RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE ALL STARS: SEASON 4, EPISODE 8 – “RUPAUL’S BEST JUDY’S RACE”

RPDRAS-408Press3-AJust when you think you’ve been gooped with all the goop there is to give, another elimination shocker reshuffles the entire deck!

 It was a shocking conclusion to an otherwise lackluster episode. I don’t blame the queens though; I blame the challenge.

The weakest part of last night’s makeover episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars was actually the strength of the competitors’ subjects.

In the past, we’ve watched some incredible makeovers (WINTERGREEN, WE STAN). Their transformations were impressive because of the distance their journey took them on. They lacked the grace and confidence we’ve come to expect from queens.

 Last night, our remaining competitors made over their “Best Judys,” and most of them were young, hot gays that — regardless of drag experience — understood the drag culture enough to bring it to the ball.

The results were good, but lacked some of the punch of previous makeover installments.

 Let’s recap.

The theme of the episode is JUDY, as in Garland. The queens arrived to a work room where all the portraits were replaced with pics of Judy. Ru gives the ladies a little Queer History 101 about Judy’s lasting impact and effect on the LGBTQ community before introducing this week’s challenge.

 Out came the Judys for their makeovers, and Ru charged with them with, of course, presenting a family resemblance and a Judy-inspired duet performance.

Naomi got to work with her buddy Ricardo, but in the workroom she struggled with nerves. She confessed to Ru that she worries about saying the wrong thing or acting like a fool. Ru assured her that doing and saying the wrong thing is the exact sort of thing she should be doing. Methinks that’ll be Ms. Smalls’ arc for the episode.

 (Naomi also shared my favorite line all night: “Beards are like masks. Men hide behind beards like women hide behind makeup.” YA HEAR THAT, BROOKLYN?)

Both Trinity and Manila were paired with their partners, and it was very sweet to watch. But the most touching pair was surely Latrice and her friend, Tim. As Tim described their relationship, he told the story of how all of Latrice’s things were auctioned from her storage unit when she went to prison. Tim rallied the troops to create new lewks for Latrice so she could start working again as soon as she was released. Hearing them talk about the kinds of friends that are there for you when you need them, Mama Ru herself got teary. It wasn’t quite the iconic “As queer people, we get to choose our family,” but it was another memorable emotional moment.

 On the runway, each pair did one of those hokey original Drag Race lip sync to a Judy Garland-“inspired” number. I hate when they show us these numbers all edited together. It makes it feel very inconsequential. Everyone seemed mostly fine.

 The judges — including an adult Frances Bean Cobain, RuPaul serving Auntie Entity realness and a charmingly game Ellen Pompeo — loved Monet and her partner, “Patty Cash.” Michelle in particular sings the praises of their dance number. Carson tells Monet she’s never looked better, and I have to agree. In a gold sequin FANTASY, Monet was flawless. Her makeup was exquisite. This was her moment, and I lived.

Joining Monet in the top was Naomi. Not only was the makeup on her partner stunning, but she also gave us some concept on the runway. Her and her partner came out as a pair of Chers, but then Naomi revealed a short wig and mustache, going from Cherilyn to Sonny Bono with exactitude. Her Sonny boy drag was still feminine and elegant. It was great.

Less fortunate was Manila and her husband. In one of Manila’s more DIY-looking lewks, the pair walked the runway in essentially togas with some diamond and clubs flourishes. It just wasn’t up to snuff.

 Her best Judy, Latrice, also struggled. As lovely as their story was, their resemblance is a lot less inspiring. Latrice claimed it was a “fire and ice” theme, but their clashing outfits didn’t inspire sisterhood. (Also, I was so frustrated that Carson conceded the eye makeup was similar, when one clearly had a big exaggerated wing and one did not. Come on, guys!) The judges also called out their sloppy performance wherein Latrice seemed more concerned with Tim’s toework than her own.

 Then things got real weird. Did they slip a bunch of CBD in the vodka-crans? Everyone seemed super chill as they chatted backstage. Monet, of course, was still a little salty over Manila picking her lipstick a few weeks back. At the same time, Monet was also unimpressed with Latrice’s performance thus far in the competition.

