Metro Weekly

RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 episode seven: A Tired Snatch

From reading to Snatch Game to runway, this was not Drag Race's finest episode

Photo: VH1

There’s no escaping Snatch Game. A Drag Race staple since it first appeared in season two, a powerful mix of celebrity impression, cheesy game show and quick wit comedy, it leaves no prisoners. Queens live and die by their performances, and there’s no golden rule — sometimes the weakest rise to the top, sometimes the most confident end up lipsyncing for their lives.

Eight seasons later, very little has changed — for better or worse. Also, lest we forget, it’s only been a couple of months since the All Stars 3 queens had their stab at Snatch Game — and that was such a car crash that it led to calls for Drag Race to abandon the format entirely.

Unfortunately, this week’s episode didn’t do much to change that, though we were at least spared the indignity of queens impersonating previous Drag Race contestants (or RuPaul herself).

Before all of that, though, it was the fallout from last week’s elimination, which saw Blair St. Clair sent home. The Vixen, clearly shaken from her lipsync, vowed to not hold back any more. Eureka — who for some reason has assumed the role of Drag Race sage, doling out (often unrequested) advice — then told Vixen to stop embracing “The Bear” (aka her no shit’s given alter ego). Bad move, Eureka, as Vixen immediately pounced, affirming that The Bear is part of her drag. This was all foreshadowing for a later showdown between the two, but we’ll come back to that in a bit.

Monique Heart also had a wobble at the start of the episode. Clearly tired of having to pull all of her outfits together at the last minute, she lamented her lack of money holding her back in the competition. Unlike many of the other queens, she’s created her (often sickening) looks moments before walking the runway, something she believes is preventing her from being recognized more by the judges. It’s a fair assessment, though Monét X Change was quick to point out that she also lacks money, but makes it work.

On with the episode proper and it was time for another Drag Race staple: yes, the library was open for the reading mini-challenge. Unfortunately, much like the Snatch Game about to follow, this was a rather lackluster affair. Eureka smartly read all the other queens for body shaming her before many had a chance to, but there were few laugh-out-loud moments, despite Ru’s aggressive chortling at some of the shadier comments. Eureka was declared the winner, but it was hardly a challenge.

The queens were given their obligatory “It’s Snatch Game week!” prep from RuPaul (they can all guess what episode it’s going to be based on the number of contestants left), and then it was into the workroom. RuPaul entered to give his usual confidence-destroying pep talks, this time with season six winner (and best Drag Race winner ever — facts are facts) Bianca Del Rio.

As per, RuPaul tried to guide some of the queens towards different characterizations, or to tweak their impersonations in ways that would appeal to the judges, while Bianca stared at them, clearly wondering when she could leave and go back out on tour.

On with the challenge proper and it was… well, a bit of a shit show, really. Not season four bad, but not great either. This season’s celebrity competitors were Broadway royalty Audra McDonald and model Kate Upton, and they had front row seats to the mixed bag that was about to ensue. Let’s run down the various queens:

Aquaria: Opting for Melania Trump really could have gone either way, but Aquaria managed to not only riff on some of the First Lady’s best tropes, but also make her both shady and likable. Swapping her name card out for Michelle Obama and then commenting on someone else not writing their own material? Genius. And her quips were genuinely amusing: Responding to Kameron’s Chyna trying to read her, Aquaria retorted “No wonder my husband is complaining about China all the time.”

Asia O’Hara: If you’re not into awkward Snatch Game performances, prepare to cringe. Asia planned to do Whitney Houston, but was essentially told not to by RuPaul due to her using powdered sugar as a prop (you can probably guess why). Her alternative? Beyonce, an infamously dreadful celebrity to impersonate on Snatch Game. Asia, for whatever reason, chose to portray her as bitter, angry, and incredibly mean. It was horrible to watch, particularly her interactions with Vixen’s Blue Ivy.

