A power couple gets torn asunder, and a new twist promises to radically upend the game yet again. Will the twists never stop? (No. Never.)

By Darren Franich
Updated August 05, 2011 at 05:00 AM EDT
Big Brother Hug Elves
Credit: CBS
S13 E13

Am I the only one who’s sad to see Brendon leave the Big Brother house? True, the guy is a lout, a sap, a princely douche rocket who approaches all non-Rachel humans with dismissive disinterest; true, he’s basically Val Kilmer from Top Gun, except without the gay subtext. But there is something insanely addictive about the particular way in which Brendon and Rachel play Big Brother. Most successful players are good at challenges, but they also play a decent social game — sometimes by coasting along on pure charm (like Jeff and Jordan), sometimes by coasting along on a boat constructed entirely out of lies (Evel Dick). But Brendon and Rachel have horrible social game. In both of their seasons on the show, they have played according to the same insane Hail-Mary game plan: The expectation that one of them would always win the HoH challenge, or barring that, the veto challenge.

The plan actually worked for them surprisingly often, too. But the problem with a Hail-Mary game plan is that it only has to fail once. So, at the start of last night’s episode, Brendon was sitting on the block next to Jordan, who is so gosh darn lovable that she refused an offer to join the Care Bears because she was worried that the Care Bear Stare might hurt someone’s eyes. There was some talk about trying to win voters over to Brendon’s side. Brendon knew he had Rachel and Porsche. While that triumvirate was holding a meeting, Shelly leisurely strolled over and was all like, “Hey gang, whatcha plotting about?” (You’ll remember that she tried the same thing on Daniele and Kalia in Wednesday’s episode. I love how Shelly has managed to play for all sides of the house so far, and I’ll be intrigued to see how much further this strategy takes her.)

Brendon explained to Shelly that he wanted her vote. Shelly nodded, “Yes, yes, of course, I won’t backstab you,” clearly sharpening her knives in preparation for a good old-fashioned backstabbing. Then Brendon tried to convince Adam to join up with Brenchel. Brendon’s method of convincing Adam sounded a little bit like this:

BRENDON [putting on brass knuckles] “Now, y’see, Elf-Boy, we want you to be our friend. We’re nice people. And if you don’t want to be our friend, then me and my fiancée here is going to stuff a set of jingle bells where the sun don’t shine. I’m a Ph.D. student, see?”

Adam did not seem particularly charmed. So that’s one voter chased away. Rachel descended into a depressive funk, modeling her tragedy sunglasses and staring blankly into the cloudless sky. Porsche, who I’m happy to admit appears to have achieved something like sentient thought, tried to set her straight. “You have to stop with the sad thing,” she said. “It’s making people uncomfortable.”

NEXT: She’s mad, mad, she tells you!That set Rachel off into a genuine meltdown spiral. “I’m fighting this entire house by myself, just like last summer!” she proclaimed, beating a hasty retreat to her safety hammock. Brendon tried to soothe her, but he asked, “Did I make a mistake taking you off the block?” “Yes,” said Rachel. “And you made a mistake by ever asking me to marry you. I ruin everything! When I get out of the house this summer, people are going to hate me more. I’m not gonna ever get a job. I’m not even that smart. Brendon, you can’t marry me! I’m crazy!”

Rachel haters were probably rejoicing during this tirade, screaming “Yes, yes, a thousand times yes, everything you are saying is accurate.” But I found myself feeling just a little bit sorry for the lady. Let’s start discussing: Can she somehow reform all this energy into something positive, setting off on an Uma Thurman-style quest for vengeance? Or is she just going to continue a downward spiral into madness? It certainly says something that she seems to have chased off her only other ally beside Brendon. And her old pals Jorff don’t seem too excited to pick up the pieces. “When every piece of fruit and vegetable she looks at reminds her of Brendon, I’m gonna rip my hair out,” said Jeff.

But enough about Brenchel — Brendon strolled out into the Great Beyond, pausing briefly in the exit foyer to throw one long stare back at his fiancée behind the vacuum-sealed Big Brother door. The first month of this season of Big Brother basically focused on one central rivalry: the Veterans vs. the Newbies, with all the power in the house cheerfully sliced between Brenchel and Jorff. Those days are over now. There’s a new power couple in town. Their names are Daniele and Kalia, and they are running this place.

They host private VIP girl-talk beer parties in the HoH room, where they put on hipster glasses and watch the surveillance monitors and make big plans for the future. They’re the only people in the house who seem suspicious of Shelly. Porsche wants to join their club, because Rachel is totally laying down the bummer on her luxury vibe. They’re also just a hilarious couple of people — and if they can’t stop themselves from descending into intra-house bitchery, they at least know how to make that bitchery sound scathingly funny.

Daniele’s papa, Evel Dick, swung by the show last night to remind us that he’s one of the show’s greatest players (true) and also point out all the ways that Daniele has been failing. “She’s trying to come out of the shadow that I cast on her in season 8 so desperately. She’s playing so hard so fast,” said Dick. He made the uncannily apt comparison between Daniele’s flirtation with Dominic and her season-8 dalliance with Nick — the editing was particularly harsh here, with Daniele basically repeating some lines word for word across the years, and her changing hair color gave the whole thing an accidentally Lynchian overtone. Dick thinks Daniele should have waited until the top 8 to make moves against the power couples.

Hearing Dick talk, I was reminded of the peculiar generational struggle at the core of The Sopranos, as exemplified by the characters of Tony and Christopher (or “Christufuh”). Initially, their character dynamic seemed to be about the passage of power from one generation to the next. But by the end of the series, their relationship seemed to suggest something more apocalyptic — that, in fact, there would be no “next generation.” It will be interesting to see if Daniele can actually out-Dick Dick, or if she’s walking straight to her own doom.

NEXT: Like father, like daughter?There are two things I took away from Dick’s chat:

1. Man, I would love to watch this guy critique Big Brother every week.

2. Daniele was already my favorite player in the game — she’s a careful planner who’s not afraid to take risks — but adding in the generational discord makes her particular story arc in this season invigoratingly mythic. She’s like the Viking princess who sets off from her village to prove to her aging, once-great father that she can conquer the sea just like him. (To continue the occasional Game of Thrones motif in these recaps, she reminds me a little bit of Asha Greyjoy — thoughts, GoT fans?) Because she despises her father, she has to prove herself to her father, by becoming her father. God, Dr. Freud would have loved Big Brother.

Daniele caught a nice break at the end of the episode. Kalia wound up dominating the HoH challenge, soundly defeating her housemates in a game that involved memories of absent housemates. That means the Kalia/Dani alliance will have another week in the HoH throne room. Do you think they’ll gun straight for Rachel? Or will they start picking off the side players, like Shelly? (Shelly seems like the much larger threat, right?)

More importantly: As Julie Chen announced officially last night, next week will see the return of an evicted housemate. Whoever gets eliminated next Thursday will compete against Brendon, Dominic, Cassi, and Keith for a chance to re-enter the house. Given how often Brendon has successfully surprised/tormented everyone by winning a challenge, we can’t really count him out just yet, but I’d love to see how a return visit from Dominic or Cassi would upend the house. Both Dominic and Cassi fancied themselves power players, and they might actually flourish in a post-Team Veteran household. And Keith, well, he loved the ladies!

Fellow viewers, what did you think of the eviction episode? Are you loving the Kalia/Daniele alliance as much as I am? Do you agree with Evel Dick’s critiques of his daughter’s performance? Do you think he actually watches Big Brother and mumbles things at his TV set? Send me your thoughts on Twitter and hit the message boards!

Episode Recaps

Big Brother

Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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