An epic two-hour episode sees the first eviction of the season, a new Head of Household and the "Festie Bestie" twist which changes everything from strategy to how the very game will be played this summer.
Expect the unexpected was never more true in this week's two-hour installment of "Big Brother" which unleashed the big twist of the season -- and it changes absolutely everything.
Coming two weeks into the season, it was also applied in ways completely unexpected, so it will be interesting to see how "Festie Besties" plays out as the summer progresses. But first (ahem), there was the matter of this week's eviction.
Thanks to the latest January 6 hearing landing on Thursday in prime time, CBS bumped the eviction episode to Sunday, pairing it with the first new episode of the week. So, was it Taylor or Pooch that missed out on the big new twist?
And how will the twist change everything about the game? It changes how competitions are played, how nominations are chosen, and how the Veto works. And there's a twist not yet revealed for after evictions, so we'd say that's quite a bit.
Each episode, we'll break down the night's action, the competitions, the alliances, the backstabbing and the lies. Then we'll grade each contestant to see how they're doing in the game so far and how far we think they're going to go.
A house divided became a house united with a genuinely shocking 12-0 vote come eviction time. With Taylor on the Block, Jasmine was looking for an easy week and the House to boot last week's target, thus keeping her hand relatively blood free.
But then, Pooch offered himself up as a sacrificial pawn, feeling so confident in his social game and standing in the House that he couldn't fathom himself going home. He even went so far as to say Joseph was a bonehead for even suggesting the House might just decide to target him.
What was quickly becoming apparent to the entire House, and Julie Chen on the outside, was that this season's Houseguests were dividing among gender lines. The boys always seem to do this, but this season's girls (led by Paloma) were right there with it.
It's a little more complicated than that, though. A boys alliance did form, called The Oasis, including basically all of the guys save Daniel and Terrance. the Girls' Girls alliance featured all the girls save Nicole and Taylor.
But a third alliance kept threatening to upend the apple cart. Monte and Kyle both suggested they were double agents in the Oasis, as their true allegiance was with Ameerah, Alyssa, Michael and Nicole aka Po's Pack.
So the question before all of these aforementioned Houseguests -- particulary those dual-aligned, was which of these alliances was more real than the other.
As the week progressed, both Kyle and Monte started to worry that getting rid of Pooch would actually hurt their games as guys because they could see that the girls were working together. But with Paloma self-evicting, the guys already had an overall numbers advantage.
We never got full resolution as to their insecurities on that front before the final vote landed. And in a landslide that included Pooch's best friend in the house, Turner, he was evicted unanimously. That means, the Girls' Girls and Po's Pack got everyone in the House on board.
This early in the game, once you get wind that something is going to happen, it behooves you to get on board because one or two stray votes creates one or two new targets that are easy to pick off because they didn't play along.
To say Pooch was utterly blindsided was an understatement. And despite trying to play coy, Julie did suggest that we'd find out what Pooch thought of getting blindsided before it happened, so she too knew it was a done deal and the vote was just a formality.
She credited the Girls' Girls alliance with getting him out, which is fair, but had they not also gotten Po's Pack on board first it might not have worked as effectively as they were hoping.
Had this twist been introduced at the beginning of the game, we have a feeling it would have been implemented entirely differently. Julie revealed to the Houseguests that starting after this next Head of Household competition, they would be enjoying this festival-themed summer with their "Festie Bestie."
In other words, it's a duos or pairs twist. But at the same time, it absolutely is not because two weeks have passed, alliances have formed, and strategy looms. The Houseguests quickly picked up on the different strategies they could employ in picking a partner.
They could go with someone who could truly be their ride-or-die. They could go with someone they're not working with so they could throw their Bestie under the bus at the first opportunity.
And the Bestie twist impacts a whole lot of the way the game will play out (at least until they do away with the twist). When one Bestie wins HOH, their Bestie is also safe from the vote. Rather than nominate two Houseguests the HOH will nominate a pair of Besties.
