A thought occurred to me (!) about halfway through Thursday’s Big Brother: It’s all downhill from here. When Julie Chen sullenly declared that we’d witness a double eviction, I realized that dropping from eight to six houseguests jumpstarts not only a new leg of the game, but a new game. The old alliances? Warped and contorted beyond repair. The new lineup? A sinister tableau of underestimated, overblown, and fairly shell-shocked contenders. My verdict? Big Brother turned itself inside out and just became fantastic. And with this episode, the real fight begins.
Even before Julie Chen blasts the interrogation strobes on the two eviction candidates, change is afoot in the Big Brother manse. While Kalia pouts over Daniele’s potential departure and Jeff pouts over Daniele’s turncoat politics, Daniele herself paces on the patio and deduces a pretty great plan. If she can cajole the somewhat malleable Shelly and Adam, she can earn the votes to survive elimination. Wacky! And mysteriously, the task isn’t too impossible: Shelly realizes that defying Jeff and Jordan and voting for Kalia is more likely to propel her into the Final Two than staying in a partnership with the house’s remaining power couple. To be honest, this sliver of common sense feels downright life-affirming. If Shelly’s going to be a no-nonsense mama with a sweet caramel shell (literally), she has to know that Jeff and Jordan’s word doesn’t matter for long. She’s torn up about betraying them, though.
“I need to go against the two people that have given me the greatest gift in the game!” she sobs. Uh? Is that gift… one of Jeff’s specialty tanktops? A guaranteed third place? Friendship? A turn in the humilitard? One of Jeff’s radiant haircuts? Help me out here.
Shelly assigns herself the task of wheedling Adam into backing Dani and voting out Kalia. He won’t budge. Why, you ask?
“I don’t know if I can trust Daniele,” he murmurs. Oh, Adam. This is one of the reasons you’re not only the dumbest chap ever to play Big Brother, but one of the lamest, too. You know you won’t get into the final two with Jeff and Jordan. You know you have to make a move of some sort at some point if you’re going to survive. And when you’re presented with that obvious opportunity, you balk. Unless Adam has a hidden-away agenda that I can’t detect, I don’t see what he’s even doing playing the game. He’s like Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club, hanging around for no reason than having to hang around somewhere. Anywhere. Except Ally Sheedy rules, and Adam is a harrumphing disappointment.
So Shelly, who is now an unscrupulous, damn lovable game player, moves on from Adam and seeks out an unlikely ally (not Ally) in Rachel. Yes, that Rachel. The Rachel with the Rugrat squawk whose definition of “floater” is as dubious as Brendon’s degree. Shelly baits the burgundy-tressed Gorgon with one simple line: “Jeff threw that cornhole game.”
Rachel’s eyes expand to IMAX proportions and she replies with a hushed squeal: “He did?” Shelly’s referring to the P.O.V. game that Jeff could’ve won to save Brendon. After a quick confirmation with Daniele, Rachel seems — and let me make sure you’re hearing this right — on board with backing her. And no one is more shocked than Daniele.
“Then comes a glimmer of hope in red extensions and furry boots,” Daniele sighs. “I will do anything to stay, even it means making a deal with the devil.”
I dare you to root against that. I dare you to root against 1) that honesty, 2) that vaguely film-noir description of Rachel’s grotesque presence, and 3) that Daniele didn’t rely on a moving-target boyfriend to remain in the game. She’s clearly the season 13 fan favorite, if I’m the fan in question. And right now, I am. Weeee!
We move on to the night’s first elimination. Daniele stands up and denounces contestants who do nothing but “write a check for Jeff and Jordan.” Haha. Cute. What a funny thing to say before staying in the game! The votes come in, and the tally is Daniele, 3; Kalia, 2. Wait. What? What? Does that mean — Daniele is eliminated? But what about humanity? And grace! And righteousness! And her jawline fit for Rushmore!
Oh, wait, here’s the issue: Rachel anxiously changed her choice and claimed to vote based on “bad gameplay.” Was Kalia’s gameplay really much better than Daniele’s? Whatever the reason, Daniele is gone. Gone. And no amount of monologuing about her fine leadership, self-possession, or sharp mandible will save her. Worse yet, if Adam had only followed through with Shelly’s reasonable request, she’d still be here. I could bloviate about the injustice of this scenario, but I’m already psyched for the night’s second elimination — particularly if it’s of Rachel, since she capped her D.R. confessional about Daniele with the following slander: “You’re arrogant, rude, pretty much a horrible b*tch. Yeah I said it, you’re a b*tch.”
Just a thought: Maybe Rachel doesn’t know the meaning of arrogant. Second thought: Maybe Rachel is the meaning of arrogant.
Since Chenbot has alerted the contestants about the double elimination, she forces them into another HOH game called “Before or After.” It’s simple: The HGs are given two events from the game and have to decide which happened first. Now, this is a thinking activity, so you can imagine how quickly Adam and Porsche drop out. Like marbles in Ker-Plunk. But can you imagine that Kalia topples Jordan in a final-two showdown? Because she sure does, earning herself HOH and a pass into the top 6. The sex blogger has become her own ringleader in the past 15 minutes, rising from Daniele’s quivering underling to a focused crusader. Carrie Bradshaw could tie up a lame column with that kind of literary triumph. Kalia wastes no time nominating up the two most conspicuously loud players: Rachel and Jeff. They’re sure they’ll win the veto, so we don’t see thoughts of fury race across their faces like Manic Panic streaks in Rachel’s hair.
And yet. Oh, and yet. In the fast, ensuing Double Dare-style P.O.V. game, Kalia’s main ally Porsche beats the odds, finds two clown shoes in a Chuck E. Cheese-like ball pit first, and earns veto power. How’s that for a spike in the game? We see Jeff’s disappointment, and I’m sure he babbled something about “floaters” getting all the power. Here’s my new thought on floaters: If you play 10 hands of a poker game, win zero, and continue playing, you’re not a loser. In fact, if you’re playing to win a maximum pot, it’s better to win and gamble more at the end. I don’t know why I’m dignifying the “floater” stigma with a Texas Hold ‘Em analogy, but let’s remind ourselves that the term “floater” was coined to protect players who have no idea how to practice restraint on Big Brother. ‘K? Great. Especially since Jordan remains the most obvious floater of the season.
Unsurprisingly, the final vote between Jeff and Rachel ends in a tie. Porsche and Shelly pick Jeff while Jordan and Adam vote for Rachel. As the deciding vote, Kalia steps up, invents an explanation about respect and strategy because she’s Douglas MacArthur, and boots Lieutenant Haircut (Jeff) to Julie Chen’s bench of embarrassment. Do you hear me? The man who prided himself on his every game move — even though his success had more to do with an ingrained veteran alliance than active smarts — is kaput. In a typically misogynist move, he complains to Julie that no one in the house “has a sack,” and relied on him to advance in the competition. That may be so, Jeff, but that’s also your fault for not building alliances that hinged on mutually proactive participation. Sorry!
So where does that leave us? Our remaining contenders are Shelly, Kalia, Porsche, Jordan (who is honestly insufferable, if you watch this Big Brother After Dark clip), Rachel, and pointless ole Adam. Who’s going to win? Team Daniele, are you rooting for Kalia? Are you rooting for Shelly, whose social prowess is officially second to none? Or somehow Rachel, who might’ve executed the dumbest move of the season by voting out Daniele instead of Kalia? Hit me in the comments, read me regularly at Movieline.com, and follow me on Twitter at @louisvirtel!