No matter what way you slice it, we're down to five distinct characters on "Big Brother 16": the clear frontrunner, the clear frontrunner's gay understudy, the hapless beefcake, the even more hapless beefcake, and a perfect sliver of God named Victoria. That's what we've got. As the final week of "Big Brother" rolls by, it's clear it's going to take a miracle for a major turnaround in the game to occur. Who's capable of such a feat? Anyone?
To help us analyze everyone's game this week, we've again enlisted the help of our friend Andy Herren, the winner of "Big Brother 15." Join us as we grade everyone in the house and basically just start applauding when Derrick's name comes up.
Victoria the Star
Andy Herren: I really want to live in Victoria’s version of reality. In Victoria’s mind, she has played a brilliant social game alongside Derrick, dubbing herself the Batman to Derrick’s Robin. To this I exclaim, “Thank goodness for Victoria!” Say what you will about everyone’s favorite nobody, but her delusions of grandeur, random bouts of crippling illness, and fantastic diary room sessions (funniest DRs of the season) have made her someone I find myself consistently glad to still see in the house. Remember when she made the biggest move of the season by cutting up Zach’s iconic pink hat and then gloating about it in her goodbye message to him? BRILLIANT. What about when she managed to be the only shoulder in which floundering Nicole could cry on, even though she had no interest in Nicole whatsoever? SENSATIONAL. Victoria is turning into the breakout star of "Big Brother 16," and by “breakout star” I mean “most glorious joke in the show’s history.” I imagine Victoria going into the Diary Room at some point soon and exclaiming, “I vote to evict Hayden!” to which the producers are like, “Victoria, Hayden hasn’t been in the house for a month,” to which Victoria replies, “There is a unicorn that lives in my room and it told me to vote out Hayden and I only listen to this unicorn and Derrick, and Derrick hasn’t talked to me in three days.”
HitFix: It used to be fun for me to revel in the vacant Build-A-Bear glow of Victoria's big eyes, but I think her charms have peaked. This week we watched her sit in the diary room, call Derrick "the Robin" to her Batman, and "brag" about how strong a social game she's played all season. I don't know. It all sounded a little force-fed to me, like the producers are seizing on Twitter's ironic love for Victoria and forcing her to play into it. I'm not saying she isn't truly delusional, but is there any way she could possibly believe she's played a strong game? Any time she participates in a challenge, she announces she's "over it" within 90 seconds. Any time she converses with another houseguest, she doesn't even consider bringing up gameplay. She thinks tearing up Zach's (borrowed) hat was a brilliant strategic move. You can pretend like Victoria's been an endless pile of classic moments, but she hasn't been. She's mostly been terribly dull, and for some reason it's become entertaining to pretend she's given us anything except nervous confessionals about being a confident "princess." Victoria, you were fun while you lasted, but I'm not actually sure you ever lasted.
Frankie the Obstacle
Andy Herren: Derrick is the clear favorite to win "Big Brother 16," but he has one sparkly, attention-starved obstacle in his path: Pop sensation Ariana Grande’s great grandmother Frankie Grande. Frankie has proven himself to be a competition monster throughout the course of the season, and if he can win his way into the final two, my hat goes off to him. With that being said, Frankie’s only path to the end is through competition wins, as no other players want to be sitting next to him come finale night. Yes, Frankie’s crippling obsession with always being the center of attention is maddening, but you have to hand it to him: He knows how to play Big Brother, and he has definitely been playing all summer. A Frankie victory would also be neat because it would mark two years in a row in which smart gay men have been able to take home the $500,000. Frankie is nowhere near as brilliant as last year’s adorable winner, but he is definitely a strategist. For a show that tends to cast doomed gay guys (I love Lawon, but come on…), it is refreshing to see a sneaky gay who will do whatever it takes to win.
HitFix: To deny Frankie his props for a game well played is ridiculous. If anything, he's been the most strategic gamer of the season. He pairs an understated sense of competitiveness with a very charismatic social technique. Though he has a mixed reputation among diehard fans of the show, I guarantee their number one problem with Frankie is that his obnoxious antics successfully endear the other houseguests. People hate how much Frankie isn't a joke, even as he marches through the game in infantile shorts and a haircut that looks more and more like a demented birthday cake every day. You know why Team America succeeded in its mind-numbing task this week? Because Frankie committed to a terrific charade that forced his competition to pay attention. Yes, Derrick was a good actor too, but it was Frankie's delirium that riled up Victoria, bedeviled Cody, and forced Caleb to seem concerned (and therefore kind of human!). I wish Frankie had the guts to replace Victoria on the block with Derrick, but even a gifted strategist like Frankie is somehow no match for Derrick's plans.
