What’s the Upside, Zachary?
Zach is unquestionably one of the most interesting houseguests of the season. My opinion of him has vacillated so frequently that the mere sight of a pink hat sends me into a bout of vertigo. Watching his pre-show interview, I wrote him off as a delusional schmuck. But when he entered the house, he was different. He was low-key. He expertly embraced the sleeper strategy, only occasionally breaking his cocoon of sleep to dance like a maniac.
People liked Zach. He was on no one’s radar.
Then he started talking into his microphone to communicate with the live feeders. He talked about how the Bomb Squad was a “joke.” This is where my interest in Zach piqued, for even from my vantage, I could not read the kid at all. He was directly telling me his thoughts, yet he remained wholly inscrutable to me. I thought he possibly had the makings of a legendary Big Brother player.
Zach’s subsequent performance for the live feeders was both his best and his worst outing. “All of my energy is going towards ruining Victoria’s life,” he said. “I hate her with a passion.” I was beatific upon hearing this, not because I hate Victoria but because I was excited to see Zach get his Evil Dick on. But Zach did not follow through on this. What did he do? He gleefully told everyone in the house about his comment. He bragged about it.
It was at this juncture that I realized Zach is no subversive genius. He just likes pretending to be a subversive genius. He just likes the prospect of people viewing him as a subversive genius. And this fixation, this need to receive the type of recognition that a Mike Boogie or a Dr. Will have attained, has stymied his game.
It often seems like he isn’t concerned with the game at all. His primary motivation appears to be toying with people, and he judges his performance on how successful he is in doing so. He enjoys telling people that he is related to Amanda Zuckerman. He relishes telling people that he is the Saboteur. He doesn’t care how it is affecting his game.
There was an old joke that Brittany iterated umpteen times. “I like you better when you’re awake, Zach,” she would say. But Brittany is being evicted this week; what does she know?
I like you better when you’re asleep, Zach.
Amber Alert: Turnt Up
Caleb said he was over Amber, like, so totally over her. He’s not blind. He sees what’s going on: Amber’s lack of reciprocity, her lack of basic appreciation. You better believe he sees the way she is cozying up to Cody.
But let’s not be naïve. He was talking like this before the Great Reconciliation in the Beehive Room, and we saw how quickly he forgave her. So naturally, within a few days of making his latest declaration, he is bent over a trash can, eating a pickle he believes will solidify a date with Amber.
He nearly vomited, but it worked: ‘Twas on that fateful night of July the 22nd, 2014, Caleb and Amber had their first official Big Brother date!
And here’s the thing: It wasn’t totally awkward. There were some early hurdles like when Caleb said, “When you’re 80, you’ll look back and say, ‘This guy sitting next to me had a date with me at the Big Brother house when we were 26 years old.’” But even that was mollified by a playful laugh, like he was teasing her.
The date was kind of lovely. They mostly talked about personal stuff: their childhood, their families, people they’ve known who battled cancer, etc. Caleb said that he was eager to learn more about Amber, and not stupid things like how many guys she slept with, but important things. Caleb brought his A-game, no doubt.
But then it happened. As good as things appeared to be going, Amber sporadically blurted out, “I have had me some memories in Kentucky. I don’t know if I can make more there.”
Oh my God.
Caleb brought up their date outside the house, the Pickle Date. Amber corrected him that this date counts as the Pickle Date. He tried to get her to commit to a real date, and she replied, “I don’t really go on dates much anymore.”
When they went back inside Caleb told Frankie, “[T]hat was the best date ever!” Amber bristled and half jokingly added, “I’m going to punch you in the face.”
Caleb will never win Amber over, no matter how many pickles he eats. But I’ll tell you something: He’s won me over. Honestly, Amber is the one who is missing out.
 Let’s take a moment to celebrate the coup of filmmaking that was the Caleb Death Stare segment. I was positively impressed upon watching this. The long zoom-out that takes place at the 40 second mark hearkens Stanley Kubrick and Robert Altman. Seriously, supplant Big Brother’s ominous tune with some Penderecki, and it plays like a scene from The Shining.
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