Bad decisions reign supreme, and one houseguest fights for his life

Big Brother 08/16/17 (screen grab) CR: CBS
Credit: CBS
S19 E23

Is anyone out there looking for an aimless bunch of people who can’t make sound decisions on their own? Perhaps you’re looking for people to join your cult. Boy, have I got a great match for you! Head on down to the BB19 house. There’s a host of options — from a self-proclaimed sassy redhead, who is silent, to a guy who is happy as long as you remind him he “has a good heart.”

For some reason, a majority of BB19 players seem determined to make every decision in a vacuum. Most have a complete lack of awareness that their decisions are directly controlled by someone else or made to satisfy a warped reality and culture that’s been constructed by select others who actually know how to play the game.

Okay, maybe I’m being harsh, but what are these people thinking? Perhaps the Veto Competition can feature prizes again next week, including a few hours for the winning houseguest to see what we see on television. If these people could see what we see for even a few moments, this season could be more like The Hunger Games, with a few more Katniss Everdeens than just Cody, instead of the cringeworthy groupthink mess of District 1s it’s become.

Emotional Intelligence and Ignorance

The night kicks off with some heartfelt emotion from Kevin, who desperately misses his family but refuses to show emotion since he believes it’s a sign of weakness. In an effort to let it out, he tells public enemy No. 1, Cody, before crying in the freezer. Sure I’m snarky, but I mean it wholeheartedly when I say I genuinely feel bad for the guy. I haven’t felt this emotional about a freezer since Cherry was locked in one and barely escaped death in one of those after-school-special episodes of Punky Brewster when I was a little kid.

Unlike nearly every other houseguest, Cody, of all people, exhibits emotional intelligence and takes Kevin’s vulnerable moment as an opportunity to connect on a social level. Cody tells Kevin about his daughter to prove to Kevin he trusts him. Cody’s clear with America on his intention to fight, telling us he’d “rather die on [his] feet than give up on [his] knees.” By connecting with Kevin, it’s clear he’s here to play, unlike everyone else who isn’t Paul.

Up in the HOH room, head minion Alex gripes to leader Paul that Kevin is “stirring the pot” and jeopardizing their “complete and total control of the house.” As much as Cody displays emotional intelligence, Alex shows ignorance. What doesn’t seem to register is that “their” plans really just belong to Paul. As long as Alex serves her purpose and relays information, she’s golden. But when push comes to shove, there’s little doubt Paul would evict Alex at the drop of a hat.

Camping Trip From Hell

Houseguests head into the backyard to embark on a camping-themed Veto Competition, complete with prizes and curses. Basically, it’s a messed up version of a Christmas Yankee swap. As houseguests are eliminated from the competition, which requires them to aim and hit targets, they choose a prize and opt whether or not they want the prize from a previously ousted contestant. Ultimately, the last person standing chooses the most coveted item, presumably the Power of Veto, especially if you’re in trouble.

As nominees Elena and Jason, special Temptation nominee and pawn Matt, Paul (by Alex’s choice), Mark, and HOH Alex get ready to play, a few things are clear going into the competition:

  • Matt threw the Temptation Competition earlier in the week as a volunteer pawn so Cody couldn’t then play in the Veto and safe himself, increasing the chance of a Cody backdoor.
  • Cody wants Matt to win the Veto Competition since Matt might be tempted to pull himself off the block. Since Matt is a special nominee who can’t be replaced, there would be no backdoor on Cody.
  • Elena is determined to win and “take [herself] off the block.”

What follows is some of the most questionable gameplay we’ve seen so far on this season. (Recap continues on page 2)

When he goes out, Matt opts to choose the Veto, which he admits “wasn’t the plan.” Second-to-last-out Alex gets $5,000, and winner Elena, who told Alex she wouldn’t curse her, curses Alex and takes the prize money instead of the Veto, which ends up with Matt.

Before we address the fun stuff, let’s unpack this disaster:

Matt’s decision might not be the worst of the season, but in the words of Paul, “it’s a little bizarre and not the best case scenario.” Elena’s decision, on the other hand, is atrocious. She manages to go back on her word and infuriate Alex. To make matter worse, she makes her decision after getting validation from Cody, who is psyched that Elena, a person who is already a target, is staying up on the block. Elena’s decision makes zero sense. Just last episode she said she felt “disposable.” Now, she has a livid HOH targeting her, calling her “the biggest, slimiest scumbag in the entire world.”

The Veto Competition is a metaphor for a season of terrible gameplay. Let’s not forget the rest of the lunacy, which results in costume curses for Paul, Jason, and Alex.

Paul is cursed with a tandem skydiving costume, and he chooses the barely mobile Christmas to be his bud. Let’s not miss the hilarity of Josh calling the curse “tandam skydiving.” He might be able to spell evicted, but he’s got work to do in the pronunciation department.

The remaining costumes feel like an homage to a bunch of new- and old-school television favorites. Alex becomes a modern-day version of Ug Lee from Salute Your Shorts’ Camp Anawanna. Each time a bugle plays, she needs to set up camp and cook hot dogs for the whole house while seething at Elena for stealing her $5K. Meanwhile, Jason’s costume is the love child of Nickelodeon’s Double Dare with ’90s neon and America’s Got Talent (check out that big red “X” on his head). Whenever Big Brother calls him out, Jason has to get loud, which really isn’t that much of a break from the daily routine.

The Cult Leader and the Only Hope

In the wake of the Veto Competition, the typical chaos ensues before Matt decides who to pull off the block and Alex contemplates a potential replacement nominee.

Alex invites the entire house up to the HOH room except Elena to make her paranoid, because this house is all about people making things personal after telling each other not to take things personally.

Then, Cody pleads with Alex and Jason, reminding them he’s “at the bottom of the barrel.” He warns them that sooner or later, as strong players, they will be targeted. Alex and Jason do seem to be picking up what Cody’s putting down, but we all really know who’s in charge here. That person would be Paul, who consults and thanks Matt before the orange-tank-top-wearing houseguest leaves himself on the block and takes down Jason to make a spot for Alex’s replacement nominee.

As predicted and ordained by the leader of this group, filled with people who seem determined to make decisions dictated to them, Alex puts up Cody to backdoor him. Going into Thursday night, Cody’s only way to escape is to let Elena make herself a bigger target. Cody knows “it’s grim,” and it’s even grimmer with a double eviction on the way that the houseguests don’t know about.

I love competition reality. I love to play it. But boy, am I frustrated. BB19 houseguests, please come back to us. Break out of your groupthink, petty revenge schemes, and bonehead decisions that give others power. Take a risk. Advocate for yourself. Stir that pot! Cody, please catch fire, break the system, and save us from this cult. You’re our only hope.

Episode Recaps

Big Brother

Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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