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Big Brother Recap: Return of the Walking Dead

Brendon and Rachel, reunited ... briefly.

In keeping with Big Brother’s “expect the unexpected” ethos, I decided to try something different for this week’s recap.

Usually I take fastidious notes while watching each week’s episodes.

This week, I did not.

Yes, you read that right: This recap will be composed without the aid of notes. It is based entirely on my memory — which is about as formidable as a melted plastic colander.

Here we go!

Brendon is back in the house. Rachel is happy. Everybody else is stunned. Tim Pawlenty has dropped out of the Republican race for nomination. Newt Gingrich, somehow, has not.

Shelly’s constant scheming and double-talk has finally caught up with her: Rachel spreads word that she (Shelly) proposed a “final three” deal with her and Brendon. Shelly, who is either a pathological liar or doesn’t believe that asking for a deal means you’ve made a deal, or has a memory that rivals my own in awfulness, is furious that Rachel is spreading this “lie.” She rages against Rachel in the Diary Room, her face a rictus of nicotine-weathered umbrage.

Daniele wins HOH against impossible odds. She knows that the old-timer couples are arrayed against her, and any of them winning HOH means she is doomed. But she prevails in a “guess the number of things in this heap” contest to everyone’s dismay (except Kalia’s).

Daniele and Kalia hole up in Daniele’s HOH suite and plan their next move. Brendon is their target once again. (At some point, Daniele compares Brendon to a zombie who will not die.)

(Good glory, this is difficult! In trying to reconstruct this week’s story, all I see are the same three faces: Rachel looking sulky; Shelly looking angry; and Daniele grinning like a malevolent Mona Lisa. Oh! And Jeff’s soul patch, the North Star to which I set my soul’s sextant.)

Rachel and Brendon try to make their case to Daniele as to why she shouldn’t put either of them up on the block. Swallowing their pride and forgetting Daniele’s unforgivable war crime of evicting Brendon last week, they promise to spare her should one of them win HOH next week. Daniele promises to think about it.

At some point, there’s a contest — I can’t remember if it’s HOH or POV or ROTFLMAO — that Shelly loses. She receives some punishment I can’t recall, and then Jordan — who “earned” the punishment of spending 24 hours in solitary confinement, with the silver lining of a phone call home — trades her punishment with Shelly, because she (Jordan) knows Shelly would love to talk to her family, even at the cost of spending 24 hours alone in the padded room.

I don’t know if what I wrote just made sense. The point is, Jordan does right by Shelly. Jordan, in turn, has to wear the “Humilitard,” which is a green unitard (“I’m with stupid”) complete with tutu and spinning-propeller hat.

Needless to say, she looks adorable. The woman can really fill out a humilitard, and I wonder what further fashion history would have been made if Steve McQueen had taken her on as his muse.

(During the “guess how much stuff is in this pile” contest, it is finally revealed why I’m half-smitten with Jordan, and why she reminds me of an Amy Sedaris who’s been run through a sieve of 1,000 focus groups: She’s from North Carolina, my home state! No wonder she bequeathed her phone call home to Shelly: North Carolinians are just more fundamentally decent and sensitive and amazing than other people, and Jordan is approaching Dean Smith status in my estimation.)

Meanwhile, Shelly’s phone call with her family is an orgy of pathos. She wails and cries as she talks to her husband and 8-year-old daughter. The only thing more ghoulish than her face is the rank emotional manipulation of the BB producers, and I eagerly await becoming a Hollywood superstar so I can throw a drink in their faces at some swanky awards show.

(I should note that Adam, now clean-shaven, looks a bit like Bob Mould, which introduces a much-needed note of SST Records frisson to the proceedings.)

Speaking of Hüsker Dü, Adam wins the Power of Veto competition. This is good, you see, because Daniele, in a surprise move, nominated him and Shelly for eviction! You say you’re flabbergasted? You say you’re befuddled? You say you’re perplexed? I was, too, friend — I was sure Daniele would put Brendon back on the block.

But Daniele, as always, is playing a deeper game: If she went ahead and put Brendon on the block, it would obviously violate her tentative pact with him and Rachel. On the other hand, if she nominated Shelly and Adam, and one of them won POV, they would obviously use it to take themselves off the block — in which case Daniele could backdoor Brendon!

Again, I say: This woman is a class-A mastermind, and if she found her way into the Oval Office, we’d be out of this recession mess in no time flat, as she would somehow trick Grover Norquist into eating his own face.

Backdooring Brendon, by the way, is precisely what Daniele does! Adam takes himself off the block; Daniele replaces him with Brendon; Rachel reacts as if Daniele has introduced hepatitis into the house’s water supply; and our humble planet continues its endless rotations in blackest space.

