Finally, Cookout members start exploring the hierarchy within the alliance and what they can do about their place in it -- but will anyone make a move against it?
We've reached a pivotal moment in the "Big Brother" house, even though there is still so much game to play. Is Derek X getting evicted -- as is Head of Household Sarah Beth's masterplan -- really the best move for everyone in The Cookout?
As with any larger alliance, there are sub-alliances within that group. By Tiffany design, Each Cookout member also has a side alliance going, which is only making the waters even murkier as the weeks pass.
Side deals to keep The Cookout off the radar have blossomed into real relationships. And while everyone seems razor-focused on the mission of The Cookout (to ensure a Black player wins the game ... and get all six to the Top 6), it's not always a perfect fit.
That's because aligning based on ethnicity isn't necessarily going to mesh as well as alignments based on personalities. The mission is noble and it's a powerful statement the Houseguests are trying to make on a show with a problematic relationship with race (to put it mildly).
But it's not necessarily the best strategy for all six members of The Cookout because they can't all six win. And various of them have started to realize (or at least believe) that they are on the bottom of that alliance.
Add Tiffany to that list, who said as much on Thursday night's show while chatting with Azah. Azah seems to think Kyland is as well, but that might depend on who we're talking about. Xavier might want him gone as a physical threat.
We'd also argue that Azah herself might be toward the bottom, unless someone was going to try and take her to the end as someone they think they could beat. Of the six, she has played the least aggressive and overt game, so it might be thought she would have the least respect among jurors.
One note that Tiffany made to Azah and Hannah was that she'd much rather see a woman win than a man. And unfortunately, the show has a history of rewarding men for the same cutthroat gameplay they punish women for in the final vote. Best way to ensure that doesn't happen? Have no man there.
The biggest question for The Cookout, though, is when to break apart. Should they do it before they are the Final Six, or wait until then and duke it out with three men and three women? Should the women take advantage of their numbers overall in the House and try to take control early?
At the same time, the longer a non-Cookout member is in the House, the more likely they'll take power and target Cookout members. Tiffany seemed okay with this, when she started working to save Derek X this week ... because he wouldn't be targeting her.
Men have absolutely dominated competitions this season, with Sarah Beth the first woman HOH of the summer. It would make sense to have a strong guy fully on her side in case that continues to happen, and she's not so confident that she has that in Xavier or Kyland.
We have to give props to Kyland for effectively controlling the narrative this week, shifting Sarah Beth's target to Derek X as a backdoor option. Xavier and Alyssa are close, and she did her part, too, by taking Derek F off the Block to make room for DX.
By the time Thursday night rolled around, no member of The Cookout was on the Block, assuring that all six would make it to the Top 9. It really is a remarkable thing they're doing, race statements aside.
That an alliance of six has so deftly kept themselves completely off the radar is amazing. In fact, so far as non-Cookout members know, there are no other alliances right now in the house, and we're blown away that they can think that's just the way it is. It's a testament to the members of The Cookout, as well as Tiffany's side piece strategy.
Ahead of the vote this week, we got some interesting and telling conversations between Tiffany and the ladies, as we mentioned, with Tiffany really fighting to keep DX in the House. What we don't know, though, is how it all fell apart?
It would seem that it all came down to Azah. DX got "sympathy" votes from Hannah and Kyland, as expected, due to his alliances in the house. Tiffany certainly appeared ready to give him hers, as well, if he could convince Azah. That would have flipped the house.
Instead, he only got those two votes and became the second member of the jury, where he'll likely start to figure things out quickly now that he won't be distracted by the stress of playing the game -- though he'll surely be distracted by Britini's excitability.
As devastating as it was for DX to go out like this, it's exactly how he got Christian out of the game. It's a strategy based on absolute respect for your abilities as a competitor. In a non-Cookout season, he'd probably have had a great run.
We can't help but wonder if producers will consider giving some of these players a second chance after this season's racial statement gets made, as even members of The Cookout are saying they'd play differently were it not for this need to make this statement.
NFTs were the name of the game when it came to this week's Head of Household competition, with Houseguests bombarded with adorable GIFs of their most memorable moments in the house to memorize ahead of tonight's live competition.
Now, there's a huge caveat to this week's HOH winner, because they may not hold onto power long, so their nominees and everything else they do could be rendered undone (potentially damaging their social game) by the flip of a coin.
Derek X was saving up to play in next week's Coin of Destiny. With his departure, it was looking like Derek F might be the only one with enough money to play (he has enough now) as America can only give 100, 75, or 50 BB Bucks and it takes BB250 to play the game.
That was before Julie Chen told them that each of them would get an envelope that would randomly give them BB100 or BB50 to add to their total this week. With that additional funding, there are only two Houseguests with no shot at making that (unless Julie comes up with another moneymaking scheme).
