By Kyle Fowle
October 12, 2020 at 09:40 PM EDT
S22 E29

For the majority of this season, the same rotating cast of players has been winning challenges. Cody, Memphis, and Tyler have spent a lot of time holding power, while Dani and Christmas managed to sneak out a few wins for themselves. But it's the guys who have largely been in charge, controlling the narrative of the game and influencing the votes. While a "boys alliance" hasn't emerged, it has paved the way for threats like Cody and Memphis to keep themselves safe for weeks on end.

That's why, despite the dominance of The Committee in general, it's nice to see something change at the top this week. The HOH competition, which involves transferring different sized "pumpkins" across a balance beam without any falling to the ground, is a difficult one. It takes a lot of patience and finesses to get those pumpkins across without any spills, and predictably Enzo is very bad at the challenge. Like so many other competitions before, he can't even get started. He simply can't figure out the strategy. Meanwhile, Christmas hops out to an early lead, and Nicole figures out a good strategy while Memphis plays catch-up.

It's a tight race, and Cody is watching from the sidelines in agony. One of his biggest allies, Enzo, is never going to win. If Christmas becomes HOH, she's almost certainly putting him on the block. And a Memphis win is no guarantee of safety either because Memphis is tight with Christmas. Both Christmas and Memphis have a clear path to victory. They've deposited 23 of their 25 pumpkins, and Nicole is sitting in third with 20. Slow and steady should win the race, but both of them make crucial mistakes. Christmas spends too much time looking at where everyone else is in the competition and ends up overshooting the balance on her beam and sending one of her pumpkins rolling. Similarly, Memphis is trying to fly through his final two pumpkins and doesn't put enough care into making sure they're balanced right on the end of the beam. That leaves the door wide open for Nicole, and she takes the right approach. She knows she has all day, so she takes her time, goes slow, and comes away with her first HOH win.

Christmas is very emotional after the loss. She knows she's probably hitting the block, but she's also just upset about coming so close and losing on a stupid mistake. But no amount of waterworks is going to keep her off the block after she tried to blindside Nicole during the Triple Eviction a few weeks ago. In fact, the nominations seem pretty set as soon as Nicole is declared the new HOH. She's tight with Enzo and Cody, and that leaves Memphis and Christmas isolated on the other side of the house. For Enzo and Cody, things couldn't be better. This allows them to get rid of one of their own "Wise Guys" allies without actually doing the dirty work; Nicole becomes the one to make the move (thereby bolstering her own credentials for the jury), which perhaps allows Cody and Enzo to keep their good relationship with Memphis and Christmas and maybe get their votes for the $500,000 in the end.

At least with Nicole having to nominate two of the four other people in the house, there's plenty of opportunity for awkward conversations. Nothing is more awkward than Nicole excitedly showing everyone around her HOH room and reading her letter from her husband out loud (serious cringe on that one), but there's still Christmas trying her best to drive a wedge between Nicole and Cody and get the target on his back. Of course, Nicole has no interest in targeting Cody. What's interesting though is that Nicole doesn't seem all that worried about him being a big threat to win the game despite Cody talking about her HOH like he's the one in charge; he specifically says, "I'm going to send her (Christmas) home now" rather than deferring to Nicole. Every week Cody is HOH he demands people vote the way he wants them to. Now, he's ready to do whatever's best for him. That should be a red flag for Nicole.

But yeah, there's nothing too surprising going on here. Nicole is closest to Cody and Enzo, and she has evidence from the recent past as a reason to put Memphis and Christmas on the block. That's exactly what she does, and now we wait for Wednesday's very important veto competition. If either Memphis or Christmas wins it could drastically change the outcome of the week.

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