In the second double eviction episode of the season, the Quack Pack tries to seize absolute power
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Big Brother
S14 E25
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In the end, was Frank a great Big Brother player? Or was he just a master escapist, doomed to spend his entire Big Brother life in ever-more-elaborate deathtraps? During the 62 days he spent inside of the house, he jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire, and then he jumped out of the fire and into an active volcano, and then he jumped out of the active volcano and into a galactic supernova. His sheer persistence was remarkable. His relentless brushes with death left him paranoid; he survived long enough to see all of his close friends fade away in his wake. “I’ve been burned so many times in this game this season,” he said, sounding for all the world like a bruised soldier trapped behind enemy lines. “People I was supposed to trust always put me up on the block next week.” As fate would have it, he made that proclamation to Dan — a player who betrayed him once, and was preparing to betray him again. “Yeah,” agreed Dan. “Every single time.”

[Brief Note of Business: A lot of us Big Brother viewers don’t watch the feeds. If you know who won the second HoH challenge last night, and you’re burning to talk about it, please carry on the conversation in the comment boards of our eviction post. Thank you! End of Business.]

Frank’s immortality had already made him a legend among his fellow houseguests. When Joe had a strategy session with Ian, he expressed his disbelief. “HE HAS ESCAPED SO MANY TIMES,” whispered Joe as quietly as he possibly could. “THEY CALL HIM HOUDINI.” Ian nodded, but then made an important counterargument: “Houdini died young.”

So it was that Frank finally left the Big Brother house, after six nominations, three Head of Households, and three veto wins. When Julie Chen read his name, his expression went blank, and he beat a hasty retreat from his housemates. “You were a great competitor, man,” said Dan, who was still holding the knife that delivered the killing blow to Frank’s back. (Dan wiped that bloody knife clean using a few pages from his Bible.)

Outside, Frank looked shellshocked. “Once again, they lied to me,” he said. Julie was in a stern interrogatory mood. She was going all Woodward. “How are you feeling…right now?” she asked. “Why do you think they did you like they did? Was being too trusting your downfall?” I feel like there’s a messianic narrative emerging around Frank — he’s the player who was betrayed, the noble savage who fell victim to Dan’s gamesmanship.

Hogwash. Frank was a mesmerizing presence in the house, and the remaining episodes of this season will be much less interesting without him. But I feel like you can only look at Frank’s journey this season as a litany of great gameplay squandered. In the end, he couldn’t quite play the strategy game. He made one strong alliance with Mike Boogie — when Mike exited, it was only a matter of time. Frank didn’t help matters, wearing his Chilltown clothes and giving Boogie shout-outs. A smarter play would have been to disavow Boogie all together. But Frank decided to play the martyr. And martyrs don’t live very long — that’s why they’re called martyrs.

With Frank gone, Dan’s mad plan was almost complete. There was one single flaw in his plan, a tiny fly buzzing around disrupting Dan’s beautiful Meth Laboratory. Dan had made final two deals with four of his remaining competitors. The lone exception was Joe. By this point in the season, Joe has offered to throw himself in front of a bus for every player who has ever won HoH. Until last night, that didn’t include Dan. Heck, until last night, Dan scarcely even seemed like he wanted to win HoH.

But last night, he wanted it. The HoH competition was a nailbiter, coming down to a three-way race between Jenn, Dan, and Danielle. Jenn winning would be a problem. Even if she didn’t target Dan immediately, she would almost certainly have one of Dan’s fellow Quack Packers in her sights. But the tie-breaker wasn’t even close. JuJu asked the players to guess how many minutes elapses between number-one evictee Jodi’s entrance in the house and Jodi’s exit from the house. Jenn guessed 160 minutes; Danielle went with 230; Dan went big with 363. The actual answer was 481 minutes — over eight hours. (I realize that time moves strangely inside of the Big Brother house…but Jenn, you were more than five hours off?) With that, Dan won his first HoH crown of the season. His comeback story was almost complete.

And this is where things got interesting.

NEXT: The Last Stand of Chef JoeDan put Joe right back up on the block. No surprise. Earlier in the episode, we saw Joe make a blunder so extreme that I’m tempted to simply say, “Joe pulled a Joe.” Late in the evening, Dan walked into bedroom and asked Joe who he would nominate. Joe said Shane and Danielle. Half an hour later, Dan walked back into the darkened room, climbed into bed — and Joe whispered conspiratorially, “Dan chased me in here as soon as I went to bed.” Dan, in wonderful deadpan: “This is Dan.” With that single mistake, Joe went from meatshield to roadkill.

(This was actually a big episode for out-of-nowhere blunders. The most tense sequence came early, when Frank was talking strategy with his supposed accomplice Dan. They were talking about who could possibly win HoH, and Dan wondered aloud, “What if Joe pulls out a miracle win?” That made Frank blink. He was on the block next to Joe; if Dan was telling the truth, Joe was going home. Dan chortled, and slapped his forehead, and said, “Haha, I’m such a goof, haha, of course you’re right, haha! Frank, you’re my best friend. I swear on the Bible. I swear on my grandmother. I swear on the frozen head of Ted Williams. Here, have a dandana.”)

