Shelly goes on a rampage, and Daniele rethinks her strategy. There is a zombie involved, somehow

By Darren Franich
Updated August 18, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: CBS
S13 E18
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The storm drain of madness that lurks in the corner of the Big Brother backyard is currently overflowing. If you squint a little bit, you can see a rising tide of insanity hovering around the contestant’s shins. Shelly — who just one week ago seemed like a no-bull gunslingstress with ice in her veins — initiated an all-out screaming war with Brenchel that turned into a three-way game of She-Said She-Said. Shelly cornered both Veteran Couples in the bedroom and demanded a reckoning. “The three-person deal is out,” she said. “Why Shelly,” said Rachel, “I simply have no idea what on earth you mean.”

Jordan could sense a showdown. She set the stage while Shelly fumed. “Kalia, you stay here,” said directed. “Somebody go get Porsche.” Now, I freely admit that I don’t entirely understand the fight that followed. At first, I thought Shelly was just annoyed that Rachel revealed a conversation that actually happened: We saw, in a flashback to the halcyon era of Late July, a conversation where Shelly talked about taking Brenchel to the final three. This seemed pretty cut and dried. But then Rachel started snowballing, insisting that Shelly had talked about voting out Jordan. “That is not what I told you,” said Shelly, “I never said I would vote out Jordan.” The conversation that followed looked something like this:

Rachel: “You did tell us that. Tell her, Brendon, tell her!”

Shelly: “I never said anything of the sort. I love Jordan like the daughter I left at home, except Jordan has a tougher time forming mouth words.”

Rachel: “You were going to betray everyone! Brendon, tell her! Say something! Brendon!”

Brendon: [mumbling] “I don’t…you say…well, we…that is, clearly, Shelly.”

Rachel: “Brendon!”

Shelly: “Rachel!”

Porsche: “Porsche!”

At this point, I truly don’t know what to think about Shelly. My co-recapper Kate Ward is of the opinion that Shelly’s just bananas. That may be true — it’s still unclear to me whether she actually made a deal with Brenchel, but certainly, her reaction to this whole situation seems deliriously out of proportion. Like, she wasn’t just surprised to find out that Rachel backstabbed her; she was demoralized, chainsmoking in the backyard couch, wearing her sunglasses at night.

Then again, one of the intriguing things about this season of Big Brother is that it has turned out to be uncannily female-centric (especially compared to last season, which was dominated by the fratboy legion known as “The Bra-gade.”) The house is currently being run by a triumvirate of female archetypes: A catty diplomat (Kalia), a Queen Bee (Daniele), and a half-ditz with an uncanny sense for shifting alliances (Porsche.) One of the most powerful competitors in the house (Brendon) is beholden to his lady love — and I would argue that Rachel is the better player, anyways, even if her social game is so bad, she makes Calvin Coolidge look like Teddy Roosevelt. Another powerful competitor, Jeff, is only powerful because he has an adorable blonde pet Care Bear who follows him everywhere and makes his lunkheadedness seem charming.

In the midst of this female landscape — you could call it a sorority, although I prefer the term “Fempire” — Shelly still looks like a straight shooter to me. The fact that she managed to win Dani back to her side immediately after being put up on the block gives me hope that her Rachel breakdown was an aberration. But like I said, the storm drain of madness is overflowing…and even a straight shooter occasionally shoots themself straight in the foot. I’m pretty sure Hemingway said that.

NEXT: Brenchel 3D

If you want to understand the peculiar tragedy of Brendon’s return to Big Brother — why, mere days after fighting his way back into the house, he appeared to be almost pushing himself out — you have to understand exactly why Return of the Jedi is a bad movie. Now, this sounds like heresy. Believe me, there is a twelve-year-old version of me — a boy who somehow managed to memorize the personal history and genealogy of every alien in Jabba’s Palace — who is screaming right now. But if you should ever find yourself watching Return of the Jedi immediately after finishing The Empire Strikes Back, the film’s terribleness is immediately evident. The zippy dialogue is gone. The pacing is all off. The whole Jabba sequence feels like a two-minute prologue that was expanded by half an hour to make room for action figures. The second Death Star is never as cool as the first one. And even if it’s cliche to say that the Ewoks are terrible…well, the Ewoks are terrible. (Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz gave an interview to the LA Times last year where he mapped out an alternate version of Return of the Jedi. The alterna-Jedi is so cool that it’s entirely possible to conceive that its mere existence would have turned the world into a veritable utopia, Wild Stallyns-style.)

But the main problem with Return of the Jedi is Han Solo. Formerly the coolest man in the universe, Han in Jedi becomes a shell of himself. Blind, lovesick, bizarrely cuddly, he’s not even allowed to pull any cool moves in the Millenium Falcon. He’s just coasting along on his reputation; like the movie itself, he has nothing left to prove, so he doesn’t even try. Viewers, I submit to you that the Brendon who returned to the house this week was just like the Han Solo who was unfrozen from his carbonite shell in Return of the Jedi: The drive was gone.

