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Karma can be a devilish foe.

The most debated and talked about Big Brother 15 houseguest was finally sent packing on Thursday night. Mixed emotions are a tricky thing: on a personal level I'm glad that someone who said ignorant comments (regardless of claiming them as jokes) won't win but as a Big Brother fan and a competitive person, it's sad seeing someone playing the game leave instead of a floater. While I don't condone any of the vile things she's said, the two months since then has helped to focus on judging only her gameplay.

The tenth person evicted was Aaryn Gries, the 22 year old college student from Texas.

Let's Meet Aaryn...

Aaryn is the challenge champion and snarky former leader of the Blondetourage alliance (i.e. the 'Mean Girls'). In the first week of the game, she lost her showmance partner David to a last minute blindside and continued to lose allies like Nick, Jeremy and Kaitlin the following weeks in a row. Aaryn proved to be flexible as she made deals with several of the houseguests and won challenges ensuring that she would be safe beyond the target of the first few weeks. In week 8, Aaryn sided with Amanda, McCrae and Andy to form the 3AM alliance to evict Helen by nominating both Helen and Elissa. This proved to be her undoing as Elissa won the following Head of Household (HOH) competition and nominated both Aaryn and McCrae. While the target flipped between both nominees (even with a potential blindside of Amanda), Amanda won the Power of Veto (POV), removed her showmance from the block and Andy went up - ensuring Aaryn as the next person to be evicted. On Day 70, she was evicted by a vote of 5-0.

Why Did She Lose?

Aaryn had a bumpy road this summer to say the least. In a normal Big Brother season, Aaryn's early alliance would have dominated the game but the Big Brother MVP twist created opportunities for the opposing players to band together against targets. Being almost on her own resorted her to offer up any alliance and deals she could to survive - enter Amanda and Helen. Both took her under their protection if she did their dirty work. The offer looked good at first to get rid of targets like Howard, Candice, Judd and Jessie but once it turned toward the leaders, she was in the middle. All the backstabbing and deals she made were held against her as the house opinion turned against Amanda and Aaryn couldn't shake the image of being Amanda's "puppet" any longer.

How Could She Stay?

Aaryn needed a serious overhaul with her social game. Not just about the rude and ignorant comments but her approach with several of the houseguests. Elissa couldn't stand Aaryn since the beginning of the game but a majority of the animosity stemmed from Aaryn turning against Elissa first. Aaryn needed to get back on Elissa's side and prove that Amanda was her target too. GinaMarie and Judd were already on board to break up Amanda and McCrae - she should have pushed harder that bygones were bygones. If Aaryn had buried the hatchet with Elissa the week before when Helen pushed for the idea, she wouldn't have been nominated.

Last Thoughts...

Aaryn learned the life lesson that is Big Brother: no one is above the game. She most likely came in expecting to dominate and be America's Favourite but the twists dramatically changed how everyone had to play the game. Luckily for her, she proved to be flexible and lasted an extra two months but poor decisions and a backbone lead to her eviction. Do I think she's racist and a homophobe? No. Being either of the two is to be full of hate and malice that the individual couldn't tolerate being around, let alone living together in the Big Brother house. Ignorance is to blame and hopefully she learns from this experience to grow into a mature, respectful person. I don't expect Aaryn to ever come back on the show, partly due to Julie Chen and I'm not sure Aaryn would gamble with the post-show backlash again. However, if she were looking to gain some redemption with her image, it could happen and we may see her return when the veterans come back in a later season. Until then...
The match was fought well but one queen ultimately fell.

When two strong competitors are fighting for supreme power, it's all about who strikes first. There were plenty of opportunities for both to attack but underestimating the enemy proved to be this evicted player's downfall.

The ninth person evicted was Helen Kim, the 37 year old political consultant from Illinois.

Let's Meet Helen...

Helen is the charismatic and positive houseguest who proved to be one of the strongest strategic competitors this season. In the second week, she was nominated alongside her ally and friend Elissa for eviction. Both of them, along with a majority of the house, successfully campaigned to blindside Nick - the Big Brother MVP nominee - and save both nominees. Helen won the following Head of Household (HOH) competition and ultimately caused Jeremy's eviction. The following weeks saw Helen start to lose her power and by week 8, she had to fight the house vote against Spencer. On Day 63, she was evicted by a vote of 4-1.

Why Did She Lose?

