Last week, "True Blood" went on a killing spree, dispatching major characters and lesser recurring characters and bit players and new characters—including a few that had potential, such as Sarah Newlin’s guru boyfriend—with an indiscriminating, bland casualness. The only loss that was supposed to mean anything was the unexpected, last-minute killing of Alcide, but his shooting—at the hands of a couple of random gun nuts, just after he’d appeared from out of nowhere to help rescue Sookie from the infected vamps—was such a hectic mess, and carried so little dramatic weight, that the only real emotion came from the slow, mournful version of Steely Dan’s “Fire in the Hole” that played under the closing credits.
When we left things on Thursday, Nicole and Derrick had just won Head of Household, which made me somewhat happy, because I like Nicole and I'm fine with Derrick and I was honestly going to be satisfied with ANYBODY being HoH, since Devin couldn't win and everybody is planning to target Devin, at least until they abandon that plan in a moment of suspicious or just-plain-silly strategy.
But who's going up on the Block tonight? And then who's going OFF the Block tonight?
When we left things yesterday, Devin had just reversed himself, decided he had parental solidarity with Brittany and taken her off of the Block, even though she was his top target all week up to that point. He had put Zach up, breaking his word to never put up a Bomb Squad member, but also doing what Zach told him to do.
But then Brittany said she wanted to make an announcement or something and... CLIFFHANGER!
Let's get to Thursday's (July 10) "Big Brother" to find out what the heck went down after the Veto and what's going to happen with this week's vote.
We need to start slipping canned goods and secret messages into the "Big Brother" house, because it's basically a hostage situation in there.
Two weeks into its 16th season, "Big Brother" is feeling (in order) a little dull, a little thrilling, and scary. Dull because half the house is alleged people named "Victoria" and "Jocasta" and "Cody" who've yet to do anything but blink a little and have a first name. Thrilling because "Zrankie"/"Zankie" is real, and I just want to watch Zach and Frankie giggle and gyrate in the pool all day. Scary because Devin, who is just a frowning pile of cinder blocks, is somehow a commanding authority at the moment. The whole house is afraid of his tugboat-sized arms and unreal lack of self-awareness. He's like the brawniest goldfish of all time.
With that horrifying image in mind, let's descend into the episode.
8:04: In case you're worried this episode will be short of unintentional comedy, Paola steps up to humiliate herself immediately by telling Hayden that she threw the Battle Of The Block challenge, saying, "I could've DOMINATED that." Picture Paola dominating something. You can't! That's the funny part. Paola couldn't dominate a Hula Hoop. She would try it out and it would somehow knock her across the room.
8:06: So, newsflash: Devin is nightmarish and everyone's rebelling. Or at least they're agreeing that someone should rebel. Somewhere. Sometime. Zach announces to the hundreds of other Bomb Squad members that Devin -- their ringleader -- is dictatorial, and Zach is right. "He's the only one who wants Brittany gone!" he says. The others concur. But soon Devin will reenter the room and they'll get right back to trembling in silence. Devin is shaped like a Hirschfeld caricature of an American Gladiator. I don't blame them.
8:11: But aha! Caleb approaches Devin during a rousing game of snooker and tells him he wants Paola to leave the house. THAT'S NOT DEVIN'S PLAN! Pretty bold, Caleb! I didn't expect Caleb, whose shirtlessness is super good, to throw thunder back at Devin. Devin doesn't take the dissent well and storms off to kick down a wall or drive his Harley into the ocean or something. Frankie, who is apparently present for every important conversation in the house, says the Caleb/Devin interaction worries him because he doesn't want the Bomb Squad's alliance to blow up. I want Frankie to realize this alliance is already not going to survive, but he's slow on the uptake for some reason. Maybe because he spent the past hour dipping two inches of his hair in melted pink sidewalk chalk.
8:12: Oh, lord. Devin is alone and freaking out. Here's what his monologue (to himself) sounds like: "Whatever. Whatever. You're just a lovesick puppy, Caleb. Whatever. I don't even care. Man. Whatever." Not exactly George Bernard Shaw, this one. He storms back outside to tell Caleb their alliance is over for some reason. In return, Caleb suggests that Devin might be evicted next week. Mmm, drama. I've missed it.
