It's four in the morning. If this isn't a life or death situation, it's about to be.
"I don't know what your problem is. It's only one a.m. here, and we're all still up! I can stay up until whatever hour I want to, and sleep in almost every day, and I'm getting paid for it..."
"So -- ready to hear about my latest adventures?"
Will, why are you doing this to me? You don't even like me.
"What makes you think I don't like you?"
Because when we met three days before you entered the house, the first thing you said when you recognized me -- and I'm still trying to figure out how you pulled that one off -- was 'Oh, so you're the one who writes the stupidly long rambling summaries that svcking svck!' And you actually pronounced the 'v'. Both times.
"You think I was serious about that?"
The way you were rolling around on the ground laughing kind of gave me a hint.
"Now would I have gone to all the trouble of arranging a secret headquarters under the house just to call someone and annoy them?"
Yes. And it took you more than three days to do the arranging. You snuck the new blueprints in a couple of years ago, when they did the reconstruction to two stories. I still can't believe you weren't caught and no one's found it yet.
"It's Evil Overlord Rule #219. 'If you must build a secret room in your lair, make sure everyone who knows about it is either you or gone.' And since everyone knew an All-Star season was inevitable..."
I haven't read about any mass vanishings among L.A. construction workers lately.
"Oh, no -- I got them all reassigned to the Survivor production crew. That way, they're not legally allowed to speak to anyone and they get a free brainwipe twice a year with their health plan."
"Hey, if you've never wished evil on a CBS employee, then you've never watched CBS."
Conceded. But still -- all the trouble to get into the Jack Shack, use the tunnel, get down to your secret room with the monitors, the overdrive TiVos hooked into the house cameras, and the auto-editors -- just to call me? Why?
"Remember that summary you wrote for Battle of the Network Reality Stars?"
How am I supposed to remember something no one read?
"So you're telling me you've never managed to recall a single thing you've ever created?"
...I hate you.
"You implied I was becoming a reformed character because of Chip's influence! You actually sounded like you thought I was turning to the light side! One person in America who believes I have a heart? Not going to happen. And besides -- you hate this, and yet, you still can't hang up on me, just like when FOX was sending you all those PIS tapes. You didn't have to watch..."
Whereas you have to pull a #327.
"'If you can't suppress the urge to tell someone your evil plans, make sure the one you confide in will never be believed?'"
"I didn't realize you knew the list that well."
Will, I am the list. So either get off the phone and get back to your stupid game, or...
"Previously on Big Brother..."
"Someone won Head Of Household! Was it me? Don't be ridiculous. Was it Mike? Oh, come on. Was it someone from Season 6? Nah! -- which is really a pity, because they're such great pawns... It was Danielle! That's right, the black widow ate everyone else on the web!"
You are so going to get sued.
"She said it about herself, kid. Now, is Danielle going to target me and get me out before I win -- again -- which is the smartest thing anyone could do? No, because she still thinks Season 6 is in control of the house. She's kind of cute, but there's ways in which she's really dumb. Like the one where she thinks she's in an alliance with me, Mike, and James. That's right -- James! Because James is angry with Janelle, and why? Because Janelle didn't fix the mistake he made by not getting rid of me! James hates Janelle for not cleaning up after him and ever since he put George on the block, there went his maid service. In fact, James hates Janelle so much for that, he wants her out first. And -- this is the best part -- Danielle talked him into helping her do it by being the pawn! He's on the block with Janelle! And he thinks he's doing a great job of acting like he's upset about it and worried and oh-so-traumatized, but honestly... There's one world-class liar in that house, and I think you know who that is. So right now, it's S6, the floaters, Chilltown Part II, and a little alliance Danielle likes to call The Legion Of Doom. Guess what's going to happen next?"
I'm going to tell you how much I despise the endless BB recaps?
"Would I do it if you loved it?"
*mutter* Gosh, Mr. Wizard, so your latest tale starts on Day #33?
"Naturally. By the way, do you know about the original Legion Of Doom?"
"I thought you loved animation."
Oh. That. You call that animation?
"It was the Superfriends! That's my generation, kid! And they were up against the Legion, which had Lex Luthor, Gorilla Grodd, the Toyman..."
...an endless succession of non-plots that were usually solved by having Superman leak paste out of his ears...
"Well, you remember how they operated, right?"
Not first-hand. I've read enough to know they usually built some stupid gizmo to take over the world, and then they failed drastically thanks to their own stupidity -- which is amazing when you consider they were up against opposition with an IQ of sixty-four. Cumulative.
