James evicted, Alex voted back in, houseguests choose to bring James back instead

“Crazy James,” perhaps the least crazy person in the Big Brother 9 house, was evicted–and then returned to the house, effectively nullifying viewers’ votes over the past week.

Because voting one person back in wouldn’t be easy or dramatic enough, the producers decided to a) give the houseguests the choice of bringing that person back or keeping the person they just evicted, and b) to put that person in a box. With a bow. Julie Chen introduced this absurdity by saying, “You will be hidden in a mystery box. Will they vote back the devil they know, or the devil they don’t?”

The unknown devil was Alex, who received the most viewer votes (Parker received the second-highest number). He seemed bitter and ready to go back in and stir things up, although James was the same way. The houseguests actually figured out most of the twist after the siren went off, guessing that either James or a previously evicted houseguest was about to return. Josh even suggested that it would be Allison.

Ultimately, Natalie, Josh, and Chelsia, Adam, Sharon voted to bring James back, and James was literally put in a box and delivered to the living room. The HOH competition was an endurance challenge that started at the end of the episode; it is now over and the HOH has been chosen. The results are certain to make things interesting.

While offering the houseguests that choice was an interesting twist, it’s bound to piss off everyone who spent time voting–never mind Alex, who thinks America loves him but is basically out of the game. Watching James back in the house will be interesting, too, though; James told Julie Chen, “It feels great to be around all the people that voted me out.” Julie, ever ready with a witty retort, said, “Ho ho ho!”

Earlier, James was evicted by a 5-1 vote, even though Sheila and Natalie promised they’d vote to keep him. No one except Chelsia stood up to say goodbye, and James told Julie Chen that was his decision. “I didn’t want to say to goodbye to all the people that gave me there word and didn’t go through with it,” he said.

Introducing all of these twists was difficult for our host, who had to put on her stern face and yell a the houseguests twice. “In a moment, houseguests–listen up! In a moment, you will vote live. Houseguests, think carefully who America–All right, there’s no talking here,” she said, effectively shutting them up. That was nice; how about we keep that rule for the next week or two?

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.