Emotions get heated as the House tries to figure out who to send packing, with one member of The Cookout ready to quit the power alliance.
When you're firmly protected by the dominant alliance in the "Big Brother" house, it should take a lot for you to want to walk away ... but that's exactly what happened over this week's nominations.
Wednesday night's episode left viewers on a Veto cliffhanger as current Head of Household Derek X was poised to implement the backdoor plan he'd been implementing since he was hanging on the wall dreaming of power.
After Britini won the Power of Veto, it was inevitable she would take herself off the Block, setting DX up with the opportunity to get rid of the biggest threat in the house, Christian. But with Christian lobbying hard and DX getting pressure from all sides, did he go through with it?
Proving that he continues to play with his head, even when it's hard for his compassionate side, DX indeed slid Christian into that seat. On a personal level, we can see how that sucks, but from a game standpoint, it was a great move. Christian is DX's biggest competition threat, followed probably by Xavier and Kyland.
We're not sure why exactly it is, but the women have really struggled in competitions this season, with guys taking every HOH so far, and every Veto except for Britini's win this week (Sarah Beth and Tiffany each won a Wild Card comp, but they've really been overshadowed overall).
At the same time, three of the first four people to leave the House have been men, and DX's plan was for Christian to become the fourth guy. That leaves four guys and seven women in the House. If ever an all-girls alliance could work, it would be this season!
Where there's smoke, there's fire. And Tiffany was bringing all the smoke this week, basically by doing what she does. She just seems to be getting a little more direct in her machinations, which is potentially dangerous.
Tiffany has been pulling strings and manipulating this game since the beginning. We've seen her butt heads with Azah already over Britini getting nominated all over again. Azah plays with her heart and Tiffany doesn't have time for that nonsense.
At the same time, the Jokers have become a tight alliance because all three of them are very emotional players. So when Tiffany wanted to talk with Britini this week about her vote, in an effort to maybe flip the House and save Christian, her Joker allies (Azah and Derek F) both came in with her.
This didn't sit well with Tiffany, but Tiffany had already been starting to grate on DF's nerves by basically telling him and Britini that if they don't tell Christian that he doesn't actually have their votes, then she will.
We get that they're trying to save face, but it was putting Tiffany in an awkward spot because Christian was convinced she was the swing vote when Tiffany wasn't even close to that. The truth is, he didn't have the numbers to stay.
All of it was too much for DF, who took issue with Tiffany basically telling him how it was going to be, and that she would come clean if they didn't (she was true to her word on this, though Christian had a hard time hearing and believing it).
After Tiffany warned him and Britini, in front of Azah, DF stewed about it and actually declared to Azah that he wanted out of The Cookout alliance altogether. She was able to talk him down, but it's clear that this alliance is fraying at the edges. After Tiffany complained to Xavier and Hannah, they realized that it was in trouble.
An alliance that is not an alliance but rather a cultural statement of support that Black people would not target Black people in this House is a beautiful sentiment, but one that's going to be very hard to hold together. We still think it might, as the six seem to bicker like family, but come together in the end.
Even if it doesn't, though, the six have already done something remarkable by keeping completely off the House radar with their alliance and setting themselves up beautifully with the endgame in sight. That's also a good reason to keep on keeping on, even when it gets hard. Because it's working!
In a last-minute effort, Tiffany and Xavier -- who've thus far proven very adept at controlling the house -- decided to see if it would be possible to flip the House vote and save Christian over Sarah Beth. They're right in that Christian would be a huge shield to protect both of their games, but people have been burned keeping comp beasts in the House too long.
Ultimately, though we didn't get to see exactly why, they weren't able to swing it and Christian was voted out. Only his bromance (Xavier) and showmance (Alyssa) voted to save him, but it wasn't to be.
At least Alyssa got a passionate kiss on his way out the door. We loved the Houseguest's reactions to the surprise moment, with everyone hooting and hollering as Christian really went for it, taking his moment. For the rest of the broadcast, as the House kept carrying on about it, Alyssa remained deep in thought. Embarrassment or was she thinking about it.
In his exit interview, Christian suggested that he was interested in pursuing life with her outside the House, but basically also said that two months is a long time without seeing one another. That sounds like someone who isn't going to make too big of an effort to wait.
