Big Brother’s Jury Battle Back fails to learn from Survivor’s Outcast twist

Screengrab via CBS
Screengrab via CBS /

Once a player is eliminated from the game, they should stay that way. Survivor’s Outcast twist highlights why Big Brother should ditch the Battle Back.

I didn’t plan on writing about Big Brother today, or maybe even at all during the month leading up to Survivor: David vs. GoliathFor all intents and purposes, the cast should have officially been revealed today, meaning I’ll have to bring up something I’ve been thinking of when watching the summer offseason replacement show Big Brother.

Despite Big Brother 19 being a garbage television program featuring garbage television personalities with garbage gameplay, the same cannot be said for Big Brother 20. These are the only two seasons I’ve watched live personally, but various members of the community (including former players and blogs) indicate this season is one of the show’s best.

That doesn’t mean production hasn’t been trying their darndest to screw things up. Besides technical malfunctions that come close to give players’ secrets away, production has introduced game-breaking twists meant to break up natural gameplay (sounds familiar, Survivor fans?) such as the Hacker twist. Once a week for two weeks, the winner of a comp can change an eviction nominee, pick someone to compete for veto and get rid of an eviction voter.

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The most egregious isn’t even a new twist, as this week, one of the first four jurors in the Big Brother house will compete for the chance to re-enter the house in a Jury Battle Back competition. It’s happened before, but it doesn’t happen every season, meaning the houseguests are slightly wary of how they play the game. However, one is guaranteed to make a return.

Survivor once introduced the opportunity for players to compete for the chance to re-enter, and it was a horrendous dumpster fire of an idea. In Survivor Pearl Islands, Jeff Probst introduced a third Outcasts tribe on Day 19 to compete in an Immunity Challenge. Formed completely of the first six players voted out of the game, they were fighting for the chance to re-enter the game, as well.

Even then, it wasn’t a guarantee. The Outcasts had to beat both tribes to bring back two people into the game, with each of the active tribes voting out a player. If they finished second, only the losing tribe would vote out a player, and just one Outcast would re-enter. If they finished last, there would be not outcasts, and the merge might have happened right there.

CBS learned quickly that people didn’t like twists where people could re-join the game in progress when the Survivor players didn’t know what was happening. Granted, that didn’t stop them from attempting Redemption Island multiple times, but even then, the players knew ahead of time. More importantly, the Outcasts twist saw the third boot of the season end up coming in second; completely unfair to everyone else voted out before her and before the merge.

Big Brother is all about “expect the unexpected,” however, and plans to continue with a Jury Battle Back despite evidence that it usually produces feelings of unfairness within the fandom. When players are evicted and head to the jury, they are even given goodbye messages from their fellow houseguests, some of which explain their strategy or reveal alliances within the house.

That means that a player evicted on Day 51 of 99 could possibly hang out with two other jury members, share stories about what happened within the house, fight and win their way back into the house as early as Day 72 of 99 with knowledge of the game they would not naturally have had access to.

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Big Brother 2- is taking the worst elements of the Survivor Outcast twist, ratcheting it up to 11 and making it happen at a pivotal moment in the game; right on the eve of a power alliance turning against each other. No jury member who’s battled back has gone on to the end of the game, but if Scout Master Lil can do it in the one time Survivor tried, you might as well expect the unexpected.