“You think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but blinding.”—Bane, The Dark Knight Rises
There aren’t a lot of ways The Masked Singer can surprise us anymore—other than, you know, shocking reveals of who is under the garish costumes. (And even then the folks watching at home often figure out who the contestants are, anyway.) Every week the show falls into a familiar pattern: terrible guesses from the judges panel, disconcerting shots of an elated (and possibly drugged) audience, OK-to-great performances from the singers, host Nick Cannon intermittently looking like he wants to be anywhere else on the planet while barely masking his profound internal agony, and finally, the requisite D-list celebrity unmasking.
It’s not necessarily The Masked Singer’s fault—reality competitions are all kind of like this, which is why I avoid them like the bubonic plague—but at this rate I’m just begging for anything to spice up the proceedings. Last week, I joked that the Fox’s latest clue would be “Epstein didn’t kill himself.” (Shockingly, that exchange didn’t happen.)
But for this week’s episode, I’ll settle for the strangest guest judge on the series thus far: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Yes, The Masked Singer is not above bringing out the puppet that occasionally roasts celebrities on Conan and other late-night shows (he’s voiced by the puppeteer/comedian Robert Smigel). But in all seriousness, Triumph was a breath of fresh air—especially once he started flaming our regular panel of Robin Thicke, Ken Jeong, Nicole Scherzinger, and noted anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy.
Here are some of the Triumph highlights from the episode:
- “Dogs and foxes are natural enemies, much like Robin Thicke and any woman born before the year 2000.”
- “Dr. Ken’s here to make sure there’s no sexual chemistry on this show between anyone.”
- Describing the Tree contestant: “The last thing Elton John sees before the Ambien kicks in.”
- When the Rottweiler showed up: “I never thought I’d see you again after walking out on your mother.”
- “I want to say I give you a lot of credit, ’cause it takes a lot of guts to come out here and perform in front of professional entertainers and Ken Jeong.”
The only thing that was missing was a vaccination joke directed at Jenny McCarthy, but I’ll take what I can get. Triumph is the best judge The Masked Singer has had since Joel McHale showed up in the first season and genuinely didn’t hold back his contempt for how idiotic and deranged the whole thing was. Which is to say: I hope this isn’t the last we see of Triumph this season. If nobody on this panel is going to make good guesses about the contestants’ identities, we might as well make room for more panel roasting—and lord willing, some anti-vaxxer spice.
Because my king, the Thingamajig—who is definitely Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo—did not perform this week, my Masked Singer rooting interests turned toward the Bespoke Fox. A wily performer, the judges have continually guessed that he’s Jamie Foxx, and that this costume is clever wordplay intended to throw everyone off his scent. That would admittedly be pretty funny, but after spending an unhealthy amount of time listening to his performances from the season thus far, I’m starting to think he might be Wayne Brady.
For one, the Fox has repeatedly teased that he’s ready to be judged as a solo act, implying he’s been part of a group—and while the judges think that means he used to be part of a boy band, he could just as well be referring to the lovely gaggle of comedians on Whose Line Is It Anyway?. And if you’ve ever watched Whose Line, you know Brady is a legitimately good and versatile singer who knows how to give a fun, physical performance. And, well, the Fox damn near did the splits this week:
Basically, if I had any pull in what happens on The Masked Singer—I do not; I barely have any pull in my apartment, which is inarguably ruled by a six-pound cat who obsesses over wet food—I would love to see Wayne Brady square off against Victor Oladipo in the season finale. It’s fun when this competition celebrates quasi-famous people who aren’t primarily known for their singing—you could make an argument that’s what happened with T-Pain last season, since everyone thought of him as the Auto-Tune Guy—and an NBA star and one of the guys from Whose Line would fit the bill.
As for this week’s elimination, it was the Ladybug’s turn to be unmasked. This was a tricky one all season—the biggest recurring clue was that she was from a famous family. The judges panel didn’t have terrible guesses—Jamie Lynn Spears and Paris Jackson came up a few times—but Ken Jeong kept bringing up Lindsay Lohan. It was funny, as the Ladybug was visibly upset whenever she was compared to Lohan, and it was like a collective galaxy brain take formed on the panel because, suddenly, Robin Thicke was also in agreement—as well as Triumph. (Yep, the puppet dog also voted.) Alas, everyone was wrong; the Ladybug was Kelly Osbourne.
In everyone’s defense, Osbourne intentionally altered her voice, leading everyone to believe she was an American singer (with a, um, questionable Southern twang). It’s probably the biggest curveball The Masked Singer has thrown at us, and hopefully a harbinger of more wild things to come. If we’re going to watch this every week, we should at least be surprised—up until that Brady-Oladipo showdown, which is gonna be the Ali-Frazier of dystopian singing competitions. Until then, see you all in the darkness again next week.