Pawn Defense Theory

We all know by now that the worst thing you can do on Big Brother is to volunteer as a pawn. Pawns go home. You know this. I know this. All of the innumerable fallen pawn knows this.

But is it really that straightforward? I’m not so sure anymore.

In the latest nomination discussion between Steve and Vanessa, Steve just outright says he doesn’t want to be a pawn. He says it’s a reckless move. Should we say it one more time? The pawn goes home. He’s not comfortable with that. Nope.

Vanessa starts by saying she trusts her alliance and that if they need her to do it, she will. But—you knew this was coming, right?—she thinks it is potentially dangerous. Steve would be a safer pawn in this circumstance because (1) he is close to Johnny Mac and would have an incentive to keep him over Vanessa, (2) Steve would rather be on the block next to Vanessa than Johnny Mac, (3) Steve was not going to vote for her to stay over Shelli, and (4) Steve told her that she would have his vote as long as she has never lied to him.

Vanessa additionally argues that she is more valuable to Austin and the twins than Steve. She wants to be HoH, and she has proved that she has no qualms making big moves. Steve, conversely, doesn’t want blood on his hands. He is afraid of making moves. He wept hysterically after taking out Jackie[1], a low level target he had no relationship with.

Steve plays the game “selfishly,” she explains:  I don’t even get the benefit of someone like that. Like that fuckin’ pissed me off.   Like, he was—how do you sit up and be like ‘No, I don’t wanna do it’? No one wants to fuckin’ do it, obviously. Like, how do you not look at it from Austin’s perspective? Like, I need someone in this game who can look at it from the HoH’s  perspective and can see, like—if you’re playing on a team perspective, like, you gotta have trust in people.

The rule holds up: You never volunteer to be a pawn. But you have to appear to be open to it. That is partly why Steve is on the block and Vanessa isn’t. It didn’t hurt that her logic was also unassailable too. Did you expect anything less from Lady Maverick?


Welcome to the Imaginarium

“I don’t know what to fuckin’ do.”—Austin

I’ve been rooting for Austin to win HoH every week since Battle of the Block ended. The reason is simple: Austin struggles with making concrete decisions. The end result is farcical. It always devolves into a scene where Austin begs someone to tell him what to do so he can go work out and make out with Liz.

This initially frustrated me because I have genuinely liked Austin since the first night of live feeds. I found him and Jace amusing. I enjoyed the air guitar. I reveled in their goofy songs. The mythology the constructed around Johnny Mac was inspired.[2]

I’m a doofus, I guess.

I had high hopes for Austin, and he repeatedly let me down. I saw Vanessa explicate the social dynamics of the house to Austin with staggering accuracy, and I saw Austin inadvertently relay that conversation to Audrey. I saw Austin (and Jace) get betrayed by Clay, acknowledge that Clay betrayed them[3], and then go right back to Clay with more incriminating information. He was sabotaging his and his allies’ game by accident. He didn’t even seem aware that he was doing it.

But as the weeks went by, I grew to accept his ineptitude. And eventually, watching Austin fall on an endless succession of figurative banana peels became my favorite part of Big Brother 17. Week five in particular, when Vanessa nearly backdoored him, was some of the most compelling live feeds I have ever witnessed. “Oh my god, Vanessa. Please, I will do anything,” he begged her in registers of desperation never before reached in the Big Brother house.

This week lived up to my expectations. Prior to the nomination ceremony, Austin gave Steve his word that he would not nominate him and Johnny Mac. Then he met with Vanessa, and then he changed his mind for the umpteenth time. To lessen the blow, he considered bringing Steve back up to his HoH room and telling him, “Wait a minute— never mind.”

That’s the stuff right there. That’s why I dig Austin. Oh yeah and then there’s this:

“I’m conflicted. As a human being, I’ve always been conflicted. I think that life is meaningless and important at the same time. It’s meaningless because we’re all gonna die. But it’s important because we’re living, we can love, and I can quest for knowledge. Because knowledge is power, right? Well unfortunately, those in power say what knowledge is. Especially here.

“In week five, I was supposed to be eliminated from this game. My fate was sealed. And if it wasn’t for [Liz] winning a competition all by herself, I wouldn’t be here, and I would have no decisions to make. So now, I’m not thinking just for myself. I’m thinking about her too.

“And I’m an impossible situation this week. Johnny Mac and Steve, you were not a part of what happened to me that week. So why are you guys on the block? You’re victims just like I am. But unfortunately in life, victims aren’t we all.”

[throws top hat]

We’ll check back in with Austin later, because—in spite of everything I just mentioned—I think he’s actually playing a solid game.

[1] Another instance where Steve’s “acting” has deleterious ramifications on his game.

[2] Dude, how psyched are to be playing Big Brother with a rockstar dentist? He’s killin’ it, bro. He’s probably in the Diary Room playing a set right now.

[3] Jace: “We can’t work with Honeycutt.”