Author’s note: I’m writing this at 5 PM, though the show doesn’t air for another few hours. I’m not linking to this because people might not want to know in advance what’s going down, except for the Twitter/Showtime/Live Feed followers, who already know. I actually kind of want to be surprised, so I’m not checking the Twitter/FB accounts of anyone involved in reality TV for the next few hours.

Fans have sarcastically dubbed this season of Big Brother “As Danielle’s World Turns”, because she is the most melodramatic, soap-opera-ish person to ever be on the game. You really expect her to swoon at every emotional difficulty, romantic moment, or challenging decision. Funny how this makes her likeable, while Rachel Reilly’s “over-the-top” emotional reactions to everything made her brash and irritated half the audience. The world clearly likes helplessness more than passion, and introverted emotion is “feminine” while extraverted emotion is “needlessly flamboyant”.

Yet, somehow, the soap opera continues, and our tragic heroine lives to act another day. (how many tubes of waterproof mascara and eyeliner did she bring into the house?)

Although there’s a week left on Big Brother 14, tonight is really the night that is host to the most pivotal moment: Who is making it to the final 3?

In an odd twist of fate, Danielle, who has let herself be manipulated by men with a sweet Southern-belle smile on her face all season, is the one with all the power. She won the HoH and the PoV, leading us to assume this girl has been throwing a lot of competitions this summer. (probably because Dan told her to. He’s not taking someone to the final two who is strong, and since Shane is “good at sports” and Ian is a “boy genius”, Danielle looks pretty useful.)

Since she has a one-sided showmance with Shane that he fakes so unconvincingly, he’ll never make it as an actor; and Dan has acted as a mentor and advisor and father-figure all summer, molding her into the role of a weak, rather self-absorbed child, it seems a foregone conclusion that Ian is going home. This is kind of sad; Ian is the kind of person who actually plays the game, makes big moves, and pulls out wins when it matters. This time, he didn’t. He needed that PoV, and he didn’t win. So, Ian is screwed, and he knows it. Like Danielle, Dan has been adept at manipulating Ian emotionally, because the poor kid, for all his brilliance, has no idea his alliance has been trying to get him out multiple times since his partner-in-crime left weeks ago. Although Ian and Shane both believe there’s such a thing as a “Quack Pack” and they are in an alliance, they conveniently never talk to one another. Somehow, it’s never come up that every person in that alliance has discussed stabbing one another in the back. There IS NO ALLIANCE. For all of them, it’s win or go home.

The only one who knew all this was Jenn, who was voted out for “not being part of the alliance”. In reality, she was voted out because she was more in the loop than anyone and had dangerous information that would kill Dan’s game. Her final speech, if she had cared enough, should have been: “Ian, Dan wanted you out, and then when he couldn’t get you, he went after Shane. Shane, you’re here because Danielle knows how to cry and you won a PoV. Danielle, Shane’s just not that into you, and Dan doesn’t really miss you when you’re gone. Dan, they all want to take you to the end because they’re stupid enough to think nobody will vote for you. Your alliance sucks.”

Dan is on the block against Ian, and he doesn’t seem even slightly worried. He can’t imagine Danielle’s attraction to a guy who is more interested in his dog back home than in her might send him home. Whether Shane goes or Ian goes, he could care less. They’re 50/50 on the threat-meter; Shane’s athletic, Ian’s smart, and they’re roughly equal at endurance challenges. It’s 6 of one, half-dozen of the other.

Ian is assuming he’s leaving, and it doesn’t even occur to him to campaign against the guy who has WON THE GAME BEFORE, by talking the athletic, easily-manipulated guy who has the only vote into keeping someone who is a 50/50 shot against him, instead of the one who makes him a 75/25 underdog. It’s mostly math and logic, and seems like nobody is thinking about it. There are four people in the house. Three of them have complicated, if fake, interpersonal relationships, creating a triangle where the girl gets to choose between Arthur or Lancelot. The fourth is a nice kid that everyone likes, but he’s less essential, and lost when he couldn’t afford to. He’s also pissed off enough people that the jury isn’t going to unanimously think he’s a great guy and vote for him. Voting off the expendable person, as has happened the past two or three evictions, isn’t really making a move. It’s just agreeing to a coin-toss, in which case, they all could have gone home a few weeks ago.

There’s a few scenarios that might save Ian, but they all involve Danielle having a clue that she’s not actually on a dating show (thankfully, they had enough sense to turn her down for that.), but one that requires strategy and the ability to use her fake soap opera charm to actually help her play for something better than second place.

