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Julie Chen blogs 'Big Brother': Her look at the season's game changers

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Julie-Chen_lSo, we are down to the final three! And of course, that means another summer of Big Brother is coming to a close. This is always a bittersweet time for me because you have the excitement of the winner being named and the realization that another season is just about over. This has been a fun and unpredictable group of Houseguests…to say the least. As we get to the finale tonight (9:00-11:00 PM ET/delayed PT), I thought I’d take a look back at some game-changing moments of this summer’s Big Brother. Oh, and these are in no particular order, folks!

•    THE CLIQUES

We’ve always said Big Brother was like high school, and I think this season we proved it. There has always been at least two distinctive alliances in the Big Brother house. All we did this season was up the ante a little and let social politics take its course. As we saw when Jeff was quickly ostracized from his own “Athletes” clique, you can’t always force people to play nice with each other. That was probably the most interesting thing about our “clique” experiment. Some just didn’t click with each other, no matter how much they seemingly had in common. As mentioned, the Athletes basically fell apart from the word go, despite always winning challenges. The Brains never really bonded, and the Popular clique was targeted too fast to even strategize! In fact, the Off-Beats were probably the only clique that really ever had a chance to succeed and they did…for a bit, anyway. Although, here’s what I love about the twist and here is why it worked. When it came down to the end, each group had one member represented in the Final Four. No matter how much bickering and backstabbing occurred, no group was completely eliminated, because the Houseguests did what a lot of people do when in an unfamiliar situation — they adapted!

•    FAN FANATICS BECOME HOUSEGUESTS

Speaking of adapting, I think it’s important to include a key moment from the early part of the game in this countdown, namely the game play of two Houseguests who came into the Big Brother house as uber-fans of the show. But first, let me clarify…we have the best fans! Without them, we have no show and without them we don’t have a reason to do the show. Having said that, Ronnie and Laura came in to this summer’s Big Brother as two of our many uber-fans. They had a particularly hard time fitting in with the other contestants and adapting to their new environment. Both stood in sharp contrast of the other. Both were also eliminated over the course of a two-week span. I think it is safe to say you can link one’s eviction with the other. Because Ronnie overplayed his hand, it set up a chain reaction that lasted almost until the Coup d’etat took over. I give both Ronnie and Laura a lot of credit. Both were not favorites to win, but both gave it their all. At the end of the day, they really just got in each other’s way. I think their battle is really a big moment from this season, because it shows how balanced this game remains. Neither a fan nor a casual viewer really has an upper hand. Now that’s not to say a fan couldn’t win the game, it’s just to say that being a student of the game isn’t always going to guarantee an edge.

•    JESSIE’S RETURN

Jessie should have returned to the house with a possible advantage of having played the game before but ended up having a target on his back instead. His return to the game this season had a huge impact on the Houseguests. It also raises the question: What would have happened if Cowboy, Brian or Jessica would have been the one to return? When the Athletes won the first competition, it ensured not only Jessie’s return but also ensured their clique would have an extra man on the team. That should have been an advantage, except it quickly turned into a handicap. Jessie had played the game before, and he knew his mistakes and he thought he knew how to fix them. Unfortunately, I think he ultimately just ended up amplifying them. By nature, he is athletic and competitive, which are fine skills to have, but in his case, it also brought out an arrogance that can be off-putting. It’s a big reason why both Russell and Jeff turned on him. As a result, his master plan was always in danger of crumbling. To his credit though, Jessie did foresee his own demise. He knew when the “mystery power” of the Coup d’etat was announced, it was probably going to spell the end of his game, again.

•    CHIMA’S EXPULSION

We never like interfering with the game. Half the fun of Big Brother is just sitting back and watching what unfolds. It’s an amazing social experiment that is completely unpredictable. Once in a while, our hand is forced and we have to get involved. Whatever Chima’s frustrations, chucking an expensive high-tech microphone pack in to the hot tub was not the answer. Absolutely against the Big Brother rules…and everyone knew this going in to the game. When I heard Natalie try to cover for her by saying it “slipped,” I think it was Lydia during Sho2 that night who said, “They’re not stupid…there are cameras everywhere!” Took the words right out of my mouth!! I felt bad that Chima had to be removed from the game, but she brought it upon herself. Having said that, it made for another game-changing moment of the season.

•    THE COUP D’ETAT “MYSTERY POWER”

Jeff using his “wizard power” (the game-changing power awarded to him by America’s votes) single-handedly changed the course of the game. And, I loved it. For the naysayers of the group, let me set the record straight once and for all…we were ALWAYS planning on introducing the Coup d’etat again this season. Period. It just so happened that Chima was the H.O.H. at the time and it just so happened that she had managed to upset the man America awarded it to. All of a sudden “Jessie’s Angels” were in the hot seat and Jeff and Jordan had all the power (when Jordan’s jaw fell to the floor when he stood up to use it…oh, that was soooo good!). It also set the stage for an endgame full of more betrayals and paranoia. Two staples of Big Brother.

I’ve covered five game-changing events…what are your favorite moments of this summer’s Big Brother? Yes, notice the difference: I stood clear of trying to come up with my favorites…too many to count! Well, I will personally say the weekly “bump watch” of Baby Chenbot was always entertaining for me…HA! Once again, props to my stylist for getting unbelievably creative each week. I can’t thank her enough…she’s the BEST!

I know I’m the host, but I cannot wait for tonight’s Big Brother finale at 9:00 PM ET/PT on CBS!!! Not only is it live, but it’s also a two-hour show (this is a first). Oh, and there’s still so much to be done! Kevin and Jordan have to face off in the final part of the last H.O.H. Competition. The winner then gets to choose which of the other two will join them in the finals. The six jury members will also ask their final questions and then vote. We’ll also reveal America’s Vote (which, btw, you can still go to CBS.com/bigbrother to submit your choice today until 5:59 PM PACIFIC!) which could be the swing vote to determine the winner of this summer’s Big Brother! And, maybe we’ll finally get to see “The Kiss” between Jeff and Jordan that we thought would happen the night he was evicted. Oh, the anticipation of it all!!!