The battle is on for two Heads of Household who will play two completely separated games of "Big Brother" all week with half of the remaining Houseguests each before a live double-eviction next Thursday.
In more than two decades on the air, "Big Brother" definitely came up with a twist that's never been seen before on these shores. As teased all week, the "Split House" twist could shake up everything.
All next week, the Houseguests will play two completely separate games of "Big Brother." After tonight's eviction, there are only ten people left in the game, so we're talking a hard split in half.
As Julie Chen finally explained to them, tonight's Head of Household competition would create two HOHs. One would reign over five Houseguests inside the House as part of "Big Bro-chella." The other would rule the backyard as part of "Dire-fest."
That means two Heads of Household each nominating two Houseguests for eviction. Two separate Power of Veto competitions and ceremonies. And come next Thursday, two separate votes and evictions before the House will presumably reunite.
But after a week apart where they can't talk strategy with fully half the House, how strong can alliances and relationships hold, and what new relationships might emerge?
In a season where yet another dominant alliance has taken a firm grip on the House, we're all for shaking things up. Will this move be the nail in the coffin of The Leftovers -- or did they even make it that far?
As we've also seen, The Leftovers alliance has begun already to show cracks. Kyle has been getting in deeper and deeper with his showmance Alyssa, who is not part of the alliance. And now, the alliance is again trying to convince him to target her this week.
We've spoken about the poor alliance management of The Leftovers in keeping Kyle feeling assured and keeping Alyssa around. There were still four non-Leftovers in the House when he won the Veto this week, so why poke the bear?
Kyle suggested that he'd like to keep Taylor's initial nominations the same, leaving Terrance and Indy in the line of fire. But after Alyssa snatched a vacation from Taylor (which she subsequently lost for $5,000 instead), the HOH was feeling vindictive.
Suddenly, the narrative about how dangerous a competitor Indy was shifted to how dangerous a competitor Alyssa was, as if suddenly she changed overnight. The only thing that changed was Taylor's mind, again.
With Monte and Joseph so adamantly trying to push Kyle to use the Veto to give Taylor the chance to target Alyssa, he started wondering if they were perhaps a stronger trio than he originally thought.
Remember that The Leftovers is an intentional expansion of the original Pound alliance between Kyle, Turner, Joseph, and Monte. It was Kyle's idea, but suddenly he started feeling more on the outs and now he's feeling like maybe he's being played.
Really on the outs were Taylor, Michael and Brittany. Taylor is clearly in the center of things this week as the HOH, but the other two Houseguests wondering when its time to break ranks are the other two on the outside of that core Pound four.
Then Kyle revealed the inner alliance within The Leftovers to Michael and Brittany, building some goodwill between him and them, only furthering their desire to figure out the best way to move forward with the alliance, or break it apart at the right time.
Michael's concern was that as a five-comp winner, he's clearly the biggest competition threat in the House, so he needed to minimize his target at every opportunity. He did just that by stoking the flames of distrust between Kyle and the rest of the alliance, so they'd take shots at one another.
After defending his reasoning for not using the Veto (poorly as it was clear he was just trying to protect his showmance, Alyssa), Kyle got The Leftovers to understand that he wasn't going to use it. He might think he squared it, but it definitely deepened a crack.
We are with Kyle, though, in that it seemed like a bit of overkill that Taylor faked yelling at him for not using it after the Veto ceremony. But it also looks like the rest of the House bought it, so The Leftovers continue to do a good job of masking their existence in the House.
With the Veto not used, though, Kyle definitely hurt his relationship with Indy and the Five Swatters alliance that he and Joseph were reluctantly recruited into with Indy, Alyssa and Jasmine. The ladies have no idea they've been double agents all this time.
But they've also been using it as Jury management tactics, though, setting themselves up to have fewer enemies in the Jury House if they can play these evictions off properly. With this week's evictee taking the first Jury spot, suddenly Jury management was in the back of everyone's mind, and in the front of some.