That doesn't mean he won't be open to exploring things with her when the season ends and she comes out, but he's probably going to play in the meantime, keeping it casual and taking full advantage of his heightened celebrity.
With his departure, the House achieved something else unprecedented. Not only does this mean half of the guys who started in this game are gone already, but every person evicted thus far has been white, and there are no white guys left.
On a show that has been criticized for POC getting evicted early and often in the game, while all-white alliances dominate, it's amazing what a difference a real effort at casting diversity brings. And to top it off, this is probably one of the best casts we've seen in a long time, with nary a hugely problematic or misogynistic or racist person among them.
While it hasn't been unleased yet, Julie Chen did reveal to the Houseguests that the next twist of the season is upon them (and us) for the next three weeks. Each week, America will be voting for their favorite Houseguests.
The top three vote-getters will each score 100 BBBucks. The next three get 75 BBBucks and everyone else nabs 50. This money can be spent in the "High Roller's Room" where they can gamble toward huge prizes like the ability to take yourself off the Block, a second Veto or something even greater. The bigger the prize, the bigger the cost.
It remains to be seen how this will impact the game moving forward, but it's certain to wreak havoc with whatever comes next. And just what this game will look like in the immediate future is as much a mystery as that top prize because we didn't get a HOH competition.
Will the guys continue to dominate the major comps, even outnumbers 7 to 4 right now by women? Will The Cookout manage to regain power with their 6 to 5 advantage? Will it even stay together? Do any other alliances really exist or matter in the House right now?
Kyland Young (30) rises thanks to his low-key and calm gameplay during a week when tensions and tempers began to flare. He kept himself very chill, didn't try to make any big moves or rock the boat. On top of that, Christian gone helps him as he's been a quiet comp beast himself (he did win the first HOH). Paired with his off-the-radar play, and he's probably in the best position right now. Grade: A
Hannah Chaddha (21) is the beneficiary of her own alliance members not having as good of a week, while she continues to play a very sharp game. Yes, people know she is very smart and strategic, but she is also very well-protected and not rocking any boats. So far, her game is very clean and very strong, proving you don't need wins to be winning. Grade: A
Xavier Prather (27) is another player who benefits from Christian's departure as one of the most physical guys in the house who's also an incredible mental competitor. He may be DX's most direct competitor. But we had to dock him slightly for trying to orchestrate a flip in the House to save Christian that failed, showing his influence isn't as strong as we (or perhaps he) thought. He's still in a great spot, though. Grade: A-
Tiffany Mitchell (40) is getting docked for the same reason, but also for creating friction within her own alliance. Her intellectual, dispassionate gameplay is very impressive, but she can't lose sight that this is also a social game so it's important not to start pissing everyone off -- especially people in your own alliance. We haven't lost faith in her, but she needs to smooth things over or she will get targeted. Grade: B+
Derek Xiao (24) is poised to take advantage of cracks in The Cookout alliance and he doesn't even know it exists. He's proven himself a competitor and someone willing to make big moves. With big shields disappearing fast, the other big competitors will be more willing to keep him around. This could all change in a heartbeat if Alyssa gets power (or maybe Xavier), but for now, we think he's okay. Grade: B+
Azah Awasum (30) might be bristling still under the protection of The Cookout, and she definitely has her own issues with Tiffany, but she's also smart enough to know that it's better to be in the shade than out in the heat. She did a good job of talking DF out of quitting. She's definitely toward the bottom of that six right now, but playing it smart. Grade: B
Claire Renfuss (25) might be in a better position than we first thought, simply because Tiffany seems to be really close with her and has her back. The two are strategizing together. Tiffany will still cut her before The Cookout, but that's only assuming The Cookout lasts that long. We also suspect Tiffany will keep Claire as long as she can, just as an option because loyalty is so hard to find. Grade: B-
