BIG BROTHER: Celebrity Edition
Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

A clip show? I can hear the eye rolls from here, but tonight’s penultimate Celebrity Big Brother was a surprisingly solid affair that provided a little bit more than the usual look back. We got some unseen footage that provided surprising context to some of the season’s biggest moments, as well as a nail-biting cliffhanger that’ll give some nice suspense to start Wednesday’s finale. All that and we found out that you can fill five minutes of network television with Whitefish-based conflicts. Who knew?

We start tonight’s episode as Friday’s ended, with the final five of Ricky, Lolo, Tamar, Dina, and Kandi basking in the glory of making it to the finale. After shaking the double eviction nerves off, the houseguests wake up the next day to find a brunch for six on the kitchen table. But who could that bonus plate be for? The doorbell soon rings and behind the door is CBB1 finalist Mark McGrath, or as Tamar declares “It’s Sugar Ray!” Over mimosas and french toast (and some fridge-shaming), Mark picks the finalists’ brains about their time in the house, setting up the copious amount of clips that serve as the backbone for much of tonight’s episode. From Lolo and Tamar getting into an endless argument over sea bass to Kato seemingly auditioning for MadTV two decades too late, we get a trip down memory lane, plus some tidbits we didn’t get to see on TV. Also, Ryan Lochte calls Joey Lawrence “the peanut butter to my jelly,” which I guess makes their friendship humanity’s Uncrustable.

It’s interesting to look back at these moments in a new light given all that’s happened since. While Lolo and Ryan’s friendship from outside the house seemed to disintegrate inside, Kandi and Tamar going from bickering in towels to repairing their friendship is enough to warm even the most cold-hearted viewer. We’re also shown times when the houseguests shared their vulnerabilities, like Lolo (a devout Christian who’s long been public about saving herself for marriage) openly talking about her frustration at not having found “the one” yet, and Tom (a testicular cancer survivor) revealing how he still deals with chronic pain almost 20 years after his surgeries for the disease. It almost feels unfair that these scenes weren’t shown on the show initially, but in this lead-up to the grand finale, they provide some context to the guests’ respective mindsets going into the game.

After a long day of reminiscing (and some more champagne), Mark says his goodbyes as we move into the first part of the final HoH competition: Bats: The Musical. Hosted by CBB1 winner Marissa Jaret Winokur, the houseguests (dressed as the most delightful bats you’ve ever seen) have to “fly” to their respective magnetic puzzle boards where they must assemble their pieces within 20-second intervals, flying back and forth to their buzzers for more time. If they don’t fly to their buzzers in time, the pieces will fall off their board and they’ll have to start all over; but if they don’t get back to their buzzer within 10 seconds of their puzzle coming apart, they’ll be eliminated. The first person to assemble the pieces into a complete poster for Bats: The Musical will become the next HoH and guarantee a position in the final 4. As the other contestants fly to start the competition, Tamar is freaking out and still standing. “I’m scared of heights,” she tells the diary room, adding that what she needs to do is jump because there’s simply too much at stake. But as the episode ends (what, you really thought we’d get crucial content tonight? Nope!), Tamar’s still panicking on her platform before finally taking the leap she’s been so frightened about…a good minute or two after everyone else has. Will Tamar be able to catch up in time? We won’t know for sure till Wednesday, but each of our final five has their pluses and minuses on the road to $250,000.

Ricky started the season trying his best to go under the radar, but a mixture of game savvy and other houseguest’s suspicions caused him to be seen as a threat. While other players would try to duck back into the corner, Ricky leaned in and entered a strong alliance at the perfect moment. Will that luck and timing serve him well in the end?

Kandi’s best asset game-wise has been her ability to manage relationships in each of the season’s major alliances, ultimately using that skill to help break up one of them (The Athletes) before they took control of the house. With her final two deal with Tamar seemingly solid, does she have another big move up her sleeve?

Tamar’s journey in the house has been a true rollercoaster. One minute she’s cultivating major alliances, the next she’s at their necks. But throughout the drama, she’s managed a still-lovable aura, never fully falling on anyone’s bad side (except for Tom, of course). If her fear of heights doesn’t trap her, can she manage this high-wire act all the way to the grand prize?

Lolo’s athletic intensity has served as both her biggest strength and her greatest weakness in the game. While she’s always managed to be a factor in competitions, her personal skills tend to run hot or cold. While the gold medal’s long eluded her at the Olympics, $250,000 is a nice consolation prize, don’t you think?

Dina…well, she’s always been a great listener. Will the jury be bitter enough to ignore a stronger competitor and give it to the ultimate momager?

All these questions and more will hopefully be answered Wednesday night as one of these five celebrities will win Celebrity Big Brother.

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