Jorgeous and Jasmine enter the workroom holding each other after their double shantay. According to Angeria, this was the lip sync showdown the other queens had been waiting to see. Jasmine’s elated celebration is tempered by her “big sister” Daya, who interrupts, “it wasn’t that good.” On the other side of the spectrum, Bosco is celebrated for her win while giving props to DeJa, who was probably second place. Last week lends support to the idea that runway categories are only there to save you, and not there to help you win, when looking at the contrast between Bosco and DeJa’s looks. The emotional response that this elicits from DeJa suggests that this week she is either winning or going home.
The next day everyone, even Jasmine herself, is spared from an extended Jasmine monologue when the video message alarm chimes. The fact that Willow and none of the other queens understand RuPaul’s message does not bode well for the episode. References to Monique, Cher, Britney, Flavor Flav, Ts Madison, and Little Richard, cue an avid watcher of the series that this is Snatch Game. However, the cast seems to remain in the dark when RuPaul enters with another quick drag promotional mini challenge.
The queens must construct a red-carpet outfit entirely out of bubble wrap and duct tape inspired by different flavors of Bubly Water, the promotional drink of the season. After all, what could a drag queen love more than trying to open a can with their manicured nails? In a red-carpet photoshoot, lensed by a perfectly oiled up pit crew member, each queen must model their looks. Jorgeous is the first to pose, and I am certain there is deleted footage of Daya commenting on the suspicious similarity to her Glamazon Prime winning outfit a few episodes ago. Once again Jorgeous conveys a captivating energy that she has failed to channel into the challenges. Lady Camden presents a bubble-gum 80s inspired look. Angeria, an overachiever, constructed a full gown that, besides a busted seam could almost make it down the main stage runway. Willow continued her love for outfits that are difficult to walk in. Daya, whose look will haunt my dreams, looked like a sexualized baby doll. When Jorgeous called it Rugrats realness, it all came into focus: Daya is Cynthia with Angelica’s personality. DeJa, like Lady Camden, appears to be attending a prom in 1987 with excellent ruffle work and perhaps one of the best wigs to ever appear on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Bosco, eerily looking like Aquaria in season 10 as Lady Camden mentioned, vamped it up in a monochromatic cutout jumpsuit. It’s a strong look, but the exposed black thong made it feel unfinished. Jasmine, in the same color story as Willow, moved so much she lost her wig. Like the runway last week, Bosco pulls off a win in a less than finished garment.
For the main challenge, RuPaul announces the perennial favorite, Snatch Game. After the initial excitement of Snatch Game subsides, the anxiety sets in as they realize the significance of this particular challenge. As Jasmine remarks, Snatch Game is what separates the true competitors of the season from the, and forgive the harsh terminology, filler queens. This is THE challenge of RuPaul’s Drag Race. On the surface, it is about impersonation, in terms of looks and manner. But underneath it is the ultimate test of improvisational skills, intelligence, and wit.
In the workroom, the queens begin to discuss who they will be portraying in the Snatch Game. Almost paradoxically from the finished product, the chosen characters this year held great potential and promise. There wasn’t the standard pop star or vacant social media celebrity in sight. There were no make-up gurus or TikTok dancers that simply confuse the judges. On paper—before the actual challenge—everyone seemed to have great concepts for their characters. Jorgeous lands on Ilana Glazer, a former co-star of RuPaul’s, based on her love of the show Broad City. However, when questioned by RuPaul, Jorgeous freezes. She still remains unsure of who to translate her natural charisma into challenges. RuPaul’s confusing advice of seeing yourself from inside doesn’t seem to help either. Daya appears on brand selecting Ozzy Osbourne, but admits to being nervous about Snatch Game. Again, RuPaul doesn’t exactly help matters when he lets Daya know that he has met Ozzy and brings up Crystal Methyd once again. Despite rumors that queens were now barred from imitating past queens, Angeria makes the oddball choice to portray the ultimate oddball queen, Tammie Brown. It seems out of left field, but that sometimes creates the best Snatch Game performances. Another inspired and potentially subversive choice is Jasmine as Betsy DeVos. RuPaul remarks that no queen has done Betsy DeVos on the show, erasing Scarlet Envy’s performance in Trump: The Rusical in season 11.
After Jasmine’s consultation, the producers can’t help but cut to Daya giving a shady commentary. DeJa has landed on playing Lil Jon, over Abbey Lee Miller, and says she feels like the Susan Lucci of the season. This may inspire pause as, besides last week, DeJa hasn’t been exactly close to winning much, but the producers are clearly invested in this as a storyline for DeJa, again suggesting she will do really well or really poorly in the Snatch Game. Lady Camden has decided to play on her homeland by portraying William Shakespeare. They remark that it gives a lot of freedom to portray a historical figure who has never been captured on audio or video. However, it feels like, considering the amount of source material associated with Shakespeare, that Lady Camden might not be fully prepared. Bosco and Willow, who seem like queens that would do well in Snatch Game, will be playing actresses turned lifestyle gurus, Gwyneth Paltrow and Drew Barrymore, respectively. With Bosco deciding to highlight the snake-oil-ness of GOOP, the only thing certain is that Paltrow will not be a guest judge in the near future.
