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A WINK AND A MISS Aaryn began her existence as a larval squid-creature in the miasmatic vapor of the proto-Universe before the Big Bang. She threw a meteor at Earth and killed all the dinosaurs just because she was bored. When the Old Gods exiled her to live as a mortal woman, she made a pact with the lesser demons and stayed forever young by drinking the blood of every man, woman, and child in Atlantis. She destroyed Pompeii because she was testing a nuclear bomb inside of Mount Vesuvius. She tried to assassinate President Martin Van Buren just because he was ugly. Her favorite hobby is stealing lunch money from children, setting the money on fire with matches, and then setting the children on fire with a giant magnifying glass. And even Aaryn is afraid of Amanda.
It's always interesting watching Elissa attempt to interact with anyone besides Helen. For some reason -- because they're both Moms, because they were both outside of the Week One cool crowd, because once upon a time they both hated Aaryn -- Helen gets along really well with Elissa. Everyone else treats her like a hood ornament that occasionally makes mouthwords; Elissa, in turn, is utterly incapable of having any kind of gameplay conversation with anyone. So I was intrigued when Elissa started chatting with Amanda, trying to force herself to talk in the twisty Gordian-Knot style of Big Brother conversations; and it was even more intriguing when Amanda, clearly bored, just cut to the chase. Their conversation when something like this:
Elissa: Hey, Amanda, I was just won-
Amanda: Spencer's gonna go up and Helen's gonna go home. No alliances you can make will stop that. Right now you're probably trying to figure out how you're going to stop me. You can't. It's not gonna happen. If you cross me, I will put you on the block. If you tell Helen I'm coming after her, I will cut off your food supply. If you even think for a moment you can turn the house against me -- if I even see you look at me wrong -- I'll frame you for stealing secrets from the US government and sentence you to seven years of Orange is the New Black. When you lie to Helen, you may feel a slight sting. That's pride f---ing with you. F--- Pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.
Elissa: -dering if you could pass me the salt.
Amanda: Sure, here's the salt. [Throws salt in Elissa's eyes, crushes beer can on her forehead, drops mic.]
Elissa was scared. Really scared. She was so terrified that she couldn't even tell Helen the truth. She had to speak in riddles. She told Helen she was getting bad vibes. At a certain point, she started trying to communicate by blinking in Morse Code; this plan failed, because Elissa doesn't know Morse Code and doesn't know how to blink. "What's that, girl?" asked Helen. "Timmy fell down the well?" Eventually, Helen got the message. She went upstairs to Aaryn. She mapped out a beautiful Final Four dream. "You, GM, Elissa, me," said Helen. Of course, what she was really saying was: "You, me, your meatshield, my meatshield." And she made a great point: "We cannot get McCrae and Amanda out."
Aaryn seemed very amenable. She even told Helen that, deep down, she didn't trust Andy. It's a cold and lonely place up in Castle Aarynskull. She has won four Head of Households and used pretty much every single one to take down one of Amanda's enemies; now, Amanda is asking her to kick out Helen, a player who Aaryn seems to genuinely respect. And that night, Amanda turned flat-out aggressive towards Aaryn. During a boozy evening of wine and remembrance, Amanda and Aaryn got into an old argument about the Wine-Stealing event from Week 2. "Don't try to justify your bitchiness," said Amanda. The more Aaryn fought, the more Amanda fought back. At one point, Aaryn fleed to cry...and Amanda raced right after her to chastise her some more. Why not? It's her HoH thronebed; Aaryn is just renting it.
Now, Aaryn could tell she was being played. "It's not even Big Brother anymore. It's the McCrae and Amanda show," she said. "And I am bathing in the blood of Amanda's enemies." Aaryn knows that she is being used as a puppet by the power behind the throne. She knows that Amanda is treating her with utter contempt. She knows that Amanda and McCrae would throw her under the bus in a moment; knows that she's probably less important to them than Andy; knows that this week was the last best chance to get Amanda out before the endgame. Aaryn is not a strong Big Brother player -- she worries too much about getting blood on her hands, and prefers to cede her power to "the house" -- but she is a fierce competitor, and she knows this game calls for power moves.
And still: When Elissa took herself off the block, Aaryn anxiously stumbled in front of everyone and said, "This is the corner I'm being pushed into," and put eternal pawn Spencer up on the block. Who dares challenge Amanda? In the confessional, she could not repress a smile. "I get what I want," she said. Everyone in the house is terrified of her and of her power. I know some people think that McCrae is the better player of the two of them; certainly, he's better at competitions, and he's more likable just by virtue of never getting into loud arguments with people. But put them together in the Final Two: Who has owned the house this summer? Can anyone beat Amanda?
Maybe: A Big Twist looms in tomorrow night's eviction, when one of the four jury members will stage a comeback into the game. Now, it's entirely possible that this will be another bungled rule-change in this season of Non-Twists -- Judd, Jessie, Candice, and (soon) Helen were all expelled by a powerful alliance that still reigns supreme in the house. If one of those players comes back into the house, but doesn't win HoH...well, they'll be buying themselves a week of suffering from Amanda's reign of terror.
But what if one of the jury members does win HoH? What if one of those jury members has spent their time in Jury Purgatory pondering all the mistakes they made inside of the house and planning a long and multi-pronged plan of revenge -- just like that girl who plans all that revenge in that show about revenge? And what if this player, given a second chance at life, finally makes all the power moves they always said they would make, and becomes the least expected great player in Big Brother history?
Fellow Big Brother viewers, what did you think of Amanda's House of Horrors? And who would you like to see come back into the house from Jury? Juddheads, make your voices heard! Candylanders, unite!
Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich