Previously on Drag Race: More acting challenges managed to do in Kandy Ho rather than Jaidynn or Fame.
After The Elimination
No one seems terribly distraught about Kandy leaving, though even Katya as the challenge winner looks utterly exhausted. Jaidynn swears up and down she will not be lip syncing again, while Max concedes she’ll do one non-gray look and then head right back to her wheelhouse. Violet fires back, “Bitch, if they gave me specifics I would fucking do it.”
And, she’s right – they love Max and want to see one little thing. Just do the damn thing, Max. Kennedy agrees, in interview, in her shady way. Violet has some shade to throw back! “I’m over Kennedy missing the mark with these looks. She doesn’t look dead. She doesn’t look like a woman!” Pearl adds, “Kennedy looks like whaaaaat?” Back to Violet, “She looks like Tony The Tiger on crack.”
While they speak, Violet stands around looking drop dead gorgeous, neglecting to let out her waist despite ample opportunity. That’s a long day to spend cinched!
A New Day!
Katya: “It’s a new day, it’s down to eight girls. My game plan going forward is to kill a few of the girls to make it to the top.”
Katya can never be eliminated because I don’t know what I would do without her interview segments. She’s approaching Alyssa levels of interview insanity.
RuPaul’s video mail crashes the room before anyone gets a word in, which should tell you how packed with content this episode will be. Then, Bianca Del Rio crashes Ru’s voice mail! Fan squee! “Listen, I’ve got one tip for you: you’re a DRAG QUEEN – be funny.”
Ru comes in all sassy in a black & white polka dot shirt and neon yellow paints – no blazer! She’s been encouraging the girls to be “the real you” for weeks, and she’s over it – so, it’s time for SNATCH GAME! “You need to impersonate another star’s charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent.”
Katya: “Snatch Game is the challenge that every fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race has been waiting for. We put on these giant, latex frog costumes and we go throw a fiery obstacle course… okay, all right, I’m sorry.”
All of the girls seem pretty excited, as they should be – if there’s one thing you must prepare for Drag Race other than some rudimentary sewing skills, it’s your snatching ability. Violet blurts out she is doing Donatella Versace… and so is Miss Fame! Violet has been working on hers for months, where Fame has been planning it since her first audition. Max suggests one girl bow out, but neither has another choice. Violet is adamant she won’t change.
Kennedy wants to be Little Richard… a man. Katya and Ginger try to talk her out of it because he’s… a man. Kennedy says, “But, he’s been in drag his entire life!” Katya interviews, “He’s… a man. [pause] Snatch? [sotto voice] Vagina?” Ginger and Katya try to talk her into doing Sweet Brown.
Max is doing Sharon Needles. Will she do Sharon Needles doing Michelle Visage? That’s some dragception right there. Actually, her plan is, “Disney Sharon Needles.” Funny, or part and parcel of Max’s weird prudish streak? If she actually did Sharon Needles as a spooky princess it would be hilarious.
Ru arrives. Jaidynn is already at the makeup-applying stage – she is planning to be Raven Simone! She’s already looking the part, but when Ru asks how she plans to play Raven, Jaidynn says she’ll be “high pitched.” “I feel like if we met each other we could be best friends,” to which Ru replies, “Yes, but what does that have to do with Snatch Game.” Uh-oh. Ru is actually pretty nice about it, so hopefully Jaidynn figures something out.
Ru checks in on Fame, who explains the Snatch Game of Chicken between her and Violet. Fame apparently blinked first, and she’s doing the Long Island Medium. Uh-oh, again. I smell elimination. Ru seems to think so, too. Fame says that Violet didn’t have a back-up, and Ru is pretty much like, “Sometimes you just need to cut a bitch.” Okay, what she actually says is, “The competition is really narrowing down. So, you’ve got to go for the jugular. … Being kind is one thing, but being the winner is a completely different thing. I just want you to do what’s in your best interest, not in the best interest of the other contestant.”
I agree. I think if you’re confident in your character you just go out there and out-Snatch the other girl. It immediately saves you from being the worst!
Fame says, “Well, shit, I’ll be Versace” and Violet’s entire body whiplashes around to stare her down. Fame seems super happy, and Violet is crushed.
Ru visits Katya, who is doing Susie Orman, who is a personal financial guru according to Google. I can tell this is going to hit Raja “smizing” territory. She’s never done her before, and Ru probes why she isn’t doing a Russian character like Katya. “What are you afraid of?” Ru inquires? Katya, as it turns out, is afraid to lose Snatch Game being her authentic self. Girl, I had a whole talk about this today with my mentor, so heed Ru’s words closely. Ru says, “You have an addiction to the anxiety,” and Katya hisses in her interview, “I NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT BEFORE. I’ve been addicted to alcohol, crystal meth, cocaine… addicted to anxiety?”
