Dick and Daniele nominated after Dick receives a coded letter from his son

After Thursday’s smoochy couple-elimination episode of Big Brother 8, the houseguests played another HOH competition, Jameka’s first in a long while. However, she lost to Zach, but at least she didn’t cry about it. Daniele again demonstrated why despite winning competitions and being a smart player, she’s never going to be as beloved as Janelle: she immediately went into annoying whining mode. That, and she uses phrases like “bitter grapes.”

Anyway, Zach was HOH for the second week in a row (save for Dick’s few hours of being HOH), and admitted that he was “playing dead for, like, two-thirds of the game and then finally starting to play.” While his strategy has definitely been successful, and while I’d much rather he win that Dick, there’s still something kind of grating about him. Daniele described that perfectly when she said Zach is “the friend on your cell phone where every time he calls, you ignore it, and then listen to his voice mail.”

Even thought Daniele was upset over Zach’s reign, so little happened in the house over these past three days that the editors couldn’t even fill 44 minutes, so we began Sunday’s episode with an extended, time-wasting recap of Thursday’s episode. But that recap included a few moments of new footage, including a key if particularly awkward moment when Zach went into a bedroom with Daniele and Dick during Thursday’s live show. Excited about the competition’s outcome, Daniele leapt into Dick’s arms, and Zach was left to stand there, trying to celebrate with them even as they ignored him. He quickly realized that he didn’t have a bond with them. “I thought I was part of the group; I guess I wasn’t,” he told us.

Thus, he nominated both Dick and Daniele. Zach’s decision ultimately didn’t matter, because the winner of the Power of Veto has all the power this week; that person alone votes (assuming that, if nominated, they remove themselves from the block), and if that person is Dick or Daniele, then Jameka goes home. (If he had nominated Jameka and one of them, the two still have a good shot of winning the POV, and Jameka would still go home.)

What Zach wasn’t smart about was his strategy of nominating them. He decided to be honest and aggressive, and attacked them, saying, “neither of you guys were going to take me to the final two anyway” (probably true, but why say that?). He also criticized them, particularly Dick, and said, “No one had the stones to truly try and muscle you guys out, well, I’m the muscle and I’m going to try to muscle you out.” Zach and his stones: that’s what we have left.

Anyway, it all comes down to the POV, which has actually already been played; if you want to know the outcome, House Happenings has the details, along with some sober analysis of what this means for the other players’ end-games.

Meanwhile, the most controversial moment in the house over the past few days wasn’t, naturally, shown on CBS, but that’s pretty much expected now. While he was only HOH for a few hours, Dick received his HOH basket, which included a letter from his son Vincent. In a conversation captured on the live feeds (video is below), Dick tells Daniele that the letter has coded information about the game.

“The first and the the last letter of the last paragraph could be the initials of houseguests that I can’t trust,” he said. “And there was also a code for my tightest alliance, if I could trust my TA or not, he was going to say that everything’s going well with my girlfriend, or I broke up with my girlfriend. Ha ha.” Daniele is astonished. “You guys came up with that? You’re an idiot,” she said. Dick replied, “Hey, man, if Johnny Fairplay can pull some shit, so can I.”

After Dick revealed the “girlfriend” code, the producers cut the feeds, the universal sign for “oh shit, we have something to hide but we’re going to do it so incompetently that no one could possibly think we’re this dumb and guilty.”

Dick’s son confirmed the plan to send messages to Dick via a letter, writing on Survivor Sucks (he later edited it, and now it’s quoted in this post), “I will just say that he doesnt have the code quite right and from what I have read hear and in myspace messages, he missed more than half of the message [...] Honestly I cant believe he even brought it up… he must be feeling either very confident or very bored. He seriously can not keep his damn mouth closed.”

A lot of people are pissed about this, and perhaps rightly so. As someone who was thrilled about how a banner’s message changed the game, I’d be a hypocrite if I was outraged. Is a coded letter from the outside a violation of the rules? Absolutely. Did it affect the game? Apparently not. Significantly, Dick had a hard time actually decoding the message, and doesn’t seem to have gained anything from it at all. About the only thing gained was greater distrust of the producers and their fairness and/or competence, and there wasn’t much left of that to begin with.

The footage of Dick and Daniele talking about the letter:

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.