It's all about knowing when to turn on your own before they turn on you -- plus, the case of the missing muffin rocks the house!
Unlike most weeks on "Big Brother," we didn't end Thursday night's eviction episode with a new Head of Household, or even a competition getting underway. That left plenty of room for drama!
With his ride-or-die Nicole getting the boot -- thanks to him getting cocky and using the Veto last week after Monte explicitly told him not to -- Daniel was quick to provide it. He took no ownership for his own involvement, and threw Monte under the bus hard.
He alternately said that he was just being honest and this wasn't any sort of strategy and in the next breath told the House to make sure they were paying attention to Monte's manipulative ways and to stop playing his way. When his emotions get riled, Daniel becomes a terrible "Big Brother" player.
He certainly wasn't making any friends with this display, even if some knew it was just frustration, embarrassment, anger and a feeling of helplessness in that absolutely no one voted to save Nicole but him.
He even attacked Alyssa, who took it with stoicism before just walking away, for not throwing a sympathy vote to Nicole. Why would she put a target on her back by going against a consensus she knew existed in the House. It wouldn't change Nicole's fate, but it could change hers.
At the same time, sometimes the most obvious House target isn't the best person to take out next. They can also make really great shields -- so long as you don't make yourself an even bigger target by making a big move.
We had a fun doggy-park themed competition for the Head of Household, so we're incredibly disappointed that the Houseguests weren't forced to wear puppy dog costumes. We need the ridiculous in our lives, "Big Brother!"
In fact, the dog park theme was just window dressing over the balance beam course we've seen before. It's as simple as navigating the course in the fastest time. There are narrower beams on straighter paths, but you have to have stronger balance to get through those.
Jasmine, still milking that foot injury that seems like it happened last season, made it about two steps onto the course before she was eliminated. That's because the mark to beat was established pretty early on.
Daniel went first and took the long route, but did so in the respectable time of 16.49 seconds. Michael followed and decided that Daniel winning was worst-case scenario, she he barreled across the narrow beam and pulled off an 11.79 victory.
After that, Joseph didn't even bother to try, as he felt a Michael win was a win for the alliance -- plus, his Festie Bestie group winning back-to-back HOH competitions would put a huge target on them moving forward -- and Daniel wants the House thinking Monte is already running the show.
From there, it was one after the other, with Kyle coming closest to beating Michael (and he went the long way!). But in the end, Michael secured his fourth competition victory of the season, and first Head of Household. Talk about a huge threat in the House! They have to start seeing it, right?
For The Leftovers, though, this is best-case scenario. Michael and Brittany were the only members of that alliance who didn't have a non-Leftover shield in their Festie Bestie duo, making the whole alliance vulnerable to losing a number. With them both now safe, the whole alliance should be safe.
The big question every season on shows like this and "Survivor" is when to leave your power alliance. Over on "Survivor," the Castaways shifted more to alliances of convenience, rarely sticking long-term with anything anymore save perhaps a Final 2 or 3. Big alliances seem to shift between every vote.
Meanwhile, "Big Brother" has seen huge dominant alliances take power and never give it up over the last several summers, including last summer's The Cookout alliance. They had a larger mission -- to see the first Black "BB" winner -- or they might not have lasted as long as they did.
That's because some members of that alliance knew that they were at the bottom of that group of six. There's no future in being at the bottom. So the smart move is for those people at the bottom to jump ship when the timing is right. But that's the crucial component.
Right now, there are seven Leftovers and five non-Leftovers. But there's also Kyle, who is in a bona fide showmance now with non-Leftover Alyssa. Does his alliance know his allegiance is on shaky ground the deeper he gets into things romantically with Alyssa. If he flips, that's even numbers.
Honestly, we're a little surprised that The Leftovers have been so compassionate and cognizant of managing Taylor's emotions and her experience in the alliance, but they're not doing the same with Kyle. Clearly, he's into Alyssa. So why not assure him that she's not their target for a while and assure he's locked in. The alliance is already on shaky ground.
Still, we're not sure now is the right time to make a move against Monte. But that didn't stop Michael and Brittany from starting to contemplate just that. Did Daniel get in their head or were they already recognizing the huge threat that Monte is in this game?
They started contemplating trying to get him out of the House this week, but what they don't realize is that no one is a bigger threat right now than Michael. With four competition wins, he has double the next biggest comp winner Daniel.
If they blow up The Leftovers with this many non-Leftovers in the House, it's going to be pretty easy for what's left of The Leftovers to align with people like Alyssa, Jasmine, Terrance, Indy and maybe even Daniel to turn the tables on their Festie Bestie duo. Michael can't win them all!
Not helping the anti-Monte narrative is the move that he and Joseph decided needed to be made this week. There were multiple reasons to offer themselves up as pawns to sit on the Block. With this season's format, Besties are put on the Block together, and they come off together.
If Joseph, Monte and Terrance go on the Block, that guarantees four Leftovers competing in the Veto competition, increasing their odds no matter which other Festie Bestie group is chosen to play.
It also lets the team know that they're willing to face the Block for the good of the alliance. The last thing they want is for Daniel's rant to start to take root that they see themselves as somehow running the show or sitting above anyone else in their alliance.
And finally, it's a great way to hide the existence of the alliance from the rest of the House. If they hit the Block with Michael and Brittany putting out the idea that Monte is this huge threat, it perfectly masks the notion that they could be working together. The longer they hide The Leftover's existence, the better it is for all of them.
Unless, that is, they do decide to make Monte the actual target and take a huge shot this week, blowing up their own alliance. If they do that, though, what protects them? Could they form a new alliance with the entirety of the other side ... and maybe rope Kyle in?
