The season's most disturbing new costume emerges as a Wild Card, so thank for replacing our Baby nightmares with even more creepy Jester ones.
“The Masked Singer” did the time warp tonight in a wacky episode that brought Group A back together and back in time to ferret out some clues as to their famous identities.
It also featured the first appearance of the most terrifying nightmare-inducing costume since Baby. Huh, that really hasn’t been that long, has it? Are the costume designers trying to traumatize their viewing audience?
Bring a roly-poly good time with a rotund belly and a naughty cod piece -- though not as naughty as it could have been, as noted by TMZ! -- Jester brought a lot of comedic energy to the party. Unfortunately, all of it was just creeping everyone out.
It’s also hard to compete with Hamster, who’s been bringing the laughs since his first time out, and he’s doing it from inside an absolutely adorable costume. The duo were joined by Skunk, Bull and Pepper, our last Wild Card to join the overworked Group A.
While it was a night of memorable performances, it was punctuated by another shocking and outrageous elimination. Sometimes we don’t know what the voting audience is thinking with these eliminations.
At least we got the chance to laugh at the terrible First Impression guesses, including a sly attempt to cheat by Jenny by dropping two different names in hers. It didn’t help, though, as once again nobody got it right, leaving Ken the season leader for the Golden Ear with one right guess. One!
There was also a bonus Mask tonight, as the guest panelist first came out and performed as Soft Serve. With his diminutive size and distinctive voice, it became immediately clear that it was Leslie Jordan, but it was still a fun entrance.
Let’s jump right in with this week’s masks. And don’t worry, before we get to the shocking unmasking, we're going to make you power through the terrible (and occasionally good) guesses made by our illustrious panel of Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong and Nicole Scherzinger first. We do this because we love ... to torture you.
GROUP A, ROUND 4
Bull sang half of this song lying on a couch and in a stunningly confident and rich falsetto. There was so much tenderness in his delivery, he’s absolutely someone who’s been singing professionally for a while now. It was heart-achingly beautiful, with runs for days to show off his range and the power he kept such a tight rein on throughout.
Guesses: Bull actually got a life lesson out of this show, struggling to try and find out who he was competing against. Instead, he learned to only worry about what he can control. The rest will just be.
His clue package featured nail, comedy/tragedy theater masks and a photo of Hall & Oates -- so how’s that for eclectic. He said if he could go back to any point in his life, it would be when he made the biggest risk and moved somewhere where he knew no one and had his life “turned upside down” a la the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
A retro Macintosh and the classic sound of a modem were Bull’s throwback clues, with him adding, “That sound will forever live rent free in my head.” Ken immediately remembered Taye Diggs as a star of “Rent,” and he even tied in last week’s scrubs with Taye’s role on “Private Practice.”
Leslie thought of his “Call Me Kat” co-star Cheyenne Jackson -- “If that’s you I’m gonna come over there and smack you because you should have told me!” -- who also spent time on Broadway.
Jenny wondered if maybe the nail is a reference to Lil Nas X covering “Old Town Road,” perhaps, and that’s who’s under there. But can he sing that good? And Lil Nas X is Big Nas X at 6’3” or so.
What they should be thinking about is that Twitter’s favorite guess, Todrick Hall, has a song called “Rent.” The judges can guess whoever they want, but with each passing week it's becoming more and more clear the fans have spoken and the fans are right.
There are a few other guesses out there, including Jamie Foxx, Leslie Odom Jr. Daveed Diggs and really anyone else involved in "Hamilton" because as soon as Twitter gets a theater vibe, that's where they go -- the only musical many non-theater fans know.
Pepper has a decent enough voice but she was no match for an Ariana Grande track in either the belting or rapping portions. As it progressed, she did show she has some pipes in there, but she can’t match Ariana’s range. By the end, though, we were seeing some rips in there that had us thinking maybe she is someone who sings for a living -- what an interestingly uneven performance.
Guesses: After talking last time about how she blew up by going viral, Pepper this week said she’d love to be able to back to those times and really appreciate them for what they were, the start of her career.
She said that when it happened, she felt like she was pulled in a million directions, hitting red carpets and awards shows and interviews. While battling all of these forces, she had a shield with what looked like a falling angel -- or the myth of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun -- on it.
She also shared that she signed onto this show just a few days before taping began, so it’s been a similar whirlwind of chaos as when she first blew up. As for her time travel clue, it was an iPoc circa 2001, which kind of dates when that blowup might have happened.
