Daniele plays Iago to Rachel's Othello, which makes Jeff and Jordan a two-headed Desdemona. Shakespeare is fun!

By Darren Franich
Updated July 28, 2011 at 04:01 AM EDT

Big Brother

S13 E9
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Based on the comment boards, it seems like some people have given up on this season. That’s too bad. Having just marathoned through the last five episodes of Big Brother, I think we’re witnessing the early rumblings of a truly exceptional reality TV showdown. I’m talking Brenchel vs. Jorff, Darkness vs. Light, So-Clever-They’re-Stupid vs. So-Stupid-They’re-Clever. Remember: There is no real reason why Brendon and Rachel have to be in an alliance with Jordan and Jeff. Brendon and Jeff seem to have friendly interactions — Jeff is the groovy-cool Ferris Bueller to Brendon’s tightly-wrapped Cameron Fry — but Rachel and Jordan are very close to outright hating each other. They don’t, not yet, possibly because Jordan appears to be incapable of hatred, possibly because Rachel secretly wants to be Jordan. And they are all good enough players to know that, in Big Brother, the most powerful move you can make in the first half of the game is to stay true to your alliance.

On last night’s episode, the Double-Couple alliance was tested. Rachel was still sore over Hasselhoffgate. “How dare Jordan not invite me to watch that crappy new CBS reality show!” her brain screamed. “Yes, honey, yes,” screamed Brendon’s simpering brain in response, “How dare they, snarf snarf, how dare they!”

At the exact right moment, in strolled Daniele. Now, it has been a disappointingly unromantic summer so far in the Big Brother house. The horndog preacher was eliminated in Week 1, and the model who talked like the hot-hobo alternate-universe version of Taylor Swift was forced out in Week 2. So the closest we’re likely to come to a genuine showmance this year is Dani and Dommy. We saw them get into a pillowfight, which was exactly how I would have flirted with my fifth-grade summer camp girl-crush if the powers-that-be had allowed girls within ten miles of the horrible Boy Scout camp where I spent my fifth-grade summer. Then Daniele decided to make her move. She’d been sitting in the shadows long enough. The time had come…to move slightly away from the shadows.

“Everyone knows what needs to be done,” Dani told Rachel. “Like, let’s get this game on the run.” Dani was smart. She never said, “Let’s eliminate Jeff and Jordan.” She played on Rachel’s insecurities. She talked about what a great gameplay move a Jorff backdoor would be — and we all know what great stock Rachel puts in great gameplay. (Why does “Jorff Backdoor” sound so dirty?) Rachel and Brendon fled to the HoH bathroom for a bubble bath and a foot massage, thus reminding me to never eat my dinner while watching Big Brother.

Later, Dominic strolled into the HoH room looking for some clarification. He had made a deal with Brenchel. (Dominic didn’t know that Adam also made a deal with Brenchel, thus making the PB & J alliance one of the most backstabby team of backstabbers that has ever backstabbed.) “Do you want me to throw the veto?” Dominic asked. “Yes, we want you to throw the veto,” murmured Brenchel. Dominic made out in the confessional like he was a genius player: “Thanks, Rachel and Brendon, all I need you to do is take me along until I shank you in the back three weeks from now.”

Now, I’m inclined to like Dominic. I see a lot of myself in him. He’s from the Bay Area, I’m from the Bay Area. He talks too much, I talk too much. He’s modeled clothes for GAP, and I wear clothes literally every day! So I want to believe he is actually a smart mastermind. But he made a whole series of mistakes last night — especially with his open flirtation with Daniele. While Dommy and Dani giggled their way through an afternoon workout, Jeff watched from the far side of the yard. “I’m seeing Daniele and Dominic hanging out way too much,” he noted.

NEXT: Mean Uncle Jeff breaks up the kids’ fun.

Jeff and Jordan were picked as the third team in the veto challenge. You have to admit that this is suspicious. It wouldn’t surprise me if every nametag in the sorting hat was marked with “Jeff and Jordan.” But I don’t mind if the game is rigged, really. I just loved how, once again, the structural layout of the challenge was a chaotic blend of stealth plotting. Dominic wanted to throw the veto challenge in order to eliminate his partner, Adam. Adam had a deal going with the same people as Dominic, but he still wanted to win the veto challenge, because he’s smart enough not to trust anyone. Rachel and Brendon wanted to win the veto challenge just so they could claim ultimate control of the house. Jeff wanted to win the veto challenge to keep his allies honest. Jordan wanted rainbows, oooo, so pretty, bright colors!

In short, no one trusted anyone except for the people they shouldn’t trust. And it was at this precise moment that Daniele made her first mistake. Again she strolled into the HoH room, cool as an iced cucumber. She was all like, “Hey friends! Whatcha gonna do when you play the veto challenge? Sniff sniff, I remember when I used to play in challenges!” Rachel: “We told Dominic to throw the veto.” Daniele: “[spit take] Bwhat-what-whaaaaat?” Instantly, Daniele’s tone changed. She tried to make it as clear as possible: Get rid of Jeff and Jordan. The time had come for Operation: Jorff Backdoor.

