Let the muses sing a mournful canticle for the cruel ill-fated reign of King Willie the First. It did not have to end so badly. Before everything went to hell, Willie was sitting pretty in the HoH room. He betrayed Frank’s trust and put him up on the block, and Frank still came upstairs, almost apologetic, to say: “I don’t trust anybody as much as I trust you.” Willie wanted to save Frank – the brother of Russell Hantz knows the difference between the enemy you eliminate and the enemy you hold close until the final backstab. But Willie did not have to argue for Frank, because Britney was getting greedy. She could smell blood in the water. Eliminating Kara would leave Danny-Boy with just one lonely southern gal on his team. So Britney declared an offensive on Dan. Willie nodded. It suited his purpose. I wish I could frame the screengrab of that moment: Willie under the covers of his HoH thronebed, Britney sitting on the edge of the bed, the assembled Blonde Battalion shaking their heads all in unison. It is a vision of the season that could have been. Pause to imagine Big Brother 14 as a re-enactment of the Jabba’s Palace scene from Return of the Jedi, with Willie as the Hutt and Britney as his loyal Bib Fortuna, sending one contestant after another to meet Julie Chen, who in this metaphor is clearly the Sarlacc Pit.
The trouble started when Britney took a closer look at the yearbook photo-board of Big Brother contestants. “My picture has a keyhole next to it,” she said. “So do the other coaches. Maybe the coaches are going to be entering the game as players.” Britney is ever-mindful of big twists – her season featured the ill-fated “Saboteur” gimmick. And her logic was sound. There were only 12 proper “players” at the start of this season; the math doesn’t add up, unless CBS is planning to chop a few weeks of this season of Big Brother. Britney decided to share her suspicion with Willie. “Don’t tell anyone,” she said.
Willie told everyone. Well, not precisely. He didn’t come right out and tell everyone about Britney’s suspicions. But he did call a house meeting, and he specifically disinvited the coaches, and he tried to foment an all-out rebellion against the coaches. “We can change this game,” he said. “Don’t allow y’all’s coach to make y’all’s decision for you.” Now, from one perspective, I actually think this was sound strategy for Willie. The house was becoming settled into a four-party system, with the coaches as unofficial leaders. Shaking things up was a good move, especially considering that he was about to exit the HoH throne room and rejoin the proles on the ground floor.
But something about the house meeting made Frank nervous. He went up to talk to Willie. And here is where Willie made a crucial mistake that might very well have ruined his entire game. King Willie was trying to defuse some tension. So he made fun of a moment in the house meeting when Wil stood up and said, “I’m taking a 24-hour break from this game.” Something about how Willie made fun of Wil – the lilt of gay-stereotype, or maybe just the mere fact that he was making fun of a dude behind his back – rubbed Frank the wrong way.
Frank’s suspicions about Willie were confirmed when Joe broke rank with the Blonde Battalion and told Frank about a voting scheme that would have made the specific power alignments in the house unclear. After he heard that, Frank had it: He started a full-on whisper campaign against Willie. This may have been completely inadvertent: He mostly just told people that Willie made fun of Wil. Maybe Frank is just a genuinely good guy. (His haircut reads “good guy,” much like how Ian’s haircut reads “nerdy best friend” and Shane’s haircut reads “the dude who stuffed your nerdy best friend into a toilet face first.”) But within hours, a game of telephone had transformed Willie into the house pariah. Wil was complaining to Britney that he would not put up with any slurs, “Whether it’s sexist, racist, or homophobic.” Britney looked awestruck. She walked upstairs and told Willie point-blank, “I say this because I love you: You’re screwed.”
NEXT: Willie decides he is not quite screwed enough