'Big Brother': The return of Judd and a new HoH

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You’ll have to excuse me; I’m going through something of a metaphysical crisis. I’ve been having difficulty coming to terms with the fact that I’m spending my Sunday night writing about a television program that devotes a not unsubstantial amount of time to a 22-year-old woman inadvertently drinking nail polish remover. So if you detect a slight tinge of sadness in this week’s blog, it’s that.

Last week, we saw the whimper-not-a-bang eviction of Helen and the announcement of a shocking twist: one of the four jurors – Helen included – would have the opportunity to re-enter the game!

Andy is terrified by the news: “I was BFFs with all of them,” he sobs, “and then voted them all out!” Correct me if I’m wrong, Andy, but isn’t that a fundamental flaw with your approach to the game, regardless of this new twist? Being voted out by someone who repeatedly professes his unyielding affection for you – as we have witnessed Andy do to evicted houseguests on several occasions – stings far more than being evicted by a houseguest who makes clear that “it’s just a game.” As a result, it’s going to be tough for Andy to win Big Brother. He’s well-positioned and doesn’t seem to be anyone’s target, but his insistence on cultivating ostensibly deep bonds with everyone (and then voting them out) leaves a bad taste in evicted houseguests’ mouths. Almost as bad, I should think, as the taste of nail polish remover. The re-introduction of a player into the game will, at worst, only serve to hasten Andy’s already inevitable downfall.

When the dust has settled, it’s Judd who’s back in the game, and he’s got some harsh words for the house’s King and Queen: “Amanda and McCrae better watch their backs, because I don’t trust them at all.” If the rest of this season is any indication, we can expect this threat from Judd to mean that he will do everything in his power to obediently serve Amanda and then patiently bide his time until he’s evicted.

Things look up for Judd, however, when the new HoH is crowned: Elissa, who confides in Judd, “I just don’t like anyone in here.” The two resolve to join forces and shake up the house. It speaks to the likability of the remaining houseguests that the pairing of Judd and Elissa is basically the closest we can get to having an alliance worth rooting for. I mean, I don’t especially care for either Judd or Elissa, but they’re the best we’ve got. They’re our heroes: Aquaman’s mumbling nephew and Wonder Woman’s moderately athletic neighbor.

After Elissa’s HoH win, her nomination picks seem obvious. With only eight people remaining in the house, a power couple as close and strategic as McCrae and Aman—oh, wait. Elissa has something to say: “Aaryn is my number one target this week.” Great. Perfect. Why target two competent players who are unwaveringly dedicated to each other when you can focus all your energy on ousting a universally disliked, impressionable young woman who spends her free time coating her esophagus with nail polish remover? Bravo, Elissa.

Despite having apparently dodged what should have been a very obvious bullet, Amanda and McCrae still find something to complain about, with the possibility that one of them may be nominated. “I feel defeated,” Amanda moans. “Does she not understand it’s a bad idea to put you or me up next to Aaryn,” she asks McCrae, displaying a shocking lack of self-awareness.

Amanda’s an interesting player, perhaps most noteworthy for her bizarrely bipolar presence within the game. While she wields an impressive Svengali-like hold over most of the house – dictating virtually every nomination – she is prone to juvenile tantrums the very second things fail to go her way. It’s wild that the same person who gloats, “When you come after me, you leave the house,” is also the emotionally fragile child who cries behind a garbage can when she doesn’t win a competition. Amanda exists only in extremes: either the egomaniacal euphoria of maintaining complete control over the house, or outraged self-victimization and distress when things go even the slightest bit wrong. She’s the Veruca Salt of Big Brother, grown so accustomed to getting golden eggs that the thought of a receiving a silver one is too distasteful to bear.

And what of McCrae, the tragic King Macbeth in this relationship? Remember when he used to be a happy-go-lucky, floppy-haired jester who’d crack wise about being a pizza-delivery boy? McCrae’s youthful exuberance and wide-eyed wonder have long since left him, leaving behind a lifeless husk. The only emotion he seems capable of expressing at this point is fear of how Amanda will react to any sort of setbacks in the game.

In the end, Elissa stays committed to her goal of “get[ting] one of the big players out” and nominates (cough) Aaryn and McCrae, Aaryn being her primary target, and Amanda being her second choice. The motivation behind Elissa’s nominations seems to go beyond the merely strategic, however. “You’ve tried to make my life in this house as miserable as possible,” Elissa tells Aaryn. “I want everyone to be scared, because that’s how I feel every week.” By allowing her desire for emotion-based revenge to guide her nominations, Elissa misses out on a very clear opportunity to break up the most powerful couple in the house. We’ll have to wait and see whether she, like almost every other evicted houseguest in the game, ends up regretting this decision.


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