Danielle is the most interesting contestant in the house right now. Wait, roll with me on this for a second. She’s not the best player by a long shot. In fact, next to her three fellow Quack Packers, Danielle can’t help but look like a lightweight. Dan has turned the final month of the season into a veritable Hall of Fame tape, wheeling and dealing and encircling the whole house in ever-more-elaborate lies. Ian defeated all those early expectations that he was a fawning lightweight, executing a power move against one of the best players in Big Brother history — and when you consider that the Quack Pack only existed because his espionage gave it a reason to exist, you have to give him some extra credit for getting 4/5 of his midseason alliance into the final round. Shane’s game has gone downhill in counterbalance to Ian’s: Once considered a major threat, with two early HoH victories and three consecutive veto wins, Shane has spent the last month contentedly buzzing through the background, looking for all the world like the world’s prettiest and most fashionable Roomba. He won last night’s veto competition when it counted, though — and there’s nothing wrong with floating like a butterfly, so long as you don’t forget how to sting like a bee.
But Danielle. Right now she holds all the cards, and it’s impossible to know what her next move is. Her game has been dominated by two key relationships: Her frustrating flirtmance with the elusive Shane, and her day-one alliance with Dan. It’s difficult to pin down either of those relationships. Shane and Danielle have a weird sibling chemistry that can look a little bit like a grade-school romance, if you squint — and Danielle is squinting. Meanwhile, Dan’s initial role as Danielle’s coach gives their interaction the flavor of a student-teacher mentorship — but Dan has cheerfully thrown Danielle under the bus on multiple occasions. Danielle hasn’t helped matters by bemoaning her utter dependency on Dan: She needs him, and the few times that she has lost him, she has fallen to pieces. You get the vibe that Dan cares about her, but only to the extent that Mario cares about Yoshi in Super Mario World. By which I mean: “Oh, bummer, I lost my Yoshi! Oh well, at least I still have my cape. Anyhow, she wasn’t even a Blue Yoshi. No biggie.”
Making those relationships even more complicated, of course, is the fact that both guys expect Danielle to take them to the Final Two. And Danielle isn’t planning some kind of double-reverse power play: She wants those guys in the Final Two with her. Sure, last night, we saw some suspicions beginning to form. She told Jenn that Shane’s attitude was confusing her, and voiced her ultimate concern: “Maybe he is just doing all this romancing or whatever for the game.” It was a tense moment to be doubting Shane. Dan wanted to get Shane out of the house immediately; the only reason that Shane wasn’t already gone was because Danielle talked him out of a backdoor during double eviction night. (ASIDE: If Dan loses Big Brother — and I think he might — the decision to keep Shane in the house will haunt him forever. It was the only time this summer that he made a move that was in someone else’s best interest — in this case, Danielle. In that sense, maybe Danielle did make a power move, albeit accidentally. END OF ASIDE.)
But Danielle’s decision was rendered moot by the veto competition, which involved assembling a Salvador Dali puzzle while jumping back and forth in a harness and pressing a red button every twenty seconds. If you didn’t hit the red button, all the puzzle pieces would fall off their perch. Shane had the smart idea to configure the puzzle pieces in the trough before assembling them. Dan had the equally smart idea to put all the pieces on the board and then solve them from the button side. But Dan didn’t count on Ian, who got himself kicked out of the game on a time violation and decided to help Shane get himself off the block. (ASIDE: If Ian wins Big Brother — and I think he might — his constant devotion to the Quack Pack will be what sways the jury his way. The thinking might go: “Well, at least he didn’t backstab everybody.” END OF ASIDE.)
So Shane won the veto competition — and with it, a luxury prize. He got to bring one person with him. Was there ever any doubt that he would pick Danielle? And does it even matter why he picked her: For love, or for the game?
NEXT: McKayla Maroney is impressed by Shane, is somewhat less impressed by Danielle