Andy squanders all of the power, while Amanda and Helen begin plotting their endgame

By Darren Franich
August 15, 2013 at 02:57 AM EDT
CBS
S15 E21
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Andy.

Andy, Andy, Andy, Andy, Andy, Andy, Andy.

Andy…I mean, seriously, Andy.

[Your recapper pauses. Shakes his head. Sheds a single tear. Listens to an entire Sigur Ros album.]

Andy did not just have one opportunity this week. He had all of the opportunities. He was the Head of Household. He held the Power of Veto. He was the single crossover person in two powerful endgame alliances: The Aaryn/McCrae/Amanda crew; and the Helen/Elissa Mom Squad, with a pair of floaters (Jessie and Spencer) who would have promised him the world for a life raft. “I have been playing a low-key game,” he explained, “But I’ve been extremely strategic.” From one perspective, he was right. Last night’s episode of Big Brother began on Day 50, the exact halfway mark of this strange low-boil passive-aggressive season.

This was the moment to reboot the game, to radically upend the playing field. Backdoor Helen. Backdoor Amanda. Just do anything, absolutely anything at all. If Andy had not won any competitions this week, he arguably would have been the least important player in the game: Not a running target like Spencer or Jessie, not a gamemaker like Aaryn or Amanda or Helen or McCrae, not even a best friend meatbag like Elissa or GinaMarie. But he did win HoH, and he did win Veto, and it seemed for a second like every single person in the house was coming to him with the possibility of a power play.

And he did nothing. He kept the nominations the same. He said, over and over again, “I don’t want to get any blood on my hands.” It’s obvious which way he’s leaning — he has more or less cast his lot with McCramda and Aaryn. They even have a name for their Final Four alliance: “3AM.” Personally, I preferred “Easy A’s and McCrae,” which kind of sounds like a fifth-grade jam band that comes in second place in a grade-school talent show. And Andy was not shy about throwing Helen under the bus. He told McCrae and Amanda that Helen was sharpening her sword.

So Amanda sharpened hers instead. She sent McCrae and Andy to form a fake final-three alliance with Helen. McCrae told Helen everything she wanted to hear. “The way I see it is, Amanda will beat me,” he lied. He sold her a story about making an anti-Amanda deal: Get to the Final Four, and then box her out. They called in Andy, who play-acted like this was the number-one idea ever. And Helen bought it all. “McCrae has finally woken up,” she said. Helen is falling victim to the classic mistake that separates good politicians from great politicians: She’s assuming that everyone is as smart and morally bankrupt as she is. (See also: Rahm Emanuel, saying what absolutely everyone is thinking but what nobody is ever supposed to say.) Helen doesn’t like to make big game moves, but she loves to make secret alliances; the most pivotal move she made all summer was her devil’s pact with Aaryn. (ASIDE: In hindsight, that may have been the most pivotal move of the summer, period: It kept Aaryn around long enough for everyone to forget why they hated her. Aaryn flat-out admitted last night that she has spent the past week staying off the radar, sleeping for thirteen hours a night; of course, when she says “Sleeping for thirteen hours a night,” what she really means is “Kidnapping newborn babies and bringing them to my labyrinth, where they transform into goblins.” END OF ASIDE.)

Amanda is smart, there’s no denying it. She constructed an elaborate plan to let Helen win the Veto competition. They figured it would be the Stay/Fold Counting Competition, and Amanda told everyone in the house to let Helen win. And by everyone, I mean everyone except for Jessie. The Amanda/Helen coalition at this point is essentially the No Jessies Club. They felt so confident that they even told Spencer to throw the competition. Spencer nodded, “Sure sure, of course guys, I’ll throw a competition while I’m on the block, that sounds like a swell idea.” Privately, he seethed. Did they think he was a rube? He’d show them. He’d win the veto for sure.

NEXT: Spencer does not win the Veto for sureSpencer fascinates me, because there was a version of this season — a fringe universe not too far away from our own, dimensionally speaking — where he is currently a really important player. He had a strong alliance (the Moving Company) with a unifying mission statement (Get The Women Out); he had a close friend (Howard) who would’ve gone all the way to the final two with him; he has a good awareness of the invisible power dynamics in the house.

