The game rewinds, but not before Derrick sends Victoria undercover.
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Big Brother
S16 E35
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Surely, my friend, you’ve heard the theory of the Butterfly Effect, the scientific postulation conceived by Edward Lorenz–known as “Lorenzo” to his friends. The Butterfly Effect states that a small microcosmic activity can have a vast macrocosmic effect on an environment. A butterfly flaps its wings in Austria, and as a result, a hurricane strikes the coast of Florida. Or a butterfly flaps its wings in Honduras, and as a result, Ashton Kutcher becomes a millionaire and a technology icon and marries Demi Moore and then marries Meela Kooniz.

The Butterfly Effect was the subject of this Wednesday’s episode of Big Brother. At the beginning of the episode, a single tear emerged from Victoria’s eye. She was up on the block; she knew how much the boys love each other; she knew that she was going home. The single tear made its way down Victoria’s cheek. It fell to the ground—and simultaneously, several giga-miles into deep space, an electric storm eradicated an entire society of cyborg cephalopods who resided in the Swamplands around the third hemisphere of the fourth moon of Caltoru. Another tear emerged from Victoria’s left eye, and fell upon the table—and the tele-cosmic turbulence caused by two Victoria tears in one day drowned the psychic ant-people of the Omega Centauri galaxy.

“Alas for me!” whispered Victoria to herself. “Alas, for all my hopes and dreams! Who would have thought that I, Princess Victoria, would be leaving the Big Brother house? Did I not play this game perfectly? Did I not sacrifice four houseflies every Tuesday to the Empress Ju Lee? Did I not breathe precisely 23 thousand times per day? Why, just the other day, the pretty parrot who lives in the freezer told me I was one of the game’s greatest players ever! Was it all for naught? Oh, Froggington, my dearest Froggington, won’t you come rescue your princess from her plight? Am I hungry?”

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Caleb and Cody have underestimated Victoria. They think she is a meat shield, a helpful slab to carry along, something that will eventually need to be disposed of. This is why they are good players, but not great players. Frankie does not underestimate Victoria. He recognizes her power. “If I find myself sitting next to her next week, I know I’m going home,” said Frankie. Follow this, if you can: Victoria is a useless player; because she is a useless player, she would be an ideal Final Four compatriot for a useful player; and that makes her one of the biggest threats to Frankie’s game. Victoria is pure antimatter: If science could harness her, we’d already be on Mars.

Frankie’s smart. Derrick’s smarter. Frankie sees a threat; Derrick sees an opportunity.

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Derrick and Frankie circle each other now. They’re like two gunslingers at the end of a Sergio Leone movie–the last two survivors, the guys who killed everyone else or anyhow managed to survive while everyone else killed each other. Maybe they were never even enemies. There have been nemeses before inside of the Big Brother house. But for much of this season, it practically seemed like Derrick and Frankie were living in two very different houses.

Frankie has played a wild, in-your-face social game; Derrick has played a steady background game, subtly and incisively shifting the axis of the house in his direction. It’s like Frankie is the hero in a fantasy novel—a barbarian warrior whose weapon is bright pink battle-axe and whose only article of clothing is a speedo made of Direwolf Pelt dyed purple in Dragons’ blood—while Derrick is the hero in a sci-fi spy thriller novel–a faceless time-traveling shapeshifter, an espionage renegade with his own mad plans for the world, who pops up in the background of photographs taken in every era of history.

So they circle each other now, telling lies upon lies. Derrick tells Frankie that he sees this game as a Final Three battle between Frankie, Caleb, and Cody. “If you want me to be candid with you, I think it’s an unwritten thing between the three of you,” he says. Much of what he says is true—Derrick and Frankie are both game masters, capable of recognizing the unique strategies of their final-act opponents. Derrick pointed out that Caleb has “never told someone one thing and done another”: The Frontstab Strategy. He told Frankie that Cody is a popular, handsome boy.

Frankie nodded, and he agreed. And yet he can see Derrick—maybe he’s the only one who can. (Nicole knew Derrick was a great player, but she still bought into the idea of him as a basically nice guy—and so she was ruthlessly dispatched.) Frankie was clear: “I’m not counting Derrick out of winning the $500,000 at all.”

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Derrick’s mind game didn’t work on Frankie. So he tried another strategy. “There may be people in this house who think Victoria’s useless,” he explained. Not Derrick. He talked to her. He told her how much he wanted her to stay. But he also talked to her about the bad future—what it would be like, with her in the jury as his No. 1 fan. Victoria was a threat to Derrick, too; a guaranteed vote made him a target. (Part of what makes Derrick’s game play so interesting is that his central strategy is to erase himself from the game.)

