The plan was pretty simple as we closed the night on Thursday's live eviction episode. With Claire having no choice but to drop out, all they needed to do was beat Alyssa and someone in The Cookout would win and all would be peachy-keen.
But, as with everything Cookout, there were layers upon layers of strategy involved. The most intricate secret alliance in "Big Brother" history couldn't just let it sit that way. Instead, they came up with an exact strategy of who could win and who should not.
Ideally, they determined, it would be best for Azah or Derek F to win, as neither have won anything yet. With so many people throwing so many comps to move the Six forward, they have this noble notion of spreading the wealth -- well, half noble. There's also not wanting any one player to overpad their resume for the finale.
Another key part of the plan was to make sure that TIffany and Xavier did not win HOH, because it would make it easier to target the remaining two non-Cookout people in the House (Tiffany's duo partner Claire and Xavier's duo partner Alyssa). Of the two, X could win over Tiff because Claire was the agreed-upon target.
The problem is that Kyland once before agreed to throw a competition to Azah, and then did not. While he was not a terrible winner for the goal of getting Claire out, it would also be his third HOH win, and everyone already knows he's playing for himself.
When it got down to him, Tiffany and Azah, Kyland didn't drop. So Tiffany didn't drop. Even when Azah was aggressively slipping, neither of the other two dropped, and so then it was down to Tiffany and Kyland -- two players who have put their self-interests above the alliance (or nearly so) multiple times).
Per The Cookout, the best-case scenario at this time is for Kyland to win, because he has reason to target both Alyssa and Claire, so it can be a clean eviction for The Cookout no matter what.
But Tiffany was looking at the chance to be a back-to-back HOH winner, and to stop Kyland from picking up his third win. So she hung on ... and won! Everything has gone smoothly for The Cookout thus far -- could this single decision throw a wrench in the works?
The edges of this alliance have been fraying for weeks as we get closer and closer to the end game. The guys have started talking about working together against the women, and the women are thinking much the same.
While wins may be somewhat balanced, we also have to consider that Xavier has thrown multiple competitions (including this one), so we've no real gauge of just how dominant he could be in the homestretch. And we know Kyland can win.
On the ladies' side, it would be Hannah and Tiffany as the only two who've really been able to win anything, though Azah has come closer to wins than Big D. Still, it's impossible to gauge how that would break down.
So, is it still in the women's best interest to stay true to the six until Top 6? Or do they take advantage of the numbers advantage they have with Claire and Alyssa in the House to start thinking of breaking up The Cookout a little early.
Tiffany's argument for winning was the same reason she fought to win before -- she's not ready to let Claire go. And as the one who came up with the side duo plan, she feels she should have the right to keep her partner until last. The rest of The Cookout is worried that Claire is starting to figure things out (Alyssa not so much).
Now, Tiffany is in the easy position of just throwing Xavier and Alyssa on the Block and hoping for the best, but what if Alyssa wins Veto? Or what if Xavier goes through with his Diary Room threat to mess up Tiffany's plans the way she's messing up everyone else's plans.
He claims to actually be considering using the Veto on Alyssa if he wins it. If that happens -- or if Alyssa wins and saves herself -- Tiffany would either have to put Claire on the Block and betray her partner publicly, or betray The Cookout? Nevertheless, that's what Tiffany did -- throwing Alyssa and X up together, just as other duos have faced the Block.
Honestly, she should have set up Alyssa for the backdoor, and hope she doesn't get picked to play in the Veto. At least that way, she'd have a better chance of getting her on the Block (so long as anyone but her won). Most of the House would support that, and it would be a cleaner way to stick to the mission.
As it stands, she's at a huge risk of being faced with a horrible decision. On top of that, every member of The Cookout is frustrated that she went for and won the Head of Household, going against their carefully orchestrated plan.
Tiffany has played a very good game to this point, and we can't even fault her the aggressive decision to win. But it has the potential to blow up in her face, and it puts her on the radar as a "selfish" player to the rest of The Cookout so close to when they will start having to turn on one another.
We suspect Hannah will still have her back, but we're not so sure about anyone else. She could push to get Azah on board, so long as Azah doesn't buy what the guys' will be selling about wanting to work with her.
Of course, they could mean that. Like Alyssa, most of the hardcore players in the House think Azah would be pretty easy to beat at the end. The way things stand right now, we can't disagree.
