige-ing hard in anger.
“Daniele’s turned everyone in the entire house against me!” Rachel hollers back. She adds some strangulated mule noises for effect, and crocodile tears that are big enough to wear actual Crocs.
“Don’t let someone else make you feel that way!” Shelly retorts.
“Why do people constantly make personal attacks at me?!” Rachel shouts, now at no one in particular. Before Shelly can reply with the news that Rachel is making up reasons to be offended, Rachel helpfully adds, “Shelly, I just don’t want to talk about it.” Rachel runs off to the loser asylum, where an unamused Jordan must listen to Rachel’s insanity, since apparently she wants to talk again. Quickly, Rachel’s tearful yelping becomes an octave-jumping monologue of Richard III proportions. Enjoy the theater:
“Daniele tore apart Brendon and I, and she did it on purpose! She did it on purpose to hurt my feelings! I lost Brendon, and they all come back and attack me! What do they all want from me? What do they, seriously? What am I supposed to do? My best friend, my fiance, my soulmate is out of the house? And they still have to personally dig at me? AHHHAHEHHEHHHH!”
Of course, it’s laughable that Rachel would pretend anyone’s actions are personal in Big Brother. It’s even greater that she can slip into a woe-is-me monologue over completely fabricated paranoia. No one wants to hurt you, Rachel. They just want you to live in another house where your clucks and whinnies won’t rupture eardrums across this nation. That’s not personal. That’s a public service. Even Porsche admits, “Rachel started losing it. I have to distance myself, which makes two smart quips this season from Porsche. Let’s take a moment to watch the pig flying over our computers. Stunning.
Next, the quavering HOH Kalia listens in as Jordan and Rachel call her Daniele’s lackey. For some reason, this upsets the hell out of Kalia, and I cannot understand why. Aren’t all the veterans each others’ lackeys? Doesn’t everyone in the house have to align with someone? Aren’t some players bound to be more dynamic than others? Isn’t being a floater necessary sometimes? Kalia’s sensitivity to their meaningless comments — which were said mostly to calm down Rachel — bothers me. I want Kalia to be a rogue upstart with more on her mind than the approval of others, but she always finds a reason to second-guess herself. You know Daniele’s not standing around waiting for Jordan to blow kisses, Kalia. Take some hints from her resistance and iron-tough jawline.
But please, Kalia, continue not to take hints from Jeff, who responds to one of Jordan’s emotional outbursts with the classic catchphrase, “You girls all have YER PERIODS right now?” God. He redeems himself slightly by assuring Shelly that she’s his teammate, but if I were Shelly, I might respond, “Why are you being so personal with me? Are you on YER PERIOD?” And maybe he’d cry?
After Kalia and her nominees Rachel and Jeff draw three other names to compete in the P.O.V. challenge — Adam, Shelly, and Jordan, much to Daniele’s chagrin — the sextet lines up for a Greek-themed game of Sisyphean ball-rolling. Everyone wears a toga, since Big Brother is a sincere recreation of any party from The Sims. The first player to roll a ball up and down a pyramidal incline 300 times without allowing it hit the ground wins. 300 times. Without fumbling. That’s a lot. That’s how many electrified goat screeches Rachel emits in a weekend. We’re talking serious quantities.
The game commences, and after Shelly, Kalia, and Jordan drop out early because their rolling abilities are embarrassing, Rachel starts to falter too. In fact, Rachel’s work this challenge is astoundingly gauche. She bobbles, flails, and loses control of her ball multiple times, and it provokes a glorious Daniele soundbite.
“Rachel, being the best competitor to ever play this game, sucks,” she tells us. It is so lovely to be a Daniele fan. I’m really enjoying it. She delivers on so many levels of goodness (snark, defiance, stoic lovelessness) that I can’t help but send valentines to her Big Brother cubbyhole. After Rachel drops out of the game, Jeff and Adam square off in a homestretch — and finally, Jeff secures the victory and the Power of Veto. Very cinematic in its evil justice, no? Jeff is understandably cocky and happy to save himself.
I’ll sum up Kalia’s televised response to Jeff’s self-save as such: In the package we saw, Kalia consults Daniele about sparing Rachel and choosing Lawon to replace Jeff on the chopping block, since Lawon says he doesn’t mind being evicted during this weird week of mysterious, Chenbot-ordained rules. Daniele thinks it’s the wrong move, and she warns against it. As any outraged Big Brother zealot will tell you, that’s not really what happened. In reality, Shelly wheedled Kalia into switching her original choice of a replacement nominee, Adam, and told her to pick Porsche, who would almost certainly earn enough votes for elimination. This way, Shelly reasons, Rachel wouldn’t have a chance to win the eviction duel (against one of the four eliminated players), come back, and make Kalia her prime target. Shelly successfully protects her alliance this way, all while appealing to Kalia’s camaraderie with the firebreathing veterans. Accordingly, Kalia’s conference with Daniele actually concerned switching her vote to Porsche, not Lawon as we thought we saw. In fact, Lawon’s name came up in the conversation of eviction as a wild lark, and he surprised both Daniele and Kalia by agreeing to the plan. Confusing? Yes. In fact, it’s much too complicated for TV. But it can’t be denied that Shelly warmed Kalia to the idea of a different nominee, and for that she should be commended. Or hanged? Studied? She should be given a week’s supply of Beige-On Bodyspray, I think. The lady is impressive.
So, when the nomination ceremony occurs, Kalia dutifully switches out Jeff for Lawon. Which is so weird. Now Jeff, Jordan, and Rachel enjoy a renewed partnership with Kalia (and, by default, Daniele), and it doesn’t seem like any of them will be double-crossing each other in the next week. Lawon, I fear you’re jive-stepping to an early demise tomorrow. Don your plaid pants of sorrow, because I think Rachel just cajoled her way out of a sure elimination. Ugh. Now I’m emitting an electrified goat screech of my own.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Dramatic and twisty enough for you? Were you impressed by anyone in particular? Were you mad about what you didn’t get to see? Hit me in the comments, read me regularly at Movieline.com, and follow me on Twitter at @louisvirtel.