New alliances form. Old alliances splinter. And also, Victoria.

By Darren Franich
August 07, 2014 at 04:14 AM EDT
CBS
S16 E19
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Big Brother went Biblical this week, and I’m not just talking about the “Adam and Eve” punishment. But let’s start there. As part of their ongoing effort to drive the houseguests insane, the half-man half-squid Swedish parapsychologists who secretly rule Big Brother forced Caleb and Victoria to dress like they were in the Garden of Eden. This meant leaves, leaves, and more leaves! Caleb reacted to this punishment the same way he reacts to everything: with loud, angry confusion. Victoria reacted to this punishment the same way she reacts to everything: by looking up into the sky and screaming, “Guys, oh my god, there’s an ocean up in space! Oh, never mind, I guess the ceiling of the earth is just blueberry-flavored today!”

Now we know what it would look like if Jeremy Renner ever starred in a “Garden of Eden” movie! These two, they’re the original odd couple. Is it weird that I’m rooting for them? I realize that they come from different worlds. Caleb is a down-home boy raised in a heretofore-undiscovered corner of the western frontier where everyone wears American Apparel and takes a bath in hair gel. Victoria is from the corner of Venus where people communicate by smiling and doing nothing. But you could sense Caleb slowly warming up to his former block ally. He called her a nincompoop. She complained that he never lets her do anything that she wants to do. He told her that he was still in love with Amber, and she said: “Oh, I love Amber, too! She’s the butterfly who whispers secrets in my ear when no one is around, right?”

Imagine trying to explain this image to George Washington. Imagine trying to explain this image to the first fish that ever crawled out of the sea.

But the Biblical allusions went deeper. The Big Brother squid-people forced Caleb to shave his beautiful head of hair. “With a bald head I look dumb,” Caleb said, unnecessarily adding in those first four words. And so it was that Victoria of House Space Cadet shaved Caleb’s head bare.

The Philistines look along, delighted. Fun fact: If you open up your Picture Bible to the book of Genesis, you can actually see the moment when God cursed Zach to crawl on his belly and eat dust all the days of his life.

It was like Samson and Delilah all over again. Without his hair, Samson lost all his strength. And without his hair, Caleb… became a strangely less creepy human being? Maybe I’m giving him too much credit. Maybe “strangely less creepy” is a backhanded compliment. But after a fortnight-plus of playing Mark Wahlberg in Fear, Amber’s exit has suddenly transformed Caleb into a far more amenable Mark Wahlberg in The Big Hit. I mean like, look at this human being:

That is a man with a shaved head and bicep tattoos that look like the graffiti your stoner friend painted all over his dad’s garage door, and he is plucking off leaves from his leaf-loincloth. And the man is wearing a crown. Serious question: Could Caleb be a more serious threat than any of us are giving him credit for? Strategically, he’s a total wash: He still thinks that he’s in an alliance, and he doesn’t realize that his alliance has transformed into a different alliance that is already forming new alliances against one another. But he’s an undeniably steady presence. He doesn’t stab anyone in the back; it’s unclear if he even has opposable thumbs. When the war comes, when the hallways of the Big Brother house run red with backstab blood, could Caleb look like the lesser of two evils?

Perhaps the answer lies in the Good Book.

Pause to imagine Zach, suddenly reading the Bible for the first time. “Yo, bro, do unto others, bro. And that’s the Zach Attack style, Golden Rule baby! [Vertical Clap].”

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In other news, Nicole is killing it this week. If you’re like me, you dismissed The Girl From Ubly as a likable lightweight early on. She was friends with Christine, but that friendship didn’t seem to extend to Christine actually doing anything whatsoever to help Nicole’s game play. She was in a flirtmance with Hayden, but Hayden’s whole approach to the game seems derived from long hours rewatching The Big Lebowski and taking notes on how to do nothing.

