“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Episode 1309 Recap: That’s Hot

My quarantine girlfriends are back! After a week off, Drag Race returns with the game that taught a generation of gays about Grey Gardens. That’s right. It’s Snatch Game, baby!

We begin in the aftermath of Kandy’s last minute save from the previous episode. She says it was the most gut-wrenching feeling ever and it lit a fire under her ass. Most of the other queens are happy she’s still around, except Denali who is frustrated none of her competition went home. Love you, Denali. Never change.

The mini challenge this week is a reference to Ru’s punk band the Wee Wee Poles as all the queens are instructed to get into quick punk drag. What a gift after this time apart! Kandy tells Olivia that she looks like Adore Delano and unsurprisingly that is very hot to meeeeeee. Gottmik and Symone look hot too and the whole thing was a real treat. Tina shakes her ass and wins.

Anyway, Snatch Game! Okay here’s the lineup this year:

  • Kandy — Patrick Starrr
  • Utica — Bob Ross
  • Gottmik — Paris Hilton
  • Rosé — Mary Queen of Scots
  • Elliott — Rue McClanahan
  • Symone — Harriet Tubman
  • Tina — Richard Simmons
  • Olivia — Tabitha Brown

There’s always a lot of buzz in the workroom before Snatch Game as the queens brace themselves to thrive or fail and Ru does her best to psych them all out. And there’s also always a lot of fun like Gottmik and Denali having Rosé say their names in her Scottish accent as they swoon.

Utica has made an afro out of stuffed squirrels because she thinks that having Bob Ross’ afro would be offensive. Ru (and Symone) are both rightfully confused by this since Bob Ross is, of course, white. Utica is trying so hard to do the right thing and fit in and it keeps being misguided.

Meanwhile, Ru asks Symone if she’s worried people will find her choice offensive and is clearly delighted when she doesn’t seem to care. Symone says she wants to showcase a powerful Black woman and she trusts herself to do it well. Ru then warns her not to have too much reverence for her character like some queens have had for Lady Gaga which is a very funny comparison to make since she is literally talking about Harriet Tubman. Ru then wonders if Rue McClanahan is too iconic for Elliott to pull off and Tabitha Brown too obscure for Olivia.

Raven and Porkchop are this year’s celebrity contestants and it’s a real treat to see Victoria Parker actually get some screen time given the seasons of jokes and this year’s premiere. I’ve been waiting for her to get on All Stars, but I will accept this for now.

Symone and Gottmik start strong with Symone hiding under the table saying she had to be careful in a room full of white people and Gottmik making a joke of Paris’ fake on-camera voice. They’re really the standouts the whole game along with Rosé’s Mary Queen of Scots and Denali’s Jonathan Van Ness. Snatch Game is about impressions, sure, but it’s really about jokes and banter, and all four excelled at all three.

Tina and Kandy are fine. Olivia starts with a nice energy, but just can’t seem to get a joke off. On Twitter she said her initial choice was Rachel Dolezal and the producers said no, but I have to imagine that would’ve gone much better. Elliott With 2 Jokes gives just about the blandest Blanche Devereaux imaginable and Utica is… I don’t know what Utica is thinking. She says later that she made herself laugh and that’s nice but as she kept repeating the word environment and started eating paint, she lost the rest of us.

Overall, this was a really strong Snatch Game! Even the queens who bombed weren’t that painful and the queens at the top were hilarious. Gottmik was especially stellar as Paris Hilton, which is extra fun since she’s done her makeup before. One of my favorite little moments was when she took a selfie with Rosé’s Mary. The game ends and Porkchop is declared the winner because Raven must always come in second. (Raven deserved to win season two, but she really deserved to beat Chad Michaels in All Stars 1 and I am still annoyed about that.)

Back in the workroom Rosé says some of the queens are delusional as Olivia and Utica say that they think they did well. Conflict arises when Denali asks Utica who she thinks will be in the bottom and she says Olivia despite having previously praised her. It’s a lovers’ quarrel and I am sad!

Elliott asks if anyone’s family has watched them do drag — her whole family has including her grandpa. Symone says her mom saw and was impressed because off stage Symone is so quiet. Denali, however, says her parents pretend she doesn’t do drag and her mom thinks of it as a kind of kink. It may seem odd that her parents are supportive of her figure skating which is also an obviously gay activity, but I think it’s important to distinguish between homophobia and transphobia here. Regardless of a queen’s gender, discomfort with drag is an expression of transphobia, especially when people are otherwise okay with gayness. But Kandy says chosen family is most important anyway and Denali confirms that hers has indeed been who supports her.

Ts Madison is back as a judge and the category is Fascinating Fascinators! Lots of high concepts this week as Olivia is a mad scientist, Rosé is a rose, Utica is a picnic, Tina is a horse, Elliott is a flamingo, and Denali is a diner waitress — on skates! Kandy is high fashion with houndstooth ruffles all the way down and a feather fascinator that says MUSE. And Gottmik is 100% herself with a punk leather jacket mini dress and fishnets with a safety pin through her head.

Symone is wearing a long white dress with white gloves and a white fascinator. When she turns around there are two bullet holes on the back of the dress and “Say Their Names” on the back of the fascinator. Symone has used her platform on Drag Race in a way no queen has before. Whether it’s doing Harriet Tubman on Snatch Game or having a runway look that pays tribute to the Black lives murdered by our police state, Symone has shown that her goals are far deeper than just winning this competition. And while she’s certainly not the first Black queen to be overtly political, it’s worth noting that Drag Race and Drag Race fandom have been immensely racist over the years, and being unapologetically Black on this show is a risk. Competing as a Black queen in an environment that’s often hostile is challenging enough at just a base level — what Symone is doing by being this thoughtful and conscious with every choice cannot be overstated. She’s simply one of the best queens the show has ever had and we’re lucky to have her on this season.

And yet somehow Symone is just safe! Ru thanks her for bringing a powerful message to the runway, but fails to give her a top spot. I honestly think Ru made her safe simply because she confused Jennifer Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence in Snatch Game, which seems a bit harsh. Kandy and Tina are also safe. That makes Gottmik, Rosé, and Denali the top, and Utica, Elliott, and Olivia the bottom.

The judges mostly say what we all could’ve assumed. They critique Olivia for focusing only on Tabitha Brown’s veganism and missing her personality. Michelle praises Rosé for doing her usual frilly ruffle moment better than ever on the runway. They compliment Utica’s outfit and critique her Snatch Game performance. (Utica says she’s a comedy queen, but I think she might be a fashion queen??) Oh and Ts Madison tells Rosé she’s a big fan of the entire Tudor family.

Gottmik wins! To which she says, “Not me winning Snatch Game!” Gen Z icon. I continue to project a lot of trans-person-in-queer-space-we-don’t-belong-feelings onto Gottmik and I am so proud of her for winning this. Olivia is declared safe and Gottmik almost seems happier about Olivia’s safety than she does her win! That means Utica and Elliott are lip synching to “Fascinated” by Company B. I waited anxiously hoping Utica didn’t fuck it up, because it was really hers to lose. And phew. She pulled it off.

Elliott has finally danced out of our lives.

Teleport Us to Mars!! Here Are Some Random Thoughts:

+ Last week’s documentary special about filming this season during the pandemic was supposed to be inspiring, but honestly it really bummed me out. The moment when Joey says they wouldn’t have known if their friends or family had died made me think like… hmm maybe we should’ve skipped Drag Race for the year? It’s complicated and I’m obviously grateful to have the show right now. But I just never think any show or movie is worth risking lives and I’m not sure how safe any of this was despite all the safety procedures — not to mention the psychological toll.

+ During the week off, I finally started catching up on UK season 2 and while I will not go too into it, I will say that I love Tia and Bimini with all my heart.

+ The Covid doc included Rosé’s cute boyfriend and I don’t know what their relationship situation is, but I am still obsessed with this video of Rosé and Gottmik kissing.

