Friends, I ask you: Has there ever been a more perfect floater than Victoria? Did the word “float” even have any true meaning before Victoria appeared inside of the Big Brother house? It’s been so long since this season began, so my memory might be faulty, but I seem to recall her entering the house by descending into the backyard, carried aloft by a pair of pink flying seahorses named Myrtle and Zanzibong, playing a mystical flute made from the fore-tooth of a whaleshark. Or maybe she was riding on a cloud, like those turtles in Super Mario Bros. But instead of throwing spiky shells of pain, Victoria throws spiky shells of hope. Hope for all the little boys and girls of whatever world she comes from, possible Neptune.
Here’s a fun fact for you: If you don’t count Christmas Specials, Victoria has now been on more episodes of television than anyone from Downton Abbey. And nobody on Downton Abbey ever managed to demonstrate the futility of existence–but also, the simultaneous struggle to outrun that futility–as effectively as Queen Victoria did on Sunday in one single GIF.
With only a few weeks left to go, there are only two real perspectives left to have on Big Brother 16. You either think this season is boring, or you think it’s a Hall of Fame year. The Boring camp has plenty of ammunition. This is one of those curious years when the whole notion of an “alliance” actually works perfectly. A ridiculously overpowered team formed at the beginning of the game, and that team has essentially held together: Even the internal backstabs have been approved by all non-expelled members of the team. This is remarkable, especially when you consider that one of the key members of the alliance–Beast Mode Caleb–doesn’t realize that the rest of the Bomb Squad formed their own alliance, technically called The Detonators, but we might as well call them the No Calebs.
From this perspective, we’re looking at another Brigade Year: A good plan, coming together, while lovable but impotent loners like Donny and Nicole slowly die out. At times, even Victoria seems a bit bored.
Counter-argument: What a compilation of personalities in the final month! Derrick, the undercover puppet master on a summerlong deep-cover hipster cosplay. Frankie, the exhibitionist social kingpin currently descending into a Final-Act paranoid trip. Caleb, the malaprop-spouting neon hobo who looks in the mirror and sees a samurai. Nicole, with the voice of a country-western star and the hair of a ’60s Italian film star, who has spent her entire resurrected life in the Big Brother house crying like Gwyneth Paltrow accepting an Oscar. Some people think Christine is the squib of the group–but this week, we’ve seen some real inner fire, coupled with the dawning awareness that she’s all alone in the house. Yeesh, Cody is probably the least interesting player in this season of Big Brother–and he’s smart, funny, handsome, athletic, and generally suggests a genetically perfect crossbreeding of Travolta in the ’70s with any Kennedy ever.
And then there’s her:
You either think Victoria is annoying or you think she’s the stealth missile of the season. We’re so deep into the reality TV era, and we expect a certain amount of self-awareness from our reality TV competitors. A player like Derrick or Frankie could’ve never existed back in Big Brother season 1: Everything about their game requires a deep understanding of long-form strategy, of how the power dynamics inside the Big Brother house can shift. Some players have too much Big Brother knowledge and tie their game up in knots. That happened to Christine, who hovered between a few different alliances and now finds herself the odd woman out; it’s sort of happening to Frankie, who’s letting Endgame Paranoia cloud his actions and scare away his closest allies.
You could almost argue that this season of Big Brother is a kind of meta-season, with the main powers in the house playing a very subtle and bloodless chessmastering game. I dig the next-level strategy. But a season like this needs a Victoria, who seems beamed in from a much earlier era of reality television. She doesn’t seem to know she’s on camera. She barely seems to know who the people around her are. Much of Wednesday’s episode focused on the last-ditch friendship that developed between Nicole and Victoria. They were competing together in the veto competition; their very Big Brother lives depended on winning. And Victoria did pretty well!
Afterward, when they had both lost, this conversation happened:
Nicole: [near tears] I did my best, right, Victoria? I did my best.
Victoria: [unclear who, exactly, is talking to her] Yes?
Nicole: Are you super disappointed?
You could see two whole different worlds in that conversation. Nicole was running to her one ally in the house, seeking solace, maybe even attempting to come up with one final strategy. But Victoria just wanted to get in the shower because she was covered in paint. Why was she covered in paint? The Big Man In The Sun who speaks into her ear told her to cut a bunch of wires, and one of those wires made the world go kablammo. Darn that Big Man In The Sun, what a trickster! Now Victoria had to clean herself off–she had big plans that evening, after all, Lord Froggington of the Cloud Kingdom invited her to a rhubarb party–and for some reason, a funny little butterfly with glasses and a Southern accent was flapping in her eyeballs. Flap away, Funny Little Butterfly!
You think I’m joking? Consider: Barring a last-minute flip in favor of Nicole The Enemy Of Evil, Victoria will survive the first elimination this week. She is not a clear target for anyone in the second elimination. Christine just got put up on the block by Caleb; Derrick and Cody are both instigating in favor of a Frankie backstab; Frankie has to be thinking that it’s almost time to tear his alliance to pieces. Why would anyone eliminate Victoria? She’s a guaranteed loser. Why wouldn’t she make the final three?
And while we’re speculating, why wouldn’t she make the final two? Anyone who believes in anything like honor wouldn’t let that happen. (Like, if it comes down to Caleb as the final HoH, he would probably eliminate her–and then probably lose to whoever he brings along.) But who believes in honor anymore? Could Victoria secretly be pioneering a new Floater strategy? Put another way: Have you ever made $50,000 specifically because you spent three months doing nothing? And if someone could do that, is it possible that they are actually some kind of genius?
NEXT: Meanwhile, in the land of the living