That's DAME Maggie Smith, You Cretin
As ever, The Snatch Game is the bomb.
Wipe that Mirror
This episode will stoke my fury when RuPaul's Drag Race gets passed over for an Emmy nomination this year. I'm watching The Amazing Race, and I can tell you for a stone fact that it pales next to what the queens just served.
Even the mirror-wipe has some crucial content this week. Darienne, looking askance at Milk's pregnancy drag, says that while the rest of the queens are playing major-league baseball, Milk is playing checkers. Not even the same game, y'all!
Meanwhile, Laganja continues to be unbearable. She is STILL working that "No one gave me my mommy moment" bullshit from the last episode, acting all devastated by the lack of attention. Then, just in case anyone dares to ignore her, she turns up in the workroom the next morning wearing a turban made out of a curtain. THEN she spouts some nonsense talk. "You'll call me ferocious for filth darling, but I am born to get an amen up in here!" Something like that.
I mean…look. It's sad. It's sad that Laganja's desperate need for approval is so obviously pulsing beneath her crepe-thin skin. It's sad that she's deafened by an inner narrative that screams, "Make them notice you, or you will disappear!" It's like her fear just takes over, forcing her to act like a fool or a crybaby before she even knows what's happening, because she has developed the false notion that this will salve her self-loathing. Deep down, she must want to silence all that madness and just exist, but at the moment, she can't overcome the belief that histrionics provide her her only chance to get noticed.
But as sad as it is, it's also irritating. Laganja needs to shut up and go away.
We don't even have a mini-challenge this week, because just like the mythical Saturn, the Snatch Game consumes all.
Bianca says this challenge separates the talented from the talent-free, and she's right. You can't get through it on looks alone, and because RuPaul calls on everyone individually, you can't disappear in a group. You either show up with some talent, wit, and intelligence, or you get exposed.
Think about how daunting this is. The queens not only have to impersonate a celebrity, but also have to spin that celebrity in a way that allows for big, funny, improvised jokes. Half the Emmy winners in America would fail at this, so it's really something for these queens to give it a shot.
Happily, a lot of them do a good job. For instance, thanks to her insane Anna Nicole Smith impression (and her well-argued points about Laganja's fakery in Untucked), I'm now rooting for Adore Delano. Joslyn Fox also surprises as Teresa Giudice. I've never seen a second of a Housewives episode, but I'm still laughing because Joslyn commits to her character's trashy outrageousness. (It's clear Joslyn is not as dumb as I first believed.)
Meanwhile, Bianca (as Judge Judy) and Darienne (as Paula Deen) give us this little exchange:
Judge Bianca, screaming at another contestant: That's BALONEY!
Darienne Deen: I'm ready for a fried baloney sandwich myself!
As a born-and-raised Tennesseean, I can confirm that I am also ready for a fried baloney sandwich. (Let me add that Bianca grows on me this week, between helping Adore with her cinching problems and making some accurate and insightful points during the Untucked Laganja pile-on.)
But the big Snatch Game news is Ben DeLaCreme as Maggie Smith. If you happened to see the play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, then you saw Kristine Nielsen give the world's best Maggie Smith impression, but DeLa is a close second. And her improv really takes us over the top. When Trinity (as Nicki Minaj) complains that Maggie LaCreme doesn't speak normal English, Maggie retorts that her people invented the language. SCORE.
Meanwhile, Courtney (as Fran Drescher) is a non-presence, Milk (as Julia Child) is stiff and weird, Trinity Minaj has no point of view, and neither do Laganja as Rachel Zoe or Gia as Kim Kardashian. Please note that Gia's original character was going to be Selena, the Tejano singer who was tragically murdered by the president of her fan club. Because that's such an obvious well for comedy.
A Moment of "Realness"
In between the Snatch Game and the Runway, the show gins up an excuse for DeLa to talk about how he used to be fat and how that used to make him miserable. If that doesn't telegraph that he's going to win, then I don't know what does, especially because Darienne, who actually IS hefty, doesn't factor into the conversation. This is clearly less about addressing size issues in the gay community than it is about giving DeLa a triumphant storyline.
