Surely, my friend, you’ve heard the theory of the Butterfly Effect, the scientific postulation conceived by Edward Lorenz–known as “Lorenzo” to his friends. The Butterfly Effect states that a small microcosmic activity can have a vast macrocosmic effect on an environment. A butterfly flaps its wings in Austria, and as a result, a hurricane strikes the coast of Florida. Or a butterfly flaps its wings in Honduras, and as a result, Ashton Kutcher becomes a millionaire and a technology icon and marries Demi Moore and then marries Meela Kooniz.
The Butterfly Effect was the subject of this Wednesday’s episode of Big Brother. At the beginning of the episode, a single tear emerged from Victoria’s eye. She was up on the block; she knew how much the boys love each other; she knew that she was going home. The single tear made its way down Victoria’s cheek. It fell to the ground—and simultaneously, several giga-miles into deep space, an electric storm eradicated an entire society of cyborg cephalopods who resided in the Swamplands around the third hemisphere of the fourth moon of Caltoru. Another tear emerged from Victoria’s left eye, and fell upon the table—and the tele-cosmic turbulence caused by two Victoria tears in one day drowned the psychic ant-people of the Omega Centauri galaxy.
“Alas for me!” whispered Victoria to herself. “Alas, for all my hopes and dreams! Who would have thought that I, Princess Victoria, would be leaving the Big Brother house? Did I not play this game perfectly? Did I not sacrifice four houseflies every Tuesday to the Empress Ju Lee? Did I not breathe precisely 23 thousand times per day? Why, just the other day, the pretty parrot who lives in the freezer told me I was one of the game’s greatest players ever! Was it all for naught? Oh, Froggington, my dearest Froggington, won’t you come rescue your princess from her plight? Am I hungry?”
Caleb and Cody have underestimated Victoria. They think she is a meat shield, a helpful slab to carry along, something that will eventually need to be disposed of. This is why they are good players, but not great players. Frankie does not underestimate Victoria. He recognizes her power. “If I find myself sitting next to her next week, I know I’m going home,” said Frankie. Follow this, if you can: Victoria is a useless player; because she is a useless player, she would be an ideal Final Four compatriot for a useful player; and that makes her one of the biggest threats to Frankie’s game. Victoria is pure antimatter: If science could harness her, we’d already be on Mars.
Frankie’s smart. Derrick’s smarter. Frankie sees a threat; Derrick sees an opportunity.
Derrick and Frankie circle each other now. They’re like two gunslingers at the end of a Sergio Leone movie–the last two survivors, the guys who killed everyone else or anyhow managed to survive while everyone else killed each other. Maybe they were never even enemies. There have been nemeses before inside of the Big Brother house. But for much of this season, it practically seemed like Derrick and Frankie were living in two very different houses.
Frankie has played a wild, in-your-face social game; Derrick has played a steady background game, subtly and incisively shifting the axis of the house in his direction. It’s like Frankie is the hero in a fantasy novel—a barbarian warrior whose weapon is bright pink battle-axe and whose only article of clothing is a speedo made of Direwolf Pelt dyed purple in Dragons’ blood—while Derrick is the hero in a sci-fi spy thriller novel–a faceless time-traveling shapeshifter, an espionage renegade with his own mad plans for the world, who pops up in the background of photographs taken in every era of history.
So they circle each other now, telling lies upon lies. Derrick tells Frankie that he sees this game as a Final Three battle between Frankie, Caleb, and Cody. “If you want me to be candid with you, I think it’s an unwritten thing between the three of you,” he says. Much of what he says is true—Derrick and Frankie are both game masters, capable of recognizing the unique strategies of their final-act opponents. Derrick pointed out that Caleb has “never told someone one thing and done another”: The Frontstab Strategy. He told Frankie that Cody is a popular, handsome boy.
Frankie nodded, and he agreed. And yet he can see Derrick—maybe he’s the only one who can. (Nicole knew Derrick was a great player, but she still bought into the idea of him as a basically nice guy—and so she was ruthlessly dispatched.) Frankie was clear: “I’m not counting Derrick out of winning the $500,000 at all.”
Derrick’s mind game didn’t work on Frankie. So he tried another strategy. “There may be people in this house who think Victoria’s useless,” he explained. Not Derrick. He talked to her. He told her how much he wanted her to stay. But he also talked to her about the bad future—what it would be like, with her in the jury as his No. 1 fan. Victoria was a threat to Derrick, too; a guaranteed vote made him a target. (Part of what makes Derrick’s game play so interesting is that his central strategy is to erase himself from the game.)
So he needed her help. Could she pretend to hate him? Could she tell Frankie that she would never, in a million years, vote in favor of Derrick? And could she sell it—I mean really sell it, Victoria, maybe even show legitimate emotion for the first time all summer?
Oh yeah. Victoria jumped at the chance to play a spy in King Frankie’s Throne Room. “Derrick just told me he’s not voting to keep me,” said Victoria. “It just sucks Frankie.” The look on Frankie’s face! He was shocked, and he tried so hard to look sympathetic, but you could see a wide smile crossing his face—a laugh even, as if he couldn’t believe his luck.
Victoria kept on. “I don’t ever want to look at him, talk to him, I don’t respect him as a person,” she said. “I don’t even want to talk to him.”
“Oh honey,” said Frankie, “I completely understa–”
“When I leave this house,” continued Victoria. “I will call down all the hounds of hell upon him. Because he hast betrayed me, he will be the most accursed beast of the field, and upon his belly shall he go, and dust shall he eat all the days of his life.”
“Well, this is a game,” interjected Frankie, “and sometimes in games–”
“I want him DEAD. I want his family DEAD. I want his house BURNED TO THE GROUND! I want his children EATEN by CUTE PUPPIES.”
“That sounds quite–”
“My name is Victorius Decimus Meridius. Commander of the armies of the North. General of the Felix legions. Loyal servant to the TRUE emperor, Phoebus Froggington. Mother to a murdered goldfish, girlfriend to a murdered mockingjay. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”
I have heard some people describe Derrick as “boring.” Watching him is a little bit like watching someone play the World Series of Poker: The action all internal, the emotions all repressed behind a quiet veneer. The anti-Derrick brigade might argue that there is no great Derrick moment from this season. Look no further, I say. Derrick has achieved the impossible: He weaponized Victoria.
NEXT: Meela Kooniz