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We can do all of the speculating and predicting that we want when it comes to how Big Brother will end each season, but there's really no telling for sure how the jury is going to vote. Some of the evicted houseguests have had weeks to discuss their games, decompress and decide who deserves the money. In this case, it was going to come down to whether or not they wanted to punish Derrick for the way he played the game, or reward him for it.

I could pretend like it was anyone's game to win tonight, but let's face it, this was Derrick's night. Even the "Previously on Big Brother" narration seemed to learn toward this being a summer of Derrick's manipulation. Maybe his game wasn't the most entertaining from a TV standpoint. And maybe his "best moves" were moves that other people actually made with his subtle encouragement. But his approach was relatively seamless. Only a few people really noticed what he was doing, but by that point, it was always too late.

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Let's get to the meat of Big Brother 16's finale, before we break down some of the highlights. Cody won the first Head of Household competition -- an endurance competition set on a very beautiful hang-gliding set. Seriously, points to the set designer! -- and Derrick won Part 2, which was the wall-scaling competition involving the order of nominations. Derrick's time was about twice as fast as Victoria's. No surprise there. Competitions were never Victoria's strong point.

Cody and Derrick faced off live tonight in the "Scales of Just Us" competition, which annually involves the Final 2 trying to guess how the jurors answered certain questions. I think the point of this competition is to see how well the Final 2 know the evicted houseguests, but it always feels like a crapshoot. After days or weeks out of the house, with time to settle down, share notes and decide how they feel about things, who knows how these jurors are going to answer what their biggest regret or favorite moment was? The competition went to a tie, and Cody won the tiebreaker.

Cody needed to take Victoria to the end if he had any chance of winning. As a viewer, it's hard to figure out how he didn't see that, but that's kind of the whole point of Derrick's strategy. On some level, it's a mark of Cody's loyalty that he'd keep Derrick and go to the Final 2 as planned. But I do believe Cody thought he had a decent chance against Derrick. He had to have, right? If he knew it was going to be so close, or that his odds were probably a lot better against Victoria, why not take her and go for the win? I have to imagine he'll be asked that in the interviews.

And maybe it just comes down to how well Derrick played the game. That's certainly how it looked, going into tonight's finale. Derrick was going to the end no matter what. He had the perfect Final 3, with two houseguests who had loyalty to him and virtually no loyalty toward each other standing next to him. Both Victoria and Cody would have taken him, or he'd take himself.

Had Cody taken Victoria, he might have surprised the jury and proved that Derrick wasn't actually his "puppet master." Alas, he took Derrick, which only seemed to strengthen the argument that Derrick had this whole game locked down from Day 1. You don't nominate Derrick. You keep Derrick. Send out anyone else. That is Big Brother 16.

I'm actually disappointed that Derrick didn't get to take himself to the end, as we might have been able to brand this a perfect game, or a nomination shut-out or whatever sports metaphor might apply to a Big Brother houseguest who gets all the way to the end without ever feeling the block. Technically, Derrick did get through the entire game and win it without being nominated. But he was on the block tonight for about 7 seconds when Cody was making his choice over who to take to the Final 2. For that brief time, Derrick's game was in Cody's hands, which I think takes some of the perfect out of this "perfect game."

Derrick won Big Brother 16 by a vote of 7-2, with Donny and Jocasta being the only two to vote for Cody. The jury segment, which included an appearance by Big Brother legend Will Kirby, seemed pretty heavily edited. Obviously, they don't want to give away which way the jury is leaning before the live portion of the episode plays out and the votes are cast. But it's probably safe to assume everyone's minds were more or less made up about who deserved to win. This is why I wish they could go back to the old way of doing the jury questions before the live show, when the answers really matter.

In this case, I don't think it would have made a difference. On one hand, I feel like Derrick might have been prepared to talk more in response to the questions, but on the other hand, he seemed to realize that a lot of words weren't going to be necessary. He had all of the right answers -- or at the very least, he had the answers the jurors expected. Cody was the one that would have needed to dazzle the jury and somehow convince them that he'd been as in control of this game all season as Derrick. I'm not sure that would've been possible. His answers were fine, but not game-winning. Not when he'd been branded Derrick's puppet and he just brought Derrick to the Final 2.

Other highlights included the houseguests' amusing reactions to learning about Team America. And Derrick's reveal that he's a cop. Of course, this happened after the votes were cast. Derrick was wise not to disclose that information before then, lest the houseguests wonder if he was lying to them about everything. It was a smart game move not to reveal his true profession. And he did a great job of maintaining that all season. Frankie did suspect Derrick was a cop, and he made sure to make that known during Derrick's reveal.


Finally, America's favorite houseguests! The non-jurors were included in that prize this year, but none of them made it into the Top 3. I kind of love that Julie announced the top 3 vote getters, and I have no complaints about Nicole, Zach and Donny earning those spots. I was all for Donny winning this, but watching tonight's finale and being reminded that Zach was roped into some of the more significant Team America challenges, I wouldn't have been disappointed if he'd won it. The fact that Frankie didn't crack the Top 3, despite his famous connections is kind of surprising, though not disappointing. Zach, Nicole and Donny's spots at the top of that list seem accurately reflective of the fans' preferences. Plus, that trio is really the perfect combination of likable, entertaining and Big Brother fan.

If this season had a downside, it was the herd strategy and one big alliance working against the other side of the house, that didn't quite unite when they needed to. Voting was predictable. Blindsides were on the rare side. What remained consistent this season was Derrick's subtle style of manipulation. Those who watched the feeds could actually pinpoint moments when he would plant seeds, point out what a beast Caleb was at competitions or how hard Frankie would be to beat in the Final 2. He'd say these things as though he were just thinking out loud, during casual conversations sometimes, and then when it came time for decisions to be made, he'd be supportive and relatively passive. He'd stand back and let things play out and only insert himself into the situation when necessary. He made people feel like he was on their side. They had his support. He'd have their back. And all the while, he talked about his wife and his daughter and how he was here to win the money for them. His family wasn't a strategy. They were the objective.

I watch Big Brother every season to see someone play the game like Derrick did all summer. It doesn't have to be Derrick's specific strategy. But my favorite seasons are the ones where a player is working week to week to get themselves to the end and making clear moves to make this happen, even when they don't have HoH or Veto power. Because you don't need to win competitions to be good at Big Brother. This game can be won in other ways. A good player figures out a way to work the power to their favor, even when it's not their power. They set themselves up so that they have options. And they eliminate obstacles, preferably without burning the jurors too badly as they're sent out the door. Not every season offers that kind of winner, but this season did. Cody was a likable guy, and he could have won if the jurors had been bitter toward Derrick instead of impressed by him. But he wasn't playing the same game Derrick was. So I'd say the right Houseguest won this season.

With that, we have at least two more seasons of Big Brother to look forward to! Until next summer... Holla, Derrick.

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