One of my least favorite things the producers do on this show, particularly over the last two seasons, is decide early on who the fan favorites are for us. Yes, delegating main characters and supporting characters is, to some extent, standard procedure on ensemble reality shows. But ideally, the producers follow the lead of the person with the most compelling story line, funniest quotes, and, of course, strongest social media presence. Big T, who doesn’t offer much besides a euphonious accent and a doe-eyed expression, is the biggest example of the producer putting their screen-time eggs in the wrong basket. But this week, Emy seems to be coming for her unfitting crown.
Observing Emy, it’s easy to imagine that if she were on this show ten years ago, she would be ruthlessly bullied and ostracized like Cara Maria was for having magenta hair and liking horses. (The producers are also clearly trying to make her Cara’s heir, even though she’s still in perfect shape and eager to compete on the show again.) Anyway, I sound like I wish Emy were being bullied. I don’t! I’m glad the show has moved out of gleefully capturing such vicious behavior, but I don’t know that every person with a quirky, innocent quality needs to be automatically celebrated on this platform, either. For the most part, Emy has displayed annoying, childish behavior. But ever since she won her elimination, the producers have been capturing her in an oddly sympathetic light and giving her ample screen time, including allowing her to promote her music career in this episode, which should be some sort of conflict of interest, in my opinion! I also never need to know what these people are doing outside of the show unless it involves hooking up with other cast members.
I partially think the producers are going off of the veterans’ warm attitude toward Emy, which, to me, reads like everyone is just buttering her up to use her as a pawn later on, as they did with Big T. Likewise, this episode opens with a shirtless CT discussing how much potential he thinks Emy has as a competitor. Since becoming a dad, CT’s role on this show is to be everyone’s sexy mentor and have at least one blow-up. CT is so hot and charismatic in this scene as he’s joking with Emy (the camera also keeps cutting away to his body) that, for a second, I thought the producers were setting us up for a surprise hookup, as is vaguely suggested in the episode description. I don’t even know how Emy identifies sexually, but nothing makes me sadder than the mere thought of CT, who I believe is currently separated from his wife, hooking up with someone born in 1999. But luckily, I was relieved of this when Emy called CT her “uncle.”
The real surprise hookup turns out to be (cue Jaws music) Josh and Esther! This is one of the most upsetting faux-mantic developments, I believe, in the show’s history, next to Nelson and Ashley. I love watching Josh and Esther as separate entities, but their union reeks of desperation and boredom. Josh’s romantic history on this show has always puzzled me, seeing as he has big-brotherly (no pun intended) energy with every woman he tries to flirt with. While he seems genuinely respectful of women — a rare male attribute on this program — and I think he’s attractive, he’s so awkward and reminiscent of a giant kid that watching him operate in a serious, sexual manner feels strange. I’m also not buying that Esther is attracted to this man, and I suspect she just wants someone to make out with after seeing other people coupled up (basically me in my freshman year of high school).
In the A block, we also get a heavily produced Kaycee and Nany date that’s being framed as something Kaycee planned on her own. The scene is set to “Closer” by Tegan and Sara, which I think is one of the greatest pop songs of the past decade, but this needle drop is a tad bit on the nose for me. Anyway, as someone who vividly remembers Nany almost getting punched in the face by Adam on her season of Real World, I’m glad to see her look genuinely happy and secure with someone. However! I still have a bad taste in my mouth from how Kaycee embarrassed her girlfriend before all of America on Total Madness by openly flirting and cuddling with Nany, and I have yet to see what would stop her from eventually repeating this behavior with someone else. I understand that sometimes you find the love of your life through infidelity. Other times, though, that person just ends up cheating on you after a year and a half. So good luck, Nany!
Now on to this week’s challenge, which had all the thrill of watching someone get on carnival rides while you sit alone on a bench without any cotton candy to tide you over. At first, this challenge reminded me of something you would see on Fear Factor, my second-favorite competition show of all time. But, basically, we spend 20 minutes watching teams struggle to look at symbols on a tank while strapped to cars doing doughnuts and then type them into a lockbox. Yawn. I need the game producers to design these challenges with the viewers in mind first and foremost because, while the competitors certainly look like they’re having a blast, nothing about this scenario is visually captivating. The race cars look as sexy as race cars can look when we see them circling in slow motion. But the normal, overhead footage of their careening looks awkward and somehow less perilous. It’s also a sign of a bad challenge if the competitors look too comfortable while they’re doing a supposedly death-defying stunt.
