Finally! Big Brother erupts in strategy, tears, power shifts, and evictions

Those of us who’ve slogged through Big Brother all summer long finally got payoff last night, as power shifted completely from the beginning to the end of the episode and the duos twist officially ended, as there are no pairs of returning houseguests left. It was remarkably dramatic for an episode that was full of technical problems and seemed to have more commercials than content.

We started with Daniele’s eviction, which seemed like it might not be a foregone conclusion, especially after late-night Wednesday conversations that included Rachel learning Jeff had thrown the veto competition leading up to Brendon’s eviction. That gave Daniele “a glimmer of hope in red extensions,” she said, especially since she also convinced Shelly to vote with her. Rachel told us, “As much as I hate her guts, keeping Daniele just might be a better game move”—but then she voted to evict Daniele anyway, saying, “I vote to evict bad game play and backstabbers.” Rachel later called Daniele “pretty much a horrible bitch.” Takes one to know one.

Daniele’s exit actually had two very interesting moments. First, Julie Chen told us, “Just moments ago the house exploded when Jeff learned that Shelly has flipped sides once again.” Uh, were the cameras off? Did it occur to no one that showing that might be interesting? The producers’ rigid formula gets in their own way so much that it’s amazing they were able to include Wednesday night’s strategy in Thursday’s episode.

Second, Daniele’s speech was angrier than I’d expected, especially since she seemed to have a chance to stay. Still, what she said was dead-on accurate: “I came here to play a game that I love, but ufortunately, other people had a different agenda, and that agenda is to sit around for the entire summer and write Jeff and Jordan a paycheck.”

Daniele was voted out and that was disappointing even though it was predictable, so we moved on to the fast-forward part of the episode. The HOH competition came down to Kalia versus Jordan, and that was a thrilling turning point: Jordan would have kept this season spiraling to nothingness, while Kalia’s short reign was sure to extract revenge in Daniele’s name. Kalia, unbelievably, won, and I was glad about that. Kalia nominated Rachel and Jeff, and Jeff’s ever-growing cockiness bit him in the ass and got him nominated and then evicted. Jeff didn’t even come close to winning the veto, and after Porsche finally won a competition, she left the nominations unchanged and the house sent Jeff home, perhaps because Daniele made a compelling argument.

As he left, Jeff was pissed off, which is understandable, but if he was the stand-up, charming Midwesterner that some people claim he is, perhaps he would have been able to admit that he’d just been played. Instead, he angrily told Julie Chen, “Nobody in there has a sack. And I don’t know if I can say that, but they don’t. I’m the only one who would have did anything in this game and I had to step up and do something. And a couple people who slept until now, it’s day 55, they just woke up in there, won a couple competitions.”

Yes, that’s actually how the game works: Win a competition, do something. The moronic judgement of “floaters” over the past few seasons is ridiculous in part because that’s pretty much the best way to win any strategy-based reality competition: lie low, make moves that benefit you, let others take the fall.

Jeff’s exit left Jordan and Rachel in tears, leading to one of the best end-of-episode shots ever as they sat on the couch and felt sorry for themselves (and later even threatened to leave, which of course is an empty threat, though that’d be awesome, too). And it’s just a bonus that the insufferable Jeff and Jordan fans were possibly crying along with Jordan.

The new HOH was determined later and I think will be interesting, especially because that person’s reign is off to a strong start.

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