Big Brother seems to be fundamentally broken. As just about any longtime fan of the show will tell you, the last few seasons have been filled not only with toxic behavior and racist, misogynistic players (a problem production has publicly acknowledged and yet struggled to change), but also a ton of predictable gameplay. The show has tried adding some twists here and there, but none of them are big enough to change what seems to be a game that has devolved into complacency. Something drastic needs to happen if there's any hope for future seasons to avoid the problems fans have been pointing to for years. Online, many fans have called for the return of a third eviction nominee every week, this one voted on by Americans watching at home. That would ideally help shake up the status quo of the last few seasons, where controlling alliances have been in charge since Day 1, and their gameplans are executed (thanks again to no real change in the way challenges are done) near-perfectly over the course of the season.
I mention all of this because tonight's episode, where the HOH Christmas has to nominate two players for eviction, is yet another in a long line of episodes where a lot of players talk about shifting the game and making waves and then end up just staying the course. Kaysar did his best during the live eviction last week to wake people up and get them playing the game more ruthlessly, to stop being so damn friendly all the time and start treating this like a game for $500,000 rather than a summer camp. But for the most part, it seems his pleas have fallen on deaf ears (except maybe Da'Vonne, but more on that later).
So, this episode picks up after Christmas becomes the new HOH. With Janelle and Kaysar finally gone, there's some question about who to target next. There's Ian, who's a previous winner and kind of laying low at the moment. There's Bayleigh and Da'Vonne, who plan on going to the end together and could be a threat to the main alliance, despite having a slight working relationship with members like Cody and Dani as part of the Slick Six, which is mostly an alliance that serves to keep Da'Vonne and Bayleigh from realizing the real main alliance. Speaking of Dani, she's been mentioned as a backdoor candidate before because she's talking about everybody in the house, and her unpredictabliity is rubbing her alliance the wrong way.
There's definitely some tension after Kaysar's eviction and the HOH competition. Cody, Dani, and Nicole all get together to cry and whine about how Kaysar blew up their games and how it's disrespectful. Are you kidding me? Is he just supposed to sit back and let everything go when he knows for a fact that there's controlling powers in the house? This is a game, folks. You have to step up and play. There's a big difference between being a bully in the house, like some players in previous seasons, and what Janelle and Kaysar were doing, which was trying to shake up a house where everyone has blinders on.
Then there's the HOH competition itself, which maybe exposed some cracks in the Slick Six alliance. The way everyone was choosing other players from their alliance caused some confusion and tension about whether anyone is actually staying loyal. The thing is, it's not enough confusion to actually cause a shakeup. Da'Vonne and Bayleigh still seem to think that Cody/Dani/Christmas/Tyler are on their side. How, after everything that went down with Kaysar, are they still not putting it together?
Anyways, that brings us to the Big Brother Basement and the introduction of three new powers. Everyone in the house competes in the basement at the same time, in complete darkness. The goal is simple: to find the powers in the dark while being bombarded with all sorts of terrifying distractions and obstacles. The pitch-black setting is to ensure that nobody knows who wins the powers, making them a secret threat. The challenge isn't all that much fun to watch. Everyone just stumbles around in the dark while their diary room videos talk about how important it is to have a power at this point in the game. Yes, we know!
As a nice change of pace, David wins the first power, which is extra special when you consider that he was unceremoniously tossed out of the previous season of Big Brother because of a pitch-black challenge at the very beginning of the season. Less exciting is Dani winning the second power, but hey, that's how this season is going. Christmas snags the final power, giving The Committee two out of the three secret advantages.
Here's how the powers work out: Christmas wins "The Blocker," which allows her to shield herself as a potential block replacement should a veto be used in the next three weeks of nominations. Dani wins "The Replay," which allows an HOH to play in back-to-back HOH competitions. Dani can use it herself, or she can give it to someone else. David wins "The Disruptor," which allows him to save one person in the next three weeks from the nomination ceremony. He can use it on himself or somebody else who's been nominated.
After the competition, it's on to figuring out who Christmas will put up on the block. Dani, being Dani, gets all mad at Bayleigh for not conversing with her enough, to which Bayleigh calmly explains how many people told her that Dani was coming after her and Da'Vonne, thereby nullifying the Slick Six alliance. It's all true! But of course, Dani is offended and mad about it, trying to hold her game together. And hey, just so it's clear I'm not only piling on Dani, Bayleigh is really failing to read this game right now. (As a side note, one notable thing from the live feeds this week is, after this fight goes down, Da'Vonne is chatting with Bayleigh and looks at one of the cameras and says: "Somebody send this to Kaysar. You were right.")
That bit of confrontation worries Christmas, because she's thinking about putting Da'Vonne and Bayleigh on the block, and she doesn't want it to look like it's because of this specific fight. Bayeligh breaks down after that when Tyler is trying to calm her down and tell her not to blow up everyone's game by talking more to Dani, which is of course because Tyler wants to continue playing both sides of the house. Just like Dani, he's complicit in this but loves to play the victim.
So, as you've probably gathered here, the nominations are once again clear. At the end of the episode, Christmas nominates Bayleigh and Da'Vonne for eviction. Which proves Kaysar right! And backs up Bayleigh's claims! But sure, Christmas can get all emotional about doing it, Dani can get all defensive, and the show can craft this weird narrative where Bayleigh and Da'Vonne are the ones doing shady stuff. But so it goes with Big Brother at the moment! With the veto coming up and the secret powers in play, we'll find out Wednesday if anything comes along to disrupt Christmas' nominations.