Back-doored nominee Russell decides he won't go down without a fight...with everyone

Back-doored nominee Russell decides he won't go down without a fight...with everyone Thursday's episode began with a hellacious argument between Russell and Jeff in the…
Credit: Sonja Flemming/ CBS

‘Big Brother’ recap: Russell’s biggest explosion yet

What’s up, asses? Yeah, I’m talking to you. Oh, wait, maybe you can’t understand me because most of you dopes can’t read. But don’t worry, I’ll try to keep the words at Highlights level. I AM NOW YELLING AT YOU! YELLING YELLING YELLING FAT YELLING!

Whoa, don’t get mad, people! There are four rules to TV Watches: 1) There are no rules. 2) There are actually 63 rules, and you should follow them all. 3) Personal attacks are part of the game. 4) No givesies, no backsies. So no hard feelings, huh?

Russell, who has alternated between terrorizing and befriending just about everybody on Big Brother except Julie (and I was cringing upon his exit, waiting for him to lay into her, too), said that was all part of his strategy. Does being an utter dick count as a strategy? I suppose you could rationalize everything that way, then: ”Sorry for all my passed gas: pure strategy, dude.” ”Yeah, I ate your dinner while you were on the phone. Check and mate.” ”Hold still while I saw your head off; you’re getting played, man!” I don’t think being a sociopath counts as strategy. That’s like saying armed robbery is social satire.

And to think that when the week started, he and Jeff were best buds. They were working in tandem during the can-drop HOH. I got pretty excited during this contest, because I couldn’t wait to hear the producers force the houseguests to later explain in the Diary Room what their strategy had been: It was dropping cans into tubes, how could someone possibly elaborate beyond, ”My approach was to DROP A CAN INTO A TUBE.” However, Jeff did come up with a twist: He pulled the tabs up and used them to hold his cans! Just when you think there are no more layers to the can game, he thinkszzzzzzgettingsleepy…WILL YOU PEOPLE SHUT UP ABOUT THE CANS! After sitting through ten minutes of televised can dropping, I will admit that I took a good hard look at myself and did not like what I saw.

It looked like Kevin was actually going to win this competition, which would have upended the game (and probably would have resulted in Kevin getting his Russell-roid-rage cherry popped), but Jeff pulled it out. He was the new HOH, and when everyone gathered in his room, Jordan commented that his childhood picture reminded her of Dumb and Dumber. That’s odd, I made the same connection during the whole ”how do am me tell time?” conversation.

But — say it ain’t so — this week there were flashes of trouble in paradise for the cute couple. It started out innocently, with banter about how Jeff might not take Jordan on his trip to Hawaii if she doesn’t put out. ”If I get the chance to go to Hawaii with Jeff, I see us maybe kissin’ and cuddlin’, that’s it,” said Jordan. Replied Jeff, ”Be quiet. You’re not going anywhere, so relax.” They’re so adorable! It’s just like Romeo and Juliet, if Romeo had a bad case of blue balls and Juliet didn?t know how to tell time.

NEXT: Trouble in Jeff/Jordan paradise? Say it ain’t so!

But on Tuesday’s episode, things had grown more tense, as Jeff snapped at Jordan for not working hard enough to study the house for future challenges. He felt like he was making all the decisions and doing the hard work; by both making moves and winning challenges, he remained the big threat while she could just slide on through with no enemies. It’s a valid complaint, although it’s a bit much to ask for Jordan to be considered a threat: With her Daisy Mae innocence and ”golly, gee, is that a shooting star?” perma-state of wonderment, she’s impossible to fear. If she came at you with a chainsaw, your last thought before the blade severed your cerebral cortex would be, ”Look at her with her face spattered with my blood, she looks like a clown, the little cutey wootie!”

With Jeff as HOH, Russell momentarily felt comfortable, but then he began to be plagued with paranoia that Jeff would turn on him. First he transferred his rage onto Natalie after they played Poker with candy. It was difficult to follow the game, but apparently Natalie went out first, then Jeff beat Russell. When Natalie the poker expert said that Russell never would have played like that if it were real money, he exploded, ”If you want to talk s—, at least stay in longer than the person you’re talking s— on.” The yelling, the cursing, the sore loserdom?it can only mean one thing: more strategy by Russell! I’d like to see him bring that strategy to Vegas. ”YEAH, I BUSTED, BUT WHO DOUBLED DOWN AND CRUSHED IT LAST HAND, MOTHERF—ER, HUH? Wait, where are you burly guards taking me?”

