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February 26, 2018 at 12:32 AM EST

Welcome to finale night! It was a season full of drama, showmances like Jessica and Cody, excessive cereal eating, and a chorus of pots and pans. It’s time to crown the winner of Big Brother 19!

Whoops, this isn’t the finale of Big Brother 19 — it’s Celebrity Big Brother!

Our winner is…Marissa? Yes, Marissa J. Winokur. Yup, you heard that correctly. MARISSA. The talkative Hairspray star defeated Ross Matthews by a vote of 6 to 3 in the Celebrity Big Brother finale.

And I’ve got to tell you right off the bat — I’m not happy about it. Look, I was truly happy Josh won BB19. I believe he deserved it. Paul made moves and played a more proactive game, but in the process, he cultivated a culture in the House that was unnecessarily cruel. Not only was his jury management a dumpster fire, but the entire vibe he gave off under the guise of “Friendship” was a complete and utter sham.

Ross wheeled and dealed and was sneaky, but as he told us just after Marissa’s win — “Hello, it’s Big Brother. If you come into this house, you’ve got to play this game.”

I couldn’t agree more. Let’s see how we got to this trainwreck of an end.

There Were Five in the Bed…

We start the episode right where we left off — at the Final 5 HOH competition. In the ski-themed challenge, Ari, Mark, Ross and Marissa fight to be king or queen of the hill, balancing for as long as possible on unstable skis. As the others compete, Omarosa, outgoing HOH, serves as reigning ice queen over the alpine activities.

At this stage in the game, Omarosa and Ari are a tight pair since neither has any other allies in the game. Marissa is essentially wed to Ross, and Ross makes it clear he wants to go to the end with Mark. Mark tells us that although he trusts Ross, he’s been lying low, and it’s time for him to “assert [his] dominance and win some of these competitions all by [himself].”

Marissa falls first, and Ari — who tells us she “looks very funny like a little baby horse,” isn’t far behind, shattering her hopes of safety and Omarosa’s too. Then, Ross cuts a one-on-one deal with Mark, appealing to the softie ’90s rocker, saying he wants a letter from home. All the while, Omarosa sits on the sideline stirring the pot as usual, asking the guys to speak up so she can hear the deal and “protect” herself from it. Mark lets Ross win, and you’d think we were watching Shark Tank and not BB with all the deal talk.

Ross predictably (and smartly, I may add) puts up Omarosa, who’s been his biggest target the entire game, along with Ari, who is a huge social threat. While putting up the two women, Ross also thinks ahead to the special Final 4 HOH competition, in which the winner will take one person to the Final 2 and evict two houseguests. In an effort to maximize the likelihood he gets to the Final 2, Ross does his legwork with Ari, telling her he’s putting her up because his hands are “sort of tied with these nominations” with so few people left. He also works to ensure Ari takes him to the Final 2 if she wins, and she agrees. “I just need to trust Ross that I’m not the target,” she tells us. “I have been loyal in this game. I don’t know. I’m just that kind of person.”

Ross puts up Ari and Omarosa and then manages to win the Power of Veto Competition, “Get Your Story Straight,” in which the houseguests must associate days with major events in the house while suspended from a harness. Ross handily wins the competition, and Omarosa is evicted per his plan.

On the way out, Omarosa talks a lot about God and the White House and says she was thankful for the opportunity to play because “she got to let hair down and be authentic without television cameras.” Newsflash, “Lady O,” you’re on a television show. But that’s neither here nor there. I’m grumpy and filled with as much righteous indignation about the result of this season as Omarosa is with White House stories, so let’s move along…

There Were Four in the Bed…

For the Final 4 HOH competition, the houseguests head out to the backyard to play #HashItOut. In the competition, the houseguests view Twitter battles between previously evicted houseguests. They must identify incorrect statements made in back-and-forth social media jabs.

After leading the HOH competition for the entire time, Marissa falters on the last question, resulting in a three-way tie-breaker among her, Mark, and Ross. With that, the Final HOH competition comes down to a guessing game of how many seconds the previous HOH competition, Rocky Mountain Fly, lasted. The houseguest closest to the number of seconds without going over wins. Marissa manages to eke it out to win HOH and the power to choose who will sit beside her in the Final 2.

Just before the live evictions, Julie gives the three houseguests in peril — Mark, Ari, and Ross — the opportunity to make a case as to why Marissa should take them to the end. Instead of fighting like hell to convince Marissa to take them, Mark and Ari simply say they are thankful for the experience and share their love for their fellow houseguests. In retrospect, this is a clue to the kind of jury the Final 2 will face. It’s a jury that’s all about good vibrations and a fun BB vacation. Ross, on the other hand, while not overly strategic or pushy, says to Marissa: “We talked about this. You did it. I have a friend for life in you. No matter what, I love you.” While Ross maintains the season’s culture of nice, no-pressure, social over strategy in his statement to Marissa, it’s still clear he has a strategy and agency. He may be appealing to Marissa socially, but that social decision is a strategic one.

Marissa votes to keep Ross, and they go to the Final 2. I’ve got to say, at this point, I was utterly convinced Marissa had sealed her BB tomb. After all, the jury consisting of alleged BB “super-fans” like Shannon, Omarosa, and James would surely reward someone who made proactive moves, right?

Boy, was I ever wrong. (Recap continues on page 2)

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02/07/18
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