Helen started off the season strong, but she made several poor moves that came back to haunt her. Amanda, her alliance member and the other dominating force, was looking for an opportunity to strike against Helen. When Jessie admitted to everyone that she, Helen and Elissa plotted a potential blindside the week before, Amanda used this ammunition to convince Aaryn to nominate the pair (Jessie was evicted the week prior). Helen, until the final few days of her being in the house, believed that she was safe and could trust her allies - with the exception of Elissa (and GinaMarie, only slightly), they were on Team Amanda now.

How Could She Stay?

Helen had plenty of opportunities to get Amanda out of the house.  If she had not focused her attention on the evictions of Howard, Candice, Judd and Jessie; she would have the numbers to evicted her REAL threat. There was nothing she could do in her eviction week unless push an alliance with Amanda or reiterate that Amanda was the real threat and Spencer was her puppet. Had Helen not wasted the opportunity weeks before, she would still be in the house.

Last Thoughts...

Helen played a great game - she really did! Many of the houseguests trusted her, the fake compliments were gaining her favour, and she was sitting in a perfect position as the head of a powerful alliance. You can never tell what the future holds in the Big Brother house and at the time, evicting certain people might have seemed like the best option. However, letting a known enemy slide several weeks was the catalyst for driving a force against Helen. Next time when America presents the perfect opportunity twice... take the hint!
Slow and predictable week. 

Sad eviction. 

Terrible Head of Household (HOH).

Those are the thoughts I had this entire week watching Big Brother. Gameplay, drama and strategizing make the show exciting and the houseguests definitely took the easy way out. No one really wanted to play the game and if they said they did, they backpedaled to let a weak target go home instead. Waste of a week!

The eighth person evicted was Jessie Kowalski, the 25 year old from Texas.

Let's Meet Jessie...

Jessie is the boy-crazy underdog who tried to shed her floater status and make big game moves. She started off to a bad start by rubbing the house the wrong way with her ego-centric behaviour and ended up nominated in the first week. Surviving eviction pushed her into the background where she floated from alliance-to-alliance, nearly surviving being nominated and evicted several times. Before the double eviction, Jessie tried to stir the house and plot Amanda's eviction but her alliance extinguished the idea. Unfortunately for her, the house turned and she was left on the losing end as the latest target. On Day 56, she was evicted by a vote of 6-0.

Why Did She Lose?

Jessie fell victim to the personal side of Big Brother. She wasn't targeted because of physical wins or strategic game moves; she was simply targeted because certain people either didn't like her or they saw her as an easy eviction. Andy, the week's HOH, decided to nominate easy floaters to spare the blood from his hands but Jessie saw all her "allies" turn their backs on her. An idea she pitched with Helen and Elissa was being thrown back in her face by her friends and there was nothing she could do to save herself.

How Could She Stay?

Now that Jessie was the target, she needed to shift focus to Spencer, the other nominee. Spencer was closer to McCrae and Amanda and if Jessie reiterated the facts to win back Helen, it could have helped. Helen needs numbers to target Amanda and Jessie was a number on her side - Spencer was not. Sometimes consistency is key and burning the words in someone's head can knock some sense into them.

All photos courtesy of the Big Brother Network
Last Thoughts...

Jessie was dealt a bad hand. Nobody wanted to work with her and when she tried to play, it lead to her eviction. I always support houseguests that shed their floater status and try to make big game moves. While she failed to turn the house, I can respect Jessie for trying and turning around her image since the beginning of the show; she surprisingly became one of my favourite and one of the most likeable houseguests this season. The risk of playing the game means that the target gets placed squarely on your back. Sitting around and doing absolutely nothing can only get you so far in the game before it ruins any chances of winning. (Ahem! Take note Andy - I'm watching you...)
Now for the downside of the double eviction.

Fun characters and big personalities usually get the axe early-to-mid way through the season. In a season where there are more unlikeable and mean players, it's incredibly sad to see nice and likeable players be sent packing. Keeping this post unbiased but it was shocking to see this person leave so suddenly.

The seventh person evicted was Judd Daugherty, the 26 year old property appraiser from Tennessee.

Let's Meet Judd...

Judd is the wide-eyed Big Brother fan that won over the entire house with his southern charm. While not a strong strategic player, Judd won Head of Household (HOH) in the fourth week and helped ensure Kaitlin was evicted. He solidified himself in several powerful alliances but the paranoia started to dominate the house and Judd was the victim of the faint whispers. During the double eviction night, HOH and Power of Veto (POV) winner Aaryn removed Jessie from the block and replaced her with Judd, stating it as the house decision. On Day 49, he was evicted by a vote of 7-0.

