Recap: ‘Big Brother 11’ Sunday – Russell begins his HoH reign

08.03.09 8 years ago

Sonja Flemming/CBS

Apologies to Ben Folds, but this show is edging toward a battle of who I can care about less. The real players emerging are pretty damn unlikable. I mean, can I sleep at night if I root for Jessie? Or Nathalie? Or, God forbid, Ronnie? Right now I’m hoping for a sudden upset from Jeff or Michele, or maybe the emergence of a soul in Russell, because otherwise, seriously, you can take these housemates and flush ’em as far as I’m concerned.

[Full recap of Sunday (Aug. 2) night’s “Big Brother” after the break…]

Anyway, we’re still in the thick of the HOH soggy, spinning, diploma-slapping game. Which is just as interesting as it was last week (which is to say, not very interesting, although there’s an Abu Ghraib torture aspect some viewers may enjoy). But before we explore the spinning, we have to find out how everyone’s dealing with the fallout from graduation and the dissolution of the teams.

Just as in high school, some people are thrilled to be free of their old friends, some are whiny and clingy and wanting to go to community college for a few semesters until they can cope with moving out of the house. Russell sees graduation as an opportunity to start getting into the game and, I’m guessing, free of Jessie’s big fat thumb. Nathalie, who is apparently wimpier than she looks, isn’t feeling as confident without her buff teammates to carry her through the challenges. And Chima being Chima, she’s just happy to rid herself of that pesky Brains title so she hang out with the cool kids.

Then, oh goody, then it’s back to the HOH spinning game. Jeff is determined to win, and he should be, because, let’s face it, he’s practically on the endangered species list given that his one friend has a permanent job as housemate pawn and the athletes are jonesing to kick him to the curb.

After the banana-splitting vote from last week, everyone gathered in the kitchen to ponder who would vote for ol’ Casey. Nathalie, all pumped up from her ability to wield power by manipulating Jessie’s puppet strings, calls Casey a bitter banana.

But little does she know that her teammate Russell was the one to take sides with Ol’ Yellow. Russell, not being stupid, decides to keep that little nugget of info to himself.

And then, yay, back to the spinning. The wet, diploma-slapping spinning. I’m wondering if next week they’ll just go ahead with waterboarding, or maybe make everyone wear pointed hoods on their heads but otherwise be naked as people in camo pants burn cigarettes in their palms.

After enough spinning to make me feel lightheaded, Kevin is the first to drop, and he doesn’t mind one bit, because he was, like, totally wet and stuff. Lydia is the next to go, because hell, why not? Then, it’s graduation gift time, with gift boxes going to the first five players to admit defeat against the soggy diploma. Kevin gets $5,000, which is great because he’s broke. Lydia gets a 42-inch flat screen TV, which is a big step up from the 12-inch piece of crap she stole from her ex-boyfriend.

Of course, no good prize goes unpunished, and Jessie firmly plants targets on Kevin and Lydia’s backs. After all, they don’t really play to win, which I have to agree with, and Jessie really wanted that TV.

The spinning continues. And, just as it happens on the teacups at Disneyland, the puking begins. Nathalie, who is really, really emerging as a bigger wimp than I expected, is the one to yak, which grosses Teflon Ronnie out enough that he drops to the ground. I can only hope he landed in some puke.

Then Nathalie, realizing that her trail of vomit wasn’t making her competitors drop like flies, reluctantly falls to the foam. Jessie, being a compassionate guy, realizes that means he better root for Chima, his only ally still in the game.

Though Ronnie and Nathalie both qualify for presents, their boxes are empty. Psyche!

And the game continues. This time, they turn on the sprinklers, hoping a case of pneumonia will cause some players to drop. You just know there’s some wet, miserable P.A. wishing he could pick off housemates with a paintball gun and go home.

Next, Jordan falls, qualifying for the last prize, which isn’t so hot. She gets to be a have for the week – and nominate three other players to be have-nots so they can deeply resent her for the rest of the game. Oh, yay.

Gotta say, I’m shocked Chima and Michele are still in it, especially as Chima is knocked around like a rag doll and her hair starts looking altogether ratty, which must be deeply unsettling for her. But Chima being Chima, she does finally drop after 2 hours and 22 minutes, which is a surprisingly good showing for a self-proclaimed diva. I will say, though, that she’s been dialing down the spoiled brat thing for the last few weeks. Maybe she realized that, even with all the cameras rolling, someone could still smother her with a pillow if she kept ranting about being a 600 thread count sheet kind of girl.

At two hours 30 minutes, the P.A. apparently goes home, and the spinning and diploma slapping stops. Now, Michele, Jeff and Russell are just… hanging out. Wow, this is great television.

Jessie, realizing he may never get to work on his lats if this keeps up, tells Russell it’s time for him to negotiate with Jeff by offering to put up Ronnie if Jeff lets him win. Jeff seems to be considering it, but should he really trust Russell? I still haven’t gotten a good read on this guy. He seems to still be in Jessie’s thrall, but then he was canny enough to vote for Jordan instead of Casey. I guess they really do use strategy in mixed martial arts. And all this time I thought they just beat the crap out of one another.

Oh, then the spinning and raining and diploma slapping stops starts again. They must have found another P.A. to take on hose duty. Boy, the things you do right out of college.

At this point I’m pretty damn impressed that Michele is still hanging in there considering she’s with two muscle-bound, weight lifting pain freaks, but good for her. She is my dark horse nominee to somehow rise from the ashes and take the whole thing. But then, she drops and it’s just Jeff and Russell.