 Naomi, meanwhile, was a bit of a wild card. On the one hand, Latrice just saved her last week. On the other hand, she idolizes Manila.

 The lip sync was to Judy’s “Come Rain or Come Shine,” and it was a weird one. Monet made the choice to make no choice at all, really. She did almost nothing the entire track until opening a glitter-filled umbrella at the very end. Naomi came out swinging, almost a little too wildly at first, but once the track caught up to where she was at, she was electric. There were a few signature tricks that didn’t necessarily feel appropriate for the track, but, considering the competition, at least she was PERFORMING.

 Naomi won with ease, and she coolly eliminates … Manila?

Shock washed over the panel, but Ru followed through and sent her packing.

 Now, if I could put my tinfoil wig on for a second, something don’t smell right. First, that deliberation backstage was shockingly easy-breezy considering two of the frontrunners were in the bottom. Neither Manila nor Latrice seemed particularly desperate or worried. Then, it feels like Monet truly throws that lip sync. Did seeing her husband make Manila miss home a little too much? Surely she didn’t throw herself on the sword to save Latrice. (There’s no way they wouldn’t catch that on camera.) Something just feels amiss.

 Let’s try and take stock of where the rest of the queens are in relation to their quest for the crown.

 Despite barely escaping (a fourth) elimination, Latrice still seems most likely to win this whole thing. Take that, “report card” queens! We have been beaten over the head with her reputation since the jump, and her narrative this season would lead to an incredibly satisfying crowning. While she and her partner didn’t quite share a resemblance, they at least were two polished looks. It was classic Royale: big jewels, big hair, lots of sparkle. She IS an All Star, and just on stature feels like the most worthy addition to the Hall of Fame.

Hot on her heels, Trinity has been a powerhouse this whole season. While Manila was never in the bottom (a lot of good that did her), Trinity’s only time vulnerable for elimination came in the episode where everyone not in the top was automatically in the bottom. It doesn’t really feel like that should count, honestly. Last night, Trinity turned out her boyfriend in a gorgeous, matching Ver-sayce ensemble that looked great. Based on where we’re at today, I think Trinity is now most worthy of the win this season, but it just doesn’t seem to fit our narrative thrust.

Once again, Naomi comes out of nowhere to steal the show. Going for boydrag is always a risky move, but she pulled it off perfectly. She looked great, and she was having fun up there. I loved her green lip sync lewk. She is also a fierce lip sync performer, but the more I see her do it, the more repetition sticks out. Naomi needs to mind any upcoming acting or comedy challenges (like next week’s Sex and the City satire). If she doesn’t fade into the background or bomb, she could soar to the finale.

Damn, Monet. Well done! I adored her dripping gold sequined runway, and she did right by her partner as well. Michelle was dead-on about the little Judyisms in their little dance duet. It was the only performance that stood out in any way. But, you guys, what was up with that lip sync? There definitely can be an argument made that sometimes less is more, but that track lends itself to a build, and Monet took it nowhere. She made exactly ONE choice that entire song. I know she can do better than that. Despite this week’s weak lip sync, Monet’s biggest threat is a big swing and miss on the runway, so hopefully she’s got more eleganza like she showcased last night.

Someone’s got to be next to go, and I think it’ll be Monique. Yes, the preview for next week’s episode may be telegraphing, but even before that, I was just feeling sort of done. Like Valentina, I think Monique had her chance and redemption, and she’s done really well with it. But now, we’ve seen all there is to see. She is creative and crafty, but now she has elevated her style. She’s a fierce as hell performer and a bonafide star, but I just don’t see her outlasting the competition. I liked the avant garde, weird eyeball dress, and I’ll just take the judges’ word for it that the performance wasn’t up to par.

*I can’t in good conscience rank Manila this week. She was eliminated, so obviously her chances of winning are awfully low. However, based on her performance in this competition, I do not think she was the bottom bottom. That runway was a big miss, but did it erase all the brilliance she brought us earlier? I don’t think so! The problem this week was there was so little to actually judge, it had to be perfect. She really fell short, and she really paid for it. (Boy, I bet Ru wishes she didn’t burn the “no one goes home” card back in episode 5.)

SOURCE: TOWLEROAD

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