Is there some magic spell that Vanessa is secretly casting beneath her breath, hidden away from the watchful eye of the cameras or the omniscient aural pick-up of the microphones? Does the game theory expert consult an ancient, weathered tome that bestows her powers of great telepathy and mind control over twins and virgins? Is she The Craft? Is Vanessa actually Fairuza Balk in a beanie?!?!?
Besides witchcraft, how else do you explain how Vanessa has yet again managed to turn the house against each other with spontaneous effort? To dissolve a showmance with the subtlety of scalding acid? Save for any other explanation, Vanessa is a cunning witch with an incredible gift of mage-like manipulation. Love her or hate her, her social abilities continue to astound, proving more and more each week that she’s a bona fide evil Big Brother genius. Ugh.
This week’s malignant magic begins with the precarious position that the Austwins find themselves in heading into the veto competition: boyfriend and girlfriend Austin and Liz (respectively, obviously) stuck on the block, by Steve’s hand. They arrive at the only possible conclusion for threefold safety: a Julia victory, which would pull one of the baes off and guarantee protection for Julia as Steve names another nominee.
But when the veto comp begins, the ballet turns into a bloodbath (made worse by the appearance of something called Mr. Pectacular, who I guess is that failed Stretch Armstrong movie that Universal never made).
The competition is an ordered elimination spin-and-shoot game, and its structure bodes well for the Austwins’ plan… at least, until Vanessa gets involved. Liz and Steve go up first, and she knocks him out in a nail-biter. Julia’s next, and she’s given a choice of opponent — but instead of choosing the obvious foe, Johnny Mac, she catches wind of a Vanessa whisper that urges her to pick Austin, with the loose tagline of logic that it’ll guarantee her not going up on the block.
It’s difficult to wrap my head around how Vanessa managed to flip the entire plan with one whisper, but here’s my best guess. Vanessa managed to remind Julia of something that so many in this season have forgotten: individual game. Everyone sticks to alliances of five and four and three, never seeming to factor in an endgame for their own self. Vanessa, Johnny Mac, and late-in-the-game Steve are the only ones who have acknowledged that at the end of the day, an alliance doesn’t win the game. The Austwins, meanwhile, have continued to exist only as a threesome, with Julia and Liz never betraying even a thought of individuality.
And so, in the moment, Vanessa appealed to Julia’s latent fear of going on the block — and, let’s be honest, poor Julia’s frazzled confusion. Sure, if Julia had more time, she might have made another decision, but it was too late. Julia’s confusion overpowered the steady plan to let Austin and Liz throw her the competition. It’s a potent result of Vanessa’s toxicity and Julia’s belief that Sigmund and Freud are tiger trainers.
NEXT: Vanessa trades spells for tears