Ahh, as I get deeper into this recap, the memories come flooding back. I’m about to get Proustian with this shit:

- I recall Shelly yelling at Porsche before slamming the sliding door that leads into the yard. What was that about? I think it was about Porsche telling everyone that Shelly made a deal with Brendon and Rachel. (I think Shelly was embarrassed because she’d been outed as a double-faced schemer.)

- I recall Porsche floating aimlessly throughout the house, her mind a bottomless void of un-strategy, bending with the wind like blades of grass.

- I see the image of Adam playing a flying-V guitar hung to his knees at a concert in Chapel Hill my friends and I went to in 1990. No, wait: That was Bob Mould. Sorry.

- I see the image of Brendon curing cancer and enjoying a life of luxury with Rachel. No, wait: That’s not a memory, that’s a premonition of Things to Come.

(Can I just say? As much as I’d love a cure for cancer, I really, really, really don’t want Brendon to be guy who cures it. Can’t Dominic and Cassi put their heads together and do it instead?)

Back to reality: Brendon and Shelly are on the block. Now it’s a matter of Daniele scrambling for votes to evict Brendon, while Brendon and Rachel scramble to save his hide. To whom can our beleaguered couple turn?

Jeff and Jordan are the obvious choices: They’re fellow old-timers; they know they don’t have Daniele’s undying allegiance; Jeff and Brendon are fellow members of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Biceps.

But Jeff and Jordan are unexpectedly skittish about lining up behind Brendon and Rachel. A once-strong alliance is in tatters. For if Jeff and Jordan vote to evict Shelly, and Brendon still gets the old heave-ho, Daniele will come gunning for them.

Rachel is furious at Jeff: What kind of friend is he? As Brendon runs on a treadmill, Jeff and Rachel exchange words: Jeff accuses Rachel of saying everything’s fine, even though her body language betrays a deep and abiding rage. Brendon, his body glistening and heaving on the treadmill, tells Jeff to take it easy on the delicate porcelain figurine that is his betrothed, but Jeff is having none of it. He has to look out for himself and Jordan. Sorry, bro, that’s just good gameplay.

Brendon and Rachel are in a tight spot. The center of power has shifted (irrevocably?) toward Daniele. She’s calling the shots. Even if everybody agrees Brendon was the greatest guy in the world, they can’t risk another week with him in the house. He’s just too good a competitor. Whereas everybody seems to think Shelly isn’t a threat; her time will come soon enough.

(Did I mention that we were treated to a remote interview with Shelly’s daughter and husband, who both seemed remarkably willing to critique Shelly’s gameplay and dishonesty, even as they root for her continued success?)

(Did I also mention that we were treated to a shot of Jeff smoking a cigarette? I didn’t think he smoked; maybe he’s trying to ingratiate himself with Shelly, or maybe the stress of the house is getting to him — remember, he’s the guy who’s convinced he has a 50-foot-tall blinking neon target on his back, despite all evidence to the contrary.)

Okay, so where were we? Julie Chen (who, I recently learned, thanks to a friend, is CBS president Les Moonves’s wife, which explains a whole heck of a lot) is ready to corral the contestants into voting for eviction.

Shelly and Brendon each make their case: Shelly tells everybody to be decent people while playing the game, and thanks them all for eating dinner outside her door while she suffered in solitary confinement — a rare image of fellow-feeling and common human decency in the midst of the swirling tsunami of bullshit that has come to define BB for me.

Brendon tells people that, per Les Moonves’s wife, if he’s evicted, he will be a judge for the final elimination, and he will definitely vote for the strongest competitor. He also thanks UCLA for letting him cure cancer in five years — which is pretty decent of them, I have to admit.

Enough of this cancer-curing prattle! The time for voting is upon us.

Everybody votes to evict Brendon except Rachel, who accuses her housemates of being cowards and sheep.

So that’s it: Second time’s the charm. Brendon is out. The zombie king is finally decapitated. Rachel insists she will continue to compete; she’s found her “inner strength” during Brendon’s absence. (So, I dunno, maybe that suggests you should break up with him? Just a thought.)

Brendon leaves the house and enters the studio audience, arms blazing in a frenzy of high-fives with his hordes of well-wishers. I hope the “one million Americans” who voted for Brendon’s return to the BB house are crying in their soup tonight, as I revel in my bottle of beer.

And there you have it. A week of BB recapping without the aid of notes. Kindly readers, I have learned my lesson: Don’t recap without notes. I’m sure there are any number of inane cutaways, witless asides, and proto-sociopathic grace notes that escaped my notice this week. I can only beg your indulgence as I continue to introduce amazing twists and turns into this recapping experiment.

Maybe next week I’ll take LSD before each episode and recap the week’s developments via finger-painting.

Leave suggestions for further recapping experiments in the comments section; I will choose the best suggestion and follow it to a T, I promise.

See you next week!

Photo: CBS