+ When the judges were talking with the queens backstage, Michelle accidentally uses he/him pronouns for Gottmik which I thought was… interesting.

+ Ru asks the judges who they would do for Snatch Game, taking Pearl Bailey for herself. Carson says he’d do Michelle. Michelle says she’d do Rosie Perez. (Oh God.) And Ts Madison says she’d do Ursula from The Little Mermaid. It’s not too late to recast Melissa McCarthy! Come on!

+ During Untucked, the queens accuse Utica of being two-faced. (Somehow no one mentions her sun sign.) But it’s so clear that Utica’s “meanness” off-camera isn’t malicious and is just her attempt at making friends and fitting into drag queen culture. You know that feeling when you take your dog to the dog park and suddenly project every elementary school trauma onto whether your dog is fitting in with the other dogs? That’s how I felt about Utica this episode.

+ My favorite ever Snatch Game performance is BenDeLaCreme as Maggie Smith. The flavored vodka joke still kills me.

+ Queen I’m rooting for: Symone

+ Queen I have the biggest crush on: Olivia as Adore DeLano and Gottmik as Paris Hilton

+ Queen I have weird sexual feelings for that I need to unpack: Denali as Jonathan Van Ness


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Drew is an LA-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. Her writing can be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Thrillist, I Heart Female Directors, and, of course, Autostraddle. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about trans lesbians. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @draw_gregory.

Drew has written 165 articles for us.

22 Comments

  1. While I agree that Denali’s mom’s discomfort is related to transphobia, I want to gently push back on the idea that the figure skating isn’t homophobic. The outside community views it as “obviously gay,” but it isn’t the same within the sport. It is only relatively recently that well known skaters have been very publicly out while still competing. When Denali would have been competing, it was still very much an era of a lot of “you must love getting you be around pretty girls!”

    • That’s really interesting! I didn’t have any friends who figure skated but I had a male friend who danced and I felt like some people said that to him ~and~ still thought he was probably gay.

      But I think that’s fair that Denali’s mom might not have that association or at least there’s more plausible deniability with figure skating than drag.

  2. But please DO talk about UK drag race. It’s much more crafty, make a skirt out of a paddling pool and you might win a literal badge, and they’re a bit shitter than the US competitors but in a deeply charming way.

    • A big problem about UK drag race is Ru and Michelle judging queens based on US drag queen standards which is so much more about glamour and polish. UK drag culture is much more about honouring working class women and focused on comedy

      • Dropping in to say hey UK racers! Very much agree. I want a UK version of Drag Race hosted by someone who gets the drag culture here and supports the great things about it instead of judging it by irrelevant standards.

        And jaysis did you SEE the way they edited Awhora’s standup routine to imply it was unacceptable for the BBC….like, Lily Savage has made worse jokes than that pre-watershed. I continue to be amazed at Ru and Michelle’s sense of humour – they love certain bawdy jokes and baulk at any they deem as going too far, when most of the time those jokes are really tame. Ugh.

        • Yeah “incredibly crass” is a genre of humour that maybe doesn’t translate so well. However I did really enjoy the bleeps and cuts to shocked faces, probably more than if they’d left the punchlines in. There was an absurdity to the prudishness that was really enjoyable.

        • I was shocked at how Awhora’s routine was portrayed- too blue for the BBC! When I saw the unedited video, I thought- is that it? Definitely seen worse on BBC Three! I do wish they had different judges, or at least one British judge who also understood British drag.

        • Check out Davina DeCampo’s podcast (“Fierce, Slay, Talk” on Spotify and elsewhere) – she interviews each week’s exit queens. This week A’whora says she requested the bleeps so as not to upset her Nan. It checks out. The BBC has no issue with expletives on Beeb 3 generally.

          But yes, UK drag is not about pure glamour – it’s way more subversive – and inclusive! – than in the US. We don’t really have pageant/ball drag over here – it’s much more about variety and comedy and there are many CIS and trans women involved in the scene.

