By jibrilgagale
February 09, 2019 at 11:12 AM EST
Sonja Flemming/CBS
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Can you believe we’re only five days away from finding out the winner of ‘Celebrity Big Brother’?  Yep, if there’s one thing this season has been short on, it’s time.  But in the wake of Tom’s nominations, the house is certainly long on tension.  “The Athletes” (Natalie, Lolo, and Ricky) feel blindsided by Tom going back on his word with nominations, but are determined to win the veto and throw the HoH off his game.  However, Tom seems to be doing a good enough job of it on his own, going back to the overthinking that thwarted his first HoH reign.  Fortunately, Kandi is by his side to calm him down and tell him to “be cool” as the game rolls on.  Lolo meets with Ricky and Natalie to go over their plan for the veto competition; Lolo sees this as a must-win as it’ll force Tom to put up one of his allies as the replacement nominee, giving their group the numbers once again.  The possibility of a Lolo win is also lingering in Tom’s mind as he wonders what he’ll do if his worst-case scenario becomes reality; as only one person can sit out this veto competition, the odds are not in his favor.  “If Lolo doesn’t play in the veto competition, that’s the best thing for us,” Tom tells Kandi and Dina over a game of pool.  When the players are picked for the veto competition, Lolo turns out to be the odd woman out.  But before we can get to the competition, Julie Chen-Moonves interrupts this days-old drama to announce to the houseguests that tonight will indeed be a double eviction night.  “That means nobody is safe,” she tells them before leaving them to their sofas.

The veto competition, ‘Color Blast!’, sees the contestants serving Charlie Chaplin silent film realness as they have to memorize a sequence of colors shown to them then select the color that answers the question asked of them.  The last person left standing (and unsoiled by paint bombs) will win the golden power of veto; ultimately it’s Tom who wins the veto.  Natalie, Lolo, and Ricky are sure he’ll keep nominations the same, but each wonder if Tom’s trademark unpredictability will work in their favor…or not.  “Tom’s biggest flaw is he overthinks and then it makes him look like a mad king,” Lolo accurately tells the diary room.  Tom, deadset on finally getting Ricky out of the house, tells Kandi that he’s considering using the veto on Natalie and replacing her with someone who’ll ensure a Ricky eviction.  Kandi, serving as the voice of reason, tells him this is a terrible idea and doubles down when Tom suggests Tamar as the replacement pawn.  “Dude, this is a democracy, not a dictatorship,” Kandi says in the diary room.  “I do not like [Tom] trying to put people that I care about on the block just so that I’ll vote the way you want me to vote.”  All a frustrated Kandi can do is tell him that she’ll sleep on it.

Not wanting to leave her friend in the dark, Kandi then goes to Tamar and tells her about Tom’s plan to put her as a potential pawn.  Tamar, also seeing the holes in Tom’s logic, says this’ll be the biggest mistake of his life as she’s not sure they’ll then have the numbers to actually evict Ricky. Kandi promises her she’ll work to avoid this scenario,  but Tamar soon tells “the athletes” about what she’s been told and her frustration only grows.  Tamar goes on a tirade about Tom and how he has no power on her life, delivering one of the best lines of the season by telling her bedroom alliance-mates the last thing she’s ever gonna do “is beg anybody like a Tom Green to save or do anything in this life for me.”  Tamar then confronts Tom in the kitchen about his power-trippy attitude.  While Tom again plays the “it’s only a game” card, Tamar tells him that his threatening tactics are “f***ed up” and things only get more heated from here as he takes offense to her calling him a bully.  Tom tells the diary room that he’s the one who’s truly being bullied in this situation and wonders if he’s playing a different game than everyone else in the house.

Before the veto meeting, Tom throws a one-man pity party in the HoH room and tells the camera that he’s got one move that he could pull that could take the target off his back.  “I’m not talking to anyone in the house right now because they don’t know what I’m gonna do with the veto and I want them to sweat a little bit,” he tells himself, promising “shocking news” for the houseguests as he’s seemingly embracing his most-hated status in the house.  It’s then time for the veto meeting and Tom, as promised, throws a curveball into the proceedings by using the veto to take Ricky off the block to the confusion of everyone.  Adding confusion to the confusion, Tom then announces that Lolo is Ricky’s replacement nominee.  Tom explains his logic to the diary room, saying that the moves served two purposes: trying to extend a possible olive branch with Ricky and the sense that Lolo and Natalie are the two biggest threats in the house.  But leave it to Tamar to describe the situation more succinctly: “Something in the milk ain’t clean.”

