Wednesday, July 27, 2016

From My P.O.V: BB History Repeats Itself (Week 5)

In this week’s, “From My P.O.V”, column things are going to be formatted a little differently than usual. In the past, I have worked hard to bite my tongue regarding spoilers and moments unseen on the episode version of the show so as not to spoil any secrets for the purists among us who only like to watch the episodes. This week, though, not discussing some of the spoilers and behind-the-scenes happenings of the week would be borderline irresponsible - too much has happened that needs to be talked about ASAP. So this week, the first half of the column will be devoted to what we’ve all seen on the shows, ending with James’s nominations at the conclusion of Sunday’s episode. In the second half of the column, I’ll discuss whats happened on the live-feeds since the end of Sunday’s episode, and comment on ALL of that.

To quickly recap where we stand in the episode version of the show - since it's almost easy to forget after the chaos of the live feeds the last few days - James was crowned the new HoH after winning an endurance competition that lasted over 6 hours (his speciality) and in the process brokered a deal with Frank and Bridgette, as well as Da’Vonne, not to nominate any of them if Bridgette and Da’Vonne (the last two remaining HGs in the comp. aside from James) threw the comp. to him. In the process Frank and Da’Vonne had a discussion as well, where Frank attempted to hash things out with Da’Vonne by exposing Nicole’s duplicity in the game. The end result of all of this was James breaking a promise he made in front of the entire house (just as he did in BB17) by nominating Frank and Bridgette for eviction.

I want to start by commenting on Frank’s game, which I have done early and often both on my twitter page and here in my column. If you’ve followed me at all to this point, you already know I am a fan. I loved Frank in BB14, and I love him now. Hes not perfect, and none of them are - but in this column its time to discuss the major flaws in Frank’s game, and how they’ve landed him in the spot hes in (and no, we wont be talking about any butt-bopping).

Frank plays (and always had played) Big Brother with intense loyalty and honesty. I dont mean to make Frank out to be some knight-in-shining-amour type, because he definitely isn't - but if theres one thing you can say for Frank, its that hes “ole’ reliable”. You always know where he stands. He makes his target clear to the house, he makes no bones about who he doesn't like, he unabashedly fights hard to win comps., and if you're in an alliance with him or if hes offered you a deal you know he will undoubtably be true to his word.

Now all of that makes Frank sound like a great guy with a lot of qualities to admire (which is partially true, its that raw ‘Frank’ness that won him America’s Favorite HG in BB14) but its also those qualities that have been his demise in not one, but TWO, seasons of Big Brother, now. Someone can fact check me on this, but I honestly dont think hes ever told a lie or tried too hard to deceive someone in all of his combined time in the house. And thats his tragic flaw. Frank is a loyal and honest player in a disloyal and dishonest game. And again, in no way is that my defending of his actions, if anything im condemning him. We all love honesty and loyal people in the real world, but when 500,000 dollars is on the line, sometimes you have to get down and dirty - which is something Frank has nearly always refused to do. I truly believe Frank thinks unwaveringly loyal is the best way to play this game - and he probably partially thinks that because of his mentorship with Mike Boogie. You may read that and feel that Mike Boogie is far from the most honest and loyal player to ever play (and win) Big Brother - and you’d be right - but he was loyal to a fault to Will in BB2 and BB7 and equally loyal to Frank in BB14. This overly loyal game is all Frank has ever known, and its why he always ends up with the raw end of the deal.

Worse than his inability to waiver from his honest and loyal gameplay, though, is Frank’s inability to understand that others do not, and will not, play the game with the same integrity that he does. He was misted by Dan in BB14, and OF ALL PEOPLE, was misted by James this season. James brokered he and Bridgette a deal, and because Frank is the type of person who would never go back on a deal, he assumed the same of James - ultimately leading himself to be betrayed and find himself on the block as public enemy number one.

I guess if you want to have a fatal flaw in life it would be to have too much integrity - but if you're Frank looking at the fact that your integrity has potentially lost you the chance to win 1 million dollars (had he won both of his seasons), you may want to start thinking at least your strategy in the Big Brother house - if not your strategy in life.

