We say this completely free from the knowledge of how this episode was received on social media (which is a rare treat for us): this episode was CRAZY fun.
Snatch Game challenges are always a high-wire act, which makes the payoff that much sweeter when a perfectly entertaining set of impersonations get offered up.
The flipside is that when a set of queens crashes hard, the results can be almost painful to watch. Splitting the challenge into separate teams and a different game show format was a stroke of genius, freshening up the approach just enough to keep the queens on their toes. It also allowed some queens to shine without having to deal with the trainwreck of queens on other teams nearly taking everyone down with her. There were a couple of iconic Snatch Game performances this time around and they might not have had the chance to shine if they had to share the scene with a desperate queen.
The classic Snatch Game mistake is when a queen puts together the right look and settles on a couple of appropriate catchphrases and tics, but does nothing else to make her impersonation funny or on point. Unfortunately, Monet didn’t even manage that much. You pretty much had to be told who she was impersonating and she never really found the character or a way to make her funny.
We’ll give it to her on her runway look, though. This is not always her best arena, but she really brought it this week. The look has a hardness and modernity to it that suits her so much better than when she tries to do more conventional glamour drag.
Naomi seemed to have one goal in this challenge: to prove to everyone that she had the chops to pull it off. Kudos to her, because she nailed it. It wasn’t the most on-point impersonation, but he found the essence of Wendy Williams and was able to improvise in character and pull off a few funny bits in a scene where it would have been so easy to get upstaged.
It’s okay. Definitely has a sort of avant-garde runway edge to it that suits her better than pageant drag or glamour drag. We’re not feeling the shoddy construction on that bodice and we’re not sure that’s the best makeup for her.
All other bitches are put on notice: Miss Trinity is here to win this thing and you better step up your game to meet her. This was easily one of the best Snatch Game impersonations of all time; not just on point visually and vocally, but absolutely scathing in the precision of the jokes and bits. Trinity never stopped being Caitlyn or serving up Caitlyn – or at least the cartoon version of Caitlyn in her head. It was masterfully funny and dead-on.
A truly stunning runway look evoking the ’90s supermodel era with perfection. It’s hard to believe she didn’t win the week, given how incredibly strong she was on all fronts.
She had nothing and she knew it. As much as she claimed to have researched Eartha, Valentina couldn’t even get her most distinctive aspect correct – her voice. She could have overcome that with jokes and character bits but like we said, she had nothing and she knew it.
And she followed that up with an uncharacteristically bad runway performance. The face looks beautiful, but that jumpsuit is unflattering and unfabulous. Valentina came on strong early on, but she had a pretty epically bad week in areas she either should have been prepared for or should be acing without a problem.
Monique had a bare-bones Tiffany sketched out and a natural way with a line, which was enough to keep her relatively unscathed in a pretty bad round. It probably helped that she was sitting the furthest away from ground zero.
Still not feeling her makeup, but this runway look was a lot of fun and perfectly styled. The look has a real sense of character and story about it, which Ru tends to love.
Not to take anything away from Manila – who was good this week and definitely deserved to be in the Top Two – but it felt like a storyline about how she was floundering because she’s old and desperate was being flogged pretty hard. Then again, the drama surrounding her game-playing and who she was planning to send home seemed to be something she eagerly participated in. We get the sense that she’s somewhat savvily playing the game herself, jockeying for camera time by posing a question as to how devious she intends on being. She’s such an old pro at this that she’s managing to make her game-playing look fairly organic.
Anyway, we liked but did not love her Barbra, which seemed to have little to do with the real one. Even so, she managed to remain in character and occasionally got a good line in.
And she offered up a unique take for the runway, which isn’t easy to do this many seasons into the game. She definitely rallied this week and even better, she set up an ongoing storyline between herself and Valentina.
Total crash and burn. The only thing she had was a somewhat racist caricature about an oversexed Asian woman who apparently has nothing to do with the real Bui. She may convince herself that she’d have done better if she hadn’t allowed herself to be talked out of Caitlyn, but honestly, Trinity would still have scorched her. She doesn’t have comedy or improv chops at all. The thing is, she absolutely should have come with something fully worked out. This is the All-Star season, after all. Come prepared or don’t come.
She rallied with a stunning runway look, but the damage had already been done. No one was really on her side after some of her shadiness in previous weeks and she made the infuriating choice of dragging her competitors down with her as she failed at a challenge.
Poor Latrice. Always fated to have some queen fuck with him when he’s got a perfectly good snatch to pull off. We would have loved to have seen his Della. We imagine she would have been fierce and funny. Unfortunately, he got stuck with Gia Gunn and to be honest, he reacted so badly we feared he was going to be in the bottom for it.
But he rallied with another fabulous runway look and the judges seemed pretty sympathetic to how bad things went for him in the challenge. We were glad they didn’t come down hard on him.
We suppose there could be some side-eyeing about how neatly the drama of the lip sync turned out, but like we said, we feel like Manila’s giving the producers what they need to make that drama happen. And we can’t honestly say she didn’t win that lip sync.
Trinity gave a stronger performance overall this week and maybe it’s not fair to have so much riding on the lip sync, but Manila really acted the hell out of the song in a way Trinity just didn’t manage.
We never really believed Manila would send Valentina home. The potential for outrage and backlash would have been far too great and she would have opened herself up for an automatic elimination the next time she wound up on the bottom. None of those queens would have trusted her after that and she knows it.
As for Gia, we think she deserves a lot of credit for leaving with pride and self-awareness. She owned up to her mistakes and explained the pressures that led to them. The Drag Race franchise seems to be making a concerted effort to reach out to the transgender queens in their roster, with the recent appearances of Sonique and Stacy Layne Matthews on the show. We think it’s a good thing to have a transwoman come on the show to compete and be completely open about the unique pressures she feels in that situation. Drag Race has been evolving on this front from the days of “You’ve Got She-Mail” all the way up to now, and this moment of self-awareness and self-reflection on Gia’s part really stands out in the show’s history and relationship with transgender representation. Good on her for being honest with herself and with the audience. She has every reason to be proud.
[Stills: VH1 via Tom and Lorenzo]