Kennedy reveals that she is torn between Sweet Brown and Little Richard. Ru can’t decide for her, and that’s all she’ll say! I guess you can’t exactly ask Ru if your impression will make her angry.
Ru visits Violet, and Violet immediately delivers straight-up Maya Rudolph Donatella and Ru says, “How are you going to stay away from something someone else has done?” Violet thinks it’s in the look, but Ru is looking for something more. Violet’s Italian accent is a little weak. It turns out she was also considering Alyssa Edwards, and Ru loves it. Is she trying to set up Fame for a win here, or what? She ends with, “All you gotta do is make me laugh.”
No Ginger, Max, or Pearl interview (she’s in seemingly animal-inspired makeup). That means you know Ginger is packing something insane that they’re waiting to spring on us. Violet is having a meltdown, and Pearl (of all people!) eggs on the Donatella with basically the same advice Ru gave – why avoid the direct competition? It’s why you’re here!
Maxi-Challenge: Snatch Game!
The celebrity snatchers are actor Michael Urie and previous impersonatee Tamar Braxton!
RuPaul introduces the panel. Max is Sharon Needles, and looks dead on the part but is not funny at all. How did Max skip the chance to do old Hollywood high drag? How have we not yet had a Judy Garland snatcher?! Jaidynn looks perfectly Raven Simone and is funny in her opening schtick. Katya stuck with Susie Orman, and she is on point. Violet went with Alyssa and nails it. She looks uncannily like Alyssa and she has her down, complete with a mocking deep voice. Pearl is Big Ang, a total caricature who looks like a skeleton with a massive rack. At least she’s playing it big! that’s not going to get her sent home. Fame is Donatella Versace, and she’s a little bit funny, but Ru gives it her “no laughs” reaction.
Kennedy went with Little Richard, who she is playing as a mustachioed lady. She’s got it down pretty well, between the howling and the abrupt dismissals of everyone else’s opinion. That’s what I mean when I say Snatch Game is vulgar in its simplicity – you pick your theme and you pound it. Ginger is… oh god, she’s Adele, with a pile of awards, some wine, a cigarette, and snacks. She seems to be relying on the prop-waving a little hard, but the guests eat it up.
Early prediction? Ginger gets the fawning, but Ru likes rewarding chance-taking and underdogs in Snatch Game, and Ginger ain’t none of that.
I’m not recapping every question, but here’s a few greatest hits. Katya Orman is coming for Fame Versace in every answer (I guess because she’s the richest one on the panel?) and more comedically for Little Pearl and it’s terrific. Max Needles has the mannerisms down but her answers are nonsense. Danger, girl. That’s So Jaidynn is psychic but no one is getting the joke – it’s a little too big. Kennedy Richards will not let up on her singing and meanness in every answer, and it’s pretty great – maybe the best one? It’s the same thing every time but also uniquely inspired every time. Finally we’re getting an awake and alive version of Kennedy! She even has a bit with Ginger’s Adele where they sing at each other. As for Ginger, there’s this:
Ru: “Where in England are you from, Adele?”
Minj-dele: “My house.”
That was a pretty short Snatch Game, yo.
Katya is second-guessing her performance even though it was riotous. She’s melting down and calls Fame over for a conference. Eat that anxiety, girl.
Katya: “I’ve been completely sober for the past year-and-a-half. Most of the time I’m fine, but being away from my network of support has been brutal. I know that Fame is sober, so she’s the only other person who can understand exactly what I’m going through.”
Well, that’s not accurate – Max doesn’t drink, but she’s just straightedge. Big diff. Meanwhile, how much are we just dying in our love for Katya right now? DYING.
Fame: “I’ve been sober for nine years, but counting days in here feels like a newcomer.”
Katya: “THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT IT FEELS LIKE. It’s hard.”
Katya breaks down and cries. Her humor is a defense mechanism, but inside of it she’s been doubting herself since day one. Who knew we’d get such a story behind her tendency to melt down under pressure?! Fame is a rock for her, and confesses she too feels like all of her flaws are on display while locked in the Drag Race goldfish bowl. They both come out of this seeming like terrific, real people.
Katya and Fame both seem like new women after their talk. If Fame gets kicked off after this exchange I’ll be so sad.
The Runway theme is leather and lace!
Ginger Minj has an interesting look, but it doesn’t look great on her. It’s confusing. A white leather jacket unzipped over a glittering bra, but with a bathing suit bottom over lace leggings with awkward calf-high boots that really cut off her leg. There’s kind of almost an Elvis thing going, but she doesn’t pull it together. Plus, her makeup is off – her chin is the wrong color.
