The changing tides of the game.
Earlier this week, my computer crashed. It happens every year about this time. While this may have caused many Live Feeders a moment or three of anxiety, it was no big deal to me. When it comes to computers, I can fix almost any problem. In fact, I didn't even bother to start working on the problem for hours. It could wait a while. I had other things to attend to, and it was the slow time of the week on the Live Feeds anyway.
Later that evening, as I started to tear the computer apart to figure out which cable or hard drive had gone bad, I wondered if I was missing anything on the Live Feeds. Considering where we are in the season, I didn't think so. Perhaps that was why I wasn't too concerned right from the start, when the hard drive access light suddenly stayed on. As I worked on the computer, I began thinking about the pace and flow of the game. Every year about this time my computer dies. And every year about this time I'm really not missing much as I take the few hours or day necessary to fix things. The house is usually approaching a low ebb at this point in the game.
Yes, it's the time of the season. Every year, the house suddenly seems emptier after the Double Eviction. Abruptly, the house goes from being full and alive to rather empty and boring. The feeds slow down. Conversation in the house fades, both game talk and normal chit-chat. Activity in the house disappears too, and we often find the remaining house guests just sitting around doing nothing while staring off into space. Shelly was the perfect example of that last week. She's always sat alone on the patio in the morning hours, smoking away while the others slept on. This week we saw a lot more of it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
While working on the computer, I thought about how every year the game starts out fresh and new and exciting. We have an all-new house, or at least a newly-redecorated house, and the house is filled with new faces. Well, not all faces were new this season, but the house is full of people and life as the season begins. As the weeks go by, the house guests start to disappear one by one. It's a slow and barely noticeable process at first. We rarely miss the first few contestants who are shown the door because the house is still full of activity and life. It can be difficult to remember the names of the first few who were evicted once their season is over.
The first house guests to leave are often victims of their own personalities or game play. Either bad starting strategies or their bad personalities cause them to stick out. They are often easy targets for the whole house to gang up on. We often see near-unanimous votes the first few weeks in the house. This season, Production tried to jump start the action by introducing a rift in the house. This season, we started out with Veterans vs. Newbies. I won't say that was a good or bad call by Production, because I don't want to have to defend either side of the argument. But maybe it didn't work out too well, because we still had near-unanimous votes taking out the first few people. The few votes of dissension only served as a tool to decide who was targeted in the following weeks. And the rest is history, as far as the Regulators are concerned!
After a few weeks go by, we get towards the middle of the season. We're at high tide in the house, as far as action is concerned. We start to notice the house getting emptier with each new eviction. We start noticing and remembering the house guests who are leaving, too. This is the time of the competitors, as people start stepping up their game.
Some contestants are real competitors. They are winning competitions. The other house guests start to notice those who are winning the competitions, and those winners become serious targets to the rest of the house. To make matters worse, the competition winners usually split into factions and are busy fighting each other for power. The biggest competition winners often fair poorly during this part of the game. They compete against each other, taking each other out of the game. And although they often don't recognize it, they are still competing against the rest of the house as well. The rest of the house is happy to pick a side, gang up on them, and help them take each other out.
Which brings us to the other people who fair poorly in the middle of the season. Like some of the early evictees, these are people who step up their social game just a little too soon and fast and hard. These are the people who feel threatened by the competition winners and start trying to throw them under the bus to the rest of the house. Unfortunately, they also expose themselves as being socially aggressive, if not a direct threat in competitions. They too are viewed as threats, and many have lost their game lives during this phase of the season.
The middle of the season, with lots of people and activity and competing strategies still in the house, is usually the most exciting and energy-filled part of the game. I'm glad my computer doesn't decide it wants some attention at this point in the season!
With the completely inept (or unlucky) contestants out of the game early, and many of the serious competition winners and social competitors eliminated during the middle of the season, we inevitably stumble upon the dreaded Double Eviction (or Fast Forward) Week. The Double Eviction always seems to signal the beginning of the end to me. In one fell swoop, not one but two of the remaining house guests are shown the door. Even though only two contestants leave, the house suddenly starts to seem very empty.
After Double Eviction, the house gets less interesting. Whether that's because the house guests know where they stand, or because there just isn't too much left to discuss, game talk slows. Worse, game talk gets boringly repetitive. Even non-game conversations start to get boring and repetitive. How many times can a house guest with limited life experience tell the same story over and over again, anyway? If you don't have the Live Feeds, I can tell you the answer to that question: Too Many Times! If you do watch the Live Feeds, you know how annoying the Big Brother Theme Music loop can get after playing over and over a thousand times. At this point in the game, even the house guests' voices can start to be that annoying. Especially the house guests who ramble on and on endlessly (Kalia)!
