The dorky self-declared mastermind goes one lie too far, and finds himself on a team of one

By Josh Wolk
Updated July 25, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

‘Big Brother’ recap: Ronnie the rat

And to think that when this week began, Ronnie thought he held the house in the palm of his Twizzler-stickied hands. And yet seven days later, he was huddled terrified in his room, Sling Blade-like lower lip aquiver as he hid from the feral tormentor who paced on the other side of his HOH door. Sometimes you have to take a long look at yourself in the mirror and say, ”I’m a grown man whose most prized possessions are his Xbox, bubble wand, complete set of Play-Doh, and enough junk food to make a diabetic implode just by looking at it. Perhaps I’m not the diabolical genius I think I am.” He’s not a criminal mastermind, he’s a villain out of Encyclopedia Brown.

Need more evidence that Ronnie’s strategy remains at a junior-high level? When Casey accused him of secretly casting a vote for Braden last week, Russell’s defense was, ”In my experience, the person going around the most pointing fingers is usually the person most responsible.” As Dalton Ross pointed out to me, Ronnie was using the ”whoever smelt it, dealt it” defense. It’s a good thing this didn’t escalate, or he would have ramped it up a notch to, ”I know you are, but what am I?” Next thing you know, Ronnie is rubber, Casey is glue, and adouchebagsayswhat.

Thankfully, before things could come to that, the tension was broken with a luxury challenge that taught us all an important life lesson: Don’t go see The Ugly Truth. The Sunday night show only aired a commercial for it, and I still think I deserve ten bucks back. To win the chance to endure this movie, the houseguests had to play a Newlywed Game-style game that was a flimsy excuse to have the women dress up like guys, and vice versa. These crossdressing shenanigans were funnier than the Ugly Truth promo, and yet stilll less funny than psoriasis. The only bright spot was watching Jessie mope when faced with his outsmarter from last season, BB10 victor Dan. ”I would much rather see a porcupine walking backward,” grumbled Jessie. Who knew Jessie had a porcupine ass fetish? Live and learn.

We also got to see the budding flirtation between Jeff and Jordan, who make an interesting pair: he can’t pronounce certain words, and she has the IQ of a Big Mac. Their interactions are great if you’ve ever wondered what the exact opposite of ”witty banter” would be. Turns out Jordan can’t tell time, and is utterly stymied when asked to divide 60 by four. I’m not sure which is stupider: not being able to tell time, or seeing nothing wrong with bragging about it. I have a question for someone who regularly watches the live internet feed: How much of the morning is spent with Jordan staring quizzically at her untied shoelaces, wondering how these magical strings work?

NEXT: The Power of Veto, and Ronnie’s butt makes change

With that time-suck of a competition out of the way, it was time for something more relevant to the game: the Power of Veto battle. The producers seem to have quickly discarded the idea of making the competitions high-school-related. For this one, everyone had to scoop up various coins to try to come closest to a dollar value. For example, the first round had everyone grabbing quarters to try to hit 100 bucks. Jeff came within 87.50 and won that round. Ronnie, who maintained that he didn’t throw the game, went over by a jaw-dropping $507.75. That is 2,031 quarters too many. Suddenly Jordan isn’t the only one who needs to sit down with an abacus.

At the very end of Tuesday’s episode, we were treated to a bonus scene of Ronnie giddily claiming that after the competition, he found five quarters betwixt his butt cheeks. Let’s first put aside how unlikely it is that you could walk around for hours unknowingly using your ass as a change purse. No, this is the main unsettling question: Judging by the POV competition, Ronnie underestimates coin amounts by a factor of six. Which means he may actually have been walking around with 30 quarters in his rear. When they all tumbled free, gambler Natalie must have yelled, ”Hey, this one’s paying out!”

Ultimately, Jeff won the POV and took himself off the block. Ronnie then made a lot of noise about backdooring Russell, but ultimately put up Jordan instead. This decision was dispatched relatively quickly on the show, but in reading the webcam feed logs (thanks, JokersUpdates!), it looked like this decision came after days of frenzied changed minds and betrayals. Ronnie flopped hundreds of times, and everyone took turns selling each other out, with Lydia even suggesting at one point that her best bud Kevin was a threat and should be considered for eviction. My eyes and brain hurt trying to follow it all, and it gave me the clearest idea yet how exhausting and stressful it must be to be on this show and talk about it all day long. No wonder Russell is occasionally driven to roid-ragey explosions.

(Now, I am not implying that Russell is on ‘roids: I am simply saying that his crazed, vein-popping outbursts just happen to be much like what you’d see come out of a jacked-up ultimate fighter who was on ‘roids. Much like I would never ever accuse Russell of being a psycho; he just randomly has the kind of handlebar mustache you might find on a psycho. What a coincidence! Oh, and he calls himself, ”Shotgun,” as many psychos would do, too. Another coincidence! I’ll bet he and the ‘roidy psychos get together and laugh about all the mistaken identities. They probably even get each others’ mail! Angry, angry, ‘roidy letters.)

