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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

There’s no “Snatch Game Of Love” lost as RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars amps up the drama

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars
Photo: Courtesy of VH1
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Snatch Game may be a beloved Drag Race tradition, but it’s always a bit of a crapshoot. Snatch Game Of Love, the All Stars season four twist on the game, pares the game down to only three queens at a time instead of the standard eight to 10, forcing the All Stars to sink or swim rather than languishing in the middle. It only takes one or two strong Snatch Game performances to tip the balance of these episodes, and “Snatch Game Of Love” thankfully delivers on that front, however the more interesting development is the gloves-off twist in the social game which ensures there will be plenty of drama as All Stars season five heads into its final episodes.

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The episode begins with the queens reacting to Mayhem’s elimination. It turns out the vote was unanimous; like Ongina, Mayhem chose her own lipstick. Shea and the rest of the queens have little patience for this decision, and the conversation moves quickly to the queens’ sense of their rankings. Shea puts Cracker and Jujubee up top, with her in third, while Alexis tries to nominate Jujubee as front-runner (which she is having absolutely none of, take that target away please). India knows she’s in trouble, having been in the bottom three times now, and she’s ready to pull out all the stops to stay.

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The next day, after some foreshadowing from Cracker, Ru comes into the workroom to announce Snatch Game Of Love. The queens will be split into two groups of three to compete on All Stars season four’s dating game twist on Snatch Game. They’ll need to tweak their celebrity impressions to fit this setting while still nailing their looks, their characters, and making Ru laugh. The queens are excited. Alexis has landed in the top twice for Snatch Game, but none of the other queens particularly shone in their initial outings, so they have plenty to prove.

Jujubee is excited to play Eartha Kitt, unconcerned about Chi Chi DeVayne and Valentina’s previous Snatch Game performances as her. She’s banking on her physicality and her love of her cats to carry her. Shea will be going all-out as Flava Flav, the latest queen to take the high risk, high reward move of playing a larger-than-life man. Alexis is doing the same, playing celebrity astrologer Walter Mercado. Both Flava Flav and Mercado are excellent choices, with plenty of distinct, heightened elements Shea and Alexis can draw on in their performances. The first hurdle in Snatch Game is choosing your celebrity wisely. Jujubee, Shea, and Alexis have each chosen well; their challenge will be living up to the potential of their picks.

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Ru comes in for a walk-through and after checking in with Alexis, heads to India’s station. India announces she’ll be taking a risk with her first ever Snatch Game. Ru responds with a read about India’s continual bottom placement—perhaps he’s none too thrilled that India’s scraped by through three votes—and India announces she’ll be playing cosmetics entrepreneur Jeffree Star. Rather than focusing on India playing a man, Ru asks how India plans to make the controversial figure funny. India tries when prompted and falls flat on her face. She’s done some prep work, but she’s got a ways to go to be ready for the pace of Snatch Game.

Blair is also new to Snatch Game and she’ll be playing Ellen Degeneres. It should be easy for her to get the look down, but when prompted by Ru, she captures some of Ellen’s on-air persona but doesn’t find the funny. There’s plenty of space for a strong Snatch Game performance of Ellen, particularly one drawing on the rumored contrast between Ellen’s public image and behind-the-scenes treatment of her staff and crew. This won’t be that, though, and like India, Blair could be in trouble. As for Cracker, she doesn’t get a walk-through moment, which is for the best, as she’ll be impersonating Lady Gaga. Sonqiue and Phi Phi O’Hara both struck out with Lady Gaga previously, Sonique getting sent home in season two and Phi Phi landing in the bottom in season four. Gaga is an icon, and her Drag Race episode is great, but she’s very hard to make funny. Hopefully Cracker knows what she’s doing.

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Illustration for article titled There’s no “Snatch Game Of Love” lost as iRuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars /iamps up the drama
Photo: Courtesy of VH1

With Blair anxious, but committed to her choice of Ellen, the episode heads to the Snatch Game Of Love. The first set of queens is Cracker, Alexis, and India. They look good and their opening salvos are solid, if not hilarious. Ru introduces Tommy Dorfman as the first Snatchelor and he’s game, playing well with the queens. Cracker treads water a bit as Gaga, and Alexis is a lot of fun as Mercado, but India is almost immediately in trouble as Star. Her banter lacks a punch and her timing could be better. As the segment continues, Alexis emerges as the clear winner of the group, and India will definitely be in the bottom.

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The second group is Blair, Jujubee, and Shea, and they’re immediately an improvement on the first. Jujubee is ridiculous in just the right way as Kitt and Shea hits the ground running as Flav. Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman returns as Snatchelor number two and he and Ru pick back up with their forbidden romance narrative. After taking a moment with Ru, Bowyer-Chapman begins his questions and while Blair is fine, if forgettable, Jujubee and Shea are terrific. They have their characters down, giving answers that track for their celebrity’s personas while fitting the Dating Game format to a tee. Both have genuine laugh-out-loud moments, a rarity on Snatch Game, and they stay present throughout, playing off of each other rather than waiting for their next question. Bowyer-Chapman picks Shea as the winner of the round, but Jujubee will be up in the top too and Blair has to be in danger, having whiffed a few easy set-ups.

