After Brian tries to manipulate too many of the other players, his former allies pull the plug on him
Big Brother
S10 E3
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So this is the new, back-to-basics Big Brother, complete with live studio audience for eviction night! I have to say I’m confused: For all the season 1 things they could have brought back — an AOL consultant whose role it is to constantly tell us how ”Big Brother is huge on the Internet!” or the forcing of unfunny contestants to improvise sketches — they decided to pick this? I don’t see the point of the audience, really: It changes nothing, and adds only some hooting. Did CBS marketing research find that more young, affluent viewers enjoy seeing evicted houseguests get high-fived by strangers? Or did Les Moonves just decide that his wife, Julie Chen, deserves more applause on a weekly basis? (And speaking of Moonves, which do you think made him angrier: that Dan said his wife was beautiful or that Dan called her ”Mrs. Chen”?)

But let’s dwell on that no longer and move on to Brian. Wow, I haven’t seen that much groundless reality-TV overconfidence since Ron ”Horshack” Palillo went on Celebrity Boxing 2. As soon as Brian found he could influence Jerry’s nominations, he just snapped, and assumed he could play Jedi mind tricks on everybody. On Tuesday night, he tried a little strategy I like to call the ”Fake and Bake”: offhandedly promising people safety in exchange for their votes, all while busily preparing a pan of cookies. They’ll come for the chocolaty treats and milk, they’ll stay for the utter relinquishing of their free will!

When he sat with the women, cockily saying, ”This week, Memphis is going home. You guys need to be ready for that,” I worried they’d actually fall in line with him. That’s the sort of thing the BB9ers would have done. How delightful to watch Libra immediately pick up on what a tool Brian was and flip everybody against him. It made me actually exhale with relief, realizing that we might actually have real game players on our hands this season. It feels weird to say this about players in what will always essentially be a pinhead exhibition, but doesn’t everybody on this season feel more substantial? I mean this purely from a reality-TV perspective; no one would mistake this BB house for the UN. But so far, comparing this season to last is the reality equivalent of comparing a Broadway play to a high school musical. I swear I think they stocked last year’s house by driving to a local fairground, hosing off a bunch of carnies, and tossing them in.

Boy, Libra is cold as ice. When, during the eviction show, Julie said that some people thought Libra was a bad mother for leaving her kids, she didn’t even blink, saying she had her reasons for doing it, and that was all that mattered. Considering she didn’t flinch at that, it’s no wonder she had no tolerance at all for April’s weeping. Emotions are for the weak, people. And who knows, perhaps child rearing is too.

NEXT: Ollie: ”I’m bad, I’m dirty”

Next thing you know, Libra, April, and Keesha had called Ollie on his alliance with Brian and Dan, and turned him around. But Ollie is a good talker. He really weaseled his way out of that onslaught, going from being on the defensive to leading the mob to get Brian’s head, all in about two minutes. If the ladies had pushed him a little harder, he probably would have given them all torches and stormed Brian’s room. At the end of Tuesday’s episode, he said, ”I’m bad, I’m dirty, I’ll do anything to win 500 grand.” But wasn’t it just Sunday night when this preacher’s son was saying that all he had was his word? Hypocritical, sure, but no matter: I actually admired how he owned his betrayal. On eviction night, he basically shrugged off Brian and Dan’s ”Et tu?” attacks by saying to Brian, Well, it was you or me. For Dan to say that he would have sacrificed himself for Brian is either baloney or a misguided sense of honor: You’ve known the guy a week, dude. You don’t want to fall on your sword for a player that in 24 hours you may well realize you hate. (I think he’ll come around now when he finds himself sitting in the house without a friend in sight, while Ollie is in the bedroom happily making out with April. So much for the good karma of loyalty.)