Now on the block together, Lolo and Natalie are seemingly giving up on campaigning against each other and both are prepared to fall on the sword for the other.  Tamar takes umbrage with their feelings and tells Natalie to ask Ricky and Dina if she has their vote to stay.  Natalie takes her advice and finds less than definite answers from Dina and Ricky as he tells the diary room that he feels stuck between his alliance-mates, citing Lolo’s competitive smarts and his friendship with Natalie.  We then move to the first live eviction of the evening and the emotions of the situation are clear as both Lolo and Natalie get choked up during their pre-vote speeches, accentuating the bonds and experiences they’ve had in the house instead of rehashing the drama that put them on the block.  Ultimately it’s Natalie who is evicted by a vote of 4-0; but before we can get to her exit interview with Julie, it’s time for one last “Breaking Celebrity News” twist.  With Ricky as the lone houseguest to give the report his full attention, Kevin Frazier announces that there will be a new opportunity for someone to avoid being the second evictee tonight. As the rest of the house takes a seat, Julie announces that there will be a bonus competition tonight that will grant one houseguest safety from the second eviction and ensure them a spot in the final five.  The catch: whoever wins safety will not be able to compete in the HoH competition that’ll follow.  As the houseguests consider the costs and benefits of safety vs HoH, Julie asks Natalie why she went against Tom and Kato when they wanted to turn on Ricky in the “Fun Five” alliance; she says that it was less about siding with Ricky than wanting to make the best decision for her alliance, but that it ultimately ended with Tom and Kato showing their “true colors”.

The first-ever safety competition, “Living Art”, sees the houseguests run all around the lower level of the house and take count of all the human “art” pieces placed throughout the house within 90 seconds.  The first person to run back to their booth and lock in the correct answer wins safety from the next eviction, and in what is certainly a boon for recappers like me, Tamar comes closest to the correct answer and is safe.  Once the remaining houseguests catch their breath, it’s time for the Head of Household competition.  In the second part of “Living Art”, some of the art pieces have disappeared and it’s up to the houseguests to run through the house again and determine exactly how many pieces have run away.  The person who gets the exact number of these missing pieces will become the new HoH.  Lolo gets the exact number of pieces correct and is the new HoH; that sound you hear is probably Tom breaking into a cold sweat.

Lolo only has minutes to make her nominations for eviction amid a loud hurry of campaigning, and after thinking out loud for what feels like a week (much to the frustration of Julie) she nominates Tom and Kandi for eviction.  Almost immediately after, the veto competition is ready to be played.  “Cousins” sees the houseguests view the “premiere” of a new sitcom of the same name starring CBB1 standouts Ross Mathews and Metta World Peace (and judging from the clip shown, it’s at least as funny as ‘Man with a Plan’).  After they’re shown the clip, the houseguests will have to answer true-or-false questions about what they’ve seen; the person with the most correct answers wins the power of veto.  After a tiebreaker with Ricky, Tamar wins her second competition of the night and takes the veto.  When the time comes to announce her plans Tamar draws gasps from the audience by deciding to not use the veto, leaving her buddy Kandi on the block.

In their pre-vote speeches, Tom goes on and on like a man who knows his network TV time is about to run out while Kandi says simple thanks and shares her hopes to stick around.  After a whirlwind of an evening, Kandi’s wishes come true and Tom is evicted by a vote of 3-0 and Tamar is literally tap-dancing for joy as Tom says his goodbyes.  Asked to explain his and Kato’s initial strategy to get rid of the younger alpha-males (Jonathan, Ryan, and Joey), Tom says that they went after them initially because they were left out of a competitive group but “knowing what I know now” he questions if that was the right move.  “I just think that I learned a lot about the way humans behave,” Tom says in closing.

And with that our final five is set: Ricky, Dina, Kandi, Lolo, and Tamar.  On Wednesday night, one of these five celebrities will walk out of the house $250,000 richer if not somewhat wiser.  What last-minute moves and blindsides do they have at hand as these next five days pass?  Monday’s episode should give us a hint as the first part of the final HoH competition gets underway but one thing is for sure: I’ll definitely have a hard time getting Tamar’s taps out of my head.

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Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.
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