Derek Frazier (29) almost quit The Cookout and he's definitely a hothead. He can be talked down as needed, but he's allowing himself to get fired up. If he makes himself a strategic liability, his great social game may not be able to save him. We think he'll be able to hold it together, but he's got strong Joker loyalty, too, and it may be stronger than his Cookout loyalty. Grade: C+
Britini D'Angelo (24) made her mark with that big Veto win, but she's still a target and she's still in trouble, though she'll clearly have DF and Azah fighting for her even within The Cookout. Should their loyalty be tested, we're not sure which way it would go. And if they decide to burn The Cookout, it could be devastating to them, but a saving grace for Britini. Grade: C
Alyssa Lopez (25) is the easiest target in the House, though not necessarily one that makes a lot of sense. With Christian gone, she's now a singleton who hasn't won anything and doesn't really have any super-strong alliances. She's absolutely expendable, though, which could be enough unless she starts making new relationships and alliances fast. Her fate right now is entirely in her hands. Grade: C
Sarah Beth Steagall (28) is a big target in the House right now, having almost gotten evicted this week even as a pawn. She's a smart, strategic player and she's gunning for Hannah, thus making her a threat to The Cookout. She's got Xavier in her corner, but with his whole team on the radar right now, his loyalty will likely lean Cookout. Grade: C
Christian Birkenberger (23) did nothing specifically wrong, he just got outplayed. It remains to be seen if it will come back to haunt DX later, but for now, it was a good game move and one that should be respected. Christian was the biggest threat in the House and after seasons where that threat has remained unchecked and won, it's nice to see someone willing to take the big shot. Grade: F
"Christian, it's no secret to anyone in this house that you are a large, competitive threat to everyone in this room. I'm sorry." --Derek X (nominating Christian)
"Derek X is a coward for putting me up on a week when I don't even have a chance to compete for my own safety." --Christian
"Christian is the best option to be sitting next to me. I don't really need to campaign against him, he's a walking campaign against himself." -Sarah Beth
"You got stuck with s--- duty because she was selfish. She's on the Block because she didn't go for Veto." --Christian (to Derek X about Sarah Beth crying to keep $5k during Veto comp)
"It's in my best interest for you to stay." --Christian (to Derek X, getting it backwards)
"I'm worried about you and Claire. Your hug seemed like a goodbye hug." --Christian (to Tiffany)
"I will vote with the House." --Tiffany (to Christian)
"But the thing is, you and Claire are the House, because you're the swing." --Christian
"If he asks me again for my vote because he thinks he has yours, I am only going to be forced to say, Britini is not voting for you." --Tiffany (to Britini)
"That's putting her in a difficult position." --Azah
"It's putting me in a position. He's pressuring me like I'm a swing vote and I'm not." --Tiffany (wanting Britini and Derek F to come clean to Christian that he doesn't have their votes)
"I'm not worried about that bitch." --Derek F (to Azah about Tiffany)
"So my mindset right now is I think I'm gonna go to each person and tell them I don't want to be a part of this alliance anymore." --Derek F (to Azah about Cookout)
"I don't listen to no one except my mother and God. Last time I checked, she is not my mother Sherry, and she is not God Himself." --Derek F (about Tiffany)
"Do I look like I have a clown face on my face right now? Please, tell me so I can squeeze the red nose." --Derek F
"I think people have you believing that you need one more vote. I am telling you, you need three and not one of those Jokers, regardless of what they are telling you, are voting for you to stay." --Tiffany (to Christian)
"But Big D and Britini--" --Christian
"Big D and Britini are flip-floppers." --Tiffany
"Why does me going home, how does that help you take him out?" --Christian (to Tiffany about Derek X)
"Let's go flip a House." --Xavier (to Tiffany)
"The thing is, I don't trust Ky, I don't trust SB. The people we've been working with the longest--" --Claire (to Tiffany)
"We don't trust!" --Tiffany
"Are we flipping?" --Claire
"If we're all on the same page, we should be able to talk freely, right?" --Derek F (crashing Tiffany's attempted chat with Claire and Britini)
"If we The Cookout and I wanna f------ talk to Britini, why y'all gotta come in like her bodyguards against me?!" --Tiffany (to Xavier and Hannah)
"We had one job. One." --Hannah (to Xavier after Tiffany leaves)
"To stay together as the six. For the culture." --Xavier
"He planned that last night. He was like, 'I'm gonna grab her by her face, pull her in." --Tiffany (about Christian's farewell kiss to Alyssa)