So he needed her help. Could she pretend to hate him? Could she tell Frankie that she would never, in a million years, vote in favor of Derrick? And could she sell it—I mean really sell it, Victoria, maybe even show legitimate emotion for the first time all summer?

Oh yeah. Victoria jumped at the chance to play a spy in King Frankie’s Throne Room. “Derrick just told me he’s not voting to keep me,” said Victoria. “It just sucks Frankie.” The look on Frankie’s face! He was shocked, and he tried so hard to look sympathetic, but you could see a wide smile crossing his face—a laugh even, as if he couldn’t believe his luck.

Victoria kept on. “I don’t ever want to look at him, talk to him, I don’t respect him as a person,” she said. “I don’t even want to talk to him.”

“Oh honey,” said Frankie, “I completely understa–”

“When I leave this house,” continued Victoria. “I will call down all the hounds of hell upon him. Because he hast betrayed me, he will be the most accursed beast of the field, and upon his belly shall he go, and dust shall he eat all the days of his life.”

“Well, this is a game,” interjected Frankie, “and sometimes in games–”

“I want him DEAD. I want his family DEAD. I want his house BURNED TO THE GROUND! I want his children EATEN by CUTE PUPPIES.”

“That sounds quite–”

“My name is Victorius Decimus Meridius. Commander of the armies of the North. General of the Felix legions. Loyal servant to the TRUE emperor, Phoebus Froggington. Mother to a murdered goldfish, girlfriend to a murdered mockingjay. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

I have heard some people describe Derrick as “boring.” Watching him is a little bit like watching someone play the World Series of Poker: The action all internal, the emotions all repressed behind a quiet veneer. The anti-Derrick brigade might argue that there is no great Derrick moment from this season. Look no further, I say. Derrick has achieved the impossible: He weaponized Victoria.

NEXT: Meela Kooniz

Choice Excerpts from “The Quotable Beast Mode: Words of Wisdom from a Not-So-Wise Man,” by Caleb Reynolds, Esq., M.D., DDS, Inc.

(All Rights Reserved.)

[Responding to a question from Julie Chen, “What do you think will happen because you pressed the golden button?”]

“I hope the big old dad gum diesel truck drives through the gum dad front door with a whole bedful of money, and I get to share it with everybody, and we all have a dad gum gum dad money swim, just like Uncle Skewj!”

[Musing ambiently about what else might happen when the countdown stops]

“It very well could be celebrities. Four of our favorite celebrities is gonna come in and compete in luxury competitions. Mah celebrity will be Ol’ Meela Kooniz, and when ah win, Big Brother is gonna let me marry that woman on national television!”

[Yelling joyously after scaring Cody in the shower]

“You done got guterdone dad gum spooktrofied inna shower witha scaredya do dad hokey-poke hanky-pank supercalifragilistaskiewicz like such as and so but then ipso facto rolo tomassi goooaaalllllllllll!”

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Imagine a land beyond all lands. Call it heaven, or Mount Olympus, or the Grey Havens–or the Big Brother Jury House. There, the ghosts of warriors past live on forever, awaiting with open arms the people they once called enemies. Zach’s pink hat lives on, and Jocasta has incredible hair, and Hayden still has an incredible ability to know exactly what’s happening in the game and the equally incredible ability to do absolutely nothing with that information.

They were joined by Nicole, dead again after an inconsequential return to the Big Brother house. And then came Christine—and no one even spoke to her. They couldn’t even look her in the face. When I ranted about the Big Brother audience booing her last week, more than a few people insisted that the boos were less about #Chrody and more about her game play—and certainly, it’s striking that in a game built on backstabbing, the Jury House appears to be more accepting of Zach Rance than of Christine. (Conversely, as Hayden pointed out: “I think they booed her for her little shindig with Cody. People don’t boo people for game-related reasons.)

About Christine. Here are some wise words from Cromwell:

Backstabbing is part of Big Brother‘s DNA. It’s hard to think of a truly great Big Brother player who hasn’t betrayed at least someone—and many of the great Big Brother players betray a whole lot of people. (ASIDE: Two years later, we can still argue about whether or not Ian “deserved” to win Big Brother 14, but a key moment in his Saga was the moment when he betrayed Mike Boogie. That’s the Big Brother version of the Siegfried myth: A mere mortal slays a powerful dragon, bathes in the beast’s blood, becomes invincible. END OF ASIDE.) In this sense, Christine was a bold player. If anything, she was too bold. She went Full Judas: She betrayed everyone.