8:16: In other news: Frankie and Derrick are told they are the second and third members of the ever-exciting Team America. Donny is the first member, but he's busy whispering secrets to his beard gnats at the moment to celebrate. That beard is yards long. He looks like a feral Jim Henson. Eventually the three team members discover one another through the use of code words ("Hey, Derrick. Um... Apple pie? Apple pie!"), and I guess we should expect all three to perform wacky stunts for money throughout the summer. Great?
8:22: I have a confession to make: When Devin complains that it makes much more sense to get rid of Brittany over Paola, I agree with him. Though his strict aversion to Brittany's existence is based mostly on unqualified anger and what I assume is a steady diet of rhinoceros-grade steroids, he's right that getting rid of Paola is a useless endeavor. Imagine if Andy Herren got rid of GinaMarine early on last year. What would've been the point of that? Less entertainment value for us all summer? More chance of losing to a tough competitor in the end? It doesn't make sense. I need Paola to stick around because she CAN create a scene and she CANNOT spell. A deadly, gorgeously dumb combination.
8:24: Maybe Caleb is secretly the new Pao-Pao because he just squealed to Devin that a bunch of people have considered evicting him. CALEB, WHY? Why do you tell Devin things? Devin cannot handle being told anything! He can't handle things, period. Devin gets mad at gentle breezes for disrupting his game and catching him off guard. Stop it, breezes! A real man is playing here. Devin would evict breezes if he could. They looked at him funny once.
8:27: Shockingly, Zach -- who is adorable and I don't care what anybody says -- has decided to blow his cover, speak up in a room full of silent Bomb Squad members, and confess to Devin that he also wants Paola gone, confirming Devin's suspicions about dissent among the ranks. Good one, Zach. Tell the paranoid lunatic that he has every right to be a paranoid lunatic. That should solve everything. Oh, and THEN Zach admits he also considered voting Devin out even though he "didn't mean it." Man. What is the gameplay here, Zach? What is this accomplishing? Why does Zach feel so obligated to defy Devin when there is clearly no threat in appeasing him this early in the game? It bugs me. I want Zach to be the clever manipulator that he has promised us he is. Not seeing that strategist instinct at the moment.
8:30: The Power of Veto competition, which features Paola, Brittany, Devin (!), Zach, and Derrick, is pretty dorky. It's also a retread of something we saw last season: The houseguests have to balance differently weighted "planets" onto a multi-armed mobile without it toppling over. The planets have silly labels named after past "Big Brother" alliances. "Exterminatus" is one. "McRanda" (spelled wrong) is another. "Brenchel" is of course one, and I assume on that planet you hear a high-pitched whine soaring through the atmosphere at all hours.
8:34: Not a thrilling game except for one awesome astronaut named (get ready) Paola. Every day of Paola's life is a battle with gravity, and this challenge is no exception. She cannot hold onto the toy planets. She can't coordinate her body to make helpful athletic movements. In fact, as the awesome Christine notes, "She can't stand up. She can't sit down." Paola is basically a chicken covered in clothes trying to be free. It is kind of beautiful.
8:36: Hope you haven't eaten recently, because I have to be the one to tell you that Devin won the veto challenge. He balanced all the planets correctly and I assume he ate a few of the planets along the way. This is good news for Paola, who has been told by Devin that she'll be saved if he wins. "But you never know with this guy," Paola notes, "'Cuz this guy's like the devil." It is so uncomfortable to agree with Paola.
8:40: Guys, what the hell is happening to my man Zach? He finds himself in deep crap with Devin, who has decided Zach is the most untrustworthy alliance member/person/noun ever. In an all-too-brief Zankie moment, Zach tells Frankie he doesn't know how he's going to get out of this mess. Frankie grabs his shoulders and tells him to stop opening up to Devin and telling him his innermost thoughts. Frankie's soullessness is clearly an asset. He feels no obligation to be honest with anyone and he is not insecure about that. I've read that Frankie is getting a pretty flattering edit this week, but I haven't seen enough of the live feeds to confirm, so I'll just stick with my original thought about Frankie's gameplay: He is doing a good job! I don't know if his eel-like social skills will sustain him longterm, but I'm psyched about his plays for now.