Eureka: Playing to her strengths of being both loud and obnoxious, Eureka was perfect as Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson. In a giant pink dress and high on sugar and “Go Go Juice,” she bantered well with RuPaul and the other queens, and while her performance was a little one-note, her decision to answer every question with a drawing — ultimately ending up with drawing all over herself — was inspired.

Kameron Michaels: Kameron continued her recent trend of being present, but not exactly standing out, with the smart choice of impersonating wrestler Chyna. An amusing response about testosterone, complete with appropriate drop in voice, was enough to keep her safe,  but she faded into the background alongside some of the other queens.

Miz Cracker: Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by previous seasons, but Cracker’s choice of Dorothy Parker — famed for her wit — was a disappointment. It didn’t help that Cracker has been touting herself as a comedy queen, and specifically told RuPaul in the workroom that she could make Parker work, but then seemed to struggle to make her jokes land. She wasn’t bad, she was just… there.

Monét X Change: It should be noted that this season was filmed last year, before All Stars 3 aired, which explains why Monét opted for Maya Angelou so soon after Chi Chi DeVayne’s disastrous attempt. Thank goodness, then, that Monét killed it. Consistently funny, always in character, and with a clear knowledge of Angelou’s work, Monét was a great example of a queen doing their research before forming a Snatch Game character. Her best line? After Monique’s Maxine Waters asked “Aren’t you dead?” Monét snapped back “Like dust, still, I rise.” It was brilliant.

Monique Heart: While RuPaul might have steered Asia away from Whitney Houston out of fear of being sued, telling Monique to pick Rep. Maxine Waters over Empire‘s Cookie Lyon smacked more of RuPaul wanting to see Waters, rather than giving Monique the best advice for who she could actually portray. The wheels were spinning every second of this impersonation: a single “Impeach Trump” sign and an off-key usage of “Reclaiming my time!” were all Monique had. It was sad to watch, especially given what could have been.

The Vixen: Sometimes a risky choice can pay off, and sometimes we have The Vixen making the inexplicable decision to be Beyonce’s daughter Blue Ivy. An impersonation based solely on Blue’s tendency to look unhappy in photos while at public events with mom and dad, Vixen ended up looking incredibly weak next to Eureka’s boisterous Honey Boo Boo. And Asia didn’t help, her angry Beyonce shouting at Blue at every opportunity.

Much like the last few seasons, Snatch Game was a great way to put the queens through the mill, but lacked any truly iconic characterizations. And, as if to prove that point, Bianca Del Rio was randomly brought back at the end in her Judge Judy costume — an iconic impersonation, but one that didn’t even win on her season because there were so many strong queens.

The following day, it was pretty clear in the workroom that Asia was not happy with what went down in Snatch Game. Refusing to even engage with Vixen following their terrible mother-daughter interactions, she offered one of the most prophetic things ever said on Drag Race: “It may come down to what we wear on the runway.” As she’d learn, this is absolutely the case.

After earlier foreshadowing, Vixen vs. Eureka almost came to a head when the two sat down to do their makeup. Vixen accused Eureka of stealing other queen’s moments during the challenge and being unprofessional — though Monét rightfully pointed out that Vixen was likely jealous, and that Asia stepped on far more toes than Eureka.

Talk then turned to politics, and Drag Race — benefiting from a more diverse set of queens than in some earlier seasons — offered a glimpse into the experience that many African American drag queens face in Trump’s America. Monét stated that she thought it was important to make her act political where necessary, given the current state of politics, but Monique retorted that she’d had to shy away from performing a political number in Kansas City due to tensions in the wake of Trump’s election and subsequent support of white nationalists and Nazis. “I just didn’t want to come back and get shot,” she said, adding that she lives in a former slave state and is constantly reminded of that fact. “Where I work, African Americans were not even allowed to walk on until the late ’60s, early ’70s.”

