Big Brother" fizzled out, thanks to Russell Hantz's brother Willie's early ouster and the end of the veteran coach angle, it looked as though the 2012 edition of the CBS reality competition show was headed for a disappointing second half. But that was before previous winner and nominated-for-eviction ex-coach Dan resurrected his game -- and the show's entertainment value -- with the most jaw-dropping, cold-blooded, strategic play in the show's history, putting him on track to snatch away the title of greatest "Big Brother" player ever from Season 2's Dr. Will Kirby. Here's a look back at a summer for the ages:Once the two main twists to the 14th season of "
Willie head-butting Joe
Not only was it irrational and totally unexpected, but also it got Russell Hantz's brother quickly removed from the game without our having to listen to him whine to Julie. We only wish someone had provoked him sooner, since his fuse was apparently so short to begin with.
Jodi getting evicted
We'd love it if this show went "Bachelor" style and evicted a whole host of houseguests during week one, but since that seems unlikely, we'll just enjoy the fact that Jodi was ousted simply because she was on Dan's losing team before she ever got to play in a single HoH competition or even receive her key to the house.
Frank's sense of humor
We wish we had two of these jokers. Actually, one of Frank was plenty, but we've got to give the strangely tressed dude some credit for making his multiple veto speeches entertaining and for gamely doing whatever it took to get himself off the block all summer.
Boogie's meltdown over Ian flipping sides
Boogie blaming Dan for tattling about his plot to go against Britney and company? Pretty great. Dan covering for the true flipper, Ian, to keep their alliance secret? Awesome. Boogie being clueless about the whole thing until he found himself nominated? Priceless.
Seriously. Mini-zing. Adorable.
There was a great conversation between Janelle and Britney where Janey admitted that she never ever cried. Even at a funeral. Or when her child was born. We saw her blank face repeatedly shown. Too bad we didn't get to see how she would have reacted to Dan's funeral, but everyone realized her lack of feelings was a very dangerous thing indeed.
The coaches' going into the game
We didn't love the coaches twist, and we were ticked off that the reset invalidated everyone who had voted Frank out (no matter how entertaining he was), but making the coaches have to work for their cash instead of resting on their laurels was well worth it.
The Fierce Five
The meeting between the Fierce Five gymnasts and Shane and Danielle was just the most awkward thing on this show all summer. And that includes the elimination interviews with Julie Chen. Take people trapped in a house who hadn't watched the Olympics and Olympians who clearly didn't watch "Big Brother," and put them in a room together. "Who's your favorite?" "Uh, you?" We couldn't have scripted it better.
After losing a veto and taking the punishment of solitary confinement, Dan reemerged as a reborn player. He told the houseguests that he knew he was leaving, then threw his own funeral, at which he talked about getting to know everyone and his special relationships … and then he seemingly (but not really) shoved his ex-teammate Danielle under the bus by saying she had betrayed him. A genius move that made for one of the most exciting turnarounds we've ever seen on this show. "No, because then you wouldn't cry" was so chilling and manipulative, we were nearly clapping for joy.
Jenn pulling Dan off the block
We mostly ignored Jenn's presence all summer, since she was utterly forgettable … well, until she decided to use her veto power to save Dan after his funeral speech. The move ousted another coach / power player, Britney, and got Jenn a lot further along in the game than we would have ever imagined.
Dan evicting Shane
Dan knew how to work Danielle to a T and persuaded her to remove him from the block in order to put up her boyfriend, lying that he was still going to vote Ian out. Naturally, when given the opportunity, Dan voted out Shane and got to do so by standing in front of the room so that he could witness Danielle's gobsmacked expression in all its glory.
More from Television Without Pity: