RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE: SEASON 12, EPISODE 8 – “DROOP”

RuPauls-Drag-Race-Season-12-Episode-8-Droop-VH1-TV-Reviews-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-2You know, I could spend a significant portion of this recap smarmily describing Jan’s internal monologue as she desperately tries to pin her mental unravelling on the departure of her best friend, Brita, and not her inability to win a challenge, but, really, the edit already did her dirtier than I ever could.

Yes, this is the week when sweet, gal next door, Brady Bunch Jan finally snapped and became deranged, hysterical Brady Bunch Movie Jan. Try as she might to blame it on Brita’s exit, the lady clearly doth protest too much.

Not I, nor the other queens nor anyone in production buys Jan’s justification. Every shot, every sound effect, every confessional interview inserted undermined Jan’s sob story at every turn. Personally, I think losing the challenges weighed heavier on Jan’s shoulders than losing Brita (at one point Jan claimed one of the biggest tragedies was that the drag fans of New York City didn’t get the comfort of seeing Jan win to soothe the loss of seeing Brita lose), but the editors really left zero room for interpretation.

Jan’s mental state is a thread throughout the next day, starting with the mini-challenge. This week, the queens will be split into four two-person teams tasked with assembling a shady care package for another competitor. Supplies come courtesy FabFitFun, which is one of those monthly Becky-In-A-Box subscription services that mails basic girls wine goblets that say “fabulous!” in glitter on the sides. They need to repackage the goods into backhanded gifts, wrapped in shade.

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It’s just about as convoluted as it sounds, but the girls present in this sort of faux-brunch setting that works better than it should. One of the best examples is one of the earliest, as Gigi delivers Crystal a towel described as the season one filter. Other reads include lotion for two-faces, a new mug, etc. I hope this doesn’t replace the library challenge, because it just didn’t hit the same.

Gigi and Jackie take the win and the prize package, but the challenge is every queen for herself. Sticking to our product placement theme this week, the gals are going to shill their custom-created wares for the new lifestyle brand, Droop (founded, of course, by Ru-nyth Palt-Ru).

As the ladies work with Ru and guest director Bob Harper (more on him in a bit), it really shows how strong this batch of competitors is. It also makes me wonder, had Sherry gotten a more dominating edit, would we have grown to know and love Jackie, Heidi and Crystal as much as we have?

It’s a good challenge, because it tests several of the queens’ skills: look, obviously, comedy, performance, adaptability, production, branding. There’s also enough variables each season to keep queens on their toes versus something like Snatch Game. That’s an important distinction, because it hampers studious contestants like Gigi and Jan who seem to have prepared for everything.

Ru immediately zeroes in on Heidi’s moisturizer as Heidi HYDraytion, an obvious play on words that the young queen smartly picks up on. Heidi is one of those queens that just needs a little exposure, opportunity and access and she’s going to take off. Love her.

We check in with Widow, who’s hocking a spray called Throaté. It’s … not great. Ru and Bob seem to be laughing, but, uh, it’s not clear exactly why. If I were Widow, I’d be worried, Thro-K?

Jackie has a high-concept, low-brow idea, which are the best kinds for these things. Inspired by Barbara Eden speaking Farsi on I Dream of Jeannie, Jackie’s selling Magic Carpet Merkins in a campy campaign.

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Filming is all over the place. It’s one of the challenges where you don’t get a sense of the finished product until post-production, so we’ll discuss the filming and final result for each queen to keep things semi coherent here.

Bob Harper, famous for alternately screaming and crying at people until they exercise doesn’t add a lot as a director, but he is a likable presence if maybe just requiring a little less creative control.

For example, Jackie’s kitschy, classic sitcom vibe flies right over Harper’s head, dramatically slowing things down to grasp the relatively straight-forward technique Jackie wanted. Luckily, Jackie pushed through, because the result hit the target. Jackie’s Magic Merkins is a cute idea that Jackie executes to her fullest ability, but the highs just don’t peak as high as they should.

Bob clocks Gigi’s lack of energy, but she doesn’t take the note. Perhaps she came to the competition with “sleeping aid” idea in her back pocket to compensate for her “dry humor.” Maybe that coupled with her Snatch Game win (against the advice of RuPaul) prevented Gigi from taking the note here, but she’s sleepy in all the wrong ways.

Up next, Jan comes out guns blazing, full Jan. It’s already clear the writing is on the wall here for poor Jan. She’s sinking in this emotional quicksand, and the more she struggles to free herself, the worse it gets. It gives her this Lea Michele/Anne Hathaway/Ben Platt energy that’s super off-putting. According to her, Sure Jan spray will make you a better singer, a more confident person, more beautiful, etc. etc. It all felt less like a commercial and more like a pep rally.

Jaida has a run filming where she keeps smacking her mic, but once she gets over that hump, her commercial is strong. She has a consistent, appropriate energy, and her personality shines through. It’s a strong showing, but overall lacks the ambition of some of the others.