No matter how Jeff appeased him (but to be fair, Russell was right, and Jeff was lying) and then nominated Natalie and Kevin, Russell got more and more suspicious, and sent Michele up to feel out the power couple. (His paranoia reached epic levels when he knocked on the HOH door and a sleeping Jeff didn’t hear him; Russell became convinced they were screening his knocks.) Michele is the wrong person for a spy job: She’s just no good at playing it cool. I don’t think she’s cut out for lying. When she goes on ”undercover” jobs, she can’t bring herself to spout outright fabrications, so she just gets really quiet and says too little when asked about her opinions, thereby making her seem even more guilty. You know how in some cop shows, some suspects act comically twitchy during interrogations, and you say, ”Well of course he’s guilty!” Michele makes them look like master manipulators. I’m surprised that she’s been able to restrain herself from whistling tunelessly, then pointing at the ceiling and yelling, ”Look, it’s Chicken George!” and diving to hide under the bed while everyone looks up.

Her moments of bonding are also incredibly awkward. When she later went back up to the HOH room to feel out Jeff and Jordan again, she walked in on the couple arguing. Not quite knowing what to do, she hugged Jordan, coquettishly raising one foot behind her, and said, ”It’s okay, Jordo,” which only served to make both Jeff and Jordan uncomfortable. When not talking strategy, she’s much more calm, like when she explained to Jeff how the world of neuroscience research goes. ”Good thing for you and doctors like you,” Jeff said, stunned at her dedication to complicated problem solving. ”I was impressed when I made a Lego castle. With directions.” And just think, Jeff, when Michele reassembles a brain, she doesn’t have to keep being reminded not to put the pieces in her mouth.

NEXT: Casey’s back! Now get him a banana!

With Jeff all but certain that he’d like to back-door Russell, it was time for the all-important POV competition. The houseguests arrived in the backyard to find a jungle theme with a giant monkey head. And whose voice was coming out of the monkey’s peelhole? The ol’ banana head himself, Casey’s! The houseguests had to listen to Casey rap about a houseguest, then dash to find a banana with his or her name on it. (Once again, the challenge gratuitously included both a messy slide and being sprayed with water.) How good were Casey’s rhymes? Check this one out, where the answer was himself: ”Was on the way to the top before he got the boot/was the first ever houseguest who left as a fruit.” Casey has clearly read The White Guy Guide to Rapping, 1988 Edition. Frankly, he got me freestyling some rhyming houseguest clues of my own.

She’s got tattoos from her head to her bum, Won’t someone prescribe her some lithium? Now go get that banana!


I know the top eight houseguests but forget the rest, I vaguely remember some chick with an enormous chest. Otev has spoken!

(Feel free to add your own rhymes on the message boards. And go bring me a banana up in here!)

If I were competing, as I searched the bananas, I’d toss one of each rejected name into a pile in a place I’d remember. This way, by the end I’d only need to dash to that pile and pretty much everyone would be represented there; I could just grab the banana and speed right back to the monkey. That would be my strategy. Well, that and the obligatory personal attacks. ”I found the right banana, AND YOU ALL HAVE NO FRIENDS, FATTIES!”

When Jeff won, Russell really started to panic. And rightfully so, as Jeff had all but decided to back-door him. Russell got preemptively indignant, saying to Michele, ”I just won’t forget this, I’ll tell you that much. The stress that he’s putting us through? Because that’s not cool.” Not cool?as opposed to following someone around the house, berating them right in their ear? Yeah, now that was as cool as Fonzie.

The Tuesday episode ended with Russell back-doored and up on the block with Natalie. In the Diary Room, he snorted about how Jeff had made a stupid move, and how all he’d served to do was make himself a target. At first I thought this was just self-serving defensiveness, but he may have a point, though I’ll get into that more at the end of this piece. Meanwhile, Jeff finished the POV ceremony by remarking, ”Let the weirdness begin,” and ”weirdness” is clearly a euphemism for ”unbridled rage.”

