After a Scary-verse comp on Big Brother 25 sends the Houseguests out of the house, the new Head of Household solidifies the battle lines between the younger players and the older plays -- which side gains power and what do they do with it?
We're not sure how long it will last, but this early game battle of the ages on Big Brother 25 is actually making for some pretty compelling gameplay and strategy.
Add the extra layer of Survivor legend Cirie and her son Jared playing both sides of the house, and there's more strategic complexity going on in Week 2 than most games get up to after a month! We love seeing them play so hard so soon on such a long season — it bodes well for the long run.
At the end of Thursday night's live eviction episode, Julie Chen Moonves took us back to the house to find the Houseguests had all vanished and a cheap CGI portal in the backyard was the only clue. Seriously, BB, never improve on these dime-store budget effects. We love that this show is like a B-movie reality show!
This week, the action picked up and we discovered that they'd been teleported (you read that right) to the Nether-Region, which is not as dirty as it sounds. Actually, it looked like a backlot neighborhood at CBS Studios, which was fun.
What a refreshing place for a competition. Clearly larger in area than most comps, it was refreshing to see the HGs outside of their familiar environs. It also added a lot to the spooky mystique of this comp, hosted by the terrifying (hahaha) Nether-Gorgon.
As promised last week, someone was going to be trapped even longer in the Nether-Region this week. We just had no idea what that meant, and how it might already change the game. Certainly, these new twists are making players play harder than ever.
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.
This was a fun competition to watch play out as it was basically a horror-themed game of Musical Chairs, only instead of just finding a chair, HGs had to listen to clues to identify the right hiding spots from the Nether-Gorgon.
Each round, the NG attacked different hiding spots in the neighborhood, sending those HGs back into the House. He was kind enough to drop hints as to which places would be safe, but there were not enough spots in each safe spot to house all the HGs.
As for who was going to be stuck there? This wasn't reserved for who lost, or who got knocked out first. Instead, round by round, this game whittled the HGs down to just two players. It was the person who lost this final round who was going to stay trapped in the Nether-Region.
In some ways, that meant coming in second is like a loss, depending on what the Nether-Region had for that person.
Hey, can we take a moment to talk about Jared's incredible cockiness and confidence in that final round? It came down to him and comp beast Hisam for HOH, and this round had them Identifying three scratched phrases that came together to identify which porch door was safe.
Jared read two of the three clues and so confidently picked his door, you just knew karma was standing on the other side laughing. The complete phrase was, "Don't choose the door that starts with number four," but Jared never saw the first four words.
That's right, he ran straight for the door that starts with number four, sending a dejected Hisam to what he was confident was the wrong door; he said he couldn't see any scratched words. That's right, this season's competition beast was completely lost and still managed to win. By default.
He told the rest of the House exactly how he won, but it wasn't enough to stop the target on his back from growing. America said he was carrying his side of the House. Even had he lost, though, that would be yet another first or second-place finish, as he's done in every comp he's played in. So, she's not wrong.
Jared was kept in the Nether-Region overnight, but when he returned he came back with an unexpected twist and a huge decision to make. The Nether-Gorgon demanded more souls, so Jared had to pick someone to send to the NR.
However, the person he sent would remain there through the next nomination ceremony, which means they would be safe from being nominated. Everyone was saying they were also safe from being backdoored, but that's not how we read it. With BB not arguing with them, maybe they're right.
Jared, though, is probably the last person who wants to be in that position, as he is the person most playing both sides of the House.
On the one hand, he's with the younger alliance, The Handful (with Cameron, Blue, Jag, Matt, Reilly, Cory, America), but he's also working with his mom, Cirie, who's part of The Professors (Hisam, Felicia, Cirie, Izzy, Bowie Jane, Red, Mecole).
This makes it a monumentally difficult decision as he can't outright betray The Handful by choosing someone from the older side of the house, but it's also not in his interest to blatantly protect the HOH's targets.
In particular, last week's HOH was rightly feeling targeted — because Hisam came right out and told her side that he was targeting her. He told Matt it was happening, and then he told Cameron he was putting him up next to her. In truth, all three are his targets, with Reilly his number one.
To his credit, with that massive target on his own back, Hisam is playing a very direct and straightforward game as far as who he's nominating and who he's targeting this week. Also, Reilly had point-blank told him last week she was gunning for him, so turnabout his fairplay.
At least, that's what Reilly was hoping, because she'd also saved Jared last week. She was hoping that good grace would be enough for him to choose to send her to the Nether-Region to save her from getting nominated.
With his back against the wall, Jared chose not to betray his mother in the game, while also making sure to send someone from The Handful. He just chose someone Hisam wasn't looking at in Jag. So there's some damage control with The Handful, and with Reilly in particular.
Especially because Hisam proved himself a man of his word, putting Reilly and Cameron on the block next to one another. Jared told Reilly she had nothing to worry about, and he can keep playing that game by telling her she has the votes to stay.
It seems pretty unlikely, though, that she does. This week's Power of Veto competition is more important than ever. It does look like The Handful is going to get a little smaller this week. If Reilly manages to save herself, The Professors are happy to let Cameron go; and probably put Matt up as Reilly's replacement (assuming he doesn't get picked to play and win and take her down).
