The house cowers in terror when Amanda stops pretending to care what anyone thinks. Can Helen and Elissa survive her wrath?
Big Brother Aaryn The Demon Queen
Credit: CBS
S15 E24

Who dares challenge Amanda? In a house filled with passive two-facers — in a house where the words “I don’t want to get blood on my hands” has echoed throughout the walls for over half the summer — Amanda has but one face, and that face shows active disregard for everyone inside of the Big Brother house. She cannot win a competition, and it does not matter: Amanda is one of those magical Big Brother players who seems to win the week, no matter who wins the competitions. She lost every battle but won the war. Her hubris is sky-high right now. But again: Who dares to challenge her? If Big Brother were Game of Thrones, it’s becoming more clear that Amanda is the house’s Cersei Lannister, a devious tactician who lets everyone else do her dirty work. In this metaphor, Aaryn is Joffrey, Andy is Jaime but he’s deluded himself into thinking he’s Tyrion, and McCrae is Tyrion even though everyone thinks he’s Jaime.

And Helen, it’s becoming clear, is a Tywin Lannister who suddenly transformed into a Ned Stark. By which I mean: After a summer of brilliant gameplay, Helen walked right into a trap, saw spikes slowly descending from a ceiling, saw the bars to the tiger cage slowly opening up, and saw a sign that said “DEAR HELEN, THIS IZ A TRAP 4U, LUV AMANDA LOL” — and after all that, Helen still thought she was on top of the world. She asked her old ally Andy: “You haven’t heard of anyone wanting to send me home, have you?” Andy, flop-sweating, said, “No! Who, me?” And then Helen, her guard down, cheerfully started telling Andy all her big plans. How they were going to backdoor Spencer. How she was going to take him to the Final Two. How there would be a whole new kingdom of Helen and Andy, friends forever. Andy nodded, agreeing that that indeed sound pretty. “We’ll get rabbits, won’t we Andy?” asked Helen. “Tell me about the rabbits, Andy.”

Andy was getting nervous. If he won the Veto, it would look suspicious if he didn’t use it on Helen or Elissa…but that was exactly what his alliance wanted him to do. He openly mentioned this anxiety to Amanda, who looked at him the way a squadron of carnivorous sabre-toothed tigers with shotguns would look at the nerdy guy from The Wonder Years. The message was clear, delivered from Amanda’s brain to Andy’s with mind-bullets: “Andy, if you throw this competition, I will end you.”

The Veto competition turned out to be the annual OTEV competition — which, as we all know, is when the demented Swedish biophysicists who create the Big Brother competitions conjure up a mutant freakbeast in their laboratory and name it OTEV. This year, the Swedes created OTEV the Broken-Hearted Beaver, a sad-sack forest creature who was writing love letters to exiled Big Brother houseguests. His tears formed a waterfall. True story: They were planning on just using GinaMarie for this competition, but they forgot she was still in the game. But sure enough, there was GM, falling out of the game almost immediately because she couldn’t handle all the mud. “Mud in muh eye! Muh eyelashes comin’ off! I mean, fugeddaboutit!” said GM, who at this point is quickly transforming from a genuine human girl into a walking Pesci-in-Goodfellas impression.

You know who else is in this game? Elissa. And after over a month of more or less serving as Helen’s useless fifth limb, Elissa came firing back to life in the Veto competition. At one point, she was tumbling through the tiny pond while Helen was already halfway up the ramp…and suddenly, Elissa was all the way up the ramp ahead of Helen. In the words of Spencer, it was “a phenomenal feat of athleticism.” I watched that scene on a repeat a couple of times, and have concluded that Elissa actually used superspeed. I like to imagine that Elissa is actually a superhero, but using her superpowers requires so much exertion that she spends months ahead of time lying around doing nothing.

Mostly, I want to imagine that Elissa has been gathering her strength in her month off, because she owned the competition and handily defeated Andy. Of course, Andy wasn’t exactly trying. His complete lack of effort jolted Helen out of her reverie. “Why is he going so slow?” she wondered. After Elissa won, she thanked Andy for trying to win the veto competition for them. The right thing to say was anything at all besides a disinterested “Yeah,” which is all that Andy could manage. “He isn’t fighting for me to say,” said Helen. She couldn’t quite bring herself to believe it, but now she had doubts. Could it be that Andy going to betray her? Could it be that she was the real target? Say it ain’t so, Joe! Say it ain’t so!