In the end, there was little Indy could do to save her game. Of the two candidates on the Block, she was the clear bigger threat to The Leftovers alliance, and so it was time for her to go. But as the first member of the Jury, even that wasn't so simple.
While a unanimous vote could have just swept her out, and would have left everyone on an even keel with her, some Houseguests wanted to leave her with a warmer feeling.
Michael and Joseph seem to be the most aware of the endgame at this point, with differing ideas of how to manage the game from this stage in anticipation of finale night.
It's perhaps no surprise that we got a whole segment about how the two of them are actually quite good at chess, but intentionally playing dumb in the House so as to not rouse the suspicion of their fellow Houseguests.
Joseph has gone so far as to not play at all for fear he'd expose himself, while making "meathead" suggestions to maintain his cover. Michael has played, but intentionally missed obvious moves -- so obvious that Joseph started wondering if he was playing dumb, too.
Playing two of the best games in the House, Joseph opted to go with a gentle lie to try and soothe Indy's potentially emotional response to her eviction, by suggesting that it's an "individual game."
Michael then made a liar out of him in his own farewell message to Indy, opting for the truth and fully exposing The Leftovers alliance as a group he was working with. He also vowed to get out those who'd orchestrated her eviction.
Of the two approaches, we have to applaud Michael's as the better tactic (though she may now suspect his sympathy vote came from someone else). The truth is always going to be better at this early stage, because hurt and anger fades over the weeks, and Jurors totally compare notes. Joseph's lie didn't even survive until Michael's farewell message -- and you just don't know what other HGs are saying.
Indy is going to be in for a huge shock, though, if the full truth is revealed as she firmly believed that Taylor wanted to target Monte this week, and it was Kyle's refusal to use the Veto that set the path to her eviction.
As we saw in the Veto competition, it was a week of punishments, with Indy forced to wear a "punk-itard" and perform punk songs (with the Houseguest of her choice) at any moment day or night. Terrance had to apply 182 temporary tattoos, also at any moment day or night.
And Taylor got to fulfill her fantasies by being tethered to Joseph for 48 hours as they pretended to be punk icons Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen (here redubbed Skid and Fancy). We have a feeling their crush might have advanced a little bit over that span.
It certainly didn't seem like either of them minded having to sleep in the same bed together and do everything together -- well they didn't mind almost everything. Is this a secondary burgeoning showmance? It certainly seems to be.
There is room for another, because Kyle's libido continues to get him into trouble every time he tries to use his brain and create some strategic balance between Alyssa and the rest of his game. But then she smiles and coos and he melts.
This time, he again tried to establish some boundaries and balance, and she pouted that it sounded like he was trying to break things off again, and suddenly he was asking her to be his girlfriend and now they're an official relationship.
So that went flawlessly according to plan. What's that sound? Another crack deepening in The Leftovers alliance. Kyle has been ready to boot his showmance when the time came, but what about his girlfriend? At least he was wise enough to not tell anyone they made things official.
After Indy's departure, it was time to set the stage for a week unlike any before in the history of "Big Brother." A single Head of Household competition would establish two Heads of Household. And then the week-long divide would begin.
The competition itself was a modern classic, with Houseguests having to identify in which section of an image one of the evicted HGs was holding up a sign reading "VIP."
It also created the opportunity to expose alliances and loyalties as the winner of each head-to-head competition got to choose the next two people to compete.
That's how Terrance found himself in the fourth round when Michael and Kyle had yet to compete at all. All in all, though, DJ Showtime had a great showing in this competition, competing more than anyone else.
Perhaps he was celebrating the fact that he'd been on the Block four times, but he competed in four rounds of the competition. Unfortunately, it was one time too many.
Eliminated in order were Brittany, Joseph, Monte, Alyssa, Kyle, Jasmine, and Turner. That left Michael (on his third round) and Terrance for the final battle. At this point, both were already winners and guaranteed to be HOH -- so this round was about who gets the House this week.
