It's Snatch Game, America! Yes, the most treasured of RuPaul's Drag Race main challenges returns. While there's a lot of other things this episode has to offer (the reading mini-challenge, a delightful Bianca Del Rio cameo, six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald, and a bizarro mermaid-inspired runway theme complete with wheelchairs), it's still Snatch Game, and when it's Snatch Game, all we really care about is Snatch Game. So let's just shake things up and get directly into our rankings (which, as always, take the entire season so far into account) and discuss each individual queen at lengthy.
Let's not pretend that storyline and the opportunity to raise dramatic stakes (or at least keep them high) doesn't often play into Ru's decision. Eureka is riding high on two wins in a row, and starts the episode off by winning the mini-challenge. So, perhaps handing her the Snatch Game win would have been a little too heavy handed. Are any of us ready to just completely hand the season 10 crown to Eureka yet? It's not that she's not deserving, but we still have quite a few episodes left.
Though we will forever remain curious about how Eureka's first choice of drag superstar Divine would have played on the panel, she wisely takes Ru and Bianca's advice to chose the more accessibly funny Honey Boo Boo instead. Eureka does certainly have a knack for channel the enthusiasm of children, and while she references some of the more obvious Honey Boo Boo characteristics, her performance isn't just a bunch of "gogo juice" jokes either. Playing Honey Boo Boo at the age where she can't quite write provides a nice opportunity for ever heightening physical comedy involving scribbles.
On the runway, Eureka's mermaid getup is fine. Our only quibble was that while there was a whole lot of color going on above the neck, there was hardly any below it.
There are certain queens you just don't expect to do that well in Snatch Game. It's not that we don't love or respect those queens, it's just that we realize that their gifts lie in departments that aren't the capacity for quick-witted barbs or celebrity impersonation. The best, we figure, they can hope for is safe, and we've all probably spent some heated Sunday Brunch discussion figuring out the best way to get a not-particularly-funny queen through the episode. Our best guess? Finding that sweet spot of a public figure who's personality isn't that different from the queen, but who is just sort of an inherently funny character, and, then, hoping at least a few other queens completely blow it. It's like bunting in baseball ...we think? It's worked in Snatch Games past for queen like Latrice Royale (Aretha Franklin), Dida Ritz (Wendy Williams), Jujubee (Kimora Lee Simmons), and more. There's no shame in it, really. Not everyone needs to swing for the fences with high concept or eerily accurate characterizations. Better a few so-so characters than a bunch of stinkers anyway.
When Aquaria announced she'd be stepping into the guise of Melania Trump (marking the first time any First Lady has been on Snatch Game) we figured she was just leaning into this strategy. It was sort of perfect. Aquaria and Melania are both sharp cheeked fashion queens used to stomping through a few square miles of Manhattan who have found theme selves suddenly trapped in a heavily guarded compound miles from home surrounded by a bunch of people from god know's where. Melania, herself, is also something fort of a blank slate who we've collectively projected so much on. Aquaria just had to get the look down, do a halfway decent approximation of the accent and lob a few easy jokes and we would have had the making of a perfectly inoffensive safe-tier Snatch Game performance.
Much like the gift inside the blue "Trinity's" box, what Aquaria actually delivered was completely unexpected. The look, of course, was on point from the copious amounts of diamond to the squint eye. Aquaria stayed in character the whole time, and while the editors helped her out by focusing on some of her more subtle jokes (the Michelle Obama nameplate), if you watch her in wide shots when the attention isn't placed on her, she'll still reacting totally in character. Which also translated to being comfortable enough to take a clap back opportunity when it presented itself ("No wonder my husband's always complaining about China all the time.")
Even as we were watching it and laughing at it all along, part of our brain was still like "Well, Aquaria isn't going to win this. She's Aquaria! Queens like aren't supposed to win Snatch Game!" Yet, she erased any doubt left that she was this episode's MVP with her Italian Vogue inspired oil slick mermaid runway. It was one of the few looks on that runway with a storyline besides "I'm a mermaid!" that actually paid off.
3. Kameron Michaels
Remember how we were just talking about best Snatch Game character choice practices for queens who aren't exactly laugh out loud funny? Well, Kameron perfectly illustrates that method here by leaning into her body builder physique and choosing the late WWE wrestler Chyna. The look was there. She had jokes when she needed them. It was all perfectly fine and acceptable. The platonic ideal of Snatch Game filler, really. You could say more of less the same for her runway, which was neither a total miss, nor a risk-taking classic.
The main problem with Kameron remains that, as a television character at least, she continues to lack any discernible personality of her own. While past Drag Race queens have had personality so big that other queens have ended up parodying them on Snatch Game in later seasons, we suspect there's very little chance that will ever happen to Michaels. Still, Kameron's only "low" placement came during a team challenge, and her future in this competition could go either way.
4. Monét X. Change
More than anyone, Monét really, really needed this Snatch Game win. For a while we thought Ru was poised to give it to her. Storyline can help decide these things, after all. Her Maya Angelou was thought out. Monét clearly had a list of prewritten material in her head ready to go. Her runway, at least, had an interesting point of view. We had our bets placed on win. Yet, she comes up short once again. In and of itself there's nothing to be ashamed of, but it keeps us worried about Monét's ultimate fate in the competition.
