Big Brother premiere recap: An All-Star move-in
It's been a longer wait than unusual, and it was never certain we'd get here, but welcome to the latest edition of Big Brother, this time with a whole new set of All-Stars moving in and gunning for the top prize. This time around, things are a little different because the cast wasn't revealed ahead of time. Rumors have swirled for weeks, but all we could do was wait until this two-hour premiere where all the players would participate in a live move-in. Needless to say, this recap involves a lot of names and a lot of descriptions of Julie Chen being awkward and trying to keep the live show from going off the rails. I won't necessarily be running down everything on everyone's resume because if you're reading this, odds are you're familiar with most of the players, and the episode itself is a lot of video package introductions. But as the first week of competition rolls on, we'll certainly get to discuss every one and their place in the current game. Now, let's get to the events of the premiere!
As the premiere kicks off, we're introduced to our first four players. There's Nicole, the season 18 winner, who's back to prove she deserved her win over Paul (as a side note, her narrative heading into this reminds me of Michele on Survivor: Winners at War); Dani, who hasn't played since season 13 but remains a total veto beast in the record books; Da'Vonne, a truly magnetic personality who's been voted out way too early in two previous seasons, and who hopefully gets some time to shine here; and finally, Christmas, who famously came in third place in season 19 after breaking her foot on Day 13 and having to shift her game from winning competitions to something more social and strategic.
This season, things begin differently. The four players, masked up, fresh off a two-week quarantine, and not in front of a live audience, enter the house and immediately begin their first competition. They have to rush to the backyard, look at a question, and then go and find the answer. The first two to find their answer — in this case, it's locating porcelain dogs in a specific room of the house, and each new batch of competitors gets a new object to locate — via a table game move on to compete in the first HOH competition later in the night. Christmas is the first person to land the ball in the hole that represents the correct answer, but then things get bad, and I mean real bad. Everyone is terrible at this table game. The other three players don't even finish within the four-minute time limit. It's embarrassing, but it happens again and again with each new group. Shame!
That brings us to our second group of four. We've got Tyler, the season 20 runner up who knows he can't coast on his "dumb surfer dude" vibe this time around; Ian, who won season 14 and seems to be just as weird and competitive as he was back then; Kevin, who came third in season 11 and has dreams of winning so that he can use the money for him and his husband to adopt; and Enzo, the season 12 Brigade loudmouth who is still loud but maybe, just maybe, has aged enough to bring some new wisdom to the game. Once in the house and competing, Ian is quick to win the game, once again showing that he's going to be a real threat in challenges. Similar to the previous group, everyone else here is pretty terrible at this table game. Like, ridiculously incompetent. Kevin at least manages to finish and advances to the HOH competition.
Look, I'd love to switch up the format here and make some good jokes and whatnot, but you know how these premieres go; it's a lot of the same stuff over and over again. So, on to the next group! There's Janelle, the three-time player who's never won, but who holds the record for most competition wins; Bayleigh, the season 20 player — no mention of The Challenge here, for obvious reasons, and the same goes for Da'Vonne — who was a target because of her relationship with Swaggy (now her husband!) and is looking to gain more control this time around; Nicole, one of the best players from last season and a true fan favorite, who made one or two fatal errors that likely cost her the game (though don't think I've forgotten about Cliff's hand in all of this!); and Keesha, who played all the way back in season 10 and believes that she'll be seen as a weak player (my early thoughts are that she's going to be an easy target, not necessarily a player no one sees as a threat). Out of this group, Nicole is the only one to complete the competition and move on to the HOH later in the night.
And that brings us to the final group of four, and our final contestants for the HOH. We've got Kaysor from season 6 and the first All-Stars, who's never made it to the jury; Cody, the season 16 runner up who, um, has a reputation among fans of the show; Memphis, the season 10 runner up who lost the final vote 7-0 and is hoping he can play a more strategic, forward-thinking game this time around; and finally David, who was eliminated because of a ridiculous twist in the previous season and never got to play any meaningful part of the game. I have to say, I'm very excited to see David here because I really felt like he got screwed in season 21. Anyways, the competition sees Memphis and Cody advance to the HOH competition, and that leaves us with 45 minutes to watch the house guests meet each other and then compete.
Thus begins the truly, truly awkward introductions. They all descend the stairs in groups of four and peek into the living room, and then refrain from a lot of hugs because Julie is desperately trying to keep the live show under 2 hours. It's peak Big Brother though because it's so strange and controlled and awkward that it becomes oddly beautiful, in a reality TV kind of way. It's hilarious watching Julie try to talk over their screaming and laughing, all while making the same joke about the last one to sit down being evicted. Incredibly cringe.
Once Julie gets everyone wrangled, it's on to the very first HOH competition, where Memphis, Kevin, Nicole, Christmas, Cody, and Ian all compete. They have to make their way across a path of elevated pads, some of which are wobbly and cause the players to fall, meaning they have to start the course over again. Memphis goes first and logs what seems like a respectable 1 minute and 22 seconds after two falls. But then Cody steps up and, after just one fall, completes the whole thing in just 22 seconds. There's barely any point in bringing everyone else out. Cody runs away with it, and that leaves him with the coveted HOH, but perhaps not the coveted task of nominating the first two people for eviction.
But, there's a twist. The losers all have to grab an envelope after they fail to beat Cody's time. After Cody hits the Diary Room and says that he was gunning for HOH because he doesn't have any relationship with the other All-Stars, we get to the envelopes. One envelope has a cash prize, and the other four contain "Have Nots," which means a week of terrible eating and living. Christmas snags the $5,000 prize, and the rest have to make do with slop and the Have Nots room for the rest of the week. As an added Live TV bonus, the big reveal of the Have Nots room is thwarted by a faulty door that won't open. Welcome to 2020, folks!
And that brings us to the final moments, where Julie tells everyone that as the season goes on, new rooms in the house will be revealed, beginning with the Safety Suite. That's all the information she gives us and the houseguests for now, which means we're left wondering what's to come in the next few weeks and what it might mean for everyone's gameplay. But for now, enjoy thinking about how this cast might tackle this game!