On Sunday's Mariah's World, Mariah Carey randomly launched into her passionate ballad, "My All," at a mini soirée, lipping it as fellow partygoers from her crew seemed disengaged until after she sang into the camera. It was as surreal for viewers as it was for her beau / backup dancer, Bryan Tanaka.
What exactly was happening there? Was Carey serenading those thoroughly immersed in her gift to the diva-loving universe, aka E!'s docu-series Mariah's World? Was she literally in her own world? Was she being swept up in Tanaka Land?
Blushing, Tanaka was definitely feeling every single lyric. When he acknowledged his nervousness in that moment, he basically melted into her wine glass. Meanwhile, Mimi did two things: She 1) acted coy about the whole situation, and 2) said, "I've known Tanaka for a really long time. He's just a real person that I can relate to, and we have the best time together."
First, let's take a minute to reflect on the critical fact that Goddess Mariah Carey -- wearer of diamonds in the tub, believer in "his and hers" yachts, lingerie-donning pizza-maker (more on that later) -- basically just called herself a real person. And if being a real person means dressing up like the woman you're crushing on, then it's no wonder Mariah and Tanaka are hitting it off.
After all, real men dress like Mariah Carey in drag. In Tanaka's case, during a "Mariah Carey-oke" event, he gets to impersonate Mariah in a wig, lip-sync to Mariah (he does "Hero," which is also inscribed on a muscle shirt he's wearing), and then ogle Mariah's posterior through her see-through black leggings when she arrives as her "Heartbreaker" alter-ego, Bianca.
"Bianca's a** looks hella fierce," Tanaka gushes. "(It's) perfection right now."
Tanaka considers Mariah a "queen," and tells a fellow dancer that he's "going a little nuts" over her.
"I'm catching some hard feelings (over) Ms. Mariah," he confesses, after said feelings for her distract him from a dance routine he's attempting to rehearse. "I feel like our chemistry is not just professional," he continues. "It feels like there's a connection that is more than just what we've had for the last 10 years." But he doesn't stop there: "It feels like we're meant to be together," the dancer concludes.
With a tour happening and her Vegas residency on deck -- oh, not to mention, you know, her then-engagement to James Packer -- Stella Bulochnikov, Mariah's manager, is not about the flirty nature of Carey and Tanaka's relationship.
When Tanaka can't perform because of an injured leg, Stella is like, thank god. Actually, her response is even more pointed: "I think Tanaka's crush on Mimi was getting a little out of control and this is the universe's way of telling him to take a seat." (Though we already knew after her take-charge action following Mariah's NYE performance debacle, Stella is not a mincer of words.)
Poor Tanaka, because he can't dance. But Stella doesn't see it that way: For her, it's an opportunity to nip their budding romantic affair in the bud so that Mariah can focus on her professional commitments. She confronts her self-proclaimed "sister wife" -- that's Mariah, of course -- but Mimi says she's feeling "generous," and that Tanaka can stick around until he can get back on his feet. Also, it's not a problem, because, she says, they're flying Mimi's private jet.
Stella concedes to her boss, even though it's "like a little bird that you see has a broken wing and you wanna take it in a box and carry it around on tour." Ha!
So it looks like Tanaka's staying, and it seems, so is Molly, Mariah's frantic tour assistant. How do we know this poor in-over-her-head girl is probably still employed even if she didn't appear on tonight's episode?
When Mariah strutted into her palace of an Airbnb ("I love Airbnb!") in Lake Como, Italy, and proclaimed, "Ohh, please tell me my Apple TV is working" -- who else was worried we might not return to this plotline? -- and it wasn't just set up. Streaming was happening. ACTUAL STREAMING. It was a win-win for Mariah and Molly -- and for fans of the singer, who can't sing if she's without streaming capabilities.
Before jetting off to Lake Como, Mariah let viewers know that her life is totally ordinary, really, but, "I can understand people being jealous of what they think my lifestyle is." Her lifestyle, we discovered during this episode, involved a viral sensation from last year, when the Elusive Chanteuse prepared pizza while dressed in lingerie. But this wasn't just a photo-op situation -- Mimi was spinnin' that dough, people.
"I love making pizza," Mariah says. "Yeah, people may make a big deal about it, that I have lingerie on -- OK. Do I go to their house and tell them what to wear when they're cooking? No. So, pizza night at Lake Como was lingerie night in Mariah Carey Land, whatever."
What's the difference between Mariah Carey Land and "Mariah's World"? Is Mariah Carey Land the happiest place on Planet Mariah? With just a few episodes left, we need answers.
Until then, shout your comments on tonight's episode to (self-proclaimed lamb) @ChrisAzzopardi on Twitter using the hashtag #ETNow!
Mariah's World airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT Sundays on E!