Franks loyalty and honesty to a fault in the game brings us to James, who seems to have exactly the opposite issue - the guy has apparently never made a deal he didn't break. There are pros and cons to James’s move this week but (and I dont just say this because of my love affair with Frank) I truly believe the negatives to his move outweigh the positives.

Lets start with the obvious positives - Hes making a big move for his game-winning resume, hes doing what the house wants and thus walking away with essentially a minimum amount of blood on his hands (straying from the James who ‘loved blood’ last season), and he is earning additional favor with Da’Vonne and Nicole (though Da’Vonne is the least anti-Frank she has been all season).

Heres whats bad about James’s move - He once again just proved himself to be a liar and someone who cant be trusted in the game, AND in taking out Frank he is eliminating the meat-shield he has in a male competitor who would definitely be targeted before him in the coming weeks.

To touch on the former of those points first without going into too much detail, James is now, more than ever, a proven liar. In BB17 he won an endurance competition by brokering a deal with Clelli that if they threw it to him he would not put either of them up on the block - front door or back - only to betray that deal and put them up next to each other. Now, I am not sure how many HGs remembered this detail and how many of them were clued into it after the fact by the whispers of production - but either way the HGs are in on the joke - and now James has an established track record as someone who cannot be trusted. It wasn't a one-off betrayal in BB17 to improve his game (which it really didn’t), now its what defines him as a Big Brother player. All James has done is set himself up for the same critical mistake he made last season - now he's a target who majority alliance can look at once they begin to turn inward and say, “he cant be trusted.” Down the road, someone (be it Paulie, or Paul, or Nicole, or Michelle, or whoever) will be in a tough situation of who to target - and it will be James on the justification that he cant be trusted and is unafraid to make big moves.

That segues to the latter of my two points on why this isn't the best move for James, hes only making himself a more prominent target in more ways than one. Now, not only is he an untrustworthy player unafraid to make big moves, hes also reminded people that (oh yeah!) he can be a physical competitor too! Now, you might look at the house and say that people would be far more inclined to view Victor, Corey, Paul, and Paulie as comp. threats (and you would be partially right) but James winning this competition reminds the house that he can win too, which might make the alpha male group a tad on the nervous side. Beyond just resurfacing as a competitor, James eliminating Frank also leaves him as the last remaining male returnee. This fact may be forgotten at the moment, but when the bro alliance inevitably turns on James, its just another item on the list that will loom large over his head as to why he needs to go.

In the short term game, I get why James is making the move he is, but longterm I think it will be hugely detrimental to his chances of making it to the end. As it has been said - Big Brother is a marathon, not a sprint.

Before we move on to the juice of the livefeeds bonanza, I have to comment on a personal level on how Paul has almost immediately gotten back on my nerves. I’ll keep this short, but for half a second I liked Paul. He seemed to be adapting to the game well, understanding the benefits of flying under the radar, and while his “Friendship!” buzzword wasn't funny to me, I wasn't particularly bothered by it.

Thats all changed now. I cant stand him again. Hes the most annoying person in the house. I want him gone. Period.

My love affair with Paul was starting to go stale before Victor came back into the house, but in the last few episodes it didn't just stale, it soured. I dont think hes playing a terrible horrible game again, but he's just so.. grinding. All of his stupid, stupid phrases are driving me nuts. The constant yelling “OHHHHH”, “OHHHHH”, “OHHHHH”, actually had me yelling “Shut up!” at my TV on Sunday. Beyond that I am sick of “Friendship!” and sick of “PISSED!”. Hes arrogance is baffling. You aren't iconic Paul. You have some fans who like your edginess, but when its all said and done you’ll be a footnote in BB history, and an annoying one at that.

In the backyard during the HoH his insistence that he was running the house and that he was going to get to the bottom of everything and he was going to convince people to drop so that he could go to bed - it was all maddening. You're a nobody Paul. You're not in control of anybody but yourself, and maybe Victor. I dream of the day he’ll be sent packing at this point.