The Power of Veto will be played in Bestie pairs and if it is used, it removes both nominee Besties, leaving the HOH to nominate a whole new set of Besties on the Block. On eviction night, though, only one of them will go. Julie left what happens to the one who stays for Thursday night's first Bestie eviction.
As for who their Besties would be, that was up to the Head of Household competition. They were tasked with holding onto a giant moving lighter. They had to hold it and a button down until the music stopped, then it was musical chairs only timed. The last to sit was eliminated. Also, if anyone let go of the button too soon, they were eliminated.
Once eliminated, Houseguests had a choice to either take an empty table and make themselves available for a Bestie, or choose a Bestie from someone already seated. Jasmine was the only one seated at the started, as outgoing HOH and ineligible to compete.
What was interesting was how cleverly the Houseguests immediately started strategizing their choices. Terrance was first out, and rather than choose to Bestie with Jasmine, he sat alone. Knowing that he's not seen as a great physical partner, he figured there was a good chance he'd be picked last.
The last person to pick would be the HOH, so he was gunning for safety for the week, and a partner good enough to win HOH. Brittany and Joseph made the same choice, taking empty seats.
Michael was the first Po's Pack member eliminated, so he decided it was better for him to partner with someone outside of his alliance, and he chose his in-house "bestie" Brittany. At least, she thinks their besties and maybe even ride-or-die together, but he's clearly thinking alliance first.
When Taylor was eliminated next, she eyed up those sitting at tables and decided she'd rather partner with someone still competing, so she took an empty table herself. Monte, though, followed Michael's line of thinking and went with Joseph.
It's not just about someone you think you can beat as a partner on the Block, too, but it's also about gaining information outside of the alliance. And for Monte, it's at least partially about the fact that Joseph is a big dude and could probably do well in comps, too.
Nicole chose Taylor as someone outside of Po's Pack and someone she's also willing to sit next to on the Block after Taylor being targeted two weeks in a row. After Indy and Daniel took the last two empty slots, Michael chose Daniel becaues he's not in Po's Pack with Alyssa doing the same with Indy.
Ameerah then chose Terrance, which absolutely crushed him as he was that close to partnering with the new HOH. But Ameerah is keepign her options open, and Jasmine is part of the GIrls' Girls alliance, while Terrance has no formal allegiances at all.
That meant Turner picked up his first official HOH of the season, and Jasmine got her second week of safety, which has to feel good for her as she's still nursing that twisted ankle. They're an odd duo, but there are a lot of those.
So to recap, the new Festie Bestie duos are as follows (and note that every member of Po's Pack is aligned with a non-member -- very clever):
Brittany & Michael
Joseph & Monte
Taylor & Nicole
Daniel & Kyle
Indy & Alyssa
Terrance & Ameerah
Jasmine & Turner
All that was left for Turner was to pick the Besties he wanted to put on the Block, and everybody seemed to have the same two ideas: Brittany & Michael and Taylor & Nicole. Even Nicole suggested that her own duo be backdoored so they can evict Taylor. That's cold!
It remains to be seen if that will play out, but Turner at least implemented what could be a Part 1 of that plan when he put Brittany & Michael on the Block. For him, though, it's more about Brittany sketching him out and he and Michael having too good a read on one another.
The big concern, though, is that MIchael is thus far the Veto king of the House, having won two of two. Now, with his back against the wall, he'll be gunning for it harder than ever. Brittany hasn't won anything, so will she pull him down? Will he lift her up? And if they come down, will Taylor's fate be sealed?
At first, we wondered if we should combine the Besties and give them a combined grade. But when it quickly became apparent that so many of these Houseguests are actively targeting and working against their own Besties, we realized that wasn't going to work.