Jessie, who had won the veto and taken himself off, now had more time to spend annoying the crap out of me. Every time someone tries to talk to him, he just rolls his eyes and then marches to the diary room to confess that he had no idea what any of that crazy talk was. Sure, he has a point when referring to Renny’s yammering, but he has revealed that he doesn’t understand or care about anything. I’m not saying Jerry’s King Solomon story wasn’t a bit patronizing and long-winded (oh, Jerry, why do you have to fall into the trap of playing Wise Old Man Who Everyone Can Learn From?), but for Jessie to say, ”He was talking about Sam or Saul or something, ripping a baby up, I don’t know….”? Hey, Sit-Ups McGee, he’s citing the Bible; it’s not like he’s quoting an obscure Finnish poet. What else is on the long list of things Jessie doesn’t get nor care to get? Will we soon see him slumped in the diary room, sneering as he says, ”The rest of the house is breathing this ixygen, or ooxygen, or some dumb thing. Like, whatever, morons.” And then he will pass out.

Getting back to Brian, I have two questions: (1) Why did he think that a puppet show was the key to him staying in the house? And (2) why did it nearly work? I like to think I live in a world where doing a lame puppet show does not constitute a charm offensive, but apparently I am on the wrong planet. What was even odder was that his buddies in puppetry had no audience for their show, so they just kept switching off puppets to take turns being the one-person audience, in charge of whooping and laughing as if the puppets were reading from old Arrested Development scripts. (Come to think of it, maybe BB did bring back the lame, unfunny sketches from season 1.) Angie and Steven seemed especially impressed by Brian’s spot-on impression of a summer-camp talent show. Later, in his goodbye message, Steven said that no one outside the house makes him laugh the way Brian had. And so we all learned an interesting fact: Gay rodeos are filled with the least funny people on the planet. Something else we learned? While Angie’s sock-puppet Julie Chen wears far less body glitter than the real Julie, it thinks on its feet quicker.

NEXT: Chick fight!

The aftershocks of Brian’s puppet show were felt all over the house. In a spat I didn’t quite understand, Keesha and April nearly came to blows over Keesha’s hypothetical (but untrue) flip to Brian’s side. There was a lot of shouting, and it all led to April crying, yet again. (And speaking of April, am I crazy or did I hear her tell Ollie that she was so shy she changed in her closet? Isn’t this the woman who let everyone feel her boobs in the first episode? How many people does she keep in her closet?) Renny came in to comfort her, delivering the most awkward hug I’ve ever seen. She came at April with an arm that looked like a bear trying to swat down a honey pot.

All drama seemed to be forgotten when everyone cast his or her vote. One note on that: Why are they having live votes when there are this many people left? I felt as if I were sitting there for days watching the parade of voters, as Julie recited everybody’s individual past grudges and biases. Granted, it’s a far more accurate election system than we have for presidents, but still, let’s pick up the pace.

Brian’s sock-puppet skills could only take him so far: He was out 9-1, with only Dan giving him a pity vote. I guess Steven must have suddenly remembered that, come to think of it, Phil the Calf Roper actually can tell a mean knock-knock joke. Sorry, Brian, turns out you’re not all that!

And then it was time for the new head-of-household challenge — though a quick note on the earlier veto competition: I actually enjoyed this, even if it made me physically queasy. I’m not sure if I was traumatized by a now-suppressed syrup incident as a young child, but I have always had a severe dislike of sticky things. The other thing that came to mind is that if a bee happened by during this competition, he would have been pissed. How would you feel if your boss called you into the conference room, where all the paperwork you’d done for the past year was spread out on the carpet for Renny to roll around in?)

The HOH challenge involved a series of hypothetical questions comparing two people in the house, and whoever voted in the minority had to sit down. Some of the questions seemed pretty obvious: Who would people trust more as a fashion consultant, Renny or April? Am I the only one who noticed that Renny’s entire outfit was made out of macramé? You don’t see a lot of looms on Project Runway. Then there was this one: Whose life story would be more interesting to read in 50 years, Memphis’ or Dan’s? It was unanimous for Memphis, although I for one would look forward to reading Dan’s memoir, Sure I’m Lonely and Broke, but at Least I Have My Loyalty and My Hatred of Liberals: The Dan Story.

Ultimately, Jessie won HOH, and I expect to see many people hiking up to his room to petition him on Sunday’s episode — so many people to roll his eyes at, so many references to not comprehend! He’ll probably go after Renny, but I hope he doesn’t target Jerry for revenge. Jerry’s at a big disadvantage if he’s got to scheme for his survival: Every time he tells a lie, he’s got to take his Marines hat off. It’s like the most obvious poker tell ever.

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Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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