The pilot for Lost. Arrested Development’s “Development Arrested.” Breaking Bad’s nail-biting Season 5 ender, “Two Face.” Friends, I am absolutely not joking in any way shape or form when I say Wednesday night’s Big Brother belongs in this good company. Drama, intrigue, shock — if Emmy ever loosened up, taking down a few drinks with its weekly Big Bang Theory intake, Wednesday night’s episode would win Season 14 top honors. Yes, it was that good. Good enough, even, to officially label Dan the best Big Brother player of all time.
It’s not easy to root for a Big Brother contestant — we’re talking about a group of people who ditch their families for three solid months for a chance to be America’s dancing, slop-eating, often prejudiced monkeys. Evel Dick’s win came with a bout of nausea, Hayden Moss’ win was as sleep inducing as an episode of The Killing, and our best option last season was Rachel Reilly. I repeat: Rachel Reilly. But following Wednesday night’s episode, Dan managed to transform himself into reality TV’s answer to Walter White, Dexter Morgan, and Tony Soprano — the ultimate reality anti-hero. He lied, he manipulated, and he sold out two of his own. And I want nothing more than to see him come out on top.
Sure, I have a bias towards Dan in the first place — I’ve long labeled him my favorite player in Big Brother history. (Sorry Dr. Will.) And next week, he could just as easily pull a Lawon and make a wide-eyed exit straight out the door. But considering the player became the prime target for a strong Head of Household, lost the Veto to an enemy, spent 24 hours in solitary (dance party) confinement, and mamboed right off the block while offering the best television to hit reality since Suvivor’s heyday the early 2000s, well, he certainly deserves raves bigger than those in the Have-Nots room.
But we must give Big Brother its due as well. On Wednesday, the show played so much with my emotions, I might as well have dated it in high school. (And to think we were excited about Britney’s master plan at the beginning of the episode. In hindsight, it was such child’s play, the plan should marry Jennifer Tilly.) Hell, even the veto competition — typically a physical competition so predictable, the show may as well automatically reward Frank and/or Shane — was full of twists and turns. First, the show teased friction between Dan and Britney when the nominated houseguest decided to play for himself in the Draw Something-themed veto rather than the Quack Pack. (But, with Frank up at least 10 points over the competition, do you blame him for attempting to duck (ha) and cover his own ass? Quack.) Then, just when it looked as though Frank had nabbed the win, he was foiled by the show’s own plot to keep him in the competition — the man working alone attempted to work with Britney and give her an answer, violating the rules of the game. That’s right, after agreeing to punishments doled out during the veto game — being forced to wear a carrot costume, bathing in chum at producers’ beck and call, forgoing an additional Head of Household competition to stay in the game — Frank was eliminated from the competition for not listening to the blink-blink-blink-blink-blink and you missed it game rules. (Is it me, or did it take a carrot to realize that Frank resembles Carrot Top?)
As if that twist wasn’t unexpected enough, one houseguest buzzed in during the final clue to win the Power of Veto. Who? Why, Jenn. Wait, who? Yep, I said it: JENN. The houseguest who could most accurately be described throughout the competition as “there” pulled off one of the biggest wins in Season 14’s Veto history.
Of course, this is precisely where fans of Big Brother intrigue throw in the towel, only to pick it up again and shower because get me off this 24-hour live feed! Jenn City, perhaps the safest, most boring municipal to hit America since Cleveland, had won the Power of Veto, and would most likely keep nominations the same and send Dan packing, just like Mayor Frank intended.
But all that changed after Dan entered 24-hour solitary confinement, his punishment from the Power of Veto competition.
Even viewers were kept in the dark about the impending storm. From our couches, we watched as Dan cried about his passion in the game before being locked away — and wondered if he had given up after exiting confinement looking like an extra from Walking Dead. And soon after, he acknowledged his role as a dead man lumbering through the house by hosting his own Big Brother funeral. Viewers like myself figured it was a ploy for last-minute sympathy, to remind all the players what a stand-up guy the coach was. “Shane is living proof there actually is a Captain America,” he said, as the superhero himself broke down in tears. (Anyone wish he were Hulk instead, so he could destroy his own beloved pink tank top?) “You single-handedly made this experience for me,” he told a wide-eyed Ian. “You’re the first lesbian I ever met, and I want you to know how much you touched me,” he told a tear-filled Jenn, to the surprise of his wife. “And I hope one day you take me express to Flavortown,” he told Joe.
Then Dan, after telling Frank he hoped to read him something from the Bible later in the Head of Household room in order to explain his actions, turned to closest ally and fellow nominee Danielle. Audiences, as much as Danielle, expected heartfelt praise, an encouraging speech that would allow his student to stand on the Have-Not table in future episodes declaring, “O coach, my coach!” Instead…
“When I last played this game, I learned a lot of tough lessons early on. And I learn that you have to find one person and put 100 percent of your trust in them. I thought if I picked you, you would have similar qualities to Memphis Garrett. And through my own fault, I was wrong. We don’t need to get into it now. But in this game, you’ll never earn my trust back. You know what you did. And in this game, you’re dead to me. So don’t come at me and ask about it, because it’s over. Moving forward, we can be friends. Outside this, I’ll be friends with all of you, but the game talk from me ends now.”
It was crafty. Evil. Genius. And confused the bejeezus out of both everyone watching at home and in the house. Danielle’s mouth hung agape, big enough to swallow a baby Zingbot. The house bustled, wondering what it was that he knew that everyone else didn’t. And Dan marched right up to Frank’s room, admitted his act, and swore on a Bible that Ian was behind Boogie’s exit.
And, oh yeah, locked in a final two deal with Frank, the man who hated Dan more than scissors.
It’s such a logical next step for Dan, who won Season 10 after forming an unlikely final two alliance, that it’s surprising the rest of the Quack Pack didn’t see it coming. Because, how could they? In what world does Dan manage to make a pact with Frank? One in which Britney, who seemed to have the Season 14 win all but locked in just one day ago, becomes suddenly poised for eviction after Frank nominated her in Dan’s place. One in which Dan pulls off an outburst at Danielle in hopes that sympathy will keep her in the game over her other nominee. (Second best line of the night, during Danielle’s conversation with Dan: “Can you at least give me a warning next time?” Dan: “No, because then you wouldn’t cry.”) One in which Danielle might actually survive the week, thanks to that sympathy. One in which Dan comes out completely clean after his big move, with Ian and Shane undoubtedly gunning for Frank. One in which Dan transforms into the best Big Brother player of all time. O coach, my coach, indeed.