This is it... everything must go as we are shutting down the first-ever (U.S.) season of "Celebrity Big Brother." We started the night with only five celebrities left in stock, and in pretty short order we sold out of three of them. In an unprecedented show of power, the final Head of Household was able to insta-evict two of them, leaving the Final Two. But who made it to the end?
We laid out our predictions last night, with Ross Mathews being our favorite to make it into the final two and Marissa Jaret Winokur being our arguable favorite to win if she could just somehow get there. Marissa had the hardest path to the finale because the consensus in the house was that she was virtually unbeatable in the end. She played a hard and strategic game, but managed to do so with integrity and kindness.
That's primarily because Ross did more of the dirtier work than her, which tarnishes his chance to win against a bitter or emotional jury. We gave Ariadna Gutierrez solid odds of making it into the finale and winning (depending on who she faced), while we thought Omarosa was a longshot with almost no chance. Mark McGrath also played a clean game, and we gave him a real good shot of getting to the Final Two, because everyone was confident they could beat him in the end, but no chance at all of winning. So how did we do?
Not terrible, but you can never truly predict these things. There is so much power in these final competitions. After Ross swept the second-to-last Head of Household and Power of Veto competitions, his target was pretty obvious. But it was the final HOH that would prove pivotal.
Omarosa Manigault ("The Apprentice") was a dead celeb walking as soon as Ross scored that final POV. He had alliances and deals with everyone in the house, and people had been gunning for her for weeks. This was the cleanest and most logical move to not upset anyone in the house. And it left a Final Four where everyone got along and had basically had worked together at one point or another.
All four of the remaining Houseguests got to play in the next HOH competition, and the winner of this one would get to decide everything. It came down to a three-way tie, to really ratchet up the tension, but then Marissa pulled out her first HOH win of the season. The question facing her was simple but also very complex. Take Ross to the finale and stay true to her word and bond with him, which could help her with the jury, or take Mark or Ariadna who she would probably have a better chance of beating. Actually, do we really think she could have beaten Ariadna? Everyone loves Ari!
Ariadna Gutierrez (almost Miss Universe) and Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray) were totally understanding that Marissa took her ride-or-die to the end. It was a risky move, but one that could pay off as it showed what could be done with true loyalty. Several members of the jury had heard Ross say he had no intention of taking Marissa to the finals if he had the choice for fear he couldn't beat her. Was he right to fear that?
Damn right he was right to be worried about it. Nobody was more aware of what was going on in the "Big Brother" house than Ross Mathews, and more importantly he knew what was going on outside of it as well, with the jury. He knew this was a bitter and emotional jury. And unlike most seasons of "Big Brother," this season's condensed running time meant emotions would have no time to heal or calm. And so the jury voted largely with their hearts.
At the same time, we totally have to give all the credit in the world to Marissa Jaret Winokur who played this game side by side with Ross every step of the way and deserved every bit of her $250,000 prize. She made hard choices when she had to and won when it came down to it. Ross may have outplayed her marginally on the strategic side, but she outplayed him socially, leaving them nearly equal. Her best move came in properly playing for the jury that she had.
Ross' final speech was arrogant and cocky and even managed to sway James' vote the other way. He only got three votes (and Metta's may have been random). In his excitement, he misplayed his final chance to show humility and remorse to a jury looking for just those things. Marissa, on the other hand, touted her loyalty to her alliances and her love for her girls, and the jury was mostly made up of her girls.
"You cutting a deal, Mark? We just want to hear it. We don't care what it is." Omarosa (trying to disrupt a potential deal between Mark and Ross in the first HOH competition)
"You got another HOH thrown at you. Congratulations, Ross. Well done. Well done." Omarosa (being pithy after Mark gave it to Ross)
"My allegiance lies equally to Mark and Marissa, but I can only bring one person to the Final Two with me. And sitting next to a girl is tough because there's more girls. So, I want to sit next to Mark in the Final Two because I know I can beat him. That's it. That's the truth." Ross (rationalizing his decisions ... and he was absolutely right about his chances next to a girl)
"I just think about kids like me who never thought they could do anything like this. When I think about that -- little fat gay kids -- it kills me." Ross (to Marissa bout what winning would mean to him)
"Did you get me twice and I got you twice?" Omarosa (laughing after Ross nominated her)
"You got it, girl!" Ross (in response)
"My voice is already high enough." Ross (getting squeezed you-know-where in a harness)
"I'm pretty sure Omarosa is going home. But if anyone can figure out a way of not going home, it's her." Ross (after securing his nominations)
"I'm not going to campaign against you because I love you. You are a strong, amazing, powerful woman, and I know you have been through a lot in your life and I am so proud of you. But, I do want to, you know, keep playing the game." Ariadna (in her save-me speech ... campaigning against Omarosa in the sweetest way possible)
"I say this to the nation. We are facing a pivotal moment in this country, but we cannot allow hatred, division, bigotry to tear us down. We are one nation under God. And with the power of the vote, the ballot, and bringing our diversity to allow us to unite, we can change this country to be together, united under God." Omarosa (in her save-me speech)
"Hold on. Wardrobe malfunction!" Ross (after Omarosa's shoe fell off on her way out)
"Julie, I would have evicted me five evictions ago. I can't believe I lasted this long." Omarosa
"We can if we make a pivot as a nation. I was a part of and on the front row of probably one of the most divisive elections in our history, and as a nation we're better than that. And we're bigger than that. We're bigger than just two parties." Omarosa
"Mark grab your board. You're gonna need it." Julie (trying to help Mark catch up to the game during the final HOH competition)
"They were together since Day One. They deserve to be Final Two." Ariadna (after Marissa chose Ross for the Final Two)
"I don't know who to vote for. I'm just going to close my eyes and pick it." Metta (his random vote went for Ross)
'I'm just voting for the shadiest person in the house." Brandi (turns out that was Ross)
"What shocked me was how bad I was at this game." Metta (us, too)
"Bye James, I don't really like you that much and you're annoying as hell. I think that you're a nice person, I just think-- oh, no I don't. Bye, James. Go away." Brandi (in her unaired farewell message to James)
"As articulate as ever. Well done." James (in response)
Oh "Celebrity Big Brother," we miss you already! Come back again soon! What are the odds Ross or any of these celebs would be willing to play a regular season over the summer? That could be a lot of fun to watch.