"We ask that you give us the grace to not judge, that you give America the grace to not judge this decision."
At the top of Thursday night's live broadcast, Julie Chen reiterated the "Big Brother" motto to "expect the unexpected." That's certainly how the hour played out, and it changes the game completely.
There was already a lot up in the air, as the Backstage Pass twist was dominating the week and leaving the potential fates of the three recipients (Alyssa, Brittany and Paloma) in jeopardy, even if they didn't know how exactly that would happen.
And then there were Taylor and Terrance, nominated by Head of Household Daniel. So there were five total Houseguests in jeopardy with absolutely zero explanation as to what it all meant -- until tonight.
Finally, Julie explained to the entire House how the twist works. America had been voting to save one Backstage Pass holder. Then, the House would have had to select one of the remaining two to battle it out with one of the nominated Houseguests.
She did not explain how the nominated Houseguest would be chosen, though, as she also explained that there would be no vote. Of course, in the end, none of this happened. And America's votes to save Brittany only tells viewers that she's liked in the House -- or at least more than Alyssa and Paloma).
It's not a huge surprise, as Alyssa and Paloma are in a tight Final 2 alliance and the latter has been spearheading a campaign to get Taylor out almost since the first day. Her behavior has been bordering on obsessive in her drive, but it was also effective. That's how Taylor wound up this week's Replacement nominee after Michael saved himself from the Block with the Power of Veto.
Tonight, we saw Taylor trying to do some damage control, emotionally devastated when she was told she was making people feel unwelcome. Paloma actually commiserated with her through her tears, despite being the one who's been gunning for her hardcore all week.
As Taylor continued to do her recovery tour, she uncovered that Paloma had told Monte that Taylor spilled that Paloma was gunning for the guys. Taylor said that she was being misunderstood, so went to explain it to Monte.
She told him she was trying to give him a heads up that Paloma was paranoid about a guys' alliance and she wanted him to go smooth things over with her. Instead, he told her Taylor was throwing her under the bus.
But when Taylor tried to clear the air with Paloma, Paloma wasn't having it. She didn't even want to hear her out and let her know in a very rude way. She then asked if she was being rude, which was a little odd and disconcerting.
This odd behavior continued as Paloma continued saying erratic things in the House, genuinely worrying her fellow Houseguests. She also revealed she'd been getting somewhere between two to four hours of sleep in the House per night, which compounds pretty quickly.
What happened was she made her way into the Diary Room and never came back out. Instead, Daniel read a letter through tears that she would not be returning to the game due to "personal matters." Monte then led them in a prayer asking for grace for Paloma, as no one knows what she's going through, but everyone hopes she can get what she needs now that she's out of the House.
It's a huge shift for the entire House, though, as Paloma has been the primary mover and shaker of incidents in the House, for good and bad. She also was a part of the Girls' Girls alliance, as well as a secondary one formed this week with Ameerah, Alyssa, Kyle, Monte and Michael (after the boys decided Pooch couldn't be trusted).
It was a huge blow to the morale of the House, but it also turned into a huge game changer for how Thursday was going to play out. As Julie explained how the Backstage twist worked, she then explained that none of that was going to happen.
As Paloma was one of those with a Backstage Pass and she was out, that twist was over and Alyssa and Brittany were safe. As a Backstage Pass holder was going to battle one of the nominees and Paloma was already gone, both nominees were declared safe, too. It was basically a huge reset for the game, and a stay of execution for the beleaguered Taylor.
Her damage control this week seemed to work with everyone except for Paloma, so there's a chance she will genuinely get a fresh start as a new week of competition begins.
That week began immediately, too. The 15 remaining Houseguests filed outside and the 14 who were not just Head of Household (sorry Daniel) were randomly paired up to run an obstacle race across the backyard.
That meant seven of them would move on to compete to be the next HOH. The seven winners were Michael, Taylor, Joseph, Ameerah, Jasmine, Kyle and Monte. But that's where we left things. The next round won't happen until Sunday's episode when we'll see who takes power and what they do with it.
It's a whole new game and anything is possible. And with Paloma gone, no one is really gaming all that hard. Someone is going to have to step up to fill that void. Who cares enough to try and take control of the game?
