Taylor makes her nominations, but it's the Power of Veto holder who has all the power at this stage of the "Big Brother" game.
It was a busy episode of "Big Brother" tonight, with no Wednesday episode this week so "Survivor" can kick off its 43rd season. That means we got both Taylor's nominations and the Power of Veto competition.
It makes sense to do it this way, though, because the nominations are essentially worthless at Final Four. That's because only the Head of Household can be guaranteed to know they're safe until after the Power of Veto competition.
Even more significant, the Power of Veto holder this week casts the sole vote to evict. If the HOH wins it, they can choose who is on the Block. If someone other than the HOH wins, then it's simply the two HGs who are not HOH or POV holder.
So if we'd have just gone with the nominations, the episode could have been a bit of a dud -- except that this week there was also the matter of the huge lie born on eviction night that just continued to grow.
The Lie That Won't Die
In an effort to save Alyssa during the eviction, she and Brittany concocted a plan to try and trick Turner into throwing a "sympathy vote" at Alyssa on her way out the door. This required them telling him that Brittany was definitely voting to evict Alyssa, so it would require Monte to break the tie.
Well, Monte did break the tie, but that's because the plan didn't work. What they wanted to see happen was for Turner's "sympathy vote" to actually become a real vote to evict Taylor because Brittany also voted to evict Taylor.
Well, then Taylor didn't leave the House ... and then Taylor won Head of Household, so it was time for damage control. Brittany basically just tried to vote out the current HOH, so what do you do? If you're Brittany, you lie and lie and lie some more.
The only person she didn't lie directly to was Turner, but that's because she basically refused to talk to him about it at all, instead drying her hands for the longest time in silence while he confronted her about it. And then she went and lied some more.
Mostly, she lied to Taylor, because that's the lie that she felt mattered. At the same time, though, Turner was telling both Taylor and Monte the truth about the vote, which means they were both denying they'd taken a shot at Taylor last week.
What's remarkable is that despite the fact that Brittany's behavior has not been what you'd expect from someone being accused of lying -- she's cried and gotten emotional all summer, but no emotions here -- while Turner got extremely emotional after the hand-drying conversation with Brittany, and Taylor's paranoia has her still skeptical.
The bottom line for her, though, is that she kind of doesn't care who's lying to her. At this point, it's about who she thinks she can beat in the end, and that's Brittany. She wanted Turner out last week, which is precisely why Monte wouldn't let Turner see the Block.
With the lie dominating the news cycle in the "Big Brother" house, it was time for a memory-based math game to determine who would hold the real power this week.
The Houseguests had to identify photos by the corresponding day whatever is depicted in the shot happened. Then, they had to use those numbers to solve a mathematical equation. Whoever solved it first would win.
The math itself is one thing, but it's making sure you've got the right days that matters the most. And this was a nailbiter, with basically everyone getting real close on several occasions.
Thankfully for all his engineering buddies, Monte pulled out the math victory and secured the Veto and all the power. He also guaranteed, inadvertently, that Taylor's nominations will stay the same.
Considering he and Turner have been playing the game in lockstep, it would be a surprise if he cast a vote to evict his longtime ally for someone he thinks is a snake and a liar and who he feels confident would take him out at Final 3 (she would).
The only way we could imagine that happening is if he grew super-confident that he could beat both of the women in the next HOH competition and give himself the power to decide who sits in Final 2 with him.
The bottom line, though, is that there's a very good chance Turner will take him, a somewhat decent chance Taylor would take him (definitely over Turner, she would), and no chance in hell that Brittany would take him.
If it's him versus Taylor and Brittany, there's a pretty good chance they'd decide to take each other, guarantee an all-woman Final 2 and Taylor would feel that much more confident she'd win (she would). But Monte is too smart to set her up that easily for victory, so we see him booting Brittany.
In a Final 2 scenario, if Turner has the power, we think he brings Monte. If Monte has the power, we think he brings Turner, because they both believe Taylor's story to the end would be too compelling to overlook. Yes, they took out Michael, but look what she did all season just to get there at all! As for Taylor, we think she'd take Monte because she gives Turner more credit for Michael's eviction.
