‘Big Brother’ recap: Double Trouble
Double eviction! If they keep this speed up, we could all be done with this by Sunday. Then we can get on to spending our time on more highbrow cultural events, like watching Death Race. But in the meantime, let’s revisit the week (and sorry we’re up late today; once again, New York bumped Big Brother for a preseason football game): When we left BB last Thursday, the houseguests were being repeatedly slammed into a wall — which is a lot like a recurring dream I have, from which I always wake up smiling.
Whenever an endurance challenge is introduced, I always press pause on my DVR and try to guess just how simplistic the houseguests’ responses to it are going to be. But I could not dumb my brain down to as flat a line as it would take to imagine Ollie’s playbook: “My plan is to go all the way.” You, sir, are a shrewd strategist! But who am I kidding? It’s unfair to blame the houseguests for obvious comments like these, because the producers must constantly pose unanswerable questions like “What was your plan for staying on a swing?” What possible answers could there be for that? Everyone gamely states the obvious, however, and yet I can tell it bothers Memphis; every time he answers these questions, you can see in his eyes that he has died a little inside.
When we picked up again on Sunday night the houseguests gradually dropped until it was only Dan and Ollie left. I have read the conspiracy theories that the producers are giving Dan insider information to help him win. The doubters ask, “Why else would he have known to put on a windbreaker for a long, drenching night?” My response to this is that Dan is not getting help; he just has a brain in his head. As a contestant, you should know that HOH competitions are often endurance contests, so why wouldn’t you play it safe and dress warm for every one? What’s the worst that can happen, you have to take a sweater off? As my mother would say to me as a child, “You can always take layers off. You can’t always put them on!” Hell, I put on snow pants before I watch an HOH competition at home.
With Ollie and Dan left alone on their swings, so began what I call “The Week Dan’s Brain Got the Best of Him.” I have liked Dan’s game play up until now, especially considering how doomed he looked at the beginning, pairing with supernova/lost cause Brian. He’s thrown challenges so no one gives the obligatory “you’re a physical threat!” rationale, and he’s been likable to everyone, careful to let others make waves. But he pushed it too far this week.
NEXT: Allied forces
First, Dan promised Ollie that, if allowed to win HOH, he would give Ollie safety. Dan then, without bidding, offered to protect someone else that Ollie requested. When Ollie came up with no one else, Dan forced him to pick someone, Michelle. And then, without Ollie even asking, he offered Ollie the power to pick one nominee, and, if a POV winner took someone off the block, to pick the replacement. What the hell kind of deal was that? I’d hate to be there when Dan buys a car: I have a feeling the negotiation ends with Dan insisting on paying for the dealer’s car to get undercoating, too.
Dan loves to brag about his reverse-psychology strategies: “I made one of the worst deals in Big Brother history…and I couldn’t be more excited about it!” That kind of smug confidence and spinning of failure must be exhausting to be around: At dinner, him saying, “I just made the worst meal in the history of food…and I couldn’t be happier about serving it!” doesn’t make it any more appetizing.
(Although I’m sure the one person he does apologize to is his girlfriend Monica, judging by how eagerly — and often — he wears the “TAKEN” shirt that he got from her when winning HOH. He doesn’t seem to have taken it off yet, and Memphis was disgusted by such whippery. I think Memphis is going to invent a new drink named the Dan: It’s one part water, three parts whatever you want me to have, dear.)
At this point, I thought maybe Dan’s plan could work. Yes, he made his alliance nervous when he put up Memphis with Jerry, but he told Memphis it was all in the name of keeping the Renegades, their super-secret sub-alliance, even more secret. Memphis was nervous about being a pawn, and Renny was nervous about Dan’s complicated plan. But he appeased her the way he appeased Memphis — by offering her an alliance name! I wonder if that works in the business world, too. Perhaps the next time that I’m trying to take a page from the music section to put in the TV section here at EW, and the music editor gets mad, I’ll pull him aside and say, “Tell you what. You give me this, and from then on, you and me will be called the Bad Boyz of EW.” And if he still plays hardball, perhaps I’ll make us matching Bad Boyz satin jackets. How could he resist?
Dan showed moments of self-doubt, talking to himself about the possible pitfalls of his strategy. But I’m not sure if that was actual doubt; I think it was just a good way of getting more screen time. Because what better way to make sure you get on the show than to make the producers’ job easier by narrating your thought process? Hell, if everyone would just proclaim things like “Wow, Big Brother, now that I am seeing a giant challenge filled with spread cheese, lube, and pirate hats, my first thought is ‘Whaaaaaaa?'” If producers get it there, they won’t need to drag anyone into the diary room to say it again, so everybody wins.
NEXT: Michelle’s mad skillz
A big motivator for Dan’s soliloquies is the fact that he just likes to hear himself talk/yell. The problem is, when he gets too much time to plan his speeches, they make no sense. Take this quote of his when nominating Jerry: “I equate it to football. You took a shot at me in the game, I respect that, that’s part of the game. This is just me getting a first down. But a first down for Dan does not mean game over for Jerry.” You couldn’t mix that football metaphor more if you had Knute Rockne making love to Pete Rose in the middle of it.
But the plan still made sense, to a degree: by filling in his alliance on his deal with Ollie, he didn’t antagonize them by putting up one of his own people: they knew they all still had the votes to get out Jerry. (Though I’m still not sure what kind of sleight of tongue he used to explain it: Even knowing that their alliance was safe, wouldn’t Renny and Keesha realize that the whole point of the plan was to keep Dan smelling like a rose, thereby making him a more deadly opponent in a final two?) And he was in a good situation: When Memphis won POV and took himself off, Dan could have gone along with Ollie and put up Keesha. Just as with Memphis, Dan’s alliance still had the votes to keep her in. And even with Jerry going, he’d still stay in good favor with Ollie and Michelle and, one would assume, April, by proxy. But no, he put up Michelle, and that’s when he knocked over the little chess board in his head.
