An epic Power of Veto competition so close it comes down to a "sudden death" round sets the stage for one player to face the united wrath of the entire House.
Is racism back for good this season on “Big Brother,” or is it more of a personal issue that one person has with another and they’re just not willing to let it go.
Well, considering that issue seemingly started on Day 1 with very little provocation, and has included several extremely harsh comments, it could be argued that there’s a little bit of both going on.
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And it’s spreading. At first, it was mainly Paloma Aquilar who had a massive problem with Taylor Hale simply because the pageant queen was interacting with the guys in the House.
Paloma is also paranoid the guys are already forming a thing and trying to create a counter girls alliance, so she may have more issues going on than just a problem with the beautiful queen who brought stunning garb to the “Big Brother” House.
What’s been even more disconcerting to watch, though it has always been a part of the game, is how sweet and supportive Paloma has been to Taylor to her face before trashing her for the exact same thing in the Diary Room.
Case in point, the aforementioned clothes led to Taylor being coaxed to “do a lap” around the House to show off her stunning, sparkilng ensemble. Paloma was up on the balcony and shouted, “She’s a baddie.”
But she only had bad things to say about the incident in the Diary Room, saying she’s “flaunting” and lacks self-awareness. But, as we noted, she’s no longer alone in her disdain.
Jasmine alleged that Taylor is just wearing fancy clothing in the House for attention. Meanwhile, Taylor had told the women that it was “open season” on the closet, inviting any of them to wear her garb after she has — so it’s not like she’s being cold or standoffish.
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Now, for the devil’s advocate side of things. We can’t defend Paloma’s mad-on for Taylor as it seems to have no merit at all, but we can say that she appeared to extend an olive leaf to her made-up rival when she asked what she might know about the guys working together.
Taylor admitted in the Diary Room in prior episodes that she’s always been comfortable around big guys and her hope was that by ingratiating herself with them, she might get them to start talking game with them.
Unfortunately, she hasn’t bonded as much with the women. And when she read the paranoia in the room about the guys forming some kind of alliance (which is not happening), she didn’t really want to play in it. So when Paloma asked her if she had any intel, she said she didn’t.
Then, she made a key tactical error by talking to Monte Taylor about the sense of paranoia among the girls about a guys alliance. What Taylor didn’t know was that Monte felt close to Paloma — closer than he does with Taylor — so he went back and told her.
And from there, it was on. Paloma had already pitched Taylor to Daniel Durston as a nominee, but Daniel didn’t go that direction. Now, she made it a full-on assault, getting Monte and the guys to help spread the word that Taylor needed to be targeted immediately.
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That's One Floppy Veto
This week’s Power of Veto competition was actually deceptively challenging, while also looking like a lot of fun. The contestants rode mechanical horses down a straight track with lances made from pool noodles, thus the “floppy.”
They had to hoop rings for points across three passes with the most points earning victory. It took place across multiple one-on-one heats until there were only two contestants left, and then it was an epic battle for the ages.
It was also incredibly surreal and bizarre — but epic in all the best ways.
Heading into the POV, nominee Michael Bruner had tried desperately talking to probably everyone in the House to see who might be willing to play for him if they got picked to compete. We saw three of those exchanges and they all went terrible. No one was willing to stick their neck out.
The only thing we could think is that if he stays in this House and winds up HOH sometime soon, they’re going to have to come groveling back and try to convince him to work with them or at least not remember that they didn’t want to have his back at all.
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Regardless, what instead happened was that the super-fan literally channeled “BB” legend Janelle Pierzina so that he would give everything he got. And then, in his first round, he went up against the HOH himself.
It was a close battle, but Michael pulled it out, setting up the biggest stakes of his young game so far. And he faced off against Ameerah, who proved surprisingly adept with a floppy lance.
What happened next was astonishing. Not only were they virtually identical in their skill level at the game, they were identical in each heat. They both picked up three rings in the first, five in the second and four in the third. That’s beyond tying, that’s something almost supernatural.
