With another one of the outsiders taking control as Head of Household, and another one of the blander members of the household pushed out into the cold, it seems like Big Brother 8 is really starting to show off the big personalities. Can Dick maintain the audience’s sympathy for more than six minutes? Will Jen make it through an hour without expressing vanity to put Narcissus to shame? Will I ever see an hour of this show where someone doesn’t cry?

It’s eight o’clock on a Sunday, so it’s time to find out!

We kick it off with the previouslies: Remember Nick & Daniele’s heavy face-sucking session (ewww!)? What about the entire house deciding they don’t like Mike (aww!)? Or Eric’s failure to push Kail out of the house (d’oh!), and Dustin’s success at the Head of Household competition? Just in case you forgot to tune in last week, Big Brother 8 is there for you.

And just in case you missed anything in tonight’s show, I’m here for you too! Welcome to another scintillating Sunday!

The black & white replay of Mike’s eviction comes up first, with the always-dynamic Julie Chen reading off the 7-2 result. As footage of Mike shaking hands and handing out flowers plays, we cut to testimonials: Kail celebrates the power of prayer and Dick’s debacle in nominating her and Jen; Zach confesses to being the other vote for Kail; Dick gloats over eliminating one quarter of an alliance that, as far as I remember, was broken up a week ago.

As the screen fades to color, Dick launches into Day 27 by smirking to Kail that "this was all worked out long ago," and working hard to peg the second eviction vote on Jen. B&W confessional footage contradicts Dick, who seems to truly believe what he’s saying. Elsewhere, Nick launches into an investigation of who the second vote might have actually been.

Did Nick take a few too many concussions while he was a football player? I can’t be sure, but in the space of about two conversations, he manages to convince Amber and Jameka both that his was the second vote. Eric arrives on-scene and is only too happy to reinforce that, handily helping him to evade yet another pit that America seems to have helped him jump into. Elsewhere, Dick confronts Jen again about being the second vote, and hustles into the bedroom to compare notes with the ladies. Amber presents her case one more time, and in a short moment Dick is on his feet, looking directly at Daniele and saying, "I think he should go this week."

For emphasis, he adds in confessional that Nick’s value in the house is like the "stock market in 1920." Imagine how bad it would be if it was like the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929! Then Nick would be totally screwed.

With that bit of insight over, we pop over to the footage of Dustin winning the Head of Household competition. First there’s some confessional footage of him celebrating, and then to Amber weeping enthusiastically over the good news (Time To Crying: less than 10 minutes). Dustin alerts us to his four targets (Jen, Kail, Zach and Nick), and we hear some generally uninformative reactions from them on how they feel about his victory. There’s a quick shot of Amber and Dustin privately celebrating (this is turning into an Amber-heavy episode, isn’t it?), and then we’re off to see Dustin’s Head of Household room!

This is never tiresome, is it? Kail manages to spice it up with her input on how Dustin’s family looks so happy, and doesn’t seem to have any problems with his choice of lifestyle. Fans of red-faced crying will also find a highlight Dustin’s reaction to a letter left from his brother, in which he’s told how proud everyone is that the world can see him for the person he is. We’re that much closer to completing the Sobbing Safari, team! We only need Eric, Jessica, Nick and Zach (which might be difficult, because I don’t think Zach has feelings beyond "hungry" or "tired") to shed some tears, and we’ll have a complete set.

The Amber festival continues, as we cut to some pleasant dinner table conversation. Dick makes a comment about women who claim their dogs are their children, and Amber pipes up to object. "Love is love!" she claims, and in confessional says that she has two children — her daughter and her dog. Dick gets up from the table, but not before passing the judgment that Amber’s statement is bizarre; Amber fires back, demanding to know what’s so ridiculous about how she feels.

Eric pops up in confessional to comment on how ludicrous the entire battle is, and we return to the kitchen to see the clash of the mental titans wear on, and on, and on. Dick refuses to get out of Amber’s face, while Amber backpedals even while refusing to give ground. Finally Dick marches off, and Dustin arrives to provide comfort. As we cut to commercial, we’re given a shot of Dick looking smug as he slouches on the couch, and Amber looking exasperated as she dries a plate.

When we come back, it’s comedy filler time! First we see Dick creeping through the house in the dead of night to rig the sink to spray on the first person to use it in the morning (Daniele, ironically, and she is not amused). Then we jump into the middle of a conversation to hear Zach tell a story about "doing a comic book convention," and the bizarre S&M display he saw there. Cue a montage about how totally unpopular Zach is among the housemates, including a brilliant comment from Dustin ("He’s like the house Eeyore… it’s like Eeyore comes over and you hear that music, whaaa-whaaa") and a dazzling time-lapse shot of Zach approaching a full patio, and the housemates fleeing from him in bits and pieces.

Evidently that’s supposed to lighten the mood before we leap into some family drama between Dick and Daniele. He takes another stab at reconciling with Daniele, who reiterates her previous "This Is Too Hard And I Don’t Want To Do This Right Now" stance, underscoring it with some covered-face crying. Finally Dick pushes Daniele enough to blast him for being hurtful and mouthy, and in turn he apologizes (have we heard him do that before, for anything?) and pleads for the opportunity to make good in the future. As we head into commercial, Dick cajoles a hug out of Daniele, and I wonder if Dick’s going to remember this conversation when he tries to get Nick voted out of the house.

