Big Brother recap: Keith vs. Porsche
Keith and Porsche desperately try to lose a competition, Jeff gives an inspiring half-time speech, and Dick disapparates
I never understood all the hate for Evel Dick. True, the man was a magnificent scumbag who glided through the Big Brother house with the leering swagger of a mythical serpent slithering through the Garden of Eden trying to find an attractive naked human couple to symbolically corrupt. But at the most basic level, Big Brother a show about politics, and all politicians are scumbags, which is why most democratic elections basically come down to the voters trying to decide which scumbag is more likable. And Evel Dick was incredibly likable, in a Hans Gruber-ish of way. He was also, we should remember, one of those rare reality show baddies who constantly rose to power even though he made no secret about screwing everyone over. (This particular brand of open-faced supervillainy was invented wholesale in the first season of Survivor, when everyone agreed that Richard Hatch was the Devil Incarnate and handed him $1 million for his troubles.)
Last night marked only the third episode of this new Big Brother season, but Evel Dick was already running the place. His teammates on the Veteran Squad were all just following in his wake. When Porsche walked into the HoH bedroom and started crying about being put on the chopping block, Brendon and Rachel could both sense that she was a loose cannon. But what could they do? Dick had already conspired with her. She was in the club. “Of all the people for my dad to make a deal with,” Daniele groaned. What could she do? It was Dick’s deal. You could argue that, at this point, the numbers weren’t quite in the veterans’ favor — by my count, the vote would have split straight down the middle between Keith and Porsche. But that assumes that Dick wouldn’t have made a separate deal with Kalia, or Shelly. Maybe he would have sniffed out the Regulators. I don’t doubt he would have run the table. Jeff was right to call him “one of the best social game players.” When Dick waltzed into the Diary Room, he looked like a man who was already counting his money.
First came the quiet. Then came the confusion: “Say, have you guys seen Dick? Is he in the bedroom? Did he ever come out of the Diary Room? Geez, how long can one man talk?” Then came the realization: Rachel was called into the Diary Room, and returned with a note from the desk of Big Brother. “Due to an urgent personal matter, Dick had to unexpectedly leave the Big Brother game.” Daniele would receive the first golden key, a last gift from her old man, or perhaps a last laugh from her oldest enemy. The game would go on without him. There was no larger indication given as to the reasons for Dick’s disappearance on the show. (I’m sure you can find out why he got the Jimmy Hoffa treatment online, but I prefer to believe that this is some secret double-secret-reverse twist, that Dick has been placed behind the walls of the Big Brother house to whisper misery into his former opponents’ ears. Also, I found something so wonderfully hilarious about Jeff’s desperate post-disappearance exclamation: “We don’t know what happened to Dick, and we may never know!”)
The fallout was immediate. Chaos reigned. The outlook was gloomy for The Veteran Squad, which I will henceforth refer to as the Expendables. They were down one vote at a time when every vote counted, down one challenge fiend at a time when every challenge could end them. Daniele had begun crying — the second woman to cry in the HoH room in one day, for all those keeping track at home. “Dick lives and breathes Big Brother,” she said. “This is his life. Which is disgusting and embarrassing.” Jordan walked in and dropped the double bombshell: Keith was walking around downstairs, grinning a big grin and dancing around like Christmas came early to party with Thanksgiving. That set Brendon into a rage. He wanted to go downstairs and…what? Tell the newbies to show some respect? To what end? In that moment, the Expendables had no power.
NEXT: The banality of EvelAnd they knew it. Brendon was angry: “We have to win every competition. Impossible!” Jordan was despondent: “It’s too late. The battle lines are drawn. There is no solution!” Daniel was all like, “Wahhhh, I’m crying!” Rachel was all like, “Hahaha, I’m laughing!” Madness! Madness! It was left to Jeff to rally the troops. “Let’s knuckle up like Rocky! Don’t jump on the negative train. We have to [expletive] the [expletive] if we’re going to [expletive] the [expletive]! Inch by inch, play by play, til’ we’re finished! That’s gonna make the [obscene gerund] difference between winning and losing! Between winnin’ and dyin”!”
Watching Jeff unleash his inner football coach while his Brendon descended a familiar cycle of rage and depression, I realized two things:
One: For all the accurate complaints that this season’s Double-Trouble twist was a cheap stunt, there is something uncannily perfect about pairing Jeff/Jordan alongside Brendon/Rachel, since the two couples are literally the exact opposite of each other in every way. Jeff and Jordan are blandly likable, Rachel and Brendon are aggressively unlikable. J & J are intuitive players who don’t plan and rarely let their emotions get the better of them, R& B are highly cerebral players who constantly plan ahead but then undo all their hard work in moments of mad passion. Watching Jeff criticize Brendon is kind of like watching Superman criticize Batman, except nobody is dressed in tights and everybody is utterly insane.
