Big Brother's Travis Long was promised safety by Head of Household Brandon "Frenchie" French within his first hour of being in the house. Unfortunately, Long learned firsthand how valuable that promise was. He's officially the first exit of Season 23, and as one would think, he has some things to say about Frenchie and his HOH reign.
I was fortunate enough to speak to Travis Long the morning after his eviction and got a chance to hear about his love for Big Brother, his thoughts on the house, and his original plan for the eviction ceremony that would've channeled Big Brother Season 20 favorite Brett Robinson. More on that later, because we kicked things off with his thoughts on Frenchie's chaotic HOH and how he thought that week would haunt Frenchie's game:
I think his handling of the HOH overall was pretty shoddy. I mean I love the guy to death, but he plays with his heart to a fault. He made a ton of promises, some of which ended up being empty, for example the ones he made to me that resulted in me sitting here talking to you! I think in him playing with his heart he told everyone in the world they had safety forever for kind of no apparent reason beyond him telling them what they wanted to hear. That obviously catches up to you and I think later on in the game that's going to really torch the transparency and honesty that he conveys in the house. When it blows up and people say 'That's not the truth. You're giving promises that you can't keep.'
Travis Long was still without his phone and access to the outside world when he spoke, so his thoughts were mainly tied to the things he knew while inside the house. Long was not exactly someone with a ton of tight connections in the Big Brother house, so if he noticed Frenchie's habit of promising the world and breaking those promises, it might not bode well for Frenchie's future.
Host Julie Chen Moonves briefly mentioned Travis Long's plans to "blow up" Brandon French's game in her interview with Long after his eviction, which live feed audiences hadn't had a chance to see due to feeds being cut. Long revealed what went down ahead of the moment's potential reveal on television and said that he had plans for a grand eviction speech, but at the last minute decided to confide in those he wanted to protect in the game.
My decision not to blow up Frenchie's game, which I originally planned to do in my pre-eviction speech, came because I'm just not a vengeful person. I didn't want to just totally torch him in front of everybody because then that information would be out and not able to be used by some of my closest confidants that were actually working with him – it might have negatively impacted their game. So what I did was I told my closest comrades in the house individually. I told Tiffany, Kyland, and Claire – just because they're on the Queens team and I wanted to inject some longevity into their game with these nuggets of information to use as necessary. Not just throw it on them without their choice. I also told Derek X and Brent as well just because they seem to be jumping into a close working relationship with [Frenchie] and I wanted them to be aware of his dishonesty and ultimately the fact that he is playing for himself. And with that will come blatant lies to anyone that he makes promises to and claims to be close to. . . He made a bold promise to us that we were safe on his word as a man. And I gave him multiple attempts to kind of get out of that, I told him it was a bold claim. And he reaffirmed that to me throughout the week when I had a conversation with him. Looked me in the eyes, shook my hand, and just did that 'You're totally safe with me man,' and that was just royal garbage when it came down to it.
Travis Long was not the first to notice Frenchie's lofty promises that were broken, and it's possible his exit conversations with Houseguests may have helped put a target on Frenchie in the coming weeks. Ultimately, Long thought it best to protect the people he ultimately hopes win the game (Kyland Young, Brent Champagne, Derek Xiao) by telling them privately to keep an eye on Frenchie.
The unfortunate side of that was Big Brother fans missed Travis Long channeling one of his favorite former Houseguests, Brett Robinson. I asked Travis if his original eviction speech would bring the same energy as Brett's iconic fight with Rockstar, and he shared a bit of what the game plan was before he changed his mind.
It's funny you should mention it, that was [absolutely what] I was gunning for at first. I was like poor Mr. French is going to get his cheeks taken here, I'm going to blast him off into space. I was nailing down – you know the four points that I pitched to him? I was going to get up and say 'Well here's four points on why Frenchie sucks ass,' and kind of bring it full circle! But when it came down to it I think the personal relationships [I had] took priority and that some of my closest confidants would be left in the rubble and the turmoil of that blast off. . .I cared about them more than I cared about leaving Frenchie's porch painted totally red.
Travis Long's restraint may have helped Kyland Young, who captured the Week 2 Head of Household shortly after Long left. Young (who Long believed was playing the strongest game so far) has yet to reveal whether he intends to get Frenchie back for his nomination or how aware he was of how much Travis was lied to.
Big Brother fans have questioned whether Travis Long had actually tried to play the game or even if he had a strategy for Season 23. Long confirmed he did have a plan going into the house but quickly had to switch things up once he realized his initial strategy wasn't a good look.
Going in I had to 180 my entire strategy I planned out because when I got there I wanted the perception that I was this ditzy happy-go-lucky surfer guy that was just down to go with the flow to be a prominent view of who I am. . .I thought my stature, my confidence, my physical looks, would be translated into people thinking I was a big target. . .I'm charismatic as hell, to toot my own horn a little bit, so people would also see that mixed with my social game and be like 'Man that looks like a delicious treat to eat out of the house early.' That ended up backfiring on me pretty much the second I was able to interact with other people. On Episode 1 I was picked dead last. . .when I was passed up by Whitney for Brent it was because the little video about me said 'I'm just a beach bum, I'm down to clown and go with the flow!' And she was like 'That's not a good selling point. You sound like you suck.'. . . I had to switch that around and tell people I'm from a prestigious business school I graduated early from, I authored a book, I work on start ups, I have some successful business ventures. . . I think that flip went well for the most part, but actually might have backfired again as I ended up being seen as a threat and someone who had too much intelligence to keep safe. It was a balancing act that I just kept slamming on the other side and never finding equilibrium with.
What Travis Long may not have known was that his eviction was mostly the last possible option for Brandon French when things fell through. Long's eviction only happened after Frenchie's four previous targets to nominate either swayed him or found safety, and Long was the only person left.
It's a rough and unfair way to leave, but that's Big Brother sometimes. Travis Long told me he's grateful for the experience all the same, and should a casting producer ring him up about a second chance in the future, he'd be willing to join with some key changes in his game.
I'm most grateful for the aspect of the game that taught me about myself. The lesson there is that I don't have as much savagery in my bones that I thought I did. I think I fall in love too quickly and too deeply, and once I had those personal relationships there I was kind of willing to ride on those as opposed to any legitimate strategizing or gameplay. . .I thought those personal relationships would on their end would do the same. . .that was a poor decision and mindset to have. So I would love to come back but I would definitely need to nail down my strategy and worry less about being buddy-buddy with the whole cast and moreso about strategically getting into an alliance and proving my worth as a competitor.
Obviously, we can only wait and see if Big Brother ever extends another invitation to Travis Long. For now, he's out of the game and forced to cheer from the sidelines to see who wins that $750,000 grand prize.