Thursday’s episode began with a hellacious argument between Russell and Jeff in the backyard, with Russell telling Jeff, ”If you don’t f—ing win this game, you better hope to God you don’t come in that jury house, because I will mop your face all up and down, and I mean it.” Jeff responded, ”I will lose 500 thou and bust you right in the mouth if you talk like that again.” It devolved into much yelling and threatening to beat the other person up. It was interesting to see how this was edited to make Jeff seem like the hero, standing up to the big gargoyle and protecting his girlfriend and other housemates. Mind you, I have no sympathy for Russell, whose actions crossed the line. But if you watched the argument unfold in real time on the webcams, you saw Jeff make multiple references to getting a knife and slicing Russell’s ”f—ing throat.” While I still like Jeff, it’s important to note that he’s definitely not just a placid, keep-the-peace mellow dude like the show portrays.

NEXT: The bully gets the boot

Now, I didn’t see the real-time version of the next argument, in which Russell said to Jordan, ”Sit around eating cookie dough, wondering why you’re fat.” (Strategy!) He made Jordan so mad she gave him a chest bump, which is kind of like seeing a kitty cat give you the finger; sure, it’s aggressive?but so adorable! I can’t imagine any uncut scenario where Russell still wouldn’t be the world’s biggest ass in this one. Jeff also seemed to have the upper hand, batting away Russell’s aging ”technotronic” snap by saying, ”You can’t use ‘technotronics,’ bro, because you used it 800 times. Think of a good one, keep quiet for five minutes, and then fire one back at me, and we’ll see if the crowd laughs.” Advantage, Jeff!

Just as we were relishing in Jeff’s composure, our buzzes were killed by a visit to the jury house, where we saw the moment where Lydia joined Jessie. Jessie wasn’t lonely, as he was cuddling up with his new catchphrase, ”I’m ridiculously jacked and tan!” Really rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? It’s like ”I’m a wild and crazy guy,” but for meatheads. Those bumper stickers will really fly off the shelves at the next flex convention, provided anyone can bend their hypermuscled arms enough to get their wallets out of their pockets.

When it was time for Natalie and Russell to make their pre-vote speeches, Russell was a new man. Grinning like he was at his high school reunion, he told everyone his theory that ”Personal attacks are part of the game? When you walk into the house, we’re told two rules: don?t break the rules, don’t curse on national TV.” (Wait, so ”don’t break the rules” is one of the rules? Because, frankly, that seems a little vague.) He then wrapped up his closing remarks with, ”You guys are amazing, good luck to each and every one of you.” Did he think this excused everything? He said he modeled himself after such BB villains as Evel Dick, Mike Boogie, and Dr. Will. Out of those three, Evel Dick was the only one who was as verbally cruel as Russell, but at least even he didn’t pair it with bull-like physical threats. I don’t know how Russell can excuse this as just ”part of the game.” I think he’s confusing Big Brother with Ultimate Fighting. Or he’s confusing the real world with the movie The Road Warrior.

Now, did Jeff make a good call by back-dooring Russell? Natalie and Kevin have both pledged to instantly break their promise to protect him if either of them win HOH. And frankly, that’s the best move for them: take him out before he has a chance to win HOH again. Plus, he’s unbeatable in the final two. So while those two are inevitable threats to Jeff, would Russell have been any safer? I say no: while Russell told Julie that he would have stayed with Jeff, Jordan, and Michele to the final four, I think he would have realized Jeff’s unbeatability and splintered off with Natalie and Kevin again. Anyone who can rationalize his verbal abuse as game play could just as easily rationalize breaking his word. Either way, I think Jeff stands a good chance at going out next week, assuming Jordan doesn’t win the S’mores HOH challenge. A two person alliance as visible and effective as theirs doesn’t stand a chance at sliding through to the end without superior numbers, and Michele is smart enough to know that she has a far better chance of beating Natalie or Kevin in the final two.

Okay, I’d better stop here before I start rapping again. Do you think Jeff made the right move by bouncing Russell? Do you buy personal attacks as a viable strategy? Do you think that in their fights, Russell was rubber and Jeff was glue, or vice versa? So many questions. And while you’re answering, check out Julie Chen’s take on the fireworks on her blog, and watch Dalton Ross and my Must List Live! take on last week’s Chima expulsion, and whether Jordan and Jeff are adorable or annoying. And come back later in the day, when we’ll have an interview with Johnny Cheap Shot himself, Russell!

Episode Recaps

Big Brother

Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

  • TV Show
  • 23
  • TV-14
  • CBS
stream service