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Big Brother recap: Zankie Ascending

Zach continues his reign of social terror, and Caleb decides to teach Amber a lesson. Spoiler alert: Caleb is an idiot.

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Big Brother Recap

Big Brother

TV Show
Reality TV
Julie Chen
Current Status:
In Season

Amber is a very attractive woman. This is not a controversial idea; saying that is like saying that the world is round, or that the French made the best movies in the ’60s and then the worst movies thereafter, or that Zankie really like wearing pink. But Amber’s beauty has beguiled Caleb, and worse. A couple weeks ago, some of us (me) had the Beast Mode Cowboy pegged as a serious player. Turns out he was all hat and no cattle, unless he was all cattle, but the cattle were all wearing roller skates on a moving walkway leading into a pit filled with vipers.

Flash-forward to Wednesday’s episode, and Caleb is a functional non-entity. He patrols the house with the aura of a man who thinks he owns the place, while all around him his intellectual superiors are using him as a blunt-force instrument. Caleb’s obsession with Amber is beyond bizarre–you keep on waiting for someone to pull him aside and say “Dude, seriously, stop“–but his sad obsession gains a satiric gloss when you notice how his fashion sense has steadily declined from Metrosexual Cowboy to Neon Hipster Matriarch. At one point last night, Caleb was wearing the following all at once:

-A ridiculously comfortable bathrobe.

-A hoodie, hood drawn over his face so he looked like a monk.

-Large-framed hipster glasses.

-Arm tattoos that look like overgrown mutations of Mike Tyson’s face tattoo.

-An impeccable soul patch, which is intrinsically tragic because soul patches are fundamentally ugly, so maintaining an impeccable soul patch is like painting a beautiful picture of an ugly building.

He looked like a hipster monk hobo at a bachelor party. Throw in his lovelorn, mournful expression. Then throw in the fact that he still found the gusto within himself to say things like this: “I run this house. Quite frankly, her game is really in my fingertips.” Listen, this is a great season of Big Brother. My Big Brother guru Skilby thinks this is already a Top Five season, and after the last few episodes I’m inclined to agree with him. Part of what makes this season great is how it’s overrun with actually smart players—more on them later—but it’s also a great season because of Caleb, who is a serious competitor who seems incapable of reading the most basic social cues. He thinks he’s playing chess; he doesn’t realize everyone else is already playing Settlers of Catan; he also doesn’t realize that he’s the shoe in Monopoly, and he’s stuck on Baltic Avenue.

But let’s talk about Zach. No longer the Head of Household, the demon child still strolled around the Big Brother house like he owned the place and wanted to burn it to the ground for the insurance money. He noticed Hayden, Christine, and Nicole hanging out downstairs. Nicole and Christine, of course, are both poor Have-Not children this week, unable to eat anything besides slop for the week. (ASIDE: Part of what makes the Hayden-Christine-Nicole axis so enjoyable is that they’re basically floaters who are intelligent enough to know they’re floating, which means they might be having more fun than anyone in the house. Nicole and Christine are both have-nots because they barely move, and it’s hard to believe that Hayden is much more active, but they’re all enjoyable personalities who actually have a strong grasp of the power dynamics in the house. They’re like meta-players; they’re like Big Brother viewers who only barely realize they’re also playing the game. I can’t believe any of them will win, but I have to believe they’ll all go far. END OF ASIDE.)

So Zach went downstairs. He wanted to make it awkward. “I haven’t agitated enough people today,” he said. “I need my daily fix.” He ambled down to the couches and started masticating. “You guys want any Starburst? Any beef jerky?” he asked. “Why you looking’ at me like that?” When Nicole made it clear that she couldn’t eat any of his demon food even if she wanted to, Zach said: “Guess that’s what you get for being lazy.”

Does Zach have a higher purpose? Is he a true supervillain, or an overgrown frat dude who plays golf in baggy shorts? Like, is he Littlefinger, or is he Joffrey? Frankie thinks he’s a monster: “If Zach doesn’t stop running around and terrorizing the countryside,” said the house Grande, “the villagers are going to revolt.” But just like Frankenstein’s reanimated corpse-man, Zach is capable of remarkable tenderness. He takes orders. When Frankie said that this was a week for mending fences, you could tell that Zach took him seriously; when Frankie then said (because of Team America) that he should make an angry speech at the veto ceremony, Zach took that advice as gospel.

It’s hard to talk about Zach without talking about Zankie, the friendship-plus-maybe-more that has sprung up between this year’s craziest and savviest players. Frankie and Zach are sleeping in the same bed. We saw them in night vision, offering each other back massages. “I could just sleep on you,” said Zach. And then: “I don’t act gay, do I?” Frankie is confused, to say the least: “He’s petting me to sleep. Every night. Zach, are you gonna make a move?” Zankie is unquestionably one of the great will-they-or-won’t-theys in Big Brother history, mainly because it’s unclear whether either of them entirely knows what is happening. It’s possible that Zach is just using Frankie, but it’s also clear that Frankie feels no qualms about using Zach for his own diabolical (America-approved!) ends.

NEXT: America Made The Right Choice For Once