Why Did He Lose?

Judd may have been too likeable. Many in the house liked him and knew that if he found his way in the finals, he would have won the game. The bigger reason that he lost was due to paranoia and mistrust. Being so likeable and an obvious fan-favourite, he was hit with rumours and discussions that potentially he may be the Big Brother MVP - in reality, America had voted the last three weeks. The house, spearheaded by Amanda and Helen, sought an opportunity to remove a looming threat and once Aaryn won HOH yet again, she was strong-armed into nominating her friend.

How Could He Stay?

Judd needed to start joining the discussions. Rumours were running rampant throughout the house and he needed to direct the attention to other players, even though he was innocent. The Big Brother MVP twist had already left a negative mark on both Elissa and Howard; the last victim of the MVP rumours. He should have learned from experience and convinced the others that he wasn't the MVP and that he could be trusted.

Last Thoughts...

Judd's eviction came out of nowhere. I went in fully expecting for someone like Jessie or Spencer to be the second target of the night, but the house clearly had other plans. He was a fun guy that was there for the experience and he loved to play the game. Though, he was backed into a corner with nowhere left to turn when the POV was used. It was an amazing move on the part of the house and Judd was left scrambling with no more options. Luck was not on his side!
It's double eviction week and the drama sure delivered.

These random staples of the Big Brother summer normally divides into two fashions: the familiar floaters/easy targets get evicted one after the other OR the power flips and a threat from both sides of the house are sent packing. This time there was a little bit of both where an easy target left but the house banded together to later evict a potential winner. The first houseguest evicted had been the easier target.

The sixth person evicted was Candice Stewart, the 29 year old pediatric speech therapist from Texas.

Let's Meet Candice...

Candice is the outspoken houseguest who felt the brunt of the racist and derogatory comments all summer. She sparked a short-lived showmance with Howard and developed close friendships with Elissa and Helen. When the house flipped against Howard and Spencer, Candice pulled away from the powerful side to protect her showmance but the move proved to be her downfall. The house saw her as an enemy and following the week after Howard was evicted, Head of Household (HOH) GinaMarie nominated Candice for eviction. On Day 49, she was evicted by a vote of 7-0-0.

Why Did She Lose?

Candice was fighting an uphill battle; she technically wasn't a floater and she choose the wrong side in power to support. The Howard/Spencer pair was a sinking ship and she didn't want to see her showmance get evicted - this resulted in her getting nominated the week before to ensure she didn't campaign. Candice's negative attitude toward Howard's impending eviction and the constant animosity she received from the mean girls' side didn't help in making a case to keep her around. She's a weak player and the mean girls couldn't wait to have the excuse to evict her. Albeit for more personal than gameplay reasons...

How Could She Stay?

Candice's looming eviction resulted in a decision she made a week prior. Obviously her confrontations with Aaryn and GinaMarie didn't help but it was her support for Howard that did her in. Amanda wanted Howard out, several other houseguests wanted him out too and Candice was left to campaign but it left others with a sour taste. She should have relaxed, looked at the situation from afar and casually plotted with strategic players to determine the landscape. If she had examined the field, she would have determined that Howard couldn't be saved and her campaigning, while commendable, wouldn't have ruined her game.

Last Thoughts...

Candice had a rough summer. She dealt with a lot of mean, evil and hurtful comments that no one should ever have to experience in this modern day. I liked her because she's smart (she picked up on The Moving Company first), she told it like it was and she stood her ground against her enemies. Candice didn't have a chance of winning but she did play the game which always earns favour. At least with her on the jury now, there will be a lot more sparks between the evicted players and shocking segments to see during the eviction episodes. Think about it: potentially Candice, Aaryn, GinaMarie, Spencer and Amanda all the in the same jury house together? Sign me up for that show!
Three members in five weeks. 

The Moving Company might honestly go down as one of the worst alliances in Big Brother history. Nearly everyone associated with this group has either been evicted, plagued with nominations or turned their backs on the others. This latest houseguest is the next casualty from this poorly supported group.

The fifth person evicted is Howard Overby, the 29 year old youth counselor from Mississippi.

Let's Meet Howard...

Howard is the religious and gentle man who internalized his anger from the racist comments. While he never won any challenges, he did prove to have a strong social game; making quick friends with several of the houseguests and a showmance with Candice. Once The Moving Company alliance was uncovered, Amanda and Helen made Howard a huge target - encouraging Head of Household (HOH) Aaryn to place him on the block. On Day 42, he was evicted by a vote of 7-1-0.