Two: I suspect that Evel Dick’s sudden disappearance at this early stage of the season will serve a similar narrative purpose to the early departure of Wild Bill Hickock from season 1 of Deadwood and, more recently, the shocking-if-this-was-1996 death on Game of Thrones. In all three cases, patriarchal figures who were once dominant in their respective games all arrived on the scene, apparently as the leading protagonists in their story; in all three cases, said patriarchs were suddenly dispatched, leaving their confused followers in the next generation behind to puzzle their way forward. Thus, may I suggest a new subtitle for this season: Big Brother 13: World Without a Dick.
So the Expendables were in trouble. The old plan was out the window. The odds were badly stacked against them. They had to rest, reconsider, reconnoiter, make the best of it, improvise, adapt to the environment, Darwin, s— happens, I Ching, whatever man, we gotta roll with it. Fortunately for them, Big Brother isn’t just a game about outplaying your opponents — it’s a game about outplaying yourself. Downstairs, Keith could have reacted in various ways to the news of Dick’s departure. He could have quietly thanked his personal deity for essentially handing him a ticket to the big show. He could have high-fived all his fellow Newbies in public, and then low-fived his fellow Regulators in private. He could have strolled upstairs to the HoH room, plopped himself down on the couch next to the Jeff & Jordan Positive Train (Choo-Choooooo!) and said something totally awesome and Biblical, like “Guess what, Veterans: We’re the meek, and we’re inheriting the earth.”
NEXT: J’accuse!What I’m trying to say is that Keith suddenly had options, the best of which was probably “smiling and doing nothing.” Instead, he hung about in the storage room, dancing a victory dance and promising the camera, “Now that Dick’s gone, I’m gonna make my move on Dani!” Shelly, for one, was a bit disturbed by his excess celebration — after all, for all they knew, Dick left for an actually important reason. (And we should remember that Shelly’s general loyalties are anything but clear right now: The Newbies seem to be treating her like a kindly old auntie, which strikes me as serious underestimation.) Then Keith just went insane: He had seen Porsche and Kalia talking to the Expendables, he claimed, and said, “I need to expose them. I’m gonna be the hero. I’m gonna save the day.”
“Saving the day,” in this case, meant taking the accused Kalia and Porsche into the Bedlam Bedroom, along with an audience of Dominic, Lawon, and Adam. “I watch things!” Keith said. “I start to put things together in my head!” Everyone in the room looked confused, especially Dominic. This was not in the Regulation handbook.
It’s hard to know exactly what Keith was trying to achieve. It was kind of like watching a detective in an old Agatha Christie novel invite all the murder suspects into a drawing room to reveal the killer, only to suddenly launch into a full-bodied imitation of a chipmunk that just drank a cask of Red Bull sprinkled with Vodka and Jalapeno. But I have a theory. Keith was trying to shine a light on the lies that were already circulating through the house. What he doesn’t realize — what all great Big Brother players know implicitly — is that lies are remarkably useful, if you know who’s lying.
Before Keith started running his mouth, Porsche was essentially a helpful fifth member of the Regulator alliance — they knew she was corrupt, and they knew they could vote her out, so her every move she made just helped the cause. If Adam, Kalia, and Shelly floated along on a happy cloud of blissful unawareness, all the better. Now, Kalia thinks Keith is coming after her, Adam can’t trust anyone, and Dominic thinks Keith is insane.
NEXT: A restored version of the long-lost 153-minute cut of Fritz Lang’s VetropolisSpeaking of insanity, the lead-up to last night’s veto challenge was a brutal race-to-the-bottom farce. Keith didn’t want to win the veto challenge, because he knew he had the votes on his side. Porsche didn’t want to win the veto challenge, because she thought he had the votes on her side, because she apparently can’t count, and as we all learned from Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate, nothing is more important in politics than being able to accurately count your votes.
(Actually, it’s kind of remarkable to witness just how completely Porsche has squandered her opportunity. For no apparent reason, Dick decided to ask her to turn Judas on her Newbie pals. From that point, for all her talk about wanting to be competitive, Porsche basically stopped playing and put all her faith in the Expendables. She reminds me a little of the gaggle of grinning bikini followbots who essentially carried Boston Rob over the finish line of the last season of Survivor.)
