With the house united against him, James bluffs his way off the chopping block, leading Joshuah to betray Sharon
Big Brother

”Big Brother” recap: Power swings

What a fabulous episode on Wednesday, starting with that brilliant piece of editing that juxtaposed Sheila and Sharon in the can talking about how nice Joshuah is with shots of that dirty little schemer upstairs getting busy (strategizing) with Naughty Nat. Great job, producers! Howzabout more of that in the future on Big Brother and less of the banal organ-playing during those annoying Bible reads? James, of course, was the main reason for my enthusiasm. Watching that pink-haired underdog go from a weepy and worn-out loser to a cunning little conquerer reaffirmed my decision to support him till the end — unless Naughty Nat ends up convincing us all that she really deserves the cash.

Let’s back up to Sunday’s episode. Nat’s scoring one for Team Christ by winning head of household wasn’t exactly the payoff I had in mind after Chelsia went out with a bam, but it did prompt some pretty awesome comments from Nat’s alliance, starting with this gem from Ryan: ”You’re such an idiot. How did you win?” But that wasn’t half as delicious as the comments from her own father in that priceless letter from home: ”No one believes me when I first tell them about you” (probably because he’s long described her as a flat-chested Catholic girl who’s saving herself for marriage). Frankly, I was without words as she read that letter out loud, though I did wonder how her dad’s coworkers at Wal-Mart were able to follow Big Brother without hearing so much as a hint of her, ahem, after-hour activities. But then it dawned on me (this also might shed some light on the mission of this TV Watch and why I don’t always keep up with ShoToo): Roughly 112 million homes in the U.S. have TVs, but only 12.5 percent of them (just over 14 million) subscribe to Showtime’s sister cabler. It’s hard to know how many of BB‘s 6.39 million average weekly viewers (yup, that’s all) take the premium network, and it would be presumptuous of EW.com to assume that most of the fans do. Chances are, a good portion of those viewers (and crazy Wal-Mart workers) judge the show and Naughty Nat by watching the old-fashioned way — by tuning in to CBS. That is why this TV Watch primarily sticks to the broadcast, and it might also explain why Nat’s dad would write something hopelessly naive in the letter like ”I can see how strong and smart you are” when all you ShoTooers know it ain’t her brains she was using under the blankets with Matty.

So somewhere after that letter from home (and not longer after my jaw dropped further when Adam wept in response), Nat started to get to me — but in a good way, really. When James wisely tried to appeal to her in an effort to avoid a nomination, Nat was both anger-free and candid in her reply. She just didn’t know what to do but was keeping her options open, even if she hadn’t forgotten how James threw her partner under the bus. I just wish we could make it through an entire episode without her giving a shout-out to Matty. I didn’t exactly laugh when Joshuah joked about how Matty should enter the witness-protection program (he really should, man), and the only reason I’d oppose Nat in the final two is that she might share her winnings with that lazy-eyed nitwit. Play for yourself, girl! Not him.

A final note about Sunday’s episode: It can’t be easy for the producers to keep every one of these episodes engaging, but the package about Joshuah’s coming-out moment was both disjointed and manipulative. I know I’m whining about what ended up being a bland and irrelevant segment, but I’m whining about it because it was a bland and irrelevant segment. I’ll let you guys discuss it further amongst yourselves.

NEXT: James’ grace under pressure

On to Tuesday. Anyone who’s still obsessed with James’ pre-Big Brother porn period is just reaching for a reason to despise him. Come on, guys; even I didn’t fault that Dick from BB8 for the way he had led his 44 years of life; it was the dung he slung while playing the game that really got my goat! It’s time to focus on the topic at hand: how James’ survivor skills are pretty damn legit. Take it from an astute TV Watcher like Ken, who posted this message yesterday morning: ”James is seriously rocking this game. Who cares about his gay porn past (and yes, we’ve all seen his, um, full glory. This guy is hilarious. I hope he goes far because the rest of these characters are just unlikable.” Granted, I have to wonder if Ken caught James’ breakdown on Tuesday’s show; nothing funny about that. Pretty sad, actually, enough to make me grant James’ request to ”let me be frustrated and hurt.” I, too, couldn’t fathom Sheila’s decision to blow smoke up James’ butt one moment and slam him to Joshuah the next — but saying things that people want to hear is Sheila’s MO. James should hardly be surprised by her tactics. Which is why I don’t think her duplicity warranted such a terrifying eruption of anger — and when I say ”terrifying,” I mean how he did it in tiny briefs. How can anyone respond rationally to a dude in tiny briefs? Fortunately, James came around in enough time to regain confidence for the veto competition. Seriously, Ryan, you’re folding? Again? Is it simply not possible for you to think for yourself because you need Natalie to do it for you? Dude, you handed that veto to James! (But by the way, thanks!)

Pressure on Joshuah now! If only he hadn’t teamed with someone who doesn’t know how to play. I can’t fault Joshuah for turning against Sharon, but I think his partner lost a prime opportunity to save him by persuading Natalie to nominate Sheila. The ammunition was all right there; James had exposed Sheila’s duplicity. Why not take advantage of the situation and show Naughty Nat how Sheila can’t be trusted and how she should nominate Sheila instead? Had Sharon been shrewder, her precious Joshuah might still be in the house while Sheila would have been the one slobbering over the Chenbot. But I can’t be bitter about the resolution; Joshuah was an unpleasant man and totally deserved to go (and his mom seemed like a sweet, though blissfully unaware, gal).

So now it’s back to Adam, who’s becoming just a tad too cocky as he returns to the HOH room. But the plot’s definitely thickening.

The floor’s now yours, kids. Will Adam nominate James and Sharon? Have you changed your tune on Natalie? And are you counting the days until BB10?

Episode Recaps

Big Brother
Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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