But at the same time, those size issues are still broached. I just wish the show would dig a little deeper and not be so obvious in its ulterior motives.
Oh, and this is where Bianca agrees to help Adore cinch her waist, prompting Adore to say that she views Bianca as a stepmother. Insert Cinderella joke here.
Stomp the Runway
The queens are told their runway looks should be an homage to RuPaul, and some of them have her EXACT DRESSES from previous episodes.
To be honest, though, all the looks are obliterated in my memory when Milk saunters out as a male RuPaul, all bald caps and ankle-revealing slimline suits. I've been a fan of Milk's boundary-pushing looks in the past, but for me, this is a bridge too far. Yes, I get that his look follows the letter of the challenge, but it completely violates the spirit. It also suggests that Milk uses his nonconformity as a crutch, not as a weapon. If you'll recall, edgy queens like Sharon Needles, Alaska, Raja, and Jinkx Monsoon were all able to modify their outré styles when the challenge called for something more glamorous. It demonstrated that they were in control of their art form, that they were adaptable. Compared to them, Milk seems limited by her own narrow insistence on protecting "her drag." To me, that says she's afraid to try something that might make her uncomfortable, which is a problem.
RuPaul says something similar when she calls Milk out for criticism, noting that "it's hard to fall in love with someone who doesn't show that vulnerability." So true! And once the contestants have left, Community's Gillian Jacobs, who is joined on the panel by fellow guest judge Heather McDonald, notes that every previous contestant who has clung too fiercely to "their drag" has gotten sent home shortly thereafter.
Good on you for knowing that, Gillian! I love that she's such a fan of the show. It makes me believe we could have drinks and holler about Morgan McMichaels. (During the Snatch Game portion, she even declares that she's seen every episode of Drag U. That's my sister, right there. I'll bet she called Ru's house and wouldn't hang up until he let her on the show.)
Anyway, when the sequins settle, DeLa wins, which gives Ru the opportunity to praise "the prime of Ben DeLaCreme." That's a very nice reference to Maggie Smith's Oscar-winning turn in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which is at least as relevant as a recurring challenge based on The Match Game. Adore and Bianca are also in the top, Milk barely squeaks by, and Gia and Laganja must lip sync for their lives.
Lip Sync for Your Life
Can they both go home, please? Along with Trinity, these are the two stinkers remaining. As they perform to Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam's "Head to Toe," Gia seems as dead-eyed as ever, while Laganja predictably goes overboard. There are only so many death drops I care to see in a lifetime, and she pushes me well over my limit. (Sidebar: "Lost In Emotion" is the best Lisa Lisa song, followed by "Head to Toe," followed by "All Cried Out.")
In the end, Gia must sashay away, and I'm sure she doesn't understand that when RuPaul says "juh-juh-juh-GIA!", she's referencing old Chia Pet commercials.
Have you noticed how many HIV-awareness ads run with this show? Trinity proves their relevance by revealing to the group that she is HIV-positive. It's another reminder that HIV and AIDS are not things of the past.
Trinity also gets the parental Skype message, which prompts even more emotion. The rest of the safe queens -- Courtney, Darienne, and Joslyn -- respond really beautifully, offering what seems like genuine support. They also make a few jokes, but unlike Laganja, Trinity doesn't flip out about it. Overall, it's a lovely moment, however staged, of the contestants being there for each other and demonstrating that drag queens have plenty of reasons to stick together.
Later, the Laganja smackdown finally arrives, with Laganja obviously angling for screen time by cooking up some ludicrous squabble with Adore. Laganja says she can't remember exactly HOW Adore insulted her earlier, but that it totally happened and totally hurt. Oh, and Laganja just wants everyone to be nice to her ALL THE TIME. Gia either falls for or doesn't understand this narcissistic ploy, so she becomes Laganja's weeping wingman. "I understand you! I hurt too. Blah blah blah."
Thankfully, nobody else buys any of it, and Bianca especially shines as she refuses to take Laganja's shit. Ultimately, the hysterics go on for so long that the episode ends before anyone can talk about Milk's man-drag, which is kind of a tragedy. But it's still good TV.
Most Watchable Moment
No question: Ben DeLaCreme's Maggie Smith impression gets the trophy.