Donny tries to save himself one last time.
Credit: CBS
S16 E28

“Donny’s gonna be gettin’ Nicole to get us to try and turn on each other,” said Caleb. Why so paranoid, Beast Mode? The house is your house. Your alliance is in command. Your enemies are weak, and getting weaker. And yet Caleb is unsettled. He can’t stop thinking about Donny. Those eyes; those eyes. “He’s a genius,” said Caleb. “When he’s sittin’ there, ponderin’, his eyes are constantly like THIS.”

“When you’re so genius, and you’re so smart, you have to be thinkin’ while you’re NOT thinkin’,” Caleb tried to explain. Cody and Derrick acted confused. Or maybe they were confused. Or maybe they thought that, in Caleb’s dim way, he was realizing that someone was running things in the Big Brother house… and that someone was sitting across from him, modeling faux-hipster facial hair and faux-youth glasses.

“You ever seen Rain Man?” asked Caleb. “You know those people?” Cody and Derrick had to admit that they didn’t quite know what he was talking about. But Caleb persisted. It must’ve been something from the army–”But it’s not gangrene,” he insisted. “Donny was probably Intelligence. Like, when you’re special intelligence in the army… very few select people get those positions.”

“I just read people very well,” concluded Caleb. “I guarantee, that guy’s got an IQ of probably 150-something.” Derrick and Cody laughed, and laughed, and laughed.


The central question of this episode, of this week, of this whole Big Brother final act: Who will strike first? The Detonators, the Bomb Squad, whatever you want to call them: The Alliance of Everyone Who Isn’t Donny, Nicole, and Victoria is sitting pretty now. They have strong competitors. They have strong strategists. You would’ve thought that expelling Zach might’ve exposed further cracks in the alliance; quite the opposite, it drove them closer together.

But who will strike first? Cody was hankering. He told Derrick that, if Donny came down off the block, he could put up Frankie. Derrick hesitated, at first. Caleb would be angry, and that left Donny and Nicole as HoH threats, and Christine would shift with the wind.

On Christine: Is there a serious final-act play for the Girl With Glasses? The remaining members of the house seem to look upon her with passive disdain; Cody labeled her as a floater, and she’s chased away the people who were her closest allies, and she’s never been much of a competition threat. Theoretically, if she wins a Head of Household challenge in the final month, she could change the game dramatically. Like, possible future: Donny goes home tomorrow, Christine wins HoH, she tells Frankie and/or Caleb that it’s time to strike against Derrick and/or Cody, and meanwhile she top-secrets a Final Two alliance with Nicole, on the assumption that “No one will ever believe that you’ve forgiven me.” Would she make that kind of play? I doubt it. But someone has to strike first.


This week’s Team America Twist was an open challenge. The trio had to design their own mission, and America would vote on whether they liked the mission. Donny came up with a mission: Save Donny! Derrick and Frankie scotched the idea. Frankie: “America would never come up with that. It would never be ‘Save Donnie.'” Ironically, this is probably what the vast majority of viewers have been screaming at the screen all week.

But the anti-Donny coalition has a point. Donny asked Derrick, man-to-man: Why is everyone gunning for him? “I sleep. I go outside and sit by myself. I’ve never done nothin’ to none of them.” For a moment, the veil lifted on Derrick’s game, and he told Donny the truth: “They’re scared of you. You have more heart than anyone else in this house. And if you’re in the final two with somebody, I’m giving the money to you.” Donny is by a wide margin the most lovable human being to play Big Brother since I’ve started watching the show–and part of what makes him lovable is that, beyond just being a nice guy, he can actually read the game, which makes Donny’s whole strategy suspiciously undercooked. He didn’t plan to be a floater, per se: He’s a serious competitor. But by never really entering into an alliance, and only lately trying to strike against the Bomb Detonation Coalition, he’s left himself no play.


