By jibrilgagale
September 12, 2018 at 10:06 PM EDT
Sonja Flemming/CBS

The realities of time are finally sinking in on the Big Brother houseguests as we’re exactly two weeks away from what is sure to be a messy finale. With outcasts Haleigh and Sam on the block and the Level Six alliance still four deep in the final seven, the idea of one big happy alliance making it to the home stretch is as much of a pipe dream as a Kaitlyn séance on finale night.

In the wake of nominations, both Sam and Haleigh have very different ways of coping with their fates. While Haleigh’s frustration is mixed with a resolve to win the veto, Sam’s is mixed with a big dose of passive aggression as she tells Tyler (and later Haleigh) in the storage room that she’s totally fine with her nomination (she isn’t). Tyler tells the diary room that he hopes she doesn’t lose her cool and make herself a bigger target so that Level Six’s plan to get Haleigh out isn’t ruined. JC and Brett wonder in the bedroom if Sam’s temperament can handle a week on the block. Sam, of course, is a needed number for their planned Kaycee/Angela double-cross, which will probably never happen considering that it requires winning a competition. Another worst-case scenario for the two is Haleigh winning the veto. If that happens, one of them will be the replacement nominee. Also seeing the veto as a must-win are Kaycee and Tyler, both of whom think Haleigh winning a veto would be a nightmare for their game. If the veto is won by either nominee, both are quick to peg JC as the likely replacement nominee. “It’s the calm before it gets crazy,” Tyler says as the bigger picture of the game sinks in.

Kaycee comes to the living room with a message from Big Brother and a little gift to help the final seven out as the home stretch kicks in: video messages from the houseguests’ loved ones. Everyone is a mixture of giddy and emotional as they hear encouraging messages from friends and family after 82 days away from the outside world. Like with Sunday’s episode, it’s eye-opening to see a different side of the houseguests outside of the cut-throat world inside the house. JC’s reaction in the diary room to his message from his best friend, Regina, is something we haven’t really seen from him. Talking about the pain he feels not receiving a message from his family and feeling like anything he does (like being on a hit show) is not enough for them is certainly a different sight than the often-problematic schemer he can be on the show and feeds. In spite of that downbeat footnote, Sam puts things into perspective when she calls the messages “a great comfort.” With that much-needed morale boost behind them, it’s soon time to pick players for the veto competition — and since there are only six competitors and seven houseguests, someone’s gotta be the odd one out. This time it’s JC. This is the ideal scenario for Level Six all their members remain in the hunt. Despite an earlier montage showing the showmance between him and his new “big dumb puppet” Brett, JC makes the pitch to Tyler that Brett be the replacement nominee should Sam or Haleigh win the veto.

“I cannot go as a f—ing replacement nominee,” he tells Tyler with all the entitlement that comes with winning absolutely nothing this season. JC further tells Tyler that Brett would be gunning to expose the Tyler/Angela showmance if he won HoH, despite this not entirely being the whole truth. Tyler expresses his concerns in the diary room, saying that he’s not sure whether JC’s filling his head with suspicion or telling the truth. This uncertainty isn’t helped by JC’s relentless insistence that he put up Angela and Kaycee on his next HoH. Tyler tells the diary room he’s all but convinced JC needs to be the replacement nominee.

The veto competition is a return to that evergreen known as “BB Comics.” One by one, each competitor will have to look at screens containing comic-book covers made after each of this season’s evicted houseguests. Once they have the covers memorized, they’ll have to go through the “city” to find five pairs of superhero cutouts; each pair has one “imposter” that doesn’t match their respective cover. Whoever finds the imposters the fastest will win the power of veto, but each time they get the imposters wrong, they’ll have to go back through the city and figure out where they went wrong. Each of the houseguests has their own way of working through the maze; some spend more time looking at the covers than others, who blaze through the path and think about mistakes later. Kaycee makes quick work of the competition as usual and wins her third-straight veto with a shockingly fast time of 2 minutes, 17 seconds. This veto all but seals Haleigh’s fate in the game, and she knows it. “I had one thing to do,” she tells the diary room, emotionally frustrated. “It just sucks.”

Ahead of the veto meeting, Tyler fills Kaycee in on JC’s machinations to try to get her and Angela out. Both briefly laugh off JC’s confidence in Brett being part of the plan, but when they realize Brett hasn’t come to them with that information yet, they’re left to wonder what (if any) change to their Haleigh plans to make now. Kaycee tells the diary room that with so few evictions left, it’s critical that the right decision is made this week. When the meeting does come, Kaycee sticks to her guns and doesn’t use the veto. While Haleigh says that it’s still not the end for her, Sam chooses to bring up how she’s kept a lot in the last week, and she’s just about ready to blow. Or implode, given her past history. Will that unpredictability change the almost-inevitable outcome of tomorrow’s eviction? Will Tyler and Kaycee’s move to keep JC at bay backfire as the double eviction is revealed to the house? Double eviction episodes manage to have some of the most dramatic moments in BB history even with its breakneck live pace (who could forget Keesha’s iconic board throw in BB10 after winning HoH) so tomorrow is sure to wreak some havoc. Stay tuned!