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Baker’s Dozen: Why Dan Should Have Won Big Brother 14

Andy BakerThe following is a guest post from Rob Has a Website Contributor, Andy Baker


I’ve had a few days to reflect on what transpired on Wednesday night – time I spent recovering from my shock from the finale’s result and my exhaustion from writing an 8,000 word Survivor: Philippines preview – and I’ve finally pulled together my thoughts on the conclusion of BB14. Onward!

1) For all of my feigned outrage, I gotta give credit where credit’s due: Ian, who could have easily wilted under the pressure of arguing for half a million dollars, stepped up at crunch time. If you had told me before the finale aired that Ian would make a better closing argument speech than Dan, there is no way in hell I would have believed you. And yet it happened. I’m not ashamed to admit that when Ian finished talking – and his victory was assured – my mouth was open almost as wide as Dani’s when Shane was evicted.

2) Given how much I ripped into Ian this season for some of his creepier antics (such as sitting in the bathroom while female houseguests took showers – remember that?   I have to agree with Boogie: over the last two and a half months, Ian grew up. Has anyone in the history of the show ever transformed this much?

3) I can’t let Ian completely off the hook, though: He never fully articulated his best argument. Why not hammer home the fact that Dan was protected for the first four weeks of the summer? And that the residual effect of being a coach protected him for a few weeks after that? Ian semi-referenced this advantage by talking about Dan’s “three lives,” but how hard is it to say, “Dan was safe for a month! How fair is that?!” Hard to give the kid too much grief since he won 6-1, but when you have a chance to point out that you had to play a different, and much harder, game than your opponent, you have to take it.

4) But lest I dwell too much on Ian, here, let me say this as clearly as I can: DAN SHOULD HAVE WON. I’ve heard all of the pro-Ian arguments as well as the anti-Dan ones, and I get them, I really do. Heck, I even conceded in my last Baker’s Dozen that the numbers said that Ian should win. But on finale night, Janelle was right: Dan played the best game of the season, and to vote for anyone other than him would be utterly asinine. I’m willing to bet that if the jury members were asked to revote a year from now, after they’ve had a chance to watch the season from beginning to end and get over their hard feelings, Dan would win by a landslide. Heck, I think some of them were already regretting their decisions DURING THE FINALE; when Janelle made her comment, a few of them looked at one another, and I thought I saw at least one or two, “Did we make a mistake?” expressions. Perhaps that’s wishful thinking, but ‘tis no matter: I’m pretty sure that by the time BB15 premieres, this summer’s houseguests will collectively understand that Dan was playing the game on a totally different level and should have walked away a two-time winner.

5) Before you accuse me of being under the influence of Dan Mist right now, I’m aware he made some critical mistakes: he was needlessly ruthless in his post-reset gameplay, he should have known that Danielle was his best bet as a F2 opponent, and just when he needed to make the speech of a lifetime, his industrial-sized bottle of Dan Mist sputtered like an empty canister of whipped cream, leaving him to bellow like a late-night infomercial huckster. Despite those mistakes, though, HE STILL SHOULD HAVE WON.

6) Here’s the thing: Ian, for all of his supposed strategic brilliance, was, for almost the entire game, thinking at most one step ahead. Meanwhile, Dan was doing his best Russian Grandmaster impression, anticipating what everyone else would do long before they actually did it, and then getting the other houseguests to play the games he wanted them to play. A few examples: He manipulated Dani into forgiving him for Shane’s eviction in about eight minutes; he got both Ian and Dani to drop out of the first part of the final HoH competition; and he convinced Dani to relentlessly attack Ian, knowing that this guaranteed that Ian would take Dan to the final two. AND THAT’S JUST THE LAST FEW DAYS OF THE SEASON! From Dan’s Funeral on, Dan played a strategic game unparalleled in BB history; I still think Dr. Will is the best player ever, but over the last month of the season, Dan redefined what BB is and can be. Ian played the game; DAN CHANGED IT.