1)She keeps nominations the same and tells Shane to vote out Dan. All she has to tell him is that Dan wanted him gone twice: once, Danielle saved him, and Joe took the bullet. The second time, he won PoV and saved himself. She also points out she has to choose between Dan and Shane sometime, and she’s choosing Shane. Conveniently, the strongest player goes home and Danielle gets to bat her eyelashes and look sweet and make America want to vomit.

2)She uses the PoV to save Dan and sets up a backdoor for Shane. Dan reminds Danielle that they have a final 2 deal, that he saved Shane, but had warned Danielle she’d have to cut Shane loose. Shane is a stronger competitor for the final challenges than Ian, and he has no allegiance to Dan. Dan needs him gone to win, and manipulates Danielle into allowing this to happen. Shane’s been playing Danielle anyway; he’s still voting for her against Dan, whom he doesn’t like, and Ian, with whom he’s shared no real personal connection.

3)She uses the PoV on Ian, and puts up Shane, letting Ian do the dirty work and ultimately make the tough decision. Danielle doesn’t like emotionally difficult decisions, and wants to look blemish-free at all times, whereas Ian doesn’t care about looking evil. In fact, he seems to think being the evil mastermind in a 125 lb. package is what’s going to either win him this game, or get him invited back in the future. Never mind that the evil mastermind spends all day crying about stabbing his friend in the back before he does it. This is the least likely scenario, because Danielle and Ian have spent maybe 5 minutes together the whole game. Strategically, this is to Danielle’s advantage and to Ian’s; she doesn’t have to choose between her boy toy and her father figure, and Ian decides who he wants to roll the dice against in the final three. It’s actually the most interesting option, and one I’d pick if I were her, which is why it won’t happen.

If Ian goes home when Danielle has all the power, she’s a walking illustration of “women can’t play strategically, because emotions get in the way.” She claims she’s not like that; she’s going to “play the player”. The player isn’t the 21-year-old kid who still can’t believe he’s on the show. It’s possibly the guy who’s conning her into a showmance that seems to have very little real affection, and can win challenges, even though he’s the most gullible person on Earth. It’s possibly the guy who has won before and has masterminded the last 5 weeks of the game, viewing Ian and Shane as useful but inevitably expendable tools to accomplish his dirty work and take a girl who’s lost without someone to follow to the final two.

Ironically, she’s the one with all the power, and the ability to manipulate the situation to her best advantage, but she still doesn’t seem to know it. This girl hasn’t made a move the whole season; Janelle’s eviction was masterminded by Boogie and Danielle got to be the messenger. The only thing she’s done is set herself up as an easily manipulated, gullible girl desperate for love and approval…something a charming jock with a lack of intelligence and an older, emotionally manipulative guy can both spot a mile away, and exploit to their advantage.

Now she has a chance to make a move, and it’s not voting out the weakest player. Dan screwed up big time by allowing Danielle to convince him to send home Joe instead of Shane, and then watching Shane win PoV. He’s not going to let a third opportunity go by in the calm, resigned fashion both him and Ian seemed to display on Showtime last night. Shane, on the other hand, will smile and flirt and make Danielle feel like the most important thing in life is knowing there’s this guy who really, really likes her.

If Danielle takes the easy road and votes out Ian, leaving her up against the two strongest male players that nobody’s been able to or wanted to get out of the house for weeks (except each other), she’s proving she really should have spent her time on The Bachelor. She’s also proving why men will continue to break her heart, take advantage of her, and why girls like Janelle and Rachel would want to rip her eyeballs out. (as she discussed on Showtime last night, speculating if she might be asked back for another “all-star” season down the line.)

If you want to be a player, you can’t just flirt and look pretty and smile and be easygoing. You need to play. It would be nice to see Danielle get the memo, not just because I like Ian and don’t think he deserves to go home before Danielle, but because I don’t give Danielle too much credit. She’s the kind of girl I don’t like, or respect, and I want to see her pull one brilliant move that says “You think I’m sweet and weak? Guess again.”, in order to redeem herself.

If you’re going to be an alpha female, use your power to take out an alpha male you’re aware has been using you for three months. Otherwise, you’re not “playing” anyone or anything. You’re just proving you’re an insecure girl who can’t bear to be disliked or hurt, so it’s easiest to get rid of the 21-year-old kid who isn’t going to take it personally and you just might beat in challenges to get to the final three.

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