Lines are drawn in the sand after an unpredictable Head of Household win sends one alliance into a massive tailspin and another emerges with the real power.
Who would have guessed that the return of Omarosa to the "Celebrity Big Brother" house would prove to be the least interesting part of an incredible night of gameplay.
With seven celebrities left in the house, lines have been drawn in the sand and they find themselves at the most pivotal crossroads of the season. Tonight was make or break for Tom Green, who'd just seen his ride-or-die sent packing last week when Kato Kaelin got the boot. He was absolutely right to fear he was next.
And while Tamar Braxton was working with the athlete's alliance of Lolo Jones, Natale Eva Marie and Ricky Williams, her own ride-or-die played turncoat and flipped to the other side, forming a new alliance even before the latest Head of Household competition set the stage for a wild rush to next week's finish line.
We suppose we should acknowledge that Omarosa returned to the game, but it was just as host of the Head of Household competition. She didn't even get to banter with the Houseguests or say much of anything outside the parameters of the game. Such a waste of her personality.
We should also send our condolences to Dina Lohan for the amount of verbal abuse and mockery she suffered at the hands of her fellow Houseguests after she revealed she'd been dating a guy for five years, but they've never met in person nor have they even video-chatted.
The rest of the house couldn't believe this was real, insisting that she must be the victim of a catfishing scam. "He's real. I swear, it's crazy. But I'm going to marry him," Dina insisted. "It's really, really true. I talk to his ma!"
The house insisted that she needs to go see him at his home in San Francisco, where he says he cares for his ailing mother, but they don't want her to go alone. Tamar Braxton happily agreed to go along because she thinks five years is way too long to not even Facetime someone and she's got something to say about it.
Do we smell a spinoff? "Dina and Tamar's San Francisco Fishing Trip"?
Before we get to the player report cards, which should see some dramatic changes, we're going to break down the emerging alliances in the house, because alliances mean everything and at this stage of the game they mean more than everything.
Let's not fool ourselves, Tamar was a convenient number for the time being in this alliance, but she is definitely on the bottom run of this ladder. Ever since splintering away from Tom and Kato a couple of weeks ago, the athletes alliance has become the dominant united force in the game, and a real threat to everyone else playing.
What the other side of the house failed to see was that somehow Kato and Tom were their biggest allies in taking on this power trio. It makes no sense that the oldest guys in the house would be the season's competition beasts, but this is the world we live in. Tom proved it again by winning HOH tonight.
Kandi brought this alliance together almost out of necessity. With Tamar working with the athletes, she knew it was just a matter of time before the numbers swayed their way and the rest of the house was easy picking. She and Dina stand no chance in most competitions, so their smartest move is to align with the one guy left who does.
The athletes picked up on it during the competition when Kandi chose to square off against Natalie, but it was too late by this point. Her best move is not to work with them because she's even lower than Tamar on their totem pole of power and allegiance.
As for Dina, she came out of the woodwork today to finally start talking strategy, blowing Tom's mind. But she was absolutely right in seeing the power structure in the house with Natalie and Lolo -- everyone but Tom underestimates Ricky's influence.
But even Dina and Tom's master strategy session didn't see the biggest alliance in the house. Which brings us to...
With all the fighting early on, and the women clearly on opposite sides of the visible divide in the house, it was a brilliant revelation to see this week that they are still on the same page with one another. The athletes think Tamar is in their pocket, but she's not.
They also think Kandi is trying to play both sides, but she's not. She's made her choice. But her ultimate allegiance is to Tamar and we're not sure anyone sees it. They steal a few moments here and there to confirm what's going on, and they may not always see eye to eye, but how brilliant when they compare notes and get the best perspective in the house.
No other alliance is fully embedded on both sides of the house, so no other alliance sees everything. Right now, the winds are saying break up the athlete's alliance. Overall, they'd probably be better working with Tom and Dina because they've got a better shot of beating them in a competition and making it to the end.
But whatever they decide, they're sitting in the best position in the house, and nobody knows it.
Kandi Burruss takes over the top spot for brilliantly creating a surprise alliance with Tom and Dina, all the while staying primarily loyal to Tamar. With the women on both sides of the house, they're perfectly positioned to protect one another and sail right to the end ... or damned close! Grade: A+
Tamar Braxton climbs back toward the top of the rankings this week for brilliantly working both the athlete's alliance and her stealth alliance with Kandi. She also proved she's willing to listen and sees the bigger game for what it is. She and Kandi are looking very good right now. Grade: A
Tom Green is in the toughest spot in the game. He's got the power now but he can't have it next week. And if someone in his alliance doesn't get it, he's absolutely the biggest target on his side of the house. And if he's put on the block next to Tamar or Kandi he's gone, because they'll stay loyal to each other. He needs his people in power just one HOH longer. Grade: B
Ricky Williams may be on the block, but we're not ready to count him out just yet. Tom sees him as a huge target, but even his own alliance is more worried about the power duo of Lolo and Natalie. Tom's right in that Ricky is the bigger threat, just because of the strong mental game he's playing. But if anyone can talk his way out of this sticky situation, it's Ricky. Grade: B-
Dina Lohan finally showed up to play and slid into the smartest alliance in the house. It may be too little, too late for her to even think about winning this season (unless she prepares one hell of a speech), unless she's dealing with a bitter jury. The athletes keep talking about how she and Kandi have no blood on their hands, so maybe they're anticipating a bitter jury who will take everything personally. Grade: C+
Lolo Jones is not on the block, but she nearly was. And she still might be. It's hard to say how the Power of Veto might shake up these nominations, but there's a good chance one of the athletes gets pulled off. Hell, Tom might do it himself if he wins depending on how he feels about who needs to go first. Bottom line, their alliance is likely doomed. Grade: C-
Natalie Eva Marie is too good socially to stay much longer in the game, on top of her physical capabilities. She's far less volatile than Lolo and well-liked enough that should she make it to the end, she'll have a very strong case. That makes her one of the biggest targets on the athletes side, and she lacks Ricky's calm, cool, collected mind to strategize a way out of it. She's more direct and in your face, which won't help in this situation. Grade: D
"Welcome back to the house. Sorry you got to stay another day or two ... or three or four or five or six." Lolo (to Tom, the pause says everything)
"Tom is like a lost puppy now that Kato is gone. I need to make sure I bring him over to my side so that we can take out one of the big dogs." Kandi
"I need Tom to be motivated and fighting with us. Because if he doesn't, myself, Tom or Dina; two of us are going on the block." Kandi
"I'm back!" Omarosa
"He's really good at this." Lolo"So we're all going to have to pick Tom." Natalie"He wins everything." Dina
"First game, my strategy worked. If you're gonna challenge me Lolo, guess what? I'm just going to get better and better at this. Not a smart move." Tom
"It just feels like the bad guy in the movie is winning." Lolo (after Tom beats her in the HOH competition)
"What? What is Kandi doing here? Did she forget that we just saved her. She's ready to hop, skip and go to the other side just 'cause Tom's looking strong in this competition. They both gotta go." Lolo (no, she was already with Tom)
"I did it for you, Kato, I did it for you." Tom (after winning HOH)