In the end, Michael pulled out total victory -- his incredible sixth of the season already -- so Terrance will have to settle for an HOH reign in the backyard. As for how the House will be split, Julie shared it would be a classic schoolyard pick.
Presumably, as the overall winner, Michael would pick first but the broadcast cut before we got that far. With one Leftover in charge in the House and a non-Leftover in charge outside of the House, it should be a very interesting week.
Making it even more interesting is that Michael is aware that there's a hierarchy in The Leftovers and that he and Brittany are on the bottom. He's ready to make a move, and maybe this is the way to do it. If he's really good, he might be able to do it without exposing himself, either.
So far, Michael seems to be the far more clever and strategic player out of him and Terrance, so we expect that his picks will fit whatever overall plan he has (it should include both Leftovers and non-Leftovers).
Terrance, who has applied strategy fruitlessly multiple times, will probably try to take shots at those who helped take out his allies, Daniel and Nicole and now, Indy. The challenge for him is he doesn't know who's in the alliance (or even that there is one), so he may not have as much control as he thinks.
Matt "Turner" Turner (23) is so far off of everyone's radar, even this twist shouldn't jeopardize his game at all. And he's in good with pretty much everyone but Jasmine -- and even they have a playful rivalry. Underneath that, he shows a keen mind for this game and the willingness to play hard and make moves. No one is in a better spot. Grade: A+
Brittany Hoopes (32) is an unofficial Final 2 with Michael as they compare notes on everything. A strong duo can do a lot of damage, and with everyone looking at the showmance, no one is looking right here. On top of that, Michael is going to be targeted way before her, which only strengthens her overall position. Grade: A
Michael Bruner (28) blows us away that he can dominate in challenges like this and then cleverly push focus away from himself. He is probably playing harder than anyone in the House, taking power constantly while balancing a great social and strategic game. His path is probably the hardest as no one will want him at the end, but if anyone can figure out how to get there, it would be him. Grade: A-
Taylor Hale (27) actually covered her tracks pretty well with the other side of the House, if Indy's perception is any good. Her HOH reign was pretty messy, but she continued orchestrating the game plan of The Leftovers without alienating the other side of the House. The fact that Terrance stayed should keep her in his good graces, too, so she's actually setting pretty, well, pretty. Grade: B+
Terrance Higgins (47) rises to power as a free agent eager to make a big move and his mark on the game. This twist could set him up for a while if he plays it right, but he has to play it right. We appreciate that he's stepped up and is trying to play the game now as it's not too late, so we'll withhold further judgment until we see what he does with this opportunity. Grade: B
Jasmine Davis (29) could be an easy target to take out this week if she winds up on a side of the House without Alyssa and with a bunch of Leftovers. It remains to be seen if The Leftovers will take this opportunity to turn on one another or just pick off two more non-Leftovers (which with Terrance in power would mean Jasmine and Alyssa). Honestly, we think they make a bigger move, but we've thought that before. Grade: B-
Kyle Caapener (29) alienated his alliance by not using the Veto; or at least a chunk of it. Depending on how things get sorted, he could be in trouble. Luckily, he's in good with Michael, so if Michael puts him in the House (and maybe Alyssa, as well), they could blindside a Leftover and really shake up the House. Grade: B-
Joseph Abdin (24) is playing as hard as Michael, just not as successfully. Still, he is masking his true intellect, and perhaps even his challenge prowess. He's a dark horse right now in that the House is underestimating him right now, so they've no idea how complete his grasp of this game is. Grade: B-
Monte Taylor (27) is perceived as the biggest target and threat in the House, which is arguable. He's up there, but we're not sure he's the biggest. That's not great for his game, though, as it means he has to scramble constantly. If he winds up on a side of the House with numbers to come after him (Terrance's), he could be in trouble. But he's proven able to get out of jams, so we wouldn't count him out just yet. Grade: C+
