Austin's heart gets the best of him, possibly sealing his doom. Maybe he shouldn't have listened to so much Clay Aiken.

By Jonathon Dornbush
July 27, 2015 at 02:26 AM EDT
Credit: CBS
S17 E15

If Audrey’s game this season was any indication of what kind of house the Big Brother 17 houseguests are running, it was that they don’t tolerate lying whatsoever, especially when it’s poorly executed. Sadly, Austin was too busy daydreaming about his future with Liz to take notice, and it could be the downfall of Judas in the house.

Even before Audrey’s eviction, tonight’s episode proved Austin has been accidentally laying the groundwork for his own demise for days if not weeks. He decides to tell Jason about the twin twist in the hopes of forming a bond with him. But to really sell this new friendship that is not meant to be, Austin layers the reveal with a lie. He wants to work to keep Liz so they can at least go to jury together. Julia (whose name Jason treats as revelatory as what was inside the hatch on Lost) is of little concern to Austin, though, so he’s fine if Jason wants to evict her. But not his precious Liz.

Jason, of course not having any relationship with Austin, has no problem sharing the twin twist conformation with Meg, and the two of them inform Shelli when she passes by the bathroom. Shelli has to feign surprise as they give her intel she already has, which she then passes on to Vanessa once she interrupts the conversation. Nothing is lost in this game of Telephone, but something useful does come out of it—Shelli and Vanessa learn Austin may not be the trustworthy ally they once thought him to be.

And with Vanessa now ruling as one of the two Heads of Household this week, she has a tough choice to make. Does she try to recover Austin’s good name in the house, or does she jump from the sinking ship that is Judas and stay afloat?

Vanessa, proving herself to be one of the more strategic players this year, goes with the latter, particularly after a conversation with Austin. He not only remains vague about his conversation with Jason, but puts the onus on Jason to want to split the twins up, completely contradicting what Vanessa just discovered. This lie ultimately seals his fate, as his oldest ally in the house sets about a long con that she hopes will end in Austin’s eviction.

Luckily her fellow HoH, Jackie, is on board for this week’s ruse, Vanessa’s Eleven. Jackie wants Liz out, but agrees that Austin is the bigger target at the moment. And now it just becomes a matter of selecting the correct two pairs of nominees to ensure the backdoor plan will go off without a hitch.

From the moment the two HoH’s tour their new digs, everyone with a plot or motive begins to scheme. Julia, now in the house, tries to butter up Jackie so she won’t nominate her after Liz and Julia did so last week. Austin tries to cover his ass with Vanessa, telling us he didn’t lie to her, just withheld information from her about his conversation with Vanessa. That’s not only lying by omission, but he does blatantly lie about what Jason said during their chat, so it might be time for the BB producers to consider dropping a dictionary into the house.

And James… well James is smitten himself, but not with someone in the house like Austin. No his judgment is clouded by a picture of Vanessa’s mom. He’s so taken by her beauty he has to shout it for all to hear. Unfortunately for him, there’s that pesky ring on her finger that might get in the way of his romantic endeavors.

There’s more than a crush at stake for those in the house with their heads in the game. Vanessa and Jackie make a plan for nominations—Jackie will put up Liz and a pawn, while Vanessa will nominate a pair of contenders to handily win the Battle of the Block. She and Jackie convince Becky to go up alongside Clay, who valiantly volunteers as tribute, probably expecting that a football-related competition just has to be happening soon. James will go up as the pawn with Liz, the idea being that he’ll throw the BoB.

NEXT: Johnny Mac finds freedom while a showmance is put at stake.

The nominations go as planned, the ceremony offering little in the way of surprises for everyone… except for Johnny Mac. Yes, John, for the first time in the game, has not had to sit on the chopping block (and doesn’t foresee a reason he’d be a replacement nominee this week).

“I’ve been doing all right being nominated every week but, a week where I’m not going to be nominated,” he asks us, sounding like the upbeat version of Bojack Horseman’s Charlie the intern. “What do I do with myself, do I just sit here?”

While Johnny Mac is sitting pretty for the week, Julia is more concerned about her precarious position. She confers with Vanessa to see where she stands, and the HoH assures the currently in-game twin that she and her sister are not the targets. Vanessa is “ride or die” with her, confirming her place as the mastermind Dominic Toretto of the group.

“I don’t have housemates, I got family… and pawns” she may or may not have said during her Diary Room sessions tonight. But either way, she keeps the peace with Liz and Julia, whom she earlier informed about Austin’s “Keep Liz, boot Julia” speech to Jason. Whatever affection the twins held for him is likely as invisible as Clay Aiken.

Vanessa also has to calm down Shelli, who’s on the verge of vomiting at the mere thought that her precious Clay may be in danger. She begrudgingly accepts her football star’s fate, but she has trouble hiding her frustration when the Battle of the Block comes to pass.

The competition places the two teams in stark white rooms in the backyard, dubbed the “BB Newsroom.” It’s essentially like Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, only everyone involved speaks like a regular person, so it sounds much less intelligent, egotistical, or both, depending on your feelings for Sorkin.

The contestants have to throw paint on the Outback Steakhouse-sponsored walls, and even each other’s clothing, to uncover letters that correspond to names of houseguests from last season. They have to study the randomly assorted letters to determine the three correct names, which they then spell out on slates in front of them.

Going into the game, Clay and Becky think they have this one in the bag, while James is confident in his ability to throw it. And Liz is on her own, the only one seriously considering what’s at risk.

And so the teams start off playing a far less enjoyable version of Splatoon, Clay and Becky hustling together while Liz quickly realizes she’ll have to pull the weight for both her and James. Her teammate is doing about all he can to throw the competition, which unfortunately is difficult considering its nature. His only means of delaying the two of them is to keep throwing paint on Liz/Julia. She thanks him every time, holding back the can of paint she assumedly has primed for his face.

Even without his help, she pulls out a win that, at least in the editing, appears to happen seconds before Becky and Clay buzz in with the correct answer (after buzzing in incorrectly many times). Austin cheers like the proud boyfriend he thinks he is while Shelli weeps for the state of her showmance.

And just like that, Vanessa and Jackie’s foolproof, 100 percent guaranteed-to-succeed plan faces a major misstep, with the wrong pair coming out on top. “And I would have gotten away with it too,” Vanessa yells from the Diary Room, shaking her fist. “If it weren’t for you meddling nominees!”

But all is not lost. There’s still a Veto competition to come. Maybe that’ll be the time for Clay’s football skills to finally come into play.

Episode Recaps

Big Brother

Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

  • TV Show
  • 22
  • TV-14
  • CBS
stream service