8:44: And now for the true moment of eye-popping strategy this episode: Brittany, who very much seems like she's going home, approaches Devin in a one-on-one way. Devin hates Brittany, remember. She's a threat to him or something. Get this: It takes Brittany about two minutes to sit down with Devin, bring up how she's a single mother of three, and worm her way into his good graces. It seriously takes less time to adequately toast a Pop Tart than it did for Brittany to transform her chances in the game. Better yet, Brittany wheedles Devin into telling her that Pao-Pao threw the veto competition! Ah! This woman is a sorceress! Her success here says a lot about her potential to play this game. Meanwhile...
8:48: Ugh. Zach somehow -- let me see if I can phrase this right -- asks Devin to put him up on the block? Zach was trying to appeal to Devin's whims, saying that if Devin wants to put him up for eviction, it's cool because he's loyal to Devin, basically. Uh, what? Zach is spiraling so much that he is basically stuck in the opening credits of "Vertigo." Devin hadn't considered putting up Zach, a team member, for eviction, but for some reason he's really thinking about it now -- as much as Devin can be "really thinking" about something, I mean.
8:56: Well, here you have it: The veto meeting is an unthinkable trainwreck, with Devin announcing that he's removing savvy Brittany from the block and replacing her with -- oh, girl! -- Zach. Zach and Paola are up for elimination. Truly. This is real. And better (worse) yet: After the meeting, we get a sneak peak of an ugly fight that breaks out. Paola, Zach, Brittany, and Devin are all involved. And all I can say is I want Paola to go home so, so badly, but it feels like Zach may have Zankied himself into oblivion. Which sounds kind of fun, but I bet it's not worth it. Yikes.
What'd you think of this episode? How will the fight go down? Can you handle the suspense? I'm shaking like Halle Berry in the opening scene of "Extant"!
The guiding principle behind “Fire in the Hole” seems to be that if the show can cover enough physical ground and extend its reach over a great enough span of time, that will make up for a set of relationships that have ceased to evolve and a plot that’s freezing up. There’s a lot of inert dialogue scenes where people try to work out their thoughts and feelings, including one in which Violet expresses her disappointment in her “warrior” Jason for even having thoughts and feelings. (Remembering the day they met, she says that she could tell right away that “you were a man like they used to make them, who lived by a code of honor and dignity, and with an iron-forged c**k!” Stick that on your next Father’s Day card.) These philosophical debates don’t do much for the audience, but hey—there are flashbacks! Bill has his picture taken with his little daughter before heading off to the Civil War, and we get to see Eric’s fateful first encounter with Nan Flanagan and the forces of the Vampire Authority. If little fill-in details like that don’t do much for you, you’re out of luck.
When we left things on Thursday, Amber and, via a technicality, Devin were Head of Household.
And as we all know, lots and lots of power is sure to make Devin less annoying, right?
Click through and follow along for Sunday (July 6) night's "Big Brother."
If you watched Wednesday's "Big Brother," you know that Pao-Pao thinks "Caltoru" is a word -- She was trying to spell Cthulu, I assume.
You also know that Duck Donesty was never a soldier, but Caleb is convinced that Donny's ex-military because of something related to the hair, or lack thereof, on his legs.
And you finally know that Joey isn't so great at this. America's Favorite Player before the season, Joey attempted to start an all-girl alliance. She failed to find any takers. Then she went around apologizing to everybody for forming an all-girl alliance. Then she got put on the block by Caleb, either as punishment for trying to start an all-girl alliance, punishment for apologizing about being in an all-girl alliance, or punishment for not being a very good "Big Brother" player.
Take your pick!
Let's get down to Thursday (July 3) business...
Last episode we learned important things: Devin is dumb and loud about it. Brittany is both a fine swinger and swigger (yay, wine!). Paola is just horrible at games, and maybe thinking too. And now, because his eviction nominees won the challenge, former co-HOH Frankie is vulnerable to a possible eviction. Frankie is also vulnerable to a deep shampooing by me, because that streak of purple highlighter in his coif is still killing me. Let's get with the recappin'.