In a wonderful pair of cross-cutting Diary Room sessions, Keith and Porsche both laughed about how they were going to fool their teammate. “I’m throwing the veto, and Keith has no idea,” said the girl who was named after a luxury car. “I’m throwing the veto, and Porsche has no idea,” laughed the man of god who BTW loves the ladies, have you heard? If this were a Billy Wilder movie, the combined negative efforts of the two players to betray each other would have somehow resulted in them winning the challenge, at which point they would have probably achieved the rare distinction of sitting on the block and not using the veto on themselves.
The Veto Challenge was pretty hilarious. Team Brenchal and Team Jorff donned superhero outfits to face off against the Porsche/Keith Backstab Express (Choo-Choooooo!) The setting was a ruined city. Jeff noted that the main stage was so clean, “It looked like Chicago…but the junk on the side reminded me of New York.” Double wrongo, Super-Jeff! As Adam screeched, the competitors had found themselves in “the once-great city of Vetropolis.”
Like so many American cities, Vetropolis has fallen into disarray: The infrastructure is crumbling, the buildings badly need repairs, gentrification is squeezing out the middle class, the government is controlled by special interests and fat cats, and David Simon is already planning to make a low-rated HBO TV show about the city called Vetropolis Now. Anyhow, contestants in the veto challenge had to each rebuild their own tower. Team Backstab dilly-dallied on the rebuilding process for their own personal gain, which is coincidentally what every construction crew does when they’re building a skyscraper. Somehow, Keith and Porsche still managed to do better than the actually-trying Jeff and Jordan. No one could beat Brendan and Rachel, who came one step closer to repeating last season’s winning streak by dominating the competition. (Did anyone else hear Rachel call Brendon “Pumpkinhead“?) My pick for best moment of the episode: Watching Keith and Porsche in a shared Diary Room chat try to explain how they lost the competition, both of them barely able to prevent themselves from laughing.
NEXT: We hate you. Love us!By all rights, that should have been the end of the episode, but Brendon and Rachel made the curious decision to use their new power of Veto to bring in all the Newbie teams for a delightfully awkward meet-and-greet-and-intimidate session. Their reasons for speaking to each team were, I think, sound. The couple are doubly cursed going forward: Anyone who watched last season knows that Brendon and Rachel are a pair of batcrap banagrams kookballs with an uncanny ability to win Big Brother challenges, and now they’ve spent the first week establishing peacocking like mad in their HoH room, which is both a lovenest and a scheme factory. This was a good opportunity to speak directly to the Newbies, to get to know them, to perhaps talk lightly about alliances.
Instead, they approached everyone with roughly the same line: “We’re in charge now. You should respect us. Please don’t ever put us on the block. Please betray everyone who is not us. And lastly: When we look at you, we see nothing but tiny dots.” Kalia seemed vaguely impressed by them; Dominic appeared to bend the knee, but he clearly doesn’t like being intimidated; and 13 (as my fellow Big Brother recapper Kate Ward accurately rechristened Cassi) was the only Newbie who actually tried to nail down exactly what Brendon and Rachel were asking for. “Cassi’s not really telling me what I want to hear,” said Rachel, adding “Hahahahaha!”
(13, by the way, is my ridiculously early pick to win it all — she and Dominic strike me as the smartest heads in the Newbie Coalition, but Dominic seems to have a slightly impetuous streak. Or maybe I’m just drawing conclusions because 13 appears to have been sculpted by a race of godlike alien scientists from Planet Neptune who wanted to create a perfect woman for the greater glory of alien science, but who didn’t know anything about human language except for long hours spent studying the questionable accents on True Blood.)
In the end, Rachel asked Keith and Porsche to make a case for taking them off the block. They both specifically wanted to stay on the block, so they both made empty arguments specifically designed to make sure they didn’t succeed in pleading their case, just like in the mid-2000s when various liberal congressmen took over the anti-war movement specifically to make sure the anti-war movement failed (which thanks a lot, liberal congressmen.). The Power of Veto stayed in the box. Porsche gleefully insisted that Keith was on her way home. Oh Porsche, someday you’ll be a real car.
Big Brother fans, this might not have seemed like a very active episode, but every move made at this early stage of the game will reverberate throughout the season. What caught your eye? Are you sad to see Evel Dick go? Am I the only one who thinks that Daniele is this season’s dark-horse? She has a month to make friends and avoid any exterior gameplay, which means she has a month to lure the other players into a false sense of security. (Also, since she’s already lost her partner, she’s better placed than any of her fellow Expendables to befriend the Newbies.) Is Keith crazy? Hit the comment boards, and send me your Big Brother conjectures on Twitter. See you back here tomorrow night for Big Brother: Episode 4–Porsche’s Last Drive.