I don’t know about you, but my fragile state of mind couldn’t possible withstand such a ruthless Drag Race coup as was teased Friday night on All Stars. Had the ladies acted to oust this season’s (former?) frontrunner, it would’ve been forever known as The Red Runway.
Luckily, however, we got away with just a slight scare. It was a stark reminder just how devastating this season’s twist has the potential to be. For an otherwise lackluster episode, the edge-of-your-seat thrill of this week’s elimination made up for an underwhelming main challenge.
Let’s breathe a sigh of relief and recount all the ru-veals, ru-tique hotels and clashes over lack of ru-spect that unfolded this week in our ru-, I mean REcap below.
Fresh off Ongina’s exit, the gals agree she simply had to go. (A survey of the lipsticks reveals a unanimous decision.) Ongina gave up on herself, so the girls agree she didn’t belong. And yet, the following day, Alexis is quick to confront Cracker for getting into Ongina’s head. This really should’ve been put to bed when Cracker apologized to Ongina before everyone — Ongina included — voted to send her off. But the queens aren’t satisfied with Cracker’s contrition. So, Miz mumbles out another explanation/apology, which even Mayhem is quick to call b.s. on.
Cracker can’t seem to catch a break, because later in the episode, Alexis stirs up a kerfuffle after overhearing Cracker praise her teammates as queens she respects. Alexis takes that to mean ipso facto Cracker doesn’t respect her. Shea leaps to Cracker’s defense and the whole thing sizzles out … for now.
This week has the girls working in teams once again. Strikingly similar to last All Stars‘ “Queen of Clubs,” each team will be responsible for creating a three-dimensional “experience.” Unlike the body-rockin’ nightclub of last season, this time the ladies are creating a boutique lodging experience.
Now, it’s very unclear exactly how much work the queens were responsible for. (Did they pick out the furniture? Did they do all the painting? Was there anything in those cocktail cups?) Ostensibly, this is a branding challenge, and each team takes a different tact.
The smart money first appears to be on Team Shea heading into this challenge. The talented queen is paired with comedic Cracker and the promising Miss Mariah. The gals flock to a Golden Girls-themed concept that mixes ’80s Miami glam and old lady comforts. What ends up missing is any real connection to the Golden Girls. The queens are loosely in character, but Shea and Mariah particularly fail to capture Dorothy and Blanche’s essence. (Cracker is only marginally better as a slightly dimmer version of Rose Nylund.) Michelle clocks them for missing jokes, and I have to agree. It’s not that there are NO jokes in their presentation, but none of them feel like the sort of signature snappy, sitcom jokes that defined the series.
Alexis is joined by India and Jujubee for an expedition into the jungle, baby, at the Glamazone (Rawr!). It’s all pretty on-the-nose, save for Jujubee, who casually shares stories of her grandmother’s work on the exotic, “handmade” decor. It’s a funny running bit that Juju delivers with just the right amount of bite to ensure the joke is on the luxury travelers oblivious of the source of their goods and not on the laborers themselves.
The bit stands out against Alexis and India’s lack of ideas. The former is able to coast through the segment thanks to her personality and charms, but there’s not much content there. India fares even worse, creating a moment dedicated to an impossibly placed “golden shower head” that makes incredibly little sense. What does the Golden Shower Head have to do with the jungle theme? Is it supposed to work? Is the water yellow? (Please tell me it’s water.) Look, I’m not a stranger to unconventional (and a little kinky) hotel experiences, but I have some questions!
Finally, Mayhem and Blair are a team again. Their concept is a 24-karat golden fantasy, that’s part music video and part Trump Tower. It’s all gold everything, and the queens spend their time orgasmically whispering about their monomaniacal fascination with BEING RICH. It’s a looser concept than they get credit for, and their planned bits feel a lot like dipping everything in gold and then throwing it at the wall to see what sticks. My favorite part is when Blair pushes Michelle to quantify exactly how rich she feels in their luxurious sheets, and the best Michelle can muster through giggles is “The Richest?” It’s a perfect example of how the “game” of this scene isn’t clear.
A disappointing challenge led to a promising runway concept: three looks in one! On its face, this sounds great. Who doesn’t love a reveal? The thing is, the best part of the reveal is the SURPRISE. If you’re expecting the reveal, you’re just watching someone get undressed.
We’ll discuss the individual looks in the rankings below, but once the gals gathered on stage, Ru made what I believe is an unprecedented move. She awarded Jujubee as this week’s best performer, but Mayhem and Blair as the winning room. What does that mean? Isn’t the WHOLE THING performance? That’s like saying Divina won the make your own water challenge, but Baga’s tasted the best. Who cares? None of it is real! Why have a winning team at all if that team isn’t going to be the top for the week. The whole thing felt strange.
