A look at the strategies of the top two players, and what led to the loser’s downfall
By Lauren Kelly, Columnist
The latest season of Big Brother ended on September 20, with a final result that most fans did not expect, but that many were hoping for. BB 18’s Paul Abrahamian returned to play. He once again reached the final two, and he once again was blindsided in a 5–4 loss. Many casual viewers and live-feeders expected him to win the season, as it seemed to have been handed to him on a silver platter with early advantages. His game play was solid as well, as he masterfully manipulated his fellow houseguests. So what went wrong? Did Paul deserve to lose, or was he robbed yet again?
Of Paul’s many advantages, the most impactful was his fan-voted and secret three weeks of safety from nomination. After Cody Nickson tried to nominate Paul in his first HoH, Paul revealed his safety, sat pretty for the following two weeks, and turned everyone in the house against Cody and his showmance partner Jessica Graf for betraying him. By the end of his safe weeks, nearly every houseguest was hanging on Paul’s every word of advice, and they all believed that they were his true ally. Whenever they turned against him or started to question him, he orchestrated their eviction. His control on the house was nearly absolute, but his stellar game-play was not enough to win over fans.
The true problem with this season of Big Brother and the reception of Paul’s gameplay was the fact that it was an incredibly toxic house. As the ringleader, Paul sent his self-described puppets to attack and demoralize his chosen targets. He forced his allies to disassociate from others, and targets sat alone, waiting for eviction night. If anyone ignored his orders, the rest of the house turned on them at Paul’s command.
The worst instance of this was a day-long attack session on Cody and Jessica, where Paul told his allies to try to get Cody to punch someone so he would be removed from the game, or upset the pair so much they self-evicted. They started by attacking Jessica, who stood up for herself, and next insulting Cody’s worth as a man for not standing up for her. When the pair escaped, the others followed them outside, and yelling insults and banging pots and pans at them. While this was the worst of it, this was a major strategy of Paul’s throughout the season, and it resulted in people playing incredibly personal and vindictive games in place of strategic ones.
Paul’s right-hand man in these tactics was Josh Martinez, who would fight with and harass houseguests at Paul’s command, and then run off to cry from the guilt. Because of this, Josh wasn’t taken seriously, and he managed to stay safe by serving as Paul’s invaluable meat shield.
Along the way, the jury slowly filled with houseguests who either at one point trusted Paul until he turned the house against them, or who trusted Paul until the moment they were backstabbed, blindsided, and sent out of the house. Paul could have won these evictees’ votes with a proper goodbye message, but, instead, this is where Paul lost the game. Instead of owning up to his game, he lied to their faces, saying that he was blindsided too. Many of these players considered him a great friend and had essentially played their games for him, and he stabbed them in the back and lied to them about it.
Paul entered the final two having hand-crafted his jury through careful manipulation. He had everything set up and in place for his victory, which he believed would be a 9–0 sweep against Josh. This was all predicated on one error: Paul has never watched Big Brother, even his previous season, so he believed that jury members aren’t allowed to talk to one another. This would have meant that each would enter jury either loving him or respecting him, and they would thus hand him the win against Josh, who had fought with many of them.
However, without Paul knowing, Josh was plotting against him. As a closeted super fan, Josh knew that Paul was dominating and would probably win in the end, but he also knew that any obvious move against Paul would result in his eviction. So, in his goodbye messages, Josh laid out his alliance with Paul and their third ally, Christmas Abbott, for the evictees and told them the truth—that all of three of them, including Paul, worked together to evict them.
After Paul’s gameplay all season, most would argue he technically did deserve to win, but the jury was incredibly bitter, and it was bitter only because of him. He created a Big Brother house that played personal, petty, and vindictive, and he turned that energy against himself by lying to each one of them. The final nail in his coffin came from his answers to the jury’s questions. When asked about his bullying tactics and whether those were part of his game play, he again lied and said he had no part of it, resulting in incredulous looks on the jury member’s faces.
While Paul faltered, Josh shone, fully prepared for the jury’s questions and to make his final statement. He explained that he played dumb all season and that his primary tactic was painting targets on others and exposing their games to keep himself and his allies safe. He answered well and, while possibly embellishing the extent of his strategy, his strategy was enough to make him a worthy winner. However, the ultimate reason Paul lost was because of Cody. He spent the season standing back and making people attack Cody, while Josh attacked Cody to his face. This won Cody’s respect, and Cody’s vote won Josh the game.
While many fans may cry out that Paul was again robbed, he has no one to blame but himself. The goal of Big Brother is to have the jury vote to award you $500,000, whatever your strategy is to do so or not. His poor jury management proved that he did not deserve to win.