Previously on Big Brother: The whole dang season. Mostly, you need to know that our final three are Tyler, Kaycee, and JC. Sunday’s episode was almost entirely flashbacks, and then they started the first phase of the final HoH challenge. There wasn’t enough new material to warrant a recap, but now we’ve got ninety minutes of finale.

You know what? Those flashback episodes are usually painfully awkward. But bringing in Jeff Schroeder to sort of prompt them made it feel at least a little bit more natural. Jeff spent a long time doing pre- and post-show interviews and he could make it sound conversational and less like they’re trying to remember the topics the producers assigned them.

Also, it seems likely that this will be Julie Chen’s last episode of Big Brother. I mean, nothing has been announced, but it doesn’t seem likely that she’ll stay at CBS. So if this is it for Julie, I have to admit that she’s been really good for the show. Yeah, we’ve all made fun of the Chenbot, but she’s done a good job, especially in the way she has to interview people immediately after a big emotional event. And you know what? It’s really fun when the live shows get a little off schedule and she starts to unravel because you know she’s going to bring it in on time either way. Good luck, Julie! (Please do not misconstrue this as support for her husband. I respect Julie’s choice to stand by a loved one, but he’s a bad man.)

The aformentioned Julie kicks it to the tape for the endurance competition. Our final three are hanging from spinning jetpacks. Despite promising the throw it to Kaycee, Tyler endures. Even after JC falls, Tyler keeps hanging on and this is not the time to start backing out of promises. I mean, not “start”, but “continue”. Kaycee drops and she’s irritated that Tyler didn’t stick with the plan, but she’s not too wound up yet.

Hey, there’s Dr. Will in the live show audience!

Jumping back in time, it’s the second part of the HoH competition. It’s a combination memory / rock climbing challenge. You have a question like “first four houseguests to survive an eviction night on the block”, and then you climb the wall to place the appropriate names. If you’re right, you get an animation of a laser etching their faces into “Mount Evictus”. If not, you have to try again. Whoever does all three rounds the quickest wins. We see Kaycee first, and she struggles with the second question (the first four people evicted unanimously) because she forgot Sam was evicted. But she nails the much tougher third question about the first four to drop during an endurance competition.

JC is not as quick on the wall as Kaycee, which should come as no surprise. He gets the second question right on the first try (apparently), but struggles with the third one. That one’s simple memory – you can kind of backtrack the big questions about eviction, but if you don’t remember this competition, all you can do is guess.

Results! Kaycee finished in 18:55. JC was just behind at 19:34, so that means it’s Tyler vs. Kaycee in Round Three. Kaycee is super emotional and I think I’m rooting for her now.

And now it’s time for Dr. Will to sit down with the Jury. I love these segments because Will has openly disliked everybody for years. I think he’s like me in the way that he’s finding it harder to relate to these young people with every passing year. I mean, I think this season has been great on so many levels, but I can’t say there’s anybody that means a lot to me.

Before they can discuss the final three, they need to know who the final three are. People kind of want the next evictee to be Angela, and I didn’t get the impression she was especially nasty to people doing her tenure. She just won a lot and had to evict people and gives the impression of being somebody for whom everything is easy. Angela tells everybody about Level 6 and it’s crazy that nobody really caught on to that alliance. Haleigh figured it out by the end of her run, but didn’t do anything with the knowledge.

There’s talk as to whether Kaycee deserves to win and people argue that she didn’t do anything with her five Vetoes. But she didn’t have to. The people she wanted to go home went home. Her big move was winning vetoes so the nominees didn’t. People are impressed that JC managed to play everyone and their reactions vary from impressed to angry. Brett is still kind of sulky about being betrayed by Tyler. People agree that Tyler played a great game, but there are a lot of people who thought they had deals with him that ended up in the Jury house. It’s kind of a short and bland segment this time around.

Julie announces a new season of Celebrity Big Brother this winter, which turned out to be a lot more fun than I expected. I might recap the new season. We’ll see how that shakes out.

And now we’re live for the third round of the HoH competition. I would think Kaycee and Tyler would each take the other to the Final Two, but I don’t know what’s going on with those kids. It’s a variation of the traditional final challenge. There are videos of each jury member talking about their time in the house and making several factual statements. If those statements are all correct, they’re “totally right”. If any are wrong, it’s “not quite”. Whoever gets the most right wins. There’s also a weird angle where they’re pretending to be broadcasters. Like, Brett is doing a half-assed take on Jim Cramer. They keep calling the videos “oddcasts”, which makes me hope we’re going to get some podcast references. I won’t be happy unless Angela talks about the time she was making sandcastles with Tyler…. Durden and JC…. Chasez while Bosch plays with a squeaky toy. Unfortunately, they’re mostly more in the style of YouTube videos. Five videos in and they’re tied with a perfect score. This is like when Thor fought Juggernaut and they just stood there for hours without moving. They both get the seventh video wrong, so it remains a tie going into the last one. They also get the last one wrong, which means they’re tied at six.