And what did Julie mean by saying that Thursday night next week
Nicole Layog (41) is calm and level-headed and we are still on board with everything about her. She didn't do a whole lot in this episode, but her presence was clearly one of graceful reserve and she is respected in the House. She's also good right now with girls and guys, so no one is in a better spot. Grade: A-
Ameerah Jones (31) did say she wanted to go after Pooch, but Brittany sharing that intel to Pooch backfired horrible on her because Pooch ran and told Ameerah about it, who was immediately able to deny, deny, deny. We think she dodged and weaved her way out of this one. Another strong competition showing and we see the beginnings of a very good "BB" player here. Grade: A-
Monte Taylor (27) had the decency to hear Taylor out and accept her explanation, owning that he needs to take a little more time to get the full story moving forward. If he holds to that, he has a lot of influence in the game as people appear to listen to him and respect his word. He showed some integrity, which means he is engendering trust, which is a powerful ally in this game. Grade: B
Daniel Durston (35) is now coming out of power, and while we've been overall impressed with his intelligence and competition prowess, we weren't as impressed with the gameplay he chose as it was a bit of a Week 1 copout (though we understand the value in that). For now, he's in our good graces, but it will hinge on how he plays out of power if he stays that way. Grade: B-
Alyssa Snider (24) lost her ride-or-die when Paloma left the House, but we've been impressed with her own social game as a Backstage Pass holder. She branched out of this Girls' Girls alliance by adding one with a few guys in it, so she's starting to think bigger picture and keeping her options open, so she's actually in a good position despite losing Paloma. Grade: C+
Michael Bruner (28) saved himself from the Block and then he was sought as a replacement for Pooch in the new Final 6 alliance, which means people are seeing him as someone they want to work with. He's a strong competitor, a savvy player, he knows this game and now he's in a position where people want to work with him. That's a pretty sweet spot to be in. Grade: C+
Kyle Caapener (29) may seem silly and outrageous on television, but he's clearly making a positive impact in the house with his social game as he, too, was courted for this new Final 6 alliance. And with Ameerah souring on the GIrls' Girls, this alliance may hold more weight as it moves forward. Grade: C+
Indy Santos (31), Jasmine Davis (29), Joseph Abdin (24) and Matt "Turner" Turner (23) are still in the House and they're playing their social games from what we can tell, but that's about it right now. If Jasmine or Joseph gain power, then we expect their grades to rise considerably. Grade: C
Terrance Higgins (47) was saved by the departure of Paloma, though we don't think he was in any danger. He seems to be well-liked in the House, but he's going to need to start playing strategically if he wants to enjoy a real long summer in the House. Grade: C-
Taylor Hale (27) is in a very odd position in that she was unfairly targeted in the House and now the person who tried to destroy her game is gone. It's a celebration in that she has a future again, but also not because it was unfortunate circumstances that led to Paloma's departure. Still, she has a clean slate and she did pretty effective damage control. Will she slide into the invisible middle, or play hard? clear Grade: C
Joe "Pooch" Pucciarelli (24) seems to have rubbed some people the wrong way. Ameerah has said she wants him gone. Monte and Kyle talked the girls into not putting him in their new Final 6 alliance. It's not entirely clear from the broadcast shows what he's doing wrong socially, but it's still early in the game, so it doesn't take much at this point to find a quick exit. Grade: C-
Brittany Hoopes (32) tired an olive branch with Pooch by throwing Ameerah under the bus for targeting him, but it backfired when Pooch went straight to Ameerah. She appears to be in a bit of a panic right now, even after she denied it to Ameerah. She didn't have much room to stand on, and Ameerah appears to be a stronger and savvier game player, so that could be bad news for Brittany -- it certainly eroded her trust factor a lot. Grade: C-
Paloma Aquilar (22) was a difficult Houseguest to watch. She showed signs of microagressions and even racism (unconscious or conscious is unclear) in her blind attacks. It was easy to villainize her early on, but now she appears to have suffered a mental health crisis of some sort exacerbated by lack of sleep and nutrition and "Big Brother" paranoia. So while she wasn't easy to watch or like in the House... Grade: We also hope she gets what she needs outside of the House
If you or someone you know needs help with mental health text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
"As you know, our motto has always been, 'Expect the unexpected.' And that, tonight, could not be more true." --Julie Chen
"The Backstage twist that has been playing out all week was supposed to culminate tonight live, but an unexpected turn of events has now changed everything." --Julie Chen
"To be told that you are making people feel unwelcome-- I never want to be that person, and that hurts more than being put on the Block." --Taylor (crying in Diary Room)
"Taylor being the replacement nominee is obviously what I wanted to happen, but seeing her go through this honestly breaks my heart. But as bad as I feel for Taylor, a plan is a plan, we have to be committed." --Paloma
"That was hard to hear." --Taylor (to Paloma after nominations)
"I know, I can't even imagine." --Paloma (but you're the one that orchestrated it)
"I'm gonna be honest, you shouldn't have said you were in pageants and stuff because people will stereotype you. I try to look out for everyone in this game; I really am. It f---ing breaks my heart.' --Paloma (to Taylor, the one who stereotyped her)
"If you have one friend out of this, it's me." --Paloma (to Taylor)
"What I was trying to communicate was, Hey, talk to Paloma and assure here the guys aren't coming after the girls in this big alliance." --Taylor (clarifying what she meant to Monte)
"Whatever it is, honestly, I don't even give a shit. My head is so far removed. Like, I'm telling you, Taylor, right now, I don't want to hear it. And I'd rather go to sleep than hear you try and explain yourself, 'cause I'm so tired. And that sounds rude-- Is that rude? Am I being rude?" --Paloma (shutting down Taylor trying to clarify)
"It's a little rude as f---, yeah." --Taylor
"You talked to Brittany." --Pooch (to Ameerah after Brittany told him Ameerah was targeting him)
"No, we're friends, though. I thought we were friends." --Ameerah
"I use my anxiety to create this game. That's what's happening here." --Paloma (not sleeping)
"I hope these cameras are off because I want some privacy. I'm freaking exhausted. I can't sleep in this house. Honestly, I want to leave. We should leave together." --Paloma (to Turner)
"Yeah, later on. Later on." --Turner
"She told me to vote her out today." --Alyssa (about Paloma)
"I don't know how I'm alive, quite frankly." --Paloma (going into the Diary Room)
"Due to a personal matter, Paloma will no longer be continuing in the "Big Brother" game. She wanted to pass along that she loves you all and wishes you all the best." --Daniel (to House)
"We ask that you give us the grace to not judge, that you give America the grace to not judge this decision." --Monte (praying with House about Paloma)
"I just really hope she's okay. And outside the House, she finds what she needs. Definitely." --Turner
"We need to be careful of our mental health. We cannot help anyone if we don't take care of ourselves." --Indy
"Big Brother" airs Sundays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET and Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.