Last season, RuPaul’s Drag Race went the extra mile to produce its ‘Snatch Game’ episode as an utter failure. One that featured performances so ‘awful’ that the show had to do a Russian roulette of lip syncs to rectify the situation. Was Season 14’s Snatch Game really that bad? If you take away the rattlesnake sound effects and other producer edited shenanigans, not really.
This season, Drag Race strips away the pretense of needing a reason for a lip sync smackdown, carrying on the tradition from last season and pitting the queens against each other and calling it the week’s challenge. Is it lazy on the show runners part? Perhaps, but lip syncing is also a crucial skill in the world of drag, so it makes sense to give each queen a chance to show their skills, even without a bad performance predicating the lip syncs.
Before the lip sync challenge, the queens leave the stage following last week’s elimination of Aura Mayari, where Jax is still coming to terms with how often she’s been in the bottom and Loosey LaDuca complains over the fact that she was not in the top, saying that she carried the scenes she was in. This feels a bit unusual and out of character for LaDuca — who the show has been painting as a charming and multi-talented frontrunner.
When it’s a new day in the werk room, RuPaul prompts the queens to get into their best lip sync assassin drag and meet on the main stage. The girls begin eyeing up their competition, with Mistress targeting Sasha and Anetra as potential lip sync assassins to be frightened of in a battle.
RuPaul explains the challenge for the uninitiated: a series of eight lip sync battles will pit the queens against each other. Winners of the lip sync battles will be safe from elimination, and the losers will continue on to the next round to battle it out again, until a final loser’s bottom two battle results in one queen going home. “This is our version of the Coliseum,” Michelle quips.
The first queen lip syncing is drawn at random, resulting in Malaysia Babydoll Foxx being first up and given the privilege to chose her opponent. She knows Mistress would be an entertaining lip sync but is also threatened by her — instead choosing Marcia Marcia Marcia who seems less threatening.
Marcia gets to choose the song, picking ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ by Anitta, a song much more fitting for her than her opponent. “Didn’t see that coming, did you Malaysia?” Marcia taunts in confessionals while doing backflips and tumbles on stage. Marcia was definitely underestimated here, and she wins the first round while showcasing her skills. Marcia gets to head back to the werk room and watch the remaining lip syncs comfortably on the couch.
The next round brings Loosey to the smackdown, and she chooses Spice as her opponent — another contestant that, like Marcia, the queens don’t recognize as a lip sync threat. Spice chooses ‘Do You Wanna Touch?’ by Joan Jett. Salina EsTitties remarks that she’s rooting for Spice after Loosey’s bad attitude, saying that another loss will send her over the edge.
Spice looks every bit the part of a Joan Jett rocker babe, but neither she nor Loosey really delivers an engrossing lip sync. In the end, RuPaul chooses Loosey over Spice. Loosey’s claims that she “murdered” the round aren’t really all that true, but she gets to join Marcia backstage nonetheless.
Round three pits Luxx Noir London against her opponent, Salina EsTitties who chooses ‘It’s All Coming Back To Me Now’ by Celine Dion. EsTitties is confident in the number, saying she performs it all the time back home, while it’s not in Luxx’s wheelhouse. Salina definitely delivers a more impassioned performance, while Luxx’s moves seem reminiscent of Pearl’s ‘Godzilla’ dance from Season 7. It’s no surprise that RuPaul saves Salina.
The fourth round sees Mistress choosing her opponent: Jax, who chooses ‘Tell It To My Heart’ by Taylor Dane. Mistress is very happy with this, strategically picking Jax because she wanted this song and figured Jax would pick it.
Jax is the queen who has already lip synced the most, and she pulls out the stunts and tricks that have kept her in the competition thus far. Mistress gives a less flashy but still commanding performance, making it a very close battle that ultimately tips in Mistress’s favor, likely due to her performance so far in the rest of the competition compared to Jax’s.
Like Jasmine Kennedy in last year’s lip sync smackdown, Jax bears the weight of challenges before this one, even if she delivers a good lip sync this week. Backstage, the queens watching are all confident that Jax will be coming back victorious, and they’re gagged to see Mistress. “You weren’t giving 100%,” Loosey tells Mistress, something that Mistress herself even agrees with, rationalizing that she was saving energy if she needed to go a second round.
Through process of elimination, the two competitors no one wanted to lip sync against are pitted against each other: Anetra and Sasha.Fate hands Anetra the choice of song, and she chooses ‘I’m In Love With a Monster’ by Fifth Harmony. Without shock, both put on an impressive show with hair flips, splits and dips that proved the rest of the queens were right to fear these two.
Sasha Colby is just such a monster when it comes to this competition, and if Anetra were up against literally anyone else in the cast she would’ve completely devoured them. Sasha truly killed it though, giving Anetra another chance to prove herself.
The sixth round pits the first round’s losers against each other, and Malysia is back up again as first pick. Of the remaining queens, she chooses Spice who picks ‘Don’t Go Yet’ by Camilla Cabello. “I know Malaysia doesn’t know the words to this song,” Spice remarks.
In the lip sync, it’s obvious Malaysia doesn’t know the words, but neither does Spice. She gives a typically energetic, if not off-beat, performance, while Malaysia opts for a more soulful interpretation with twirls and strutting. Malaysia wins, and it makes sense — Spice didn’t capture the energy of the song at all.
Anetra, Jax and Luxx then have to perform a three-way lip sync to ‘The Right Stuff’ by Vanessa Williams. Of the three, Luxx is the only one to yet really showcase a strong performance in lip syncing. This lip sync is full of splits and duck walking stunts, and after just battling Sasha Colby, Anetra is still invigorated into putting out a high energy performance, but it’s not enough to save her.
RuPaul ends up saving Luxx, and gives the remaining three queens a twist: only two of them will be lip syncing. The queen who’s name is chosen at random will have to lip sync, but she gets to choose her opponent, and the remaining queen gets immediately saved.
Anetra is chosen, and between Jax and Spice, she saves Spice and goes for a battle against lip sync assassin Jax. “I can’t lip sync against Spice,” Anetra confesses, thinking it would be too easy. “Do y’all think that’s fair?”
Jax and Anetra duke it out to ‘Finally’ by CeCe Peniston. Anetra actually made a solid choice for the viewers in choosing to save Spice; she and Jax together undoubtedly put on a more entertaining final round than if it were Anetra devouring poor Spice. After a tight lip sync, it’s no surprise that Jax gets cut, because lip syncing alone isn’t enough to last in Drag Race. Anetra, however, is humbled by how close she was to elimination — after being fairly confident at the start.
After forty minutes of lip syncing, Drag Race wraps up for the week. Next week will see the remaining contestants celebrate the series’ 200th episode with a ball episode.
Watch RuPaul’s Drag Race on Fridays on MTV and streaming on Paramount+.