Monte Taylor (27) might be enjoying his time with Taylor, but he does not appear to have lost his eyes on the prize. Taylor might want Turner out this week -- and Brittany definitely does -- but Monte knows that he can't feel confident both women would take him to FInal 2, which they wouldn't. Brittany would definitely take Taylor and Taylor might take her as someone she could beat. Monte is weighing out who he can beat in the end, but he's also cognizant that he needs to do what he can to assure he's there as the women have been stepping up in comps. Grade: B
Taylor Hale (27) may be HOH, but she lost the biggest power this week. Now, all she can do is try to convince Monte to do what she wants and vote out Turner, but we would be surprised to see it happen. A lot can happen between now and when he has to make that decision, but he knows Brittany wouldn't take him, and Taylor might not, either. At least, she's in the Final 3 and will have control of her own fate. Grade: B-
Matt "Turner" Turner (23) is in a better position now that Monte has won, but it's not a lockstep guarantee that he'll be safe. What helps is that Monte does believe he's being honest that Brittany voted to evict Taylor and has been lying about it. The key component there is that this means Monte can't trust anything Brittany says (which is smart), so she could promise him the moon and he's going to be rightly skeptical. Grade: C
Brittany Hoopes (32) really needed herself or Taylor to win Veto. The odds of Monte voting to save her are very slim; especially because he believes that Brittany tried to evict Taylor and now is trying to work with her. She has no loyalty to anyone but herself, which means she's too much of a wild card to allow to stay in the House. Grade: D+
"We can officially say, the only people left in the House are Leftovers." --Monte (after Alyssa's eviction)
"I'm expecting a 2-0 for Taylor to stay, but of course, Brittany has to pull something slimy. Obviously that plan did not work for Brittany. So Brittany, obviously, can't be trusted forever, definitely gonna try to pin that on me." --Turner (in Diary Room after Brittany voted to evict Taylor)
"I cannot believe Brittany flipped that vote. You gotta know that wasn't me, right?' --Turner (to Monte)
"I know she did it and she wants to pin it on you." --Monte
"That's exactly what she's gonna do." --Turner
"Why can't Monte just break the tie?" --Brittany (lying to Turner about her vote before election to try and blindside Taylor)
"It's so slimy that she was willing to do that, though." --Monte (about Brittany flipping her vote)
"Thank god Monte pulled through. Allyssa had been telling me that he was gonna-- He was promising-- It's fine, it worked out, but it's just--." --Brittany (lying to Taylor about vote)
"I don't know who to believe at this point ... I'm just glad that I secured my own safety and all I have to do now is beat them to get to the end." --Taylor (in DR)
I really need to learn more about 'Big Brother' history, but I do think that me and Azah [Awasum], Monica [Bailey] and Danielle Reyes might be the only Black women to make Final 3, and then I think Danielle Reyes to Final 2." --Taylor (to Turner and Monte)
"It's not about the money. I could be a person who rectifies a gap that has happened in the game where Black women have been belittled and evicted way too soon. It is such a rare instance that a Black woman makes it this far, and I plan to leave the House on that finale with the $750,000 check, with the game-changing move of being the first Black woman to win a regular season of 'Big Brother.'" --Tayor (in DR)
"You gotta watch for Turner, 'cause there's a chance he would throw her a sympathy vote, right?" --Brittany (still lying to Taylor)
"Both of you have told me that ... so somebody's lying." --Taylor
"He's only ever lied to me. Plus, you guys haven't always had the best relationship." --Brittany
"It hasn't been a bad relationship." --Taylor
"Have you thought about what you're gonna do?" --Brittany
"Yeah, and I don't think you're gonna like it." --Taylor
"I would prefer, Turner goes out on my HOH, that's one more thing on my resume. Please don't tell him this; I trust you." --Taylor
"I would just love to know what happened. I wish you would have told me. Thoughts?" --Turner (to Brittany)
"I don't really think there's anything to say." --Brittany
"I get it game-wise, I just didn't like that you used my friendship with Alyssa as a pitch to do a sympathy vote to get out your friend, Taylor, if I followed through. That goal just seems slimy. I don't know, it's just not respectable." --Turner (to Brittany)
"Do you know what's really slimy? Backstabbing one of your closest friends in the game by not voting for them." --Brittany (justifying in DR)
"And now, you're obviously gonna blame it on me." --Turner (to Brittany)
"Thanks for your comments." --Brittany
"Each of you denies that you're the one that did not vote to keep me in the House. Someone's lying to me ... It's up to you to seal your own fate." --Taylor (after nominating Brittany and Turner)
"Please don't tell me he's actually saying that I flipped." --Brittany (still lying)
Following is the expected schedule for the remaining episodes of "Big Brother," all airing on CBS.
Thursday, September 22 at 9 p.m. ET (live eviction)
Friday, September 23 at 8 p.m. ET (Final 3 host season retrospective)
Sunday, September 25 at 8 p.m. ET (2-hour live finale)