NEXT: It’s soIt’s always interesting watching Elissa attempt to interact with anyone besides Helen. For some reason — because they’re both Moms, because they were both outside of the Week One cool crowd, because once upon a time they both hated Aaryn — Helen gets along really well with Elissa. Everyone else treats her like a hood ornament that occasionally makes mouthwords; Elissa, in turn, is utterly incapable of having any kind of gameplay conversation with anyone. So I was intrigued when Elissa started chatting with Amanda, trying to force herself to talk in the twisty Gordian-Knot style of Big Brother conversations; and it was even more intriguing when Amanda, clearly bored, just cut to the chase. Their conversation when something like this:

Elissa: Hey, Amanda, I was just won-

Amanda: Spencer’s gonna go up and Helen’s gonna go home. No alliances you can make will stop that. Right now you’re probably trying to figure out how you’re going to stop me. You can’t. It’s not gonna happen. If you cross me, I will put you on the block. If you tell Helen I’m coming after her, I will cut off your food supply. If you even think for a moment you can turn the house against me — if I even see you look at me wrong — I’ll frame you for stealing secrets from the US government and sentence you to seven years of Orange is the New Black. When you lie to Helen, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride f—ing with you. F— Pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.

Elissa: -dering if you could pass me the salt.

Amanda: Sure, here’s the salt. [Throws salt in Elissa’s eyes, crushes beer can on her forehead, drops mic.]

Elissa was scared. Really scared. She was so terrified that she couldn’t even tell Helen the truth. She had to speak in riddles. She told Helen she was getting bad vibes. At a certain point, she started trying to communicate by blinking in Morse Code; this plan failed, because Elissa doesn’t know Morse Code and doesn’t know how to blink. “What’s that, girl?” asked Helen. “Timmy fell down the well?” Eventually, Helen got the message. She went upstairs to Aaryn. She mapped out a beautiful Final Four dream. “You, GM, Elissa, me,” said Helen. Of course, what she was really saying was: “You, me, your meatshield, my meatshield.” And she made a great point: “We cannot get McCrae and Amanda out.”

Aaryn seemed very amenable. She even told Helen that, deep down, she didn’t trust Andy. It’s a cold and lonely place up in Castle Aarynskull. She has won four Head of Households and used pretty much every single one to take down one of Amanda’s enemies; now, Amanda is asking her to kick out Helen, a player who Aaryn seems to genuinely respect. And that night, Amanda turned flat-out aggressive towards Aaryn. During a boozy evening of wine and remembrance, Amanda and Aaryn got into an old argument about the Wine-Stealing event from Week 2. “Don’t try to justify your bitchiness,” said Amanda. The more Aaryn fought, the more Amanda fought back. At one point, Aaryn fleed to cry…and Amanda raced right after her to chastise her some more. Why not? It’s her HoH thronebed; Aaryn is just renting it.

Now, Aaryn could tell she was being played. “It’s not even Big Brother anymore. It’s the McCrae and Amanda show,” she said. “And I am bathing in the blood of Amanda’s enemies.” Aaryn knows that she is being used as a puppet by the power behind the throne. She knows that Amanda is treating her with utter contempt. She knows that Amanda and McCrae would throw her under the bus in a moment; knows that she’s probably less important to them than Andy; knows that this week was the last best chance to get Amanda out before the endgame. Aaryn is not a strong Big Brother player — she worries too much about getting blood on her hands, and prefers to cede her power to “the house” — but she is a fierce competitor, and she knows this game calls for power moves.

And still: When Elissa took herself off the block, Aaryn anxiously stumbled in front of everyone and said, “This is the corner I’m being pushed into,” and put eternal pawn Spencer up on the block. Who dares challenge Amanda? In the confessional, she could not repress a smile. “I get what I want,” she said. Everyone in the house is terrified of her and of her power. I know some people think that McCrae is the better player of the two of them; certainly, he’s better at competitions, and he’s more likable just by virtue of never getting into loud arguments with people. But put them together in the Final Two: Who has owned the house this summer? Can anyone beat Amanda?

Maybe: A Big Twist looms in tomorrow night’s eviction, when one of the four jury members will stage a comeback into the game. Now, it’s entirely possible that this will be another bungled rule-change in this season of Non-Twists — Judd, Jessie, Candice, and (soon) Helen were all expelled by a powerful alliance that still reigns supreme in the house. If one of those players comes back into the house, but doesn’t win HoH…well, they’ll be buying themselves a week of suffering from Amanda’s reign of terror.

But what if one of the jury members does win HoH? What if one of those jury members has spent their time in Jury Purgatory pondering all the mistakes they made inside of the house and planning a long and multi-pronged plan of revenge — just like that girl who plans all that revenge in that show about revenge? And what if this player, given a second chance at life, finally makes all the power moves they always said they would make, and becomes the least expected great player in Big Brother history?


Fellow Big Brother viewers, what did you think of Amanda’s House of Horrors? And who would you like to see come back into the house from Jury? Juddheads, make your voices heard! Candylanders, unite!

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

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Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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