Friendship fail! This time last week on "Big Brother 18," if you said Natalie Negrotti would win the next Head of Household competition, we'd be thrilled. We're still happy for her, but sad for ourselves that she and James Huling have turned to the Dark Side of The House and joined with Nicole Franzel and Corey Brooks. (For now.)

The two remaining showmances have made a final four deal. What a shock, right?

After a long HoH competition, Natalie was revealed to be the winner. We'll see that play out Sunday, August 21. However, just before the comp, Nicole talked to Natalie about targeting Paul Abrahamian, despite the five (James/Nat/Vic/Paul/Michelle) vowing to take out Nicorey and stick together.


It was suspicious timing -- and Natalie had previously mentioned that Nicole only talked to her when her own butt was on the line, like now. But it seemed to work, partly for personal reasons. Apparently Paul was the one who came up with "FT" -- meaning fake t*tties as Natalie's nickname -- which Paulie Calafiore and others used to mock Nat behind her back. (Nicole and Corey were part of the mocking or, at the very least, silently enabling, but apparently that's OK.)

So even before the HoH comp, Nat had it in her head to maybe target Paul. Before Friday's Nomination Ceremony, the next care package arrived, and it went to Michelle Meyer. She is safe for the week (she was anyway) and has the power of co-HoH. So both she and Natalie got to nominate one houseguest.


The plan is to break up the power pair of Paul and Victor, with Paul as the No. 1 target.


On the surface, it's a smart plan. There's no question Paul would win this game, if the finale were held today. Think about how much he's turned his game around. He was supposed to follow Vic out the door when Vic was evicted. Remember his "we blew it" goodbye speech? Paul turned that around masterfully, and even turned Paulie into his clone, then dumped him when he realized Paulie wasn't going to be an equal ally. That was smart. It's also smart to break up the loyal partnership he has with Victor, who is a comp beast but not a strategist. He is Paul's Manchurian Candidate, a weapon he can fire on others whenever. They are truly more powerful together than the showmances.

So why does this feel so icky? Because it helps Nicorey most of all.

It's not like Nicole or Corey couldn't win this game -- Paulie is probably arguing for them as we speak -- and the move shows Jatalie can't be trusted. Plus, what does Meech get out of this? Once again, she's the odd woman out, surrounded by showmances, and yet she's helping to take out their targets.

Also, not sure if this is true, but it wouldn't be a surprise:


This is the ultimate move for Nicorey, and saves their butts. It's the first smart strategic move Nicole has made in this game, and she appears to have pulled it off. So good for her. Or good for production. Plus, a juror will re-enter the game next week, and it could very well be Paulie. That would just give Nicorey and Paulie full power over the house, and of course they'd just take out Jatalie after whoever remains from Vic/Paul. Up to this point, Nicorey have coasted through this game, floating on a cloud of whining, ratting, talking crap, and hiding in bed, while pretending that's not 90 percent of what they do.


Corey didn't even lift a finger to save himself last week, since he knew Paulie was leaving. He is a total floater (or maybe even a coaster), but this helps him move forward, potentially past Paul -- who is a threat to win, but at least his win would be deserved -- and Victor, who busts his butt in comps. It's boring to watch people throw comps for "strategy," and just follow "the house," the way Nicole, Corey, and James have done. (Derrick, was this one of your tips to them? Do we need to blame you?)


Everyone can tell that Paul is the best social and strategic player left in the game, and Victor is the best comp player left in the game. After Paulie left, Paul had to know his number might come up. Well, it's up. Now we have to see who wins the Power of Veto comp on Saturday.

Because...

There's still a decent chance of backdooring Nicole or Corey. Because King Paul is THAT good. He wasted no time after the nominations; he approached Michelle and Natalie, lied about not lying, manipulated them into feeling bad for calling him a manipulator, and misted them so hard Dan Gheesling might tear up in pride.


This is why Paul is dangerous. He knew every button to push. Will it help him? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on who wins Saturday's PoV comp.

Just a few hours after the nominations, a plan developed -- OK'd by the now apologetic Natalie and Meech -- to take Victor off the block and backdoor Corey. That can only happen if Nicole and Corey don't win PoV. But there's hope!

UPDATE 1:

He did it! On Saturday night, after a several-hour Power of Veto comp, Paul was revealed to be the winner.


He needed it. We'll see this comp play out on Wednesday's show. By the time POV rolled around, Natalie had already swung back to wanting Paul out, and James was pushing for Paul or Victor to leave over Corey. However, now Paul will probably take himself off the block, and since Michelle nominated him, she gets to replace him. James was hoping to stay in the middle (his whole game this season) but now he will be the deciding vote -- so will he stick with Nicorey or Victor?
He's assuming Corey will go up, but Michelle would prefer to get out Nicole. It's her HoH at this point, but we've seen how impressionable she can be, and Paul would rather take out Corey. He thinks Corey is a better competitor than Nicole, and he's worried about next week's care package going to Corey. (They don't know that the final package is lame, just offering bribes for votes.)

Meanwhile, the real power is in James's hands, and as of now he wants to vote out Victor to break up Vic and Paul. He also said he'd nominate Nicole and Corey next week to break them up. (But that's without knowing there's a jury buyback, which could be Victor for a third chance to win.) So James is still bouncing all checks in the Big Brother house. Congrats to Meech, though, since it sounds like no one is targeting her. Does she have a shot at winning if she gets to the end? Two superfan winners in a row? Then again, how does she get to the end against two showmances, without Victor and Paul, unless one of the jury returnees helps her?

Stay tuned for the final nominations, which will come during Monday's POV Ceremony.

UPDATE 2:

On Monday, Paul used the PoV on himself, and Michelle replaced him with Corey. So either Corey or Victor will be evicted. It's going to be Victor.


Natalie and Michelle were waffling a tiny bit Monday, thinking they could still convince James to blindside Corey if they wanted to. But they won't. Paul and Victor have the strongest arguments to win at this point, and they are locked together. Michelle probably had her best shot at getting to F3 with Paul and Victor, but there's still a chance that she could get there with James and Natalie and -- if she does -- she has a better chance of winning. Not saying she would win, but no one would beat Paul, and Vic has made a strong case with comps, smart alliances, and decent social play. He doesn't seem as aggressive in the house as Paul, whose strong tactics scare delicate people like Nicole.

So, yeah, it's probably smarter for James to join Nicole in voting out Victor -- rather than Corey Who Thinks It's Funny to Burn Goats. But it still sucks to watch as a viewer, since we're on the verge of losing the only people who have really earned a win. Farewell (for now), Friendship.


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Big Brother
CBSTVPGJuly 6, 2000
Based on 15 critics

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