After this season’s double week of feature film premieres, one question looms in my mind: How? How, reader, will Drag Race Have you ever surpassed that perfect set of episodes? Because this challenge is so awesome, it’s easy to forget (but it’s important to realize) how hard it could have been to flop.
Snatch Game is unpredictable in the best of times of the year. For every Kennedy Davenport as Little Richard, there’s an Asia O’Hara as Beyoncé. Some seasons are lopsided above average (like Season 6) and some significantly lower (Season 14), but ironically the only constant of the Snatch game is variance. That’s what makes this particular Gambit so bold. At the beginning of the episode, Ru announces that this winning crew doesn’t have to prepare just one two Celebrity impersonations to take part in two full-length Snatch Games. It is a remarkable testament to faith and shows the deep trust and reverence that production has in these champions. And darling, it’s paying off.
Snapping game #1
The first of the two, this snatch game, turns out to be a fairly even playing field. Zingers fly off the stage left, right and center. Monét’s Mike Tyson is a remarkable standout with spot on characterization and spot on lisp work. Her “fuck ’em in the ass” line may be a single note, but every time she says it, it’s so well placed and delivered with such accuracy that it’s hard to notice or care that it’s a bit repetitive.
When it comes to creativity, Raja as Madame and Trinity as Luci(fer) top the charts. Raja is a visual artist first, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that her prosthetics create a world-class puppet illusion and her use of riding crops as puppet sticks makes for a perfect visual gag (and the jokes aren’t bad either!) Trinity poses depicts her Satan as a feminine devil who walks past Luci and boasts an intimate knowledge of all things Drag Race, pop culture and raunchy sex. It’s a clever idea, and one that allows Trinity to turn a simple joke into something utterly clever. It’s a hit with Ru and Michelle and establishes Trinity as one to watch this episode.
And lest you forget, there’s the brilliant Jinkx as Natasha Lyonne. It almost feels like boasting. Jinkx probably had 10-15 imitations that she could have used with the same brilliance as the amuse bouche for her Judy Garland (Bette Davis, Liza Minnelli, Joan Cusack to name a few that I’ve personally seen her perform live). But she picked the most technically difficult just to show off. Her timing and physicality as Natasha are impeccable and her jokes are works of art. Saying watching Jaida try to outdo Monét would be like “watching a 4-year-old move a couch”? Instantly iconic.
Rounding out the package is the perfect shea coulee as Elsa Majimbo – a performance that would probably be considered high in any other snatch game – who starred Vivienne as the charming and secure Joanna Lumley, Jaida as the mysterious but hilarious prince, and Yvie Oddly as a Grid Rico Nasty. But the real treat is yet to come.
Snapping game #2
RuPaul should dedicate her next Emmy to Jinkx Monsoon. As Judy Garland, it’s no exaggeration to say that Jinkx has reached the pinnacle of what it means to compete in the snatch game. Jinkx’s Judy Garland is rehearsed, captivating, and equal parts reverent and irreverent. She dominates the game from start to finish without even raising her voice above a soft coo. It’s the kind of performance that you can only give once you’ve seen it Judy Garland Live at Carnegie Hall DVD every day since you were 4 years old. And even if you did, you’d still be at a loss if you didn’t have Jinkx’s wonderfully deranged mind, practiced skills, and innate fagot. I can’t even decide on a favorite piece! Squirt traces of coke from Frank Sinatra’s penis? Her addressing the camera directly to speak to her season 5 veteran? She rops down the mic so she doesn’t trip during her, but not one two song breaks? (Okay, it’s the last one. But it’s close!) I will never be able to say enough good things about this snatch game, but for now I’ll end it here: Jinkx Monsoon, you will always be famous.
This shouldn’t detract from the performance of the other queens. They were good, and in some cases excellent. Trinity’s Leslie Jordan is definitive, perhaps even surpassing her memorable Caitlyn Jenner from last year All stars. (Leslie Jordan using a condom as a raincoat is a perfect joke, and that was off the cuff!) Diana Vreeland is another perfect move from Raja’s imagination, and Monet once again shines with a very solid portrayal of “Martin.” Lawrence” (Well really Sheneneh, as you can see, but we have a good copyright loophole!).
Back on the main stage, the catwalk is no problem either. Monét is stunning in her molded faux leather dress, as is Raja in a Vivienne Westwood-inspired silhouette (another flawless addition to her runway portfolio). Jinkx and Jaida make me scream too. The queens feature some of the best drags we’ve seen from the two of them, and it’s only episode two! We are feast. The judges deliberate and, no surprise, it’s Jinkx in the top two, along with Trinity. (I would have picked Monét, but there really is an embarrassing amount of wealth on stage tonight, so no complaints here.) The two lips sync to Adele’s “Rumor Has It,” with Jinkx ultimately crowned the true winner. Certainly not my favorite performance from Trinity or Jinkx, but nothing can dim the luster of today’s Snatch Game, so it’s quickly forgiven. True to her word, Jinkx applies the blocking plunger… Shea! A smart move by a savvy queen that closes two incredible episodes.
But there’s another thread that ties these episodes together aside from their quality: friendliness. Not just friendliness between the queens (although the respect each of them has for the artistry of the others is quite evident), but friendliness from the show itself. Incidents that could easily have been portrayed as embarrassing failures (like a few of Yvie’s non-laughing lines ), are quickly forgotten as the cut instead features the blooming queens like Trinity or Jinkx. These knife twists and narrative “gotcha” moments are noticeably absent from both episodes, cultivating an overall atmosphere of joy and celebration. While it’s probably a side effect of the fact that there are no eliminations this season and therefore there’s no need to narratively justify a queen’s exit by casting her in a bad light, it’s certainly a welcome one. Don’t get me wrong: I live for a bit of irreverent reality TV editing and Drag Race does it like no other, but something about the way these winners are presenting themselves this season just feels simple Correctly. The queens are treated like, well… kings! They deserve it.
Until next week!
https://www.vulture.com/article/drag-race-all-stars-winners-recap-season-7-episode-2-snatch-game.html Drag Race All-Stars Winners Recap Episode 2: “Snatch Game”