But now Nicole’s the Head of Household—the first Empress to retain her crown all summer. She had a plan: backdoor Frankie. But she also took the opportunity to stare down upon the various shenanigans inside of the Big Brother house… and she did not like what she saw. Zach whispered in her ear that Christine was lying to her. And Christine immediately followed through on Zach’s implications. She was worried that she was drifting from Nicole. So she tried to drive a wedge into the Nicole-Hayden showmance. She told Nicole that Hayden has been spotted smooching with Victoria, and she told Nicole that Hayden was a solid Zach supporter.

Nicole didn’t buy it, not a word of it. “She’s not very smart with her game,” said Nicole. “She thinks she can manipulate me like that?” The same day, Nicole and Hayden followed through on their plan to form a genuine alliance. They called Derrick and Cody up to the HoH thronebed. “No one’s gonna expect us to work together,” said Derrick. Cody seemed like an agreeable accomplice, noting that—without Frankie—Zach’s game would also crumble.

The twist, of course, is that Derrick and Cody are already double-allianced: First with the Detonators, an incredibly powerful five-person alliance that has more or less run the house this past month, and then with each other in the Hitmen. So it was not initially clear just how seriously they were taking this new alliance. The lack of a good name didn’t help. Hayden floated “Quadropolis,” which I liked a little bit only because it recalled my dear all-female alliance “Michelle Quadriguez” from that beautiful moment on Night One when it seemed like the women of Big Brother would rise up in a feminist revolution. They agreed on “The Rationale,” which sounds like the name of your friend’s garage band that you always secretly hated.

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To make things even more confusing, though: Christine. What kind of game is she playing? Does she even know? Here’s a player who has had a few different powerful alliances handed to her on a plate, for no apparent reason beyond the sudden vogue for People With Glasses in the Big Brother house. She’s played a careful game; she’s been a quiet but devoted member of her alliances. This week, she’s on a vengeance kick, hoping to take down Zach—but it’s not clear how that move actually helps her game. Meanwhile, she advised Nicole to put either Derrick or Cody up on the block as replacement nominees. She only ever imagined them as pawns… but then Nicole spread that word to Derrick and Cody, and now Derrick and Cody seem to think that Christine is working with someone on something.

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Photo evidence that Hayden is gradually transforming into a wannabe pop star-turned-cocaine dealer from 1982 named Stephanie:

NEXT: Froot Loop Dingus Busta-fooligan

Yesterday, Warner Bros. announced that they are planning to release roughly nine million superhero movies between now and however many years it will take for you to feel like life has passed you by.

Can it be any coincidence that Big Brother picked the same day to host a superhero-themed veto competition? Answer: No, it cannot because the Big Brother squid-man psychotherapists are in cahoots with the spider-aliens who run Hollywood. How else can you explain the fact that they got Ben Affleck to guest-star on Big Brother?

Yes, the veto competition cast every Big Brother housemate as a superhero with their very own number one comic book. You can check out the covers of those issues right here. (Don’t even pretend you wouldn’t read “The Beard.”) The houseguests had to ride a zip line in front of a window and organize small cover-posters in the same order as the covers inside the fake comic book store. “I have to memorize comic books, jump up on a rooftop, and go zip-lining,” said Victoria. “This is so out of my element.” Pause to imagine a human being for whom that description would be in their element.

Anyhow, Victoria predictably played terrible. Jocasta played pretty well, but more importantly, Jocasta talked a big game. “I wanna be in the power of veto,” she explained. “But most of all, I wanna show my family that I AM A HERO!” She was a buzzsaw, a dynamo. “America! Jocasta! She can save your city! OR SAVE YOUR SOUL!” Also memorable: Nicole realizing that she had missed a key aspect of her own image. “It’s the weiner! I needed the picture with the big weiner! I picked the picture with the small weiner!” She concluded that she had made a serious gaffe. “That weiner mistake burned some valuable time,” she said. #WeinerMistake

