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Big Brother Recap: The Zingbot Will Rule Us All

Big Brother.

Congratulations and apologies to commenter MHECK, who suggested (per my request for exciting recapping challenges) that I make Big Brother–themed collages. Guys, I promise I will make a collage — and soon. I didn’t have time this week because I was too busy chopping down all the trees around my house before hurricane Irene sends them through my roof.

SUNDAY NIGHT’S EPISODE:

Jeff wins HOH after 90 minutes of filling a fishbowl with a tiny scooper of water. (We see an edited version of this event; no doubt an art student will screen the unedited version as part of his or her thesis portfolio.)

Kalia’s worried Jeff will put her up just like she put up Jeff — even though she never intended for him to go home. There’s no use in trying to explain this strategic subtlety to Jeff, however. The man is still obsessed with the “target on his back.” I’m so sick of his whining that I’m going to buy all my hurricane-survival supplies at the Target store in Poughkeepsie, just to spite him.

Meanwhile, Shelly’s contempt for Rachel grows slightly less ambiguous: “It’s taking every bit for me not to rip her head off”; “I cannot stand that woman”; “I’m so fed up with her attitude”; “I don’t know how you live with yourself.”

Jeff shows off his HOH room. (He’s the first male HOH this season — the glass ceiling has finally shattered.) He has photos of his family just like everyone else! Jordan talks about how much Jeff loves his nieces. He even knit them little soul patches to wear on their chins! (JOKE)

Jordan starts eating Lucky Charms straight from the box. Is there anything this miracle woman can’t do???

Rachel and Jeff’s strategy discussion is interrupted by Shelly’s badgering of Rachel. She tells Rachel to stop making eyes at her, to stop rolling her eyes, to stop the looks of death, to stop talking about Shelly behind her back! Shelly and Rachel, remember, are still in the same alliance with Jeff and Jordan, which is why Jeff and Jordan are pleading with the two of them to bite their tongues and move forward.

Shelly obviously wants to escalate the conflict, but eventually Rachel’s affectless stonewalling wins out and Shelly slinks away. This is the first time Rachel has given any indication that she has an off switch; it’s pretty amazing.

Jeff gets to pick this week’s Have-Nots. Porsche and Daniele haven’t been Have-Nots, so they’re in, and then he throws in Kalia for good measure. The battle lines are drawn ever more explicitly: It’s Daniele, Porsche, and Kalia vs. the Rest of the World.

Daniele is worried about eating slop for the week; she knows from experience it makes you tired and irritable and “slows down the process of thinking.” Which is too bad, because the next Veto Challenge involves memorizing and reciting the complete works of Ovid. (Seriously, though: Daniele should work for a hunger-relief NGO. I remain convinced she represents the change we have been waiting for.)

Jeff assures Daniele that “we’re good.” Daniele assumes he’s putting up Kalia and Porsche, and then she realizes she can’t win POV, because she’d have to use it to save one of her two alliance members, which would be awkward. She has to throw the veto competition.

Desperate to save her hide, Porsche tries a little game talk with Jeff, for the first time in 49 days, which Jeff finds hilarious. It’s not a comfortable conversation. Jeff: “You’ve never come to me with any game.” Porsche: “It is what it is.” I feel like I’m listening to an audiobook of the Tao Te Ching underwater.

Jeff nominates Porsche and Kalia for eviction, and says he wants them to prove they came on BB to play the game, whatever the hell that means.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT’S EPISODE:

I hate that I can hum along to the BB theme.

It’s Daniele’s birthday, and Rachel decides to celebrate by provoking her: “Daniele, why do you hate life so much? Twenty-five is the beginning of life!”

Daniele (in a cutaway): “Rachel is obsessed with me.”

Rachel (to Daniele): “Why are you being so testy? What’s wrong with you? Do you hate me? I already know the answer.”

Rachel (in a cutaway): “Anything I can do to make Daniele’s time in the house a little more hard, I’m gonna do.”

This is called “PSYOPS,” ladies and gentlemen: It takes place in the shadows, and it’s rarely pretty, but it keeps us free. Remember that.

That night, Jeff and Jordan relax in bed and watch a live feed of the kitchen on a TV screen! What?! I’ve never seen this HOH functionality before. They watch Porsche and Daniele and make fun of Porsche’s obsequiousness. Then Jeff and Jordan have an extended debate about the pronunciation of “mischievous”: Is it “MISS-chiv-us” (Jeff) or “mis-CHEE-vee-us” (Jordan)? This is, literally, the single longest, sustained scene of the season so far. It’s riveting. Good for the BB producers! (For the record, Jeff and Jordan are both wrong.)