This season’s Snatch Game recalled failures like season 4 and season 11. It’s difficult to figure out what exactly was the problem. But for a challenge that is all about making RuPaul laugh, this Snatch Game was nearly silent. The intros went fine. However, Willow not knowing that RuPaul and Drew Barrymore worked on an obscure talent show once did not bode well for her. Willow did have the voice down, which couldn’t exactly be said about Bosco. Both seemed to have a strong concept that never took off. Jorgeous, though you could tell she is an avid watcher of Broad City, didn’t land any jokes. Jasmine and Daya felt very committed to their characters but never found the possible humor in the roles. Lady Camden and Angeria made some odd choices that never got past the starting gate. Bottom line is that Dove and Raven actually landed better jokes than most of the cast. The star of the Snatch Game was truly DeJa. However, it doesn’t measure up to the best of Snatch Game performances. The look and manner of Lil Jon was on point, but once Dove landed her own “Yeah!” it felt like a lot of people can give a convincing Lil Jon performance. That all said, DeJa’s grill joke, and fully realized character, completely deserved the win, even if it wasn’t as triumphant as Susan Lucci’s historic win at the Daytime Emmys. It certainly didn’t help matters that most of the queens realized on set that their chemistry was off. This perhaps held DeJa’s performance back from being epic as there wasn’t much to volley off of, which is an essential part of Snatch Game.
The disappointment spills over the next day as the queens get ready for the Holy Couture runway. It was an interesting category that sparked some out-of-the-box interpretations. DeJa is the first to enter in a Joan of Arc look that was really basic. Yes, her reference is clear, but where is the stake, the fire, and if there was ever a time for a pussycat wig, this was it. Despite a middle of the road runway look, there is really not much standing in the way of DeJa’s win. Jasmine explains that her look is tribute to the zodiac, complete with sun, moon, and Gemini references. At the end of the runway, she does an impressive reveal that was impossible to predict. She compares the look to the work of avant-garde Dutch designer Iris van Herpen (more on this in stray observations at the bottom). Angeria presented a more literal, but insanely accurate, church lady look.
In diametric opposition to Angeria’s look, Willow used the runway as an opportunity to show her love for fungi. While getting ready she explained how she worships mushrooms with a biological and existential diatribe on fungus and its connection to her fear of death. The look, inexplicably, managed to live up to that hype and conveyed the “gross and weird” nature of Willow’s drag. If a look was going to save you in Snatch Game, this is the one. Daya put the idea of religion through her punk filter, giving a Madonna or Lady Gaga inspired look. Inspired by Lady Camden’s chap runway, Daya fell, but covered it up as best as she could. You kind of wish that Jasmine could have seen it though, just a little bit. Like Willow, Jorgeous turned to drugs. She combined the Pope with pot in a green papal look and gigantic blunt. Even though it was somewhat simple, it was great to see Jorgeous in something conceptual and beyond a bra and panty. Lady Camden’s look was a little more quizzical. Inspired by the church of the Spice Girls, Lady Camden’s look just felt out of place and not as daring or impactful as someone like Willow. Bosco brought up the rear as a sexy nun, but this combined with last week’s look makes me wonder how long it is before Michelle warns “stop relying on that body.”
As the queens face judges RuPaul, Michelle, Carson, and an excellent Dove Cameron, something feels off. Michelle actually starts things off, which is out of the ordinary. She reveals her disappointment that such a talented cast could produce such an underwhelming Snatch Game. She stresses that she is here to investigate, not to shame. The critiques start before anyone has been declared safe, another indicator that the show’s usual structure is collapsing. DeJa earns praise for both her performance and look. Overall, everyone is kind of told similar things—that their idea seemed good on paper but failed in execution. RuPaul even states that they were all equally bad ,with a laugh. Willow sums it all up when she explains it’s like when your mom says, “I’m not angry, I’m disappointed.” What is kind of interesting about this Snatch Game is that there was little push back from RuPaul on character choices, as has been increasingly the case in recent seasons. It’s as if the producers wanted a poor Snatch Game this season. It all comes into focus when DeJa is immediately declared the winner.
RuPaul reveals a twist when she says the remaining queens – Angeria, Bosco, Daya, Jasmine, Jorgeous, Lady Camden, and Willow—are all up for elimination. Jasmine calls it the shock of the century, which is a little hyperbolic. There is precedent for this after the six-way lip sync for your life of season 11. RuPaul reveals that she wants to see all of them lip sync for their lives, but not yet. Instead, the episode will be concluded next week with a LaLaPaRUza lip sync smack down. Perhaps foreshadowing this outcome, Jasmine, early in the episode, said if you don’t do well in Snatch Game, you better know your lyrics. Overall this cliffhanger episode transformed one of the greatest challenges of the series into an unfortunate bore. Considering that the queens have to include a Snatch Game character in their audition tapes, let’s hope that the casting department focused more on casting queens that can deliver in Snatch Game for season 15.
- For personal reasons, I’m so pleased that the word yonic was used twice on this episode.
- Who was the cameraperson who was giving The Graduate-esque shots of the red carpet photographer? I just want to thank them.
- Since this also came up on UK vs. The World, queens need to stop citing Iris van Herpen on the runway when their looks look nothing like her amazing work. Looking at you Juju and Jasmine.
- These lip sync smackdowns seem like that are being put into the DNA of the show now, but I’m not the biggest fan.
- Another episode with no elimination? And no one has unwrapped that damn golden bar either yet.
- Another lesson in the fact that the runway doesn’t really matter in judging, because they could have picked a bottom two based on that alone.
- My Top 4 remain Angeria, Bosco, Daya, and Willow.