I'm sure there was a lesson to Tuesday (July 14) night's Very Special Bastille Day episode of "Big Brother," but I'm struggling to find it. Yes, there's something about how if you grub and flirt and whine, you'll get your way and you can think of it as strategy. Or maybe there's something about how the worst thing that can possibly happen on "Hermano Grande" is to be considered likable and easy going. Or maybe the most important lesson is that it's better to spell a stupid word correctly than to invent a big word and spell it wrong?
Really, though, I got one thing and one thing only out of "Big Brother" on Thursday: WASH YOUR FACE. For the love of all that's holy, use soap and water, use Noxema, use Stridex medicated pads. Don't be a slave to greasy build-up, kids, or CBS is going to have reality contestants dig through your pores for fun and profit.
[A recap of Tuesday's "Big Brother," at least the important details, after the break...]
I'm still trying to figure out my "Big Brother" recapping groove. Liane Bonin did a super job with her Sunday recap for HitFix and I'm just going to do Thursday's episode as a minute-by-minute countdown to elimination, but Tuesday night is tougher. Exactly two things of importance occurred: There was a Power of Veto competition and the winner of said competition, actually used the veto to take either Chima or Lydia down from the block.
Before the competition, Lydia sensed the unspoken bond between Athletes and Brains and prayed only that none of the jocks joined her and Chima in the challenge. Instead, all the three Wild Card positions in the PoV went to Russell, Natalie and Jeff. That's right. It was Lydia's worst nightmare.
"Pop Goes the Veto."
The players arrived in the backyard and saw a giant face covered with volcanos, or what looked like volcanos. Each volcano was a suppurating sore, an oozing pustule, an erupting whitehead. Inside each zit was a great mass of goo and a number of tiles with letters. The players had to collect as many letters as possible and make them into the longest word possible all in a limited timeframe.
"Being a freelance writer and having the expansive vocabulary that I do, I feel like this game is right up my alley," noted Chima before the start of the competition. I should note that finding Chima's freelance red carpet interviews are easy, but I haven't been as lucky at finding any of her more substantive works of prose.
There were several possible approaches to this task, once the digging through the gunk commenced. Head of Household Jesse grabbed a pile of letter, made his word and buzzed out within seconds. Chima and Lydia, however, pre-conceived the longest words they could imagine and went searching for the appropriate letters. Chima decided she'd spell "Superficiality," while Lydia aimed for "Civilization." Jeff and Russell and Natalie, meanwhile, sprinted around without any clear goal.
At the end of the elapsed time, the players revealed their accomplishments. Jessie had attempted to spell "Continuously," but he left out a "u," leaving him without any word at all. Natalie spelled "Last," with total accuracy. Chima failed to assemble all of the letters for "Superficiality" and didn't even get credit for "Super." Russell spelled "Shotgun." Why are we not surprised? Jeff actually beat Russell, spelling "Technotronics," except for that not being a recognized word. He also may have misspelled it. That left it all up to Lydia... Did she complete "Civilization"? No.
Your PoV winner? Russell.
"So now we can refer to me as 'Shotgun' Russell the Love Muscle," he announced proudly.
No. No we can't.
Still, as occurred on Sunday with the pipe-laying challenge, the Off-Beats and Brains continued to attempt to out-thing the game, while the true reward when to the people capable of keeping things simple. Russell isn't a Rhodes Scholar, but he was smart enough to know that successfully spelling a seven-letter word is better than setting your sights on a 45-letter word and spelling nothing.
See what I meant about there being lessons to learn tonight? Oh well. Great wisdom is imparted by "Hermano Grande."
Early in Tuesday's episode, we were treated to a montage of Surfer-Dude Braden's myriad harmless eccentricities. He likes to belch, wear leather pants and shower in a scuba mask. Perhaps it's the combination of those three things -- plus his generally being liked by everybody -- that caused Russell to simultaneously declare him a good guy and a threat.
The clips seemed arbitrary at the beginning of the episode, but nothing is arbitrary in "Big Brother" editing, so when Lydia rushed from her PoV loss into Russell's arms and began pleading her case, it became clear what was up. Lydia cried and cajoled and rubbed Russell's muscles and tried to make it clear that she'd do anything to stay in the game. Anything? Anything.
Given the choice, Russell would have used the Veto to protect Lydia and put Jeff on the block, but they're clique-mates and clique-mates can't turn on clique-mates, which is one of many ways in which "Big Brother" isn't at all like high school. So instead, Russell and Jeff just engaged in some high-quality prison yard banter, shouting threats and intellectual insults climaxing with:
Jeff: Man, you spelled "shotgun."
Russell: And I spelled it correctly!
Would that we could, there's no arguing with Russell there.
Meanwhile, Russell picking on Jeff succeeded in making Jeff somewhat sympathetic, something I wouldn't have guessed after the season's first too episodes. Also, I'm not watching the late-night feeds, but if Jeff and Jordan aren't boogering yet, they will be soon.
So without Jeff as a plausible target, Russell jumped on the opportunity to blindside Braden. Why? Because Braden's nice and people like him. Ronnie agreed with Russell's plan and then prompting snuck around and warned Braden that the coup was afoot. Russell looked ready to kill Ronnie, but he didn't.
At the PoV ceremony, Chima both try to curry Russell's favorite by praising his awesomeness. He responded by using the PoV on Lydia, who thanked "Baby Jesus," which must be a new nickname for Russell. Jessie put Braden up in Lydia's place.
Dude. That's some bogus karma.
"He's negligent," Braden said of either Jessie or Russell. "He doesn't really understand life. That's the way the cookie crumbles."
That leaves Spicoli Junior with only one possible savior...
"They're just drunk on the power," Jeff declared. "I've got to raise up and fight for the rest of the house."
So come back on Thursday to see who gets sent home!