It could’ve been a disaster from Heidi, but Bob earned his entire guest-spot pay for helping pull the performance from her. He notes how funny she is between takes and coaches her to bring some of her natural charisma to the camera. The result is gut-busting. While so many others overly-relied on the “legit use, legit use, goofy use/sexual use” joke formula, Heidi plays with performance and tone in a way that lands harder than any other queen’s commercial. Talk about peaks and valleys! There’s even a really well-executed fart joke. It wasn’t the most polished or sophisticated, but it was the funniest, and making Ru laugh is ALWAYS the ultimate goal.

Unsurprisingly, Widow’s convoluted concept leads to a muddy and low-energy commercial. It’s a largely forgettable affair, lumping in unrelated (contradictory, not in an intentional, ironic way) uses with painfully few attempts at other types of humor.

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Most impressive is Crystal Methyd. She clearly has a mind for this sort of project, instantly knowing all the shots she needs and scrambling to produce a lot more content than the other gals. Her commercial feels infinitely more professional than the others. It feels like a TikTok, but not like it’s trying too hard. If only the content was as strong as the production, but it was funny enough.

A stunning Black Wedding runway is yet another reminder the caliber of queens we have remaining. I remember previous season’s having a really strong top FOUR or FIVE, but have we ever had a top EIGHT this compelling? It’s really a guessing game who will go next.

Apparently Ru needs some guidance too, because she asks all the girls who should go home, and they unanimously choose Widow. (Widow chooses the next worst performer, Jan.)

Jackie’s charms earn her high marks, but Heidi and Crystal receive the lion’s share of the praise. Heidi in particular is singled out for her hysterical commercial, which the judges could be heard cackling through entirely. She takes a well-deserved win.

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On the other end of the product spectrum, the judges were less than impressed with Gigi, Widow and “Try Hard with a VenJance” Jan. Gigi isn’t going anywhere, so it’s down to Widow and Jan in the lip sync.

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They start the performance to guest judge Chaka Khan’s “This Is My Night” and it starts to feel like a cold open for that show 9-1-1 on Fox. Like at any moment they’re both going to go from jumping splits and the entire stage is going to collapse, trapping under the rubble until Angela Bassett can arrive and save them?

Anyway, someone should probably call the cops, because it’s a bloodbath. Both are working so hard, I am SURE it’s going to be a double-save, and a well-earned one at that! But! No! Jan is sent packing …

… for now. I say that because it does feel like we are almost at the point in the season where one queen makes her triumphant return from Elimination Island (the Holiday Inn Express in North Hollywood) to retake their spot in the competition. Jan is the perfect candidate to make a comeback either next week or the week after, if I were a betting man.

But where would she fall in the pecking order? Let’s examine our standings in the rankings below.

  1. This is still Gigi‘s race to lose. She knew this wasn’t going to be her challenge, she tried her best to skirt by, but the competition is too fierce to coast now. Thank goodness her Black Wedding runway was an all-time highlight. I don’t think we’ll see Gigi dominate her way to the crown, but she’s still a head above the rest.
  2. Jackiecame through strong once again. I like the professional approach she takes to comedy. She can organize her thoughts and makes very intentional choices all the time. I wish she swung a little more wildly, because even though the jokes are good, they’re kind of safe. Still, Jackie has the savvy to keep up with Gigi, but does she have the skill? I thought her Black Wedding dress was a little basic, but she sold it well.
  3. Jaidahas been lowkey doing great this whole time. All her runways are beautiful. She’s a stronger performer than she gets any credit for. I love how she blended her signature confidence with a little joke about herself (“terrible actress from Gay’s Anatomy“). It made her even more likable. She looked as pretty as ever on the runway, but she basically served a traditional wedding runway with the color inverted. Meanwhile, the other queens added a little spooky story or twist to their entire presentation. Jaida’s felt a little dull by comparison.
  4. Excellent week for Heidi. By sheer force of personality, Heidi over-delivered in the challenge to the extent that Ru should show the tape to future contestants as an example of What To Do in a challenge. There were SO MANY jokes, and they all landed. She wore one of her most beautiful gowns on the runway, but her makeup was still rough. Can you imagine Heidi in the top 3? It certainly seems possible!
  5. Crystalis also continuing to climb. I was blown away by Crystal’s quick-thinking and production strategy. Comparing her final product to the others, she used the space/tools/materials smarter than anyone. What she did required so much attention to detail, intention and planning, it’s almost a shame it happened the same week as Heidi’s powerful performance. Under different circumstances, it would have won, I think. Crystal’s runway was also killer — a kind of Hocus Pocus “Billy Butcherson” corpse bride. I still don’t know if Crystal can outpace the top performers, but I’m not convinced she’s bottom of the pile either.
  6. (TIE) I’m taking a chance here. It really could’ve been either Widowor Jan sent home. Widow had the worse commercial, for sure, but her lip sync was full of passion and magnetism. Widow is hit or miss, and she could come back and dominate, or she could continue to struggle and self-sabotage. It’s really hard to say. She had one of the strongest runways this week. I lived for the crystal veil and oversized bow.
  7. (TIE) I might be wrong, but this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Jan. Although, if she comes back, I just don’t see her making it to the finale. She wasn’t having an off day. She was eliminated for a very foundational element of her personality. That’s not something she’ll be able to adjust overnight. But let’s say she can. By any measure, Jan has talent, and, thus, she can never be underestimated.

How would you rank the queens?

SOURCE: TOWLEROAD

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