Nicole Layog (41) is playing this game at another level than the rest of the Houseguests, and appears to be coming into her own even as this new twist was revealed. She didn't even flinch. She's already gaming to get her Bestie booted so she can get whatever Julie has in store for someone unpartnered at the end of the week -- without knowing what it is. She is playing hard! Grade: A+ [Bestie: Taylor]
Alyssa Snider (24) has an incredible social game and her strategic game is being severely underestimated. She knows exactly what she's doing, and she knows how to do it with a wink and a smile. Her burgeoning showmance with Kyle could endanger both of them, but they're also smart enough to keep it on the downlow (if they can), so it could actually help them both. Grade: A- [Bestie: Indy]
Ameerah Jones (31) is very impressive and strategic, but she almost blew the Pooch strategy by telling Monte all about the girls working together (no better way to scare the guys). She survived that, but you can bet he won't soon forget. The strategy and gameplay is fine, but she needs to work on being more strategic as to when and where to parsel information, which is like gold in the "Big Brother" house. Grade: B+ [Bestie: Terrance]
Monte Taylor (27) and Kyle Caapener (29) are still working with Po's Pack, but they're also keeping their ears and eyes wide open at any inkling of a girls alliance trying to take out all the guys. Turner in power gives them some breathing room but we have to respect them keeping their options open and not just running with what the ladies want; and so far keeping the ladies unaware that they even wavered. Grade: B- [Besties: Joseph and Daniel, respectively]
Matt "Turner" Turner (23) took power, but he is seriously lacking in alliance power because The Oasis is proving as much a mirage as many real oases. Luckily, he's well-liked in this house. But unless he can either get The Oasis back on solid ground or take advantage of Jasmine to make genuine in-roads with the women (which he did suggest he would try), he's going to be in trouble. This win just made him a legitimate threat. Grade: B- [Bestie: Jasmine]
Jasmine Davis (29) is safe again this week and managed to come out of her own week in power without anyone mad at her -- the only possible one beign her new Bestie. In other words, she's in an okay spot. But like Turner, she has all her eggs in the Girls' Girls alliance. It seems to be holding, but she really needs to work on strengthening her position in the House. Grade: B- [Bestie: Turner]
Daniel Durston (35) was selected by Kyle to be cannon fodder because he's not part of the Po's Pack alliance. Interestingly, though, his Final 2 deal with Nicole still seems to be strong, so she should try to protect him as long as she can. But unless she turns on her own alliance and survives it, how long can she do that? He's definitely behind on the alliance game. Grade: C+ [Bestie: Kyle]
Michael Bruner (28) is in about as good a position you can be in on the Block. He's got a real shot at winning Veto because he's done so twice already. And if he doesn't, he's got an almost guarantee of beating Brittany in the final vote come Thursday. His social game is strong, his physical game is strong (and yet no one is gunning for him). He's in a great position. The only reason he's ranking so low is he's on the Block and crazy things happen in this game. Grade: C [Bestie: Brittany]
Joseph Abdin (24), Terrance Higgins (47) and Indy Santos (31) are just kind of floating in this game right now, trying not to rock the boat but neither are they truly engaging with the moves and shakers of the game. Joseph is in The Oasis, but how real is it? It gives him the slightest edge over the other two, but all three are partnered as the sacrificial lambs opposite Po's Pack members, so that's not great. Grade: C- [Besties: Monte, Ameerah and Alyssa, respectively]
Taylor Hale (27) cannot catch a break in this House, despite her efforts to undo the damage Paloma caused to her game. She's been making in-roads with the girls in the House, and she survived the Block yet again, but her own partner is ready to throw her under the bus right now. She can't erase the stink of being the first House target, and it may yet get her this week if Michael and Brittany win Veto and she and Nicole go up as the replacements. Grade: D+ [Bestie: Nicole]
Brittany Hoopes (32) is rubbing people the wrong way in much the way Taylor apparently did early on. But while Taylor is still dealing with early impressions, Brittany appears to still be making awkward impressions in the House. Right now, she's Turner's target because she kind of creeped him out by talking too cleverly to him, being very vague and revealing nothing about herself or her game. Her only hope right now is a huge Veto win. At least she's got the right Bestie for that! Grade: D [Bestie: Michael]
