There’s a great moment at the end of The Wire season 2 that I’m going to spoil for you here. (Blah blah blah you should watch The Wire blah blah blah best show ever, let’s be honest if you haven’t watched The Wire yet you should probably just move on to catching up with Hannibal before it’s too late.) There’s a character, known as The Greek, who pops up a few times in season 2. He’s more shadow than man: A legendary figure who heads up a massive criminal empire that operates on what appears to be an international, maybe even global level. He appears before he actually appears: He’s a nondescript dude with a mustache, lingering at the end of a bar, listening patiently while his top lieutenant puts together big criminal deals.
The cops come close to getting The Greek. They have a witness who can positively identify him–or anyhow, who can point to a nondescript-looking man in a photograph and say, “That man is The Greek.” But by that point, The Greek is in the wind. He’s nowhere to be found. He left behind plenty of evidence to implicate other people–low men on the totem pole, people who operate locally, meatshields whose more obvious criminality makes a more attractive target for policemen. Meanwhile, The Greek stands in some room somewhere, looking at some other city he can rule. All they know about him is his nickname, The Greek. His last lines: “And I’m not even Greek.”
When I think about Derrick, I think about The Greek. He’s never been one of the two people anxiously awaiting the voting results on Eviction Night. He’s never directly moved against anyone. It’s hard to think of anyone who has walked out of the door thinking that Derrick had a decisive role in his or her fate. Maybe Donny. (In the Wire metaphor Donny is Lester Freamon, a cop who tries his best to work within a corrupt system; or maybe Donny is Frank Sobotka, a guy who tries to be just a little corrupt in a game that doesn’t reward half-measures.) “He’s never been on the block!” is how Frankie started talking about Derrick on Tuesday, bemoaning the fact that The Bomb Squad/Detonators/Whatever They’re Called Now weren’t putting in equal time in the hot seat. And yet when Frankie walked out the door, he said he respected Derrick the most.
Of course, Frankie also said he respected Derrick “because he’s playing for his family.” And earlier in the episode, it was clear that Frankie had no remote understanding about the machinations that led to his eviction. He played conspiracy billiards with Cody and Derrick, chatting behind Caleb’s back. “How long till Caleb comes to you and says, ‘We should keep Victoria?'” he asked—as if Caleb was the mastermind of this whole operation. Like, by comparison, imagine if Othello walked up to Iago and said, “Yo man, I’m pretty sure Cassio is planning an elaborate scheme to convince me that I should kill my wife. Can you, Iago, my super trustworthy friend whose name will definitely not became synonymous with ‘traitorous scheming liar’ lemme know if Cassio tells you about that? Thanks, Yawgster!”
Derrick ended his worst enemy last night, and his worst enemy still calls him friend. In a close Head of Household competition, Derrick triumphed, assuring himself a spot in the Final Three. But you could do a counterfactual and wonder what the house would’ve looked like if Cody or Victoria won—and you could make the argument that Derrick might’ve actually been better off, since that would’ve put the inevitably plan to backstab Caleb in someone else’s hands. Is there an angle on Derrick not making it to the Final Two now? Cody is his closest and most truest friend; The Hit Men have stayed true to each other above all else. And Victoria—well, Derrick seems to be the only person who has actually paid any serious attention to Victoria this season.
A larger question that may or may not matter after tomorrow: Would Derrick stab Cody in the back, and take Victoria to the final two? Based on our few glances into the Jury House, the Jury seems mostly aware that Derrick is the man who has been pulling all the strings–but Cody has played a strong social game, and he’s won more competitions. Derrick has to know this. He also has to know just how bad it would look to stab his truest friend in the back at the final moment. And he also has to know that, after three months of playing this game, nothing would further assure his triumph than sitting next to the player who has redefined the meaning of the word Floater. Will Derrick get blood on his hands? Can you play Big Brother without ever being the man who holds the stabby knife?
The Strategy of King Caleb: A Play in One Act
Frankie and Caleb are playing billiards. The hour is late, the mood tense. In the background, a record player projects Edith Piaf singing “La Vie En Rose.”
Frankie: “So why did you put me up on the block?'”
Caleb: “It was just your dadgern turn. Victoria is goin’ home.”
Frankie: “Is that the only reason?”
Caleb: “Actually, we thought maybe you would make a big move against us, win the veto, pull Victoria off the block, and then force us to vote either Cody or Derrick out, dadgum.”
Frankie: “Caleb, I was trying to send Victoria home last week.”
Caleb: “Right. And we’re for sure absolutely definitely not plotting behind your back.”
Frankie: “You just told me that you and the other members of my alliance were specifically plotting behind my back.”
Caleb: “But that’s just because we were worried you were plotting behind our backs.”
Frankie: “I wasn’t.”
Caleb: “Well, you shouldna not not done what we didn’t think you weren’t doing.”
Frankie: “I see.”
The light slowly fades from the stage.
I’ll have some more thoughts to share on the Big Brother career of Frankie in my recap for next week’s season finale. Suffice it to say. But give this to Frankie: He makes a hell of an exit.
Frankie knew he was on his way out. He did not greet his final fate with anger or recrimination—both completely understandable emotions, given that he made it this far only to be ultimately betrayed by the people closest to him. (Yes, Frankie’s whole “I played this game with honor” line was mostly a crock—but he did want The Bombonators in the Final Four.) He gave everyone a final speech:
“Caleb, I have been a king in this house, but I was honored to be your Queen. Victoria, please try to win something. Derrick, if I were just a little bit more interested in noticing the world outside of me, I would maybe think you’ve been completely running this game while more ostentatious players like me put targets on our backs. Cody, I’ve had better. But I’ll miss you most of all, Scarecrow!” And really, was there a more singularly Big Brother 16 moment than Frankie walking out the door, and Caleb—poor Caleb, lumpy Caleb, a man who constantly seems to be catching up with what happened five minutes ago—yelling after him, “Thanks for being my Queen!”
If you love Frankie, or you love to hate him, you’re probably in luck: I have a feeling that that exit just pushed him to the top of the list of returning Big Brother players in some future All-Stars/Redemption/Favorite Couples/Please-Never-Coaches-Ever-Again twist. This show loved Frankie. Julie Chen practically seemed more excited to meet him than vice versa.
In conclusion, let our very own Cody Coderson show you how to transform from the vice president of the Lacrosse-Bro Fraternity to the human personification of Pitchfork, in four simple steps!
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Got any geeky thoughts or questions? Email them to me at darren_franich@Entertainment Geekly column., and I’ll respond in a future edition of my