(Before I get to that, I’d like to interject a couple of quick notes about the astronaut POV challenge: Try as the BB set designers might to construct elaborate scenarios, every single game tableau ends up looking like the set for a junior high musical. Also, I loved hearing Michelle brag about her puzzle-solving skills, right before she was stymied by her inability to pull magnets off of a board. It should have been of little surprise: Earlier, when the phone rang (for Jerry’s tearful call from his wife), Michelle bellowed, “Do we answer it?” No, Michelle, you put a unitard on it. When Michelle figures out how to solve the ringing phone puzzle, she can move on to something a little trickier, like, say, an “I left a loaf of bread on top of the toaster, why isn’t it making toast?” conundrum. Then, and only then, is it time to work her way up to magnets.)
Anyway, back to Dan’s misbegotten strategy: Memphis urged Dan to put Michelle up in his stead, because if he dinged Ollie, they’d all be left living with a crazy Michelle. Rather, crazier. “I just don’t want that kind of hostility in the house, to be honest with you,” said Memphis. “And she’s even like a friend, and she’s still a bitch.” Hey, what are friends for, if not to call you a hostile bitch?
Dan ultimately did put up Michelle, but did so in a nonsensical way. He devised an elaborate game called “Replacement Nominee Roulette,” where everyone at the veto meeting had to declare whom they thought he should put up, and Dan had arranged it so everyone would pick someone else. His goal was to stir up such animosity in the house that he could slowly back away, his actions forgotten as everyone focused on their new enemies. But as Renny accurately said, “You honestly think that was all necessary?” First of all, how was this name-checking stunt supposed to foment legitimate anger when everyone knew that he had assigned each person someone different to name? In the end, Ollie freaked out, but the target of his bowl-tossing, barbell-flipping rage was still Dan. So, with Michelle equally apoplectic, now Dan has two people on the jury (and again, probably April) who hate him.
NEXT: Ollie, Ollie, oxen free?
I have a question to insert here: Why did Ollie…hell, why does anyone buy someone swearing on their mothers/children/significant others/gods anymore? It’s been going on for years on BB, and it’s a vow that’s just as often broken as it is kept. Why do people still consider this oath a valid currency? What does it really mean in the context of a goofy reality show? That’s a schoolyard promise; if you buy that, you have to buy crossies as its legitimate antidote. If I were someone’s mother and my child invoked my name in a Big Brother pact and broke it, I would be no angrier at them than if they had stepped on a crack and risked breaking my back.
Ollie’s anger seemed less spurred by his and Michelle’s likely elimination than by the humiliation he imagined he’d suffered in front of millions of people. What reputation was being sullied? Well, up until now, he’d cultivated the perfect image of a clean-living…oh, wait, he held gropefests under a blanket for the cameras. Well, at least America knew he was a straight-talking…er, actually, he contradicted himself on a minute-to-minute basis, agreeing with whoever came within a three-foot radius of him. All right, at least America knew that he was a powerful competitor…though he never really won a competition, and in the subsequent veto challenge, he was the only one not to find a single one of his veto medallions in the haystack. Well, at least America knew where he stood when it came to turning his hat sideways. And not even Dan can take that away from him!
Michelle was bounced first, but not before giving a speech in which she parroted everyone else’s “Vote for yourself, not the person next to you.” This has been used so often that it doesn’t mean anything anymore. It’s the Big Brother equivalent of saying, “I’ve had enough of those Washington insider fatcats!” She was so sure Dan was America’s player, and was surprised when Julie said he wasn’t. (“Oh my God, then he’s crazy,” she said, in a brilliant pot/kettle retort.) Though to her credit, it was a little misleading of Julie. No, Dan wasn’t permanently America’s player, and yet he was for the week he dinged Jessie, which was what rightly raised suspicion.
Then there was the rapid-fire HOH competition, “Future Headlines,” which was a nail-biter. It looked like Jerry had it in the bag before a last-minute rally and tiebreaker victory by Keesha. Through it all, Keesha looked like she was going to have a heart attack; she was shivering and wincing throughout. Boy, Keesha is a very attractive woman, but someone should tell that to her facial expressions.
Keesha put up Jerry and Ollie, naturally, and Dan won the POV, keeping things as they were. Ollie was bounced, 3-0, and walked out of the house without hugging anybody. He looked steamed talking to Julie, but told her that he was less pissed than confused at Dan’s shenanigans. Hey, join the club. He did concede that, having betrayed Dan in the show’s first week, it could have been a case of “an eye for an eye, a two for a two.” Yes, and remember Ollie, what goes around, comes a frown! (Check out PopWatch today, where Lynette Rice will interview both him and Michelle: You never know what other clichés he might mangle!)
And now there are five: a strong alliance of four (one half Renegades!) and Jerry. Jerry has been on the block so many times that he’s left a denim shorts ring on the nominee chair, but he’s always been rescued in lieu of someone more objectionable. This may be it for him, however. I don’t see the Dan alliance fracturing quite yet; I think they’ll stay to the final four, but it’ll be interesting to see where things go from there. My prediction? Dan will come up with another game called, “Confusing Plan Roulette”: He spins an elaborate scheme that makes no sense whatsoever, and whoever’s head explodes first is eliminated.
What do you think? Is Jerry really the stealthiest player out there? Does Dan have a chance in hell of winning?