Katya is stunning in an elaborate jeweled one piece with thigh-high boots and intricate garters plus a lacy cape. Maybe her best runway yet? “I’m trying to serve slutty and confident whore. … 80% sexy, 20% disgusting.”
Kennedy Davenport is in a weird black dress with tiny circle cutouts all over and a sort of black leather bikini built in and a train? I don’t know. It’s tragic, but her hair, makeup, and even silhouette is very Diana Ross.
Violet Chachki is in a straight-up S&M mini-dress complete with gag. It’s hot, but her tuck seems a little bouncy for the skimpy panties she’s got on. She calls it “1940’s John Willie vintage smut,” and that’s the truth. Most of the sexy comes from the panties rather than exposed flesh, although she didn’t repeat the ultra-cinch (which was a major Willie theme).
Max is serving Black Widow, with a black corset and garters and a black widow’s red hourglass on her ass. It’s a nice look, but the short sheer skirt accentuates her long legs and she’s doing nothing with them. They read as boy and gawky. It has something to do with her wobbly knees. She’s not making it into a cute mince like Alaska did.
Jaidynn Dior Fierce is wearing actual fashion! She’s serving Chaka Khan realness in a broad leather pleated skirt and a nude blouse with lace appliqué. Plus, a massive wig the size of Violet’s entire torso. It’s not the most elegant thing in the world, but she nailed the theme.
Pearl is also wearing actual capital-F Fashion seemingly unrelated to her typical Gaultier at first glance. It’s a pink leather blazer with popped lapels over dripping pearls and a long asymmetrical skirt with lace fringe. One of her better looks, and her makeup is even strong. Nice growth!
Miss Fame is in an angular panelled corset with massive wings from the bust over a lace dress. Her face is stunning, but the look is a little simple.
Predicted Winners and Lip-Synchers?
Challenge Bests: It seems like Kennedy dominated every answer! I was only moderately impressed with Ginger, who went for an easy amalgam of Latrice’s legendary Aretha plus Ben’s brit Maggie Smith. Outside shot for Katya or Violet, whose impressions were on-point and funny.
Challenge Worsts: Jaidynn got in a few good shots, so should be safe compared to the flatness of Fame and Max.
Final Runaway? Winners: Katya rocked it but Ginger might edge her with the judges just for being different, even if it was a mess. Violet brought her typical A-Game. Lip Sync Candidates are tough to call, because no one failed for me except Ginger and I don’t think the judges will agree. After her, I say Max and Fame, which aligns nicely with Snatch Game.
Should Win? As much as I hated Kennedy’s dress, that was a Snatch performance for the ages and you have to give it to her over Ginger’s mashup of past successes and messy look. Personally, I think Katya bested Ginger again this week.
Should Lip-Sync? Fame and Max, with an outside chance of Jaidynn. The Ru psychology is interesting here. I think Fame is overall stronger than Jaidynn, but Jaidynn has shown growth while Fame hasn’t. Max is also stagnating, but she hasn’t done anything too wrong so far. Does Fame gets sacrificed to Max to shock her into action? Because, if you put Jaidynn up there against either of them, she could legitimately defeat them both. I think that spells curses for Miss Fame.
Ru arrives in a dress that is half lime and half orange, except the top is still lime. Its also not her best wig ever. I think a contestant would get read for it. Our judges are Michelle Visage, Ross Matthews, Michael Urie who can’t even breath he’s so excited, and Tamar Braxton who was born ready for this.
Ru calls forward Violet and Pearl – they are both immediately safe! Nicely done, ladies.
Michael thought Ginger was brilliant and never left character. Michelle nitpicks her hair a little and wishes she went farther with her runway. Michelle loves Fame’s look, but thinks she missed opportunities in Snatch Game. Ross thinks she was 20% there, and Tamar gives good coaching. Michelle hates boy drag… yet she thinks Kennedy killed it. Tamar also loved it. Ross never expected that risk from her – a pageant girl! Kennedy reminds the judges she likes to get a bit messy sometimes. Michael says “this gown… I would climb you.”
Maybe the gown was better in person. I’ve had the sense that for a couple of Kennedy’s gowns that they’re just a little too intricate to read well on camera from the distance she is shot on the runway.
Michelle is happy to see Max in black hair, but Ross thinks she looks “normal” without the gray. Michelle agrees with me that Max nailed the look in Snatch Game but was “missing everything else.” Max is clearly deflated and… undoes her corset? Girl, it’s not like you’re in Violet’s 19” waist from last week, it’s just a normal corset. Max just loses her mind, she starts singing topless on the steps with her padding piled next to her. Michelle is having NONE OF IT.
