We need to start slipping canned goods and secret messages into the “Big Brother” house, because it's basically a hostage situation in there.
Two weeks into its 16th season, “Big Brother” is feeling (in order) a little dull, a little thrilling, and scary. Dull because half the house is alleged people named “Victoria” and “Jocasta” and “Cody” who've yet to do anything but blink a little and have a first name. Thrilling because “Zrankie”/”Zankie” is real, and I just want to watch Zach and Frankie giggle and gyrate in the pool all day. Scary because Devin, who is just a frowning pile of cinder blocks, is somehow a commanding authority at the moment. The whole house is afraid of his tugboat-sized arms and unreal lack of self-awareness. He's like the brawniest goldfish of all time.
With that horrifying image in mind, let's descend into the episode.
8:04: In case you're worried this episode will be short of unintentional comedy, Paola steps up to humiliate herself immediately by telling Hayden that she threw the Battle Of The Block challenge, saying, “I could've DOMINATED that.” Picture Paola dominating something. You can't! That's the funny part. Paola couldn't dominate a Hula Hoop. She would try it out and it would somehow knock her across the room.
8:06: So, newsflash: Devin is nightmarish and everyone's rebelling. Or at least they're agreeing that someone should rebel. Somewhere. Sometime. Zach announces to the hundreds of other Bomb Squad members that Devin — their ringleader — is dictatorial, and Zach is right. “He's the only one who wants Brittany gone!” he says. The others concur. But soon Devin will reenter the room and they'll get right back to trembling in silence. Devin is shaped like a Hirschfeld caricature of an American Gladiator. I don't blame them.
8:11: But aha! Caleb approaches Devin during a rousing game of snooker and tells him he wants Paola to leave the house. THAT'S NOT DEVIN'S PLAN! Pretty bold, Caleb! I didn't expect Caleb, whose shirtlessness is super good, to throw thunder back at Devin. Devin doesn't take the dissent well and storms off to kick down a wall or drive his Harley into the ocean or something. Frankie, who is apparently present for every important conversation in the house, says the Caleb/Devin interaction worries him because he doesn't want the Bomb Squad's alliance to blow up. I want Frankie to realize this alliance is already not going to survive, but he's slow on the uptake for some reason. Maybe because he spent the past hour dipping two inches of his hair in melted pink sidewalk chalk.
8:12: Oh, lord. Devin is alone and freaking out. Here's what his monologue (to himself) sounds like: “Whatever. Whatever. You're just a lovesick puppy, Caleb. Whatever. I don't even care. Man. Whatever.” Not exactly George Bernard Shaw, this one. He storms back outside to tell Caleb their alliance is over for some reason. In return, Caleb suggests that Devin might be evicted next week. Mmm, drama. I've missed it.
8:16: In other news: Frankie and Derrick are told they are the second and third members of the ever-exciting Team America. Donny is the first member, but he's busy whispering secrets to his beard gnats at the moment to celebrate. That beard is yards long. He looks like a feral Jim Henson. Eventually the three team members discover one another through the use of code words (“Hey, Derrick. Um… Apple pie? Apple pie!”), and I guess we should expect all three to perform wacky stunts for money throughout the summer. Great?
8:22: I have a confession to make: When Devin complains that it makes much more sense to get rid of Brittany over Paola, I agree with him. Though his strict aversion to Brittany's existence is based mostly on unqualified anger and what I assume is a steady diet of rhinoceros-grade steroids, he's right that getting rid of Paola is a useless endeavor. Imagine if Andy Herren got rid of GinaMarine early on last year. What would've been the point of that? Less entertainment value for us all summer? More chance of losing to a tough competitor in the end? It doesn't make sense. I need Paola to stick around because she CAN create a scene and she CANNOT spell. A deadly, gorgeously dumb combination.
8:24: Maybe Caleb is secretly the new Pao-Pao because he just squealed to Devin that a bunch of people have considered evicting him. CALEB, WHY? Why do you tell Devin things? Devin cannot handle being told anything! He can't handle things, period. Devin gets mad at gentle breezes for disrupting his game and catching him off guard. Stop it, breezes! A real man is playing here. Devin would evict breezes if he could. They looked at him funny once.
