Big Brother Recap: Is Shelly Lying to Us?

Wednesday’s Big Brother yielded a cute veto game (with beanbags!) and a couple great Daniele moments (including a delicious last-minute backdooring), but the episode mainly served as an intense psychological examination of Shelly, A.K.A. The Beigest Person On Television. She’s Frappuccino beige, you guys, and damn near Danielle Staub beige. Fascinating lady, this Shelly. Let’s compare notes!

First things first: Adam and Shelly competed in the veto competition (against Daniele, Kalia, Jordan, and Jeff), and Adam won the Power of Veto after convincing Jeff to throw the final round of the game. Swell, I guess? This had to irk Jeff, who was not only a fine “Cornhole” player (in the Midwest, we call that beanbag-tossing game “Bags”), but a fine competitor in general. Letting Adam win is anathema to Jeff’s victory instinct. But I bet that feeling passed once Daniele opted to replace Adam on the chopping block with Brendon, who stands a big chance of earning his second eviction tomorrow night. Any Brenchel disintegration is a good thing, it’s safe to say. No power couple has been this gross and unhinged since Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie — or maybe even Sid and Nancy? Hide the knives?

But onto Shelly, who warrants a dissertation today: Though we numbered her highly in our power rankings last week, Shelly’s nonchalant alliances with Jeff and Jordan and Brenchel and some lingering newbies were bound to work against her. That’s the danger of playing “alone” in Chenbot Manor; in your quest to rally enough voters to tolerate your existence, you have to join forces with as many willing passersby as possible. Loyalty with your allies is a momentarily obligation, not a long-term promise. Shelly made so many promises in the first month of this game that it’s possible she can’t remember the deal she forged with Brenchel to work with them until the final three. Or is it possible? Is Shelly — the yammering yokel — the most sophisticated liar in the house? Is she lying to us? Why does this offend me?

That ambiguity is actually what makes Shelly fun, whether you like her or not. Her heady gameplay is a fizzy refreshment on this rather staid season of Big Brother, and it’s mesmerizing to watch her stride up to allies, snicker about nothing, and convince them to love her. Even when we watched Shelly gawk as Rachel and Porsche spilled her secret psuedo-plan to vote out Jeff and Jordan, I couldn’t tell whether Shelly’s shock was feigned or genuine. She’s the opposite of Porsche; I can read everything on Porsche’s guileless face, but on Shelly’s, I only see strain and beigitude.

“Liar! Liar!” Shelly pouted at Rachel. “Rachel, don’t do your squintin’ and ‘gwintin” at me!” So upset was Shelly that she invented a senseless new word. Whatever “gwintin'” mean, no one wants to be it, I’m sure.

If that display wasn’t strange enough, Shelly’s anger melted into a tearful vortex by the end of the episode as we watched her accept a “prize” of 24-hour solitary confinement so she could speak with her family on the phone. As she wept to her husband Tony (a subdued Jim Parsons lookalike) and sobbed to her daughter Josie on speakerphone, one thing became abundantly clear: For a strategic player, Shelly’s emotions and calculations are too intertwined. She was just as upset speaking to her family as she was being pegged as a traitor by Rachel, and I think that vulnerability will do more to hurt her than help her. Perhaps you’re not as interested in Shelly as a potential supervillain as I am, but she vacillates so much between weeping self-victimization and casual betrayal that she might be Big Brother‘s stealthier version of Rachel. Does that freak you out? I’m shivering, personally. It reaffirms my love for Daniele, who called out Shelly’s “sketchy” tendencies before anyone else, but it also gets me excited for Shelly’s potential as a cunning cockroach in the house. She’s been stomped upon several times, but it looks like she’ll outlive Brendon tomorrow night (at least by my tally), so maybe she’s safer than we all expect. Weird. But if Shelly’s status as a viable player remains questionable, Daniele’s status as the BB13 heroine is not. When she called Brendon a “zombie we keep trying to kill” and Rachel “his zombie bride,” I cheered. I’m ready for the Brenchel zombie flick, Night of the Living Dead Eyes. Edgar Wright, please take the reins.

What did you think of this episode? Did you learn anything new, interesting, or troublesome about Shelly? Is she a relevant player or just an expendable pawn in Brenchel/Jorff/Daniele’s game? Who’s going home tomorrow? Leave your commentary below, read me regularly at Movieline.com, and find me on Twitter at @louisvirtel!