Tamar thinks Jaidynn was flat. Michelle thinks Jaidynn was funny but then one-note as Raven. Michael thinks Katya looks “so beautiful” and is distracted, and Tamar thinks she was “hilarical.” Michelle wanted even… more? More than the insane Suzie Orman? I don’t even know if that exists! “Push it,” she commands.
In private, Michelle liked Ginger’s Adele and Tamar says, “Today, when she came out in all white and everybody was in all black – only superstars know to do thinks like that.” Michelle loved Fame’s look but not her comedy, and Ross thinks she isn’t “solid in herself.” They judges loved Kennedy on runway and Snatch Game equally. Ross was bummed that Max showed up in perfect Sharon drag and then skimped on characterization. Michelle thinks she’s stuck in a comfort zone, and Michael wants her to find her potential. Michelle thought Jaidynn’s Snatch was one-note, and Tamar says if she was on Drag Race she wouldn’t come as Chaka’s little sister – she’d come as Chaka! Michael loved Katya’s Snatch and Tamar was obsessed with her runway.
Tamar for Drag Race Season 8 Judge! Make it so, Ru!
Katya is safe. Kennedy wins over Ginger! Ginger is pissed and sucks her teeth almost audibly. Ginger then ALSO WINS the challenge. I would bitch about runway having no impact this week, but no one truly owned the look other than Katya and Ru is withhold the win there because she didn’t perform Russian as commanded.
As for the herstoric tie, I’m not impressed. We could have had a quadruple win last season between BenDeLa, Adore, Bianca, and Joslyn. Yes, Joslyn. Watch that shit again. She killed it even while Adore was a living legend sitting directly behind her.
Jaidynn is next, which means she’s bottom two. Boo, but also yay because it’s interesting television? Whoo, this shit is complex. Max is up for elimination! Fame is safe! What is happening?!
OMG, can Max lip sync? Am I willing to see Jaidynn sent home on her best fashion week even though I have been completely over her since episode one? Is Ru over Max’s safeness? Did Max’s meltdown under the tiniest bit of pressure do her in? This is the first truly tense Lip Sync of the season.
Lip Sync: “No More Lies” by Michel’le. More deep cuts. Jaidynn is big to start, but it’s the exact same performance she gave last week, right down to the arm choreography. Max is cute and subtle to start. She’s got the words down, but she’s still doing the gawky knees walk while Jaidynn is whipping her massive hair around. Max’s lip sync is really weak on performance – it refuses to get messy and fight for it, and it’s a bad look on a determined queen. The only risk is that Jaidynn’s is too samey compared to a week ago.
Jaidynn stays! Max is out! Wow! That is the last thing I was expecting out of Snatch Game. I really thought Max was a potential winner, but Ru doesn’t want the next drag superstar to give the illusion of having a box, not living within one.
Sorry, I’m in shock. And then… Ru says she’s bringing back an eliminated queen! Tempest! Trixie! Kasha! Max! Those other girls! Every remaining queen is like, “SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP” right until the end of the episode. I’ll admit, it feels like a week too soon.
I have to impart a final thought about Max. (Or, maybe not-so-final if she comes back next week.)
I think Max playing Sharon Needles in this episode says a lot about how she views herself as a drag performer, since Sharon was the first truly game-changing queen as well as the one to make Snatch Game insular by playing Michelle.
Max has been drawing a deliberate parallel between herself and Sharon all season as smart queens with a distinct theme. However, Max did not heed Sharon’s lessons. Sharon delivered a varied glamour look early on to avoid “break out of your box” comments. Sharon was not afraid to push things to the limit, whether it was her bleeding zombie, her vulgar Visage, or her haughty dog-walker.
You can see how Max thought she was ticking these boxes. She bled on stage! She was glamorous! She delivered a creepy Merle! She was positive her team could win! Yet, what she was missing was something Sharon always had – being in on her own joke. That’s why the “Party City” barbs both got under her skin but quickly melted away – those jabs didn’t acknowledge the depth of Sharon’s drag character and her sheer skill. You can’t effectively tease someone for something they’re very self-aware they are doing (and doing well). The same was true for Jinx and her “comedy queen” taunts.
Max seemed to want to bring a cleaner, safer Sharon to the show and be the first truly “classy” Drag Race winner. That’s fine, but she lacked the combination of self-awareness and controlled messiness. Her version of “do anything to win” was being her best self, but sometimes the answer is doing something that could very well be your worst.
It’s a pity to see her go out on this note, because she was amazing in many ways. She was one of the most all-around talented queens, one of the most fashionable, and perhaps the best team player in Drag Race herstory. She truly would have been a classy champion, if only she would have let her hands get a little bit dirty along the way.
I salute you, Max. You are a beautiful and talented queen and you took us all to Oz every single week.