The Launch of Big Brother Mzansi was exactly what we thought it would be: excitement from fans at the show finally making its long-awaited return, and jubilation from the few people lucky enough to be selected as Housemates. Yeah … things are different, now.
Early in the game, the Housemates all seemed like they were the very best of friends. They’d shared life stories, cried together, laughed together – and they started Nominating together, which is where the problem started. Not at first, though – at first, they all seemed to understand that this was part of the game, and most of the Housemates didn’t seem too perturbed with the people who were Evicted. Mvelo was never a major player in the House, while Dinkybliss and Acacia managed to earn themselves quite a bit of ire since their personalities were never what one would call, “shy”.
In the weeks since then, though, the relationships have turned somewhat sour, alliances have been formed (some more successfully than others) and backs have been stabbed. There are only 10 Housemates left, after all, which means a single vote for Nomination has more power than it did at the beginning.
Here, then, is a quick review of where each of the remaining Housemates sits in terms of the great game of chess that is Big Brother Mzansi.
Gash1 has made no bones about the fact that he is here to win, and that he doesn’t mind using people to get what he wants. This was actually a bone of contention between him and Yoli (when she was still around), who was very put off by his casual admission that he was manipulating the other Housemates for his own ends. There are times when you can almost see his gears turn as he tries to fathom what the other Housemates are thinking.
He finds himself in a bit of a strange situation, though. His Nomination of Nale in this week’s session has him stand out as the only person who Nominated her, but it does make sense as she was one of three Housemates who Nominated him. As it turns out, Gash1 might have split his loyalties in a way that doesn’t do him any favours: his relationship with Thato will probably prevent him from outright Nominating her, but his alliance partner – Themba – did Nominate her. Also, why he would vote for Venus who has already declared her desire to rid the House of Libo is a mystery. More on that, next.
For some time, Libo has had a problem with Gash1, arising out of the belief that he tried to poison Mphowabadimo’s mind against him. Whether this is justified or not, Libo has been targeting Gash1 on a regular basis, and his current position as HoH means that the attacks only go one way.
He’s also been targeting Mphowabadimo – for weeks, actually – and this week was no different. Their budding relationship turned very sour weeks ago, and neither is shy about making their disdain clear. All of Libo’s efforts have been in vain, however – she has survived every Live Eviction Show with aplomb, and we suspect Libo must be starting to get nervous about what this means.
This is why he’s partnered up with Tulz in an alliance: they have successfully kept each other off the Nominations’ List for two weeks running, and if they can manage to keep doing that (a slim chance, but not outside the realm of possibility), then they can guarantee themselves a place in the final. It’s a long shot, but they’ve emerged as the two Housemates who stubbornly avoid being in any real firing line. The other Housemates have noticed this and are frustrated by their inability to do anything about it.
Mphowabadimo, by contrast, has been anything but able to keep herself off the chopping block, but viewers have consistently voted for her to stay on, a fact not lost on the other Housemates. Themba specifically spoke to the other Housemates about how she’s a strong contender, and they need to worry about her if they find themselves going up against her in the final.
Given that Libo won HoH on Monday, Mphowabadimo could not return the favor of voting for him, but she did the next best thing: she Nominated both his alliance partners, hoping to put him in a position where he would have to choose which one to Save. It was a sound tactic, but it didn’t work out the way she wanted it: as Mpho was the only person to Nominate her, Terry avoided being on the list, and Libo could Save Tulz without hesitation.
Nale’s frustration is palpable: after weeks of appearing on the Nomination list, she was finally safe until Libo placed her on the block in place of Tulz. This is an especially cruel turn of fate since she had only received a single Nomination (from Gash1).
It must be said, the tactical thinking behind her Nominations makes less sense than Mphowabadimo’s: on the one hand, she Nominated Tulz in an attempt to break his alliance with Libo, but then used her second Nomination on Gash1, somebody who is not in a clear alliance with Tulz or Libo. Of course, Gash1 also Nominated her, so she might just be trying to take out a clear adversary, but her friendship with Terry might be clouding her judgment, here: the Top 10 is about survival, not friendship.
