Two lovers face off in an epic battle for survival. Whoever wins, they both lose.

By Darren Franich
Updated September 05, 2013 at 02:38 AM EDT

McCrae and Amanda always knew they had a long shot. No showmance has ever made it to the final two. But this game had been very good to them. They spent close to a month ruling the house from the shadows, their power undisputed. Each week, someone else would try to sound the alarm about the McCramda dominion; each week, that person would be disappeared almost immediately, like the conspiracy nut who gets silenced by the government in a ’70s paranoid thriller. Last week, Amanda managed to actually win a competition — just one competition in a summer, but if you’re someone with a god complex, that’s the kind of win that can confirm your status as the Most Important Person in the World.

Now that was all over. And Amanda had no idea, didn’t even have an inkling. “Someone’s at fault for this,” she told McCrae. Her boytoy concubine was glum and depressive, but she went on a witch hunt. She walked right up to GinaMarie’s HoH throneroom and demanded an explanation. She told GinaMarie that Elissa sent home Nick and Aaryn, and she told GinaMarie that the whole house would be against her, and she told GinaMarie: “You f—ed yourself. You f—ed yourself. It was a f—ing stupid game move.” And all along GinaMarie sat serenely astride her thronebed. She nodded thoughtfully. Her body language was perfectly poised, beauty-queen perfect; she seemed to be saying, “Why thank you for your constructive criticism, fellow citizen. I will take all of this under advisement.”

Meanwhile, Amanda spiraled quickly. She yelled that she didn’t want to be in the house anymore. She cried in the Have-Not room. She told McCrae that they would never have it so good ever again: Long, leisurely days with nothing to do except lounge on the bed. From Amanda’s perspective, this had been the perfect summer, a crazy combination of a summer-camp reverie and a lucid dream where the whole world follows your whims. You want a new boyfriend? You want absolute power? There have been better players in the Big Brother game, but I can’t think off the top of my head off a player who has had a more perfect time in the house. Heck, from Amanda’s perspective, she was probably living inside of a romantic comedy. “A 24-year-old pizzaboy from Minnesota, and I love him,” she said, sounding like the lead character in a romcom giving the final speech right before she leaves her stiff Greg Kinnear fiancé at the altar and runs to the pizza parlor just in time to see her true love perform a rousing rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing” with his Journey cover band.

Of course, a more accurate perspective on this season of Big Brother is that Amanda is a ridiculously powerful and semi-delusional supervillain who doesn’t seem to realize that she has angered almost everyone in the house. The worst part is that, in this week of decline, Amanda had brief moments of clarity. “America’s gonna love that I f—ing tortured Elissa last week,” she said, bitterly. Amanda is smarter than most of the other people in the game right now; she knows the optics on her are not very good right now. “I hope that they see what a bitch she was,” she said. Whatever perceived slights Elissa committed against Amanda can’t help but pale in comparison to Amanda’s relentless all-out-assault.

Also not helping matters: Elissa is by far the least threatening person in the house right now for Amanda’s game, so her obsession with Rachel’s sister is outright comical. Elissa is a non-entity this week: Her one bit of gamesmanship came with a whispered conversation with Judd, when she said she was very suspicious of Andy. Judd immediately relayed this information to Andy. “Elissa thinks you’re playing both sides of the house,” said Judd. Andy — who is, in fact, playing both sides of the house — assured him this wasn’t true, and Judd seemed to basically accept this.

A question we should start asking: Is Andy a genius? At this late stage of the game, he appears to have performed the unique trick of riding one powerful alliance into the final seven and then riding a different powerful alliance any further. Emphasis on “ridden”: Andy has constantly and purposefully eschewed making any powerful moves, which makes him an incredibly frustrating player to watch. But he’s managed to essentially turn the entire house into one big meatshield — and he’s been in the room for practically every important conversation this season.It was time for the Veto Competition to end all Veto Competitions. It was a ballet-bowling mash-up, with the players all dressed in tutus; they had to spin around fifteen times and then knock down four bowling pins, with a gate coming up after fifteen seconds requiring them to spin again. Amanda was fighting for her life; she defeated Elissa very quickly and then vomited into a bucket. Andy stood up and — on orders from GinaMarie — declared that he would take on Amanda, too. Amanda was furious and confused: Why had Andy chosen her, nominally an alliance-mate? Andy had a plan, of course: He was going to throw the competition, therefore satisfying both GM and Amanda.

Andy has one of the worst pokerbodies in the history of competition-throwing: He went hilariously slow and let Amanda easily defeat him. Nobody in the Exterminators noticed, because — well, the great thing about the Exterminators is that they’re not very smart. They’re really the Meatshield Alliance: A team of second bananas, united by A) their mutual dislike of McCramda, and B) the fact that McCramda kicked out all of the real power players before the endgame.

GinaMarie stood up, challenged Amanda — the third round for the besieged Empress. And Amanda won again. It wasn’t even a contest, really. Amanda seemed to be the only person who had ever bowled before; heck, she seemed to be the only player who had ever conceived the idea that a ball could be rolled straight instead of haphazardly thrown. McCrae stood up, challenged Spencer, and beat him. So it came down to McCrae vs. Amanda, Lover vs. Lover, the two most devoted allies in the Big Brother house forced to duel to the death like a couple of players who beat the final boss in old-school Double Dragon.

Amanda and McCrae wouldn’t give up the fight. They were all alone out there, together. The rest of the house watched in awe; you could almost believe that they planned it, that after all these weeks of watching McCramda utterly dominate the house, they knew that the only people who could take down Amanda and McCrae were McCrae and Amanda. It was a nail-biter. It came down to one pin, one second…and McCrae was the winner. He stumbled away from the field of battle and fell over and vomited into a bucket, while Amanda lay down on the ground and stared up into the empty sky. Neither of them said anything to each other, and their fellow housemates — their enemies — were stunned into silence.

It was the kind of battle that left both gladiators brutalized. Amanda knew her time in the Big Brother house was over. McCrae knew that he had delivered the killing blow to his lover’s game. Upstairs, GinaMarie laughed with her fellow Exterminators. One of them would have to step up; she couldn’t just nominate Elissa, because she still owed Elissa from last week. She told the boys to do rock-paper-scissors. (Ultimately, she wound up choosing Spencer, who now goes into the Big Brother record books with seven times on the block this season. And he’s probably not finished on the block, either. Poor Spencer: History will remember him as the player who somehow managed to be everyone’s pawn.)

Amanda gave a nice speech at the veto meeting, saying that she was glad to lose the veto to her One True Person, and she said: “I would never ask, nor expect, nor want you to use the veto on me.” McCrae responded: “I’m using the veto on myself.” And that was that: The end of Amanda. She seems resigned to her fate — I suspect that, in her heart of hearts, she knows that she’s made herself a toxic personality, that she has no chance of turning the votes in her direction. Of course, tomorrow night is a Double Eviction, which means that Amanda’s exit could lead right into McCrae’s vengeance… or it could mean that the Exterminators will complete their takeover of the house, sending McCrae out the door right after Amanda.

Fellow viewers, what did you think of the showdown between this season’s showmance? Are you happy to see Amanda go? She was an incredibly powerful player and a fascinating personality; I’m not sure anyone left in the house is as flat-out interesting as she is. Still, give credit where credit is due: I had written off GinaMarie weeks ago, but she’s coming into the final leg of gameplay having pulled one of the biggest power moves of the season. Can GinaMarie actually win this thing? Can McCrae stage a comeback? Judd?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich