We waste no time at all getting to the nominations for the last eviction before finale night — the final hobbit sacrificed to the innermost rim of Mount Doom, as it were.
Paul betrays no new emotion in putting up Kevin and Josh. I contemplate, for just a fleeting moment, whether it would have been better for Paul to put up both Christmas and Josh, if only because while the odds of winning would have stayed the exact same, Paul probably could have even found a way to convince Kevin to throw that competition, too, and hell if that isn’t downright entertaining.
Nevertheless, what’s done is done, and the only thing that would stop a Paul-Christmas-Josh final three is if the one thing that absolutely could not happen had happened: Kevin winning the veto.
Poor Kevin. It’s tempting to comfortably count him out from the get-go, solely based on his historically high number of challenge losses. But the tragedy of Kevin this week is not in getting evicted or even in being written off. It’s in the delusion he keeps right up until the very end, believing that Paul still might keep his word, that Christmas still might vote out Josh, that people still might show themselves to be trustworthy even though this is and always will be a sticky word in Big Brother. Unfortunately, Kevin made a habit of misplacing his trust in Paul (like everyone else) and it strung him along until the very end.
The final veto is still one of those relative nail-biters where you’re sort of kind of just maybe waiting to see whether Kevin will pull off one of those horrifyingly seismic floater wins. It turns out, though, that veto competition is a time-traveling trivia competition that demands perfect chronological recollection of the most significant events from the season. It’s even easier then to assume that there’s no hope for Kevin, who has made a habit of seemingly only paying attention to the constant brushing back of his chic Kate Gosselin bangs.
And so, Kevin strikes out, Paul wins the veto, and Kevin — again, after a certain amount of excitement that things could still work out in his favor — walks out the door thanks to Christmas’ vote. (“You were right and Christmas went rogue!” Paul glooms in the diary room, and, well, our now-minimal tolerance for those kinds of Paul statements is a whole other beast that I leave to another recapper to unpack next week.)
Meanwhile, the jury house is, expectedly, madness as it doubles in size in this single episode, and the confrontations prove to be more dramatic and buzzy than usual (to my sheer delight). The highlights include:
– Cody grumbling about Matt, and Matt calling him “guy.” Truth be told, I don’t even really remember much about why Cody would be mad at Matt. Then again, Cody is the kind of guy who could get mad if a mirror looked at him the wrong way, so who cares at this point.
– Jason making up with Alex, in a slightly tearful way that I’m sure was way better off camera. It’s hard to pity Jason anymore after both his wave of bad decisions and his insistence on wearing that bandana in weirder ways than a Survivor buff.
– Raven’s JAW-DROPPING bombshell that she was the puppet master of the game and that she pulled all the strings with Paul. “We all had the same alliance,” says everyone. “No, but the one Paul really cared about was Matt and myself,” she insists, and oh my god, thank goodness for Mark being there to at least speak what the audience is thinking. His speechlessness at Raven’s delusion is one of those golden moments of the season (right up there with Josh’s wide-eyed discovery of Paul’s cry-acting). “How good you feel about how you played the game just blows my mind,” Mark spills, and awww. I miss Mark already.
But basically, it’s Elena who puts it best as she watches playback of the series of unfortunate events that show Paul, and more Paul, and even more Paul, all leading up to the begrudged reckoning of Paul next week. “This is infuriating,” says Elena, thereby summing up every single Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, and select Fridays in the fateful summer of 2017.