By every surface measurement, Adam has been the most boring player this season. He has bumbled aimlessly between various factions of the house without fully committing to any of them. Because he has been consistently nominated for eviction alongside housemates who posed a clear threat, he has sailed pleasantly through rough waters. Because he has a raspy voice, and because he has always fundamentally approached the game as a fan — remember how he seemed like Jeff’s younger brother, even though he’s six years older than the Wonder Boy from Chicago? — there has always been an urgent tone to his confessionals, as if he was positively elated to find himself in so much danger.
And yet, Adam is in the final four of this season of Big Brother. And if last night’s episode happened to be the only episode you watched all season, you would be forgiven for thinking that Adam might be a dominant player. He won Veto and he won Head of Household, and neither challenge was easy: One was half-trivia and half-physical, and the other was a surreal memory game that required the housemates to remember highly specific language muttered by a Fortune Telling device at 4:30 in the morning. I don’t think Adam redeemed himself last night. The field in the challenges has been brutally trimmed — Rachel is the only member of the Final Four with anything approaching a successful record — so even a monkey could emerge triumphant. And, to borrow Big Jeff’s coinage, that’s what Adam has become: the Monkey in everyone’s Wallet.
I’m sure that Kalia will earn some hatred from fans for her performance last night. She was a shrill, crying mess, and her pump-up talk was hilarious: “I am a really smart, intelligent person! I know people! I have the gift of fricking gab.” It sounded like a Stuart Smalley impression. But if Kalia has fundamentally turned out to be a minor Big Brother player, she has never lost the ability to at least recognize what comprises good gameplay in this madhouse.
Kalia tried pleading her case with Adam, begging the Veto holder to take her or Porsche off the block. Really reaching now, Kalia reminded Adam of the promise the first eight housemates made to each other, over two months ago now, in the final few moments before the Veterans arrived: “We said ‘Newbies, no matter what, to the end.'” Then, she pulled out her trump card, the one argument that I thought might have actually swayed Adam: “You know fans. They love big moves. It’s your turn.”
“The mind,” responded Adam, “Is not one hundred percent made up.” And just like that, you knew that he wasn’t going to make his big move. Adam’s remarkable passivity as a player — a complete inability to make any difficult decisions — achieved a kind of Shakespearean grandeur in this episode, which can best be summed up by his line: “I gotta pick a side: the Newbies or the Vets.” Keep in mind, people: He is trying to “pick a side” in this, the final week of the competition, when both sides have essentially been reduced to rubble. He was probably hoping that, somehow, someone would make the decision for him: That Jeff would crush Daniele’s Sorority, or that Daniele would send the other Veterans packing.
Like Hamlet, Adam’s tragedy is that he simply seems incapable of making up his own mind. In fact, I think last night was the first time we have ever seen Adam genuinely angry at someone. What made him mad? Was it an insult by a fellow houseguest? Was it because someone stabbed him in the back? No: It was because Kalia, knowing that her eviction was waiting, exhorted him to do something, anything.
NEXT: How Michael Lewis’ Moneyball might explain Shelly, and how Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen definitely explains the Big Brother jury house.