Here’s where things get interesting. The bottom three end up being India and Mariah (for failing to stand out) and Shea (for missing the jokes and a “crafty” colorful moth runway). Going from being last week’s winner (and beating the lip sync assassin) to being in danger of elimination is quite a turn of fortune for the season favorite. To make matters even more complicated, the girls have the opportunity to send home a major competitor, even if she may not be the most deserving of the boot.
Throw into the mix this week’s lip sync assassin is Monét X Change, and things start picking up! Defying expectations, Monét makes a traffic-cone orange velour figure-skating outfit look stunning. This should be assassin versus assassin, plus the song is the crowd-pleasing self-love bop “Juice” by the fabulous Lizzo. It’s going to be legendary.
Unfortunately, Juju phones this one in, clearly bungling the words and giving the whole performance maybe 40 percent. Monét, for what it’s worth, gives us a full performánce, salvaging the minutes with a thoroughly entertaining lip sync.
Ru picks Monét for the win, revealing the queen voted out by the other girls to be Mariah.
That’s another queen down. Did they get it right? Let’s discuss in our rankings below, and leave your thoughts in the comments!
- This week proved Shea isn’t invincible, which gives Jujubee a slight edge. Seeing how quickly folks are already considering wielding their voting power to punish their rivals, Shea’s reputation may be a hindrance and create an opening for Jujubee to sneak by. Jujubee was the funniest part of her team, and her holiday-themed triple runway was a cute concept, though how the judges knock Shea for being costume-y and not Juju’s literal costumes, I do not understand. That lip sync was a bummer, and it almost made me consider if she threw it on purpose to not send anyone home. Would that really be worth giving up the ten grand?
- Don’t expect Shea to plummet too far down the rankings just yet. The Golden Girls concept was strong, but the devil was in the details. The jokes (and even costuming) needed some work to fully embody Dorothy. I really liked the metamorphosis runway. The judges were less than impressed. I wonder if it’s the airbrush that cheapened it. I always find airbrushed bodysuits to look really cheap, and who’s to say it’s not giving Michelle Visage Jersey boardwalk PTSD?
- You can’t say Alexis didn’t go for it with that circus runway. More than most, Alexis felt like she gave us three really distinct looks, changing her hair and full outfit for each of the three characters. I just don’t appreciate her taste level. It’s all too bright and loud. Still, there’s an undeniable personality there that makes Alexis magnetic. Even when she’s coming for Cracker, she’s doing so with a conviction and assurance. She’s the anti-Ongina.
- One thing you can say about Blair is that she understands the gravity of this opportunity. She’s come prepared, and she’s not taking this second chance for granted. She’s elevated her drag and polished her performance. Her triple runway was cute, and she committed fully to every golden gag in the 24-karat room. She may be this season’s dark horse if she can get her skills to the level of her ambition.
- Will there be redemption for Cracker? More and more it seems like she’s being edited into this season’s villainess. (Why? India is RIGHT THERE.) Unfortunately, I’m concerned Cracker’s habit of getting too into her own head will feed off this increased scrutiny and only further alienate her from the other girls. She was the strongest player on her team this week, but that’s not saying much. Cracker is clever, there is no doubt, but I always feel like her outfits are missing something. I liked the Anastasia story she told, but each look just felt like it needed a few more details. Maybe more of a statement shoe, elegant accessories, something.
- Mayhem needs to step up next week, or it may be too late to build momentum. I feel like she had more jokes land than Blair during the challenge, but I still wish there was more of a consistent narrative overall. She looked beautiful by the end of her reveals on the runway, but the first two looks felt more like preludes than co-headliners. It’s do or die time for Miss Miller.
- Mariah may not have ever made it to the end of the competition, but I guess India’s first-week win gave her the edge in some girls’ minds in deciding to spare Ms. Ferrah. This week, Mariah really missed the mark with Blanche, serving all sex with no sass. She also walked a runway that seemed more like a slow reveal of the final outfit, rather than three distinct moments. I had high hopes Mariah would return and keep infusing social justice into her work, but it doesn’t look like we’ll have the chance to see.
- Maybe that first performance earned enough goodwill among the gals for India, but I would’ve dropped her lipstick in the box. The queen claimed she was finally showing who India is, and I’m still not sure who that is, myself. She was making choices with her golden shower segment (like emphasizing “Golden Shower HEAD”) that just didn’t add up. I liked the overall aesthetic of what she brought to the runway, but the progression didn’t really tell a story. Using the same fabric for all three looks made each reveal lose a little impact. I just can’t shake the feeling she’s trying to do what an All Star would do and not acting like an All Star by fully being India.
How would you rank the queens?