"Good enough. Just sit back and wait for the irony."
How about I go to sleep and skip the whole thing?
"So here it is Day #33, we've just had the nomination ceremony, Danielle's carrying the key wheel away from the Lazy Susan Of Dumb, and James thinks he's got everybody fooled. Did you know James wants to be a movie star when he gets out of here? He thinks he's perfect for that villain who thinks he's a hero who's actually a total jerk role. And this is his audition. He's acting up a storm, which has just enough lightning to maybe make one hair stand on end. Not mine, of course. Mine's shellacked."
Naturally. Or non, as the case obviously is.
"Now, the plan as I've explained it to Mike is to save James, who I really want to call the Riddler for reasons you might not understand, and get rid of Janelle. Janey's a little confused by Danielle's nominations, because she thought Danielle and James were tight, and now she thinks it might not be as close a friendship as she originally believed. Man, I love my Diary Room tap!"
So Janelle doesn't have a clue.
"Well, this is part of what makes romancing Janelle such a deliciously dangerous game. Later on, she went up to Kaysar and said she thought James might be working with Danielle to go into the pawn position. You see, Janelle can think. Just not consistently or for very long -- plus she forgets half of what she comes up with. But if she has the right insight at the wrong moment, I'm dead. It's like playing Russian Roulette with blonde bullets. Oh, the thrill..."
What did Kaysar think?
"Did you just use 'Kaysar' and 'think' in the same sentence?"
"Well, anyway, that was later. First, she went into the bug room and talked things over with the rest of S6, including James, who thinks no one ever nominates their friends. He also thinks he's cute when he's naive. Howie and Kaysar totally fell for it. Janelle had doubts afterwards, but like I said..."
Got it. So James is really just applying a double standard to Janelle because she didn't pick up after him? Why does that sound so familiar?
"Does the name 'Sarah' mean anything to you? James was actually praying to the producers that Janelle would go out so she wouldn't mess up his game because of course, he hadn't done that himself, it was all her fault. James thinks he's okay as long as everyone's on the same page, and kid, this is a little thing I like to call 'foreshadowing'. Poor Howie thinks he knows every alliance in the house. Marcellas actually believes Danielle's his best friend for putting up James, and doesn't that just sound familiar to the long-timers? Isn't it nice when Marcellas has confidence in someone like this? I'm telling you, it makes me weep."
Tears of laughter?
"Bingo. Of course, Danielle's loving this, because it gives her a surprise ally that most people won't look for. It was right after that when Janelle tried to convince Kaysar that James was going to twist out of the alliance again -- and failed -- although Kaysar almost took James out of the game for her. Threw a pillow at him from the balcony, hit something heavy, almost knocked it onto his head... I almost had to act like a doctor! Close shave all around."
Wait. No automatic eviction for an attack on another player?
"No -- everyone knows Kaysar's aim sucks. 'Eric instead of Maggie' ring a bell?"
"Say, how do you like my freshly-shaved bod? Howie's doing the grooming."
"Well, you know -- I try to do it myself, but any excuse for him to touch me. It's really getting disturbing. In fact, he's so desperate for contact and George is so desperate to fit in, guess what happened next?"
Howie -- shaved George?
"Yeah, but you'll have to take my probably-lying word for it. There was too much footage to include any of it in the show. I mean, it was three hours just to do his back."
And there went any ability I might have had to get back to sleep.
"What George forget was that the hairs draw heat away from his brain -- so after Howie finished him, which means 'six passes later', he went up to the HoH room and pledged his jury vote to Danielle. George thinks Danielle is going to make the Final Two because she's such a great strategist, and he wants her to get the money because they're both parents and he understands the pressure she's playing under, trying to get the money for her kids. Not that I care. I'm just worried about George."
Because he wouldn't vote for you?
"Oh, no -- he'll vote for me in the end if he's on there. They all will. But I'm worried that he thinks he's not making Final Two. I mean, could you ask for a better pawn to help you reach the end and be sitting next to you in front of the jury as a do-nothing tagalong?"
What about Mike? -- oh, stop laughing...
"Oh, man -- I'm dying here -- you think I wouldn't backstab Mike?"
You'd need to find a spine first.