It created a “sudden death” situation. Basically, the runs would continue but the first time one person picked up more than the other, it would be over. Ameerah was one of the ones who told Michael thanks but no thanks about playing for him, so his eventual victory had to be even more sweet.
He defeated the HOH who nominated him. He defeated one of the Houseguests who said they would not have his back (though in Ameerah’s defense, she said it was because she didn’t think she’d be good at the game — wrong!). And he had the power to take himself off the Block.
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Do we even have to spell it out? With Michael coming off the Block, Paloma was relentless in painting Taylor as a duplicitous liar. She said that Taylor said Paloma was targeting the guys and wanting to get two big guys out, which wasn’t true.
Taylor finally got wind of what was going on and completely fell apart. That’s the moment captured on Live Feeds where she was crying in a room that has fueled a lot of the internet chatter about microaggressions and racism being a factor in Taylor being targeted.
Certainly we are a society that creates a lot of negative stereotypes about minorities, with Black women taking probably the brunt of those misconceptions and perceptions.
Not shown on the broadcast are comments expressing concern that she would be loud if she were nominated when she has shown no loudness thus far, and that she’s been aggressive in the House, when there’s no evidence of that anywhere.
But Live Feed viewers, and members of last season’s all-Black Cookout alliance, are watching and they see how these perceptions of Taylor have been echoed across “Big Brother” seasons past.
No Black woman has won “Big Brother,” and with them having to battle perceptions of them based on racial bias from the moment they walk into the house on top of everything else, it’s going to be an even harder battle for them to ever get there. And the way things are looking, Taylor will join a long list of potentially great Black women players taken out too soon for some nonsense.
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Houseguest Report Cards
Nicole Layog (41) appears to have been the only person in the house not completely swayed by Paloma’s trashing of Taylor. We already had her in our top spot, but this just proved she’s not a sheep, she’s shrewd and yet she’s playing a very smart game. She didn’t step out to stir a growing mob to try and save Taylor, but as far as game goes, that could well have been suicide. But she did show intelligence and grace, on top of all the reasons we already love her. Grade: A-
Ameerah Jones (31) proved herself strategic in prior episodes and then she proved herself an incredible competition beast with this POV battle. She was the only one who had to compete three times, and she quickly nailed a strategy and got stronger and stronger. Take someone who has a strong social game, a cunning mind for strategy and throw in competition prowess and we have a beast in the making! Grade: A-
Paloma Aquilar (22) might make us feel icky, but we have to give credit for the fact that what she’s doing is working. She got her target on the Block through the sheer power of her social game, as she has zero power this week due to being a Backstage Pass holder (she can’t even vote). If Taylor goes home, she’ll have cemented herself as an extremely influential individual, so whoever she targets next had better watch out. Grade: B
Daniel Durston (35) is just following the House, which is not unwise for a Week 1 HOH. If you rock the boat too much and make too big of moves, you can find yourself targeted. We give him credit for initially targeting a potential threat to his game, but now he’s just appeasing the house, which isn’t nearly as solid a move for his personal game. Grade: B-
Monte Taylor (27) rises marginally from the invisible pack for also effectively persuading people that Taylor is a threat and a liar and someone who needs to go. Again, it’s a bit icky and disappointing that he fell for this so effectively without talking to Taylor and giving her a chance. But on pure game play, he’s proving the power of his persuasion, which is a good tool. Grade: C+
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Alyssa Snider (24), Brittany Hoopes (32), Indy Santos (31) and Jasmine Davis (29) are lingering just above the pack because they’re still tossing around this Girls’ Girls Alliance. We aren’t totally sure if it’s locked in, but the fact they’re looking at a long-term strategy puts them miles ahead of so many other people in the house this summer. Grade: C+
