Big Brother Recap: Total Soap Opera

I repeat the same five words before every athletic challenge on Big Brother: “It’s like the Soulless Olympics!” “Oh no. Jeff’s gonna win.” Most of the competitions at Chenbot Manor are suited for swifter, brawnier contestants, and the HOH detergent race on Sunday’s episode was no exception. To see ultra-lean Jeff jaunt into the lead (as we did on Thursday’s episode) wasn’t exciting. In fact, it was scathingly dull. But did he pull through on Sunday’s ep with the win, earning himself the distinction of Head of Household and a gold medal in the Soaptathlon? Join us as we relive the sudsy Sabbath.

The shuttle-run resumes as producers drench the contestants with suds, rain, and other factory-produced precipitation. Shelly, whose beige complexion has darkened to a dewy umber, mumbles about her daughter as she darts. Adam, Jordan, and Kalia saunter behind, losing steam like an old Fulton watercraft. Jeff and Rachel maintain a healthy lead, naturally, with Porsche almost matching pace. Daniele glowers from the sidelines, her eyes small with that signature Donato resentment. Just like me! It’s no secret that I root for Daniele, but I feel helpless watching her limping cronies try and compete with Jeff, whose metallic abs alone could bounce them clear across the yard.

But of course, the other contestants don’t even need a push from Jeff: They injure themselves on their own! Beardless Adam falls and disappears in a huge, cumulus tuft of suds. Jordan trips too, in her pink and green “humilitard.” Kalia topples and makes a Muppet noise to cover up the tangible shame. Porsche slides around in a daze. Everything she wears is an honorary humilitard. My high hopes for her are dwindling.

“How do I stop the Jeff machine?!” Porsche asks us in confessional. Before I can suggest an assassination attempt, the relay is over: Jeff wins in a literal landslide, and Rachel is the first to bark, “Congratulations!” like a frightened hyena daemon. Ugh.

Instead of dwelling on the ramification’s of Jeff’s victory, let’s just focus our contempt on Rachel. We see her in a flashback after Brendon’s eviction hissing the following nonsense at Daniele: “[The audience gave Brendon] the same amount of cheers as last time. Seems like America likes him, huh, Dani?” She’s trying to make Daniele feel bad for nominating him last week.

Allow me to respond on behalf of Daniele, who just looks dumbfounded at Rachel’s preteen prissiness. 1) Rachel, the audience is cheering because a blinking sign told them to. 2) What difference does it make who America likes? America once liked Lee DeWyze. 3) Brendon has had two seasons of Big Brother to build a following. It’s not impressive that America voted him back into the competition over three newbies. 4) You are clumsy with sass and intimidation. One TVLine commenter noted last week, “What’s the point of making fun of the houseguests?” The correct answer is: Big Brother is a game of social dynamics, and screeching self-absorption and vileness are Rachel’s main weapons in the warfare. It’s fair to note her unstable gameplay and obvious delusions. Because the nature of the competition prevents the other houseguests from calling her out, I serve up the catharsis here. I’m just trying to heal everyone! Except Rachel, of course. She breeds pain.

So, Jeff is Head of Household. After a smiley trip to his HOH room, we visit with Shelly, who is still flabbergasted that Rachel would “talk behind her back.”

“I don’t know how she lives with herself,” Shelly deadpans. After getting herself angry enough, she decides to crash the HOH room where Rachel, Jeff, and Jordan are meeting, intending to confront Rachel about her nasty behavior. Right, because confronting Rachel always ends in a stately compromise. She’s like Churchill.

“I want to get one thing cleared up with you,” Shelly begins, leveling a dark, sunken glare at Rachel. “You’ve got to stop making the eyes at me, rolling your eyes. It cannot continue. I can’t help that I was on the block against Brendon and that I won. The looks of death? That’s gotta stop. If it’s not and you’re gonna keep going to talk about me behind my back to people, then let’s get that out in the open now, and either solve it or decide that one of is not going to be in this group.”

Of course, Rachel hasn’t really been talking behind Shelly’s back, so that diatribe is kind of weak. And of course, since they’re teammates, there’s no reason for Shelly to be so huffy. But I still like that Shelly enjoyed a moment of honesty in a game devoted to dishonesty, particularly when everyone is afraid to acknowledge Rachel’s extreme hypersensitivity. Jeff tells Shelly and Rachel to bite their tongues before a real argument can happen there, but I think Shelly’s likability jumped up a peg — even considering her weird misinformation. Go, Jerri Blank, go!

Before Jeff can conclude the episode with inevitable eviction nominations, his two most obvious targets corner him on the patio for a last-minute plea. The first beggar is Kalia, who tries to woo him with the following argument (paraphrased for your enjoyment):

“Hey, Jeff. Hey. Remember a couple weeks ago when I tried to eliminate you? Me too. Heh. I hope you understand. Vote for Rachel! She’s not that nice. I’m speaking in a pleasant voice! Bye.”

Applause. The next beggar is Porsche, whose self-defense is somehow worse.

“Hey, Jeff. I’m not the best at this. I don’t want to be butt-kissing and stuff like that. But vote for someone else. I can save you if I ever get good enough to win a challenge. Goodbye. Wait — am I on Big Brother right now?”

Here’s where I have to give Jeff credit. In confessional, he tells us, “It’s Day 49, and Porsche came up to me and — let me get this right, because it’s hilarious — tried to talk ‘game’ for the first time in 49 days. It was a sight to see, let me tell you.”

When all’s said and done, if you want a chance to win Big Brother, you have to participate in more than one discussion about nominations. You have to establish active gameplay more than once a year. Though Jeff is tolerant of Kalia and Porsche’s pleas, he renders a quick decision when choosing the night’s evictions, who are (trumpets please!) Kalia and Porsche. Daniele is the obvious backdoor candidate, but for my sake, let’s pretend that Jeff would never, ever ruin our viewing experience with such a callous decision. OK? Great. I’m screeching hoarsely like Rachel to drown out the bleak potential. Brendon, hug me and weep into my magenta highlights!

What’d you think of Sunday’s episode? Predictable? Fun? Do you even care about the Have-Not situation? Does watching Porsche, Daniele, and Kalia eat jalapeno peppers and eggs thrill you? How protected is Rachel as a Brendon-free player? Leave your thoughts in the comments, read me regularly at Movieline.com, and follow me on Twitter at @louisvirtel!

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