The next day (?) a big green robot marches into the kitchen. Everyone recognizes it — except me. Turns out it’s a recurring character called “Zingbot 3000” whose job is to insult the houseguests in a shrill, annoying voice.

I do not like this development. I feel threatened.

The Zingbot waves its arms around and yells “Zing!” after each insult and comes dangerously close to perfecting the sort of knowingly stupid anti-comedy that is all the rage among young people these days. Can I beat it at its own game? Let’s find out:

ZINGBOT 3000’S INSULTS VS. DAVID REES’S INSULTS: A SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISON

To Jeff:
“1995 called, they want their soul patch back! Zing!” (Zingbot)
“1995 called, you’re an asshole.” (David)

To Porsche:
“Shouldn’t you be named after a car with a roomier trunk? Zing!” (Zingbot)
“Shouldn’t you be ashamed of yourself?” (David)

To Rachel:
“Every other word out of your mouth is the F-word, fiancé! Zing!” (Zingbot)
“You seem like a genuinely unpleasant person. Zing!” (David)

To Kalia:
“You write a sex blog, but you seem to be an expert on the things that come after sex — like sleeping! Zing!” (Zingbot)
“You write a sex blog.” (David)

To Daniele:
“Do you have a car … or do you still prefer to ride your daddy’s coattails? Zing!” (Zingbot)
“Fuck you, Zingbot. Daniele is playing this game the best she can.” (David)

To Adam:
“Good call shaving your beard! I don’t think your girlfriend realized she was dating Uncle Fester! Zing!” (Zingbot)
“Good call shaving your beard! [ARBITRARY BOB MOULD REFERENCE] Zing!” (David)

To Shelly:
“What do you call someone who likes to smoke, hunt, and fish? A dude! Zing!” (Zingbot)
“Shelly, thank you for doing your part to confound gender expectations and disrupt the patriarchy. ZING-A-LING-DING!!!” (David)

To Jordan:
“The only reason Jeff hasn’t proposed at yet is because he knows you’re terrible at answering questions! Zing!” (Zingbot)
“Christ, what an asshole.” (David)

THIS WEEK’S VETO COMPETITION:

Everybody but Rachel competes in assembling a female mate for Zingbot while delivering “zings” about each other in cutaways. I assume these zings were written by the BB producers. Jordan wins the Stewart Lee Anti-Comedy Genius Award by zinging herself: “I’m not good at puzzles.”

Zing.

Jeff wins the veto competition.

Zang.

Jeff is now HOH and POV.

Zung.

After Jeff entertains Porsche and Kalia’s pleadings, it’s finally time for the Big Meeting: Daniele. Daniele straight-up tells him to get rid of Porsche and keep Kalia; She’ll be open to a final three deal. Daniele reminds Jeff that she’s kept her word about never backdooring him.

(My notes: “How do they get haircuts in the house?”)

At the Veto Meeting, Jeff takes Porsche off the block and replaces her with … Daniele! This rank strategic move — getting rid of his strongest competitor — gives the lie to all of Jeff’s self-righteous complaints about all the “floaters” in the house. If Jeff truly hates floaters, there are exactly two people who should be on the block: Porsche and Adam. But Adam, of course, is in Jeff’s pocket, and Porsche is less threatening than Kalia and Daniele, so Jeff’s entire “principled” stance collapses like the pile of turd-smeared two-dollar bills it really is.

Jeff announces that he couldn’t trust Daniele because she tried to backdoor him. Remember, of course, that on Sunday’s episode Jeff promised Daniele “we’re good.” Ergo, he just backdoored her! (My notes: “Jesus fuck this guy and his backdoor obsession. Fuck Jeff. DANIELE FOR LIFE!!!”)

THURSDAY’S EPISODE:

Daniele needs three votes to avoid eviction. She thinks she has Porsche’s vote; she needs Adam's and Shelly's. If Shelly supports Daniele, Daniele says she will never vote against her, ever.

Shelly tells Adam they can never beat Jeff and Jordan, so why not align with Daniele? But Adam doesn’t yet realize he’ll never win with Jeff and Jordan still in the game, and he’s afraid of pissing off Jeff. Plus Jeff is teaching him how to lift weights!

