Is there a team name yet for Vanessa, Steve, and Johnny Mac? Should we just start calling them the Final Three? On the edge of the point of no return, the Anti-A.U.S.T.W.I.N. brigade successfully placed Liz and Julia up on the block. In the process, they ended two and a half months of a veritable Twin Twist regime. Oh, the twins never quite ran the house — although with three HoH victories under her belt, Liz has made a convincing case for herself as a legitimate competitor.
But the twins formed a power base, directly inspiring the moves that defined the first half of this season. The Julia revelation led to the formation of the Sixth Sense alliance — and the power of that alliance let Austin cement his status as the third wheel in the twin team, transforming a dynamic duo into a power trio. A.U.S.T.W.I.N. was a weird alliance, in hindsight. They weren’t prone to big moves — and you could make the argument that they were merely the latest puppet government run in absentia by Vanessa. But their low-key gameplay proved dumb-like-a-fox essential: They were never anyone’s number one target. Given one more week, they would’ve outnumbered the non-Twin-affiliated part of the house 3 to 2.
It was not to be. Thursday’s episode began with Liz and Julia in tears. Their time together in the house was coming to an end. Things were getting Gollum-talking-to-his-reflection existential.
“You sacrificed your identity for me,” said Liz. “It’s your time to shine.”
“I was Liz,” said Julia. “You were Liz, and I was Liz, and we were together in Liz. It’s always been Liz.”
“It’s not me anymore,” said Liz. “It’s not me anymore.”
“But if I’m not Liz,” said Julia, “Then who am me?”
“‘Who am I,'” corrected Liz.
“I asked first!” said Julia.
Austin wanted Liz to stay. Johnny Mac wanted her out: Liz is the obvious powerhouse of the two. But Vanessa ran the numbers through her game theory calculator. Liz is the obvious powerhouse… which makes her a bigger threat to the remaining players, which means they’d be targeting her. Conversely, keeping Julia meant keeping this season’s final floater. As Steve explained it: “You’re worried about Julia getting Victoria’d.” Turning “Victoria” into a verb? Stevesie: All is forgiven. You are now officially my fourth favorite player, behind Vanessa and Johnny Mac and Vengeful Liz.
Julia offered to fall on her sword for Liz. So Austin and Liz went to Vanessa, begging for aid. Vanessa agreed to save Liz. “I only have a few conditions,” she said, unrolling a long scroll. “The conditions are as follows:
1. If either of you win HoH, I would expect Johnny Mac and Steve to be the frontdoor.
2. If I do go up as the replacement nominee following the veto, I expect to be safe.
3. If the nominations remain the same, I get to choose if Steve or Johnny Mac stay, even if you are the Head of Household.
4. If I end up in the Final Three with just one of you guys, you will take me with you to the Final Two.
5. You both promise me a firstborn child. Should you break up and ultimately conceive with other partners, I will expect the firstborn child from both couplings.
6. Should you ever come across me shivering on a cold night, you will give me the shirt off of your back and offer to swaddle me in blankets and carry me like a child until such time as a warm interior has been reached.
7. You promise me 2 percent of all profits of films and TV shows put into production and/or acquired during my tenure as executive of the Walt Disney company.
8. You agree to forfeit all life rights for yourself, your immediate family, your distant family, and Tupac Shakur.
9. You agree that someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me.
10. You agree that I shall wait on you while you live, and you will buy my service with your soul. And, Liz and Austin, thou must bequeath thy souls solemnly, and write a deed of gift with thine own blood. For that security craves great Lucifer. If thou deny it, I will back to hell.
11. When I say “dance,” you will dance, puppets.
“That seems fair, right?” said Vanessa. Liz and Austin nodded their heads, secretly plotting one final betrayal, secretly hoping that they hadn’t already been played completely by Vanessa, secretly knowing they only had enough rope left to hang themselves.
NEXT: “Can we have wine now?”