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Big Brother Recap: Alliances Split, and the Word Gameplay Is Liberally Spoken

Sunday's Episode

Welcome to the Mid-Season Big Brother Awards! Everyone in Hollywood knows “The Brozzies” are the most coveted prize in all of entertainment. That’s why Ron Howard has “I WANT A BROZZY” tattooed across his twelve knuckles.

Our first award is “Most Obsessive Act of Wardrobe Maintenance in the Big Brother House.” The winner is Adam, for rubbing a lint roller over his jeans and T-shirt with unseemly fervor while disparaging Lawon and Kalia’s passivity.

Lint-free, Adam visits Rachel and Brendon in their HOH suite to reaffirm his commitment to not having any principles: “Whatever you need from me, whatever you want from me, let me know!”

When Lawon requests an audience with Rachel and Brendon, he’s greeted with “What’s crack-a-lackin’?” (Uggh.) Lawon proceeds to talk in circles about his strategic desires vis a vis gameplay. Rachel says, “I would rather be napping than talking in circles,” which (I think) is an example of dactylic meter.

In a lighthearted cutaway about life in the crazy Big Brother house, Daniele accuses Dominic of snoring “like a small dinosaur.” Everyone hates it. We see night-cam footage of Jeff throwing stuff at Dominic to get him to shut up.

Embarrassing Personal Secret No. 5: I snore, too. It’s pretty bad. I even did one of those sleep tests where you get hooked up to a bunch of wires and cables so doctors can determine if you have sleep apnea. According to my doctor, I don’t have sleep apnea; I’m just really bad at sleeping. (?!?) I bought these goofy rubber rings that you stick up your nose to widen your nasal passages but they didn’t work and I still snore like a brontosaurus — or should I say bronto-SNORE-us, LOL. That’s my last Embarrassing Personal Secret, by the way: I thought this show would be defined by the constant revelation of contestants’ deepest secrets, but all they do is strategize about “The Game,” so if they’re not gonna reveal anything about themselves, neither am I. Suffice it to say my life is perfect and I have no more secrets.

This week’s “Luxury Contest” involves guessing a mystery celebrity. (Adam: “Is it Tori? Is Tori Spelling coming here?” Dude: ENOUGH.) This contest is a tie-in to a great new show on CBS called Same Name, in which celebrities and nobodies who share the same name switch places and try to murder each other’s families.

Here are the clues to the mystery celebrity’s identity:

CLUE No. 1: three bars of soap and a pair of opera glasses (My guess: Ivory Puccini, the beloved Italian eel-wrangler).

CLUE No. 2: a microphone stand (My guess: Microphone-Stand Jones, the famous “invisible insult comic” who isn’t actually invisible; he just looks exactly like a microphone stand)

CLUE No. 3: a knight in armor (My guess: M. Night Shyamalan, whom I must mention in every recap in order to get my money from his estate)

CLUE No. 4: KITT, the Knight Rider car, with David Hasselhoff sitting in the driver’s seat (My guess: William Daniels)

In case you haven’t guessed by now, the mystery celebrity is David Hasselhoff! And he’s officially “in da house!”

Jordan wins the contest. (She actually guessed correctly after the first clue; she’s badass.) She’s awarded a private party for her and three guests where they get to eat Japanese cold cuts and watch an advance screening of Same Name. Jordan chooses Jeff, Shelly, and Kalia to share in her spoils. (My notes: “I love Jordan for her choices!”)

Yes, you read that right: Jordan didn’t invite Rachel to her party, even though Rachel is HOH! Has the whole world gone crazy? Answer: Yes. Like Yeats wrote: “The center cannot hold / Godzilla is marching towards Bethlehem.”

Now we cut between two equally unhappy scenes: Jordan and her party guests being forced to watch Same Name … and Rachel and Brendon having a tearful argument about their relationship.

Here are some of the things that were said at Jordan’s Same Name party:

David Hasselhoff, after grabbing his food before the houseguests (rude!): “What do you guys do all day?” (My notes: “EXACTLY!”)

David Hasselhoff, exhibiting his unique talent for judging the character of his fellow man: “Jeff reminds me of a cool guy: He’s buff, in good shape.” (My notes: “WTF.”)