Russell tells us his hands are cut up, his ears are ringing and his legs are numb. So he’s really motivated to negotiate with Jeff. So, he swears on his dad’s neck surgery that Jeff and Jordan are safe if Jeff just drops. And Jeff, whose legs are probably also numb and all that stuff, is just tired enough to go for it.

Russell takes the HOH title and tips his hat to Jeff, and I can only hope that Jeff’s ability to hang in to the bitter end doesn’t turn him into a great, big target. But Russell does seem genuinely impressed with the guy, so does that mean they’re frenemies now? That’s so cute!

Then, poor Jordan has to pick her have-nots. To keep the target from her back, the smart cookie draws names from a hat. I’m telling you, the more jaded and strategic she becomes, the more I like her. The names she picks?  Nathalie, Kevin and Jessie. Nathalie and Kevin are pretty Zen about it, but Jessie has a tantrum knowing that he’ll lose precious muscle mass on an all-gruel diet. And I’m kind of tickled, because Jessie so clearly doesn’t like to lose.

Though no longer able to cuddle in the big HOH bed, Nathalie and Jessie continue their King and Queen Lear routine on a double bed. Enraged that the losers of the soggy diploma game got cool prizes when they didn’t, Jessie and Nathalie urge Russell to put Kevin and Lydia up for eviction. Russell tells the diary cam he’ll listen but won’t follow their orders, which I hope is true. After all, he promised to put Ronnie on the block, so, he really better.

Ronnie is hoping he gets the mystery power, because apparently he thinks the American public is slightly brain damaged. He would like the wield the power omnipotently, like a Jedi knight, which makes it even less likely the American public will vote for him because there are only so many Star Wars geeks in the world and many, many more people who think those people are kind of sad if they’re older than 12.

Then, Russell shows off his HOH room, which has lots of pictures of his “hot” mom. Plus, he gets a letter from his dad, which makes him sniffle, and it’s a pretty great letter about gratitude and being a good person. It actually gives me hope that Russell may have been raised right and, except for a possibly steroid-induced rage problem, he’ll play this game well.

And I become even more hopeful of that when Jeff and Russell bond about being good men from good families who play fair. Then, surprise surprise,. Russell suggests they partner up. Which is really pretty brilliant, since they butted heads at the beginning of the show and no one will suspect it. Man, I’m liking Russell better all the time!

Then, everyone goes into the kitchen to see the new surprise for the have-nots. Squash and squid. And we’re not taking breaded calamari, we’re talking squidy-squid, all slimy and gloopy and with big ol’ eyeballs staring back at you. Ugh, I will never eat calamari again. Jessie is, of course, not pleased, even when Nathalie tries to tell them, hey, it’s a source of protein. I’m wondering, if you eat them can you at least use some panko bread crumbs or a little olive oil or something? Because really, that would help.

Lydia decides to get snuggly with Russell, and tells him that now that she’s seen pictures of his family he’s a nicer, sweeter, more adorable person, which clearly makes Russell want to vomit. It’s right now that I’m wondering if Lydia is a little dim, because she seems to think any man she snuggles up to will suddenly dissolve into a big puddle of goo, even when they’re rolling their eyes and looking bored. But whatever.  Lydia goes on to tell Russell that Jessie and Nathalie wanted to put him up, and that they think he’s a liar. Which is true, but hey, Russell seems to be staring at the ceiling, so don’t think that’s going over.

Russell learns that heavy is the head that wears the crown, and bitches a bit about being HOH. Then, Russell throws Lydia under the bus to Jessie, Nathalie and Chima. Chima calls her a bipolar drama queen, and Nathalie and Jessie lie like rugs and say, no, no, Russell, we love you, and Russell believes it, which makes me think he may actually be a decent guy but way too trusting of his slimy former teammates.

Then, amazingly, Ronnie realizes, oops, I might be nominated! So, time to kiss Russell’s ass. Ronnie waddles up to the HOH room and tells Russell unnamed people wanted to put him to put Russell up when he was HOH, and swears allegiance to him, Jessie, Nathalie and Chima. He suggests Lydia and Kevin. Russell seems interested, and tells Ronnie he isn’t in danger. Which makes my heart fall into my stomach. I really, really hope he’s playing Ronnie, because man, I want him to go home so bad.

Ronnie tells us he’s a good manipulator, and he’s hoping to play Russell, to which I say, are you serious? He was a good manipulator a week ago, then everyone stopped being stupid. But hey, he’s still here and Casey isn’t, so maybe he’s better than I give him credit for.

Then, time for Russell to make nominations. Ronnie’s worried, Lydia’s worried, Kevin’s worried, Jeff’s ducky. Which sounds about right to me, but Russell might surprise us all. Russell says he’s going to shake up the game, which sounds fun, no matter who he nominates. Although I hope by shaking up the game, he doesn’t mean doing exactly what Jessie and Nathalie want him to do.  

And so, on the chopping block… Ronnie and Lydia! He tells Ronnie he’s a snake, and Russell is a mongoose, and he’s the mongoose that’s going to catch the snake, and I start thinking about Riki Tiki Tavi and get all distracted, but Jeff is happy as a clam.

Lydia is not thrilled to be nominated dos times, Russell hopes Ronnie doesn’t get the mystery power, and then Ronnie says he’s a king cobra and he will kill the mongoose, which only proves Ronnie is so exceptionally lame that really, he just needs to go home. After all, he’s going to have to beg his wife to be let back into the house, and that make take some time.

Do you think Russell plans to back door someone? Who do you think America will give the power of Coup D’Etat to? And do you think Jessie’s getting worried?  

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