This is also the time of the game when the weekly routine becomes the most obvious. Every Thursday, we have a Live Eviction, followed by a Head of Household competition. Friday is a food or luxury competition and initial nominations. Saturday is the PoV competition. By Saturday evening, everyone knows where they stand for the week. Sure, they don't have the PoV ceremony until Monday, but it's usually pretty obvious how the deck is stacked for the week. For the contestants, as well as the Live Feeders, every Sunday through Wednesday stretch is one long low ebb in the game. It is a long boring wait, filled with mindless talk and the occasional attempt to make the to-be-evicted house guest feel like he has a chance. The Sunday-Wednesday stretch isn't so noticeable at the beginning of the season, with the house full of people and activity. And during the middle of the season, game changing events often do happen during the Sunday-Wednesday stretch. But during the post-Double Eviction phase, the Sunday-Wednesday stretch sometimes seems to last forever.
Another thing that happens during the post-Double Eviction phase of the game is that enemies often start talking again and seem to get over their differences. They become friendly toward each other, starved as they are for personal interaction. I've never understood that aspect myself, being content even when I am alone. What can I say, my motto has always been “it's better to be with no one than with the wrong someone.” Besides, you're never alone with a schizophrenic! LOL! (I'm not schizo, for the record, but if we can't laugh at ourselves...) Just the same, the mending of personal relationships seldom translates to a change in the game. But it often causes viewers to wonder how two people can suddenly start talking again, especially while the game is still on. And it explains how some contestants can be friends after the game is over – whether in the game or the Jury House, they have nothing but time to mend their fences.
The post-Double Eviction phase of the game can have its interesting points too, but even an ebb tide still has rippling waves. People who have done nothing up to that point come alive and start doing things. People who lose every competition can finally start winning a few, once the biggest competition has been eliminated. People who have had no strategy up to this point except to float start having opinions and strategies of their own. This reminds me of Jordan on Wednesday's show (August 31), when she and Rachel went to the HoH room to talk game with Kalia and Porsche. After all was said and done, Rachel turns to Jordan and says “I've never heard you talk like that before!” There is still action in this last phase of the game. It's just a different kind of action, and can come from people we wouldn't have expected it from. I would almost say that these people validate the floater strategy. A contestant cannot float all the way to the end and expect to win. But a contestant can float most of the way to the end, step up once the strongest competition is eliminated, and call it a valid strategy. As much as I'd like to see the strongest people make it to the end of the game, I have to admit that this partial-floater strategy can and does work.
As you can tell because I've written this article, I did get my computer fixed. Just in time, because with the Finale on September 14, there are less than 2 weeks left in the game. Wait a minute... there are 5 people left with less than 2 weeks remaining? Much like last season's ending on Survivor, that's not quite the natural flow of the game. Last Survivor, with the Redemption Island twist, there were still seven people in the game going into finale night. It seems that Big Brother is leaning that way again this season too, but this is not the first time we've had this many people in the BB House this late in the game. I guess CBS has decided that keeping as many people around as long as possible is better for ratings. They're probably right. This next season of Survivor they are bringing back the Redemption Island twist, which will hopefully at least be a real island this time!
But if we're already seeing Survivor hype on the commercials, that's certainly a sign that this season of Big Brother, like summer itself, is almost over for another year. Well, all good things must come to an end sooner or later. Although it must end, at least we've had a good season of Big Brother this year! It wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst either. Maybe I shouldn't say that this season wasn't the worst until we see who won though, eh?
I have two different lists of who I'd like to see win. One list is based on game play, and the other list is simply my personal favorites. For game play, my winner order of preference would be Rachel, Porsche (yeah, that's right), Jordan, Kalia, then Adam. My personal favorites list in order? Jordan, just because. Rachel, if Rachel isn't gonna waste the winnings on an overpriced wedding or let the Neanderthal keep living off her bank account. She needs to lose him! I think many of us liked her a lot more this season, once he was out of the picture. Porsche, who maybe should be listed before Rachel, but for the fact that she wasn't even in the game most of the season. And last is Adam, who's done nothing at all this season. But nothing at all is still better than being disliked, which brings me to Kalia, because of her comments about her love for animals this week. Here's hoping for an exciting, and pleasing, end to this season!