The first Head of Household is crowned
After last night’s introductory episode, where we spent a lot of time getting to know the celebrity house guests, it’s finally time for some action and gameplay. The second part of the two-night premiere picks up where we left off last night, with the house learning that the loser of the upcoming Head of Household competition will also be the first nominee for eviction. That means that either Ryan Lochte or Jonathan Bennett will be at risk of going home, two strong competitors suddenly facing an early exit.
Jonathan’s a smart player though, and he’s not about to test fate. He immediately goes about planning out numbers so that even if he is on the block he’ll be safe. That means he goes right to Lochte, hoping that the two of them can concoct a scheme to stay alive no matter what happens. Lochte immediately agrees to the alliance, the first of many moments where we realize that the man doesn’t do much thinking for himself. He spends most of the episode being influenced by other people and begging Jonathan to tell him what to do. That’s a perfect person for Jonathan to hitch his ride to and get to the end.
The two need seven people total to have the numbers, and they decide their best options are Tamar, Kandi, Lolo, Natalie, and Joey. They pitch Tamar and Lolo first; Kandi comes later, though Jonathan doesn’t know that she has some bad history with Tamar. So, the first step of the plan goes off without a hitch as Lolo and Tamar are on board, but they run into trouble with Joey. As Lolo dances around the idea of an alliance, Joey immediately shuts it down. Now, to be fair, he doesn’t understand that Lolo is about to pitch him. Rather, he’s musing on his game philosophy in general, which is “I don’t believe in alliances.” Does he know what game he’s playing? “I hate that word,” he says, surely confirming that he won’t be making it to the end.
There’s a whole lot of scrambling early on here. While there’s still time for some bonding, like everyone watching Ryan Lochte in the endless pool in the backyard, or Green and The Mooch sharing stories about Trump—”I’m Canadian, this is not my problem,” says Green—the game is clearly on. As much as the idea of a seven-person alliance makes sense, everyone knows you need smaller groups to survive near the end. So, Jonathan and Ryan make a pact with Lolo and Natalie to be a final four, but then Lolo and Natalie are approached by Tamar and Kandi to do the same, to become the first woman team “to never stab each other in the back.” That leaves Natalie and Lolo playing both sides, a strategy that could get them far or burn them real early if anybody finds out.
After all of that scrambling and alliance making—well, some people are making alliances; Ricky Williams, Dina Lohan, and Joey Lawrence are very quiet in this episode—we’re on to the Head of Household competition that sees Ryan square off against Jonathan. They’re competing in a pretty physical competition that sees them swinging on a zip line in an attempt to knock down two “billboards” made of foam blocks. Lochte gets off to a great start, nearly knocking over both billboards in a single shot, while Jonathan can’t seem to figure out the right way to swing his body to make contact. But as Lochte struggles to hit his few remaining blocks, Jonathan makes a comeback. It actually comes down to the wire, but Lochte gets the win. The twist? He still has to nominate two people, meaning there will be three total up for eviction. The question is, will his plan with Jonathan work? Can they truly coordinate to make sure they stay safe?
They immediately set about making a plan, and it’s so very, very clear that Lochte has no idea what he’s doing. He’s suddenly got the power to do whatever he wants, and he’s crumbling under the pressure. He doesn’t seem to have any capability to think ahead, so Jonathan does it for him. When Lochte suggests Dina, who Jonathan has a relationship with, his alliance buddy decides it’s time to switch gears. He doesn’t want to shoot Lochte’s idea down, but he needs to be the one in control. So, Jonathan lets that linger for a while, as everyone else in the house pops in and out of the rooms and nobody can seem to get away to have a private conversation.
When Kandi approaches Lochte about who he’s thinking of nominating, he says he knows but can’t say. That makes Kandi suspicious, saying that Lochte is clearly working some sort of game where she’s supposed to be in the alliance but she really isn’t. What she doesn’t know is that she’s simply reading way too much into Lochte’s inability to play this game. He’s not stonewalling her or lying, he’s just awkward and unsure of how he’s supposed to interact with everyone. I mean, he can’t even get Dina’s name right and she’s the one he wants on the block! He kind of knows who his alliance is, but he’s mostly listening to Jonathan.
Because he’s only listening to Jonathan, he ends up deciding that Dina can stay. Jonathan says it’s because she’s an easy vote that they can eliminate later, but he might be keeping her around just in case he needs an ally. Either way, while The Mooch, Tom Green, and Kato Kaelin make an alliance based simply on the fact that they were in the kitchen at the same time and nobody else seems to be talking to them, Lochte comes to his decision. They all meet in the living room for the nomination ceremony, and Lochte puts out his two names: Tom Green and The Mooch. That means Dina is safe, but it also means that Tamar and Kandi get a big surprise. They thought Dina was on the block, so now they know something is up. Tamar, in particular, sees that Jonathan’s influence is all over this move. We’ll have to wait and see how this all plays out, but as of right now there’s already some tension in the controlling alliance. It might not be long before they implode, and then the game will really be on.