“Big Brother” recap (17.18-17.20): Week Six

That cliffhanger from last Sunday’s Big Brother is finally resolved when Shelli, James and Johnny Mac are the last three hanging on for dear life. James keeps saying, “Anyone wanna make a deal?” Finally, Johnny Mac tosses himself down off the crag and Shelli pipes up with her deal: No putting up Shelli or Clay, no backdooring either. James bites and tells her that sounds good to him, so after hours of thunder, rain and terrorizing eagles, Shelli surrenders and James is crowned HOH. Pretty soon, though, these deal makers become deal breakers and the Sixth Sense alliance goes up in smoke.

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SUNDAY, Nominations

It doesn’t matter what James said to Shelli up on that rock—he tells Meg, Jackie, Becky and others that this is their week to get out a big target, and the only way to do that is to put up Clay and Shelli alongside each other on the block. One of them will have to go home, and it’s clear everyone’s sorta vying for that person to be Shelli. What James doesn’t know is that Becky goes straight to Clay and tells him to make sure that he and Shelli act good all week. It’s a little bit confusing, but my theory, after watching episodes all week, is that Clay is a lovable dude among houseguests.

Frankly, I think by the end of the season, when they watch these episodes back, they might change their mind. If anyone should go, it really should be Shelli. Sure, she’s sweet and loyal, but Clay’s lackadaisical social game isn’t really a match for Shelli’s fierce niceness. James has been HOH before, but finally, six weeks into this show, the man is proving he isn’t afraid to get a little bit down and dirty. “Enough with the pawns,” he says. True that.

Vanessa knows she needs to sit down with James to reason with him. By now, we know what Vanessa is capable of. Some former houseguests (like Jason) might call it master manipulating, but it’s cool, calm and collected—if, at times, impassioned—but Vanessa’s one-on-one approach is natural. She tells James she knows her actions last week seemed sketchy. After all, she was HOH when Jason went home and he was the house sweetheart. After vetoing the house plan to evict Austin, it would be entirely possible for anyone not in Sixth Sense to be targeting Vanessa now. Instead, she says, she wants James to consider how foolish it would have been for her to make a solo move like that. She offers a deal to James that he can’t refuse: safety through the final seven, plus one person of his choice as safe. In the diary room, we can see he actually takes Vanessa’s word seriously, which is a major relief. But how will he take Clay and Shelli’s campaigning?

The showmance that just might be broken apart meets with James in a last-ditch effort attempt to convince him to keep them. Shelli explains how Austin is the one who has been acting shady, dating all the way back to Audrey’s eviction. James hears what they’re saying, but he thinks he’s too convenient that they’re throwing Austin so heavily under the bus, while wholly admitting that they know all this juicy info about Austin’s “Judas” split-personality game-playing because, duh, they were in an alliance with him! In the diary room, James says he doesn’t buy what they’re selling and still wants to go through with his original plan. If James and Vanessa team up and work together going forward, they have the clout to be the next #Henchmen (Derrick and Cody from Big Brother 16).

In nominations, James puts up Clay and Shelli, telling them that their deal is obviously off. Shelli speaks up, announcing to the house that this is proof that James is the kind of person who will go back on his word. No one really budges or looks peeved. Shelli says that she had nothing to do with James’ eviction. The camera pans to Vanessa who looks stunned and disappointed that Vanessa just said that. Since there’s no Battle of the Black comp this week, the episode ends in slo-mo with the gang getting up from their seats at the roundtable.

WEDNESDAY, Power of Veto

After the nominations ceremony ends, everyone is supposed to hug each other as per usual but when Vanessa walks up to Shelli, she’s a storm, muttering words as Clay stomps about, brushing past Vanessa. The vibe in the house is: We know you’re mad at us for putting you lovebirds up against each other, but this is a game, and you had opportunity to save yourself, trust only yourselves, and not rely on deals to keep you safe. Shelli laments to Clay over and over about how she should’ve stayed up on that rock during the HOH competition. Big Brother’s disappointments are akin to life disappointments. The minute you form expectations, you might as well consider yourself disappointed.

Clay starts yelling a James. Shelli runs from the other room snapping her fingers at Clay like a dog, “Stop it! Stop it right now!” Clay simmers down. James books it to the backyard. Vanessa is called to the diary room. She is clearly upset with their behavior. “How unfair. You don’t accept responsibility and put the blame on other people,” she says, her voice straining. Imagine beyond these few episodes we get each week, there are minutes and seconds worth of drama that unfold all hours of the day in the BB house. Without technology (house rules suggest the houseguests can’t even hum or sing songs), there is a lot of downtime. Vanessa’s emotions are shot. She and Shelli have it out. Shelli tells Vanessa that she’s on the block with Clay this week because of Vanessa’s decision. Dumbfounded, Vanessa echoes back: “Because of your decision, wow…” Shelli tries to apologize and pull Vanessa back in, saying she didn’t want it to come to this, but Vanessa says she is done. She walks out into the backyard crying. Everyone is sitting out there, aware of what just transpired. “Do you know how infuriating this is that they’re trying to pin this on me?” She says to the few houseguests who walk up to comfort her. James tells Vanessa that confirms his decision—he knows that Vanessa takes responsibility for her role in sending Jason and Jeff home, but Clay and Shelli continue to remain elusive.

Shelli sees everyone outside whooping it up and laughing now and motions to Clay from inside in the house, “Oh, Vanessa’s out there laughing with everybody. Isn’t that cute?” She walks out and asks what everyone is talking about. No one answers her. She asks James if he can come in and talk to her and Clay and James asks if Clay’s calmed down, because Clay is a child and needed to cool down after his tantrum. Clay says he got upset because they have James’ back and he’s pissed James didn’t see that. Shelli is cleverly attempting to appease James by telling him that he was never their target. James says he knows things don’t add up, and that their explanations are too little, too late—because what they’re really doing is cementing proof that James was on the outside of their “loyalty” the entire time. He wasn’t aware of their plans, and was often the pawn attached to forging a plan for them. It’s a proud moment for James. He holds his ground and doesn’t let Clay’s behavior intimidate him.