Seeing the light in a season of darkness.

By Aubry Bracco
September 03, 2017 at 10:48 PM EDT
Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS
S19 E32

Dear BB19, I love competition reality shows, but spending time with you three times a week this summer has been wearing on my soul. I know it’s just a game (just like all the houseguests always say when they’re in power), but it’s gotten too personal (just like all the houseguests say when they feel on the outs). I don’t have any more analogies in my library that refer to a pack of oblivious contestants led by one master player. My heart is weary from the bullying. Even worse, I feel my own outlook poisoned by the rampant negativity and delusion in this house.

So, for this one recap, I’m going to try to see the positive in this Little Shop of Horrors. Though I’ve made my eternal love for Kevin clear on social media, I’ve been trying to empathize with the hyenas in this house, because when they emerge out the front doors, the vultures will be waiting.

Grab your crabby snacks, and let’s try to see the silver linings in the predictable playbook that has been this season.

BB19’s Bobby Fischer

We kick off the night with a look at the chessboard that is BB19. In this house full of amateur players, we all know by now that Paul is Bobby Fischer. Say what you will about Paul across the 72 days we’ve been watching the inner workings of the house — his mastery of the players and his ability to see every move 10 steps ahead is second to none.

Four days prior, Paul begins to orchestrate his plan for the HOH competition, telling us he wants to “string up my puppets and have a little puppet show.” Paul talks to Josh and Christmas, and they decide they want to target Alex and Jason (Jalex). Ideally, Paul wants to make the move without getting blood on his hands. Josh and Christmas agree to the plan, but in order to make the magic happen, they’ve got to:

1. Convince Jalex that Kevin is the target
2. Make Alex and Raven agree to throw the HOH
3. Ensure everything goes as planned when the houseguests compete

Paul gets everyone on board by pitching the reasons why they should throw the competition or win it and take a shot at Jalex so he doesn’t have to. The way he convinces everyone to carry out his plans is nothing short of masterful. Paul convinces people that he has their best interests in mind and/or that their plans to do as he says are their ideas.

At the competition, the houseguests set up on track lanes with their hands on sensors. They must race to a target point and buzz in before everyone else. If someone takes their hands off their sensors before a screen tells them to “go,” they’re eliminated.

Watching everyone drop out person after person to fulfill Paul’s vision is like watching John Williams conduct an orchestra. Paul tells us his “whole plan hinges on Kevin.” So, Paul tells Kevin mid-competition, “You gotta drop, buddy,” and the Bostonian does. Then, it’s Alex’s turn to get out of the way. Like a dutiful student to teacher Paul, she false starts and is eliminated, before telling us Kevin “is literally is going to get himself out of the game this week because he trusts in Paul” (she may regret those words). The rest of the competition proceeds as planned, and Christmas wins the race.

“I literally can’t believe I pulled that off,” Paul tells us. “I literally got the one-legged girl to win a foot race. I don’t need to even make a joke about it…This may be my greatest feat of all time.”

I don’t think anyone can argue with that.

An Unusually Lovely Day in the Neighborhood

Fresh off the HOH competition, we get to see the lighter side of the houseguests (never mind the complete game blindness) and, of course, more of Paul’s utter dominance.

The BB18 vet immediately celebrates the HOH plan with Alex while Josh is in the room so he doesn’t make her suspicious of his true motives. Kevin spots the celebrations. He knows something is fishy, just like he did during the HOH competition, when he said everyone dropping off was “a weird situation.” I’ll give props to Kevin for having game instinct, but the gold star for execution goes to Paul, who knows how to manage everyone’s emotions.

Paul placates everyone in this house, dosing them with personalized attention to quell paranoia like a nurse who knows his patients’ medication schedules by heart. After celebrating with Alex, Paul immediately squelches Kevin’s fears by telling him to trust him and “act all sad.” By the end of the conversation, Kevin tells us he “doesn’t know what the plan is, but I trust Paul.” Kevin, I love you for your loyalty. At a game level, Paul’s houseguest whisperer skills are next level.

Meanwhile, Alex tells Christmas she’s willing to go up as a pawn, because “nobody is going to go against me when Kevin’s on the block beside me.” How very kind of Alex! While she’s been vicious through the season, it’s encouraging to see her take one for the team even if the decision sends her out the door. (Recap continues on page 2)

Jason, who believes Kevin is the target, decides to extend some kindness to Kevin by telling him Christmas will likely put him up next to Raven. “Kevin is my buddy, my pal,” Jason says. “I just want to brace him for impact.” Someone must have slipped some kindness pills into the water supply in this house. Even if the gameplay is terrible, at least people aren’t jumping ugly at Kevin this episode. I’ll take it!

We get some lighthearted scenes, like Alex scaring people by jumping out of cupboards and out from under sheets (instead of down people’s throats) like someone working a haunted house. It looks like Christmas is getting back into her workout routine post surgery (thank goodness)! And, Jason jokingly says he’s going to take an apple from the Tree of Temptation, which would ruin everyone’s plans if he could play a second veto or eliminate an eviction vote. But, off course, Jason doesn’t take the apple because Paul is Johnny Appleseed of this house, and he doesn’t want anyone messing with his crop. Such a clown that Jason is, giving everyone a scare!

Puppet Master Junior?

Finally, before nominations, we do see Christmas demonstrate some strategic thinking in how she presents the nominations so she doesn’t “sink [her] game or also [her] teammates.”

The CrossFit champion ponders whether or not to put up Jason and Alex and make it look like they’re pawns with a plan to backdoor Kevin or play it straight by declaring Jason the target and “drawing the line in the sand.” To play the “honest game or the sneaky, sneaky game,” that is the question. Ultimately, Christmas tells Jason he’s going up “because [he’s] an incredible competitor…a triple threat” and she thinks she needs to “take out a strong male figure.”

Her declaration is the perfect balance of stating her intentions, but not too overtly. While Jason has the idea that “there’s something a little more” going on, there are other strong male competitors in the house, depending on how you see the other players. It’s no Paul-level move, but I’m proud of Christmas for logically thinking things through — and thinking before speaking. There may be a little fight in her yet, and she shows she can be appropriately coy with her execution.

And that concludes another trip around the sun for the Big Brother house. The gameplay might not be scintillating, the story nothing new, but I’ll take a break from the fighting and the ganging up on Kevin. Sometimes, it’s best to appreciate the downtime and a little positivity before everything hits the fan, especially on a double-eviction week.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. These are the silver linings to the BB19 playbook, and in this dance, Paul’s got six perfect partners while his hands remain “squeaky clean.” Let’s see how long he can keep them that way.

Episode Recaps

Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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