Brenchel didn’t even get to participate in the Veto competition, a cowboy-themed cornhole match. Daniele dominated, getting three straight bullseyes without breaking a sweat. Shelly went out first; she was followed by Jordan, who reclaimed her throne as Sweetest Li’l Gal Ever when she donated a “Family Phone Call” certificate to Shelly. (That certificate also came with 24 hours in solitary confinement. A better punishment would be 24 hours of listening to recordings of Rachel’s laugh. Actually, I’m working on a mixtape that will be nothing but 3 hours of Rachel and Ronnie from Jersey Shore laughing.)

Kalia won a Caribbean Vacation, which led Jeff to joke: “Vacation from what? Taking a nap every day?” (Which is funny, and is also big talk coming from a dude who has a special hoodie that he wears while he sleeps in the Purple Room every afternoon.) Suddenly, after six weeks, Adam decided to join this season of Big Brother by asking Jeff mid-cornhole to let him win.

This was a pretty silly bit of gamesmanship — not so much strategy as a plea — but it just so happened to line up with Jeff’s current mindset. Jeff didn’t want to win the veto competition if he and Jordan weren’t in Dani’s sniper scope; when Dani promised that he was free, he threw the game and let Adam win. Adam then spent the rest of the episode saying how proud he was of his performance in the veto competition. Whenever I think about Adam’s Big Brother strategy, I think about a glitch in Goldeneye 64, where an attacking Soviet soldier would try racing at you around a corner, but would instead just keep jogging straight into the wall. He would just keep running on an eternal treadmill of pointlessness until you took pity on him by pointing your DD44 Dostovei at his head. Viewers, I submit to you that Adam is a helpless Soviet killbot waiting to be put out of his misery.

NEXT: Let’s get humilitarded in here.

Listen gang, we have fun here talking about our beloved Li’l Jordo. She has a gift for malapropisms that makes her seem like the second coming of “Little Carmine” Lupertazzi. She has an aw-shucks beleaguered quality that makes her seem like a lost Peanuts character. She has a strange maybe-relationship with Jeff which either makes her seem like Lady Bird Johnson or Hillary Clinton, depending on your political belief system. But she’s a sweetheart, and I think it’s fair to say that no one in the house could possible pull off the Unitard as good as she did last night. The Unitard — a horrible green bodysuit with pink fringe, advertising “I’m with Stupid” and “Kick Me,” complete with a Calvin & Hobbes propeller beanie. When she walks the propeller rotates, and it literally looks like there is a cute little hamster inside of her head running like crazy on a hamster wheel.

Meanwhile, Shelly took her prize. She entered the insanity room. She had no company except her thoughts; no sustenance except bread, water, and slop; nothing to ponder except all that has happened and everything that will happen. As if in a seance, she heard the voices of her husband and daughter calling to her from the wall. “Mama!” said little Josie. “I Love you!” “We’ve been watching you, my darling,” said Tony. “You’re playing so well.” Shelly was so happy. She was crying. “Tell me about school!” she asked her daughter. “I got the teacher I wanted!” exclaimed Josie. Then came my favorite exchange of the night:

Shelly: “Are you taking care of daddy?”

Josie: [through tears] “Yes, ma’am!

What’s not to root for? Shelly was made stronger by her brief reunion with her family. “I’ve got something that a lot of people won’t carry in this game,” she noted. The hours passed like seconds. Shelly’s ready for her second act now.

Meanwhile, up in the throne room, Daniele was sitting pretty. “I feel very accomplished,” she proclaimed to her Vizier, Kalia. Dani’s path to victory is becoming clearer now. She has two cohorts who seem to scarcely have a thought without first getting Dani’s permission. She had Jeff running scared, bending the knee to her superior power. (Certainly, Jeff is savvy enough to count the votes…and even if he still has Jordan, Adam, and Shelly, he has to note that Dani’s army is almost as big and far more accomplished in competitions.)

Best of all, her main competition — Brendon and Rachel — seem to have resigned themselves to their bleak fate. It’s understandable, perhaps. Momentum is trending against Brenchel. If Kalia or Porsche can win HoH on Thursday, the house will have seen a full month of Daniele’s Dominion. Put in sports terms, Daniele is currently Tiger Woods circa 2001, and Rachel is Tiger Woods circa 2011. Put in simple terms, Brendon goose appears to be cooked. Daniele gave a speech in which she called Brendon a zombie; she proceeded to aim a metaphorical shotgun at his metaphorical head.

Brendon noted that the problem with zombies is that they keep on coming back, which isn’t technically true; they really only come back the once. Do you think Brendon can avoid going home for the second time in two weeks? Can the Daniele-Kalia-Porsche Triumvirate run the house for a fourth week in a row? Will Jeff and Jordan make any actual moves in this game, or are they essentially playing an extremely aggressive Floater strategy? Tweet me some brain grapes about this episode, and hit up the comment boards. Check back here tomorrow night, when noted Shelly skeptic Kate Ward will help America to get over losing Brendon yet again.

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Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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