Some of the houseguests have started to wake up
Welcome to The Matrix. Sure, it appears we’ve been watching people live in CBS’s Los Angeles-based Big Brother set, but at this point it’s clear — this house is all designed by Paul. Everything that happens here is a carefully constructed reality that he and only he has created.
The majority of the houseguests chose to swallow Paul’s pill early in the season. In doing so, they’ve been lulled into a dream world in which Paul dictates the narrative of how BB19 progresses. Cody and Jessica (Jody) have been fully awake and aware Paul has been running the circus for the duration of the game, riding out the tumult in their spaceship for two. Now, it appears some others may be stirring. Only time will tell who will wake up at the right time to break the system Paul has created and nourished for the past six weeks.
Is Josh the Neo We’ve Been Waiting For?
We kick off the episode in the midst of Jody’s worst nightmare. Paul’s minion and Chief Jody Antagonizer-in-Charge, Josh, has won HOH. Josh’s win is literally the definition of the phrase “the inmates are running the asylum.”
As expected, Paul’s side of the house has Jody as a potential target: “The whole house has been against me and Jessica since the start…There’s not much to say about that,” Cody tells us. He’s right, but there are two other potential targets in Mark and Elena (Marlena), who are on the fringe, too. Elena is on Josh’s radar since she voted against him when Ramses was evicted, and Mark’s been playing the middle, maintaining a friendship with Cody.
Josh tells us there are “four targets like meatballs on a platter,” so all must be serene in the World of Paul, right? Think again. There may be four potential targets, but Josh and Paul have completely different takes on who the intended targets should be.
Every time he has a conversation with Elena, Josh says she tries to get information out of him. “I would love to get out Elena before Cody and Jess,” Josh tells Christmas and Paul as the BB18 vet is splayed on Josh’s HOH couch as if the room actually belongs to him. “I don’t trust her at all.” But the problem, Paul tells us, is that “I’ve been working on my game relationship with Elena, so I don’t want to mess with that.”
Jody may be Paul’s nemesis, but, in a way, the couple has also been the lynchpin that holds Paul’s matrix in place. Jody is Paul’s constant. Everyone knows that Paul is gunning for Jody and Jody for Paul. That dynamic is one the houseguests can consistently rely on as the status quo of the power dynamic, so Paul wants to stick to it for the next few weeks.
On the other side, Josh’s HOH reign, and the power that comes with it, is the first time he’s been in the driver’s seat in a game that’s been a “battle…uphill” the whole time. Take yourself back to kindergarten for a second — this HOH reign is essentially Josh’s first opportunity to bring a show-and-tell to school and share it with his class. Like an overbearing helicopter father, Paul tries to dictate what Josh brings to class and what he says about it. “If I tell you…listen to me,” Paul tells Josh.
This doesn’t sit well with Josh or with Christmas, who sees Paul’s domineering attempts to keep the power dynamic as he wants it. Like a caring, motherly figure, Christmas tells Josh that she loves Paul, “but don’t do everything he says.” And while Josh technically is ruling the roost this week, Christmas sees that Paul has been running the show for weeks. “This is Josh’s HOH, not Paul’s HOH,” she says. “Paul thinks it’s his room already.”
The BB18 vet needs to proceed with major caution. If Poppa Paul doesn’t give Josh at least a moment to shine and have his own voice, he’s in store for a raging rebellion. Paul, Josh has been an obedient hurricane in the house you’ve been able to harness and shift on your enemies. Heat up those waters too much, and that hurricane may be headed your way. (Recap continues on page 2)
House of Horrors
With a whole lot of flawed social game already in the hopper for the first half of the episode, we move into a supernatural-themed Temptation Competition, which is a whole other strategic conundrum in and of itself. In an effort to make sure things remain stable, Paul wants everyone on his side to compete. If Cody or Jessica win, it could undo the system he has created to his advantage.
Meanwhile, Jody decides to minimize the probability they’re on the block on eviction night. They want one of them to win the Temptation Competition for safety and one of them to lose so the loser is guaranteed an opportunity to play in the Power of Veto.
The competition requires contestants to stumble through dark rooms, which have been transformed into a Haunted House. There, they have to put clues together to gather letters that, once unscrambled, spell the name of a magic item that closes the portal between the living and dead. Whoever is fastest wins. As Kevin tell us: “I’m not scared of this haunted house. You should see the neighborhood I grew up in.” While Kevin’s terrifying training does result in a performance that’s pretty speedy, it’s not quick enough.
Cody wins, and Jessica comes in last after a half-hearted try. I’ve got to say this: I’m proud of you, Jody. Way to work that intuition into an actionable plan, for once. Keep it up.
With Cody off the table as a nomination option and Jessica on the block as a special nominee, discordant visions get even more heated. Paul doesn’t hear Josh, who says Elena is “a liar and shady,” stating, “If Jess goes, Elena comes over to our side.”
Even worse, in addition to telling Josh that Jess is the real target for the week, Paul tells him how the drama will go down and even starts running the show by informing Elena of “Josh’s” plan. When BB19’s “dear leader,” Paul, tells Elena that Josh chose Marlena as pawns even though he had offered himself, Elena confronts Josh about his true intentions.
Josh tells Elena she and Mark will go on the block because they’ll be able to beat Jess in the Power of Veto. Elena questions his “flawed” plan since there are stronger competitors in the house. Her gut is right; she sees right through Josh’s bluff and asks him: “Is this Paul’s HOH or this your HOH?” Like every other day in the house, the issue blows up with Elena, Paul, and Josh in a white-hot conversation about nominations, intentions, accusations of lies, and all the other lighthearted fun we’ve come to expect.
So while Josh does ultimately put up Marlena, stating that Jessica is his true target, he’s clearly got his crosshairs pointed in a different direction than Paul. Josh might be waking up, but it’s not clear if he has the numbers to take out Elena at this time. Only time will tell.
“I know that you’re afraid…you’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change,” Keanu Reeves says as Neo in The Matrix. “I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin.”
There will likely be a few casualties before we find the BB19 Neo and learn how the next chapter will begin, but sooner or later, it’s likely that one will emerge and spread a virus to break the Paul Matrix. It’s refreshing to see at least some movement in Josh and Christmas. All I have to say is this — hurry up, houseguests. I’m sick of this flick. It’s time to find a savior and move on to the sequel.