8:03: Caleb reminds us that he's "the country boy" -- If there's another reality show with contestants who are more than proud to identify as boring archetypes, I don't know it -- and is still HOH this week because his nominees, Donny and Paola, lost their match against Christine and Victoria. Donny realizes his fate looks grim and notes that it's "pretty darn scary." Donny is pretty darn folksy, isn't he? Even when he's talking about how "the young people in the house" are nice to him, he remains quaint as hell as tears fall from his face. Too bad emotions are the true enemy of the "Big Brother" house. You're failing me, Donny!
8:08: Devin is giddy as hell that Donny is still up for elimination, as he has invented some bizarre paranoid theory/fantasy about how diabolical Donny is. "I think he's a great actor!" Devin says confidently as Donny weeps an incredible geyser of real tears. Yeah, Devin. Donny must be method or something.
8:11: In a terrible development, Nicole (not my favorite) and Christine (my favorite) believe in ghosts. Nicole, who has a wide-eyed Babs Bunny face like Aaryn from last year, is shrieking about a ghost in her darkened bedroom -- which is interesting considering this is not a real house. It's actually the set of a TV show that is recreated every single year. I feel like ghosts would show up on the monitors, you know? But I'm afraid of what this news will do to Nicole, who is screaming and basically hurling gallons of Ectoplasm at the floor. She believes, y'all.
8:14: Donny goes to bed and Caleb proudly announces that he believes Donny is an ex-military member, since we're in full conspiracy territory with this guy. Devin agrees because Devin is in the mood to believe anything. Frankie, suddenly, is the voice of reason. "Devin believes Donny is a super-soldier," he tells us, before mocking his theories. "Is he Justin Bieber in a beard? Is he Lady Gaga's new character?" Rarely do voices of reason look like troll dolls with bejeweled navels. "Expect the unexpected," I murmur in my best sinister Chenbot drone.
8:15: Sorry, "Extant" is a horrible title.
8:18: Donny, in bed across the room from Devin, finds himself saying things like, "Uh, no, I'm not in the military. Sometimes I just wear camouflage. I'm pretty sweet! Are you OK? Are you crying, Devin?" Not exactly that, but close. Devin confesses to us that he feels bad if he has somehow maligned Donny, and then I remember that Devin is a gigantic, military-looking dude who could clearly dominate Donny no matter what. What is going on here.
8:20: Caleb, the remaining HOH, assigns the first Have Nots of the season. He is wearing tiny pink shorts, and as a credited TV critic with a shrewd, incisive sense of quality programming, I will tell you I LIKEZ DEM SHORTZ. He picks Hayden, Joey, Brittany, and Cody, and it turns out the new Have Not room is no place for pink shorts: It is a frozen, icy room teeming with glacier-like furniture. Even the Have Not food is frozen in popsicle form. I would love it if Madonna's "Frozen" were constantly playing, but "Big Brother" is not as cool as my dreams.
8:24: Joey tries to make her all-girl alliance happen, and gorgeous Leona Lewis doppelganger Amber smirks a bit knowing she has something of an alliance with the gents. I'm worried for Joey. Her efforts seem to be alienating her. I like this girl! She recycled once.
8:26: Well, turns out I'm exactly right: Caleb learns about Joey's efforts and immediately pegs her as a threat. She needs to dye her blue hair pink this instant and hide in Frankie's doll pompadour because she just became the only real "target" in the house.
8:29: Weirdly, Joey tells Devin of her failed attempt to form an all-girl alliance. She assumes that guilelessness is a good idea. Devin immediately tells us that she's "the worst player in 'Big Brother' history" because she gave up on her own master plan and dared to be honest about it. OK, I'll grant that she might've made a mistake, but Devin shouldn't be so cocky. He sounds like every ninth-place nothing who ever sat with Julie Chen to lament how he overthought the game. He may as well wear a Nick Uhas t-shirt and try romancing GinaMarie for relevance.