Why Did He lose?

Howard made a huge rookie mistake: he was caught in a lie. Helen, who was HOH the week before, learned about The Moving Company alliance from Jeremy and McCrae. When she confronted Howard about any possible lies, giving him a chance to come clean, he omitted the truth and as a result, Helen could no longer trust Howard. The house was pushing for Howard to leave since he was a huge physical threat and could potentially win the game. Aaryn gave the house an opportunity to evict him by placing him on the block and they took the chance. Being too likeable and a physical competitor proved to be two threats the house couldn't keep around.

How Could He Stay?

Tell the truth. It's a simple move and since The Moving Company already turned against each other by evicting Nick in week 2, there was no point to hide the secret any longer. Helen knew and wanted to trust him again - his lie turned more than half the house against him. Howard should have reaffirmed trust with those he hurt and with that Howard had no shot of staying. If that were to have happened, it would have been easier to have the house flip on Candice or Amanda.

Photos courtesy of The Big Brother Network and The Hollywood Reporter
Last Thoughts...

Howard is a likeable guy, possibly one of the most popular houseguests this season. Those with the live feed know that he wasn't nice and sweet all the time; he had his moments with evil and mean comments. Though, he was a nice breath of fresh air when it came to the edited show. A simple move can change the game and Howard should have placed his trust in Helen instead of a fractured alliance he helped to destroy. The Moving Company was a sinking ship and the current pulled him down with it.
Back from my second trip... ever!

It's been a few weeks since my last post and I'm really sorry for the delay. Life was a little hectic with a lot of changes: planning for my first flyaway work trip, celebrating that my older brother moved out of the house and now adjusting to a bigger role.

As the pictures included suggest, I went to Montreal this weekend for Osheaga. It was an amazing festival! Three days of hours hours but the music was incredible and I got the chance to visit a city on my bucket list. I took a few photos and videos while I was there and you can check them out on my Instagram account.

Now that I'm back, I'll start updating the blog again and catch up on the Big Brother eviction posts. Stay tuned!
Thought you'd enjoy this picture. The crowd kept going!

The losing streak is over... for now.

For a second I thought that the women could do a clean sweep of the men; eliminating them one after the other until they all remained. Except, I completely forgot which alliance remained on the losing end and it was obvious that someone would get the boot next.

The fourth person evicted was Kaitlin Barnaby, the 23 year old bartender from Minnesota.

Let's Meet Kaitlin...

Kaitlin is the reserved and reluctant-to-admit mean girl. In the first few weeks, she sparked a showmance with Jeremy and lost three of her allies one after the other. She was nominated in the third week but successfully won Power of Veto (POV) to take herself off the block - resulting in Jeremy being evicted. Dominating challenges with almost victories, the house plotted her demise and flip-flopped between evicting her or her alliance member Aaryn. On Day 35, she was evicted with a vote of 9-0-0.

Why Did She Lose?

Kaitlin turned out to be a serious challenge competitor. Not holding anything against player-types, but certain houseguests tend to only be on Big Brother for the purpose of becoming famous - it's the Bachelor equivalent of "not here for the right reasons." Kaitlin had never even watched the show until someone approached her to audition. Turns out that she was ready to play the game and she was great at the challenges - too good, in fact. Being strong and also associated with the mean girls of the house, Kaitlin became an easy target for eviction. Her challenge prowess outweighed Aaryn's, and even GinaMarie's, negative and hateful comments.

How Could She Stay?

Kaitlin needed to fight and play the strategic side. I wouldn't classify her as a floater but she did have floater tendencies: she sat around, chatted with her friends and didn't play the game until she had to. Her nomination ally Aaryn knew that she was in trouble and made several big deals to sway the house; Kaitlin didn't and it showed when the votes arrived. Kaitlin should have pushed harder and made deals with the right people to secure Aaryn's demise.

Photos provided by Zap2it! and The Big Brother Network

Last Thoughts...

Kaitlin acted like a mean girl but she wasn't the mean girl. Her surprising challenge capabilities proved to save her for the time being and she might have shown that bartenders/models/actors have a real shot at doing more than competing to be famous. If she had sided with a different side of the house early on, she may still be around - people were generally sad to see her go. Still her lack of strategic and social gameplay proved to hinder her when the time mattered to secure eviction votes. Unanimous votes don't just come by happenstance...