Paul's Final HoH Win On 'Big Brother 18' Could Spell Trouble For Nicole & James

It's been a wild ride on Big Brother 18, but we're not in the literal home stretch with the season finale in sight. Who could have predicted that our final three would be Paul, Nicole and James? While we didn't get to see the full competition on Friday night's episode, we know that Paul won the first part of the HOH competition. This actually means big, big things for the rest of the game that will be show on the finale episode. The final competition is split in such a way that Paul might have a major advantage going into the the third of the three parts. Given that he, James and Nicole are all equally as skilled in competition (with obvious high-performers like Victor gone), whomever Paul faces in the final part could be his competitive equal.

This ultimately means that Paul will have home field advantage because he will have time to mentally rest and prep. Let's rewind quickly and go over what we can expect in the finale. Now that Paul has won Part 1, he can sit pretty for a few days. In Part 2, Nicole and James will again face off in a mental competition. Whoever wins Part 2 will then square off against Paul in Part 3, where they will be quizzed by the Big Brother 18 jury. It will be a game of wits; who could win it all? While Paul is certainly in pole position with the best combination of physical agility and mental acuity at this point, Nicole is a strong contender to nudge James out of the running and make it to the final two. Paul certainly sees Nicole as his strongest competition:

Then again, it could all be for show. Paul might be trying to get into Nicole's head to seem wheedle her out so that he could easily glide past her and play opposite James. In these last few weeks, James has been far too reliant on being cared for by those he has aligned with and forgone utilizing any competitiveness within him. This makes him easy prey for Paul. Either way, Paul has the luxury of one win under his belt and the ability to play mind games. Overall, each of the final three seem to really be an island unto themselves in terms of strategy. Privately, each player has made promises to bring one another in the final two but who knows how legitimate these claims are.

Things are still a bit fuzzy but my money is on Paul to go all the way. He has consistently been one of the best strategists in Big Brother 18 and has proven himself to be a strong ally. At this moment in time, his footing is the most sure in this competition. Will he be able to continue this hot streak on the season finale? I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Images: Bill Inoshita/CBS