Victoria’s wisdom teeth are coming in. She suffered a minor medical emergency, and it’s not my style to make fun of someone’s medical emergency. But I will just say that I choose to believe that Victoria’s wisdom teeth are actually made of pure wisdom. And as she spends this final month of Big Brother happily floating along, completely unaware of the upper-levels of strategy that are circling around her forehead, those wisdom teeth will be growing. And during the Big Brother season finale, when she sits next to the person who is actually going to win Big Brother, she will turn to the camera and say: “Millions of years ago, I was human like yourselves. But now I have evolved beyond the need for a physical body. I return now to my home beyond the stars.” And then there will be a brilliant white light, and it will be as if Victoria had never been there at all.


Give Christine some credit, folks: She knew that we were overdo for a Stay and Fold competition, and she prepped her team to win. They ran into a minor snafu; Frankie, purportedly “good with numbers,” went out in the first round. But Cody sprang to the rescue, and Nicole and Donny handed him the veto on a silver platter. Nicole shot herself in the foot on multiple occasions, folding when she had the closest number. Will her second life in the Big Brother house be all for naught?


Cody, out of context:

“I’m ready to sting Donny right in the butt.”


CBS force-fed the winner of the veto competition a luxury screening of the upcoming show Scorpion, a show which is disappointingly not about a giant Scorpion-Man. “Wow, I’m so excited about this show!” exclaimed Cody.

Serious question: Is Cody going to win this game? And will that be justified, if it happens? Derrick seems to think that he’s set up his Hit Man ally as an ideal co-conspirator. Cody’s getting blood on his hands this week, losing Nicole’s and Donny’s jury votes. Cody is a likable guy, which makes him a bigger target. At this point, the rest of the house still seems essentially unaware of Derrick’s puppet-mastering.

Cody’s a frustrating winner, at this point, because he’s spent the whole season in close proximity to the action without ever quite taking action. What are his big moves? What are the memorable Cody moments? I think this has to rankle him a little bit. We saw a little bit of a different side of Cody, after he won the Veto competition. For the first time all summer, Derrick seemed nervous. He hadn’t talked to his fellow Hit Man all week; Caleb and Christine and Frankie were keeping a close eye on him. Derrick was having second thoughts; he had to separate Frankie and Caleb.

Cody was excited. “The shot’s comin’, dude! It’s comin!” He didn’t trust Christine, didn’t trust Frankie. Suddenly, Cody was unloading perceptive statements: “The person that takes the first strike is usually the person that ends up winning.”

But Cody deferred to his partner/master: “Dude, should I throw one of them up tomorrow?” He didn’t; the nominations remain the same; it looks very likely that Donny Boy will be heading home. That’s too bad, especially since Donny is perceptive enough to read just how shaky the Grand Alliance is right now. (ASIDE: As happy as I am to see Nicole back in the house, she’s made a hash of her new game. It feels like she rested her entire plan on winning Head of Household. A great Big Brother player never makes HoH their only play—and there are a lot of great players this season. END OF ASIDE.)


Cody didn’t strike first. Should he have? If Derrick doesn’t win Big Brother, I think we’ll look back at this moment as the turning point. Throwing up Frankie would have sent Caleb on a vengeance tailspin… but putting up Christine? Couldn’t he sell that to Caleb and Frankie? (Frankie stabbed his best Big Brother friend in the back, recall.) And wouldn’t that have gotten him cozier with Nicole?


Team America decided to put on a show, and it was just perfect. Frankie pretended to be Joey. Donny pretended to be Devin, and it was incredible. “I’m a competition monster! I’m totin’ everyone on my back to the end!” Caleb was Hayden, and he gave an unnaturally spot-on impersonation—so spot-on that Nicole despised it. My personal favorite, though, was Victoria-as-Amber. “Hey y’all!” she said, in a Southern accent even less convincing than Amber’s. “I love to wear lingerie! My lingerie! My boobies! My butt! My butt!”

Follow me on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

Episode Recaps

Big Brother
Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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