‘Big Brother’ recap: Exit strategy
First things first: Last week I began the column by defending Jerry, and was blasted by readers for being overly forgiving. Apparently live feed watchers get a very different picture of him, and considered me an ignorant judge of character. It was as if I was walking around, saying, “You know, people are being awfully judgmental about this Hitler guy. Why don’t you cut him a break? What’s that? Why, no, I’ve never read a book about WWII. What’s your point?” So, no more Jerry defenses tonight. I’ve learned my lesson.
Sunday’s show began with the housemates completely befuddled by the presence of a giant sumo wrestler. The visitor would occasionally stand up and stomp his feet, revealing a very flat letter underneath him. In the BB tradition of houseguests overreacting to minor threats, Dan, steeling his courage to grab the envelope out from under the wrestler, said, “Please don’t crush me, please don’t end my life…” Oh, so this is what Big Brother contestants mean when they say they signed on to be on the show for the “experience”; they want to live life to the fullest by dodging slow-moving, overweight, half-naked extras! Thank you, stereotyped day player who probably got paid $200 to sit on an envelope. Because of you, I’M ALIVE! FOR THE FIRST TIME, I’M REALLY ALIVE!
The letter mentioned a mysterious prize to be won at a later luxury competition, which was all about puzzles and the reappearance of Jessie! Mischievously dressed in a gorilla suit, he appeared in the yard, ran into the diary room, ripped off his mask, and announced, “It’s time for a rude awakening, and I’m dishing it out this time. How does that sound?” Why, it sounds like a horribly mixed metaphor! Good to have you back, you semi-literate, nap-happy boob!
Jessie tore through the house, wreaking havoc. And by “havoc,” I mean tossing Memphis’ hat on the floor. This was actually very realistic monkey behavior. Who could forget the stirring “Panama-hat tossing” scene in Gorillas in the Mist? Or was it Dunston Checks In? Either way, the behavior mystified the perennially mystified roomies. “It was so surreal that I’m like, ‘What is going on right now?'” said a flabbergasted Keesha. Hey, that’s just what Fay Wray said in King Kong! Or was that line from The Barefoot Executive?
Scattered about the lawn were random objects like a giant blueberry statue and a bathtub with what looked like a man buried in pâté inside. There was also a contortionist, about whom Dan said, “If there were any single guys in the house, they would all be going after that contortionist!” I did see Jerry looking longingly at her, but I suspect he was just thinking, “Wow, if I could bend like that, just imagine how easily I could scratch my goiter.” (Woohoo, I’m piling on Jerry! How do you like me now, TV Watchers?)
While the houseguests circled around, trying to use the props to come up with a common phrase, Jessie pranced around, showing far more personality than he ever did in the house. And when it was finally time for him to leave (the objects that were red herrings were slowly covered up or removed), he tipped his hat to his identity by saying to Jerry, “Hoot!” the same fart noise he’d taunted the great-grandpa with earlier in the season. Dan looked shocked when he recognized the noise, and realized the epic fooling that he’d just been subjected to. It was just like the famous trickster flatulence scene in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Oh, Zaius, how many times will Cornelius fall for “pull my finger”?
After three bad phrase guesses from Jerry, Memphis made an inexplicable one: “Fruitless exit.” As he himself said, “I gotta say something just to say it?That makes no sense at all. It’s not a saying, or at least it’s not a saying that I’ve ever heard.” So why say it? Did he think it was, appropriately, like the infinite number of monkeys typing an infinite number of typewriters? Maybe his random combination of words would turn out to be the Great American Luxury Reward Winner.
It wasn’t. Dan got it with “Bury the hatchet,” and won the prize: a day trip to the beach. He was told in private that he could take either a housemate or someone from the jury house. He decided to pick Michelle (but, wisely, didn’t tell the house). I can see why he’d want to take her: She was pissed at Dan but is also easily swayed, so he could work her for her vote. But for a big downside, you have to spend a day at the beach with her. I imagine it’s not that much fun watching her yell at sea life.
Before his trip, Dan made his nominations. In order to protect the Renegades’ secret pact, Memphis volunteered to go on the block. This way, Jerry would think Memphis was an ally in hating Dan, and Keesha would trust Dan. It was a little uncomfortable watching Keesha and Jerry both fall so hard for the Renegades’ plan. Jerry, confident he now had a house buddy, smugly told Memphis that Dan “keeps on showing me he doesn’t give a s—.” And Keesha said to Dan, thinking that he was now her closest ally, “It’s so rare to have this in this house, where people actually have somebody’s back.” Ouch. When she leaned forward, you could actually see the spot between her ribs where the knife would be going into later.
