In a season known for lame challenge themes, tonight’s RuPaul’s Drag Race goes old school. We knew we were getting Snatch Game (hallelujah!) but no one is prepared when RuPaul pulls out his reading glasses. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the library. Is. Open. Officially. I don’t really listen to Kameron’s reads. I’m hypnotized, watching words tumble out of his mouth. As I age, experiencing something completely new is a rare treat. In the battle of the comedians, Miz Cracker is surprisingly stale. The Vixen and Monét get strong laughs but Eureka is the clear winner. She begs Kameron for a kai kai. She callis Aquaria a pathological liar for telling herself she’s going to win. She drops the mic by thanking everyone in advance for their fat jokes. It’s a blow out. All hail Queen Eureka.
With Library business taken care of, the queens turn their attention to the maxi-challenge. Snatch game is a big deal. It’s kind of like making it to the merge on Survivor. Having RuPaul laugh at your celebrity impersonation is an honor and a privilege. Win or lose, you could be this season’s breakout star. But Snatch Game is no mere prestige grab. It’s also a turning point in the game. You can’t win Drag Race without Snatch Game. The queens who know their herstory come prepared. The rest settle like chaff in the bottom two, until RuPaul blows them away with only the words “Vanjie… Vanjie… Vanjie…” echoing in their ears.
In honor of how much we love Snatch Game, Bianca Del Rio joins RuPaul on his workroom walkthrough. Bianca is a Snatch Game legend (although I wanted to see her as Dora the Explorer) and one of the nicest people in the world (including dogs). She’s a good counterpoint to RuPaul. While he massages their spirits, she warns the queens they’re not being funny. How they react reveals personal strategy. Monique hears it as constructive criticism and reworks her act. Asia makes a game alliance. Her Beyonce and The Vixen’s Blue Ivy are Team Hive. It’s the first time I’ve seen queens make improv plans before a Snatch Game.
Miz Cracker wants to do Dorothy Parker, another gay icon the kids should know about (see: Carol Channing, Edie Beale, Marlene Dietrich) but don’t. Since Miz Cracker takes sketch comedy seriously, she is steadfast in the face of RuPaul’s concern. Dorothy Parker is begging to rise from the grave and sit on the Snatch Game stage. Bianca gets it, comedian to comedian. In contrast, Aquaria thinks her not being so good with the, what would you say, words? will translate nicely to her Melania Trump character. RuPaul, perhaps emboldened by the tall, sharp-tongued woman at his side, tells Aquaria she trips over her tongue because she’s overly consumed with how she looks to other people. That’s deep. The kind of read that changes lives. But Aquaria is too busy planning her next perfect sentence to notice.
Guest judges Kate Upton and Audra McDonald do double duty as Snatch Game contestants. From the moment the lights rise, it’s a battle between Eureka’s Honey Boo Boo and Monét X Change’s Maya Angelou (not to be confused with Mya Angelou). Eureka is silly but not stupid, mocking but not mean. Monét’s Angelou is everything we love about Snatch Game. Irreverent, raw, literary. “I will not hesitate to put thou in a ditch / because Maya Angelou ain’t no punk bitch.” Aquaria’s Melania Trump is an unexpected delight. She’s finally relaxed, silly. Her planned and off the cuff quips are sharp. This is the Aquaria Aquaria wants us to see.
The rest is an orgy of bad choices fighting for attention. Asia decides to Mommy Dearest The Vixen. Beyonce cuts Blue Ivy down until it feels like we’re watching a middle school presentation on child abuse. Asia’s alliance is headed straight for the lip-sync And much to my chagrin (I’m allowed to have opinions), Miz Cracker is a huge disappointment. Everything was lined up for her success. Her character has cutting remarks for every occasion. She’s a comedy queen. But in the challenge, she comes across one dimensional. Bitter. Cruel. The reason Dorothy Parker’s shade stung was because you wanted her to like you. Miz Cracker forgot to workshop charm.
The mood in the workroom is tense. No one feels safe. A good runway could make the difference between Untucked and the bottom two. Talk turns political. As a black gay man, The Vixen has grown up fighting. Fighting to survive. Fighting to exist. It’s exhausting, for her and for anyone she comes into contact with. Her shows shove racial injustice in white faces. You want entertainment? Check this out… Miz Cracker, her very name a racial slur, accurately predicts she gets huge applause. Yes, we can clap the white guilt away. Living in a former slave state, political drag has real-life repercussions for Monique. Her threats are more immediate and deadly than her Yankee sisters might realize. Not to mention how it might affect her coins. White Guilt pays well, The Vixen assures her. Nickel and dime reparations.
Pit Boys wheel the queens down the Mermaid Fantasy runway. Most of the looks are, well, mermaids. There are a few worth mentioning. Aquaria literally gasps for air, oil spill collateral damage. Asia O’Hara’s fish mask accents her tattered tail. So, ugly ugly? Monét almost succeeds to bring her look home as a battle weary warrior mermaid. And Eureka’s nude illusion goth mermaid is sure to get rave reviews (because they love everything she does).
Bottom three: Monique Heart, Asia O’Hara and The Vixen
The judges do what their job title promises. “Aquaria is amazing.” “Monét is amazing.” “Eureka is amazing.” So, you like them then? Michelle Visage calls Monique out on her 30 minute mermaid tail but nothing compares to Asia’s fish mask. When Asia admits she recently added the mask, I dream up a whole Showgirls fantasy about The Vixen conning Asia into wearing a Kabuki fish on her face. “It’ll look great. So avant garde.”
RuPaul asks the queens who they’d eat if they were stranded in the Andes. Eureka names Asia because she’s
not as scary as The Vixen her biggest competition. The Vixen calls out Eureka because she’s petty PETTY. Everyone else chooses The Vixen. She has no best friends in this race.
The Vixen and Monique are up for elimination. They lip-sync (for their life) to Cut To The Feeling by Carly Rae Jepsen. Monique quickly loses her wig. It’s her boy head against The Vixen’s boy body. Monique forgets the words. All of them. The Vixen feels the power shift and shakes her boy body for all it’s worth. Of all the judges, only Kate Upton is smiling. She doesn’t realize how bad this lip-sync is. The Vixen, shantay you stay. Monique Heart, sashay away.
Next week: American Horror Story, Cher addition.