Wednesday, July 20, 2016

From My P.O.V: BB18 (Finally) Heats Up! (Week 4)

In last week’s, ‘From My P.O.V’ column, I leveled pretty harsh criticism against BB18 thus far - and for valid reason. I cited its pettiness, it's HG’s lack of strategic acumen, and its lack of competitors worth rooting for (on any level). The week of episodes that has followed, though, has been inarguable the most watchable episodes of the season thus far. The question can be begged though, ‘Is it enough to make this season salvageable?’. I think it may be a little early to make such a sweeping, big picture statement, but I think we are finally heading in the right direction.

This week we saw things shaken up on a general level. We saw a vote flip in the way of saving Tiffany, we saw a nail biting HoH competition with game-altering implications, and we saw blow outs with all sorts of combination of people. Essentially, we finally saw these Houseguests start to play Big Brother, and I am cautiously optimistic about it.

Before diving headlong into the game play of the week, I want to address the ‘team's twist’, because after Paulie won HoH and the world slowly realized Frank was safe yet again, the cries of injustice began almost immediately. I am going to put my neck out here and say that I actually LIKE the team twist more now than I did at the beginning, and I think that it is working exactly the way production hoped it would.

People are bellowing that the twist is rigged to keep the veterans safe (Frank in particular) but that just isn't plausible. Only one of the three veterans each week is safe, and the fact that it has been Frank more often than not is sheer dumb luck. Remember when Da’Vonne picked Paul over Paulie on Night One? Had she not made that critical error, SHE would be safe exactly as often as Frank has been. Who has ended up safe in the weeks that have ensued since the teams were drawn is strictly coincidental. If Paulie and Bridgette ended up on anyone else’s team the results would be very, very different. These people chose their own teams so the “rigging” cries are, as always, without foundation.

Beyond just the fact that it is essentially impossible to have “rigged” who would be safe each week because these people chose their own teams, the twist has also added an incredibly interesting dynamic to targeting in the house. This week serves as an easy example of my point - Paulie was fully ready to target Frank this week, but his back was against the wall and he couldn't throw the competition to the person he was targeting, so he was forced to win. Ipso facto, Frank is safe. This creates an interesting dilemma where if you win HoH, you could very well be responsible for ensuring the safety of your target. It adds a strategic layer to the game we haven’t seen before, and if you think that it isn't exactly what production wanted, you're fooling yourself.

I think its pretty clear production wanted the teams twist to be something the houseguests would try to manipulate in the way they did the Battle of The Block, because it adds another element to the game and another layer of planning that needs to take place to ensure a target.

I think (as most do) the twist will be finished after the Battle Back competition on Friday, because it would just be too complicated to reintegrate players to a team again, but don't be fooled for one second - this twist was a success and production sees it that way too.

Moving away from the twist, some really interesting game play emerged this week, and for the first time this summer I am excited about some of the pieces being moved around.

The vote flip was huge, but in my opinion was really poorly executed. Now, my perspective on the matter is obviously a bit skewed knowing how things turned out - hindsight is 20/20, right?. Had a member of Category 4 not won HoH, the vote flip may have been an excellent move by the majority alliance to fight fire with fire in the Tiffany vs. Frank war. But, as we know, that's not how it shook out at all.

Rather, Frank became safe and the majority alliance saw their plans crumble and the scrambling commenced. The lot of them behaved like a group of scolded dogs, running to Frank with their tail between their legs swearing it wasn't them. Despite being a Frank fan, I try not to give him more credit than he deserves, but in all fairness he sussed out who was being truthful with him pretty early on, and now knows where most of the houseguests chips lay.

The majority alliance is now faced with an essentially wasted week. Their target hasn't changed, and all they’ve done is put themselves in hot water with everyone outside of their core group. Frank, Bridgette, and Tiffany are all now aware of their positioning, and are poised to be able to shake things up.

Like I said, of course hindsight is 20/20 and the majority group couldn't have anticipated Frank’s safety, but it doesn't change the fact that the result of their actions was overwhelmingly negative and all they did was show their cards to Frank.

From the chaos of the failed plan, a new partnership was spurred by the now-outsiders of the house, Tiffany and Frank.

One thing I want to say from the get-go on this as an aside is that Tiffany’s speech on eviction night was a terrible, terrible game move. Was it entertaining? Yes. Did it have me on the edge of my seat, cheeks flushed in anticipation? Yes. But to take a shot across the bow of one of the more influential players in the game while you're still sitting on the block, exposing yourself to the house as the emotional player they all already thought you were? Bad move. If anyone had any doubts about her being a powder keg before that moment, those doubts are erased now. Making a speech like that after you win the power of veto at a veto ceremony? Still not good, but better. While you're sitting on the block? Dangerous.