When Pepper said it was time to “get the party started,” Jenny jumped on the obvious connection to P!nk, but she has such a signature singing voice, could we possibly not recognize it if we heard it? Plus, P!nk has power for days!
Ken, instead, considered Idina Menzel, who’s been around since the “aughts,” but blew up to a whole new level thanks to “Frozen.” As for Nicole, she just made a bad joke by saying, “Well, I am torn … like Natalie Imbruglia.” Her actual guess was Ellie Goulding. Her celebrity salute came from Courteney Cox, which puts us right in that era, as well.
While Kesha started getting some love based on the vocal of this performance, the internet leader remains Natasha Bedingfield. People less familiar with Natasha are speculating names like Lily Allen, Selena Gomez or even Kristin Chenoweth (NO!), but those who know Natasha's voice are certain it's her.
Skunk has a rich, seasoned texture to her voice that felt right at home in the early days of R&B’s mainstream explosion. She even handled a throwback rap verse with aplomb and confidence. This is perhaps a queen of the genre, at the top of her game a few decades ago, but still has the goods to bring it.
Guesses: Nick told us her flashback takes us to the ‘90s, where she’d go back and change history if she could by saying hi to that loved one where then she let pride keep her from doing it. It would be too late after that, as the person clearly passed away.
Is that a family member, or is it perhaps someone from those deadly East Coast-West Coast wars in the ‘90s -- with that song and Nick’s hint, you can’t help but think of all those we lost around the era of Tupac and Biggie.
Weighing into that, Skunk said that had she given that hug, it might have changed the course of history, suggesting that the person’s death was actually a big deal and that perhaps things would have played out differently (as in maybe no death) had she acted differently in that moment. That’s a lot of weight for her to have carried all these years, real or no.
She said she’s since had to learn to live in the present with no regrets -- because despite what “The Masked Singer” wants us to believe tonight, time machines aren’t real and history can’t be rewritten.
Her time machine clue further cemented the idea of an ‘80s/’90s icon by bring back a pager circa 1984. “If someone sent me these three digits (607), it would make me feel like a complete dream girl.” As Robin recalled, that code used to mean, “I Miss You.” It’s also an area code from the Southern Tier of New York.
Nicole couldn’t resist “dream girl” to think of the film and Jennifer Hudson, though J-Hud is a little younger than the pager reference (she was born in ‘81 and they weren’t around that long) and Cynthia Erivo.
Robin, though, did a great job with this clue, because “I Miss You” is a clear reference to the tribute song Faith Evans was a part of for The Notorious B.I.G. with Sean Combs -- or whatever his name is these days -- “I’ll Be Missing You.”
The Twittersphere was thrilled that Robin got this one just right, as they’ve been saying Faith Evans since the beginning. They're still locked in, but this week they're just so proud that someone on the panel actually figured one out and got it right!
Hamster gave us a very sweet vocal on a Luis Miguel track (in Spanish), but also a very cute visual story with a hamster dancer trying to win him over with a flower and chocolates before realizing a giant bag of nuts is the way to his heart. There was no dynamic range or moments to blow us out of the water, but he has such a rich, smooth texture to his tone, he didn’t need all those tricks.
Guesses: Luis Miguel was the theme of his clue package, too, with him talking about time traveling back to the afterparty to a Luis show that he enjoyed alongside big names like Leonard DiCaprio, Drew Barrymore and Jerry Seinfeld -- taking us more than likely to the late ‘80s or early ‘90s.
He said that his wife only had eyes for Luis himself, and so he challenged himself to sing this song in Spanish, even though his Spanish is horrible. But it could be a clue that his wife speaks Spanish as her native language, or at least her heritage language.
His time machine item also took us back to 1984 and a portable television. “I never imagined that many, many years later, me, the Hamster, would be on this with all my amigos.” Robin found himself hoping it was Martin Short, or Sean Astin, who’s friends with Adam Sandler.
The afterparty was apparently on a November 30, circled on a calendar, which was also a Saturday, suggesting there could be an “SNL” connection.
Nicole thinks it’s Gabriel Iglesias, and Leslie was throwing around Marc Anthony and we found ourselves wondering if they missed the part where he said his Spanish was horrible.
The internet is really leaning toward Rob Schneider after unearthing a photo of him and his wife meeting Luis Miguel. Plus, the physical comedy is on point with what he does, and we've heard him sing before and know he has some talent in that area, as well.
Jester definitely knows how to have fun out there, but as a vocalist, this was more than a bit of a mess. If he does have real singing chops, he did a great job of obscuring that with this one. Closed-captioning suggested a scatting segment existed, but we heard no vocals, making us wonder if a late edit removed it because it was too obvious.
