Rachel continues her late-season comeback run, and Tori Spelling swings by to make Adam's dreams come true.

By Darren Franich
Updated September 05, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT

Big Brother

S13 E26
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Do Kalia and Porsche actually deserve to be in the Final Five? Daniele carried the two girls through a bleak period that saw most of their fellow Newbies eliminated. Heck, Daniele basically invented Kalia and Porsche, gameplay-wise: Without her, Kalia would have been one more Jorff-worshipping Newbie, and Porsche would have probably gotten lost in some corner of the Big Brother house. Certainly, Jordan and Rachel seem to hold a dim view of the two Newbie ladies. But the remaining Veterans haven’t exactly had a commanding season, either. Jordan won an early HoH competition, but she spent most of the summer following the “Nod When Jeff Says Things” strategy. Conversely, Rachel has been HoH three times and has left a trail of dead enemies in her wake…but she also spent a month moping, whining, and letting Jeff’s prowess save her.

In a sense, Jeff and Daniele are still inside of the Big Brother house. The essential dynamics of this season haven’t changed in their absence — it’s still Veterans vs. Newbies, Team Jeff vs. Team Daniele, with Adam simultaneously on both sides and neither. Every nomination has been an act of vengeance for the Double Eviction Bloodbath two weeks ago; every decision made by the remaining houseguests has flowed directly from plots Jeff and Daniele set in motion.

It feels a little bit as if two great rival tribes met in a battlefield — picture Jeff as the pugilistic Chief of one army, and Daniele as a canny Chieftess from the opposing side. The battle with the Chief and the Chieftess facing each other in one-on-one combat, and the Chief won fair and square, slicing off the Chieftess’ head. But the Chieftess had dipped her sword in poison, and the Chief ultimately died from very minor wounds he suffered in the duel.

With Jeff and Daniele gone, Rachel has emerged as most-likely-to-be-elected-dictator-for-life. She won the Doughnut-themed HoH competition last night, ensuring hers and Jordan’s safety for another week. In stark contrast to last season — when Rachel spent her Head-of-Household weeks insulting her enemies and generally acting like her reign would never end — the Redheaded Wonder has shown herself to be a wisely political HoH, taking meetings with her enemies and smiling as she plots future backstabbery.

Kalia and Porsche had identical sitdowns with Queen Rachel. They both promised Rachel that they wanted to stand next to her and Jordan in the Final Three. Kalia made an massive plea for a late-season alliance: She apologized (“I pegged you wrong from day one”), she begged (“I think I deserve to be at the end!”), and she made a smart argument for sisterhood, telling Rachel: “We’re very similar in lots of ways.” It’s true, too: Rachel might be a better player overall, but her and Kalia have both played this season with a nifty mixture of aggressive gameplay and fade-to-the-background Second Banana-dom — by which I mean, you could argue that Rachel and Kalia both used their respective alpha dogs (Jeff and Daniele) as force fields, letting them absorb all the damage.

NEXT: And then there’s Adam.

Porsche tried to say roughly the same thing as Kalia, but Porsche is incapable of making her lies sound even remotely believable. There was a moment in her conference with Rachel when she mumbled, “Well, you know, I could promise you that, like, if I win HoH, then I guess I won’t put you up? Maybe?” By comparison, Adam seemed like a freaking evil mastermind in his own sitdown with Rachel. “I want to play with people who respect the game,” he said, perhaps wiping a couple tears from his eyes. In the confessional, he made it sound like he was somehow pulling the wool over Rachel’s eyes: “I’m telling Rachel exactly what she wants to hear.”

I’m tempted to try and argue that Adam has, perhaps accidentally, discovered a winning strategy for the season: Make yourself seem so pathetic that no one in power would even dream of evicting you. Really, though, this guy’s proven himself to be an awful Big Brother player. That’s no offense to him, personally — most of the best Big Brother players are terrible, terrible, terrible human beings. But if you want to understand just how tiny of a blip Adam has been on the BB radar, consider this: After almost two months, he’s the only player left who hasn’t moved beyond his studio-mandated character trait. We stopped caring that Porsche was a Luxury VIP cocktail waitress almost immediately; Kalia hasn’t made any Sex and the City references in weeks; and Rachel barely even talks about Vegas anymore.

This is, I think, one of the most appealing things about Big Brother. In general, reality shows trim the people onscreen down to the most basic, bland versions of themselves. (This is why every season of The Real World has basically the same people with slightly different faces.) Every season premiere introduces new contestants with the same drive-by characterization: “He’s a virgin who lives with his mother! She’s just like Carrie Bradshaw!” But being in the Big Brother house makes these personality indicators irrelevant. The Vegas party-girl can suddenly emerge as a bloodthirsty competitor; the randy preacher-man can turn out to be a passive dolt.

Bu then there’s Adam, who is still basically the same dude he was on day one: Metalhead with raspy voice, loves 90210 and appletinis. Last night, the Big Brother overlords rewarded Adam for staying so on-message by letting him hang out with his icon/object-of-obsession Tori Spelling. His mouth dropped open when the onetime Donna Martin walked into the house, but he surprisingly managed to maintain his dignity, even if he did feel the horrible need to regale the story about calling his girlfriend “Donna,” hahaha, seriously Tori he wants to wear your face as a beauty mask. Tori kissed Adam’s duck and promised to name her tenth-born child after him. Then all the houseguests played dress-up and won a lot of new clothes. I think it’s fair to say that Adam’s choice to get a top hat is, by a wide margin, the most interesting thing he has done all summer.

Rachel opened Pandora’s Box after being promised a shopping spree; unfortunately, while the rest of the house hung out with Tori, she was forced to become friends with Mr. PEC-Tacular, a.k.a. Jessie from seasons 10 and 11. (This is the second season in a row when Jessie has gamely played “The Terrible Pandora’s Box Twist.” I’m beginning to suspect that he lives in the Pandora Room.) I was a little bit surprise that Rachel opened Pandora’s Box — especially after that decision proved to be the Newbies’ ruination.

But Rachel is not a mastermind. (Example 1: the hilarious montage of her talking about all her various traffic accidents.) The best and worst thing about her gameplay is that she views Big Brother in extremely binary terms: This is a competition, and anyone who goes against her must be punished. Thus, she nominated Kalia and Porsche at the end of the episode, preferring to ally herself with the lump of Adam-clay. It was a good call, although I do wonder if Rachel has any plans for what to do about the Jordan Problem. Li’l Jordo hasn’t exactly contributed mightily to the Jochel Alliance, and Rachel surely realizes that Lovely Jordan would beat her in a Final Two match-up.

Viewers, what did you think about this episode? Do you think Rachel and Jordan have a clear path to victory? Can Kalia or Porsche take themselves off the block? Have you purchased your collectible Jessie picture-plates yet?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

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Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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