Andy Herren: I’m not sure what Caleb’s role is in the Big Brother house. For much of the summer, he was the shocking misogynist; stalking Amber while the houseguests championed his behavior and shunned her for being uncomfortable. Then, once Amber was evicted, Caleb became the harmless buffoon, never really knowing what was going on yet showing slight moments of insight from here to there. Now, in the endgame, he has become the loyal knight, protecting his king (Derrick) and his queen (Frankie). I don’t think Caleb will win "Big Brother 16," but I could easily see him making the final two and receiving a few votes. For someone who really has no idea how to actually play "Big Brother" (he bases good game play almost entirely on competition wins), he has made it farther than I initially thought he would, and for that I give him credit. But has he made it this far on his own merits, or because the smarter players (Derrick and Frankie) know he is too stupid to see their devious master plans? I would argue a stronger case for the latter.
HitFix: We just saw Caleb's most inspired gameplay of the season. Did you miss it? Rewind. Check it out. Watch when he's standing around with Cody and slapping that mysterious button with comical karate moves. That's his "big" move. That has been the only time he's actively tried to affect the fate of the game. Caleb has been the essential pawn this game, a guy who congratulates himself for winning challenges while overlooking the real game at hand. I suppose we can applaud him for earning Frankie's trust, but the truth is it feels utterly random that he's still in the game. This is a man who has the confidence to call himself a near-gibberish nickname but no drive to unseat the house's true power players. It is a testament to Derrick's ingenuity that he's still here. I also think Amber called the authorities and they trapped Caleb in the house for her safety.
Derrick the Winner
Andy Herren: By all regards, Derrick deserves to win "Big Brother 16." He has been a frustrating player, as he has had complete control over everyone and everything since the beginning of the season, and in doing so he has robbed the season of drama and controversy. Have we truly had any actual fights this season? No. What about shocking votes? Not even close. Thanks for that, Derrick. BUT with that being said, Derrick is playing the best game that suits Derrick, and I would argue that this game could be the best single game played in the history of "Big Brother." He has NEVER been a target, and he has influenced the vote to go his way EVERY WEEK. One argument that fans hurl at me when I claim that Derrick’s game may be the GOAT is that Derrick is playing with weak competition, and I find this laughable. Fans said the same thing to me last season as well, in a season that consisted of more huge fans of the show than ever (Judd, McCrae, Helen, Amanda, Spencer, myself). Let’s look at two case studies: Rachel Reilly and Dan Gheesling. In season 13, the season in which Rachel went from shrieking villain to comeback kid hero, she was up against arguably the weakest cast of newbies the show has ever seen, and there were blatant twists that worked in her favor. In Dan’s original season, he was competing against players like Renny and Jerry, who were each at least 150 years old, forcing competitions to be geared toward not allowing these geriatrics to kick the bucket at some point. Then, in season 14, Dan was given a pass for nearly a month in which he couldn’t be evicted, and he was also against players like Ashley, Chef Joe, and Jenn City, who I don’t think anyone would claim are powerhouses. Fans claim Rachel and Dan are some of the best players to ever play the game, and if they are at the top, Derrick deserves to be as well. In fact, he deserves to be above them. Let’s do this, Derrick.
HitFix: I have to second everything Andy just said. Derrick hasn't just played an exceptional game; he's duped a bunch of people who should honestly know better. With the exception of Frankie, Derrick is the only member of the house who is capable of looking a competitor in the eye, lying for 15 straight minutes, and earning that person's sympathy and confidence by the end of a single conversation. He is not afraid to ingratiate. He's not afraid to seem defeated. And he's not afraid to manipulate you in broad daylight. If Victoria has proven the virtues of playing the ultimate non-game, Derrick has proved the opposite: If you form a powerful alliance and rigidly organize that alliance's goals and machinations, you can remain in charge of the game from a stealthy, inconspicuous position. It's not exactly thrilling to watch Derrick operate, but he is nonetheless operating and fighting and sorting through his potential risks with the quiet precision of a mafia don. On top of it all, I appreciated the way he lied about the size of the rat's tail in the Team America challenge. Solid play-acting, sir.
Cody the Cutie
Andy Herren: I had high hopes for Cody for much of the season. I thought he was brilliantly riding Derrick’s coattails, and in my heart I just KNEW that he would cut Derrick at a pivotal moment. He could still do this, but the likelihood is waning. If he in fact does cut Derrick, he will instantly become the best player of the season, but if he doesn’t, his claim to fame will be that he remained consistently adorable from June to September. His giggle is the type of giggle that makes koala bears self-immolate because they can’t compete with it. His coy smile is so f**king sweet and demure that it makes PEEPS weep. I don’t really know what else to say about Cody. I’m excited to give him a hug at the end of the season.
HitFix: I don't know why it's taken me this long to establish, but Cody is basically Shane from BB14. He's always been in a small huddle with the game's true power players, but he's never been mistaken for a real winner. And he seems really disturbed to realize he's the lowest-ranked member of the highest-ranking alliance in the game. But why, Cody? Why would you be surprised about that? Not to tout my cowriter's achievements, but this is why Andy Herren formed the Exterminators at a key juncture of the game last year. You have to be able to anticipate when the game will shift and you can become the most powerful player in a new alliance. For now, the only alliance member he can truly trust is Zac Efron, and it appears the DVD extras of "Neighbors" won't be enough to land him a top-two finish.