Another reign as Head of Household for Vanessa, another week filled with more paranoia than a 1970s political thriller. Yes, Vanessa is once again in power, which means everyone’s dirty laundry is aired out in the open, as she jumps from houseguests to houseguest searching for news like a ravenous vulture dying for something to eat. The wheels are spinning in overdrive as she finds herself caught between a showmance with far too much hair and another showmance without much “mance.”
Vanessa ascended to power through the all-too-familiar egg carry challenge. Having to slip their fingers through chicken wire, the houseguests had to maneuver eggs into holders, and this year’s iteration made last year’s look like child’s play. Rather than scaling eggs over a vertical wall, each contestant had to carry the egg above their heads in the arc of a rainbow, taking it from one end of the rainbow to the other.
The only real strategy any of the houseguests could employ was to be careful not to trip over their own fingers. (ASIDE: Ever since the format was introduced during the eviction episode, I wondered if you could, once passing the midpoint, let the egg tumble down the other side just a bit to pick up a lead. As the many dropped eggs proved, that would likely not be the case. Those poor golden chickens. END OF ASIDE)
Liz, realizing she’s lagging behind, decides to go after the mystery luxury prize, which must be claimed before the competition could end. This decision puts more of an onus on Austin of course, who clearly believes he and his alter ego Judas (a name significant for belonging to one of the most selfish characters in the Bible) must protect Liz like she’s a dainty princess trapped away in a castle tower.
But it’s not Austin who pulls out the win — it’s Vanessa, meaning arguably the season’s most fascinating player (likable or not, at least Vanessa’s moves create tension in the house, as frustrating as some of it might be). It almost immediately sends her into a spiral of thinking and overthinking until she could think no longer, which is apparently a time that may never come.
Following her win, Vanessa is on a hunt for information, wanting to ensure whether she should stick to her Austin and Liz alliance or if her newfound team-up with Johnny Mac and Steve is better for her in the end. She runs the numbers, she interrogates all of her various alliance members for information, and though Vanessa has proven how impressive her manipulation can be, it’s everyone else who is trying to manipulate her this week. Or at the very least, make sure she doesn’t renege on whatever agreement they have with her.
She finds out about a deal between Steve and Liz before the eviction that Liz would save Steve in the event of a tie if she became HoH. She discovers from Johnny Mac Austin promised not to put his favorite dentist up but that Steve and Vanessa would have been the candidates for nomination had he become HoH. Everyone’s making deals that Vanessa wasn’t privy to, some of them legitimate, some of them clearly meant to just save face, but that distinction doesn’t matter to her. That anyone would make a deal without her, let alone one involving her and the chopping block, is unacceptable, and it sends her into a state of shocked concern.
She can’t remember conversations with Johnny Mac about keeping their alliance secret by making a deal they could break with Austin. Or if she does, she’s just particularly unhappy that it meant someone saying she would become a nominee. Time and again tonight Vanessa proves that as much as she thinks things through, she can’t seem to understand that not every deal made in the house is a binding contract.
NEXT: A concert is as good a time as any to think about nominations, right?[pagebreak]
Liz tries to calm her down after she worries that Vanessa will go after her for this deal she made with Steve. Even if it was all done just to reassure Steve, Vanessa is now wary that Liz might endanger her. Austin meets with them in the pantry trying to diffuse the situation, bouncing back and forth between truths and lies of omission, choosing whatever will best soothe Vanessa’s psyche.
It’s actually astounding to watch, in a frustrating, disappointing sort of way. For someone who seems to think through the machinations of the game in precise detail, she ignores something like the possibility of a lie the moment her place in the house is put in danger. Whether it actually is in trouble doesn’t matter — she’s willing to get everyone to talk, talk, talk to her until they reveal something she can use to save herself, something that can keep her safe.
Vanessa isn’t afraid of explaining her predicament to others, either. She gives Steve an entire spiel about being stuck between two showmances, and how the numbers work out for her to take out Johnny Mac this week. This decision naturally puts Steve on edge. He used his HoH with the idea that it would allow Vanessa, John, and himself to take the majority rule of the house away from the Austwins. And now, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
So maybe the best thing for Vanessa, and the sanity of the house, is for the current HoH to get out of the house for a little while. Stretch her legs, see something other than Austin’s chin ponytail and Johnny Mac’s back hair (let’s not even begin to think about what the shower drains are like in this house). Luckily for her, that opportunity comes knocking in the form of Frankie Grande.
Yes, Frankie has returned to bestow a Grande-themed prize upon the winner of the luxury egg winner, Liz, as well as another houseguest of her choosing. That prize is a trip outside the house to go see Ariana Grande in concert with Frankie and even meet his sister. Knowing what the day entails, Austin can’t get away from his in-house girlfriend fast enough, pointing at Vanessa as the clear friend to take along for the trip. Liz of course does pick the HoH, which not only seems like the sole logical choice to make, but bolsters Liz’s position in Vanessa’s eyes.
(ASIDE: Let’s assume for a moment that this prize were in fact the only prize that would have been awarded for the luxury win. Just how different would this episode have played had Johnny Mac or Steve won? At least Austin could have taken Liz along, and his apathy toward the event would have been masked by her excitement. But I can’t imagine Steve rocking out to “Problem” in the stands with Frankie. But boy would I have loved to see it. END OF ASIDE)
So Liz and Vanessa are whisked outside the house for the day, given full makeovers so they can mask their appearances. (Liz becomes soccer mom Dakota and Vanessa is rocker Roxy. Both are glimpses into an alternate reality that may or may not be the darkest timeline where everyone dresses like a member of The Hunger Games’ Capitol.) They’re then driven to the Staples Center where Frankie takes them on stage, Ariana snaps a few photos with them, and then, after being given Grande prize packs, the trio heads up to their VIP box to watch the show.
Liz seems genuinely into it, Vanessa looks like she may or may not have heard “Problem” on the radio and kind of remembers the chorus, but is thankfully exerting her energy trying to have a good time and not plotting on who to evict. I’m kidding. Of course she spent that entire concert considering evictions.
And come time for putting two heads on the chopping block, she made a clear play for one alliance over the other. Steve and Johnny Mac are nominated, leaving Austin and Liz in a decent position so long as Vanessa’s target Johnny Mac stays nominated.