With the "Big Brother" Season 19 finale looming Wednesday night, the competition is down to its final three players: Christmas Abbott, Paul Abrahamian, and Josh Martinez. But does that mean those were the best three players of the season? Not by a long shot. In fact, we'd only give one of the Finalists that distinction, and it may not be the one you're thinking. In fact, when ranking the Houseguests for this piece, we were surprised ourselves by how much it differed from their rankings in the competition.
Once again, returning players wreaked havoc on what could have been a wild and exciting season, but the experience and charisma of Paul Abrahamian -- not to mention those three weeks of safety right at the top the producers practically handed him -- really turned the game on its head and changed the fates of several players.
Could the power couples have dominated the season as they set out to do in the beginning? How would other players have competed and strategized if they'd have been able to get out from under the shadow of Paul and his puppetry.
It's also a call for why diversity in age and background is so key in creating a dynamic and exciting season. People who've lived a little more are less likely to get distracted by boobs (we see you "Big Brother" casting!) and less likely to blindly follow the most charismatic player. But because of the blind trust throughout the house, this was a season of few surprises for viewers.
That said, bitterness is a very real thing and could affect who wins this game. Even though the finalists didn't finish in our Top Three, the one who came the highest in our rankings is our pick to win based on the overall quality of their gameplay. But who is it?
17) Megan Lowder - 17th Place
While we feel bad that Megan was attacked so viciously and personally so early in the game, that is what "Big Brother" has become in recent seasons. No one this summer was safe from very personal and ugly attacks that were at times uncomfortable to watch, but it was still lame that she quit after only eight days. If she was that fragile, she stood no chance in the heightened world of the game. And quitters always come in last place.
16) Cameron Heard - 18th Place
We can't disagree with the Houseguests on this one, though we feel bad that Cameron only got to play the game for a single day. What we saw, though, was someone who was trying way too hard way too soon. He almost battled back into the game, but he was annoying enough in his brief stint that we think he'd have been booted back out just as quickly again.
15) Jillian Parker - 16th Place
Another one that's hard to argue with as Jillian really didn't bother to make connections in the house, and really showed no real gumption strategically or in competitions. Add to that the fact she was overly emotional and dramatic early on, and no one was interested in getting that intense that soon. Social is every bit as important as gameplay, but unfortunately she had neither.
14) Ramses Soto - 13th Place
Ramses played an overly oblivious game and that was his downfall. He seemed like he was just there to have fun and barely realized there was a game going on. It helped him float a little further in the game, but you have to play if you want to win, and Ramses just wasn't playing. Instead, he holed up with his self-proclaimed gang of misfits, and when it became clear they were being targeted, he did nothing to change his alliances or improve his position. So he followed them out the door.
13) Elena Davies - 10th Place
Elena was too combative when she wasn't in a position of power. Her loyalty to Jessica and Cody cost her her place in the game, along with her partnership with Mark. While she tried to strategically distance herself from him, she didn't do the same for the more toxic relationships she maintained and instead defended them loudly, and so she because an immediate target after the House was finally able to get rid of "Jody."
12) Matt Clines - 8th Place
While he may have been carried into a decent position, that's just the problem. Matt just went along with whatever anyone else said and ate cereal. And when the Cody-Jessica duo became toxic in the house, he simply shifted his alliance. Matt and Raven were a "power couple" with no power who did nothing. They were the definitions of floaters, and so they were carried for their votes until they were no longer needed, and Matt wasn't even paying enough attention to see it coming. Did he know he was playing a game?
11) Raven Walton - 6th Place
There's not much new to say here, as Raven's gameplay was the same as Matt's. They basically snuggled the whole time. Raven thought her social game was on par, but she appeared to annoy the other Houseguests more than anything. The only reason she ranks higher than Matt is because she performed better than him in comps, but this couple reigns supreme as the most clueless pair in the house. At least they found each other.
10) Cody Nickson - 15th Place / 11th Place
It's a shame that Paul came into the game for Cody, because he could have run away with it. When viewers (or was that producers?) gave Paul three weeks of safety, that was the end of Cody's game. The problem was that he proved utterly incapable of adapting. A competition beast, he openly hated everyone in the house and seemed to have no interest in playing a social game. This is why he was voted out so early, and then booted again almost as soon as he returned.
