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Spoilers from the Big Brother live feeds! Read no further if you don't want to know who won Parts 1 and 2 of the Final Head of Household competition!
Three houseguests remain. The two who will face off in Wednesday night's finale for the coveted final Head of Household position have been decided...
Won Head of Household part 1: Paul
Won Head of Household part 2: Nicole
At the mercy of the other two: James (needs to be taken to the end if he has any chance at Final 2)
In case you're new to Big Brother, or your memory is rusty, the Final HoH competition is three parts. All three remaining houseguests compete in Part 1. The winner of that (Paul) advances to Part 3. The two non-winners (Nicole and James) compete in Part 2. The winner of that (Nicole) faces off with the winner of Part 1 (Paul) in Part 3, which takes place live during the finale night. Whoever wins Part 3 evicts one of the other remaining two, which means whoever doesn't get evicted makes Final 2.
As we previously reported, Paul won the endurance competition that was Part 1 of the final Head of Household. That left James and Nicole to face off in the mental competition, which is usually a timed competition that involves remembering the order of events that took place in the house. From the conversations had among the final three when the feeds came back after HoH Part 2, it sounds like it was a timed competition involving placing pictures somehow. Though James managed to finish the puzzle before timing out, it sounds like Nicole smoked him with her time. No offense to James, but given his previous performances in competitions, we were expecting Nicole to beat him with flying colors. And so she did.
So, this means James is at the mercy of Paul or Nicole, as he has no shot at the final head of household competition. Nicole or Paul will win that, and whichever does will decide who sits next to them on finale night.
Personally, James seems like the obvious choice to take to Final 3, but only if we're talking about game-play. And let's face it, the jury votes come down to much more than that. It's usually a combination of previously-set loyalties, who's still mad about their own eviction, and some percentage of actual game play. If James gets to the end, he's likely to get Natalie's vote, but nothing else is even remotely set in stone. If he has one thing going for him, it's that he's the least intimidating option for Nicole and Paul, if they're hoping to go to the end with someone who's not likely to talk his way into the jury's heart. James may be charming in his own pranky sort of way, and he's played the game unemotionally, so there's not likely to be a ton of bad blood between him and the jurors. But I don't see him knowing the right things to say to win over the jury on his own. He either has the votes or he doesn't.
That said, Paul and Nicole are either working each other hard to secure each other's support in the event that the other wins Part 3, or they're actually planning to take each other. It's hard to tell what's going on, as is normally the case in this part of the competition. From what I've seen, Paul is working Nicole hard against the idea of taking James to the end. Though he's been friendly to James, he's talking to Nicole a lot about how James doesn't deserve to go to the end, bringing up stuff James has said and done in the game in the past, and basically shining a light on how much James has relied on them to get to the end.
Paul's not wrong, and it's smart of him to use these remaining days to work on Nicole and get into her head as much as he can, but I wonder if he's aware that by campaigning against James, he's also making a case for why James shouldn't win this season, which may sell Nicole on the idea of taking James to the end, should she win Part 3.
However, if Nicole is seriously considering taking James, she's doing a good job of letting Paul believe otherwise, frequently talking about she and Paul being the final two, and overtly celebrating "their" victory, no matter who actually wins the big prize.
Again, it may be all talk. Or maybe Nicole is sold on the idea of taking Paul. James is, after all, a likable guy. He's also a veteran, who may have Da'Vonne's support in the jury, since they came from the same season. And if Nicole is concerned about that, and whatever sway Day may have with the jurors, she could decide to take her chance against Paul, believing she has a better chance to win against a non-veteran than a veteran. UPDATE: On Sunday afternoon, Nicole sat in the Safari room by herself and hashed out her finale speech. She's practicing scenarios that include James in the Final 2. And the only way James is in the Final 2 next to her is if she takes him. Right before it cut to fish, she was practicing a part of her speech where she admits "I honestly didn't want to take him to the final 2..." So either she's planning on taking James, or at the very least, she's not ruling that decision out.
I'm just as uncertain of what Paul's going to do if he wins Part 2, to be honest, but if I were in his seat, I'd probably be leaning toward taking Nicole. Like Nicole, Paul is pushing hard on the idea of him and Nicole being Final 2. He talks about it like it's locked in. And of he and Nicole, Paul is far more likely to be what-you-see-is-what-you-get, playing with his heart and a mostly open hand. So who knows? Maybe he will bring Nicole, thinking he has a better shot at winning next to her than he would James.
And he might not be wrong. If Paul does take James, he might be sure he'll lose Nicole's vote, and then also Corey's. And he might also assume Da'Vonne will vote for James over him. And Natalie would vote for James over him. That's enough votes against him not to risk it. With Nicole, Corey is probably the only obvious vote. Everyone else is -- from Paul's perspective -- up for grabs.
Of course, the jury votes are never easy to predict, and given how heated things are in that jury house, there are factors in play that Paul and Nicole don't know about.
If you haven't already, be sure to vote for America's Favorite Houseguest. Personally, I'd love for Victor to get it. Maybe he didn't have the best social game, but he made the right choice in staying loyal to Paul, which got him much further than he might have gone with other loyalties. Plus, he was a comp beast who came back from the BB-dead twice. That's worth $25k in my book!