Alyssa Snider (24) is in the most danger this week for multiple reasons. She is not in The Leftovers, who are hanging together still, and she's in a showmance with Kyle. If they don't get a chance to take out Kyle, cutting off his showmance weakens his game considerably. Grade: C-
Indy Santos (31) just never quite pulled a strategic game together. When she proved herself a threat by almost winning several comps, she was a logical target to get out sooner than later as The Leftovers solidified their control of the House. Grade: F
"I think Taylor's thinking about Alyssa." --Michael (to Kyle after Alyssa took a prize from Taylor and gave her a punishment during POV comp)
"That sucks. That's very petty." --Kyle (wanting to protect his showmance)
"Why am I being left out of all these conversations, especially the one where I have to backdoor my own showmance." --Kyle (in DR about shifting targets this week)
"Not gonna lie, you two are always so together that no one can really update you." --Joseph (to Kyle about him and Alyssa)
"Someone's gonna have to send Alyssa home." --Joseph
"I just don't want to be that someone." --Kyle
"The only thing that's slightly compelling to me about Alyssa this week is that I don't know if there'll ever be a reason to evict her at any point moving forward." --Monte (to Kyle)
"I think Monte and Joseph want to take out Alyssa just to weaken my game." --Kyle (in DR)
"If Taylor is coming up with this plan without me and Joseph and Monte are on board, it's just raising a lot of red flags with me." --Kyle (in DR)
"I'm really starting to get annoyed with Kyle. This is my HOH and I want to make a big move. Kyle's just getting in the way. Kyle, are you with this alliance or not?" --Taylor (in DR)
"I already emboldened Kyle. Now I want to fan the flames with Tayor and Joseph so that they're riled up about Kyle. When the war starts, I'll be watching from the sidelines." --Michael (in DR)
"You're forcing the alliance, when we get to seven, to have a reason to come for you." --Taylor (to Joseph and Michael about if Kyle doesn't use Veto)
"Everybody that hates me right now is probably really happy about this because this sucks." --Indy (in DR about her punk-itard)
"Let's say Indy comes down. Alyssa goes up [sees Kyle's deadpan stare]. That's a hard 'No'?" --Taylor
"I need to have non-Alyssa reasons to keep Alyssa." --Kyle (in DR, strategizing that he has to show logical reasons to keep nominations the same)
"I think Kyle is sticking his neck out enough for the both of us, so I'm pretty sure I can bow out of this conversation." --Turner (in DR, wants Alyssa to stay as well but he'll let Kyle do the dirty work)
"Kyle may not even realize it, but it's coming off to the rest of the alliance that he's putting his showmance above The Leftover alliance priorities." --Monte (in DR)
"There will be something. Use the showmance." --Kyle (saying Alyssa can be targeted later)
"We'll put both of you up." --Joseph
"I don't love that." --Kyle
"This was a tough decision but for me it just doesn't make sense to use the Power of Veto on either of you." --Kyle
"I'm gonna yell at you. Play along. You were supposed to use the f---ing veto!" --Taylor (in pantry)
"What the heck? I don't think it's necessary, it feels overkill and honestly kind of dumb. Tayor, you do you but that was a bit weird." --Kyle (in DR)
"With Kyle not using the Veto like I've been promising, I need to make it look like I'm really pissed off and surprised -- maybe I'm not acting all that much." --Taylor (in DR)
"Red flags are waving for me. I just think, like, me winning Veto has shifted a lot of their thinking. All three of them are on the same page. Each of them want Alyssa gone. They're the three alpha personalities in this alliance ... We can't get bullied into doing what's best for their game." --Kyle (to Michael and Brittany)
"I think there's more going on than maybe we even think." --Brittany (there is, the alliance-within-an-alliance, The Pound with Joseph, Kyle, Monte, and Turner)
"I just want to reiterate the pecking order of the seven. Just think about how it was formed. There were four of us in that room. Me, Turner, Joseph, Monte. Then you two were brought in, then Taylor." --Kyle (exposing The Pound alliance)