9) Jessica Graf - 12th Place
Like her beau, Cody, Jessica benefitted from producer meddling. The Halting Hex kept her and Cody together, but Jessica's own ugliness in gameplay is what ultimately did her in. She is a strong competitor and could have adapted better had she been willing to try, but a blind stubbornness, and "mean girl" tendencies made her combative when she should have been open to conversations that might have given her a new life in the game. Cody's return to the game and her latching right back onto him and doubling down on mean did her game in.
8) Dominique Cooper - 14th Place
It's unfortunate that Dominique chose to play a cryptic and coy game rather than just coming out and being direct with people, because she was perhaps the most savvy player in the game. She saw everything that was going on in the house and immediately sussed out where the power lay, who the leaders were and where the danger was. Rather than address it and maybe build something, she instead went with cryptic messages and general weirdness. Dom had a real shot, but her bizarro approach alienated people and sent her out too early.
7) Mark Jansen - 9th Place
With the biggest heart in the game, Mark had a real shot to change his fate had he made an attempt to do so earlier. Like his “showmance” Elena, Mark refused to back away from his friendship with Cody and it proved his ultimate downfall. Showmances are dangerous anyway, but when Cody became Enemy #1, Jessica and the other two showmances who had been allied with him early on became six easy targets (making for a boring mid-game). Mark was the most likeable and very formidable in challenges, but he failed to be flexible in his social game. It also didn't help that he hates bullying in a house with a lot of bullies … and they held the power through most of the season.
6) Kevin Schlehuber - 4th Place
Kevin played a fantastic social game, becoming beloved in the house and at home, and a terrible strategic and physical game. He tried but did rather terrible in the competitions, and did little to integrate himself into the game. Just like the players younger than him by two decades, Kevin allowed himself to be lead by Paul, and the reason it worked so well is that he didn't really talk to anyone else to see what was really going on in the game. He was carried as far as he was useful and then let go.
5) Josh Martinez - FINALIST (Top 3)
This meatball is a mess and may be the biggest bully in the house. Overly emotional and prone to childish outbursts, Josh nevertheless did a lot of growing through his time in the house. He also proved himself capable in competitions, and after he calmed down he started seeing things clearly. And while he saw Paul for the manipulator he is, he did little to change the course of the game by getting Paul out when he could have. So while he's in the Final Three, he's easily the longest shot of the three remaining, though he may have given himself an edge by outing Paul's gameplay in every single exit video he did.
4) Paul Abrahamian - FINALIST (Top 3)
While Paul stayed true to his Final 3 alliance, he also had alliances with everyone in the house. It's absolutely true that he masterfully played everyone in the house, and had complete control of every relationship -- except for Cody and Jessica -- every nomination and every eviction, but he missed one key component that could cost him the game. He betrayed absolutely everyone. While he was able to manipulate them into not talking to one another in the house, that's not the case in jury. The question for Paul will be to gauge how angry this jury is. They proved petty and bitter in the house and that could hurt him if they remain that way into the final vote. But he played another masterful season and might still be able to talk his way into first place.
3) Jason Dent - 7th Place
It may seem that Jason largely rode Alex's coattails through the season, but he was actually playing a very smart and strategic game. He'd have ranked even higher except for his complete and total inability to lie. Dude just can't do it, and yet he gets away with it every time because he's so likable. On top of that, Jason is a competition beast and a genuinely decent guy who never really wronged anyone in the house. He got screwed by trusting Paul more than he should have, but at least he can know he's not the only one. Not by a long shot.
2) Christmas Abbott - FINALIST (Top 3)
Our pick to win the half million, if she can get there, Christmas played a fearless game on one foot. Unable to play in most of the competitions through the season, this physical powerhouse instead relied on savvy and her social game to climb to the top. Christmas alienated no one, and when she took shots at people she did it directly to their face like a competitor and with honor. She did Paul's dirty work because it served her game, too, and she comes out looking like the straight-shooter who simply outplayed the other person, rather than the snake who lied to everyone. It could be enough to net her a win.
1) Alex Ow - 5th Place
An early favorite to win, Alex was outdone by her blind trust in Paul. But aside from this singular flaw, she had the best game in the house. When "Jody" was still in the house, she had Cody in one pocket and the other side of the house in the other. Alex was the competition beast on the women's side, dominating both mental and physical challenges. She was smart at seeing how things were shifting and she would have been an incredibly deserving winner. If anyone deserves a second chance, it would be Alex … though I'd give Christmas a healthy shot if she doesn't win despite that this season.
"Big Brother" airs its two-hour season finale Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.