So it’s a tiebreaker, which means math! How long was the Jet Pack competition in seconds? Man, I don’t even think they tell you your time, so they’re taking a big old shot in the dark. Kaycee picks 3400, Tyler has 2002. It’s actually 3413, so Kaycee just about nailed it. She wins both showcases!

And that means it’s Kaycee’s time to decide who she’s kicking out of the house. Each potential evictee gets a chance to speak. JC gets very garbled as he tries to explain why Kaycee doesn’t have the Jury votes to beat Tyler. Tyler just invokes their day one deal. Kaycee seems to genuinely like both of them, but she chooses to evict JC.

In the final Chen-Moonvesterview of the season, possible ever, JC is worried about whether he can say “screw” on TV. Julie gets one question out and he talks forever. There is literally time for two questions and he doesn’t actually answer the second one.

The Jury enters and it’s so weird to see these people dressed nicely. I mean, some of them (Scottie) still look like grubs, but for the most part, they’re all clean and shiny and runway ready. They’re all kind of expecting JC, so it’s not much of a surprise when they bring out the last member of the Jury.

They get to, as a group, ask three questions of each finalist. Haleigh asks Tyler what his biggest strategic moves were. He cites Level Six and his multiple final two deals, which I think is more of a sore spot than he thinks it is. He also mentions the power app he never used. Brett asks Kaycee the exact same question. What the hell? Kaycee says she focused on her social game and I wish she’d talk about the times she and Brett pretended to fight because that was great.

Bayleigh asks Tyler why they shouldn’t be mad at him for their evictions. Tyler apologizes to her for making an enemy out of her. Julie is getting cross with how long these answers are taking. Angela asks Kaycee about a layer of her game that we’re not aware of. She talks about her social game again. Man, if there are only three questions each, they should have questions that they can’t answer the same way.

Sam asks Tyler why he deserves to win over Kaycee, and it’s because he loves everybody and he always knew what was going to happen. Kaycee gets the same question, reversed. It’s because of her social game and because she loves everybody. The questions are an absolute snore this year, right?

Now they get a chance to say why they deserve to win, even though that’s the last question they each answered. Their answers are very similar to what they already said. Why are we dropping the ball so close to the finish line, Big Brother?

It’s time for everybody to put their vote keys in the vote wheel. Angie almost talks in a normal voice for a second but then she remembers she has to put on a show. Faysal somehow manages to not swallow his key on the way to the pedestal. Julie keeps reminding people that they’re putting in the key for the person they want to win, and I wonder who she thinks is confused. Probably at least three of them, actually.

Julie decides to tell everybody there was, in fact, a relationship between Tyler and Angela. It’s weird to devote time to a thing everybody already knows. Julie asks about Haleigh and Faysal, and they confirm it’s the real deal. Then, it’s Chris and Bayleigh. They’re happy to see one another (The non-Jury evictees are on stage now and Rachel looks amazing). Chris gets up to talk to Bayleigh up close and then he proposes, and that’s nuts. They knew one another for three weeks total and she hasn’t been in society for months. This is a weird thing to do to her right now, but she accepts. Sorry everybody else, you will not get a chance to talk because Julie is reading the votes.

JC voted for Tyler. So did Angela. Sam voted for Kaycee. Brett voted for Kaycee. Haleigh voted for Tyler. He just needs one more. But Faysal and Scottie both vote for Kaycee, so now it’s 4-3. This is a nailbiter! Angie voted for Kaycee. It’s tied up and it’s all going to come down to Bayleigh. Oh, that’s not good for Tyler. Kaycee wins! I am happier for her than I expected! The two of them get to leave the house and rejoin society and I am just now realizing that Kaitlyn did not get to say anything and I’m also realizing I don’t remember how to spell her name. I’m not going to look it up!

Last thing is America’s Choice. The top three were Haleigh, Brett, and Tyler. And the winner is…. Tyler! He’s America’s Favorite so he gets another $25,000. He seems genuinely touched.

Well, that was a fun season that came right down to the wire. They did some really good stuff this year. Not having returning Houseguests was a big thing after Paul sucked the joy out of last season. The Hacker Comps were really clever and made for some interesting gameplay challenges. The power apps fizzled, but two of three were actually known and affected behavior, so that’s something. I had a great time watching and recapping this year and it proved that Big Brother still has gas in the tank after twenty seasons.

And now, I’m very tired. Thanks for hanging out with us all summer!

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