One houseguest is awake, but is it too late?

By Aubry Bracco
September 10, 2017 at 10:59 PM EDT
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S19 E35
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We’re getting down to the final stretch of Big Brother 19, and it appears an unlikely Clark Kent has emerged from the shadows. In the remaining pack of Big Brother superheroes and villains, Paul has been the mastermind, taking people out one by one under the guise of “friendship.” But it seems an anti-hero, in the form of Josh, is on to the BB18 vet’s insidious ways, realizing the only “ship” Paul’s been captaining is dictatorship.

Josh is suited up in his metaphorical superhero suit and his Spidey sense is on high. To use some current slang, Josh is a “woke” man. Grab your cape, shield, or superhero power of choice, and let’s join him in this house of lies.

“Back to the Future”

In the words of the late Dr. Carl Sagan: “You have to know the past to understand the present.” We kick off the episode with just that. Here we learn the details that we missed during Thursday’s live double-eviction episode, and boy are they juicy. It’s clear the ramifications of the Jason and Raven evictions have set the emotional and strategic tone for the remainder of the game.

“Tonight had to be easily the craziest night of my BB experience ever,” Paul tells us. “All my plans worked perfectly.” While it’s no surprise that Paul was able to manipulate his allies to keep the blood off his hands and do his dirty work, the moves weren’t made without some potential issues down the line for Paul.

The Jason eviction went off for Paul as planned when he got in a fight with Josh post vote-out to convince Alex that he, Christmas, and Josh aren’t working together. “That’s how you get away with BB murder,” Paul tells us. Still on good terms with Alex, Paul convinces her it’s not the time to go after Christmas and Josh. Alex, feeling she has nobody else in the house on her side, puts up Kevin and Raven to comply with Paul’s request when she’s HOH.

While Josh is one of Paul’s top allies, he’s on to what the BB18 vet is doing. “[Paul] has his plans, but they only protect Paul’s game and expose mine…Right now, I’m afraid I have all the blood on my hands with Jason’s eviction,” he continues. With that in mind, Josh decides not to use the veto after he wins the POV, and he casts a “rogue” vote against Kevin the night Raven goes home in order to build trust with Alex.

The move, however, makes Christmas “really freaked out” that Josh is playing too emotionally. She tells Josh not to plant “seeds of doubt” against Paul and to never “talk against him.” Paul also tells Josh to get over his emotions and comes up with a plan on how the next HOH is going to go — it’s going to be a throw to Josh.

The first minutes of tonight’s episode are incredible evidence of the danger of telling people what to do and dismissing their emotions on a competition reality show. Josh (1) doesn’t like the way the CrossFit champ protects the BB18 vet and (2) hates the way Paul makes all decisions to further his game with no consideration for Josh’s game.

Paul fails to realize that dictating and telling people what to do can be dangerous. There’s only so long you can balance forcing people to make moves to the detriment of their own games while simultaneously quelling their emotions. You’ve got to show people you mean what you say by following up on your word every once in a while.

The BB18 vet might have all the remaining houseguests in his web, but what he’s doing is like telling a boyfriend or girlfriend, “I love you. I’d do anything for you,” while slapping them in the face at the same time. While Kevin and Alex are still somewhat oblivious to that sting, Josh is well aware that he’s been hit, and he’s having none of it.

The MVP moment of the episode — and, in my opinion, the whole season — comes from Josh in a moment of realization that Paul’s emotions are nothing more than crocodile tears: robotic, manipulative tools of psychological warfare.

Paul cries to Alex in front of Josh and breaks out into a maniacal grin to Josh the moment she leaves the room. When Josh sees this abrupt change of emotions from Paul, his eyes open wider than Scrooge when he meets the Ghost of Christmas Past (no pun intended). “I felt like I just saw the devil or something,” he tells us. Josh, I’m not convinced you’re wrong. (Recap continues on page 2)

“Blast From The Past”

The houseguests settle in for “The Revengers,” an HOH competition that’s memory based. First, they watch a BB feature film before they fight to remember the details accurately. The hokey movie is filled with superheroes like Frankie Grande as the “The Flamingo”; BB18 winner Nicole Franzel as “Ocktober Fist”; and my dear Survivor tribemate, Caleb Reynolds, as none other than “Beastmode Cowboy.” In the movie, the ragtag crew of heroes face off against villains from the undead, led by BB10 winner and BB14 runner-up Dan Gheesling as “The Funeral Director.”

Going into the competition, Josh informs us of what the result should be, per Paul’s plan. Josh is slated to win per Paul’s dirty work, which involved the BB18 vet lying to Kevin to throw the competition to Christmas, since Kevin would never willingly cede a win to Josh.

Kevin is fed up, having never had a picture or letter from his family, while everyone else has enjoyed that luxury as HOH. While there is a moment when it looks like Kevin might go rogue on Paul’s plan, Josh ultimately takes the win. This leaves the Boston native “embarrassed…The plan was [Josh] wasn’t going to win,” Kevin tells us. Still, even though Kevin does know Paul and crew are up to something, he still says Paul’s word is “solid as a rock.” To this I say — I love you, Kevin. Never change. Your heart of gold is more important than this crazy game.

So, with Josh in control, it looks like Paul is going to get his way, right? The answer is: Maybe.

“Divergent”

The end of the episode is a festival of self-awareness and Paul skepticism, an entertaining sight we haven’t seen in 34 episodes prior. It’s glorious to see.

Paul gloats to us that he “pulled off the impossible” by manipulating a competition win once again. Josh, however, while impressed with the BB18 vet’s game, isn’t so excited. “I don’t need somebody telling me what I’m going to do,” Josh says. “[Paul is] kind of a mastermind, and he’s turning into a monster.”

Josh does ultimately follow his alliance’s plan, putting up Kevin and Alex, but only for now. What’s exciting is what we’ll get the rest of the week with the Power of Veto yet to be played and a “surprise eviction” on the way. Speaking to the camera directly, Josh is fully awake: “I gotta separate personal. I gotta play the game,” he tells us, acknowledging Paul would beat him in the end. “I’m going to take the shot this week, but they don’t know which way I’m aiming,” he says.

I’m concerned it may be too late for Josh. With his HOH win, he’s relinquished his vote to make good on the stuff he sees in the house. Nonetheless, props to Josh, my superhero in this episode. He may be emotional, but he has the intuitive chops to play Big Brother. In a way, I’m rooting for him to succeed, but if he doesn’t, better luck next time. Though he might not win, that doesn’t mean rogue Josh can’t stir up some trouble that could ultimately dictate the outcome of this game.

And finally, to Paul, I say this — you’re screaming integrity and friendship way too much. Your entire game relies on these core tenets, and I’m having flashbacks to the Survivor: South Pacific Final Tribal Council. You’re underestimating Josh. Beware of leaving any more phony messages to departing houseguests like you did to Jason, Paul. If they’re stacked up next to a few more exit-message truth bombs from Josh, you may sabotage yourself right out of this game with a big fat second place for a second time.

Episode Recaps

Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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