But the ground fell out from under him almost immediately. By virtue of being with the Moving Company, Spencer was loosely allied with a side of the house that I’ve generally referred to as the Confederation of Evil Hotties. They made an aggressive game — and they went out almost immediately. The people left in the house play the opposite of an aggressive game; the last month of Big Brother has felt a little bit like one of those Cold War spoofs where everyone is a quadruple agent and the net result is that nothing happens. If the early weeks had gone just a little differently — if Elissa had been knocked out, if Jeremy hadn’t let the power go to his head, if Aaryn hadn’t made herself so incredibly toxic and therefore assured that everyone in the house wanted to sit next to her in the final two — Spencer could be sitting in Helen’s shoes. At the very least, he could be an Andy. As it is, he’s a player whose entire game has already left the house. But there was something admirable in his determination to not go down without a fight.

As everyone guessed, this was a Counting Competition. Players had a few moments to peer at sets from the exciting new summer blockbuster Blood! Bolts! Bandages!, which is adapted from the bestselling YA series about an attractive vampire girl who falls into a romantic triangle with a handsome-but-moody Frankenstein and a moody-but-handsome Mummy. You laugh, but I’m going to write that series, and then I’m going to write FanFiction about that series and add in lots of sex and then change the names of the characters and then sell that FanFiction as an entirely new thing. In the publishing industry, this is referred to as “the only kind of books that sell anymore.”

The game was first to three movie tickets. Everyone folded and handed Helen the first two. Spencer went off the reservation and stayed in one game, knocking Helen out. Everyone treated this development like it was the single most offensive thing that had ever happened in Big Brother history. Amanda openly moaned. Why not? The only person who wasn’t in on the plan was Jessie. And aw shucks guys, Jessie was really here to play, this was Jessie’s chance to really make her mark, she was gonna show America that Jessie was the number one player in this house, she…oh, sorry, Jessie just got eliminated.

So it came down to Spencer, Elissa, and Andy. “This is the last round,” McCrae explained. “The winner will get the Power of Veto.” Elissa folded, because she was confused. In other news, Elissa is still on Big Brother. (Fun Fact: Elissa has now been in Big Brother 15 for ten days longer than her sister Rachel was in Big Brother 12. Pop Culture Metaphor: If Rachel in BB12 was Star Wars, and Rachel in BB13 was The Empire Strikes Back, then Elissa in BB15 is the Ewok movie.) So it was down to Spencer and Andy…and Spencer lost. He tried to do some damage control. He walked up to the HoH throne room and laughed and told Amanda that he sure felt nervous and generally did whatever the opposite of damage control is.

In the process, he left the door open for Andy to make what might be his only really pivotal move this week: He tried to make a case for keeping Jessie. “Jessie is so readable,” he said. “Spencer can trick you.” I find myself constantly rooting for Jessie now, and not just because she has no friends and is unemployed and for all we know was kicked out of her house and is only staying on Big Brother because it’s a free place to live — coincidentally the plot of the overlooked Pauly Shore classic Jury Duty. I’m rooting for Jessie because I still believe that, if she could just get a little bit of traction, she could be a good player. If she could just get someone to listen to her. Unfortunately, every time she opens her mouth and makes words, people in the Big Brother house just hear a sad trombone noise.

There was a bit of drama when Helen told her Fake-Alliance that they needed to get Amanda out before the Final Four — probably in the Final Six. And there was more drama when the Fake Alliance told this to Amanda, who announced that they needed to get Helen out even sooner. Like, let’s say in the Final Seven. Basically, everyone agreed to not do anything of consequence this week. And there was a bit of fun when Spencer, in his Veto speech, told Andy: “You haven’t done anything intelligent all week, and I don’t expect you to start now.” It was supposed to be a joke, but it played like an entirely accurate jab that underlined just how little Andy has done with all the power at his fingertips.

Sure enough, Andy kept the nominations exactly the same. Because Amanda has an irrational hatred for Jessie, it looks like she’s in the danger zone; but Spencer is doing everything he can to make himself look like the most dangerous and least likable player in the house, so it’s entirely possible that the house will shift against him. Meanwhile, there remains the distinct possibility that — as Julie Chen teased last week — someone from Jury will squirm back into the house. Right now, though, Amanda and McCrae look like they’re sitting very pretty. Meanwhile, Aaryn bides her time in her castle in the clouds, bleaching her hair in the tears of orphans.

Fellow viewers, what did you think of the night’s activities? Am I being too harsh on Andy? Is Elissa really still playing this game? How did we go an entire episode without hearing GinaMarie do her Christopher Moltisanti impression?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

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