Surely the most memorable part of the whole event was Zach, who came on like he was the strongest of them all. “I’m very versatile,” he lied. “If Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man had a kid somehow, that’s me.” First of all, Zach, that’s impossible, because everyone knows that Spider-Man is from a different universe than Superman and Batman. And second, it turns out that Zach was actually more like Daredevil in the classic Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli story arc “Born Again.” For much like how blind lawyer Matt Murdock was driven on a downward spiral toward madness by the Kingpin, so was Zach Rance driven on a downward spiral toward madness by the cruelty of the Big Brother producers. He just couldn’t get the order right. He went mad. He yelled at the gods. “This one he’s wearing pink pants! This one, the missiles are red and white! This one has a sausage at the bottom!”

He began to cry. He began to laugh. He lost all track of time and space. He saw a vision of a dark future, where the evil robot sentinels have hunted Big Brother contestants to near-extinction. He finally finished the order, but he knew he was lost. The camera moved back from him, crying. He looked just like Superman in the classic Alan Moore/Curt Swan story arc “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”

In the end, Christine won the veto competition, defeating Nicole by a mere 30 seconds. And so it was that the #WeinerMistake cost Nicole her chance to execute one of the best players in the game.

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Just for fun, let’s pretend answer the question on everyone’s lips: If the remaining Big Brother contestants were superheroes, what superhero would they be?

Frankie: Martian Manhunter. IMHO, Martian Manhunter is the most powerful superhero in the DC universe. Consider: He has all of Superman’s powers, and he has all of Batman’s smarts, and he is also a telepath, and he’s a shapechanger. Like, if Superman and Jean Grey had a baby girl, and Batman and Mystique had a baby boy, and those two crazy kids wound up getting hitched and they had a kid, the result would be Martian Manhunter. He’s a keen strategist, he can adapt to every situation, he’s a beloved member of every ensemble. But Martian Manhunter has never been a solo star: His strength depends on his teammates. Frankie himself announced that a war is coming in the next few weeks. Martian Manhunter has a ridiculously straightforward weakness (fire), and Frankie also has an obvious weakness: His closest friend in the house is Zach, who is one of the most toxic personalities in the house.

Zach: Gambit from the X-Men. And listen, I like Gambit, but there’s no denying that Gambit is more of an interesting idea than a legitimately great character. And so Zach, who comes on with lots of bluster, but hasn’t been able to muster much energy as his game has declined. Can he save himself from the block? Not encouraging: The fact that he closed out Wednesday’s episode by announcing that his master plan was to Do Nothing.

Christine: Black Widow because she keeps on getting invited to hang out with major power players even though she has no real superpowers besides the ability to seem vaguely mysterious.

Nicole: Blue Beetle because she looks goofy but is actually totally awesome.

Hayden: Booster Gold because he looks awesome but is actually totally goofy.

Derrick: Batman, duh.

Cody: Superman, double duh.

Jocasta: I’d go with Thor because they both peacock like crazy (winged helmet = bow tie) and because they’re prone to loudly declaiming their belief in a higher power (Allfather Odin = God).

Victoria: Someone who can turn invisible, but when they turn invisible, they also retroactively turn themselves invisible for the entirety of their existence, as if they have never been there at all.

Donny: Captain America.

Caleb: U.S. Agent, a lame dude who thinks he’s Captain America but decidedly is not.

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The nominations stayed the same, and the future is uncertain. Zach is in several different sniper scopes right now, and he doesn’t appear to be working too hard to save himself. But he is closely allied with Frankie, and Frankie could make a push to save Zach… if Frankie even wants to save Zach anymore, which is unclear. But also, there’s this: Thursday is a double eviction, an episode that could radically level the playing field of the house. Who would be a definite target? Much of it depends on Derrick and Cody, who may be forced to show their cards to their two alliances. Will they try to take down Nicole and Hayden? Or will they gun for Frankie? What happens if Jocasta wins Head of Household?

And one more time, because it might be the last time:

Follow me on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

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Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.
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