"Fair point, fair point... It would be like trying to find Howie's brain. Geez, he's being a pain. I was trying to have a serious talk with Erika and Janelle about relationships and dealing with infidelity -- I want them to remember I have some pretended human qualities when they're looking at me from the jury -- and he breaks into it with stuff about the difference between knowledge and wisdom, being attracted to my 'scrawny' body, and oh yeah -- because he's a supposedly heterosexual male with strong tastes, he finds himself attracted to well-developed secondary sexual characteristics on the female form. Only he didn't say the last bit in those words."
I'm going to go out on a limb here. 'Howie likes boobies.'
"Nope. 'Big Boy.' He's still on that kick. I really want to beat him to beat with a frying pan just so I can have a conversation in this house. Do you know what it's like to try and get something restful done and have an idiot interrupt you all the time?"
"Oh, yeah. He's an All-Star, he's got his game on, and he'll go play -- in traffic. Sheesh! And I never got to finish the discussion, because Danielle called us in to the veto draw. More random balls, which is something else Big Boy likes. You would not have believed this draw. Hell, I even thought it was rigged for a few minutes."
Howie and Kaysar got in?
"Wrong! Check this out. Danielle pulled me. Janelle got the free pick ball, and she didn't want to use it on Howie or Kaysar because she's afraid to make them choose between her and James. --"
She's a little insecure, isn't she? I mean, that's the choice between real Christmas gifts and coal.
"No argument. But she went with -- Marcellas! Because she still thinks he likes her! She doesn't know he's been trashing her all over the house! Marcellas was jumping up and down, thrilled about playing for a veto, and geez, you'd think he would have learned. But he's not going to save her. No way. And then James gets -- Mike! Danielle's loving this. That's five chances to keep the nominations more or less stable -- in other words, keep the goal of having Janelle go out intact, even if James takes himself off -- and only one for Janelle to save herself! She's in her glory!"
Do I smell more foreshadowing?
"It's the whole Legion Of Doom on the field, kid! What could possibly go wrong?"
I'm definitely smelling something...
"So they locked us down for a while so they could redo the backyard again, and when they said they were ready, only the six veto players could go outside. The other four had to stay inside and listen: Erika was hosting via microphone from the house. We got out there, and guess what we had? Graveyard."
Please don't get my hopes up.
"Picture this. Six tombstones -- no names, just digital readouts, all of them showing a 40. Big piles of dirt between them, and ground-level spaces in front of the headstones. So we couldn't see each other, and we weren't even supposed to look behind us to check the readout after we lay down. Everyone probably did, of course. I sure did. Fake carrion birds hanging over the place, gate, cemetery iron spiked fence... they were going for spooky and they decided to do it in full daylight."
"Duh. Still scared Marcellas, Danielle, and Mike, though -- I found out something good for later. They're all afraid of being buried alive. Danielle almost went back in the house so no one could see her tearing up from fear. But we only had to lie down on our backs between the dirt mounds. Hot, uncomfortable, and I was at risk of actually tanning, but -- safe enough. Now, here's how it worked. We all started with forty points, see? Erika read off a list of ten questions. Some of them were offering prizes, and if you took them, you lost points. The others put the house -- or you -- in trouble in some way, and if you took them, you got points. Most points at the end won the veto. And no one knew who'd gotten what. All you could do was cheat and peek at your own reading to see if you'd gotten one -- because it was first to buzz in, first to get the reward or inflict the punishment. If anyone knew what you'd gotten, it's because you told them. You've got that, right?"
Sure. It's pretty simple.
"You want to see complex? Wait until you see the camera work they did during the contest. They had overhead rigs, and those guys were flying. Swooping shots, diving zooms -- it was like nothing I've ever seen in the house. I bet they use all of it. Dizzying horror movie stuff. There's no way they can go with the boring single-shot static guy on the roof. It's not like he's having an affair with Julie or anything."
Your confidence is touching. So how did it go?
"Well, I'll just give you the grand results -- no point wasting phone time on making you picture us all lying in the sun for ten minutes, especially not when you're getting this bill because I reversed the charges."
"I'm probably lying! So, first question: will you put the entire house on army cots for the rest of the week, with no hot water in the showers or HoH bathtub? Janelle took that one. She thought the rest of the house might be mad at her for it. Y'think?"
Madder than our group? I don't think so...
"I don't have Internet access down here -- couldn't tap the cable. What's going on with your group?"
Let's just say Marcellas has serious competition. What was next?
"After everyone finished being annoyed by someone taking what they knew would get taken? Solitary confinement in an emptied workout room for twenty-four hours. Danielle took it on herself, because it was serious points, and she thought it was a good way to keep things secure. Of course, that stuck her in a box for a full day with no furniture, a Bible, and a chemical toilet. We all looked in through the little window in the door to see how she was doing and get some entertainment. Best video we've had all year."
