Big Brother becomes The Rachel Show as she cries in the bushes, pees on live TV, and wins HOH again (ugh)

Say what you will about Rachel on Big Brother, but this week was all about her, and it pulled the show out of sleep-inducing territory, at least momentarily. Whether Rachel was crying in the plants or peeing on live television (another technical score for the show’s production staff, which left the audio for her mic on after Cassi left the house and Rachel went to the toilet), it was all about her.

Of course, when she won HOH, I threw up my hands and threw up all over my floor. Big Brother‘s game structure only works when there are constant power shifts, and having the returnees in charge for three weeks is impossibly lame. The only good thing about this is that, besides Daniele, the golden key holders (aka people the show completely ignores) will be newbies.

The most dramatic part of Cassi’s eviction was immediately after she left the house, when the producers showed us a live feed of the houseguests talking, which included audio of Rachel peeing. Yes, it’s live TV. Before we could hear Jeff go to the bathroom (“Rach, you in there?”), too, the director cut back to Julie Chen, who of course didn’t mention it, if she even knew.

Before she was evicted, Cassi fought with Rachel, which actually came before Cassi was nominated for eviction, even though the editing made it seem like it was a result of the nomination. (A subtle but key difference.) Anyway, Cassi told Rachel, “You’re a catty, catty girl. Ugly person inside.” Rachel burst into tears and complained that Cassi “used every one of my weaknesses against me,” and then cried to Jordan, who told Rachel that Rachel “comes across as bitchy.”

That was Rachel’s second meltdown of the week, following her post-veto competition meltdown. (Although it wasn’t the most interesting thing to watch, mad props for the producers’ subtle dig at the houseguests’ intelligence by having them attempt to walk and chew gum at the same time.) That came thanks to a little bit of angry Jeff, who, like the rest of the world, wants Rachel to be quiet, particularly during competitions. “I don’t appreciate your comments,” he said. “Just do what you have to do and keep your mouth shut.” He thought that by agreeing to be on slop for no reason, and encouraging Jordan to do the same even though they had no chance of winning the veto, Rachel was being, well, Rachel.

Brendon tried to defend her, of course, but Rachel stormed off and then, after an emotional outburst (“fuck Jeff”) and Brendon’s attempt to cool her down (“I love you, but please, baby, use your head”), went into the potted plants that had been placed in the back yard for the competition and started bawling. “You need to keep all your emotions inside you,” Brendon said. Rachel replied, “That’s why I’m hiding in the bushes.” Of course, everyone knew what was going on. (Upstairs, Jeff fumed, “This is not the Rachel show.” Apparently he has forgotten that he and Jordan have now been on three CBS reality series together.)

Dominic won the veto and saved himself, and Cassi was targeted by Rachel and Brendon, apparently for having the gall to be a young, attractive female in the vicinity of Rachel. She and Brendon had a particularly weird argument in the kitchen that was shown on Thursday’s episode, where Brendon was very antagonistic and confrontational but for no clear reason. I’m not sure if this was another exceptionally well-edited sequence or if he was just being irrational, but it was funny as Brendon said sarcastic things like, “You want me to draw some pictures, or…?”

Rachel returned to power thanks to a stupid HOH competition that was based on viewer votes in a CBS.com poll. The way the questions were framed by the producers–as a choice between two houseguests alone–made it seem like viewers had actually made a choice between those two people, when the poll actually asked us to select any of the houseguests. That’s significant because, with a question like the one about who we’d rather get mouth-to-mouth from, the producers framed that as between Jeff and Brendon, perhaps to stoke some rivalry between them. The actual results might have been, say, 100 votes for Jeff and 101 votes for Brendon and 1,000 votes for Dominic, but no one will ever know that. And with nothing else to do except think about the meaning behind viewers’ votes, the questions really could affect the houseguests (so much for no outside contact), making them more insecure or cocky or whatever.

The question that knocked everyone out of contention except Rachel and Brendon (Dominic changed his answer at the last second, damn him) was who would everyone rather see wear a bikini for the whole summer: Porsche or Daniele. The answer was Daniele, probably because viewers have no idea Porsche is still in the house.

We’ll certainly know who’s in charge of the house as her cackle echoes across its mirrors. Since Rachel brings the drama, maybe that’s a good thing, but I still can’t help the feeling of dread I have for the next week. Julie Chen did promise that “a change in the game will force everyone to rethink their strategy”; I hope that’s shuffling partners or something even more consequential, because this game definitely needs a shake-up.

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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.