Dan put Ian on the block next to Joe. I didn’t think this was too surprising. It gave Dan the opportunity to backdoor Jenn, while also assuring that Dan’s Quack Pack loyalty would remain a secret. In a burst of energy, Ian won the veto competition — not bad for his first time on the block. (Aside: I’m working on a theory that this entire theory has been Ian’s coming-of-age story, the tale of a callow young nerd who became a serious player. However, depending on how things turn out, it’s entirely possible that he has basically spent the summer engaged in an all-dude remake of The Devil Wears Prada, playing the Anne Hathaway role to Dan’s Meryl Streep. More on this in future recaps. End of Aside.)

I figured that the Quack Pack would have planned for this eventuality. I was wrong. We saw Dan engaged in a fearsome last-minute discussion with various people in the house. He called Ian into a room to talk with him; Jenn followed, and there was a minute-long idiot ballet as Dan attempted to properly choreograph his players. “Hey, no, Ian, I’m talking to you!” he said.

JuJu had her eye on the clock, and finally had to declare in her best Nurse Ratched voice: “Everyone in the living room now. Don’t make me come in there.” Ian stood up and used the vet on himself. He quoted the banished Frank and spoke to Joe: “Sorry. Wish I had two of these jokers!” Then Dan stood up, looking harried, and said: “Danielle. You gotta go up.” She did not look happy. Everyone on the Quack Pack looked blindsided.

So what happened here, exactly? Was this all another elaborate piece of theater — Dan, once again throwing his beloved meatshield Danielle to the wolves, with the understanding that he would rescue her in the end? (Putting Danielle up does continue the narrative established at Dan’s funeral that he was disowning Danielle.) Had the Quack Pack planned this whole thing together? Or was Dan up to something sneakier? Joe had an alliance — fragile, but well-defined — with Shane. Did the rest of the Quack Pack expect Dan to kick out Jenn, thereby wiping the final stain of Mike Boogie from this season of Big Brother?

We’ll have to speculate on the interior psychodrama of this decision until Sunday. It’s clear, though, that Danielle was never in danger. When Shane walked into the Diary Room to vote, he said, “I vote to evict Joe. Gotta keep Dani!” (The resigned tone in his voice makes me think that Shane definitely thought Joe was surviving another week.) Jenn walked into the Diary room and cast her second vote of the night for Joe. Ian made it three and done.

NEXT: Has Dan painted himself into a corner?Joe made for a breezy guest in JuJu’s arena of shame. He joked about rubbing Shane’s back. When Julie asked him, “Was not winning anything your strategy,” he gamely responded: “Oh, yeah! That was my strategy!” Joe came off like a very pleasant dude who had a very pleasant summer inside of the house. His greatest moment came when Julie asked him: “What, exactly, is that on your chin?” (ASIDE: Is it me, or is our Chenbot growing a sense of humor? It’s like she’s finally becoming a real girl! END OF ASIDE.)

Back inside of the house, we saw Dan mumble some kind of apology to Danielle, who didn’t look like she wanted to talk to him. Ian said something to Dan which sounded, to my ears, like, “I had faith, but…” At that point, Danielle fled into the pillow room for a chat with Jenn. As the credits rolled, we saw Dan engaged in a deep conversation with Danielle; it sounded quite a bit like his apology last week, when he tried to explain that he threw her under the bus for a reason.

In the last couple of weeks, Dan has confirmed his status as one of the greatest Big Brother players ever. He came back from the brink and allied himself with his greatest enemy; then he planned that enemy’s exit from the game, and Frank never even saw it coming. At this point, he has final-two deals with all of his competitors. There’s a part of me that wonders if Dan has gotten a little bit too cute, and too comfortable. Because he made deals with everyone, he will be forced to throw everyone under the bus.

And he can’t play in the next HoH. That shouldn’t be a problem if Danielle wins — they are joined at the hip. But Shane has never really been loyal to anyone except Danielle (probably because, like Dan, he knows that he would beat her in a jury vote.) Jenn has to know that Dan had a big role in sending Frank packing. And Ian’s two turns as Head of Household have shown him to be a brutally unsentimental player.

Fellow Big Brother viewers, what did you think of this double eviction episode? Are you sad to see Frank go? What’s your take on the hubbub that erupted when Dan put Danielle up on the block?

And deeper thought-question here: If you were Dan, who would you want sitting next to you in the Final Two? It seems to me that Shane would be the biggest threat: He hasn’t gotten on anyone’s bad side, mainly because he’s spent the latter half of this season wearing pink shirts and practicing thoughtful head-nods. Ian would also be a danger — Smashley might never forgive him, but Britney and Frank were both burned by Dan. My gut tells me that Dan probably wants to be sitting next to Danielle in the end, if only to burnish his legacy: Not only win this season, but also carry his trusted sidekick (yeesh, she’s even his namesake) all the way to the end.

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

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