If yesterday was the part of summer camp when you introduce yourself to everyone and try to pretend your real life back home is a little more popular and a little less “does the P.A. announcements,” today marks the day after — when the pleasantries vanish and it’s time to start slowly fashioning shivs using splinters from your bunk beds.
It’s nomination day in the Big Brother house, and all summer long, I’ll be taking the recapping reins on Thursdays — a day of dark reckoning on which I will be writing about the fate of 16 strangers I have never met in real life. (I thought I saw Victor once at a Target, but it turned out to be a sales display of protein powder and a CVS.)
Things tend to escalate rather quickly on the Big Brother estate, and this year is no different. A brief refresher on the three big twists of the premiere: Twist no. 1 is that some random people are back and, according to the editors, we’re only supposed to care about their fates right now. Twist no. 2 is that everyone must play on teams, although no twist can be blamed for the sheer stupidity of this year’s alliance monikers (with the exception of Category 4, which is like, acceptably clever). And twist no. 3 was not much of a twist at all — there would be an elimination during premiere week. All caught up? Great.
CUE THE INTRO CREDITS! There’s Victor, doing some dancing! And Jozea, also doing some dancing! And whoa, could it be, is that Paulie, dancing? My! Bronte also waves and Tiffany wields a ruler because she’s a teacher (and nothing says contemporary modern educator like a wooden yardstick).
At the top of the show, we find ourselves embedded with The Freakazoids, who lost the rocket-ship challenge and must now compete against one another for safety and HOH — the loser will be sent home, and the remaining three team members will pick an HOH from their ranks.
Nicole, as a veteran, is upset because she assumes she’s the easy target, and she’s not wrong: The whole house is essentially gunning for the old-timers to make like the boring kid at a sleepover and go home first. The only way the veterans are going to shake off the targets on their backs is by adding newbies to their ranks, and it’s a slow but fast-moving process thanks to some quick work from Da’Vonne and Nicole.
The vets manage to easily pull in the newbies like they’re Pokemon on route 1: Da’Vonne scoops up Tiffanessa, who cries about her horrible burden of being Vanessa’s sister and suddenly has approximately one-fourteenth less weight on her back; Nicole pulls in Corey, exercising some genuinely impressive Inception-like skills by making her teammate not only indirectly agree to keep her (there had been some talk about him throwing the competition to get her out), but also believe it was his idea for her to be HOH (which she secretly wants, for obvious reasons); lastly, James and Nicole pull in Paulie, asserting their trust in him because of their appreciation for Cody and his baby blues. (It should be noted that Nicole briefly mentions she’s hesitant to trust Paulie because Cody voted her out, which is one of those inanely dismissible arguments that shouldn’t really be a reason to not do something — like if you want Chipotle for dinner even though you already ate it the six nights before.)
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As the veterans grow their ranks, there’s one very loud voice dominating the crusade to get the returners out: Paul, the hipster clothing designer whose beard can get out tough stains and greasy grime from even the most stubborn casserole dish. More than anyone, we see Paul try to advise Corey and company to oust Nicole; we see Paul leading the cheer against Nicole in the Hit the Road competition; we see Paul rallying the troops to ensure the game doesn’t really begin until the returning four are gone. But as Corey adroitly puts it, “I guess the returners aren’t a part of Paul’s strategy, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a part of mine.”
I have decided I already like Corey and want to commend him, but I’m still not entirely sure he thought of it and there isn’t a little Nicole DiCaprio running around a beach in his head right now drawing pictures of Marion Cotillard on an Etch A Sketch.
NEXT: Hit the road, Glenn, and don’t you come back, no Glenn, no Glenn, no Glenn, no Glenn
Poor Glenn. This dog groomer-slash-retired police officer has his heart in the right place, but unfortunately, he has his body in the wrong one. Glenn was doomed on Big Brother from the moment he walked into the house with his learned wisdom and accumulated knowledge of The Ed Sullivan Show guests. It’s almost a scientific fact that hot young reality-show casts are inherently afraid of people over the age of 36.