Ladies and gentlemen, Adam is the least-metal guy in the world. Esquivel was more metal than this chump.

Shelly tries a different tack: She tells Rachel that Jeff threw the corn-hole game for Daniele a few weeks ago — a game seared in our nation’s memory, of course, because it was the contest that led to Brendon’s eviction. Rachel, stunned, confers with Daniele, and there’s a brief electric moment when it looks like these two foes will team up to bring down “Big Jeff,” which would be the most amazing twist in the history of Realpolitik.

Julie Chen, who I suddenly realize is basically a Zingbot 3000 without any zings, outputs another “stunning twist” protocol from her front speaker-hole: Tonight’s episode will feature two evictions! “You’re about to experience a week’s worth of Big Brother all in one night!” (This provokes the same mix of relief and dread as, “You’re about to have a year’s worth of root canals all in one morning!”)

But first, Daniele and Kalia plead their case to stay in the house. Daniele, channeling the spirit of Dominic, unloads on everyone for sitting around “writing Jeff and Jordan paychecks.” (Not sure what this means, but I like it.)

Rachel votes to evict Daniele with maximum obnoxiousness. (Why does she accuse Daniele of “bad gameplay”? Daniele seems just as good at this wonderful game as Rachel.) Adam, that doughy coward, votes to evict Daniele. So does Jordan. Daniele is out.

During her exit interview, Daniele calls out Adam for being “the worst player ever.” As you all know, I understand next to nothing about this game, but I’m ready to agree with her.

THIS WEEK’S HOH COMPETITION: “BEFORE OR AFTER”

The contestants play an impossibly esoteric trivia game about the BB season so far. Kalia wins. She’s hugged by her alliance members Shelly and Porsche.

We go to commercial. We come back. Things are suddenly moving very quickly. Julie Chen asks Kalia for her eviction nominations. She nominates Jeff and Rachel. Then Julie Chen announces a surprise Power of Veto competition after the next commercial break — and we go to commercial again! I’m about to get whiplash from the high-speed intensity of tonight’s episode. It’s truly a whirlwind roller coaster ride that will sneak up and floor you. (PeterTraversBot 3000.)

There’s a really quick Micro-Veto Competition involving clown shoes and plastic balls. Julie Chen says “on your mark, get set, go” with the silky-smooth cadence of a Speak & Spell channeling Christopher Walken.

Porsche wins.

We go to commercial. We come back. Porsche doesn’t use the veto: “It’s what Daniele would have wanted.” We go to commercial.

(Should I be recapping the commercials this week? There are more of them than actual BB footage.)

We come back from commercial. Julie Chen says “Rosebud,” and we go to commercial.

We come back from commercial. Julie Chen hisses “IT WAS HIS SLED,” and we go to another commercial.

Back from commercial (for real this time), Jeff pleads his case by referencing some blowup with Shelly earlier in the day. Jordan is in tears. Jeff tells Shelly she should forget about their fight and vote to keep him in the house. What happened during that fight? I can’t tell if it’s something I watched and immediately forgot, or if I have to subscribe to the NSA’s database of live-feed archives in order see it.

The housemates are split on evicting Rachel and Jeff, so Kalia casts the deciding vote: Jeff is out! (At least Jeff can’t accuse her of backdooring him this time; she axed him right to his face.)

Rachel and Jordan hug each other and cry — they are both without their asshole boyfriends now, and they suddenly find themselves outgunned. I’ve soured on Jordan; again, as much as Jeff complains about “floaters,” it’s not clear to me exactly what Jordan has been doing all this time, other than looking adorable and sticking close to her dumb boyfriend.

Meanwhile, Porsche rises in my estimation as she tells a tearful (traumatized?) Shelly that the two of them are done letting people needle them and push them around. Daniele may be gone, but her nascent alliance of Shelly, Porsche, and Kalia is looking strong.

Meanwhile, Adam just stumbles around looking like a goofball. He has nobody.

In his exit interview, Jeff is as critical of the contestants’ gameplay as Dominic was, but Dominic’s self-effacing charm is replaced by Jeff’s belligerent and resentful machismo: “I’m a man; I’m strong and I’ll fight for my team.” Whatever, tough guy.

On Twitter, @SonOfTheBronx writes:

“OFFICIAL: Finishing no better than 5th in any show, Jeff Schroeder’s the most OVERRATED competitor EVER in reality TV!”

Zing.

Photo: CBS