NEXT: Day tripping
Then came time for Dan’s day trip. He was blindfolded before being led out of the house into his limo, and only allowed to take it off in the car. What exactly didn’t the producers want him to see on the CBS lot? Were they worried that one of the stars of NCIS might pass by and attempt to deliver him some inside information via sign language? I guess they’re still feeling burned by that time when Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Doris Roberts scaled the BB wall just to deliver a strategic message to Mike Boogie.
Dan said he’d turn on the charm to get Michelle back on his side, and it seemed to have worked. By the end of the day, she’d said that she’d try to swing people’s votes to him. “Out of everyone in the house, who do you think can sway people?” she asked him, confidently. By “sway,” does she mean “make people suddenly remember something they had to do in another room where Michelle isn’t”? Because then, yes, she does have the power to sway people.
When Dan returned to the house, it was time for the final POV challenge, one that he was determined to lose. “You may see the art of the throw come back just one more time!” he bellowed. (My wife, Christine, remarked that Dan talks like someone trying to be heard while riding in a motorboat. And then she went back to cursing me for making her watch this stupid show.) It took a lot of effort for Dan to lose to his slow housemates, but Memphis finally pulled ahead and won.
This was the perfect outcome for Dan, who has done a brilliant job of making others look like the bad guy. Now the pressure was on Memphis to vote somebody out. It would either be Jerry, who would be mad (and Memphis would lose his goodwill advantage with him to Dan), or Keesha, who would be destroyed by his betrayal. Ultimately, he opted to evict Keesha, and when she realized that Memphis was going to bounce her, she was destroyed. The scene when she got the epiphany about her demise was so unique and raw; the Renegades couldn’t bring themselves to lie to her, so they just lay there in silence as she railed. Her confrontation with Memphis was like a scene out of an old movie in which a wife finds out she was betrayed by her husband; he kept trying to mumble, “I’m sorry” and walk away while she spluttered at him through her tears. You’ve heard of Shakespeare in the Park? This was Eugene O’Neill in the Reality Bunker. (Tune in this fall as the Biggest Loser cast performs on Long Day’s Journey Into Night on LifeCycles.)
(Incidentally, on Sunday night there was an interlude where Memphis tossed a live moth into the web of a spider, which demolished the moth in a brutal spray of wings. For years, the running metaphor for the internecine BB competition was the house chess game. After ten seasons, are the producers finally ready to upgrade to a more visceral symbol? Showing a moth getting web-raped is pretty low-key, especially compared with the cobra and crocodile footage on Survivor. But give BB time; they may start with a moth, but they’ll gradually work their way up to a bird tearing into a worm, and finally, in season 35, we might finally be up to seeing a lion tearing open a zebra over by the hot tub.)
NEXT: Walking on Memphis
At first I thought Keesha was going to sway Memphis when she announced that she wouldn’t vote for whoever dinged her, and that she’d “do everything in my world to change minds in that jury house, too.” But it didn’t work. Memphis realized he had a better chance of beating Jerry for the final HOH, so he had to cut her loose. It was a mercenary decision, but one, if he really wanted to win, he had to make. The problem is that it once again left Dan looking like the good guy. He could rush in and soothe her and lie that he was doing everything he could to change Memphis’ mind. And he did it so well that when she was dinged, she ignored Memphis on the way out, and made her last speech a paean to Dan and his friendship.
But that wasn’t enough for Dan; as she walked out, he gave her a farewell rubber duck with the word “HOT” strangely written into the bottom, and whispered a confession that he’d taken Michelle on the island vacation, so Keesha wouldn’t find out later and blame him. And then, with her out the door, he acted indignant over Memphis’ decision, yelling, “I really can’t believe you did that, man….If you think I’m taking you, you’re out of your mind!” I have to assume this was another part of the Renegades’ “plan” to keep Jerry confused, but if it was, it will really bite Memphis in the ass. Jerry was already feeling betrayed by Memphis, and now it looks like Memphis double-crosses everyone. How did Dan manage to convince Memphis that a great strategy would be for him to look like a weasel while Dan slowly climbed the ladder toward sainthood?
And after all that, Keesha went to talk to Julie and once again reiterated what a great reader of people she was, but went on to say, “I think Memphis was angry because he thought Dan was going to take me to the end,” which rendered her original point moot. This was like going to the movies and saying, “Let me pick what we see because I never fail to pick a quality screening. Hey, good news, Dane Cook’s got a new film out!” (By the way, you can hear what other realizations Keesha might have had after a good night’s sleep out of the house — PopWatch will have Lynette’s interview with the latest evictee later today.)
We ended the episode with the three finalists balancing on top of toy biplanes. And considering the wings were huge and long and wide, it wasn’t that precarious a balancing act: This was to walking a tightrope what sitting on a tire swing is to riding a unicycle. But we’ll check back in on Thursday to see who won HOH (PLEASE do not post it below for those of us who don’t like spoilers), and who will be evicted to leave the final two. And as a pretty good reader of body language, I think the winner will be…Brian. I’m never wrong, people!