Or maybe she just betrayed the wrong people; when you look at that list, and you realize that Christine was the linchpin at the center of the two halves of the house—the half in an alliance, and the half in a loose coalition of Nice Useless People—it’s possible to imagine a completely different back half of Big Brother season 16. If Christine had stayed true to Nicole and Hayden; if they had united with Donny, and if Donny could have successfully turned Zach against his alliance; if even one power player from the Bomb Squad had gone out early, if Frankie or Caleb went home the way they were supposed to, then we could very well be looking at a very different Final Five.

As it is, the Jury House is filled with people who seem to know exactly who put the knife in their backs. There’s been some concern that Derrick has played a too-subtle game—Julie Chen herself voiced the possibility that he’s “done too good a job”—but that doesn’t seem to be the case as far as the Jury is concerned. Derrick has the votes; can he get to the finish line?

NEXT: Rewind

And now, let’s pitch movies based on Cody’s facial expressions!

When the handsomest man on Wall Street gets framed for a Ponzi Scheme, he’s sent to White Collar Prison for a two-year sentence. His cellmate? Faded hip-hop legend Huntah-Gatherer (Jamie Foxx). Wacky shenanigans are guaranteed to ensue in Paramount Picture’s Minimum Security!

Jefferson “Jeff” Jenkins was just a mild-mannered senator with beautiful eyes and a bright future… until the yakuza kidnapped his girlfriend (Katharine McPhee). They’re going to murder her… unless Jeff agrees to vote down a bill that will ban Evil from America. Will Jeff compromise his principles to save the woman he loves? Alan Alda cameos as “Congressman Funkstein” in The Law Behind The Law (directed by David Fincher).

It’s been 15 years since that horrible Memorial Day weekend, when Caiden O’Brian’s entire family died in a mysterious fire that started mysteriously. Now, Andrew has finally rebuilt the family estate… and there’s a strange sound coming from the attic. Max Von Sydow plays the Elderly Librarian in the new horror thriller Memorial Dead Weekend, Part II: Barbecue of Blood.

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But now in all seriousness, when Julie Chen announced that the entire week of Big Brother would be taken back, everyone looked horrified. Frankie was shocked. Caleb was joyous. Derrick was pensive. Cody looked scared.

And this is what Victoria looked like:

Let’s be clear. She is showing no emotion at all. She has just been told that she is staying inside of the Big Brother house, and she is not reacting. She is anti-reacting. And this isn’t the freakiest part. The really scary thing is that she appears to be looking RIGHT AT YOU RIGHT NOW.

Perhaps we’ve been understanding Victoria the wrong way all season. Maybe we haven’t been watching her; maybe she’s been watching us. Maybe we’re all just rats in her maze. Maybe she’s been here long before us, and will be here long after us. Maybe if you could look into her thoughts, this is what you’d see:

Could we be witnessing a new Victoria, here at the end? She followed the Faux-Backstab plan all the way to the hilt. When she gave what could’ve been her farewell speech, she thanked her castmates: “I thank you for treating me like the princess I know I am.” But then she turned to Derrick: “You have betrayed me, and I will never be able to forgive you for that.” Who would’ve thought Victoria, of all people, would stage this season’s Dan Gheesling homage?

Maybe she’s a cooler customer than we know. Maybe ice water runs in her veins. After the twist was announced, her castmates sat in awe on the couch. Not Victoria. She stood up, and yelled at no one in particular: “Can I get my suitcase?”

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The house time traveled backward, to last week. The Big Brother producers really held to the theme: The players even played the same Head of Household competition. Derrick can’t compete, again; Cody will need to put the dinosaur costume back on. It’s an interesting twist, because essentially nothing happened this week that would cause anything to change. Frankie didn’t backstab anyone; the Bomb Squad alliance stayed strong.

And so the #BBRewind twist goes back to the Butterfly Effect, really. What happens when the house has to replay the same week all over again? Will we find ourselves in the same place on Tuesday, with Victoria ready to float away to her castle in the clouds? (When the episode ended, the men looked just about neck-and-neck, with Victoria already in last place.) What happens if Frankie doesn’t win? Is there any possible outcome that won’t be good for Derrick?

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In conclusion, Julie Chen is going to stick her head into a glass cage, and you can vote on whether her face will be crawled across by several small tarantulas or one large tarantula.

Follow me on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

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Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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