Sorry Paul, I liked you for 15 minutes when you seemed to be getting a handle on this game, but now you’ve just violently awoken me to remember who you were in your pre-season interview with Big Jeff. Gag.

End Rant.


The episodes this week were good - good television, at least - but the feeds were better. A lot of it will likely make it onto Wednesday’s and Thursday’s shows, but for those of you who cant wait - here we go!

Frank is the target of the house, that much isn't a spoiler, I am sure. But for those of you who aren't yet aware, he LOST the veto in the same competition that led to his demise in BB14 - OTEV. In BB14, Frank competed in the OTEV Veto Comp. with some pretty fierce competitors and lost to the legend himself, Dan Gheesling, ultimately leading to Franks 3-1 vote out the door on eviction night. This being the case, Frank mustve nearly fainted when he saw the Veto comp was once again OTEV with his back against the wall. When the dust settles and the feeds returned, Michelle was our Veto holder - with no intention of using it to save Frank, who she has expressed her distaste for now for several weeks.

Frank, unaware he was so securely the target, asked for a house meeting, which the majority alliance essentially agreed to as nothing more than a joke - but it didn't end that way. My recap of the house meeting will be brief, as in my eyes it only sets the stage for what comes next. Frank essentially asked the majority alliance (Da’Vonne not present) to use the Veto on him and target Da’Vonne instead. My gut is that Frank knew this was unlikely, but he couldn't just not try. The ensuing exchange was painfully awkward, with the majority alliance deflecting his request and James saying its up to Michelle, not him (bologna) - until finally Paulie piped up. I am paraphrasing here, but Paulie essentially said to Frank, “Sorry man, you're the target, you're going home, thats it.” Frank, though, took it surprisingly well and joked that he was at least excited to go home and get laid *eye roll*, but made sure to throw a jab in before he left. As the meeting wound down, he thanked Paulie for his honesty and forthcomingness, stating that “At least he has a backbone, unlike some other people present”, a clear jab at James and Nicole. The comment was brushed off, but we saw in later conversations that Nicole and James were rattled by his insult. Anyway, the meeting ended with Frank now knowing for sure that the Veto would not be used and that he would be voted out on Thursday.

Then all hell broke loose.

Yesterday, the TV sets in the livingroom clued the HGs in on the fact that there were clues around the house that would lead them to a hidden power within the walls in which they live. I’ll spare you the dirty details of the hunt for clues, but essentially most of the house was busting their asses searching - except for a select few who were sleeping and (oddly) Frank and Bridgette who didn't seem interested in it all.

After, honestly, not much trial and tribulation, Paul figured out how to enter the secret room. The houseguests knew the upstairs phone booth was involved before the twist was even revealed, mentioning they heard construction coming from the wall behind the phone booth and Michelle  saw red lights shining through seams in the wall. When Paul discovered the ‘Call Paris’ clue on the model airplane in the living room, he sped up to the phone booth and dialed “72747” which is the telephone alpha-numeric code for “PARIS”.  The operator on the phone congratulated him and told him the door to the secret room would open in 5 seconds, and advised him to wait until the coast was clear to enter.

Paul, at first, walked away from the phone booth, but then characteristically rushed back and decided to enter the room in front of almost everybody in the house.

When Paul entered the room he was faced with 12 envelopes from Big Brother Airlines and read the card provided. The card explained the twist: That before him sat 12 envelopes, 11 of which contain essentially nothing - a one way ticket out of the BB House - the last containing a round-trip ticket for an evicted Houseguest, meaning that if a Houseguest is evicted and is in possession of the “round-trip ticket”, they are able to re-enter the BB House. The stipulations are that 1.) Once a HG chooses a ticket it is their ticket and may not be swapped, 2.) HGs in possession of tickets cannot open their ticket until they are evicted (and if they do, their ticket is void), 3.) They may not tamper with other HGs tickets (if they do, they are subject to penalty), and 4.) That it is up to the discoverer whether or not he wants to tell others about the secret room (though they all already know, and are standing at the phone booth awaiting Paul’s return).