David Hasselhoff, in the Same Name promo: “KITT, pick me up! Get me outta here!” (He also said this upon entering the Big Brother house; it’s a great line and only “the Hoff” can say it … well, him and whoever starred in Attack of the 50-Foot Eartha Kitt.)

Jeff, after watching Same Name: “It’s a good concept; I like that show!” (He said this in an especially buff way, if that makes a difference.)

Here are some of the things that were said at Rachel and Brendon’s “Relationship Talk” party:

Rachel: “You’re always getting mad at me for nothing!” (Brendon’s furious that Rachel suggested a celebrity for Porsche to guess during that dumb game they just played.) Brendon: “Keep your voice down!” (The other housemates were eavesdropping.)

Rachel: “All we do is fight!” Brendon: “You do things without thinking and it upsets me!” (Brendon is ghastly.) Rachel: “Not everything is life or death.” (Right on, Rachel.) Brendon: “Shh!” (Uggh; Is there anything creepier and less appealing than an enraged man shushing a woman?)

Brendon, on the cost of appearing on Big Brother: “I’m risking my [censored] Ph.D. to be here!” (What word do you think CBS censored: “fucking;” “mail-order;” or “Advanced Misogyny Studies”?)

Rachel, on her desire for a dream wedding, even if Brendon thinks it’s stupid: “Every girl wants a dream wedding!” (As someone who used to work at Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, I can confirm this is true.)

Rachel: “You can’t put this much pressure on me … we’re a self-destructive couple.” (This came up during a discussion of why they decided to come back into the stressful environment of the Big Brother house — a conversation I would actually be interested in hearing.)

Brendon [crying]: “When you walk away when we fight, I get scared, because what if you’re gonna do this later on?”

Whew. That was painful. Listen, I think Rachel and Brendon are wholly unappealing, but nobody could enjoy watching them stumble around in the tear-stained wreckage of their relationship. I’m not exactly rooting for them to reproduce, but I do hope they find the happiness they’re looking for.

There you go: Service journalism. News you can use. “Is your favorite deli’s salad bar … TRYING TO KILL YOU???”

In the aftermath of the two parties, everybody scrambles around reaffirming their commitment to each other, thereby reconfirming that they’re all a bunch of back-stabbers.

Daniele decides to turn the two old-timer couples against each other and chart a third way to victory. (Her plan reminds me of mustachioed pundit Thomas Friedman’s calls for a third party made of “radical centrists” that will somehow bypass legislative gridlock to deliver the improvements our nation craves. Man, that Brillo-lipped motherfucker drives me crazy.)

Daniele plays on Rachel’s wounded ego about not being invited to Jordan’s amazing party. She’s no dummy, that Daniele.

Jeff attempts damage control with Rachel and Brendon, who insist, “No, no, we’re not upset!” (THEY ARE LYING) Jeff: “We’re not going against you guys, ever … it’s not even in our mind[s].” Rachel agrees that the old-timers “have to stay together.”

Then the best thing in the history of television happens:

Rachel decides to take a nap, and Jeff says, “I’m gonna do that later for sure.” I don’t know why, but this made me ecstatic; I LLOL’d (“Literally Laughed Out Loud”). Can anyone confirm that Jeff took his nap later for sure?

Upon waking from her amazing nap, Rachel nominates Adam and Dominic for eviction. Adam believes he’s not the target, but so does Dominic. They can’t both be right. Somebody’s gonna be bummed! And burned! And burned on their bummy-bum-bum! The center cannot hold! The falcon can’t hear the falconer!

Wednesday's Episode:

“Gamewise,” “gameplay,” “the game”: These people use the word “game” the way Smurfs use the word “smurf.” Case in point: Dominic asks Adam, “Have you talked to Jeff and Jordan?” Adam: “Gamewise, not really.”

(By the way, I’m hearing very good things about the new Smurfs movie and plan on seeing it eleven times this weekend.)

Dominic and Daniele lounge around in an enormous purple bed thing. They whisper about the game in that roundabout way people discuss a hit job on a wiretap: “Are we cool with this?” “You know what we need to do,” “Stinkum got dropped,” etc.