Xavier Prather (27) is doing being Mr. Nice Guy, and he's probably done throwing competitions. We have a feeling, we've barely scraped the surface of how good he could be in this game, and X unleashed could be a powerful thing indeed. If he solidifies the boys' alliance, he'll use them to the end. If he gets to the end, he might be unbeatable. Grade: A
Hannah Chaddha (21) is riding the middle of the drama, perfectly positioned to pick up the pieces of this game and make a run to the end. She's not going to give up on Tiffany -- if nothing else, Tiff has made herself a shield -- but if she can't save her, she's still in a good position for her own game. The biggest threat is this burgeoning boys' alliance. Grade: A-
Azah Awasum (30) is in the same position she's been in for the longest time. But for The Cookout, she'd probably be long gone. Now that the endgame is in sight, her general blah game might be just the thing for someone to drag her to the end. Or she'll just get booted. She is going to be in a swing position once it's down to The Cookout; if she opts to not go with the girls, she could doom them all. Grade: B-
Derek Frazier (29) still hasn't accomplished much in competitions, but he remains the best social player of the season. But like Azah, he'd need someone else to want to take him to the end to get there, and we don't see anyone wanting to face off against him. Grade: C+
Kyland Young (30) has effectively made himself a target as someone who is out for Kyland. If he appears too much of a threat, he'll get cut as soon as possible. If the guys stay strong, he might make it closer to the end, but still they'll want to cut him when they can for fear of a comp win rush. Next week's double eviction should be very interesting. Grade: C
Tiffany Mitchell (40) is in her lowest position of the season, after playing so aggressively an individual game this close to the six being Top 6 (she doesn't even know how close). She could still bounce back from it, but the six will never fully trust her again, and will see her as someone to get rid of sooner rather than later. She needs to shore up her alliance within it, or break it up before Top 6. She made this bed. She's savvy enough to get out of it, but back-to-back double evictions allow for crazy things to happen! Grade: C-
Claire Renfuss (25) is still in trouble this week, despite Tiffany being HOH, because it's a double eviction and she'll be last non-Cookout member standing. But if Alyssa comes off the Block (by her own doing, or a vengeful Xavier), Tiffany could still have to choose The Cookout or Claire. We have a feeling she'd opt to boot Claire over infuriating every member of The Cookout. Ultimately, Claire would probably understand The Cookout mission, have no hard feelings and still vote for Tiffany to win. Plus, she's probably a goner this week no matter what. Grade: D-
Alyssa Lopez (25) is the likely evictee this week, unless she can pull off another Veto win. Most of her wins haven't been earned so much as handed to her, but maybe she'll have the fight in her to make it happen, or maybe Xavier will win (he's got a better shot) and put Tiffany on the spot. As it stands, though, she'll probably go home this week. And if not somehow in the first eviction, likely the second. Grade: D-
“A great week for The Cookout, an even better week for me. I always get what I want.” --Tiffany (about Sarah Beth’s eviction)
“Alyssa is out second. I thought Alyssa was going to be the one to beat.” --Tiffany (knowing a Cookout member will now win)
“Damn, Mr. Elephant.” --Tiffany (slamming into elephant during HOH competition)
“Claire is starting to put the pieces of this together. And that’s why I’d rather she go first.” --Xavier (agreeing with Azah on target prior to HOH comp)
“I have pretty legitimate reasons to put up both Alyssa and Claire. So if I send either of them home, it wouldn’t raise any red flags for anyone.” --Kyland (prior to HOH comp)
“The Cookout wants Claire, I want Alyssa. Hey, we’ll see what happens.” --Tiffany
“We all know that the plan is for Tiff not to win this week so we can all go after Claire. I look at Tiff, she is rock steady and I just don’t know what’s up.” --Kyland
“What are you thinking, Tiff?” --Kyland (during comp)
“I could stay up here.” --Tiffany
“We’ve all put our individual game aside time and time again.” --Azah (wondering why Tiffany won’t drop for The Cookout)
“I don’t know what Tiffany is doing but it’s definitely raising some red flags.” --Xavier
“Sit on the Block when I can be HOH?” --Tiffany (going rogue)
“I just threw up lunch, I’m good now.” --Azah
“Tiff, what’s going on?” --Kyland
“I wanna win. I wouldn’t be up here.” --Tiffany
“I’m sorry.” --Tiffany (after beating Kyland)
“Not really. Action over words.” --Kyland
“All of this is to ensure I have a nice full resume to win that $750,000, baby!” --Tiffany
“I can’t do the fake talks and the one-on-ones.” --Alyssa (not feeling good after HOH)
They’re pissed. They are pissed. Alyssa’s crying, X is mad. Big D’s about to s--- himself, they’re so mad.” --Claire (to Tiffany)
“I’m so stoked because I am definitely going to Final 7. I don’t think Tiff is blindsiding me this week. This duo is not going anywhere.” --Claire
“Guess what? I want Claire to stay. I came up with the master plan so I should be able to keep my person. So as long as all goes to plan and Alyssa doesn’t win Veto, Claire will be here one more week. That would be terrible for Claire to go home on my HOH. Not gonna let that happen.” --Tiffany
“The fact that our plan has had to change, this isn’t the worst thing for my game. I mean, let there be tension. Let them take out each other so that no one is looking at me.” --Hannah
“If everyone’s gonna play in their own self-interest, then what am I continuing to throw competitions for?” --Xavier (to Azah)
“I want to put you on the Block next to her so you have to win it.” --Tiffany (to Xavier about nominations)
“If I win the Veto and use it on Alyssa, then what are you going to do, Tiffany? You shouldn’t have won HOH. You’ve given me reason to ruin your game.” --Xavier
“I’m already leaving, ‘cause I know how this goes.” --Derek F (leaving Tiffany’s HOH room reveal with Xavier and Kyland)
“I know after today, they’re ready to send my ass home. I want you, me, Azah and Chaddha to stick together.” --Tiffany (to Claire)
“I want Claire to have in mind that if she wins HOH next week, she should go after the guys. I am hoping if Claire does win HOH, she can do what’s best for Tiffany, because that’s my girl.” --Tiffany
“I hate to say it, but Alyssa’s math adds up.” --Tiffany (after Alyssa pitches jury votes to her as a reason to keep Alyssa around)