Either way, Frank and Tiffany were able to look past that once the conversation was had that lead to the realization that the majority alliance was only using the two to fight like dogs against one another. I don't feel obligated to recap the entire encounter, but to refresh you the two essentially realized that they were only against one another because of the information being fed to them by Da’Vonne that was only partially true, and largely embellished to serve her purpose.

Here's where I stand on the partnership, I like it - but only because they had nothing to lose anyway. As our favorite “mathematician” (Bronte) would tell us, ‘Big Brother is a game of numbers.’ The smarter move on both of their behalves, would be to try to make amends with the majority alliance and get back in the numbers to continue fighting like dogs against one another. And when I say the smarter move, I simply mean the safer move. Either of them forgiving the majority alliance might earn them the grace of being forgotten about for a week or two, while the unforgiving of the two would become the central target yet again. They could feign their forgiveness and understanding and everyone in the majority would be so relieved they would likely just let them hangout for awhile. Also, just an aside, the majority alliance should've immediately taken Tiffany back under their wing to prevent her from blowing up their game - but instead Da’Vonne just laughed in the face of her tears.

But that's not how Frank or Tiffany role, and because the aforementioned scenario would be unlikely anyway, they decided to ride or die together. Its not typically smart to start an obvious minority alliance because it just makes you a bigger target to get picked off one by one, but where the two had nothing to lose as the obvious targets anyway, it makes sense in the sense that with both of their backs against the wall, two chances to win every competition and two sets of ears and eyes around the house can benefit them both more than simply lone-wolfing it might. Tiffany will likely still find her way out the door this week, but I respect that instead of laying down and taking it she is working to make the few moves she has at her disposal and fighting for her life in the BB house. Their partnership may not make a difference in the end, but it was the best move they both had on the table, and I respect them for recognizing that.

The last houseguest who's game I feel compelled to comment on is, of course, Da’Vonne. If you read back, I am not a fan of Da’Vonne’s. I recognize that she is “good television”, but don't think she's a good player of Big Brother. She's statistically the least deserving returning houseguest in the history of the show, she's never won a competition, she plays with her emotions, and she cant keep her mouth shut.

All that being said, I am a big believer in second chances, and I said in my first comments on Da’Vonne’s return that I hope she proves me wrong and comes into this house as a new and improved player. Well, she didn't. And at this point it seems safe to say she will never be likely to stop creating drama, treat people right, and play with logic and strategy rather than emotion.

I was the first to pat Da’Vonne on the back for the way she handled “ass-slap gate” last week, refusing to blow up at Frank and rather taking to the diary room to air her emotions. That all fell by the wayside again this week, when she started a fight with both Frank and Tiffany, lying in front of the house when everyone knows she's lying, and creating drama and chaos in every room she enters.

You cant teach an old dog new tricks, and Da’Vonne is proving that. Its been a much talked about topic in the twitterverse, but the Safari Room seen where Tiffany is crying out of legitimate personal anguish for feeling isolated and alone on a level deeper than the game, and Da’Vonne is laughing at her and invalidating her feelings - to me - speaks to the kind of person Da’Vonne is. No one invalidated her feelings when she was upset over the ass-slapping, no one left her to face her demons alone, but when someone else is feeling down-and-out she laughs in their face. That behavior isn't just bad game play, its bad life play. Her superficial “lets call a timeout from the game” doesn't pay the bill, in my eyes. She only offered her affection to Tiffany as a calculation that she had to make up for the fact that she just laughed in her face over real, personal pain.

Beyond just showing her true colors, Da’Vonne has seemingly tried to take on a new tone (literally, a new tone of voice) when causing drama. Instead of (always) yelling and kicking and screaming - though she still does that too - she uses this quiet, patronizing voice. The, “I didn't start no drama in my season, Frank” voice, if you're looking for a reference. Patronizing is not any better for your game play than yelling and screaming is, in fact it might be worse. When you're yelling like a crazy person, at least people know you're authentic. When you're being patronizing and disingenuous, it only infuriates people further.

Da’Vonne seems to understand the game at its core, as in what makes a successful player and a winning formula, but she just has NO ability to implement it because she is so drastically different from the ingredients that comprise a Big Brother winner. I almost don't blame her.. its just who she is. She's not logical, and quiet, and calculating. She cant swallow her pride when she needs to, and align with someone she doesn't like on a personal level. Its not that she doesn't want to win, and its not that she doesn't know what it takes to win, its simply that she doesn't have the tools to win in her arsenal. It may not be this week, it may not be next week, but I promise you her days are numbered.

To round this out, I just want to reaffirm my now growing optimism for the season. I still think we have a cast of fishes-out-of-water, but we’re finally seeing some people play the game - and with the Battle Back on the horizon, things are looking up. I think we have a ways to go, but BB18 could be a decent season, yet.

Until next week -


Make sure to follow Matthew on Twitter - @JYABBSuperfan

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