Sis Tamara is the Housemate who most stubbornly refuses to be drawn into an alliance, and they make no bones about it. Despite being betrayed by Tulz when he used his Save and Replace to save Terry instead of Sis Tamara, Sis Tamara still refrains from Nominating him when the time comes, even while being frank about their frustration with him. Instead, Tamara Nominated Thato and Venus, two Housemates who tried to draw her into an alliance against Tulz.
Seems somewhat aligned with Tulz and Libo, although she’s less committed to the arrangement than either of them. Since the start of the season, she’s made it amply clear that she doesn’t trust Gash1 all that much, so her recent Nomination of him is to be expected. Her second Nomination went to Thato, and that isn’t all that surprising either: she’d rather not risk losing Libo and Tulz as long as they are on her side, she’s made up with Sis Tamara after some awkwardness, and her friendship with Nale might prevent her from going that route.
As to why she didn’t Nominate Mpho, given their less-than-cordial relationship? Probably because she doesn’t see the point. Mpho has survived every Live Eviction Show in which she has stood up – and there have been a lot of them – that she’d rather not waste a Nomination, or risk looking like Public Enemy #1 to Mpho’s host of fans.
Thato was on the receiving end of the most Nominations of any Housemate – five in total. While she’s clearly decided to Nominate Tulz along with Nale, Venus and Mpho, their alliance’s failure to agree on a second target means that they get nothing out of this. If they had, they could have forced Libo to have to decide who to Save, exposing him to possible backlash from whoever he didn’t Save – stressing the alliance. It’s a failed opportunity, and they only have themselves to blame for not thinking it through.
Themba has been playing the strategic game since he walked into the house, and it’s not been lost on viewers of the show. He’s made careful use of the Conspiracy Corner – not because he always intends to follow an alliance, but because he wants to use the opportunity to know what others are thinking. He’s made it very clear that he sees some people in the House as a threat – especially Mphowabadimo and Sis Tamara – and he’d like to clear the table of those threats without alienating himself from their fans too much.
As a result, he Nominated Sis Tamara, despite an obvious affection between them. He clearly thinks that maybe – just maybe – she might be vulnerable to Eviction right now. His second Nomination was for Thato, the squeeze of his new bestie, Gash1. Exactly what he’s playing at is anyone’s guess, but he might have sensed her vulnerability and tried to weigh in, producing a more skewed result that minimizes his risk of making it onto the list with a low number of Nominations. It worked – Themba is not on the block, this week. Neither is Sis Tamara, but that doesn’t particularly damage Themba, for the moment.
Tulz has, quite frankly, been masterful in the strategic game, so far. Love him or hate him, his ability to avoid being Nominated even once is not an accident. He has twice been saved by Sis Tamara (for reasons that largely remain her own) and once by Libo. He has also avoided Nomination simply by winning Head of House. When given the title, he used his Save and Replace to save Terry instead of Tamara, which everyone assumed was going to blow up in his face.
It didn’t. For whatever reason, Tamara refrains from Nominating him, and Terry has leaned toward joining his alliance with Libo. Basically, then – despite the other Housemates really wanting him to stand up, he has remained resolutely on his posterior. Make no mistake, he is terrified of being Nominated – he has no idea if he will survive or not – but his fear has driven him to make certain bold decisions that have worked out for him, very well, so far.
Venus is not taking being Nominated well. Yesterday saw her reduced to tears, and she’s been minding her own business since then. She, like many others, Nominated Tulz to try to break his streak, but Libo got in the way of that. Again, her alliance’s failure to come up with a consistent, coherent, second choice meant that they walked away with nothing from these Nominations, and, instead, they all find themselves in the firing line, alone.
So that’s where we are: Tulz and Libo forming an alliance out of necessity and managing to bring Terry a little closer into their orbit – not because she’s got any major affinity for them, but because they have the same targets in their sites: Gash1 and Mphowabadimo. Then there’s Venus, Thato, Mphowabadimo, and Nale: all of them find themselves forming an alliance to defend themselves against Tulz and Libo but failing to consolidate a clear plan on how to break it. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that things have been tense among them since almost the start of the game, and finding common ground now is a bit harder than they thought.
Who’s playing chess, and who’s playing checkers? We need to keep watching to find out.