5. Miz Cracker
Anticipation for Cracker's Snatch Game performance was high in the dark corners of the RPDR super fan internet. Fans were expecting her to slay this challenge with hopes it would put her on a course for the crown. Nancy Drews were collecting any clues they could to help them figure out who Cracker would portray. Barbra Streisand? Amy Winehouse? Fran Drescher?
We can only imagine the mass confusion (and perhaps disappointment) that ensued when Cracker opted instead to portray American literary grand dame Dorothy Parker, the poetic queen of the pithy one liner and high minded putdown. On one level it made sense. We could certainly have imagined Parker as a quippy television panelist back in her day. The problem was that Parker's day was back before most American even had televisions. That meant Cracker had no personality base level to fall back. She set herself up with the challenge of perfectly executing one Parker-esque one liner after another, a near impossible feat. It's too Cracker's credit, really, that she managed to keep this firmly in the safe zone at all. She didn't get much screen time either. We suspect it's not because what was left cut out was bad, but maybe that editors just didn't think it was worth it.
Sadly, this made us realize that following this Dorothy Parker situation it's unlikely that any queen will fulfill our own deepest desires of ever attempting to portray Fran Lebowitz on Snatch Game (though, unlike Parker, Lebowitz is available to guest judge, if anyone at WoW happens to be reading this).
6. Asia O'Hara
For someone who has given the gay community so much joy, Beyoncé has really caused us so much pain during Snatch Game. This is third time a queen has decided to attempt to play a Queen Bey pretender, and the third time they wound up coming off as a pauper. She now holds that record alone, surpassing Lady Gaga.
Asia originally has her heart set on Whitney Houston. Though, Ru wants her to stare clear of any drug jokes (there's longstanding rumors that a lot of Thorgy Thor's performance as Michael Jackson in Season 7 was left on the cutting room floor because of frequent child molestation jokes. Apparently Snatch Game comes with a basic decency clause). O'Hara opts against Whitney, but the truth is, if you can't do a decent Whitney without drug jokes, you probably can't do a decent Whitney to begin with. Instead she picks Beyoncé, attempting to valiantly succeed where Kenya Michael and Tyra Sanchez failed. For a while, the edit had us believing that she might actually triumph. That perhaps we were being set up to be pleasantly surprised.
No such luck. Asia makes the bizarre choice of imbuing Beyoncé with one characteristic and one characteristic only: impatient rudeness. Come on, Girl. Beyoncé may have a lot of wigs, but none of them have ever been in the "Can I talk to the manager?" cut. It's not only painful to watch, but it also takes any wind there may have been out of The Vixen's Blue Ivy.
Her decision to wear a fish mask on the runway made for some surprisingly hilarious fodder for the editors, but offered no such returns for Asia herself. Frankly, we kind of wished she had been made to Lip Sync in that thing.
7. The Vixen
The best thing about Beyoncé's Blue Ivy character? It gave reason for Ru to reuse the line, "Impersonating Beyoncé is not your Destiny, Child," one of her all-time great runway quips. The worst part? Everything else. Any room the Vixen might have had to play Blue as an angry diva toddler was over shadowed by that aforementioned angry Beyoncé. We've all seen the awards show audience clips. The idea is that Blue is supposed to be the BOSS of that family. Here, Blue Ivy just comes off as a tragic figure. It was frankly, just strange.
Though, The Vixen's real lowpoint this episode came outside of Snatch Game itself. There's a difference between channeling your anger into productive art and performance (like taking a random Chicago bartender's racist facebook comment about "South Side Trash" ruining Pride and turning it into an audacious performance piece) and channeling your anger into basic reality television drama fodder. Vixen has been falling into that trap far too often.
When Ru asks the queens to name who they think should go home, The Vixen is the most frequent answer. Though, her subsequent explosion on Eureka reads as sort of desperate projection. She calls out Eureka for playing children so often because she acts like one. Though, The Vixen sat up there and said she related to pictures of a 5-year-old Blue Ivy with attitude. She claims Eureka hogs up all the attention for herself, but half of Untucked this season has been Vixen going on longwinded rants punctuated by shouts of "Are you going to let me finish?" Frankly, we're kind of ready to let Vixen finish this competition. No one's pretending like she has any shot at the crown left. It likely would have been her finale, if not for the tragedy that's next on our discussion agenda.
9. Monique Heart
Oh, Monique, personality for days, but she made the mistake of choosing to portray a figure whose own personality she didn't quite have a hold on. While her Maxine Waters starts off promising, it soon goes off the rails, with Monique struggling to find any more angle on her other than the fact she wants to impeach Donald Trump.
It was bad, but really we didn't expect her to go home because of it.
We've seen breakdowns and de facto self eliminations during the lip sync before, but nothing quite like this. Placed against The Vixen to the tune of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Cut to the Feeling," Monique twirls her heart out to an appropriately twirly song. Though, she commits the second cardinal sin of a lip sync in the first few moments by removing her wig without another wig on beneath. Then, we realize she's also committing the first cardinal sin as well. She doesn't know most of her words, and isn't making any attempt to even pretend. Yet, otherwise, she still carried on dancing and posing like nothing else was wrong. It was both sad and fascinating to watch.
Though, Monique has certainly left her impression on this competition, and, now, we can only hope that someone gives her a web series called "Hello, America!" Please.