We come back with a quick interlude of swing dancing between Eric and Jessica, before Dustin appears through a doorway in a crown, cape and boxer shorts to announce the food challenge. The "Humpty Scramble" calls for teams of two, and quickly the housemates are paired off: Jen and Amber, Daniele and Nick, Eric and Zach, Dick and Kail. Each pair is given a tabard with a different color, and emerge in the yard to see buckets of slop, a big bowl full of broken egg pieces, and their very own wall with a large fragment of Humpty Dumpty (dangling legs included). In confessional, Daniele describes the scene, concluding, "…and we didn’t know if we were going to be diving in there, or what was going on."

Get it? Daniele is describing the puzzle challenge, and she can’t put all the pieces together? You got her to say that just for me, didn’t you Big Brother?

Seated on a comically large throne, Dustin explains the rules for the Daniele-minded: Find the pieces of the egg with the appropriate color, put it back together the fastest, and be guaranteed a slop-free diet for the week. The challenge begins, only to reveal that the egg pieces are giant pieces of foam soaked in water — relieving us of the worry that the food challenge wouldn’t incorporate repellent moisture somehow — and we watch as each team fumbles their way through re-assembly. Jameka and Jessica pull out the win, who quickly find out that even in victory they are screwed: They must between them choose the five who will end up eating slop for the week.

They carry the first slop bucket over to Dick, who seems to take it with good nature; the second is briefly head-faked toward Eric, but delivered to Zach; the third ends up with Kail, with smirks all around; the fourth goes to Nick, with some commentary from Jessica on his vulnerability. The last goes to Jen, who cheers for the opportunity and optimistically confesses that this will help keep her off junk food.

We come back from commercial to wacky-comedy music, and Nick interrogating Jen about whether she’s had a boob job or not. Jen refuses to confirm or deny it, prompting Dick to dig ever deeper into jack-assery while he grills her. What starts out zany ends up uncomfortable, and even the ensuing conversation — in which Kail awkwardly attempts to build an alliance with Dustin — doesn’t quite wash the taste of it out of my mouth. Dustin relishes the opportunity to use Kail to his ends, and as we hop up to the Head of Household suite, we see Jen taking her shot at self-preservation.

And poor Jen, it seems as though all the America’s Player trash is ending up on her lawn. Dustin cannily relates the second vote for Kail to "the mustard thing," as a bizarre anomaly to which no-one will own up, and Jen replies, "Who knows? Maybe it’s the same person." Man, am I starting to feel uneasy for Eric. I hope he can pull off a few more of America’s challenges, because there’s no way he’s going to be able to keep this up without getting busted. And speaking of America’s Puppet– I mean, Player, it’s time to check in with the next Sisyphean task assigned to him: He’s assigned to try to get Jen nominated for eviction, and heads off to the patio to try his luck.

Dustin happens to be holding court there, and reviews his options for the benefit of the others: Zach and Kail, or Jen and Kail. Jameka votes for the first alternative, and Dick tries to throw Nick into the mix. Eric attempts a different tack, and suggests putting Jen up against Zach. After Dick offers his approval on the patio (presumably speaking for the others), Dustin sums up that it either has to be Kail or Jen, Nick or Zach that has to take the boot.

When we come back from the break, we are offered a suitably dramatic shot of Dustin gazing upon the photo wall as he ponders. Jen figures that her eviction of Joe will grant her some measure of safety, while Zach cops to arrogance and says he feels secure too. Kail expresses some doubts, and hopes that her scheme of volunteering to be a pawn will pay off. Meanwhile, Nick — looking more and more like an understudy from a community theater production of Treasure Island — maintains his supreme confidence in his own immunity, figuring that he’s in "good standing" with Dustin. Did anyone else notice the build-up to the ceremony taking a lot longer than usual?

Finally, Dustin emerges at the kitchen table, explaining that his decisions were based on "competitiveness and strategy." Amber is drawn first as safe, and in turn so are Jessica, Dick, Jameka, Nick, Zach, Daniele, and Eric. Kail and Jen are left exposed, and Dustin rises to explain himself: Jen is a strong competitor, he says, and the whole house knows it; Kail, on the other hand, has shown "questionable behavior" over the past week, which ends her up on the chopping block.

In reaction, Kail in confessional squirms at the thought of being a pawn, which she feels "always backfires." Dustin appears next to back that statement right up, saying Kail is no pawn at all and he hopes she’s the one to go. We see Jen dabbing away tears, prompted by her apparently genuine hurt at Dustin nominating her.

As the housemates swirl around each other in slow motion, we close out the week with the usual dramatic questions: Will Eric be forced to do more mortifying tasks that will expose him as the house’s wild card? Will the power of Kail’s favorite Bible pull her out of the fire yet again? Will Big Brother manage to squeeze footage of people crying within the first five minutes of the show?

We’ll find the answers to all this and more as we head into the fourth week of Big Brother 8!

Posted by:Mike Smyth