The first Battle of the Block competition takes place, but it's the paranoia inside the house that is the real war.

By Erin Strecker
June 30, 2014 at 04:16 AM EDT
S16 E3
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“Paranoia, paranoia/ Everybody’s coming to get me” —Harvey Danger

It’s well known that Big Brother contestants lose touch with reality. But did anyone expect it to happen quite so soon? One day, likely in the very near future, Devin will be sitting in his home watching this episode and will see just how quickly he allowed his paranoia to run rampant. “If only, if only,” the woodpecker Devin will sigh. If only I didn’t get too cocky too soon. If only our alliance didn’t have the dumbest name. If only Donny wasn’t so damn funny.

Devin may not be out of the game just yet, but last night certainly put a target on his back, even if he’s not currently sitting on the block. Sunday night’s Big Brother marked the beginning of a new chapter in the long-running series: The Battle of the Block, a new weekly competition, would determine which of the two HoH’s nominations would stand, and which current HoH’s would be allowed to continue to rule for the rest of the week.

Let’s start from the top: After winning the second HoH, Caleb was riding high. Frankie… not so much. Wanting to make sure he wouldn’t go down in Big Brother infamy for winning HoH and getting booted the same week, Frankie got Caleb alone, and basically sang some Jump 5 to him: “I’ve heard some people say/ that opposites attract/ if that’s the truth then we/ we belong together.” Caleb liked the idea of the two potential foes joining forces, but—in a video game-esque speech—”we’re only two people, and this game is all about numbers. I think it’s time to start searching for some soldiers.”

Cue recruiting Devin and Derrick. Devin was all about an all-guy alliance because women be emotional, man. File this comment away for about 20 minutes from now, when Devin starts to go crazy, and logical Christine and Amber are having the best time of their week. Derrick, to his credit, verbalized what viewers were likely yelling at their televisions: It’s way too early to be making these kind of long-term alliances. You don’t know these people! And a big all-guy alliance does not exactly have a great track record on this show—and it’s easy to see why not, after the rest of the episode played out.

After convincing Devin and Derrick to join the cause, the gang also brought in Zach Attack (“Floaters, be prepared, you’re about to get bombed!”), as well as Cody the Hunk to join the Bomb Squad (Bomb Squad? Try Ticking Time Bomb). Hey Caleb, maybe don’t name your alliance something that can easily be twisted into negative comments about your group i.e.: I can’t wait to watch this thing explode before it even takes off. Caleb managed to sneak in one more dismissive comment about the women in the house, and then the Bomb Squad was assembled and ready for action. Tick, tick, tick…

Meanwhile, outside, ladies be talking about nails. But also: Ladies be smartly lying low, which really is an underrated strategy for the first few days of game play. The women all assured one another that they aren’t all secretly up to anything. Jacosta explained she hasn’t talked much game with anyone, and that the only alliance she’s currently in “is with God.” Let’s hope God makes it a priority to get you that HoH Room, Jacosta. But you do have to respect a woman who wears a bow tie with swimwear. It’s important to stick with your personal #brand.

In other galmance chats, Christine and Nicole are power bonding over the fact that they feel like outsiders in the house compared to the other beautiful, skinny women. (Side note: In what world are these ladies not considered attractive?) They explain their emerging friendship:

Christine: “We shop at Wal-Mart; we connect on things that aren’t like makeup. I know it’s really early, but I can see myself being best friends with Nicole.”

Nicole: “Plus we both have big nerd glasses so that probably helps, too.”

Is it too early to declare these ladies fan favorites of 2014? Probably, but they are off to a fun start. How cute were they when they excitedly jumped up and down in the storage room after dodging eviction? I want these two to star in a Match.com ad for friendship, stat, and I want to see them in power soon.

That moment may be coming quicker than anticipated, thanks to some rampant paranoia by Devin. Poor Devin. He was feeling so good about the Bomb Squad (name’s still a nope!), and even gave an over-the-top convincing performance to Donny about his continued loyalty. “You are the beast, I’m the…I don’t know what I am,” Donny says as he attempts to convince Devin to stick with Double D. “I’ll never let go,” Devin assured Donny about their secret pact, with one foot secretly already in the lifeboat. Moment of praise for Devin, who managed a fun grin and wink to the camera after Donny left the room, convinced of their bond; Devin even dabbed some water on his eyes so that it appeared he’d been crying. Surely this was not the behavior of a person that was about to completely lose control.