Guesses: Our first thought from his clue package was Russell Brand, but after the performance we’re kind of wondering if it’s Jack Black. He said he’s been called an icon and that he changed the course of history. He was even voted one of the 100 most influential people of all time.
It clearly seems to be a comedian, based on the costume, the antics on-stage and even how he was clowning around during the clue package. He said he’s been considered a scoundrel, has offended heads of stage and even been banned from famous venues.
But, he wants to make it clear, he’s not a bad guy. So he came on the show to show his lovable and more sensitive side. Which makes it less likely it’s Jack Black, because he is beloved. Perhaps, then, it’s Ricky Gervais, who co-created “The Office” and has offended loads of people.
Jester’s time machine clue came to us from 1975 and is a terrible, patterned suit jacket. “This is pure style,” Jester said. Jenny wondered if maybe it was Dee Snider, revealing that he was her celebrity lookalike, which had the panel in stitches.
The panel worked with Leslie to rattle through Russell and Ricky, but Ken is thinking it’s a true rocker, like Roger Daltry, with Robin also thinking we are in the presence of a real rock-and-roller. But we’re still thinking comedian.
The internet thinks the Jack-in-the-box locks in that this is Jack Black. Certainly the physique and the physicality fits his performance. And there was a time earlier in his career when he had a much harder edge to his comedy, and music with Tenacious D. Plus, we know dude likes to rock! There was also some love for Ricky Gervais as another solid guess.
Even as they were trying to figure out who was behind the mask, more people couldn't get over how absolutely terrifying the whole costume is. Therapists are going to be very happy over the next week!
Vocally, Group A was not quite as strong tonight, with our newcomer Jester clearly bringing up the rear. But we also weren’t blown away by Pepper’s performance this week, either. What worries us, though, is that since Robin was so spot-on with his Skunk guess, could she get eliminated?
Vocally, we’d even put Hamster below her, but we also know that he’s one of the most entertaining contestants, which should go a long way to keeping him around.
For sheer nightmare factor alone, and because we’re gonna be mad if it’s Skunk, we’re going with Jester. The fact he was the weakest singer is just another reason it should be him that goes tonight, even though we just met him.
Could the fact Leslie was part of the First Impression Guess be a clue that it will be him? Otherwise, why have Leslie make a vote if he won’t be there for an unmasking. Turns out that’s not a factor at all -- or he’ll have to come back -- as Jester survived.
What’s perhaps even more shocking is that one of the two contestants we were confident was safe is actually the one going home. How is Hamster going home before anyone else in this group? Nick tried to add that the vote was close, but how can we say goodbye to this much personality?
Robin Thicke: first impression (Cheech Marin), final guess (Cheech Marin)
Jenny McCarthy: first impression (Andy Richter/Jason Alexander), final guess (Rob Schneider)
Ken Jeong: first impression (Bill Murray), final guess (Will Ferrell)
Nicole Scherzinger: first impression (Jason Alexander), final guess (Gabriel Iglesias)
Leslie Jordan: final guess (Gabriel Iglesias)
We’ve seen Rob Schneider do bad Spanish impressions before, so when Jenny landed on that with her final guess, connecting the circled Saturday on the calendar, it lined up pretty well for us, too. He’s got that manic comedic style and he’s shorter than Will Ferrell and Nick Cannon -- as is Hamster, KEN!
Rob has also proven to have decent singing chops, which he’s displayed quite well throughout his career at times. And that’s exactly who it was, vindicating Jenny a bit even though Ken still has the Golden Ear lead with one point.
We’ve unmasked seven celebs so far, and only one panelist has had a correct First Impression Guess one time. One correct guess across 28 possible guesses. This may be their worst season collectively yet!
As for Rob Schneider, his wife Patricia Azarcoya Arce is from Mexico, making this a beautifully meaningful tribute to her and their ten-year marriage -- especially as he made that effort to connect to her heritage by singing in Spanish.
“The Masked Singer” moves into a series of special episodes as it deals with World Series interference. Next Monday at 8 p.m. ET is an “All-TIme Countdown” episode, breaking down the Top 10 performances of all time.
That’ll be repeated Tuesday, November 2 at 9 p.m. ET if there is no Game 6, followed by another special, “Giving Thanks,” on Wednesday November 3 at 8 p.m. ET if there is no Game 7.
The show will be back to its regular Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET slot starting November 10 with the Group A Semi-Finals, and the introduction of the final Wild Card, Beach Ball.