Plus it was probably a major ratings spike in the South.
"Can't argue there... Next up was a margarita party for the house. James thought he was safe, so he granted that one. A little gift from the pawn to the group. Of course, pawns get captured. Even drunk ones."
Especially drunk ones.
"Also, he peeked at his score and knew he hadn't gotten his buzz in to win either punishment, so he figured he might as well sacrifice three points to make himself look good. Next, we had a plasma television -- Mike didn't even get past 'plasma' before he prematurely buzzed, and man, wouldn't it have been great if he'd won the right to get hit with a blazing ball of plasma! And then there was a phone call from a loved one, which James got because he felt like it and he thinks someone loves him. Danielle was starting to get pissed, because she actually thought we'd all pass up every reward to keep our totals high and her reign time as HoH stable! They're tossing out good stuff all over the place, and Danielle believed no one would go for it because they'd protect her instead! She didn't even take the phone call for herself, and it's what she wanted most! One of the best players never to win, my pale butt!"
You and Mike agreed to go for all the good stuff, didn't you?
"As soon as we knew there was good stuff to be had, kid. Might as well get something out of this game. One glance at each other, and we were set."
And Danielle was screwed.
"Well, not yet. First, they had to get through the rest of the list. The next one was putting Howie, Erika, and Kaysar on slop for the week. George would have been in there too, but his pass is still good. Janelle did it to them, and man, did Howie scream in the Diary Room! Trip for two to Aruba, and there's nothing wrong with Mike's reflexes! Plenty wrong with Danielle's stomach... Oh, and here's the classic -- can't play in the veto competition next week. Janelle took it. She knows S6 has a decent chance to get back into power, so she might not be nominated immediately again. Lots of points for that one. Of course, she didn't tell anyone. She thinks that if she is nominated, it won't come up until the draw. And it worked out for George, so..."
But no one thinks George is a threat.
"Except for James. Ha! Ninth question was asking us to give up as many points as we wanted to try with to get five thousand dollars. I had forty, I gave forty. Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you stuff -- and I love stuff! I checked my headstone, I got it, I partied quiet. I'm telling you, for Chilltown, this was Christmas. And last up, you could get a slop pass for the rest of the summer. George nearly killed himself for not having been in the competition. And then he nearly killed Marcellas, because Marci made it absolutely clear who took that one when he nearly jumped out of the backyard."
They're clearly trying to save George from himself and the inevitable hospital trip...
"No doubt, kid. But they forgot to fix the random draw. They had a hard enough time guilting Marcellas into giving up the week pass, and then they forgot to gimmick the balls? Like I said, if you've never wished evil on a CBS employee... But what Marcellas really did was end his friendship with Janelle. Janey realized that Marcellas had been going for prizes and had no intention of saving her. Oops..."
And let me guess. Janelle won veto.
"I knew you could count. Danielle lost it in the Diary Room. She called 'her' alliance the Legion Of Stupidity. No, we're the Legion Of Smart! Even with my scheming, there's no promise I'll win. I know CBS can twist me right out of the house if they get tired of the fun, and Julie's upset about that whole 'sweetheart' thing. So why not go for every prize I can get? Why not help my partner make himself richer, too? We had such a laugh in the Diary Room together... When half a million isn't a guarantee, take a hundredth of it. What does it hurt?"
Certainly not you, because you didn't admit to taking the prizes.
"No. Guess what we did instead?"
"Blamed Marcellas. Janelle confessed to the slop and army cots while trying to make sure her admitted -- lied -- final point total worked out to the right number, and of course we all saw Danielle go into solitary -- but Marcellas was the only one who reacted to getting a prize. The rest of us? Stone faces, kiddo. With that, it was easy to make people think he'd gotten all the prizes. Selfish, selfish Marcellas. That way, Danielle might nominate him when Janelle took herself off, we don't vote for James, we all get rid of Marci, the Legion is intact for another week and Danielle's none the wiser. And on top of that, Janelle now has a major mad-on for Danielle, so if she or anyone else in S6 wins HoH, they target Danielle and my progressive goal keeps going, because I'm safe for another week -- even if Marcellas doesn't go up immediately, there's a primary target other than Chilltown! Cool, huh?"
Did it work?
Getting Marcellas up.