8:32: For the veto competition, Caleb, Paola, and Donny find themselves up against Zach, Cody, and Victoria. Save her, that's a lot of "Bomb Squad" going on. Also, this marks the first time I've heard the words "Zach and Cody" pieced together this season. Let's hope a "Suite Life" alliance is in the very near future.
8:34: Ohhhhh, this veto competition. It's called "Miami Lice," and everybody is clothed in pastel-colored suits and jumping into a gigantic bathtub to retrieve letters from -- oh yes -- fake hair. Lice! Miami! Miami Lice. "I need to win this," Donny tells us. "Or I may be going home. Maybe they think I'm smarter than I let on. [Long pause.] I'm not." Later he admits that he's purposely going slowly so that he can "keep his thoughts." Apparently Donny has a medical condition where thoughts spill from his brain when he moves too quickly. The More You Know.
8:38: The object is to collect enough letters from the hairy muck that you can spell a long word. The longest word wins the veto competition. Zach, unsurprisingly, has the best strategy: Because you're only allowed to retrieve the letters one at a time, he stashes a bunch in an easy-to-access, but secret part of the pool so that he always has a place to grab one.
8:40: Time runs out and Zach clocks in with a seven-letter word, "WARNING." Please cherish this morsel of pseudoo-literacy because Oh. My. God: Caleb, Cody, and Victoria reveal their answers and they all turn out to be misspelled or under-spelled long words. And they didn't think to reorder their letters into a smaller acceptable word either. Just wonderful. And bigger Oh My God -- Paola came up with "CALTORU." Yes, CALTORU. "I was trying to spell 'calculators!'" she explained. You sure were, honey.
8:45: Donny reveals his answer after a dramatic break and it's "SPLITTERS." He wins! Hooray! What the hell is a splitter? Oh well! Hooray! All that non-military training has really come in handy.
8:48: Joey realizes -- somberly -- that she's only houseguest who sticks out as a possible replacement nominee. Caleb tells her that she, indeed, got caught trying to plot against him. He pretends to be placated by her honesty. Honesty is the least reassuring thing in "Big Brother." We'll have to see how much she really saved herself. Cue "Big Brother" voiceover: "IS JOEY COMPOST OR WILL CALEB FIND A WAY TO RECYCLE HER?"
8:55: Donny saves himself (in his kindly prospector coo). Caleb doesn't flinch and throws Joey on the block. Ugh. Of course. "I don't know what's going on in that blue head of yours," he says of Joey in the diary room. I actually laugh out loud. This is the true tragedy of the episode.
So, who's going home? Paola (who is worthless and should go home as payback for the similar-ish GinaMarie making it all the way to final two last year) or Joey? Seems like the latter to me.
Let's see... Where did we leave things?
Frankie was still one Head of Household.
Caleb had gone into the first challenge in Beast Mode and he was also Head of Household.
Julie Chen had explained the whole "challenge" thing and how a former Head of Household could potentially go up on the block, but I napped through it.
And already, the people who dedicate their lives to watching the feeds have a wealth of knowledge about why all 16 of these hamsters are bad, bad people. And I'll say it again: For purposes of these recaps -- and purposes of comments -- ONLY STUFF FROM TV IS CANNON.
Good times. On to the recap!
Despite all evidence to the contrary, “True Blood” would like to give you what you want from it. This is not a Brechtian experiment in raising awareness of the audience’s desire to have its feelings manipulated in the name of “entertainment” by frustrating and disappointing us at every turn; at its best, it’s a robust sexy horror comedy made by HBO pros. But it’s been having trouble being scary and funny—intentionally, anyway—because of creative exhaustion, or the contempt that’s bred by familiarity, or because Alan Ball has left the building. Or maybe its priorities are just screwed up. “I Found You” opens with a languorously paced scene in which Jason Stackhouse tracks down Eric, standing in front of a window with his shirt open, as if practicing his moodiness. “Why’d you come here, Jason?” asks Eric “I came because I knew you’d ask that f***ing question,” replies Jason, who accuses Eric of running away to escape their undeniable, unspoken passion for each other: “Ah cain’t get you out of mah head,” he drawls. “But you probably hear that a lot, don’t you?” The two end up in a fierce and shirtless lip lock.