Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content
Oscars 2017
Everything you need to knowDon't Miss It

Article

'Big Brother' recap: The Dead Fish Strategy

Posted on

CBS

Big Brother

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
tvpgr:
TV-14
seasons:
18
performer:
Julie Chen
broadcaster:
CBS
genre:
Reality TV

At the start of this week, Becky announced with absolute certainty that she was probably going home. It’s easy to see why she got so down on herself. Her stint as Head of Household had a clear mission statement: Eliminate Vanessa. That plan failed. On Thursday, after a unanimous vote sent her packing, Becky explained that failure in simple terms: She didn’t have the votes she thought she had. It was a stunning oversight—and a reminder that, in Big Brother, it’s possible for the Head of Household to be the least powerful person in the house.

Perhaps Becky could take some pointers from our boy Johnny Mac, future dentist to the stars and Elijah Wood body double. Johnny Mac explained his method for staying in the game past eviction: “The Dead Fish Strategy.” Lay down; look non-threatening; let the crazies sort things out. That’s only half-true, of course. Johnny Mac is coming alive in the game. Alongside Steve, he attempted to formalize a true final five alliance with Austin and the twins. That only happened after careful consideration: John and Steve pointed out that they’d be the prime targets if they allied with James and Meg, whereas they’d be secondary targets alongside the Twin-Austin triumvirate.

(Note: I’m henceforth referring to the powerful Austin-Julia-Liz coalition as AUSTWIN, which stands for Austin’s Unusual Stubble and Twins With Inimicable Nasality, or something.)

John and Steve, plotting a savvy long-term strategy: Who knew? Not Becky. When she tried making a case to AUSTWIN, she called out Johnny Mac as “the ultimate pawn.” Becky is the kind of player who thinks Big Brother is all about clear-cut goals. Win competitions. Become Head of Household. Work with nice people. Don’t work with mean people. Make a plan. Trust that other players will know that your plan is in their best interests. Assume that people will be impressed by a straight shooter. Tell your enemy that they are your enemy. Tell the truth at all times.

Laugh, Julia, laugh the night away. For Becky—good, noble, true Becky—was sent out of the house with a vote of 7 to nothing. In the shadow dimension hidden deep inside our own world—populated entirely by Steve and his whimsical fantasies—this was the most heroic moment of the season. At last, Steve has slain Becky, the untrustworthy succubus who transforms into a train on the full moon! No longer shall the Big Brother house be tormented by the terror of the Weretrain! To celebrate, Steve fled to the bedroom of his lover, Camera Seventeen, and read it a love poem written in a language only Steve dares to understand.

Becky was philosophical about her departure: Understandable, since the show has explicitly promised her the possibility of returning to the house. But there was an insane moment in her exit interview. Sheriff Julie asked her about her future plans, if she’d come back into the house. “Golly, pardner,” said the Sheriff, “Would ya ever consider workin’ with that rootin’ tootin’ cowpoke Vanessa?”

And Becky said yes. And she said that, if she did go back into the house, she would possibly align herself with Vanessa and target Liz.

I can’t decide if this is crazy or genius. It can be a smart play for two enemies to pair up in a secret final-act alliance—on the operating theory that the rest of the house couldn’t possibly imagine them together. But it’s also possible that this is evidence of just how completely Vanessa’s aggro-brainwashing is working on her fellow contestants. All we’ve heard, all week, is how the whole house is coming after her. Becky tried to send her home; for her trouble, Becky got sent home instead, in an explicit (albeit indirect) act of Vanessa vengeance. And now Becky thinks they might be able to work together. Don’t bet against Vanessa just yet, kids, she is playing some kind of next-level mind-control social game.

Then again, maybe Becky will change her mind. She has before. And oh, how incredible to see her face spiral into seething rage while Vanessa’s goodbye video played. See if you can figure out the precise moment when Becky starts imagining what it would look like if Vanessa slowly sank into quicksand:

NEXT: Meg tries to do something, anything; fails.[pagebreak]

Shucks and golly gee, it’s another wacky day in the Life of Meg! Yes, she’s just your average everyday big city single gal, working hard and playing harder. There she goes, running in heels to her cool magazine job, accidentally spilling coffee on herself right before her handsome new British boss strolls past her desk. Thought balloon over her head: “Ugh, Meg, that’s just so classic Meg of you.” Her handsome new British boss sure is handsome! So handsome that Meg can’t stop tripping and falling whenever he’s around. Can life get anymore complicated?

Spoiler alert: It can! When Meg’s handsome new British boss assigns her to write about the perils of being single during Christmas, Meg goes undercover as a department store elf. Problem number one: She just can’t get along with the guy playing Santa, Mike McGann, a rough and tumble wrong-side-of-the-tracks type with stubble and a hilarious bad attitude. But little does Meg know that Santa is also undercover: “Mike McGann” is secretly Mark McGore, a Hollywood superstar in method training for a role. Will Meg reveal Mark’s secret? Will her handsome British boss turn out to be as handsome on the inside? All this and more in Garry Marshall’s Secret Santa, coming this holiday season!

While Meg dreamed her beautiful romcom life, she managed to completely miss the large words “GO” blasting on a screen in front of her, which meant that she was the first contestant to lose the Head of Household competition. “What a surprise,” she declared. Poor Meg: Always the Ginnifer, never the Jennifer.

—————————

AND NOW, A HELPFUL DEMONSTRATION OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “HAVING IT” AND “NOT HAVING IT”

——————————

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the delightful moment when Sheriff Julie mentioned all the wacky pranks that James has been pulling. That elicited this classic bit of banter between James and frequent prank target Julia.

——————————

Who will win the Head of Household? At heart, it’s a stamina competition: The housemates needed to stay in a ready position, watching potentially hundreds of words flash across the screen, waiting for one of those words to be “Go.” Don’t underestimate Vanessa for pure singularity of focus—and don’t underestimate how good James has been at stamina competitions. I’d love to see Johnny Mac sit on top of the HoH thronebed, if only so he could finally ask someone else to throw a competition.

A bigger question: Can Vanessa possibly survive for much longer? If she wins Head of Household, I fully expect a week of chaos: She might try to target Johnny Mac. But literally anyone in the house could walk into Vanessa’s throneroom and give her inside information on all the sniper scopes pointed at her. If she doesn’t win, it’s hard to think of a potential HoH who wouldn’t come gunning for her.

We leave Vanessa now on the hammock of uncertainty, pondering the impossible:

 

Comments