NEXT: The backyard blow-up

Through all of these machinations, the constant was Laura, who had Ronnie all figured out. It’s tough to give her credit, as she already grabbed most of it herself, saying things like, ”It sucks because I almost think I’m the only one smart enough here ? no offense to you (Jordan) ? to know how to beat him.” She took such pride in her brilliance, saying, ”It would be stupid not to send me home.” Some concurred, as when Jordan told Jeff she thought that Laura was a bigger threat to the house, ”’cause she’s smart.” Jeff replied, ”No offense to you, but I think she is, too.” You could tell he really likes her, because he refrained from adding, ”Then again those quarters up Ronnie’s butt probably got better SAT scores than you, too.”

Laura appealed to Ronnie, telling him that it was better to keep her, because otherwise he would have two people (Jordan and Jeff) gunning for him. When he tried to self-servingly convince Laura-phobic allies Kevin, Lydia, Natalie, and Chima to take out Jordan and they didn’t go for it, he made up a story about Laura telling him that Russell was going to ally with her to flip on Ronnie et al. And with this, Icarus flew too close to the sun. It was one lie too many, and it led to the entire house uniting to call him out on his crap. In the face of the backyard interrogation, he attempted a new defense, telling people, ”I’m not being put on the spot here?Let it look like what it looks like, and I’m okay having it look like that.” What did that gobbledygook even mean? Was he reading a passage from Donald Rumsfeld’s memoirs?

The damage was done. Russell began following him around the house shirtless, tormenting him and calling him a rat until Ronnie barricaded himself inside his HOH room, terrified to come out. He sat rocking in his chair, talking to a picture of his wife, sobbing, ”She would know what to do?” I always wondered what the movie Up would look like if, instead of an old guy, it starred a dork who slept in ALF pajamas.

It was tough to pick a side here. As glad as I was to have Ronnie’s lies exposed (and not because I mind lying on this show, but rather because his strategy was so flawed), I couldn?t get behind Russell’s terrifying stalking. It wasn’t shown on TV, but at one point he went to sleep on the couch right outside the HOH door to make sure Ronnie was trapped inside. I’m pretty sure if they showed a closeup of the door, you’d see deep scratches from Russell’s teeth and fingernails. The guy was acting like an animal; I know Ronnie betrayed him and all, but there’s a big difference between making someone fear for their $500,000 prize and making him fear for his life.

NEXT: And the evicted housemate is?

While chatting with Julie Chen in the HOH room (feel free to speak your mind!), Ronnie was back in ”all part of the plan” mode, assuring America that his sequestering was just an act for sympathy from the house, and he still had five people in his alliance. Uh, Ronnie, the avatar you made out of Pringles dust and a pack of Lik-M-Aid does not count as a person. I’m not sure how he’s doing this math: perhaps Jessie and Natalie are still with him, but who else? A lot can happen in a week, and other people have come back from worse odds, but those people had a plan that wasn’t the strategic equivalent of closing your eyes and pinwheeling your fists in the air.

When the vote came down, it was 8-1 to boot out Laura. The one dissenting vote was from Natalie. Hey, don?t doubt her reasons, she’s a poker player with a slop pass! I don’t get why she did that, unless it was to throw doubt into the house. And seeing how well that worked for Ronnie, that seems crazy. Post-eviction, when Laura teetered out to talk to Julie in a red dress that was only slightly bigger than a pocket square, she got a goodbye message from Ronnie that said, ”You have probably the worst case of diarrhea of the mouth that I’ve ever seen. If you hadn’t spoken your mind in the backyard, you’d probably still be here.” This cemented just how deluded he is: She was already marked for elimination in the backyard. All her outburst did was take him down with her.

Finally, the HOH Challenge, a blend of shotput, catapult, and skee-ball that Jessie won, making him HOH again. What will this mean for the house? Will he keep his loyalty to Ronnie, or will he bend to the prevailing desire to boot the nerd? Now that he has another chance at bat, should he target Russell? If so, can even Jessie sleep through the sound of Russell foaming at the mouth outside his door? (Addendum: Sorry, readers have rightly pointed out to me that Jessie can’t target Russell, since they’re in the same clique. Oops. That’s what happens when you’re finishing your TV Watch at 1:30 a.m. and are starting to hallucinate.)

Don’t forget to check out Julie Chen’s blog today. (Admit it, she is bringing her A game!) And check out below for Lynette Rice’s interview with last week’s ousted contestant, Braden. And the losers keep coming: check out on Monday, when we’ll have a chat with Laura herself.

Episode Recaps

Big Brother

Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

  • TV Show
  • 22
  • TV-14
  • CBS
stream service