Normally, viewers get plenty of time with the queens as they prepare for the main stage, but here the episode jumps right to the runway, conserving time for deliberations. Ru heads out on the main stage, looking fabulous in a massive white, pink, blue, and yellow confection with a hoop skirt. After welcoming guest judges Dorfman and Bowyer-Chapman, it’s time for the runway. Category is: Prom Queen Fantasy. Cracker is out first in a hot pink dress, more focused on her unfortunate acne breakout than her fabulous hair and mug. Alexis goes glam in a red tulle and lace gown, while India goes goth in black and lace. Blair is her own prom date in a red and blue tux top and red skirt, with both a top hat and crown. Jujubee is very ’80s in a short lavender dress and crimped hair, and Shea goes personal, drawing on her season 10 finale elimination with a crown spilling rose petals all over her pink and nude illusion gown. Shea’s look is the most striking, but while they all look good, it’s hard not to think back to Gigi Goode’s season 12 Eleganza Extravaganza look and wish the All Stars had done more.

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Illustration for article titled There’s no “Snatch Game Of Love” lost as iRuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars /iamps up the drama
Photo: Courtesy of VH1

The judges give their critiques and unsurprisingly, Cracker, India, and Blair have the weakest feedback, while Alexis, Jujubee, and Shea all are commended for their performances. Ru declares Shea the winner then announces the latest twist: From this point on, no one will be safe. Either you’re the winner, or you’re up for elimination. That throws a wrench in things, and the girls head back to deliberate. Here’s where things get interesting. Cracker and India have the worst critiques, but Shea could choose any lipstick. As she asks, why shouldn’t she vote out Alexis, who tried to eliminate her? India takes Shea aside and tells her that back when she was in the bottom, Alexis and Mayhem campaigned to vote Shea out, asking India to pick Shea’s lipstick. At that time, they only needed four votes to eliminate someone, and both Alexis and Mayhem seemed surprised no one else voted for Shea, so India’s story carries some water. Alexis strenuously denies it, sticking to her guns that she only voted for Shea because of her close relationships with Mariah and India. Both Alexis and India are steadfast, and that puts the other queens in an awkward position. One of them is lying, and fans will need to wait until the start of the next episode to find out who believes whom.

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Back on the main stage, Shea awaits the lip-sync assassin. After the appropriate pomp and circumstance, it’s revealed to be… Vanjie? Vanessa Vanjie Mateo is a fan favorite and she did send home two queens in season 11, but few would consider her an all-time Drag Race lip-sync assassin. This is a tough moment for Alexis, Vanjie’s drag mother, as Alexis knows she’s in a precarious position and having her drag daughter announce her elimination is exactly the kind of gag the producers would love. Shea and Vanjie ready themselves and dive in with Madonna’s “Open Your Heart.” The camera stays on Shea for most of the performance, despite Vanjie pulling some stunts and tricks, and in the end, it’s not close. Shea is the winner, and after a quick hug between Vanjie and Alexis, it’s time for the reveal. Shea has chosen to send India home.

She may have spent the majority of her time on All Stars in the bottom, but India has definitely made an impression. She came into the season best known for being picked up and spun by another queen and she leaves having won a challenge and served up memorable, dramatic looks on each runway. She has undoubtedly raised her profile among Drag Race fans and while Snatch Game may not have been her shining moment, she showed herself well through most of her run. Season five is now down to a top five, with Shea as the front-runner and Cracker and Jujubee right behind her. If Alexis or Blair want a chance at the crown, they’ll need to find their breakthrough moment, and soon.

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Stray observations

  • This is Bowyer-Chapman’s third time as a guest judge, and he’s also one of the regular judges on Canada’s Drag Race, along with Brooke Lynn Hytes and Stacey McKenzie.
  • Cracker did better than expected as Lady Gaga, an admittedly low bar, but her quick puns felt decidedly more Cracker than Gaga.
  • Shea definitely won Snatch Game—I agree with the judges that it’s an all-timer performance—but Jujubee just about broke me with her lady frog bit. Chi Chi DeVayne and Valentina were fun as Eartha Kitt, but Jujubee absolutely slayed.
  • I’m not big on the overinflated beefs that pop up between the queens, but this India vs. Alexis dynamic feels different. The queens don’t usually go this hard, one of them unabashedly lying direct to camera. It’ll be interesting to see the fall-out.
  • Once again, Jujubee crushed her talking heads. Right now, she’s not being presented as a true contender to Shea for the win, but she’s definitely the season’s standout commentator.
  • What’s happening with Ru’s hair in his prom photo?
  • Vanjie’s, “I don’t get no…?” is great. The lip-sync may have been underwhelming, but my affinity for Vanjie remains unchanged.
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