Welcome to the first regular episode of the season. Everyone has been introduced, though not everyone is memorable–just ask the other contestants. There are at least a couple occasions of forgotten names in the house.
When we join the house guests, they’re still talking about Phil’s takeover twist for Vanessa and Da’Vonne. What could he have in store for them? Da and Vanessa are both sure that whatever it is, it’ll be good for them. And they’re right. Phil explains that on the Amazing Race, there’s something called the Fast Forward, which allows a team to skip all the challenges for that leg of the race and move directly to the pit stop. Now he introduces the BB Fast Forward: Da and Vanessa are safe until next week. They can’t be nominated or evicted. Not only that, but they each need to pick one other house guest to also receive the fast forward.
This does not make Da happy. She’d just wanted to sit back and coast through, but now she’s got to make a decision. She and Vanessa both talk to everyone in the house, getting a feel for everyone and seeing who can help them out down the line. Vanessa specifically wants to pick someone who can win next week’s HoH competition and keep her safe.
Da tells Shelli point blank that she’s not going to pick her or Audrey because she doesn’t want anyone to get suspicious about their alliance, and Shelli is not happy. As always, cracks in the female alliance appear early in the game. Da also talks to Steve, who is nervous that people don’t seem to like him. She tells him that people are intimidated by him because he reminds everyone of Ian, who won the game a few seasons ago. He needs to up his social game so that everyone can get to know him better, but that only seems to freak him out more. It’s already obvious that he’s a nervous kind of guy, so more paranoia probably isn’t good for him.
I like Steve, so I was kind of hoping that Da would take him under her wing, but she’s too smart for that. She ends up picking Liz, who had told her that she’d win the next HoH and keep her safe. Similarly, Vanessa picks Austin (who seems more likely to win the HoH than Liz, but hey, we’ll see whose strategy works best).
Austin is pleased but not shocked by the decision. He’s willing to work with Vanessa…at least until a better opportunity comes along. He’s also bonded with Jace, and the two quickly become bros, entertaining themselves with bro code rules while possibly annoying everyone else in the house. And while having a conversation using shells disguised as cell phones, they bring us our first officially named alliance: Shelltown. (Silly title based on punny conversation? Or rip off of successful alliance Chilltown from season 2? Let me know what you think.)
Other little groupings have also emerged now that everyone is getting to know each other. Jeff and Jackie, of course, are sort of working together, but sort of not. It’s pretty clear that Jeff wants to use Jackie as someone who’s got his back, but at the same time, he’s also trying to distance himself from her. He doesn’t want others to (rightfully) think they’re working together, but he also tells us in confessional that she wanted more of a relationship than he did. Of course, we haven’t heard anything from her point of view on their relationship, so who knows if she’ll cling to him when he inevitably tries to get close to the other women in the house. Personally, I hope she’ll leave him behind. He’s starting to seem a little bit obnoxious already, and I think she can do better. If Jackie could hook up with Da and Audrey and even Vanessa, if I had my way, we could maybe have a successful female alliance. But I won’t hold my breath.
Shelli and Clay are also getting close. Even though there’s a ten year age gap between them and she’s been divorced before, they’re both very clearly into each other. And although they don’t strike up an official alliance, they both promise not to repeat things the other tells them in confidence.
Da immediately picks up on what’s going on with the two of them and goes straight to Audrey about it. Da basically confirms my first impression of Shelli–that she’s more interested in boys than the money or the alliance. Da and Audrey agree to keep her in the alliance but to keep her at arm’s length. In the meantime, they get together with the HoHs, James and Jason, and work up a plan with them. Everyone seems to know that this isn’t going to be a lasting agreement. This is just going to get them through the first week and once their target is out of the way, then they’ll see where things go.
And who is that target? Why, none other than our bro Jace. The foursome sees him as a big threat, physically and socially, and none of them trust him. Plus, the girls (and much of the viewing audience) find him obnoxious. The problem, though, is that Jason and James can’t just nominate him, because it’ll give him two opportunities to save himself (during the BoB and Veto) competitions, so they all agree to backdoor him. This means they need to scare up some pawns. The HoHs spend the next little while talking to several of the other house guests about the idea of going up as pawns with varying degrees of success. Jackie assures James that she is up for anything, as she wants to prove that she’s here to play.
Steve, on the other hand, is honest about his feelings and tells both guys that he isn’t comfortable being put up as a pawn because he’s already nervous about the way people feel about him. He’s seen season after season of this game, and as everyone knows, pawns often go home. This doesn’t go over well with the guys, who more or less throw him a guilt trip for not immediately agreeing to their plan. Now, this conversation just made me cringe. I like Steve, and I fear he’s just screwed up his entire game. I understand wanting to be honest. I understand wanting to get the point across that pawns often get evicted. But by not playing along, he’s just proved difficult to work with, and when everyone else they talked too seemed at least somewhat willing to work with the boys, why should they want to work with Steve when they don’t know if they can trust him?
So I’m not shocked when, at the nomination ceremony, James nominates Steve, along with Jackie. Perhaps he’s thinking that if they can’t get Jace out, Steve would be good enough too. I’m pretty sure that’s what I’d be thinking if I were in James’s position.
Jason picks Becky and John, and now it’s time for the first Battle of the Block competition, called Dubob!
In this competition, the team members have to carry foam blocks across beams (including a rotating one) to a build platform at the end and construct the skyscraper pictured in their blueprints. If any of them drop a block or fall off the beam, they have to start back at their last platform before continuing on. Steve talks again about how pawns are always sent home, which tells me he and Jackie are probably going to lose, and I’m right. Though the competition is close, Becky and John finish their building first and win the first BoB. And thus, Jason is dethroned as HoH, and Steve and Jackie (unfortunately) remain on the block. Now the only thing that can save them is the Veto competition.
What’d everyone think of this episode? Who do you think will end up going home this week? Does Steve have a chance at the Veto competition? Leave a comment with your thoughts below!