"What I'm not going to do is assume people are in an alliance based on race or any other factor." --Michael (to Brittany after Kyle had expressed concerns about a Cookout 2.0)
"I don't know if you've considered this. One thing that I really want to make sure doesn't happen, we don't want a scenario where it's Taylor, Monte, Terrance, Jasmine one one side and you, me, Michael, Turner on another side. That's not the kind of game we're playing. I'll just tell you right now, if that ends up being the sides, I can't do that. I just can't. It's too important." --Brittany (to Kyle)
"I agree. It's just such a fine line after last season, because it was such a dominating force that was brought together because of some outside factors." --Kyle
"We just can't assume that that would be the case." --Brittany
"Who is the Zing?" --Indy (unfamiliar with Zingbot)
"I think I'm looking pretty good. One of these tattoos may become real." --Terrance (enduring 182 temporary tattoo punishment)
"I played it growing up and I'm pretty good. If I start winning chess games, people are gonna start questioning how they're losing to the clueless meathead of the House." --Joseph (in DR)
"The amount of chess where I have to pretend, 'Oh, I didn't see that move? Oh no!' Like, I've definitely been trying to lose and it kills me, it kills me." --Michael (in DR after playing Kyle)
"Sometimes some of the moves these guys are missing are so obvious, I'm starting to wonder if I'm not the only one downplaying their chess ability." --Joseph (in DR)
"At the end of the day, this is a game and I don't want it to be stressful for you." --Kyle (trying to get Alyssa to understand the showmance is dangerous)
"I'm fine." --Alyssa (not getting it)
"What I'm perceiving from this conversation now, though is you're like, 'Okay, now I just want to do my own thing and we can just, like, touch base when we can, which is fine." --Alyssa
"Yeah, it's just I haven't been able to balance anything. Does that make sense? I'm bad at it ... Now you kiss me and it's like, game is goodbye. I don't care, I just want to be with you." --Kyle (weak)
"I don't want to date anyone. I don't know what we are right now, but I'm like, this is as close to a girlfriend as I can think." --Kyle
"I don't want to be 'close to a girlfriend.'" --Alyssa
"Do you want to be my girlfriend?" --Kyle
"Alright, then that's it." --Kyle (making his bed and lying in it)
"I thought this was a punishment for Joseph and Taylor, but I swear their accents are so bad, it's more of a punishment for me and the rest of the House." --Kyle (about Skid & Fancy punishment)
"Hi Julie, and Rihanna!" --Houseguests (live shoutout to the singer and superfan)
"Forget DJ Showtime, this is DJ Hardtime." --Terrance (after applying last tattoo)
"Turner, what's your top two things you love about me?" --Jasmine (making everyone do this)
"Umm..." Turner (not a fan)
"Who directs their own toasts?" --Turner (about Jasmine)
"I don't want to send her out on a unanimous vote on a personal level. I think that would really hurt her if not a single person voted for her. We have the votes, I would love to give her a sympathy vote. I also don't want to risk it." --Michael (also thinking about Indy going to Jury)
"If we both sympathy vote her, then there's a possibility there's a tie." --Joseph (thinking Jury votes, too)
"Wait, I first have to look pretty before I hug you guys." --Indy (after eviction)
"Don't say bad things about me!" --Indy (during impassioned speech on her way out the door)
"Who do you hold responsible for your eviction?" --Julie (to Indy)
"Kyle. Because we had an alliance when he was on the Block, and I picked him to play the Veto, he won the Veto and he didn't save me." --Indy
"I believe he was trying to protect Monte because Monte was Taylor's target." --Indy (about Kyle, and not even close)
"I tried my best to go as far as I could with you in this single-player game." --Joseph (to Indy in farewell message -- does he not think the Jury compares notes?)
"I have to be honest, I have been working in an alliance with Monte, Joseph, Kyle, Taylor, Turner and Brittany for the past couple of weeks. I've done my best to keep you safe with them. I promise you, I will try to send the people home responsible for your eviction." --Michael (to Indy in farewell message -- much better Jury management approach)
"Big Brother" airs Sundays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET and Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.