  3. Drew, I have to admit that I was inspired by these recaps to start watching old episodes of Drag Race again! I promptly fell in love with Jinkx Monsoon, and then sped my way through a couple more seasons. My original Drag Race year was season 9 (Sasha Velour & Peppermint are my faves 4ever), so it’s been interesting to understand the history more, and also see how things have hopefully evolved. I love the recaps, and am excited to see how Season 13 unfolds!

  4. Kandy and Tina both looked really pretty with black hair!

    The Covid documentary was a bummer but I think after it I’ll judge the girls, and this season in general, a lot less harshly. For example, I’ve been complaining about the boring runway themes but now I understand that the queens were hunting for materials while still (at least partly?) under a lockdown. In those circumstances it’s a smart move from the production to give them broad, easily executable categories such as yellow or LBD.

  5. They should have had a top four this week instead of lumping Symone in with Kandy and Tina, neither of whom was anywhere near her level. I would even have edited the Jennifer Lewis/Lawrence moment out because it was an honest trip up and not a failure on par with Elliott just saying ‘men’ for every answer.

    Gottmik really hit it out of the park, I hope Paris Hilton sends flowers.

    • Symone should’ve definitely been second place. Her Snatch Game was solid and her runway was the best. Since she wasn’t going to win because Gottmik killed it though, it was definitely a production decision to make her safe as a parallel to last week. And just in case you missed it, Kandy even commented in Untucked that the previous bottom three was this week’s safe.

  6. I’m sorry but imagining Utica just slamming a binder on the dinner table and saying “this is what I could’ve said to you hoes” is just sending me

    But honestly I kind of identify a lot with Utica. She’s in a new and overwhelming environment and that seemed like her attempt at trying to have a “mean funny” moment that fell flat because it wasn’t her. Also she has said somewhere that she’s scared of the drag race fandom understandably so that’s why she’s more subdued. I did see her and Olivia hug after the lip sync so hopefully everything’s fine now.

    Also so glad Elliott’s gone and Symone should’ve been in the top

  7. Imo Utica was bang-on with the afro comment precisely because she didn’t couch it as “that’s offensive”. She said “I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to wear an afro” – which is a pleasantly nuanced take in a show where performative Blackness (like all the “ghetto humour” attempts and hiphop looks etc) usually gets applauded. Anyone remember Chad Michael’s afro? Anyone wanna see another “disco” look from a white queen? I’m not keen.

  8. “During the week off, I finally started catching up on UK season 2 and while I will not go too into it, I will say that I love Tia and Bimini with all my heart.”

    PLEASE RECAP UK DRAG RACE, PLEEEEEEASE, YOU CLEARLY HAVE TASTE

  9. I was screaming at the TV, “If Elliott and Utica are not on the bottom, this game is rigged!” Fortunately, I think justice was done this episode. Symone was brilliant. I think Gottmik has what it takes to win this entire thing.

  10. I hate to be that person (no I don’t LOL) but it’s Wee Wee Pole, singular. I know this because I am old as dirt, and RuPaul and another member of the band graduated from my high school, and they filmed one of their videos outside the school one afternoon. Ru even climbed on top of one of the school buses and prevented it from leaving.

    Sometimes it’s handy to be a crusty old broad.

  11. “Raven deserved to win season two, but she really deserved to beat Chad Michaels in All Stars 1 and I am still annoyed about that.”

    The latter I was OK with (didn’t see S2, so I can’t compare—but I believe you).

    But don’t get me started on the clusterf*ck that was All-Stars 3!

    Still outraged that—after Bendela (looking very strong) took herself out—the obvious winner was going to be Shangela. And then Dela came back, w/ a very confusing “award the queen who needs it the most”, combined w/ the bitchiness of all the queens Shangie had sent home, and Abracadabra! Somehow Kennedy Davenport is voted semifinal winner over Shangie. All these seasons later, I’m still shocked and appalled (and FURIOUS every time I see Trixie Mattel w/ Shangie’s spot in the HofF. SHANGIE WAS ROBBED!!!)

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