Daniele then lounges around in bed with Rachel as they wonder about Jordan, who’s been “acting weird” and “looking weird.” They’re playing a game but I can’t tell what it is (I mean they’re literally playing a game, like Boggle or something; they’re playing a game within the game! [And, insofar as Daniele is playing on Rachel’s resentment of not being invited to Jordan’s party, she’s playing a game within a game within a game]).

(My notes: “This show is simultaneously rotting my brain and pushing it beyond its limits.”)

Later Rachel takes a bubble bath, which she describes as “nice and warm and soapy.” Say what you will about the woman, but she can describe the shit out of a bubble bath. Brendon and Rachel rub each other’s feet in the tub and discuss gameplay. Gameplay, gameplay — these people are obsessed with gameplay!

Because I could not stop for Game
He kindly stopped for me
The gameplay held but just ourselves
And game

—Emily Dickinson, “All in the Game”

Dominic is desperate for an alliance with Rachel and Brendon. He feels them out: What do they think of Adam? Rachel: “He’s not making deals with me.” Dominic’s confidence is bolstered, while I’m so confused I can’t even tell if she’s lying or not.

In a cutaway, Dominic admits Rachel and Brendon “own me” until he “shanks them in the back three weeks from now.” I love this kid. He agrees to throw the POV competition.

This Week’s Veto Competition:

The houseguests go outside and are confronted with a delightfully surreal image: a gigantic papier-mâché statue of a hairy-legged lady in a bathtub. Jeff laughs about how he doesn’t allow Jordan to have any body hair while I wonder how much Bread & Puppet got paid to have one of their decommissioned antiwar puppets repurposed for a reality show.

Okay, this is actually awesome: The contestants pluck enormous hairs from the giant’s legs and use the hidden letters to spell words; longest word wins. (Apparently Jeff epic-failed a similar game years ago; he’s excited to redeem himself.) I’m feeling this contest — it’s oddly beautiful and certifiably insane.

The gigantic papier-mâché woman looks impassive, godlike, as the tiny humans pluck hairs from her legs and Porsche vamps shamelessly in her bikini. (Porsche is basically the house concubine.)

Brendon deploys Scrabble strategy as he thrashes around in the giant bathtub, looking for ings and lys. I love taking baths and I love Scrabble. I want to play this game … but I want to play with real human hair!!! (Mad scientist laugh.)

Jordan realizes she can spell “Farting,” but decides it would be indecent. I am falling for Jordan. Or have I already fallen for her? I can’t keep up with anything on this show!

Brendon wins with UNDERSTANDING, a whopping thirteen letters! (I suppose I should mention that Rachel misspelled moisturizing, but I can’t judge her because I misspelled automobile in the finals of my elementary school spelling bee and it still haunts me: autobomile. What kind of word is that?)

Dominic, on Brendon’s victory: “Perfect, plan in motion.” Dominic continues to rally people to his side. The kid is tenacious. He works on Shelly, who’s been hiding in a storm drain or something. Dominic admits he’s gunning for Jeff and Jordan, which Shelly can’t abide. A SECOND SECRET GAME BEGINS.

Shelly turns around and snitches to Jordan, who concludes that Daniele is leading a rogue alliance; an alliance that operates under cover of darkness; an alliance whose only goal is betrayal and chaos; an alliance that smells of suntan lotion and broken hearts. She’s right.

Jordan runs to tell Rachel and Brendon. Brendon is wearing an eye patch. He’s testing his vision. I’m not sure what to say about that.

Rachel: “I can’t believe Dom has the audacity to form a separate alliance and come after ours!” I’m telling you, Dominic’s gameplay is second to none. Second to none. He’s either psychic, or he has some kind of remote-viewing talent or something.

(Anyone who knows which Nardwuar interview I’m paraphrasing above will get a shout-out from me in next week’s recap. Leave your guesses in the comment section.)

Jeff and Brendon take a minute to talk gameplay and bro out, old-timers’-style. They are literally wearing matching sleeveless shirts with dark blue piping. Their biceps look tanned, toned, and to die for! Brendon admits that Daniele approached Rachel and him about dumping Jeff and Jordan. Jeff and Jordan reassure each other that they will never betray each other and they are bros for life and they have the best muscles.

At the Veto Meeting, Brendon keeps Adam and Dominic on the block. (I was so sure of that, I typed it before it happened — a personal milestone in my understanding of the game.)