Vixen also noted that politics form a large part of her act, including deliberately making white people in the audience face their own privilege. Speaking to camera, she noted that drag shouldn’t just be an escape from reality, but a way to face it and deal with it. She then recounted a story from Pride in Chicago, where a bartender posted on social media that “South side trash” had ruined Pride, a comment widely believed to be aimed at the city’s African American community. Vixen’s (frankly amazing) response? She started speaking up about it, including wearing a homemade costume emblazoned with “South Side Trash” and surrounded by caution tape. “I spent so much time keeping my mouth shut to get ahead,” she said, “that when I feel attacked it all comes out.”

After that emotional moment, it was on to one of Drag Race‘s more bizarre runway themes in recent memory: Mermaid Fantasy, a tribute to Bette Midler’s Delores Delago character. Wheeled out on stage by the Pit Crew, this was a really odd choice. The lack of movement meant it felt flat, despite the judge’s best attempts to throw out as many fishy quips as possible.

Our Tops:

  • Aquaria slayed this challenge. Serving up an oil-slicked mermaid, complete with matching hair and running blue tears, she was more art installation than drag queen. It was a daring choice, particularly given the relatively monochrome color scheme, but it stood out in a sea of similar outfits.
  • Kameron might have offered a rather basic concept — a pretty mermaid, how original — but it was put together well. Plus, this was perhaps the most beautiful she has looked on Drag Race thus far.
  • Monét‘s outfit might have confused the judges, but it was at least a different portrayal than the soft and gentle mermaids we’re used to seeing. As a powerful warrior, she killed it.

Out Bottoms:

  • Monique shimmered in sequins, but it was just a little… boring. It’s as if she finally ran out of steam and turned her dress from last week into a tail.
  • The Vixen looked unpolished and far too boyish to pull off this fantasy.
  • This might be an unpopular opinion, but Eureka was fine until she bit into a blood capsule and had it pouring down her front. Sharon Needles ensured in season four that no one else could do this on the runway without being compared to her — and Eureka’s outfit wasn’t exciting enough to compensate for the comparison.

After sending Cracker and Kameron to the back of the stage, safe until next week, RuPaul asked the remaining six queens to pick who should go home. It was here that Eureka and Vixen finally came to verbal blows. After Eureka dodged a response by saying Asia, because she is her biggest competitor, Vixen laid into Eureka, saying she had never seen “such a level of unprofessionalism” as she has with Eureka, including that she was baffled by the judges’ love for Eureka and that she “takes all the air out of the room” and that she has to have the last word.

Eager to prove Vixen’s point, Eureka immediately jumped in to have the last word. Her defense was essentially “Sorry I’m obnoxious, deal with it,” followed by crying and talking about herself and her strengths for far too long. Vixen, it should be noted, was silent while four of the six queens on stage critiqued her and said she should go home.

Ultimately, it was Aquaria who earned her win this week, after a genuinely surprising Snatch Game performance and a stunning mermaid look.

Asia perfectly predicted her own fate in the workroom — her Beyonce was on track to land her in the bottom two, but an interesting mermaid concept that swapped drag fish for actual fish kept her safe. Not so lucky were Monique Heart and The Vixen, who wound up lipsyncing to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Cut To The Feeling.”

Photo: VH1

What followed was one of the most tragic lipsyncs in Drag Race history. Monique has been one of the most charismatic, engaging and humorous competitors in recent memory, throwing out quips, shade, and serving fierce looks and great performances. Never quite able to translate that into a win, it was clear that after the humiliation of Snatch Game and the harsh critiques of her mermaid costume she was worn out. It didn’t help that she knew only a handful of the lyrics, but even her attempts to dance out the song seemed half-hearted. Vixen scraped her way to a win with a limp performance that would have sent her home any other week, but it was Monique who was asked to sashay away — and Ru’s disappointment was palpable.

Kudos to Monique for owning her fate, acknowledging that she didn’t know the words and deserved to go. It didn’t make this loss any easier to bear, though.

And that was episode seven. What did you think? Did you gag over any moments we missed? Will the show be the same without Monique quipping to camera? Let us know in the comments!

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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