Big Brother recap: Kalia evicted, Adam crowned
The final four are revealed, and Adam suddenly enters the competition after almost two months in the house.
By every surface measurement, Adam has been the most boring player this season. He has bumbled aimlessly between various factions of the house without fully committing to any of them. Because he has been consistently nominated for eviction alongside housemates who posed a clear threat, he has sailed pleasantly through rough waters. Because he has a raspy voice, and because he has always fundamentally approached the game as a fan — remember how he seemed like Jeff’s younger brother, even though he’s six years older than the Wonder Boy from Chicago? — there has always been an urgent tone to his confessionals, as if he was positively elated to find himself in so much danger.
And yet, Adam is in the final four of this season of Big Brother. And if last night’s episode happened to be the only episode you watched all season, you would be forgiven for thinking that Adam might be a dominant player. He won Veto and he won Head of Household, and neither challenge was easy: One was half-trivia and half-physical, and the other was a surreal memory game that required the housemates to remember highly specific language muttered by a Fortune Telling device at 4:30 in the morning. I don’t think Adam redeemed himself last night. The field in the challenges has been brutally trimmed — Rachel is the only member of the Final Four with anything approaching a successful record — so even a monkey could emerge triumphant. And, to borrow Big Jeff’s coinage, that’s what Adam has become: the Monkey in everyone’s Wallet.
I’m sure that Kalia will earn some hatred from fans for her performance last night. She was a shrill, crying mess, and her pump-up talk was hilarious: “I am a really smart, intelligent person! I know people! I have the gift of fricking gab.” It sounded like a Stuart Smalley impression. But if Kalia has fundamentally turned out to be a minor Big Brother player, she has never lost the ability to at least recognize what comprises good gameplay in this madhouse.
Kalia tried pleading her case with Adam, begging the Veto holder to take her or Porsche off the block. Really reaching now, Kalia reminded Adam of the promise the first eight housemates made to each other, over two months ago now, in the final few moments before the Veterans arrived: “We said ‘Newbies, no matter what, to the end.'” Then, she pulled out her trump card, the one argument that I thought might have actually swayed Adam: “You know fans. They love big moves. It’s your turn.”
“The mind,” responded Adam, “Is not one hundred percent made up.” And just like that, you knew that he wasn’t going to make his big move. Adam’s remarkable passivity as a player — a complete inability to make any difficult decisions — achieved a kind of Shakespearean grandeur in this episode, which can best be summed up by his line: “I gotta pick a side: the Newbies or the Vets.” Keep in mind, people: He is trying to “pick a side” in this, the final week of the competition, when both sides have essentially been reduced to rubble. He was probably hoping that, somehow, someone would make the decision for him: That Jeff would crush Daniele’s Sorority, or that Daniele would send the other Veterans packing.
Like Hamlet, Adam’s tragedy is that he simply seems incapable of making up his own mind. In fact, I think last night was the first time we have ever seen Adam genuinely angry at someone. What made him mad? Was it an insult by a fellow houseguest? Was it because someone stabbed him in the back? No: It was because Kalia, knowing that her eviction was waiting, exhorted him to do something, anything.
NEXT: How Michael Lewis’ Moneyball might explain Shelly, and how Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen definitely explains the Big Brother jury house.My eyes usually glaze over during the show’s occasional visits to the Big Brother house. Nothing saps the tension out of the show faster than seeing former competitors — who were not-so-recently professing their undying hatred for each other — pouring each other margaritas, watching TV on a big plush couch, and generally acting like a group of in-laws who have put aside their differences long enough to take an all-expenses-paid vacation to a cheap resort hotel. That being said, I don’t know how you couldn’t have been at least a little interested to see what Big Jeff would say to his own private Judas, Shelly, when she arrived in the Jury House.
Jeff did not disappoint. You might think that Jeff has a justified gripe with Shelly. He was undeniably one of the two leaders in the house this summer. (Daniele was the other one; I guess you could throw in Dominic, too, if you wanted to be kind.) Shelly never won a competition, as our friend Otev the Sweet-Toothed Shark reminded us. Jeff is also a handsome, charismatic dude: The very picture of a winner.