Joe “Pooch” Pucciarelli (24), Joseph Abdin (24), Kyle Caapener (29), and Matt “Turner” Turner (23) continue to ride the middle. Don’t notice me for as long as possible is a great strategy to survive in the game — but it can be hard to defend if you make it to the end with a thin resume. Grade: C
Michael Bruner (28) saved himself, which is a testament to his drive and his passion for this game. That can carry him far. But it also potentially exposes him as a competition threat. And as someone already targeted, he could find himself an easy target again. His best bet is to either gain power himself or disappear into that middle pack and let the bigger personalities fight it out. Grade: C
Terrance Higgins (47) is probably safe this week with Taylor on the Block next to him, but he still needs to figure out some kind of strategy moving forward. It looks like Daniel is willing to use him as a tool to forward his own game, but that puts his fate in someone else’s hands. That said, everyone needs to step it up and start thinking about their long game. It’s wild how little long-term strategizing is going on outside of Paloma and some members of the girls alliance. Grade: C-
Taylor Hale (27) made one mistake, and that was trusting Monte enough to tell him about Paloma’s strategy to bring the girls together. Unfortunately, it backfired when Paloma denied it altogether and instead painted Taylor as a huge liar. Too many people bought it and it will likely cost her her game. It’s so hard to know who to trust in this game! Grade: D-
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- “Here’s the thing I wish I could have said in my speech. I adore hanging out with you. You are not the target in my eyes ever.” –Daniel (telling Terrance he’s a pawn)
- “I just want us to be able to at least, artist to artist, be like, ‘Okay, I got your back and I’m not hunting for you.'” –Terrance (to Daniel)
- “It’s open season on my closet. After I wear something, you guys can go for it.” –Taylor (to girls)
- “I can’t help but show this lovely lady some of my dance moves. It’s nice to dance with someone other than my mom.” –Kyle (about Taylor after she did a fashion show)
- “I love shopping and dressing up as much as the next girl. But I think you’re just doing this for attention, and we can see that.” –Jasmine (about Taylor)
- “She’s a baddie!” –Paloma (praising Taylor publicly)
- “Taylor looks like a straight-up living doll. I don’t think flaunting around like this is a pageant is the best idea. Like, if that doesn’t scream lack of self awareness, I’m sorry.” –Paloma (trashing Taylor privately)
- “When I’m HOH, I’m wearing this for the entire week.” –Taylor
- “I don’t think I’m ready for that.” –Indy (not interested in playing POV for Michael)
- “I would hate to say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll hook you up,’ and then when it comes time, I don’t want to be like, breaking any promises.” –Matthew (not interested in playing POV for Michael)
- “I just want you to have the best chance and I don’t know if that’s me.” –Ameerah (not interested in playing POV for Michael)
- “It’s becoming clear that winning the Veto for myself is the only chance I have of coming off the Block.” –Michael
- “WWJD. What would Janelle do.” –Michael (invoking “BB” legend Janelle Pierzina)
- “Like, you see every single season. The girls, they team up with the guys … and the jury’s girl, girl, girl, girl. That’s, like, a formula.” –Brittany
- “We thought you were a guy.” –Jasmine (hushing girls when Taylor walks in)
- “You telling me I walk like a man?” –Taylor
- “You’ve been talking to the guys. Like, what’s your intel?” –Paloma (to Taylor, extending olive branch?)
- “I wish I had some.” –Taylor (not taking it)
- “I can’t trust her. Point blank, she’s just not a girls’ girl.” –Paloma (about Taylor)
- “She will stab you from the back and make you a turkey club sandwich.” –Paloma (about Taylor to Joseph and Monte)
- “We need Daniel to know she’s a b—. And I’m not even f—ing afraid of her because she’s rubbed so many people the wrong way.” –Paloma (to Nicole about Taylor)
- “Have you two had a conversation?” –Nicole
- “Bro, I’ve tried to be compassionate toward her, she is such a b—- toward me. She is not talking to any of the girls. This is her last final straw to try and save herself because I think she feels like she’s about to be put up or something.” –Paloma
- “Personally, it’s been harder to open up sometimes between me and you about game and life, but I generally don’t have a problem with you. It has come to my attention, though, that you’ve been rubbing the house the wrong way, and what’s good for the house is good for the long term game.” –Daniel (to Taylor after nominating her)
“Big Brother” airs Sundays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET and Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.
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