Thanks to his "BB Bankrupt" punishment for winning the Veto, Xavier has no BB Bucks, and neither does Alyssa after playing. At most, with BB100 in their envelope and BB100 form America, they'd still be BB50 short of the game. Everyone else has a path to playing, with a bit of luck and love from America.
Until then, the new Head of Household has time to plot and scheme and strategize. Round by round in the game, it got whittled down until only Alyssa, Hannah and Tiffany were left. In the end, Tiffany earned victory on her own with her first HOH win and the second by a woman this summer.
And we thought this past week was a pivotal moment. If the flip of a coin doesn't take it all away from her, Tiffany is in an incredibly powerful position this week. And she has a huge choice to make.
The obvious one is to target Sarah Beth and get her out of the house. It's also the safest and most likely one. SB is not playing well with others, and will eventually target Cookout members if she stays in the House too long.
By the same token, Kyland is her shield and closest ally. And that duo appears to be working closely with Xavier and Alyssa as another duo (with the ladies clearly on the bottom of that foursome). Both guys are in The Cookout, but talk about a power move if she could get one of them out.
Certainly, Tiffany's game would benefit from getting rid of the strong guys in the House, but it would damage her standing in The Cookout and make her a target from those remaining members. But she believes she's a target anyway once the six is all that remains, so it'll be interesting to see if she takes her shot.
And if it all gets taken away from her by the flip of a coin. Just winning the comp doesn't guarantee anything, but it will give the winner a 50/50 shot of taking power this week. Sunday will reveal all.
Tiffany Mitchell (40) finally takes full control of this game and she looks ready to make sure this HOH sets her up for the rest of her summer. The Coin of Destiny is a risk, but we look for her to make big moves and we definitely don't look for her to allow anyone whispering in her ear to influence her decisions. Tiffany has been thinking about this game all summer long. Grade: A+
Hannah Chaddha (21) is like the even colder, more calculated version of Tiffany. She may be on Tiffany's radar, but we don't think she'll be taking that shot anytime soon. Instead, we think Tiffany will try to work with her deeper into the game, and cut her before the end -- with Hannah likely doing the exact same thing. Both see the guys as a huge threat to their games, but will they strike soon enough? Grade: A
Xavier Prather (27) managed to control the vote this week, keeping The Cookout strong, even with a 24-hour solitary punishment. He is so strong in this game, and people don't quite realize how much he's controlling the flow of events. With Alyssa in his pocket, he's in an even stronger position, and yet no one seems to be feeling the need to target him; a testament to his social game. Grade: A-
Azah Awasum (30) is in a swing position this week, potentially. She's starting to show a little more savvy in her strategy, while flying way below the radar. She could have a huge roll if Tiffany and/or Hannah decide to make a move against the guys. For now, she's still floating, but not as much as it might appear on the surface. Grade: A-
Derek Frazier (29) is in his own game, too, and no one seems all that worried about him. We're not sure how strongly he stands with anyone outside of The Cookout, or if he'd be willing to disrupt that narrative, but we know he and Azah are close and a duo that people seem to forget about. They could have power in this game should they ever decide to grab it. Grade: B-
Claire Renfuss (25) rises considerably this week with Derek X getting evicted. Tiffany will likely again rally to her side, after lobbying to get her out this past week, which should keep Claire safe for not. But for now is about all she's got unless the ladies of The Cookout decide to make a big move before she's gone. Otherwise, the clock is ticking. Grade: C+
Kyland Young (30) is probably not in more danger than Claire this week, but we have to acknowledge that we believe Claire will actually consider him as an actual target. He's likely to see the Block alongside Sarah Beth as her outside-The-Cookout partner, but once he's up there, that's going to look like a pretty tempting target. Could it become the first shot taken from within The Cookout?. Grade: C
Alyssa Lopez (25) is now tightly aligned with Xavier, so if Tiffany wants to weaken the guys in The Cookout without taking them out, you do it by taking out their side deals. That puts Alyssa as a potential target, though we only see that happening if Sarah Beth somehow saves herself, Tiffany keeps her HOH reign all week and she decides to stand by The Cookout this week. Grade: C-
Sarah Beth Steagall (28) will probably follow Frenchie and Christian by following up an HOH reign with a chat with Julie next Thursday night. She's been a House target for weeks now, and she's too big of a threat to disrupt Cookout plans if she stays in the House. On top of that, it's an easy out for Tiffany, if she decides to play it safe. Dangerous would be more interesting, but this is almost certainly the House choice After all, if Derek X was the biggest comp threat in the House -- well, SB beat him this past week by a fraction of a second. Grade: D
Derek Xiao (24) went out because he was perceived as the biggest competition threat in the game. He is strong physically and mentally in the game, but he was on the outside of history with The Cookout. Any other season and we think he'd have been a huge threat to go to the end, and an incredibly deserving player. His only failure in the game was not believing himself when he actually (kind of) figured out the existence of The Cookout. Grade: F