But I think Jeff was being willfully ignorant about Shelly’s gameplay. Backstab or no backstab, everything Shelly was telling him in the Jury House made absolute sense. In the Final Four Jeff was envisioning — himself, Jordan, Shelly, Adam — the non-Veterans would have been at a clear disadvantage. So all the talk about Shelly “making her move too early” was just silly: She made her move against Jeff when she had the opportunity, and if she hadn’t, she would have had an extra three weeks of hangin’ out before getting eliminated.
Still, they argued and argued. The Big Brother Jury House kind of reminds me of Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen, a play in which the real-life physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg meet in the afterlife to try and figure out exactly what they said to each other when they met with each other years earlier. Like Shelly and Jeff, they both argue their own version of the truth: Shelly can say, “Rachel says I played the best game in the house,” but Jeff can dismiss that, because Rachel is an insane person.
I’m intrigued to hear what you think, fellow viewers. Do you agree with Jeff, that Shelly was fundamentally a minor player whose only major move was to backstab her chief benefactor? Or do you agree with Shelly (and, by proxy, Rachel), that she played an important background-diplomatic role in the house? I’ve been reading Michael Lewis’ Moneyball — which, I know, about eight years late, but I didn’t want the movie to spoil the book for me — and part of me wants to say that Jeff represents a kind of orthodoxy of what makes a good Big Brother player (good looks, performs well in competitions, strikes aggressively), but Shelly has a skill set that we can’t accurately measure just yet (good social game, smart backroom deals, judicious backstabbery.)
Conversely, I know plenty of smart Big Brother fans who think that challenges are everything. Which would mean that Shelly was a bad player, and Adam is merely a mediocre one. Maybe no one is right. What is truth?
NEXT: Kalia says farewell, and Adam proves he’s a big man. Big man!Porsche has transformed in these declining weeks from an aggressively pointless player to a pleasantly pointless player, and so her final plea was almost whimsical: “I’m a tough one to put up with. Sometimes I’m even a handful! Haha, nudge nudge, Beep Beep?” Leave it to Kalia to deliver the only great scorched-earth final argument of the season. She chastisted Adam openly: ” Start playing like an all-star. Stop playing like a fan.” She almost broke down talking to Jordan, apologizing for whatever moves she had made that prevented the two women from ever playing together. And she called Rachel’s big bluff: If the Red-Headed Queen values competitors so much, why is she allied with a pair of Mega-Floaters?
Rachel, to her credit, did not dodge the question. When it came time for her to cast her deciding HoH vote, she basically said: Well, I’m doing this strategy because I want to win! So Kalia took the shame-walk down to Chenbot Village, and Porsche was left behind to stare vacantly into space.
Then, in a priceless montage, we saw a clip from earlier in the week. The Fortune Teller in the lounge, which had taunted Shelly last week, suddenly came to life late in the evening, reading a list of comical fortunes. “Jeff will be last seen wandering the Chicago streets muttering only two words: ‘Clown Shoe.’ Brendon will cure an ailment that plagued him his entire life: Athlete’s Foot! Keith will land a job hosting a new dating show; but it will be short-lived after it’s revealed he tried to date all twenty-nine female contestants. LEAVE ME NOW!”
So, in short, the Fortune Teller is basically the cousin (or perhaps weirdo ex-girlfriend?) of Zingbot. I like to think that the Big Brother supporting cast of robots lives in a Mr. Rogers-esque Neighborhood of Make-Believe, going off on adventures and learning important lessons about spelling or something.
The Head of Household challenge forced the housemates to recall some of the nonsense the Fortune Teller spouted. And, in a true Hail Mary pass, Adam emerged victorious. Thus, the housemate who has all summer purposefully avoided making any power plays suddenly holds all the power in the house. And how, I wonder, will he use the power? If Adam has any brains at all — if all his years of watching Big Brother have indeed given him any understanding of the game — then he has to know that a jury vote between him and Jordan is no vote at all. He might also realize that, much as people hate Rachel, they’ll probably vote for her over him simply on the grounds of gameplay.
Do you think Adam will finally make his big move? Will Prince Hamlet finally strike? I’m hopeful. God, I’m hopeful. But I’m interested to here what you think, fellow viewers. Were you sad to see Kalia go? Happy to see Adam suddenly start participating in this competition? Think Adam might put Rachel and Jordan on the block, vote off Jordan, and hand Rachel an ultimate victory? Hit up the comment boards, and tweet your beautiful thoughts straight into my cortex.