The Freakazoids are facing off in the season’s first (or, maybe, only? I’m still not sure) “Hit the Road” competition. It’s all about balancing coconuts on a very shaky island — tres Mario Partie — and it elicits such gems from participants as “I’m realizing that the more I move, the more the island moves” (Tiffany) and “I’m not the type of person that goes home first” (Corey, perhaps unaware that’s been said by literally everyone who has ever gone home first).
Despite getting no cheers from the sidelines, save for a very democratic soccer mom “Good job, everybody” from returner Frank, it’s Nicole who emerges as the first victor. Tiffany comes up second, and then — shockingly — there’s a photo-finish tie between Glenn and Corey. (The editors then have Bronte explain to us how crazy the stakes are, because if anybody represents the American viewing public the most, it’s obviously Bronte, who has done approximately A math equation.)
Ultimately, the winner is Corey, meaning we have to tragically say farewell to Glenn, who was on the wrong reality show to begin with. He’d kick ass on Survivor, really, but he was no match for a show where people are named Bronte. Sigh. Goodbye, Glenn. Enjoy cribbage and trying to understand Snapchat.
After a quick meeting of the remaining Freakazoids, who are all safe for eviction, Nicole incepts the group again — “So you want me to do it?” she asks sheepishly/brilliantly — and earns the first HOH crown of the summer. (It’s a genuine tragedy that we’re then suddenly just thrown into her HOH room with no funfair music or unavoidable invitation of “Who wants to see my HOH room?”)
At some point later, Victor comes up to Nicole, takes off his shirt, and foolishly tells her that Jozea, his best friend in the house, is coming after her. Now, given there’s no Diary Room interview to corroborate any claim that this is part of Victor’s grand plan, it stands to reason that, yes, he is just that earnestly dumb.
Nicole, now armed with the name of a newbie who wants to take her down, relays the news back to the veterans in her HOH lair. Truly, they didn’t even need the ammunition against Jozea, because he provided enough when he made the mistake of getting into a hammock with Da’Vonne. They’re hanging out, talking mild strategy and the difficulty of getting Hamilton tickets, when he blurts out, “I’m like a messiah for the newbies.” And Da’Vonne, who is certainly no zealot but seems to have been raised perfectly right in a home with an appropriate amount of religion, decides it’s the worst thing she’s ever heard (and, honestly, can you blame her?). “First of all, God’s all-knowing,” she says in the Diary Room, “and one thing you, sir, don’t know is you just sealed your fate.”
Oh man, I forgot how much I missed Da’Vonne. She’s like a sunburn that’s fun to peel, makes you want to not go in the sun for the next nine months, and then immediately begins the cycle all over again the following June.
NEXT: Our first trip to the pawn shop
Heading into the nomination ceremony, Nicole has Jozea on her mind, sure. And she’s got Dumb Victor and Vocally Discouraging Paul to play with as well — yet she decides this is one of those weeks where her target absolutely has to go home, with no chance for any backdoor maneuvering. The only option, in her head, is putting up a strong player to use as a weapon and guarantee Jozea stays on the block through the veto competition.
Normally, I’m against the use of pawns in any situation other than a dire, brutally important, completely game-changing eviction, like if Hitler is on the block and you genuinely want to make sure he doesn’t win veto. But this is the first week! Nicole doesn’t want to get her hands too dirty, but she’s already a big target anyway, so why not just throw on disloyally dumb Victor for outing his friend, or super-absorbent Paul for being audibly against her very existence?
With the encouragement of Corey, Frank, Da’Vonne, and James, she decides there’s no other course of action than to have Paulie be her pawn. Poor, sweet, beautiful Paulie, with eyes so blue and abs Reese Witherspoon could hike between.
Surprisingly, though, he’s okay with the idea when Frank lazily suggests it (and, weirdly, makes Nicole’s previous inceptions look like masterstrokes). It’s unclear why Paulie seems to readily be up for the challenge without much resistance. He purports to want Jozea on the block just as badly, but he also knows how easily a pawn can end up going home. Still, even though he accepts the responsibility, you can almost see the reluctance in his face the moment he realizes he’s not getting out of it.
“Cody’s gonna kill me,” he says when Nicole puts him and Jozea up on the block. And there is absolutely no need to incept him because, yeah, duh.
The week’s worst quote: “I’m gonna have all sorts of things in my beard.” — Paul, remarking on the slop of the Have-Nots