'The Flower' wilts on most shocking 'Masked Singer' episode yet

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Only on an alternate-universe talent show as utterly bonkers as The Masked Singer — a singing competition on which Gladys Knight placed third last season, behind runner-up Donny Osmond and winner T-Pain — could another legendary soul diva not even make it to the Season 2 finale. But that’s exactly what happened this Wednesday, when the one and only Patti “The Flower” LaBelle went home in eighth place.

Yes, you read that correctly. That was not a typo. And this is not The Onion. Eighth. Place.

It had to be the most shocking elimination in Masked Singer history, although Patti seemed to take the news in stride, knowing that this defeat is unlikely to sully a legacy that includes lifetime-achievement accolades from the Songwriter's Hall of Fame and the Grammy, BET, Soul Train and Essence Awards. “It feels awesome. It feels like I did win,” she said with a smile.

And judges Robin Thicke and Nicole Scherzinger were totally fanboy-/girling over Patti. “It’s such an honor to have you on this show; I think we are all very blessed,” gushed Robin. “No one will ever have another voice like you,” declared Nicole, who’d guessed the Flower’s identity correctly due to those unmistakable, undeniable vocals. Host Nick Cannon wasn’t surprised either, since Patti is actually the godmother of his twins. “I knew by the walk. I knew the whole time,” he confessed.

So…. how on earth did this happen? Well, with most of the non-professional-singer contestants like Johnny Weir, Laila Ali, Sherri Shepherd and gamer Ninja weeded out by this halfway point of the season, the show is getting down to the nitty-gritty. And the four cosplaying mystery celebrities that competed this week are among Season 2’s best in show. So, what ensued Wednesday were two face-offs (almost literally, since one contestant was obviously de-masked by the episode’s end) that seemed like something straight of a SyFy movie of the week: Flamingo vs. Leopard and Flower vs. Rottweiler.

First, the Flamingo sang against the Leopard, and while the Leopard delivered a pretty solid vocal and brought his usual dotty pomp-and-circumstance to the hilarious proceedings, he was no match for the feathered frontrunner. Then, the Flower (Patti) faced off with arguably the finest vocalist of Season 2, the Rottweiler — and while her wailing cover of Heart’s “Alone” was a multi-octave tour de force, the judges still made the tough decision to send her to a “Smackdown” instant-elimination round against the Leopard.

And that’s when things got interesting.

I would have assumed that the Leopard was doomed and about to be banished from the Masked Singer jungle forever. But then the Leopard made a genius power-play… and covered “Don’t Cha” by Nicole’s former girl group, the Pussycat Dolls. And this pussycat was really feeling his PCD fantasy, loosening up his buttons and vamping and camping it up to the max. His claws came out, he purred those sex-kitten lyrics, and the audience roared approvingly.

“He sang it better than me,” said Nicole — and she wasn’t wrong. “This is exactly why The Masked Singer is a hit show, for moments like this,” said judge Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg. And she too was not wrong. Don’t cha wish that all shows were freaky like this?

Interestingly, even though the Flower chose to sing Survivor’s Rocky III anthem “Eye of the Tiger,” she seemed to have less fight in her. She certainly didn’t have as much bite as the fierce Leopard. Maybe she was simply ready to go, and she threw the match. But whatever the reason, the Flower wilted a bit — and a result, Patti Frickin’ LaBelle went home, presumably with a new attitude.

Now, let’s look at this Wednesday’s three survivors, and keep the guessing game going…

The Flamingo, “Lady Marmalade”

How ironic was it that the Flamingo did this song that night Lady Marmalade herself went home? She sang the hell out of it, though. “Somebody came to win!” observed Nicole. Robin even thought the Flamingo outdid the Rottweiler, calling this the “performance of the season.”

Judges’ guesses: Paula Abdul, Adrienne Bailon, Bella Thorne, Jillian Michaels, Fantasia.

My guess: You guys, it’s so obvious at this point that this bird is Adrienne. All clues of the past weeks add up, and I will not entertain any other possibility. However, I will entertain the possibility that she might win the whole show.

The Leopard, “September”

The Leopard isn’t the best belter of the season (though he is clearly a pro), but he’s a consummate entertainer and always the most fun to watch. He may not win The Masked Singer, but he is winning at life. He brought the (Earth, Wind &) fire during both of his performances this week.

Judges’ guesses: Donald Glover, RuPaul, Seal, Alec Baldwin.

My guess: I have fluctuated on this one — just last week I thought the Leopard might be Bobby Brown — but now I realize this is British alt-soul singer Seal. The clincher clues this week were an Australian flag (Seal has been a coach on The Voice Australia) and a mention of four children (the even more fertile Bobby has seven). You know, Seal once said we’re never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy, and apparently he’s taken that advice to heart by competing on this crazy show.

The Rottweiler, “Grenade”

The top dawg, apparently a platinum-selling recording artist, said he was “terrified of people finding out his true identity and judging him [italics mine] because of it.” But he’s the only contestant that might ruffle the Flamingo’s feathers this season, so he has nothing to be ashamed of. This was another stellar, master-class vocal from the wily ‘Weiler.

Judges’ guesses: Gavin Rossdale, Jared Leto, Billie Joe Armstrong, Mario Lopez, Darren Criss, Joe Jonas.

My guess: I can see how the “everything is Zen” clue threw the judges off and made them believe this might be the lead singer of Bush… but let’s not forget that abs-tastic fitness fanatic Chris Daughtry does yoga. I still think this is totally Chris, the fourth-place contestant of American Idol Season 5. And the man who beat Chris on Idol, Taylor Hicks, confirms that it is! Chris is at least making it to second place this time around.

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