8:27: Shockingly, Zach — who is adorable and I don't care what anybody says — has decided to blow his cover, speak up in a room full of silent Bomb Squad members, and confess to Devin that he also wants Paola gone, confirming Devin's suspicions about dissent among the ranks. Good one, Zach. Tell the paranoid lunatic that he has every right to be a paranoid lunatic. That should solve everything. Oh, and THEN Zach admits he also considered voting Devin out even though he “didn't mean it.” Man. What is the gameplay here, Zach? What is this accomplishing? Why does Zach feel so obligated to defy Devin when there is clearly no threat in appeasing him this early in the game? It bugs me. I want Zach to be the clever manipulator that he has promised us he is. Not seeing that strategist instinct at the moment.
8:30: The Power of Veto competition, which features Paola, Brittany, Devin (!), Zach, and Derrick, is pretty dorky. It's also a retread of something we saw last season: The houseguests have to balance differently weighted “planets” onto a multi-armed mobile without it toppling over. The planets have silly labels named after past “Big Brother” alliances. “Exterminatus” is one. “McRanda” (spelled wrong) is another. “Brenchel” is of course one, and I assume on that planet you hear a high-pitched whine soaring through the atmosphere at all hours.
8:34: Not a thrilling game except for one awesome astronaut named (get ready) Paola. Every day of Paola's life is a battle with gravity, and this challenge is no exception. She cannot hold onto the toy planets. She can't coordinate her body to make helpful athletic movements. In fact, as the awesome Christine notes, “She can't stand up. She can't sit down.” Paola is basically a chicken covered in clothes trying to be free. It is kind of beautiful.
8:36: Hope you haven't eaten recently, because I have to be the one to tell you that Devin won the veto challenge. He balanced all the planets correctly and I assume he ate a few of the planets along the way. This is good news for Paola, who has been told by Devin that she'll be saved if he wins. “But you never know with this guy,” Paola notes, “'Cuz this guy's like the devil.” It is so uncomfortable to agree with Paola.
8:40: Guys, what the hell is happening to my man Zach? He finds himself in deep crap with Devin, who has decided Zach is the most untrustworthy alliance member/person/noun ever. In an all-too-brief Zankie moment, Zach tells Frankie he doesn't know how he's going to get out of this mess. Frankie grabs his shoulders and tells him to stop opening up to Devin and telling him his innermost thoughts. Frankie's soullessness is clearly an asset. He feels no obligation to be honest with anyone and he is not insecure about that. I've read that Frankie is getting a pretty flattering edit this week, but I haven't seen enough of the live feeds to confirm, so I'll just stick with my original thought about Frankie's gameplay: He is doing a good job! I don't know if his eel-like social skills will sustain him longterm, but I'm psyched about his plays for now.
8:44: And now for the true moment of eye-popping strategy this episode: Brittany, who very much seems like she's going home, approaches Devin in a one-on-one way. Devin hates Brittany, remember. She's a threat to him or something. Get this: It takes Brittany about two minutes to sit down with Devin, bring up how she's a single mother of three, and worm her way into his good graces. It seriously takes less time to adequately toast a Pop Tart than it did for Brittany to transform her chances in the game. Better yet, Brittany wheedles Devin into telling her that Pao-Pao threw the veto competition! Ah! This woman is a sorceress! Her success here says a lot about her potential to play this game. Meanwhile…
8:48: Ugh. Zach somehow — let me see if I can phrase this right — asks Devin to put him up on the block? Zach was trying to appeal to Devin's whims, saying that if Devin wants to put him up for eviction, it's cool because he's loyal to Devin, basically. Uh, what? Zach is spiraling so much that he is basically stuck in the opening credits of “Vertigo.” Devin hadn't considered putting up Zach, a team member, for eviction, but for some reason he's really thinking about it now — as much as Devin can be “really thinking” about something, I mean.
8:56: Well, here you have it: The veto meeting is an unthinkable trainwreck, with Devin announcing that he's removing savvy Brittany from the block and replacing her with — oh, girl! — Zach. Zach and Paola are up for elimination. Truly. This is real. And better (worse) yet: After the meeting, we get a sneak peak of an ugly fight that breaks out. Paola, Zach, Brittany, and Devin are all involved. And all I can say is I want Paola to go home so, so badly, but it feels like Zach may have Zankied himself into oblivion. Which sounds kind of fun, but I bet it's not worth it. Yikes.
What'd you think of this episode? How will the fight go down? Can you handle the suspense? I'm shaking like Halle Berry in the opening scene of “Extant”!