So Paul takes his ticket and heads out, and is clearly overwhelmed by the response he gets - a short applause followed by vicious interrogation. Before that though, lets talk briefly about the twist itself:

I like it, I really like it, actually. And not just because when Frank or Bridgette are evicted this week it gives them another chance at life in the game - but because it is incredibly original and has the potential to really shake up the game, also (I have made clear that I am no conspiracy theorist) but it seems nearly impossible to rig! People chose an envelope at random, and maybe it’ll save their life, and maybe it wont. The envelopes are numbered, and your envelope belongs to you and only you. Its easy. I honestly was rooting for Frank to discover a Coup d’Etat, but i’ll take this too. I almost think if Frank has it, its a worst case scenario because no one will ever believe it was legitimate, but I do. Maybe I believe that because its what I want to believe it, but either way, I do. Most people don't like crap-shoot twists like this where its totally random, but I like it. I am on board.

Just on the topic of rigging (briefly, I promise) I have seen a few theories on how it could be rigged that I actually find genuinely humorous. My favorite is that all of the envelopes all have round-trip tickets in them, so when Frank is evicted this week and he tears open his envelope he is safe - and then production will promptly make all of the other HGs turn in their envelopes so they never knew any better. I actually laughed at this. C’mon guys, do you think CBS is trying to get sued? Just stop it.

Anyway - Paul comes out of the room is bombarded by interrogations and he sort of tells this half-lie about how hes not sure what he can say and what he cant, but hes acting suspicious and he already word-vomitted and revealed that there are 11 more envelopes in there waiting for them and the rest of the house knows that those envelopes are still accessible. Paul comes out of the whole thing looking like a liar and someone who was trying to keep the twist all to himself - though it seems that he talked his way out of that perception later in the night) and a parade of HGs line up at the phone booth door to collect their envelopes in the secret room.

I don't even know if I feel the need to get into why this was a terrible game move for Paul - but I will. First off, it makes him look like the little untrustworthy rat that he is. Secondly, he should've had the foresight to realize that it would only take ONE other person entering the room for him to be ousted as a liar. And lastly, if he wasn't sure what he was going to say, HE SHOULDVE SAT IN THE ROOM LONGER AND FIGURED IT OUT! He took his envelope and practically ran back to the house. He could have sat there for an hour deciding his story, as far as we know, and came out of this with a well oiled story and the sole knowledge of this potentially huge advantage. But no, because hes a buffoon, he crawled as fast as he could back to the rest of the HGs and incoherently babbled for 10 minutes until everyone realized he was being a snake and decided to start trying the room for themselves. I dont think this is a game ending mistake for Paul (as much as I wish it were) but I DO think it is something that will be remembered.

All in all, the parade for the envelopes lasts somewhere around an hour, and when everything is said and done, everyone in the house has an envelope. All of the remaining HGs now have a 1 in 12 shot at second life in this game - including Frank and Bridgette *Fingers crossed for some fireworks on Thursday when Frank walks back in*.

This is why I love Big Brother - when it needs to shake things up, it does. Two weeks ago I wrote my column about how this season was seriously blowing it and needed to step things up ASAP or lose viewers (especially with the olympics on the horizon) and it did. These last two weeks we have seen the best twists, the juiciest drama, and the most action in the house we have all season. I am still not ready to say its one of the best seasons of BB I've ever seen, because its definitely not - I am not even ready to say its on the better side of the last 5 seasons, because I am still not sure - BUT CBS and production are at least picking it up and making this season watchable. The HGs are largely unlikable, the twists have been lackluster up unto this point, and we have no shining star to root for - this is a tough season of BB to get behind. With the massive upping of the tempo in the recent weeks, though, I remain cautiously optimistic about this seasons salvageability, yet.

Until next week -
Make sure to follow Matthew on Twitter - @JYABBSuperfan

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