New alliances form and old friendships fracture, while the mysterious MVP twist leads to a surprising nomination

By Darren Franich
Updated July 25, 2013 at 03:11 AM EDT

Every successful rebellion inevitably becomes an establishment that must be rebelled against. Consider the Big Brother house. Two weeks ago, Aaryn and Jeremy were swanning around house, plotting new misery for their fellow houseguests from their glittery perch in the HoH thronebed. They were like the gods of Olympus in Clash of the Titans, and not just because they were all ridiculously attractive and utterly inhuman. (In this metaphor, Jeremy was Zeus, Aaryn was Hades, GinaMarie was like a centaur or something, and Kaitlin was Athena. Athena had big eyebrows, right?) But a revolution began. It was kickstarted by a number of different forces: Helen’s political gamesmanship, Amanda’s passionate distaste for the Bully Brigade, the ongoing fly-in-the-ointment MVP vote which, every week, transformed Elissa from a barely-present non-entity into one of the most important players in the house. Now, the old alliances lie in tatters. The Muscle and the Brains of the Moving Company are gone. Aaryn’s stock in the house has fallen so far that everyone in the house has decided to keep her around, because they know there’s no way anyone will ever hand her Big Brother victory.

But the status quo never remains the status quo inside the Big Brother house — especially not in this season, where the foundational rug of gameplay keeps getting pulled out from under the players. On last night’s episode, Spencer and Howard plotted counterrevolution over a game of billiards. Where other people in the house saw pariahs, they saw opportunity. GinaMarie and Kaitlin are both flailing, in their own way. Kaitlin, who looks smarter every day, has taken stock of her situation; she was showmancing with Jeremy, a man most people in the house consider a terrific bully; her closest girlfriend in the house is Aaryn, who is so so pretty and who also bathes in the blood of twenty virgins just to brush her teeth. GinaMarie is a crazy person, but she’s like a wandering ronin in search of a master: She’s got nothing left to lose.

So Howard and Spencer got them together in Judd’s throneroom. Howard gave a speech about ants and grasshoppers. “If we come together, we can overtake the throne,” said Howard. “Power in numbers. That’s why grasshoppers are afraid of ants. Ants are loyal, and there’s more of them. They outnumber the grasshoppers. They’ll always kill the grasshoppers. Because life’s this game of inches. Today we declare our independence day. Today we are canceling the apocalypse. ATTICA! ATTICA!” It was very inspiring. It made no sense. Spencer didn’t seem to think Howard’s science was accurate. For What It’s Worth, a quick Googling reveals that Howard may have just deliriously misread Aesop’s Fable about The Ant and the Grasshopper, which is definitely not about ants killing grasshoppers.

Nevertheless, Howard made a good argument. There might be a new alliance in the offing. But right about then, everything got very strange. The houseguests came together to find out who the MVP had nominated this week. They didn’t know the truth: That this week, America was the MVP. This is a hilarious piece of backpedaling by the Big Brother producers. I feel like the MVP twist had a lot of potential, but mixing the twist into a season that featured the sister of one of the most famous Big Brother contestants in history was a poor decision. Elissa walked away with the MVP three weeks in a row, and even though I kind of liked Elissa during the Reign of the Aaryn Brigade, even I had to admit that Elissa hadn’t done anything particularly impressive besides ally herself with Helen and use the phrase “my sister” several thousand times.

Surprise surprise: America apparently decided to put Elissa up on the block. You can torment yourself over the vote-count. You can surmise — or hope — that Aaryn was the number-one vote-getter, but her presence on the block led to Elissa getting nominated. You can also surmise that for all the viewers who like Elissa because she’s Rachel’s sister, there’s an equal (larger?) group of people who can’t stand her because she’s Rachel’s sister. Who knows? The point is: Chaos! Elissa thought GinaMarie was the MVP. Aaryn was worried everyone would think she was the MVP, because she assumes that everyone is thinking about her all the time, because she’s so pretty and ugly people hate pretty people, and she’s a winner and losers hate winners. Kaitlin thought that Elissa nominated herself, which would’ve actually been pretty sneaky. The whole thing was clearly a net-negative for Aaryn, who spent the afternoon cheering herself up, staring into the corner of the room, humming “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” daydreaming about firing a missile launcher at flocks of baby penguins from a helicopter.

