“Lack of originality, everywhere, all over the world, from time immemorial, has always been considered the foremost quality and the recommendation of the active, efficient, and practical man.” —Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The 2019 World Series was special for me and other longtime fans of the Washington Nationals. To watch the Nats finally—miraculously?—deliver on postseason hype that’s been brewing since the Obama administration was awesome in and of itself, but the Nats did so by winning all four games on the road against a historically great Houston Astros team. We stayed in the fight; we clapped like lovable idiots for a children’s song about sharks; we got our first World Series title. And it says a lot about my current mental state that the euphoria of watching my baseball team win a World Series was nearly matched by my enjoyment of an unintended side effect the dramatic, seven-game series provided: two weeks without The Masked Singer.
Because two World Series games—including the decisive Game 7 in Houston—coincided with the show’s regular Fox air time on Wednesday nights, The Masked Singer was forced to remain off the air for a fortnight. Fans were pissed. But the universe often finds a way of balancing itself; as such, postponing The Masked Singer only delayed the inevitable, and on Wednesday night, my penance came in the form of a grueling two-hour episode. (This after many Nats fans had to pay by watching Kurt Suzuki put on a MAGA hat at the White House and had his nipples fondled by President Donald Trump; I swear that actually happened.)
Because the show had two hours to play with, all the remaining contestants performed, with two eliminations looming. That provided ample opportunity for our judges panel—Robin Thicke, Ken Jeong, Nicole Scherzinger, anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy, and for the second batch of singers, guest judge Anthony Anderson—to throw out bad guesses, but by their very low standards, this was actually a pretty solid week. Sure, there were a few egregious calls—Ken said he thought the Ladybug could be Lindsay Lohan, and the masked contestant looked visibly offended by the suggestion—but we have to give them credit for tiny victories.
In fact, we’ve spent so much time dunking on the judges this season—note: you shouldn’t feel bad for them; they’re all rich and at least one of them doesn’t want you to vaccinate your kids—that we’ve mostly ignored the audience this season. These people are either given beverages laced with some kind of hallucinogen upon entering the Masked Singer studio, or the production does an excellent job of finding the strangest people across the country. For legal reasons, it’s probably the latter. (Last season, Jezebel interviewed one audience member who kept getting screentime for her disconcerting ebullience, and you’ll be shocked to hear that she’s a self-described “shamanic practitioner” and “Reiki master.”)
Unless I didn’t notice it earlier in the season, the studio audience is now doing little hand signals for certain contestants (i.e., mimicking a butterfly with their hands when the Butterfly performs). Look, I’d be a hypocrite for calling this stupid when I willingly participated in the Ritual of Baby Shark when I attended Game 3 of the World Series in D.C., but like, this show’s fandom is invested in things like an anonymous C-list celebrity wearing a Butterfly costume! We Nats fans do it because we love Gerardo Parra; it helps we know what he looks like. Anyway, the hand signals are one thing, but some people in the audience during the performances look like they’re having an existential breakdown. Imagine getting this worked up over a human disguised as a Flamingo singing Loren Allred’s “Never Enough.”
Still, as someone who recaps The Masked Singer every week for gainful employment, it’s quite relatable! And because of my Masked Singer Stockholm syndrome, I have developed a special, probably unhealthy rooting interest in the Thingamajig, mainly because he’s quite clearly Indiana Pacers star Victor Oladipo. But my love of the Thingamajig doesn’t match that of Scherzinger, who thirsted over him after his performance in the previous episode, and this week straight up said, “I think I’m gonna have to date him.” That love is also being reciprocated by Oladipo-as-Thingamajig, who dedicated his rendition of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by the Temptations to Scherzinger. (“Please don’t leave me girl,” he sang, to which you could audibly hear Scherzinger respond: “I’m not going anywhere honey!”) All of this was particularly weird because Scherzinger then guessed that the Thingamajig was Dennis Rodman, and that wouldn’t work since he’s in a long-term relationship with Kim Jong Un.
Nevertheless, thirst culture has made its way into the ranks of The Masked Singer. And if this season ended with Scherzinger and Oladipo dating—well, at least she isn’t the anti-vaxxer on the panel.
The eliminations have gotten trickier because the remaining contestants are all good-to-great singers. Ultimately, the Penguin and the Black Widow were eliminated from their respective groups. Hilariously, after anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy spent most of the show’s first season guessing that Sherri Shepherd was under one of the masks, she ended up being the Penguin—and while her name was floated as a potential Penguin a couple of times this season, none of the judges picked Shepherd as their final guess.
Meanwhile, Robin Thicke and Scherzinger had been convinced that Raven-Symoné was the Black Widow for weeks, and credit to them, they were right on the money. In one of the show’s weirder yet understated developments, the Black Widow had to perform with an arm cast during her last couple of performances—leading one to speculate about what the hell happened to this person in real life. Raven-Symoné said it thusly: “Don’t ride a hoverboard at 33.”
We’re now down to nine contestants this season, as The Masked Singer rages on without any more World Series interferences [insert crying tears of blood emoji]. Since Wayne Brady was trending on Twitter on Wednesday night—lots of people think he’s the Fox—I guess the show isn’t losing momentum. But nothing—not even being subjected to this weekly hellscape—can take away the joy of watching the Nats win the World Series. It is what I’ll keep clinging to, when the walls keep closing in, and I only have the Thingamajig for company.