They'd better have all their ducks in a row if they think now is the time to make this move. We'd feel more confident about it if Michael hadn't just proven himself a huge competition threat by winning this HOH. He may yet need The Leftovers' protection. At the same time, he'll need to turn on them eventually, because they will see the threat he is.
Who's going to flinch and leave The Leftovers first? A lot could depend on who wins the Veto this week and what they decide to do with it. If Daniel wins, he'll definitely not use it this time, setting up the perfect temptation to take that shot at Monte.
If the Veto is used, then it'll be time for Michael and Brittany to show their cards and reveal if they're taking their shot now, or biding their time. Should be fun to watch!
This was either charming and fun or annoying, depending on your Jasmine mileage. We already know that Turner is getting annoyed with his Festie Bestie after the incident in the yard where Kyle may or may not have touched her foot, leading to a huge declaration of pain. Tuner clearly thinks she's milking this injury.
So when she set aside two muffins in a baggie for herself to enjoy later and one of them wound up half missing, Turner was probably not laughing as she made it her mission to hobble around the House in her boot and cane to try and find the culprit.
When one one fessed up, she went so far as to enter the Diary Room and demand the tape to show who it was that violated her saved snack. We even got a rare response from production. It was kind of cute, but also a bit relentless.
It's hard to tell from the TV footage if she was doing this with a twinkle in her eye and a wink or if she was earnestly frustrated that no one would come clean about the muffin. There is a lot of downtime, so an investigation can be a fun way to fill it -- but it has to stay fun. It is just a muffin ... and half of one at that.
Joseph Abdin (24) rises to the top because despite the fact he's been in on every move Monte is making and is just as savvy and strategic and physical a player, the House is looking at Monte as the bigger threat. Now, both of them are in danger if The Leftovers implode sooner than later, but for now, he's still in an incredible spot in the game. Grade: A- [Besties: Monte & Terrance]
Brittany Hoopes (32) may not be winning all the comps that her Festie Bestie is, but she's reaping the benefits of safety every week. That leaves her plenty of time for scheming. We applaud her recognizing that she and Michael are toward the bottom of The Leftovers and that they need to make a move before it's too late. She has an impressive grasp of the game, so it'll all come down to timing and execution. It also helps that her Bestie is a much bigger target than her. Grade: B+ [Bestie: Michael]
Monte Taylor (27) is being considered as a legitimate target by Michael, but we really don't think he's going to risk taking the shot this week. Monte has proven himself extremely smart in this game and giving him time to figure out how to manage this target being thrown on his back is just what he needs to see if he can wiggle out of it. If anyone can, it'll be him. Grade: B [Besties: Joseph & Terrance]
Michael Bruner (28) may be in power this week, but by grabbing it he took home his fourth competition win, which immediately has all eyes on him as a massive threat to leave in the game too long. He can't stay in power forever, unless Brittany and he trade wins, and he could be Monte's solution to take the target off his back if The Leftovers formally collapse. Grade: B [Bestie: Brittany]
Taylor Hale (27) is really enjoying the opportunity to play this game with actual allies and friends, and with her back not against the wall every single day. We've yet to see what that game looks like strategically, but we are loving seeing that glow in her. Plus, her alliance is still very protective of her experience, which is nice to see. Grade: B+ [Besties: Alyssa & Indy]
Matt "Turner" Turner (23) was cracking us up this week with his shade at Jasmine over her never-ending injury. The scene where Kyle may or may not have touched it, and her extremely dramatic reaction, echoes live feed sentiments from other Houseguest speculating that she might be milking this. He also took a huge header during the HOH comp, so right now, no one is seeing him as a threat or a problem, which is just perfect. Grade: B [Bestie: Jasmine]
Kyle Caapener (29) made his showmance official this week, which officially splits his allegiance between The Leftovers and Alyssa. He says he's "all in" with them, but admits that he's not sure for how long. In other words, if they target Alyssa all bets are off. They should be aware of this and do better management of him as a member, and then cut him before her when they need to because showmances are too dangerous. For now, keep him happy and in line for the security of numbers. Grade: C+ [Bestie: Daniel]
Alyssa Snider (24) is probably in a better spot for now due to her showmance, but that's only a temporary reprieve. They know how strong her social game is, and if she lures Kyle away from The Leftovers, she'll be seen as an even bigger social threat. He'll protect her as long as he can, but it could wind up costing them both that they're together now. Grade: C [Besties: Indy & Taylor]
Indy Santos (31) is now a reluctant Bestie with Taylor, who did her best to assure her new Besties they aren't shields to protect her. Taylor is feeling much better about things, but Indy not so much. For now, though, Alyssa could go before her so she's in a better spot than she realizes. Grade: C [Besties: Alyssa & Taylor]
Jasmine Davis (29) is getting on Turner's nerves with her injury, and he may not be the only one. She's basically been helpless all summer in the House. He went so far as to eat her muffin, leading to a hilarious storyline where she tried to figure out who did it. If annoying can get you booted (natch), that could well be Jasmine's fate sooner rather than later. Grade: C- [Bestie: Turner]
Terrance Higgins (47) is vulnerable right now because he's on the Block with two Leftovers. If the Veto isn't used, the alliance has said they'll just eliminate him. We don't think they'll make a bigger move just yet; they're just talking and thinking about it. But that's bad news for Terrance, who's fate is out of his hands. Grade: C- [Besties: Joseph & Monte]
Daniel Durston (35) is the most likely target this week. It's the easy shot to take, and not just because he's alone in the House. He's also emotionally volatile and unpredictable. He got passive-aggressive in attacking Monte after the elimination, and he got aggressive-aggressive in wrongfully attacking Taylor earlier this season The Leftovers don't need him for numbers, and eliminating him helps secure their hold on the House, so this is the most likely scenario this week if he doesn't win Veto. Grade: D [Bestie: Kyle]