Now, Daniele’s logic was sound. Jeff and Jordan are two of the most likable people in Big Brother history. Or rather, they are two of the most inoffensive people in Big Brother history. (Okay, gay wizards might disagree, but gay wizards only go on Big Brother in awesome Eastern European countries.) And inoffensiveness is a potent weapon on this show, much like in presidential elections and the Hollywood development process. But the problem is, the second Daniele made the leap into outright warmongering, she also sacrificed her fundamental inoffensiveness. She stopped being the cool hippie aunt who flirts with hunky boy-men, ha ha ha, love that Daniele! Instead, she became — in the eternally paranoid eyes of Brendon and Rachel — an exiled war chieftess amassing an army in the frozen wastelands to the North. She became the enemy.

So the stage was set for the veto contest. The competition would take place inside a bubble bath, a clear reference to Brendon and Rachel’s earlier bubble bath, which proves decisively that Big Brother is operated by renegade psychiatrists with a bleak sense of humor. Within the giant pool lurked a giant lady with hairy legs, which grossed everyone out, because giants are gross. Porsche was boobsily hosting the competition. She explained the rules: “Beep Boop Bop Beep, Me Porsche, Toot Toot!” Translation: Players had to pluck hairs off the giantess’ legs. Each hair had a letter on the bottom. They had to spell big words with said letters. Everyone had a good laugh about Jeff’s season 11 spelling of “Tectronics,” which I still think would be a pretty cool name for an evil corporation in a superhero movie.

NEXT: Fun with SuffixesBrendon, who I’m sure you’ll remember is studying for a PhD, had a plan. He was going to add an “-ing,” a “-ly,” or an “-ed” to the end of any word. “Whatever makes my word long…er,” he joked. Rachel was plotting to spell out “moisturizing,” which by the way doesn’t she have lovely skin! Adam was going to spell out “procrastination,” which sums up his gameplay philosophy. Jordan was embarrassed that the only word she could spell was “Farting.” Dominic tried to lose by spelling a nine-letter word. (Imagine what this kid could do if he ever tried to win.)

Rachel misspelled “moisturizing,” but Brendon’s successfully spelled “understanding.” “Beep boop bop, vroom vroom, me Porsche!” screamed Porsche. Translation: Brendon was the winner. That meant the power in the household reverted, once again, to Brendon and Rachel. Daniele, perhaps sensing that she had overstepped her bounds before, tried to softpedal an anti-Jorff philosophy on Rachel. In response, here is what Rachel asked her:

“Do you think it would be good to get rid of Lawon?”

The look on Daniele’s face was exactly right: Confused, amused, and horrified. Lawon? “What’s the point of that, though?” Daniele choked out. (I have to believe that Rachel was just throwing out the Lawon thing as a way to see how badly Daniele wanted to save Dominic. She may also have a bad case of Space Madness.) Daniele made a big point about noting that Jeff and Jordan were “already plotting an army” against Rachel and Brendon.

Question: What do you picture when you hear the words, “Jeff and Jordan are building an army”? Personally, I imagine Jordan whistling to a flock of animated bluebirds while Jeff thumb-wrestles with the orangutan from Every Which Way But Loose. Rachel clearly thought something similar. She was suspicious.

Meanwhile, in the crazy-person Have-Not asylum, Dominic decided it was a good idea to shore up his defenses by talking to Shelly. It’s shocking to see just how many people have fallen for Shelly’s whole “Happy Mama” act. You could argue that Shelly is the most two-faced player in the game right now: She’s been in the Veterans’ pocket practically since day one. And last night she finally earned her keep, spilling the beans about the Dominic/Dani alliance to Jordan, Brendon, and Rachel.

Brendon was feeling particularly poetic after he heard the news. He exclaimed, “Daniele is trying to lead a Calgary against us!” Now, you can draw three conclusions from that utterance: 1) He meant to say Daniele is leading a cavalry against them, indicating a surprise attack from horseback; 2) He meant to say that Daniele is leading a Calvary against them, indicating some sort of Christian allegory; 3) He meant exactly what he said, and Daniele is leading the largest city in the Canadian province of Alberta against Team Veteran. “Daniele is trying to raise an army,” Brendon clarified, “And the first in charge is General Dominic.”

The end result of all of this? The Brenchel/Jorff alliance has become stronger than ever. Jeff strolled into the HoH room and was all like, “Hey, B! What’s the haps, Jack?” And Brendon stood up and said, “J to the Effles, we got probtastic problems. Daniele is backstabbing us!” “Well,” said Jeff, “We’ll show her!” And they shared a good laugh, and hugged it out, and then lit up some cigars and talked about investing in emerging markets. Yo, did anyone notice that Jeff and Brendon are even starting todress the same?

So Brendon did not use his veto. At this point, it’s hard to imagine that Jorff and Brenchel will keep Dominic around, and Shelly votes with them, and Kalia votes against her own self-interest, and Lawon VOTES LOUDLY AND POINTLESSLY. Adam, by virtue of doing nothing, might have accidentally walked into safety. Check back here tomorrow night, when my fellow recapper Kate Ward will guide you through elimination night. In the meantime, hit me up on Twitter with your read on tonight’s episode. Did Dominic ruin his chances by talking to Shelly? Are Brenchel and Jorff really besties forevs? And if so, can you come up with a new four-way portmanteau for them? (My vote: Jernchdan.)

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Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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