Dominic is doomed. His efforts to recruit every single person in the house to his side have backfired. Catastrophe awaits.

Thursday's Episode:

Once again, Jordan yawns like crazy while Julie Chen explains the current state of play! Never before has the act of yawning been such obvious proof of sterling character.

Daniele visits Brendon and Rachel to announce: “If Dominic goes home, I’ll be pissed.” Daniele is lonely! She needs a friend. Brendon goes into angry gorilla mode, which Daniele shuts down: “Brendon, seriously, be quiet.”

Jeff confronts Dominic: Why did Dominic try to “back-door” him? Dominic insists that was never the plan. It was, of course, the plan — Daniele’s plan — and Dominic secretly resents taking the heat for her machinations.

Kalia, feeling out of the loop, touches base with Brendon, who’s busy working on his tan. Things sour quickly. Brendon chides Kalia’s lack of gameplay: “I’ve studied rocket science, and this is way easier than rocket science.” He then calls Kalia “an all-time floater.”

Kalia proceeds to snap with a fierceness. She tells Brendon to “suck it,” then yells at everyone in the house about how Brendon is a punk.

House meeting! Jeff accuses Kalia of back-dooring him in the same barking, accusing tone he used with Dominic. Kalia is yelling at everyone. Our crew looks exhausted and miserable. Rachel tells Kalia that her “friend” Daniele “will sell you out under the bus.”

The SECRET IS OUT: Daniele approached Rachel and Brendon about back-dooring Jeff. Jeff is apoplectic. He thinks it’s personal; Daniele insists it’s not.

Then, out of nowhere, Lawon announces he’s “playing the game to win, and y’all better watch out.”

And everyone’s like, “Huh? Who are you?”

During Julie Chen’s live interview, Brendon and Kalia are pressed about their tiff. The takeaway: no hard feelings; all in the game; gameplay; it’s a game. Jeff, however, remains indignant about all the byack-styabbing dat’s goin’ on — but in the end, he also admits it’s just a game. Daniele says some stuff about how this game they’re all playing is a game.

Julie Chen: “Wow, you guys are serious gamers.”
Me: “This is the least fun game in the history of gaming.”

It’s time for Adam and Dominic to plead their cases from the chopping block. Adam says some generic stuff that I forget immediately.

Dominic, smiling, rises to speak …

… and whoa. America’s favorite 25-year-old virgin starts swinging his cock around the room, smashing skulls left and right! (METAPHOR.) No one is spared Dominic’s wrath! Some of the players are “spineless jellyfish riding on people’s backs”; everybody in the house “sucks at this game”; he only wishes he had “someone with a spine to play with ... ”

The full catalogue of Dominic’s disappointment and frustration is on display, and it is glorious. (Werner Herzog, on Timothy Treadwell: “His rage is almost incandescent, artistic.”)

Everyone votes to evict Dominic, except Daniele: “Because I’m not afraid to go against the king and queen,” i.e., Brendon and Rachel.

Dominic leaves Casa del BB. He’s greeted with rapturous applause by the audience camped in the tent city outside the house.

Julie Chen asks Dominic about his amazing speech. Dominic thinks all the newbies are cowards: “They never wanted to fight with me, they never made a strong alliance, we never had a fighting change.” He wanted to rally the newbies with his final stem-winder and perhaps inspire them to band together with Daniele. Even in his final moments in the game, he tried to affect the future of the game!

Dominic strikes me as really intelligent. He was the only player whose explanations of strategy weren’t just inarticulate grunts of fear and aggression. I’m bummed he’s gone. He and Cassi were my favorite gameplayers, and they’re both out of the game!

Julie Chen announces yet another amazing twist to the game: The duo twist is officially over! Everyone will now play as individuals. I can’t imagine a less exciting non-twist of a twist, except maybe, “We’re switching the house air-fresheners from Cedar Breeze to Pine Forest!” It changes nothing about gameplay. And gameplay, friends, is all that matters in this game.

I’d love to tell you who won HOH, but the show went to credits before the contest was over, and when I went on the Internet to check, I wound up watching YouTube clips of The Wire instead.

I wish David Simon would make a series about astronauts. I would watch that.

I leave you with this song until next week:

Photo: Lisette Azar/CBS