It was a whole week of "Big Brother" in one hour with a Head of Household competition, a Power of Veto competition and two people evicted, leaving the final five.
We watch "Big Brother" to laugh, to cringe and to marvel at how people really behave. We never go into an episode expecting to tear up and get emotional, but that's what this double eviction did to us!
Always the season's most wild and unpredictable night, everyone was vulnerable going into the night and they didn't even know it. Sure, Cliff and Jessica were on the block as the hour began, but that's what we knew.
What we didn't know was who was going to immediately win Head of Household, who they were going to nominate, who would win Power of Veto, what they would do with it, and finally, who would be the second person evicted.
And with so little time to talk or strategize, mistakes are often made on this tumultuous night as wires get crossed, feelings get hurt and misunderstandings can turn into surprise evictions.
As Julie Chen says, though, "But first..." We needed to deal with the remnants of Michie's HOH reign and his nominees, Cliff and Jessica.
Michie and Holly have made no secret about wanting to eliminate Jessica so that the remaining two couples (Cliff & Nicole and Christie & Tommy) would take shots at one another, assuring Michie and Holly further placement in the game. It's a risky strategy, but one that could pay off.
The only wrinkle in it was that Christie wasn't buying it at all and she was (rightly) convinced that Michie and Holly had some kind of Final 4 with Cliff and Nicole. It's good information, but only as useful as you can do something about it.
Unfortunately for Christie and Tommy, they didn't have the numbers alone to take out Cliff and so apparently -- in an effort to appease the HOH and make nice moving forward -- they didn't even try. It was a unanimous vote that sent the last lone wolf in the game, Jessica, to jury.
In her exit interview, she boldly predicted that Michie would be coming right behind her. Or at least she hoped he would. Double eviction is all about taking that shot to get out power players and shrewd talkers. Michie is definitely one of those, but he's not the only one.
If you would have told us a Head of Household competition would have us on the edge of our seats like this, we wouldn't have believed it. But that's what happened when Nicole took an early lead ahead of Tommy and Cliff in the puzzle portion of this game. And while we believed she could win this half, the second required her to hit a ball into a net with a hockey stick.
Nicole is many things, but athletic is not one of them. And as she missed her first shot, Tommy finished his puzzle. This was an absolute nailbiter because if Tommy won, then he and Christie would target Michie and Holly. If Nicole won, she would likely target Christie and Tommy. Both are power couples, but whichever way it goes could dictate the course of the game.
And then we threw all of those concerns out the window when Nicole secured victory with her second shot to take her first competition win of the season. Talk about stepping up at the right moment! She was so overcome with emotion it oozed out through the television and touched the show's jaded viewers, too. Nicole may just be the sweetest person ever.
As expected, Nicole quickly put Tommy and Christie on the block, with Christie her preferred target. And since Christie is one of the people who could easily win this game just by what she's accomplished so far in staying alive and manipulating everyone, it was a smart move.
With both of them on the block, Nicole was assured one of them going so long as Michie and Holly stayed true to their Final 4, and why wouldn't they? But in another nailbiter, it came down to the final question between Nicole's closest ally, Cliff, and her target, Christie.
Christie needed this one to save her bacon after being on the block for the fifth straight time, but she fell just one short and Cliff backed up Nicole's play just as Holly and Michie had been backing one another.
And like a good ally, he honored her wishes and her nominees, leaving them the same. And just like that, the longest-standing relationship in the house -- actually predating the house -- was set to be torn asunder.
Tommy may be the stronger physical competitor, but we feel that the remaining HouseGuests would rather play the final weeks of this game with him than with Christie. She is volatile and sneaky and compelling. If anyone could break up a Final 4, it's Christie. It wouldn't be the first alliance she'd broken this season through her words.
Tommy might stand a chance of winning his way forward, or at least winning enough to break the Final 4, but they nevertheless chose to go with the guy who brings nothing but positive vibes to the house over the gal who manifests paranoia, tears and anger at the drop of a Veto chip.
At least once it was over, Christie appeared to calm down and showed a much more likable side of herself. Gone was the paranoia and the freaking out constantly. It was as if the stress monster that had consumed her game these past months had finally lifted and she could breathe. Getting evicted might be the best thing for her.
It's certainly going to be the best thing for the game, as it genuinely looks like everyone left will be playing with positive intentions and as much integrity as this game allows.
Cliff is a shrewd player and a smart strategist. Will he honor the Final 4 and eliminate Tommy next, or will he see the value in breaking up the showmance that stands between him and the half-million dollars? He's made hard decisions before, and hurt feelings (Kat), but he's willing to do what he has to do and that might be enough. Grade: A
Holly has built an impressive resume and is likely to outlast Michie in this game, if they both don't make it to the end. Luckily, she's done her part in their showmance dominance these past three weeks, but would still have to argue how she played her own game outside of Michie with the jury. If she can do that, though, she stands a good chance. Grade: B+
Michie got out his white whale, and in doing so he positioned himself as the strongest competitor in the house and the most likely to win if he actually makes it to the finale. That said, he is an absolutely huge target so he's going to have a real hard time getting there. But if he can power himself there, which we know he is capable of, he might well be this season's inevitable winner. Grade: B
Nicole won her first competition, but it's probably too little too late to salvage her chance at winning the game, unless this is just the first of an unlikely run of wins. Her best chance of making the finals now is either alongside Cliff or someone willing to take her because they're sure they can beat her. Grade: B-
Tommy may be down, but he's not out. He has a great relationship with everyone in the house and in the jury, which makes him a huge threat for the other four players. He has wins under his belt, he's been loyal throughout the game and everyone loves him. That's reason enough to evict him before finale night. Plus, without Christie, he is on the outside looking at a four-person alliance and they're unlikely to crack. After all, Holly and Michie probably don't see Nicole or Cliff as real threats. Tommy is. Grade: C
Christie lasted a full month longer in this house than she should have, and may have lasted longer if she could have kept her cool even a little bit when Michie and Holly tried to call on her favors. But Christie doesn't do chill, and her paranoia and aggressive manipulation of the game was just too dangerous and too volatile. She's too good at swaying people to take the risk of keeping her. Grade: F
Jessica fell victim to the perception that she's a mental beast. But more than that, she was not part of a duo and yet had a relationship with Christie, effectively creating a trio. Mainly, though, Jessica's direct strategy of saying she was targeting Michie and the boys was just too transparent. Grade: F
"This only works as long as the two parties don't find out about each other and our relationship with them." --Michie (playing Cliff/Nicole and Tommy/Christie off of each other)
"We are playing a game that is very high risk." --Holly
"Yeah, but I love it because it is high risk, high reward." --Michie
"Michie and Holly have been really making Cliff and Nicole feel safe. Realistically, not one of us stands a chance of getting into a final two if they remain in this game. So hopefully I can get the rest of the house together going into this next HOH because one of them needs to go this week." --Christie
"I just want you to know that he is making it very clear to me and Tommy that he is working with me and Tommy. I'm not taking that bait even a little bit." --Christie (to Cliff)
"If we don't win we're f--ked." --Michie
"And I did not come here to take sixth place to Christie motherf--king Murphy." --Holly
"How big of a mistake did Michie make in targeting you this week?" --Julie
"I think I'll see him coming out the door in this next one." --Jessica
"In this hour?" --Julie
"Oh yeah." --Jessica (But not so much)
"Oh god, I hope I get a picture. I just want a picture." --Nicole (hoping "Big Brother" gives her at least a picture as double-eviction HOH)
I may not be the most athletic, but I can do a freaking puzzle!" --Nicole