The way it's looking right now, Reilly is in trouble. Either way, The Handful will probably go down a number this week. With Jared not really on their side, they're going to be in a very tough spot next week, even if one of their own were to win HOH.
Sure, they could force a Professor to go home by winning HOH and controlling the Veto, but they'll need everything to go right to make that happen. And even so, could they get the one they want out most when they still might not control the votes as they think they would?
The more likely scenario is that The Handful will start to splinter and see if they can create new and different alliances with the members of The Professors. And considering how big both alliances are, this will more than likely work, sooner rather than later.
Cirie Fields (53, nurse) should not be in this position. Every time we go to put her here, we tell ourselves it shouldn't be possible. And yet, she is playing such an incredible game. It may be that she'll get picked off in the middle, when bigger targets are gone, but Cirie is so good at the social, personal game, they've no idea how dangerous it is to leave her in the house even a single more day. The longer she's here, the more she's trusted and beloved. It's what she does. [Grade: A-]
Felicia Cannon (63, real estate agent) is just so well-loved, and yet so savvy in this game. She's tight with Cirie strategically, but we're not sure the house sees it as more than friendship between the two older women in the house. If the house is underestimating Cirie's threat danger, which they somehow appear to be, they're definitely underestimating Felicia. [Grade: B+]
Jared Fields (25, exterminator) is at a crossroads right now because he did not save Reilly, and he's the one who made the wrong choice in the Nether-Region. If he doesn't massage this right, it could be interpreted as the intentional sabotage at least one of those things is (not saving Reilly). We did appreciate him pushing back against Cirie a bit, suggesting that they're a true partnership in this house. Perhaps together they can help him navigate this week. [Grade: B-]
Hisam Goueli (45, geriatric physician) is still an incredible threat, but it's way too early to be showing this many of your cards. This dude has won or come in second in every competition he's played in. He has two wins already and we're just getting started. He can't stay in power forever. His side might keep him to help them keep winning, but even they're going to be gunning for him when they safely can. Even worse, it might be too late to put this back in the can. [Grade: B-]
Jag Bains (25, truck company owner) has been playing the middle masterfully, but as he just got saved from nomination, we'll give him a slight tick upward. He's still not really seen as much of a threat by most of the house, though if The Handful does start getting picked off, his target size will grow. He either needs them to regain some control, or be ready to pivot. [Grade: C+]
America Lopez (27, medical receptionist) could be among that invisible group, and in many ways she is, but she also appears to really be seeing the house better than most of her aliiance (except for those already targeted). That means she's under the radar while also having a good understanding of the game and the moves that should be happening. That skill could help her later. [Grade: C+]
Izzy Gleicher (32, professional flutist) is in a good position right now, and she's being listened to, but she's still a potential liability to Cirie and Jared, who are surprisingly still in a power position. She's volatile and emotional at times. Plus, If she leverages her intel right, she could turn the game upside down, which Cirie knows all too well. But she seems to want to work with Cirie, and the longer Cirie has you, the tighter she has you. [Grade: C+]
Red Utley (37, sales), Mecole Hayes (30, political consultant), Bowie Jane Ball (45, barrister/DJ) & Blue Kim (25, brand strategist) are hoping everyone else forgets they're in the house. So far, so good. [Grade: C]
Cory Wurtenberger (21, college student) is a great student of the game, but he's also a bit too talkative about how much he's geeking out about everything and pretty much all the things in his mind. If he's not putting a target on his back by idolizing Cirie, he's doing so by showing just how strategically he understands this game. That's not a good long-term strategy. [Grade: C-]
Matthew Klotz (27, deaflympics gold medalist) is close to this week's targets, making him Hisam's backdoor option. He's well-liked in the house and considered a legitimate competition threat. If he or his allies don't gain power, it doesn't help that he's being put up as one of the top three targets right now. We're not entirely sure it's earned, and it could yet change, but for right now, he's not in the best spot. [Grade: D+]
Cameron Hardin (34, stay-at-home dad) is considered the second-best target this week. The Professors (Hisam) seem to think Reilly is running The Handful, but they feel that Cameron is probably her right-hand guy, so either one is a blow to the competition. Add to that their physical danger, and you've got someone who needs to find a way to change his fate in this game. [Grade: D]
Reilly Smedley (24, bartender) is in big trouble. Like Hisam, she put a target on her back right away. She is playing fiercely loyal to her alliance, and she's now seen as its leader because she was HOH when it formed. If she can figure out how to survive this week (win POV or have it won for her), she would need her side to win right away and then try to make herself the smallest target. [Grade: D-]
"Game's on the line. It's down to me and Hisam. I really want to show the rest of the house that I'm actually a competitor, which is the only way I can guarantee me and my mother's safety. See what you put me through, Ma?" --Jared (before final round of HOH comp)
"Hisam is carrying that team. Hisam is such a good competitor." --America (to Jag)
"Don't choose the door that starts with number four." --Nether-gorgon (Jared never found the first four words, but was confident anyway)
"Guess who the new Head of Household is? This was not my plan I'm already seen as a huge threat, and I'm only making the target on my back even bigger." --Hisam