Big Brother alumn Britney Haynes dropped by the July 23 episode of season 17 to chat with host Julie Chen.
By that episode, I was close to giving up on the season and thinking Britney was just being a good BB soldier paying lip service to the current season.
But in a twist fitting the show’s “expect the unexpected” motto, Season 17 is legitimately becoming a classic all-time trip in the Big Brother Household. How the heck did all that happen? Here’s a brief recap of the major turning point that’s got the BB fanbase raving about Season 17.
Season 17 started off questionable with the CBS promotional stunt, “Big Brother Takeover,” which was less about cunning new gameplay and more working in a few more CBS show tie-ins like “The Amazing Race” and the upcoming NFL season.
The Battle of the Block became a farce as the HOHs forced a pawn (typically the season’s Diary Room star dentist Johnny Mac) to throw the contest, which completely killed all the fun.
Homecoming King and Queen showmance Clay and Shelli, the sickeningly perfect couple with the Ken and Barbie good looks; Vanessa, the green beanie-sporting assassin who alternates between being one of the show’s all-time most brilliant strategist to the most self-sabotaging in years; the towering pro wrestler Austin, who overestimates his game prowess, but has shown remarkable persistence in wearing down his crush Liz, who is now not repulsed by his obsession. Liz’s twin, Julia, is clearly a fake twin as GI Joe taught me years ago when one twin feels something the other does as well.
Once Julia arrived, the only suspense in the season seemed to be which inner SS faction — Clelli & Vanessa or The Austwins — would strike first. Big Brother 17 was quickly becoming a summertime version of high school where all the Jocks and Mean Girls could bully and get rid of everyone who wasn’t as awesome as them, but then a crazy thing happened.
Austin went “twin before alliance” and nearly blew up the Sixth Sense game. The remaining members entertained cutting him — going so far as to set up an eight person alliance with James, Jackie, Meg and Jason. Ironically during professional poker player Vanessa’s HOH reign, the SS overplayed its hand.
The SS already had loyal floaters in Becky, Johnny Mac and Steve and didn’t need to bring in the others since they could outright win any eviction vote. But why settle for most of the power when you could have it all?
Austin begged for mercy and King and Queen Clelli, pausing for the briefest of moments to stop from admiring their reflections in each other’s perfectly gleaming teeth, pardoned him.
Vanessa, loathe as she is for any trace of blood, went along with the plan even though Austin had only one HOH to his name and had proven to be a wildcard on more than one occasion. So Austin was off the block and Jason took his place right out of the house.
Every search for a hero must begin with something which every hero requires, a villain.
–Dr. Nekhorvich, “Mission: Impossible II“
What the Sixth Sense failed to … sense was the seemingly harmless eviction of the likeable and non-threatening Jason would rally his friends to wake up from their summer haze. There was a winning side and they weren’t on it. And just like that, one betrayal significantly altered the game and in that random blindside has proven to be one of the most significant in BB history.
But while they knew there was a powerhouse alliance, there seemed little the three person James Gang (better alliance name pending) could do to turn the tide.
Meg won’t be winning any competition that doesn’t involve emptying alcohol leaving James and Jackie to make a major power move, which they did as James won a pivotal HOH — the first without the Battle of the Block and he set his sights on The Sixth Sense’s power couple Clelli putting them both on the eviction block.
James’ proved two things to his fellow houseguests. One – Clelli realized way too late that they weren’t the good guys in the Big Brother fairy tale and Two – the other side of the house seemed to come to the same conclusion that yes, they could play and had just as much right to winning as the Sixth Sense.
Hi, Gilbert. I’m a nerd too. I just found that out tonight. We have news for the beautiful people. There’s a lot more of us than there are of you. I know there’s alumni here tonight. When you went to Adams you might’ve been called a spazz, or a dork, or a geek. Any of you that have ever felt stepped on, left out, picked on, put down, whether you think you’re a nerd or not, why don’t you just come down here and join us.
-Lewis, “Revenge of the Nerds.”
Clay, the Sixth Sense’s Lancelot was evicted, leaving Queen Shelli to rally her troops as Vanessa schemes Merlin style to regain their power.
But now with the SS showing some weakness, previous fence sitters Becky and Johnny Mac are joining the battle against The Sixth Sense with Becky targeting Vanessa during her reign as HOH this week.
Thursday marks a double eviction night and Julie Chen’s already teased an evicted jury member could have a shot at coming back in the house making this next round of power moves potentially just as game-altering as the decision to keep Jason.
Just as in Season 10 and 13, Big Brother is at its best when there’s two clearly divided sides of the house throwing knockout punches at one another and with the underdogs finding their bite against the Sixth Sense, Season 17 has found its perfect storyline.
The unlikely band of heroes battling all that is twisted, deceitful and perfectly groomed is making for awesome weekly entertainment. Or if you’re especially obsessed like me — nightly greatness on Pop TV’s “Big Brother After Dark.”
And that’s yet to factor in Steve’s brilliant second-half masterplan…
So who’s gonna win the whole thing? The returning houseguest angle seems poised to bring in some last-minute restructuring/screw up any reasonable prediction, but I’ll try anyway.
James is in a great position, but he’s clearly the main target once the Sixth Sense gets back in power. Ditto for Becky.
Austin and the Twins are sitting pretty as floaters for now, but their three person voting block is going to make them too major a threat going forward. I wouldn’t be shocked if one of them gets eliminated Thursday as well. The smart move would be putting the twins against each other forcing Austin to save his lady.
Steve doesn’t have any true allies besides Johnny Mac and that’s going to cost him eventually when he’s put up alongside someone with alliance support.
My best guess is after the two factions battle it out the final 3 will come down to Jackie, Liz and Johnny Mac. What do y’all think?