Anyway, after this painfully pedestrian montage, TJ announces Kaycee and Emmanuel as the winners, another point for the remnants of the Big Brother Alliance. Kaycee doesn’t know who she’s going to throw in, which means she’ll probably make the most predictable move, which is Jeremiah and Big T. Jeremiah’s also eager to go in to get rid of Big T, but probably just to get more than 30 seconds of screen time.
Before the club, the women convince Emy to wear one of Ashley’s dresses that stops a centimeter below the vag. It’s truly amazing watching these older women build up this Gen-Zer’s confidence just so they can tear it all down when they vote her into the Lair the next day. She’s high enough on everyone’s compliments that she decides to perform an awkward pop ballad called “Alien” because she feels like an alien in society, I guess. As a Black woman, this is a subject I just can’t take seriously from a white woman who wears braids. But I applaud anyone brave enough to sing earnestly in front of a small crowd.
Afterward, Esther and Berna talk shit about Amber in a corner while she complains to Emmanuel about being backstabbed by Fessy for the umpteenth time. I think I saw Emmanuel’s eyeballs fall out during this scene. Esther and Berna whisper that nobody likes Amber, which I’ve had an inkling about for a while, even though we don’t get a complete picture as to why she’s so hated. I’m willing to give Amber the slightest bit of credit and believe the cast loathes her in part for being so aggressively pretty. But she’s also a lethal combination of That Person Who Talks Too Much and That Person Who Doesn’t Realize How Dull They Are, compared to just being a quiet, boring person like Kaycee, which is much more bearable to be around. She’s also made being scorned by Fessy a personality trait, which I’m starting to think has more to do with wanting a storyline after being called wallpaper on Twitter all last season than actually feeling betrayed.
So the cast returns home and congregates in the kitchen. We see a subtitle of Amber saying, “I call the oven next,” so we know another drunken, hangry food war is on the horizon. (Last time, CT harassed Kaycee over how she cooked a pizza, and it gave us one of the most memorable Josh meltdowns). This time, someone stole Amber’s vegetarian pizza, which she has a right to be annoyed about. But it’s also 2 a.m., probably, and no one cares more about this relatively small matter than her. The ever-sneaky Tori, who I’ve decided is this show’s Kyle Richards, decides to play producer and tell Amber that Fessy ate her pizza to pop some shit off. Cory jumps in because he needs some camera time and will never not secretly hate Fessy.
Like clockwork, Amber takes this opportunity to repeat the word “blindside” at Fessy another 40 times. Cory tells someone to bring out Josh like Bryce Dallas Howard summoning the T-Rex at the end of Jurassic World and, of course, their bored asses do. This is when things “escalate,” but not really, because Josh’s anger is pretty level throughout this argument, probably because this whole incident happened two Lairs ago. And Fessy, like Nany noted last season, is just not the type of dude that’s going to instinctually beat your ass. Fighting with Fessy is equivalent to fighting with a wall, which we’ve actually seen someone do on this exact network in a much more entertaining fashion. (If you don’t immediately know what I’m referencing, get educated!)
So this non-mêlée pops off when Esther throws her drink at Amber because she won’t shut up. I can’t tell if it’s characteristically lame of Amber or absolutely badass that she seemingly doesn’t even register the water soaking her space buns and keeps yelling at Fessy. Nah, it’s lame! So Esther goes full Kandi Burruss (a lot of Housewives references today, I know!) at NeNe’s Pillow Talk Party and starts yelling at Amber and standing in front of Fessy like he’s her husband, even though she was just making out with Josh. I found this cringey because, although Esther has been an amazing partner, Fessy is known not to give a fuck about anyone else but himself and will undoubtedly dispose of her when he sees fit.
The fight briefly comes to a lull with the help of security until Josh comes face-to-face with Fessy again and receives a lackluster smush. Cue the credits! I’m pretty sure the continuation of this fight next week is just Josh lunging at Fessy and getting tackled by security and/or crying. If not, it will be the most gentle wrestling match in the history of television. Until next time!