Previously on Big Brother: Nicole kicked it into gear at just the right time and one Veto for her third win in four competitions. She decided to keep her options open by taking Cliff off the block, which meant the only replacement was Holly. How is this going to shake out?

I admire that gameplay – I like Holly a lot better than Tommy and I really want a Holly / Nicole final two, but it probably makes more sense to get rid of her and increase your final two chances. So let’s see what happens!

Julie claims we’ve never seen a Final Five this intense, and I feel like that might be an exaggeration. It’s cool, but it’s been 21 years and that’s a bold statement to make. Anyway, she kicks it back to the Veto meeting, and Holly is a little nervous but she seems to still trust Cliff and Nicole. Tommy thinks flipping them will be easy. Nicole acknowledges it would be smarter to get rid of Holly than to keep their deal, and she and Cliff do not seem particularly set on a plan just yet. Then Cliff Hogg III gets worried that Michie is working with Tommy and that doesn’t even make sense. Why keep the person you think he might be working with over the person you know for sure?

Tommy goes out to plead his case and makes the bad argument that “I would be a number for you guys”. That doesn’t work when the next eviction will be based on one vote and there’s a chance that both of the people he’s promising could be on the block. He also promises to throw the next HoH, which is not really a necessary promise. He could try his best and achieve the same results.

Later, Michie asks Cliff how it’s going and Cliff tells him he doesn’t know where things are. It’s interesting that throughout this episode, Cliff makes no attempt to reassure anybody and I feel like this could have been a fascinating season if he’d been in a position of power more often. His weird blunt talk would have been fun to see. Michie reports back to Holly and he puts a negative face on Cliff’s already negative tone and that’s a lot for Holly to deal with.

Back at the live show, Julie says she’s been listening in and Cliff and Nicole still don’t know what to do. Man, the idea that Julie is secretly listening to them is creepy even though we know that’s literally the premise of the show. Putting a face at the other end of the microphones is weird, though. Also, there’s a live audience. Is Julie just standing quietly in front of them listening to the feed? Or does she leave the stage and they all just watch TV? Attending the live show seems very unsatisfying either way.

And now it’s time for Tommy’s Ill-Advised Confession Tour, as he sets out to tell Cliff and Nicole that he knows Christie outside the house. There is no real upside to him doing this and without Christie in the house, no downside to not doing it. I mean, two may keep a secret if one of them is dead. Naturally, he tells them about it in the most dramatic way possible, and it’s also weird that he keeps saying Christie’s ex is “a member of (his) family”. Wouldn’t you just say, like, sister or whatever. I think this is all a cover-up for the fact that she dated his second cousin and they met one time before. Michie walks in at this point, which is hilarious, and Tommy asks him to leave, but Michie needs to take a shower so they decide to go into another room.

Nicole appreciates the honesty but feels like keeping this secret makes him less trustworthy and that’s really the only way for that to play out. Later, everybody except Tommy is in the kitchen and they all start to talk about it. The best part is that Michie is carrying two watermelons, which is more watermelons than anybody needs. Michie makes the point that Christie is a vote for him and also says she and Tommy are “pretty much family”, which is a bit much. She’s the ex of an unspecified member of his family. That’s a person you sort of know. Cliff DRs that this makes him less likely to keep Tommy.

Then Michie and Cliff talk separately. Michie tells Cliff that they thought he had a deal and Cliff is like, yeah, sorry I might have to break that. There is something striking about Cliff just saying “I might betray you” without putting any kind of spin on it. Like these two are probably the worst people in the house to argue with because Michie is a bully and Cliff can’t even pretend to care about things he said in the past.

Later, Tommy goes to see Cliff and Nicole and pitch yet again. Michie just straight up listens at the door and are the walls made of rice paper this season? Is Michie going to be able to burst into a room Kool-Aid style? So Michie hears Tommy once again offer to throw the HoH, and here’s where reiterating an entire conversation is both boring for us as a viewer and hazardous to you as a player. Michie puzzles out what to do and he tells himself “Think, think, think” just like Pooh. Later, he goes to talk to Cliff and Nicole and sends Holly out of the room. That seems unnecessary.

So Michie tells them that Tommy went to him and promised the exact same things he just promised the two of them and it is not very convincing but they’re undecided enough that it doesn’t need to be super convincing. Nicole is tired of lies and would like a house meeting and Michie is all “Could we do that tomorrow?” and looks as shifty as possible. Nicole acknowledges that both dudes are blowing smoke but she has to “pick which cloud of smoke to walk into”. I’m impressed that, as this game gets more stressful for Nicole, she seems to react by playing better.

Here’s where I am – for Nicole, it might be better to get rid of Tommy. He seems a little more interested in working with Cliff. And the next eviction will be decided by the person who wins the Veto. If it’s physical, it’ll be Michie. If it’s a puzzle, she’s likely to win. Michie is likely to evict Cliff over her, since he’s been talking about him as a threat the whole time. Either Holly or Michie would take her to final two over Cliff, so if one of those two goes home this week, she’s set. Cliff is probably better off voting out Holly, but he’ll be Michie’s target then and I don’t see him getting to final two no matter how this ends up.

Julie tells us Nicole called a house meeting that caused a fight and we’ll see some of it at the end. But for now, it’s time to vote. Tommy and Holly get to make their final statements, and Tommy goes on forever and is very Tommy and I want to evict him so I never have to hear another speech again. He tells everybody that they can follow their dream, but specifically if that dream is to be on Big Brother. Julie tells Holly that Tommy took all her time, which is pretty funny, Go, Julie! Holly talks to her family and compliment’s Michie’s parents, and I feel like they kinda dropped the ball on some stuff. Like it’s maybe back to the drawing board on respecting women.

Now that I think about it, Holly might be a lock if she gets to Final Two. She was a strong player but wasn’t behind any big betrayals – she has a decent social game and a strong game game.

Time to vote. Nicole tearfully votes to evict Tommy. Cliff takes forever to say the name but also evicts Tommy. Not the best move for his game, but it’s the result I want. The nominees both look genuinely nervous, which has been unusual this season. Julie breaks the news and Tommy whispers something to Michie that we don’t hear and hugs everybody before leaving. He almost takes Holly’s bag on the way out. And then he leaves the house and turns on full Tommy Energy.

ChenMoonvesterview. We find out that what he said to Michie was “you got me”, and then Tommy explains that Michie told everybody a lie and everything he tells us is something we saw Michie tell them. This is not a good use of precious ChenMoonvesterview time. Tommy says he would have happily taken third rather than move forward with Michie, which is a Tommy thing to say. Also, it’s not like moving forward with Michie was an option.

And now it’s time for HoH. It’s the one they do almost every year at this time where they’re holding onto ropes and standing on a small platform, then the ropes spin them through the yard, bouncing them off obstacles. The setup this year has a lot of open flames and showers of sparks and I thought this was going to be really intense, but those are well out of the play area and they’re just going to hit soft blocks occasionally. The competition begins, and you know we’re not going to see the end tonight, so we’re just watching people rotate with no hope of a payoff.

Julie closes with a sneak peek of Michie and Tommy’s fight but they’re going to show it in full in on Sunday, so we’ll let Myndi cover it. Also, she likes Tommy better than I do so she might find the histrionics on display here somewhat more bearable. It’ll be fun!

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