NEXT: Vote Elissa for Veto Power

This season, the evil Swiss psychiatrists who create the Big Brother competitions have really outdone themselves, and they had a lot of fun with the human lab rats in their latest veto competition. It was an election-themed game. The contestants — the three nominees, Judd, Helen, and McCrae — all put on their finest suits and pretended to be politicians. They had to crawl through the mud and grab votes in order to win. It was a highly accurate depiction of the American election process, except with less sex scandals and better hair. Everyone complained about the mud, which smelled like manure and also coincidentally looked like manure. Aaryn refused to dip her face in. “If my face was covered, I’d be useless!” she said, while her vacant eyes stared into the middle distance and she imagined the heads of all her enemies on spikes outside of her castle made of candy canes.

The contestants had to suffer for their points. Judd picked up an 18-pointer that guaranteed a 24-hour stay in solitary confinement. Helen picked up a 10-pointer that required an 8 PM curfew. Elissa snagged a 20-pointer which required her to give up playing the veto competition for a week — essentially putting an even-larger target on her back for next week. (McCrae, for his part, opted to essentially throw the competition and take a $5000 check.) Elissa wound up winning, confirming once again that she is a legitimate player when her back is up against the wall, just like her sister. Unfortunately, she’s also incredibly good at turning the entire house against her…just like her sister.

Judd went into his isolation chamber, where an alarm clock blared every nine minutes. (I assume this was a reference to Desmond’s 108-minute routine in Lost. Generally speaking, it’s an enriching experience if you watch Big Brother and pretend it’s a spinoff-sequel of Lost. In this metaphor, Julie Chen is the Smoke Monster and Zingbot is Ben Linus.) Meanwhile, everyone thought it would be fun to plot an elaborate birthday ritual for McCrae. So Amanda dressed up in a one-piece bathing suit and plotted a whole burlesque hour. (She gave McCrae 24 birthday lashes. Ah, romance!) Elissa offered a whole series of pointed critiques. “I don’t even know who makes a one-piece bathing suit,” she said. “You look like you’re working at a strip club,” she said. “It’s pretty frigging gross,” she concluded.

Now, after Elissa said the first thing, Amanda and everyone else laughed it off. After the second thing, everyone looked awkward, and Amanda made a little self-deprecating joke. After the third thing, Amanda stormed off to cry, and everyone looked at Elissa like she was a crazy person. Seriously, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Aaryn had briefly paused her nightly ritual of hunting the children of Elm Street in their nightmares, and walked over to Elissa to say, “Yo, girl, that’s not cool.” Seriously, why did Elissa say any of that? I have three theories:

1. Elissa realizes that everyone in the house — Amanda, sure, but also her nominal friend Helen — only really cares about her insofar as she has MVP power. She also realizes the Rachel’s Sister gravy train is about to run out of gas, and she’s acting out like a petulant child.

2. She honestly had no idea that anything she was saying was hurtful. Keep in mind: Based on what we know about Rachel, it’s entirely plausible that these woman were raised far from society in a distant jungle kingdom where they frolicked with the water buffalo and hunted butterflies for sport. By which I mean: Rachel and Elissa are not so good with normal-person social etiquette.

3. Per McCrae, she was just upset that everyone was paying attention to Amanda and not too her. This is a slight derivation of #1. Of course, the weirdest thing about Elissa is that, despite her lineage, she has never really demanded the limelight in the house. Indeed, she barely even seems to talk to people. Elissa’s gameplay can be summed up with a monologue: “Don’t look at me, I’m nobody. Why isn’t anybody looking at me, don’t they know I’m Rachel’s sister? Oh god, why is everyone judging me just because I’m Rachel’s sister? Oh, America loves me because my sister has so many fans! Oh no, America, why don’t you love me anymore, don’t you know I’m Rachel’s sister?” And also various yoga poses.

Elissa took herself off the block, natch. And in the end, America pulled its own backdoor strategy: GinaMarie ascended to the podium. Flanked by Aaryn and Kaitlin, the ultimate nominations this week show that the old order inside the Big Brother house is truly dead. One of the Popular-Girl clique is going home, although they aren’t popular anymore. If I had to bet, I’d say that the bell finally tolls for Aaryn, just because Spencer and Howard seem focused on bringing GinaMarie into the fold. At the same time, it’s entirely likely that the deep hole Aaryn dug for herself will save her again; I’m not sure it’s a legacy she’d want for herself, but Aaryn has set a new benchmark in quickly becoming the most-loathed person in the house, which means even the worst player in the house can look at her as a meatbag.

Fellow viewers, what did you think the night’s shenanigans? Is Amanda going full-Lady Macbeth too early? Is Elissa going crazy? Would you get behind a Remnant Alliance of the Moving Company (Howard/Spencer) and the Aaryn Brigade (Kaitlin/GinaMarie)?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich