Closing Time, 2016 Edition

Summer 2016 has come to a close, and with it the eighteenth season Big Brother ends with the closest vote in many seasons and a historic winner in Nicole, a returning player who beat a strong new player in Paul and became the first woman to beat a man in the final vote. It saw a new America’s Favorite Player in Victor, a man whose own season was historic for his multiple returns to the house in one season. It saw the It saw the promotion of the first all-online season of Big Brother, to premiere in less than a week.

With all of this came the end of one of the least popular seasons in Big Brother, and the hope that future seasons learn from the mistakes of Summer 2016.


Double Play, or Struck Out

At the end of any season of Big Brother, there is no greater power than that of the Veto. From the Final Five on, alliances can be made or broken based soelly on who wins he Veto, moreso than who wins Head of Household. It is quite telling, in fact, that the two most recent Head of Household were evicted the following week. Victor and Corey’s evictions could be predicted as strong possibilities going into their respective final weeks.

What was less predictable, however, was the lack of realization in each player as to their respective fates.


The Crushing Truth

The most painful losses in Big Brother are ones in which the person evicted had no idea how much they played a role in their loss. Players who put the blame on others for their own poor play have been shown the painful truth later on, and the realization that they sealed their own fate has caused embarrassment for many a former Houseguest.

In the end – and despite putting the blame on James for most of the week – Natalie had no one to blame but herself


The Delusion of False Assuredness

In a game where deception and double-dealing are remarkably effective strategies for victory, it is just as remarkable that people can feel assured of anything as a Big Brother Houseguest. Any information gleaned, any promises made or any long-term plans must be taken with a heaping mound of salt, as the very motto of the game itself is to “expect the unexpected.” James was the very model of this axiom in his previous season, as he reneged on a promise and deal made during an endurance competition and ensured an enemy was taken out.

It is fitting, then, that this truth of the game – that few things can indeed be taken as truth – may in fact cause irreparable damage to James and Natalie’s long-term games, especially when this has already been used against them in recent weeks.


The Imitation Game

From the beginning of Big Brother 18, there has been a consistent effort by two players to play the strategy that led to a win by Derrick LeVasseur in 2014. Both players were coached by Derrick, both came in with a pedigree (though with different origins), both have seen some success during the season and prior to two weeks ago, there was a clear indication of which was most likely to succeed and which would not.

That the tables turn in Big Brother is unsurprising – that Paulie’s eviction became unavoidable while James is in a clear position to be successful in the game going forward was surprising, and tells much about the lessons each took from the Big Brother 14 winner.


The Unfinished Symphony of The Big Move

The concept of “The Big Move” is one that most commonly excites fans of Big Brother. This makes sense, normally – after all, when fans are looking for a “Big Move” this typically means they want a move to be made that helps their favorite player. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with this; after all, the idea of watching without a favorite is one that most fans do not ascribe to and having favorite players is perfectly acceptable as a way to watch the show.

While fans love Big Moves, however, Big Brother Houseguests traditionally are very wary of doing so with good reason – Big Moves get people evicted.


An Unhealthy Dose Of Paranoia

In the Big Brother House, it is important that the power of paranoia not take over your game. While it is healthy to remember that it is a game and that others will be working to eliminate you, it is also important not to sabotage your own game by looking for conspiracies when none are present. Preventing yourself from falling victim to your own suspicions and paranoia is just as important as any other aspect of your social game, and the halls of Big Brother are littered with players who could not control this part of themselves.

The two evictees of the past two weeks, Frank and Da’Vonne, both suffered from shortsightedness – but in Da’Vonne’s case, her inability to control her own paranoia ended up devastating her game and alliances throughout the season.


Two Roads, Diverged

This season has seen an interesting dichotomy emerge between two players related to previous Houseguest, showing distinct  and definite alternate ways of playing the game. Whereas one of these players has capitalized on strong game play and social work, the other fell into a trap partly not of her own creation, but one in which she still exacerbated her own situation by not playing strong enough.

Indeed, Paulie and Tiffany have fallen into archetypal roles that are well-worn in Big Brother, and which clearly define how their game play has come to pass.


Playing With Integrity

One of the oldest tropes in Reality TV in general (and Big Brother, specifically) is the concept of “playing with integrity.” In the real world, playing with integrity means going through life in as morally, ethically and socially right as possible. It is a fine attribute to live up to in a person’s personal and professional life. It is also a fallacy in the realm of Big Brother. “Playing with Integrity” in Big Brother strikes an entirely different meaning, when it is most often used – here, it is often used by a player to describe their game when they are being outplayed by someone smarter, quicker and more willing to adapt their strategy and gameplay to win.

In that sense, Victor’s usage of the phrase “playing with integrity” is entirely apt – at every turn, he was outplayed and out gamed by people whose own games have had issues but who shared a common enemy.

Victor came into this game essentially thinking that he would be able to run the gamut with former player Jozea and remaining player Paul. While never a leader of the group, Victor was essentially the follower that Jozea needed least at the time – someone with total loyalty. While this is admirable in the real world, in this game it is a reason to be targeted when your leader is on the outs.

Once Jozea was evicted and Paulie became HoH, the writing was essentially on the wall – and that is when Victor began saying “playing with integrity” repeatedly with the one person who still sympathized with him – Paul. It is telling that Paul, a player who was loyal to Jozea as well, was willing to adjust his gameplay and strategy to stay in the game – and succeeded – while Victor rode his game plan out of the House.

It is not entirely impossible to play Big Brother completely honestly, but the winners of this game have shown a willingness to take the necessary actions to get to the end. This includes making the necessary changes and occasional dishonest actions to ensure that the ultimate goal – winning the $500,000 – is maintained. More importantly, they showed the ability to make these decisions at the right time – a trait that Victor missed to the end.

Sadly, his departure occurs as the group dedicated to his ouster begins to fall apart in earnest. Frank’s actions have led to a bloc of players (including his returning allies) ready to make the move against him. While this does not appear to be happening due to a Bridgette win as the new Head of Household (and the assumption that she will be loyal to Frank, a move that may seal her own fate in the game), it is clear that Frank’s own strategy may need to be adjusted before he is the next target for eviction.

The best players of Big Brother have adjusted their strategies and styles to win the game. Those who cannot make such an adjustment have been doomed to an early exit in the past.

At least they, like Victor, can claim to have “played with integrity.”


Week 3 Results:

Week 3 Head of Household: Paulie

Paulie’s week went perfectly. From ensuring his role in the larger game with key alliances being built, to ensuring Victor was taken out of the game with a true Backdoor strategy, Paulie made sure his week counted. Paul has shown better gameplay than his brother in early results, and it is good to see that the older Caliafiore has learned well from the experiences of Cody two years prior.

Week 3 Roadkill Winner: Victor, nominated Tiffany

While this had little effect on Victor’s overall game, his act of nominating Tiffany paid off in dividends for the remainder of the house, Tiffany’s inability to deal with the nomination well led to much drama on her part, and further fracturing of the 8 Pack alliance. In the end, it may lead indirectly to Tiffany’s own eviction eventually.

Week 3 Veto Winner: Paulie, removed Paul, Victor Nominated.

Paul really did have an extremely successful week. By winning Veto, Paul ensured that Victor was backdoor and eliminated.

Week 3 Evictee: Victor

At least he played with integrity.

Week 3 Player of the Week: Paul

While this may not be the person many would expect, consider this – Paul went from a definite target to safety in the span of hours with a willingness to adjust his gameplay and work with the others. In doing so, Paul isn’t seen as a person to take out any time in the next few weeks – a shift that essentially gets him to Jury, should he play his cards right. Paul rebounded well this week, and while he is a polarizing player for good reason he is still playing successfully.

Week 3 Goat of the Week: Frank

Few players have seen their stock fall so quickly as Frank this week. At the beginning of the week, Frank looked poised to stay afloat in the game for several weeks – now, it will be a surprise if he lasts two more weeks. His overplaying and multiple alliance-building sessions have manage dot do one thing – get back to the people who were most familiar with how he played before. Frank will have to rebuild heavily to stay n the game long term, and his past unwillingness to compromise may show to be his weakness.

Week 3 Game Move of the Week: Victor nominates Tiffany as Roadkill Nominee.

While this did little to help Victor, his nomination of Tiffany set in motion several other key events – Frank’s decision to target Tiffany, her own paranoid fears about the other alliance members coming to light, Tiffany’s attempt to win the Veto competition (Which had the result of Da’Vonne getting upset with Tiffany), Da’Vonne’s targeting of Tiffany and the eventual realization that Frank was working against the overall alliance and more for himself. Quite a bit of drama can be developed from this one act, one that could have benefitted Victor more had he not told everyone he had one the Roadkill competition.


The Benefits Of A Classical Education

While some of the best players of Big Brother have been those who had not been fans of the show prior to their appearance on the game, the truly great players knew the benefits of learning from those who came before them. Learning strategy and social gameplay is key to doing well in Big Brother, and the most successful game players have had this skill set from Day One. It cannot be stressed enough – strong players are strong all around, even if a little luck helps them along the way.

It is in this sense, with this perspective in Big Brother History, that it is clear why Jozea may be judged as one of the worst players to ever appear on Big Brother.