7) Do me a favor for a moment and forget every one of Dan’s blindsides and betrayals; in the grand scheme of things, they’re not all that important. Oh, sure, they were good TV, but they were simply the outward manifestations of his internal strategy; what made Dan’s game transcendent was how he adapted his approach from the first time he played, how he fundamentally altered his BB philosophy. If he had simply come into the game planning on being “Evil Dan,” he likely would have been gunned down around the time Janelle and Boogie exited the game; instead, he convinced everyone he was playing the same way he did in BB10, and then, every time he did something that called this into question, he repeatedly re-convinced everyone that he was still the same old Dan. The greatest trick Dan 2.0 ever pulled was to convince the world that he didn’t exist; all of the houseguests thought he was Dan 1.0, and that’s precisely how he wanted to be perceived. It was a tour-de-force, a game that can only be done once, and only by a master of deception – and it’s a shame that the members of the jury couldn’t recognize and reward it.

8) Speaking of the jury, not a season of BB or Survivor goes by without someone pointing out that there’s no rulebook – you simply get to the end however you can. But that’s a half-truth, isn’t it? There IS a rulebook; it’s just written retroactively. The jury gets to sit back and decide how to define who wins; they govern using laws that the finalists aren’t even aware of because those laws didn’t exist until after they finished playing the game. It’s what I find to be the oddest aspect of reality show competitions: in games that are all about jury management, what it takes to manage a jury is a largely indefinable and elusive thing. In BB10, Dan had it; in BB14, he didn’t.

9) On a tangential note, I am utterly certain at this point that Dan knew his days as a Coach were numbered and was either told or assumed he was going to become a player at some point during the season. More importantly, I think Dan planned for this eventuality (starting with how he drafted) and had his long con prepared from the moment he first stepped into the house. The idea which Dan floated in his finale speech – that after the reset he played the only game available to him based on who was left in the house – was a convenient and bald-faced lie. He entered the BB house as Dan 2.0; he just managed to keep it hidden, from the houseguests AND from us, until it was too late to do anything about it. And that, my friends, is why DAN SHOULD HAVE WON THE GAME.

10) Best reported moment from the post-finale party: When asked if she and Shane will be a couple now that the show is over, Danielle said, “Yes, absolutely”… while Shane, answering the same question nearby, said, unequivocally, “No.” So let’s see if I’ve got this right: Danielle leaves the house with almost no prize money, she’s currently finding out just how cruel feed watchers can be on the internet (I really hope Dani stays away from the Big Brother forum over at Survivor Sucks… that’s a nervous breakdown waiting to happen), and she gets dumped by her showmance before the first after-party is fully underway. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this isn’t what Dani expected post-BB life would be like.

11) Let’s hear it for my pre-season pick, Frank Eudy! Okay, so he didn’t win (despite excessive assistance from the producers), but he did bring home the title of America’s Player! However cold the comfort, I take some solace from the fact that my pre-season read on Frank was right: despite being too trusting, as well as being an unrepentant grudge-holder, the boy has got game. By the way, there is no truth to the rumor that I spent $7,423 on text messages to help my boy get something for his troubles.

12) One last suggestion for Big Brother improvement: Honesty in editing. Feeders, you know what I’m talking about: the disturbing realities of the Shanielle showmance… Ian’s odd and erratic behavior… the numerous diary room controversies (including, but not limited to, Shane being told not to nominate Frank and Boogie)… Dani’s pathological lying… even accusations of cheating (such as when Frank and Boogie attempted to rig the player selection for a veto competition). Grodner and CBS should give us everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly – don’t you think? BAM! Big Brother is now 93% better.

13) Prediction time: For all of my complaining, BB14, while foolishly rigged and irrationally unfair, was, in the end, entertaining, and it’s a reasonably safe bet that I’ll be back for more next summer. Until then, it’s time to leave the kitchen… hope you’ve enjoyed what I’ve been cooking. If you’re looking for more, be sure to check out the Survivor Baker’s Dozen, which will be posted here at RHAW/RHAP all season long.

Agree? Disagree? Want to get something off your chest? Post in the comment section below or tweet me @GetOnSurvivor

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