Joe "Pooch" Pucciarelli (24) had no idea it was coming. He got too cocky, too confident, too soon and he paid the price with his game. At least he left with his head held high and a lot of class, crediting the House with getting him out and leaving him blindsided in the process. Grade: F
"As much as I would love to pull Taylor off the Block, I don't want Pooch to catch wind that he's the target this week." --Michael
"I have the backing of the Oasis and the boys in the house. And having the rest of the petty girls who hate Taylor for some reason, you know? I think I should have the votes. Shout out petty girls. Y'all are dangerous." --Pooch (feeling confident on the Block)
"Are my cheeks rosy, 'cause it's a little embarrassing. Whenever I drink wine that happens." --Alyssa (totally flirting with Kyle)
"It's cute, though, because it's like little rosie cheeks." --Kyle (into it)
"You don't have sex?" --Alyssa
"I'm not Mormon anymore." --Kyle (blushing)
"I have the world record for saying all the states in alphabetical order in the fastest time; it's like 15 seconds." --Turner (who then demonstrates)
"I think I might be able to lick my elbow." --Turner (who then demonstrates)
"Why are you able to do so much weird s---?" --Pooch
"I have a huge feeling they're gonna try to send Pooch home." --Joseph (to Monte and Kyle, who know)
"It was P, like on Day One being like, 'Okay, let's get all the girls together.'" --Alyssa (to Kyle)
"I hope you guys like me." --Kyle (worried about all-girls alliance now)
"They're hoping Tayor wins next week to put up two of the guys." --Alyssa (telling Kyle too much)
"I don't want Monte in Jury. I don't know when the right time to take that shot is." --Taylor (to Ameerah)
"You gotta be careful, because your girl's trying to backdoor you." --Ameerah (spilling beans to Monte)
"Of course. That's what I'm trying to say. That's why I want her out of here." --Monte
"I probably shouldn't have said that." --Ameerah (regretting telling Monte)
"If you leave Pooch is in this game, we are at risk. We are the two strongest females in this House and we're in your alliance." --Nicole (to Monte about her and Ameerah)
"What does your mom call you?" --Ameerah (to Indy)
"My mom probably calls me Marshmallow or something." --Alyssa
"If I win HOH or you win HOH we're going for the heads of the snake, and at this point, I'm like, 'Are the heads of the snake in our alliance.'" --Monte (to Kyle, worried about the girls)
"Whoever wins HOH picks their Bestie last. And if the HOH picks me, I get safety, too." --Terrance (out first, hoping no one wants him)
"I want Brittany as my partner so I don't end up on the Block with one of my alliance members. I think I'm gonna dip out early." --Michael (throwing the comp)
"He is my BB24 bestie, I just don't want him to be my 'Festie Bestie.' Because I think the best strategy is to be paired with people you're not aligned with." --Brittany (he picks her)
"It's better for me to pick someone not in the Po's Pack alliance. We all need to figure out a way to have a pawn next to us." --Nicole
"I knew I needed this to survive in the game and we did it. We did it, baby!" --Turner (winning HOH)
"I want to go after strong girls. I really think Nicole and Ameerah are huge problems in this game so I just want to go full force and put them on the Block." --Taylor
"Oh my god, I'm not gonna win any Vetoes." --Ameerah (with Terrance as her partner)
"Going into this twist, it's the perfect scenario. I have somebody who's a bigger target." --Nicole (about Festie Bestie Taylor)
"He's going for whoever planted the seed to get Pooch out." --Joseph (about Turner)
"It's very important that we stay solid, the six of us. This is crucial. The twist thing isn't going to last to the end." --Ameerah (to Po's Pack)
"The most miserable Have-Not of 'Big Brother' history." --Indy (about herself)
"It would be wise to put Brittany and Michael up as pawns, backdoor me and Taylor." --Nicole (wants to be the Festie Bestie left alone and get whatever Julie Chen teased)
"Brittany freaks me the f--- out." --Turner
"She doesn't give out any game information when I talk to her and it makes it really hard for me to trust her." --Turner (after talking with Brittany)
"Big Brother" returns to its regular schedule of Sundays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET, Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.