"Umm... we'll get to that. Did I mention James admitted to getting his two prizes and watching his points go down after he won them? Danielle was hellapissed. Why isn't the King Of Veto playing hard for himself? Why does he feel he's safe? Could it be because he's -- a pawn? Moron."
And the rest of S6 started to catch on?
"One could only hope. But do it on time delay. Janelle was asking him why he gave up points, and he gave her a big lie about hoping for a huge gainer at the end and not buzzing in for it in time. She didn't buy it, but the rest of them... So we all went back in the house, and the cots suck, and the cold water sucks, and James feels like he's being treated worse than someone in prison, no lie, and let's ask Hatch if he wants to switch places."
"Did you just laugh?"
Um... and plus there was the slop.
"Yeah, for Erika and the two other S6ers. But Danielle had it the worst -- she was in solitary and on the slop for that period. She paced, she worked out, she made cute faces for us when we looked in at our new zoo exhibit: See The Amazing Second-Place Finisher! And she nearly lost her mind. Talked to herself a lot about what went wrong, which made her vulnerable to the Marci gambit when she got out, because suddenly, what went wrong was him. Janelle already bought that one after I ran it past her, because she'd seen his slop pass jump and was ready to believe anything bad of him."
And the rest of S6?
"Easy as pie. I went in and officially called a truce: if Marcellas went up, we all voted together to dump his greedy self -- and next week, Chicken George. They bought it like it was on clearance at Wal-Mart, where I always shop because you've got to respect your fellow Evil Overlords. They were all convinced he loaded up on loot and you know nothing offends in this house like winning, so we were all on board, I celebrated at the margarita party -- nothing really happened there, because we've got just three women left and only one of them got drunk -- and life was sweet."
Doesn't anyone ever ask about all the time you're spending in the Shack?
"It contributes to my image as a man of extraordinary endurance."
I'm very sorry I asked. So basically, you were waiting for Danielle to get out in order to work the last step of the plan.
"Right. James got his phone call -- boring! -- we all went to sleep after peeking at Danielle some more, and you'd think she'd at least wave to us or something, right? But finally, they let her out of the small prison into the large prison, everyone met her at the door because we've got to pretend to be human, and what's the first thing she does? Run around looking for information! And where does she go? My man Mike! Mike tells her Marci's a prize whore, plus he did the slop thing and then protected himself from it -- she missed Janelle admitting it, and Janey's not going to say it twice -- so just put up Marcellas, and the whole house will give her protection next week. It's a great deal!"
Arguably. Did she take it?
"It wasn't time yet. Danielle took Erika up to the HoH room -- which also had a cot, in case you were wondering -- but before Danielle could do more than call people idiots, and I wish I had some more context for that, James brought her food and got rid of Erika before he pitched Marcellas. And he told her Mike and I wanted Marcellas. Maybe he tried too hard, because Danielle was wondering what was going on during her Diary Room time, plus she was mad at him because he took the phone call she wanted. But he's the pawn, he's supposed to feel safe."
But not to let anyone else know about it.
"Bingo! So it was time for the veto ceremony, and naturally, Janelle takes herself off. Doesn't even bother with a speech. Just confronts everyone, removes herself from the block, and Danielle has to make a decision. She started with a sweet fakeout. Said Howie's name -- then told him she'd promised him safety if he dropped from the web, and she was keeping that promise. Sometimes, a truth works better than a lie, at least for setting up a lie later... But then..."
"Well -- she put up Kaysar. It's not the worst move, but it means S6 is that much closer to having someone go out -- and once they're gone or seriously down, Chilltown is so visible -- I'm scrambling here, kid. James thinks there's no chance he's going home and he's still blaming Janelle for everything -- especially Kaysar going up, because he feels that's Janelle betraying him after he skipped out on that alliance, who knows how his mind works other than 'Not!' -- plus Danielle is targeting S6, Janelle vowed revenge on Danielle... But I'm the one who has to make the numbers -- and people -- work to get to the end as a former -- and soon, again -- winner. I'd be lying if I said it was easy. Guess I should have checked that Marcellas/Danielle footage earlier. Totally my evil bad."
I find plans are a lot easier to come up with when you've actually gotten some sleep.
"Better get some sleep on Thursday night, because as soon as I get a few free minutes after the competition, I'll be calling you with the latest update on our happy home. Who will be the new Head Of Household? Who are the nominees going to be? Who'll win the veto -- and who's going to go home? None of it's happened yet -- and still, I can tell you the answers right now. Not me. Possibly me. Not me. And definitely not me. Count on it."