By Kyle Fowle
September 10, 2020 at 11:43 PM EDT
Big Brother
Credit: CBS
S22 E16

For the most part, this season of Big Brother has largely been devoid of any real, outright, full-blown drama. While a core group of six (The Committee) has been controlling the house, and the show seems to have once again fallen into the pattern of the “high school clique” where all the “popular” kids target the “outsiders,” things have mostly been friendly. Kaysar’s speech on his way out the door looked to change things. He begged the “outsiders” to wake up and see what was going on. Well, this week, on the live feeds and in the episodes, there was no lack of drama and toxic behavior.

Look, there is a ton to unpack here, and I’m going to do my best to talk about the two big topics of the week (Tyler almost quitting the game, and the night of fighting and shouting between Christmas, Bayleigh, and Da’Vonne) in a way that hopefully gives enough space to the complexity of the situation. 

The previous episode gave us Tyler’s decision to try and leave the game, with Christmas using the veto to put him up and send him home, a move that didn't end up coming to fruition as Christmas didn't want to lose an ally. That's important to note again because it brings us to tonight’s episode, where the first real fight of the season happens. 

So, here’s essentially what goes down (and note that this is from both the live feeds and the episode, so as to present a clearer timeline): The episode picks up after the veto ceremony, and Bayleigh is obviously upset that Tyler’s talk about being an ally in their movement ended up being a “game move"; to Bayleigh and Da’Vonne it looks like he tossed a bunch of empty words at them. So Bayleigh’s emotions are heightened already. Plus, she feels like she ruined Da'Vonne's game by mentioning her as an "untouchable" to Christmas.

Christmas, still not wanting to be painted as a total villain, asks Da’Vonne about how Bayleigh is feeling. Da’Vonne is honest and says that Bayleigh feels betrayed on multiple levels, that she thought she had something going with Christmas and that revealing her untouchable status shouldn't have got her on the block. There’s a lot of talk about what’s “game” information, “personal” information, and “personal game” information and how it can be used in Big Brother. To me, up until this point, Bayleigh has a valid point about this season once again unfolding with some racial bias in the house, but I don’t think Christmas’ nominations were malicious. Her main loyalty is to The Committee, so she’s just continuing the streak of easy targets to take out. Maybe if Bayleigh and Da’Vonne had listened to Kaysar and Janelle a few weeks ago they wouldn’t be in this situation where they feel they put their trust in the wrong people.

Then things escalate, and a lot of that is on Christmas. Bayleigh comes down from the diary room as Da’Vonne and Christmas are getting a little more heated, and Da’Vonne walks away because she can feel herself about to go off. So she takes a breather and heads outside. As she points out, she has to be the cooler, calmer person in these situations because anything close to anger, even if justified, ends up with her labeled as the “crazy black woman,” and she doesn’t want to feed into that trope. (Sidebar: Bayleigh, Da’Vonne, and Christmas all have a reputation for explosive behavior in past games, and said they wanted to play differently this time around.)

Bayleigh comes out of the Diary Room and hears the fight and wants to know what’s happening, and before long Christmas is in her face, cursing and pointing fingers. Bayleigh tries to defuse the situation, but there’s too much tension at this point. Bayleigh and Da’Vonne take a breather outside for awhile and vent to Cody and Tyler, but when they walk back in, Christmas says, “Here we go,” and that sets Da’Vonne off, who tells her to “f--- off.” Some of the houseguests try to get Christmas to go to the HOH room and cool down, but she’s not relenting. “F--- no. I live here too,” she says.

The whole thing, which on the live feeds is drawn out over an entire night, is incredibly toxic. And look, this is a complicated situation. Christmas does not have to use her veto to get rid of Tyler, and it’s silly for Bayeligh to feel that betrayed by her (and just to be clear, The Committee has done their own ridiculous whining and complaining when they’ve been caught lying). But none of this is happening in a vacuum. This is happening within the context of Big Brother failing to address bullying and bias across multiple seasons. This is happening in the same house where Memphis, Christmas, Dani, and Nicole have all been caught on the live feeds making fun of Ian’s rocking back and forth (his self-soothing technique, one that he’s very open about in regards to being on the autism spectrum), and where those players have accused him of playing up his condition in order to garner sympathy in the game.

This isn’t a situation that comes out of nowhere. It comes on the heels season 21, where racist remarks dominated the first part of the game, and where the eventual winner was widely criticized for going after Black and POC houseguests while painting the season’s one Black woman as hysterical and emotional. This situation is bred by a culture that allows white people to be loud and abrasive and have it labeled as "passion" and “gameplay,” while the same leeway isn’t given to the Black players. 

CBS has acknowledged these issues. Last season, during the finale, Julie Chen-Moonves spent time interrogating the abhorrent actions of some of its players, which was a good step forward. This season, they’ve been airing some of the more topical conversations about race in the house, which hasn’t happened in the past. That’s a great step forward, but when the house is still populated with troubling personalities season after season, clearly there's still room for improvement. Bayleigh, Da’Vonne, and Christmas all had their rough moments here — Christmas, in particular, looks vindictive and nasty, and her earlier comments about being “shot” or “cut” if she nominated Bayleigh or Da’Vonne is loaded with racial connotations. 

As if all that isn't enough for the week, Cody also receives a letter from his family telling him that his grandfather has passed away. It's a brutal blow, having to be in that house and unable to be there when your family needs you and you need them. Everyone in the house comes together in solidarity to support Cody and help him through this time, but you know it's eating at him.

Okay, so. Since that's about 1,200 words dissecting this fight and the context behind it all, let's make the rest of this recap quick because there really isn't much else going on here. The tension and bullying and anger is a sudden jolt of drama, but the rest of the episode goes about as planned. The Committee is still somewhat unstable, wondering about everyone's allegiances, and Enzo's on the periphery trying to figure out his place long term, but nothing is unstable enough to change the course for now. Da'Vonne shouts out Black Lives Matter and Breonna Taylor in her pre-eviction speech and says she got wrapped up in something that didn't start with her. The writing is on the wall, and it's a unanimous vote. Bayleigh is the one sent home. For what it's worth, based on the live feeds it seems like Bayleigh, Da'Vonne, Tyler, and Christmas mostly managed to talk through their conflict after getting some distance from the fight. In a hilarious moment on the way out, Bayleigh nails Tyler's gameplay when she learns that he's Christmas' "untouchable": "Of course. Tyler is everyone's untouchable."

There's not much else to report, other than the next HOH competition is now underway and concluding during the live feeds/Sunday's episode. It's an endurance test that, with any luck, will bring a non-Committee HOH to the table this week. Fingers crossed!

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