Host Julie Chen welcomes a whole new batch of crazies into the 'Big Brother' house
SPOILER ALERT: Literally everything about tonight’s Big Brother season 20 premiere is below. Consider yourself warned.
It’s finally Big Brother season, the 20th to be exact, and this year is sure to contain all the twists, alliances, slop, and potential racist controversies its history entails. Last year was not the show’s finest moment — though its schadenfreude-filled finale is an all-time favorite in my book — but a promisingly out-there cast and a guarantee of no returning players provide a possible fresh start for the franchise.
Julie Chen and a rogue’s collection of alums from all 19 seasons (what up, Kaysar!) welcome us to season 20 with the promise of “hacks, apps, and robots,” which probably means one of the producers binged Mr. Robot and felt inspired. Faster than you can say “But first…,’ we meet our first group of houseguests with all the gun worship, reiki, and bubble baths these key montages entail.
Winston, Bayleigh, Tyler, Samantha, Steve, Angela, JC, and Kaitlyn all enter the house, all showing their lack of chill in different fashions. While Steve keeps his past life as an undercover police offer secret (he tells the house he’s a mechanic), life coach Kaitlyn hits a yoga pose in the diary room and says she’s “manifested” her BB victory for the last 5 years. Birds of a feather, don’t you think?
We next meet our remaining houseguests, though one in particular immediately grabs my attention. In the span of a minute, Rockstar (f.k.a. Angie) dances with a crown and fairy wings, calls her belief process “peace through partying,” and delivers perhaps the greatest intro package quote in Big Brother history: “I did a lot of research when I was 12 and I started asking questions. Is God a woman? Oh no, God is a man! But that doesn’t feel right to me, so now I’m a pagan witch.” I think I’m in love.
As Haleigh, Faysal, Scottie, Kaycee, Rachel, Swaggy C, Brett, and Rockstar enter, the entire house shares champagne-tinged hellos, and first impressions are made. While Kaitlyn bonds with Rockstar over aromatherapy (and weirds out the rest of the house with chakra talk), JC spots out a possible alliance as bro-y Swaggy C, Brett, and Faysal immediately seem to be attached at the hip. Nerdy virgin Scottie proves both descriptors correct as he talks about avoiding the “femme fatales,” using his experience working at a movie theater to justify this. Who’s gonna tell him Atomic Blonde wasn’t a documentary?
While Scottie literally does a 500-yard dash across the entire house upon the house’s shock at his never having been kissed, Chenovision beckons the house to announce that this season is all about that tech — seriously, they say “tech” so many times in this segment that even Intel would tell the producers to dial it down a notch. With all that out of the way, we move onto our first challenge, “BB Supercomputer.” The HGs are divided into two groups of eight (four guys, four girls), each on their own platform; the winning team is safe for the week.
But wait! We now have a system crash, sending one team into a pitch-black room knee-deep in water known as the “trash folder,” giving us one of the coolest visuals in BB challenge history. The group will have to find seven folders; six are marked “escape”, granting the holder a free pass out if they choose. One is marked “escape and play,” winning the holder the chance to reprogram the supercomputer. The odd one out without a folder gets a punishment. As the team flies blind through the room, Tyler and Bayleigh are our first two folder finders, each choosing to escape the game. Brett and Rachel are next to escape, leaving four players to hunt for the next three folders. Angela wins the “escape and play” folder, leaving JC, Winston, and Kaycee to hunt for the remaining two folders. JC and Winston find the last two folders, leaving a sullen Kaycee as the punished.
When we see our next team, they are all harnessed above a sea of letters in the “cyber security zone.” Their challenge is to gather the blocks below them to spell out the word “houseguest” in a standing fashion; the first HG to spell it out joins Angela in the final part of the challenge, the last to do so gets the second of the punishments. As the difficulties of building the word start to build, Swaggy C, Faysal, and Scottie race to be the first to complete the stack. Swaggy C wins by a gap of seconds just as Faysal’s stack collapses; all are eventually safe and joined by Steve, Rockstar, and a “spirited” Kaitlyn (complete with heavenly glow and yoga music, no less). Haleigh and Samantha are the last two standing, and each seems to be having a hell of a time with the puzzle, though Haleigh eventually wins, with Samantha’s punishment awaiting (“I just got here, everybody’s so nice!” she worries).
As the house wonders about the punishment, Kaycee and Samantha are nowhere to be found; we’ll soon learn where they’ve ended up. When Bayleigh tells Swaggy C to not let his victory go to his head, their immediate bond shows; it’ll be interesting to see where this goes as the game goes on. He soon meets up with his future competitor Angela, who springs it on him that she’s keeping her teammates safe when she wins. Not the smartest thing to tell your rival from the jump, but this is Big Brother, where intelligence goes to die. This only makes Swaggy C more driven to win and take the game over, making Angela an immediate target.
This brings us to the final competition, “Surfing the BB Web,” a twist on the traditional BB endurance competitions. The last person standing on their surfboard gets to “reprogram” the first week of the game. But it ain’t so easy with such literal BB tropes as backdoors, chopping blocks, and targets flying right in front of them, ready to knock them off their boards. As the twist flies in front of them, Swaggy C and Angela both show visible strain, but it’s ultimately Swaggy C who wins in the end and gets to reprogram the game.
Swaggy C’s reprogramming win gives him the power to keep two of the four move-in groups safe for the week, leaving the other two twisting in the wind. He immediately pledges to keep his move-in group of Rockstar, Rachel, and Brett safe, but he waffles with having to keep his post-challenge promise to Angela to keep her safe. Bayleigh and Haleigh (coming this fall to Disney Channel!) each move into position to try and keep themselves and their respective groups safe. While all this negotiation goes on, Kaycee comes back to the house bearing her punishment outfit, a rainbow unitard with lace wings and the “pinwheel of doom” as a necklace (or what Rockstar wears to church) until the first live eviction. When the pinwheel spins, Kaycee has to stay in the room she’s in until the wheel stops spinning. This will certainly hurt her game, but it could make for one great diary room meltdown. But where is Samantha? Before you know it, a robot serving Nick Jr. Face realness strolls through with Samantha’s voice! Yep, she is now a robot until the first eviction, switching between her robot and human selves whenever the phrases “robot online” and “robot offline” are uttered.
With the house seated in their move-in groups, Swaggy C now has to choose the two groups to keep safe. He keeps to his word and keeps his group safe along with the group of Scottie, Faysal, Kaycee, and Haileigh. With the rest of the house on the chopping block, the HoH competition (the first mention of this the whole night) tomorrow night becomes all the more important. Also important is the newest power, the BB App Store. Each week, America serves as the unofficial review section of the house, with the highest-trending houseguest getting to choose a power from the app store that only they know about, while the houseguest with the least votes gets a punishment. As we eavesdrop on the houseguests, I’m eager to see what the rest of this week has to offer. Though Swaggy C has made the biggest move so far, HoH still being up for grabs means this is anyone’s game. One thing is for sure, Big Brother 20 is already off to an intriguing start.