Wrong! Nominations were announced, and both Caleb and Frankie explained they were picking the two people who placed last in the HoH competition, meaning Caleb nominated Donny and Paola and Frankie put up Victoria and Brittany. Victoria—who clearly had already planned out her and Frankie’s Bravo reality show together—was clearly crushed. Frankie attempted to reassure her (lying through his teeth), but Victoria was already SO DONE. Victoria’s got problems, but Frankie is no longer one. Side note: I will cast all of the votes for whomever first quotes Ariana Grande lyrics to Frankie.

Victoria wasn’t the only one upset over nominations. Caleb, who is either one hell of an actor or is truly torn up that he had to put people up on the block, was near tears. We got a very bromantic view of all the Bomb Squad guys gathering in a circle to support Caleb in his time of need. “You only did what you had to.” “No one blames you.” “I love you forever.” “No, you hang up first.” It was a sweet moment, but not 15 minutes into the Bomb Squad’s televised reign, cracks are already beginning to show. Cody, for one, is growing more skeptical by the second. “I don’t know if I just joined the next Brigade or the next Moving Company.” Psst, Cody: It’s the latter. Thank Devin!

CUT TO: At 4:30 the next morning, Devin clearly hasn’t slept and has been alone with his thoughts for way too long. He decided to act like a kid who really wants something and just decides to do it and then ask permission later. He recruits Christine and Amber, telling them everything about the Bomb Squad and inviting them to be full members of the alliance. “Why do you think you can trust me? I really appreciate it, but you probably shouldn’t,” Christine explains with a grin to the camera, confirming that her real ally is best bud Nicole.

Who’s emotionally reckless now, Devin? All of the guys are guilty of overplaying their hands a bit so early in the game, but Devin really takes the cake for telling the women all about the alliance, particularly without clearing it with any other Bomb Squad members first. After the women agree to become part of the group, he then woke up Caleb to tell him after the fact that the girls are in. “They know,” Devin explains, neglecting to finish that sentence with “because I rounded them up and told them everything.” Needless to say, the guys don’t take too well to Devin’s announcement, and they start to have some doubts about Devin as an alliance member—even more so the next day when his paranoia reaches a 10 and he wonders what, exactly, Donny, of all people, is really up to.

Oh, Donny. Donny seems poised to be an eternal pawn, but he’s got some tricks buried in his long beard, not least of which is a continuation of last week’s plan to joke his way into people’s hearts. (Guys, I laughed at his pasta-tute line. Send help.) Yoga-performing Donny laughing it up with a whole gang of women proved too much for Devin, who immediately told the Bomb Squad that he suspected Donny wasn’t even really a school groundskeeper. The fact that he said this to Derrick, who is secretly a police officer and lying about his job, made it all the better.

Walking hashtag Frankie succinctly summed up the central thoughts of Devin’s paranoia: “This bearded duck hunter is really James Bond.” Cody, for his part, accurately saw this all spinning out of control, fast. “The Bomb Squad is going to blow up in our faces!” Ding ding ding!

Before the Bomb Squad goes the way of the Moving Company, however, it was time for the first Battle of the Block. Each HoH’s two nominees would be on teams against one another. The winning team was safe from eviction for the full week (so, they can’t be a veto replacement, correct? Twist!), and the person who put them up would lose HoH status. Last night’s game was called The Pour-in Twenties (Puns!) and was set up like a 1920s jazz club. The contestants had to get on swings and coordinate transporting alcohol from their glasses into a larger glass on the other side of the room.

Poor Paola. She’s talked such big game about ego and strategy since her first moment in the house, who would have thought she’d be taken down by a swing? She shared that she hasn’t sat on a swing since she was 6, but, umm, isn’t that the kind of activity you don’t forget how to do? The thing that most interests me about this new Battle of the Block competition is that it’s team-based. I’m curious to see as the weeks go on if people will start to throw this competition if they’re convinced they’re a pawn in order to screw over their teammate, who might be the real target for going home.

For now, competition-throwing isn’t needed, because Paola and Donny were doing a pretty poor version of getting wine into the glass themselves, handing Victoria and Brittany victory. That means Victoria and Brittany are off the block, and Caleb remains HoH. Will Devin’s paranoia get him booted as soon as this week? Does Zach have any more hashtag-perfect catchphrases at the ready (#ZachAttack)? Will there eventually be an episode that is just Donny performing stand up? We can only hope.

Follow Erin on Twitter: @ErinStrecker

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.
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