It’s hard not to be deflated coming off last week’s epic lip sync game-within-a-game on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season six. The thrilling lip sync competition was an easy crowd-pleaser, and it had the built-in narrative of Silky’s dominance and ultimate redemption.
Of course, that last lip sync against Eureka landed with a thud, which already left a funky taste in the mouth (and I don’t mean Mexicatassen).
All of that said, the rest of the episode didn’t help build momentum. The challenges were meh, the performances were fine and the final result was a bummer. Considering how much I’ve grown to love all these queens, I should’ve enjoyed all this a lot more.
Let’s back up.
Fresh off the bat, we need to resolve our little cliffhanger from last week. Ru rightly selects Eureka to return to the competition, but Silky doesn’t miss a beat. She’s firing off jokes, she’s immediately processing to camera how this is still such an achievement. Even Ru extends a LEGENDARY designation to the good doctor. (I wonder if that will become the Paul Hollywood handshake of Drag Race All Stars in future seasons.)
Eureka returns, just in time for a Pride-themed mini-challenge. What makes this one strange to watch is it feels like there’s an unspoken aspect of this challenge: The clothing provided, courtesy Levi’s, is hideous. It’s one of those tacky Pride collections with, like, the laziest slogans and iconography. So they’re dragging it up into quick drag, pulling together an outfit that says “Demon Twink and Frankie Grande exploded in a Target,” they look insane. But the eventual winner, Kylie, wins … the whole collection to take home. Um, thanks?
It’s the maxi challenge that really starts to go off the rails. This week, the queens will be performing in the Charisma Uniqueness Nerve Talent Monologues. (Think The Moth, but in wigs.) It needs to be entertaining, but not too polished; funny, but not stand-up; it needs to be written, but not feel written.
It’s already a tall order. I mean, it’s not like it’s reasonable to ask anyone to basically craft a three-minute version of Nanette on the spot, but all the queens make an admirable effort.
On top of all that, there’s that sneaky requirement that it also somehow inspires or reveals some vulnerability. Come on! Look, I’m a big, emotional sucker. I love to be inspired! But how many challenges must these drag queens dance, sew, act, sing AND also be the voice of a generation?
Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing queer people’s stories. If there was a channel that played only this, I would watch, and I would shame all my friends and family into watching it or I’d threaten to tell everyone they’re homophobic. When it comes to Drag Race though, sometimes I just want a twirl, not a TedTalk.
Even though all five girls do an admirable job with solid stories, the whole thing feels underwhelming. I wish the mainstage did some more dramatic lighting. I know COVID likely limited the number of people on set, having only the judges’ sporadic laughter did a disservice to some of the night’s stronger performances.
Trinity, feeling shook by the prospect of potentially being eliminated this close to the crown, is certainly in her head in the work room, crunching numbers, trying to gauge her competitors’ plans and motives. Her story takes a nice little emotional journey from catfish to guardian angel that leaves plenty of room to stroke Ru’s ego as well.
There appeared to be reason to be concerned for Ra’Jah, but. after a slight stumble on the mainstage, she takes off. She’s got a wild tale about her tuck coming undone while performing. It’s dynamic, and Ra’Jah has a charm, but she is visibly the least comfortable person up there, struggling to remember her lines early on.
It’s another good week for Kylie, whose story is a heartbreaking, but ultimately heartwarming story about how she went from military school to her first night performing drag. She has such a stage presence, and her drawl just slathers everything she says in sweet honey. Plus, she weaves so many jokes into her set. “He was gayer than two guys blowing five guys,” was such a well-placed joke. It’s moving, it’s one of the funnier sets of the night, and she constructs a really satisfying arc.
Ginger, obviously, slays. It’s a Hallmark-ready story about a little gay boy in Baptist Florida getting caught playing in momma’s heels, only for her to later present a gift-wrapped box with a pair for little Ginger. (Where is that episode of Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings?!) She looks gorgeous, and she commands the stage like a total pro. The only criticism the judges can muster, and it’s a stretch, is, I don’t know, maybe it was too perfect? Um, thanks?
Finally, our returning queen knows the pressure is on. Eureka is probably best keyed in to Ru’s sense of humor, and she goes hard on a story about pooping herself. It’s big and baudy, and Ru can’t get enough. Despite rocking a bodysuit, even Michelle has to give props for a chic little Playboy bunny ensemble that may be one of Eureka’s best looks. The judges award her the win.
That means all four other girls are up for elimination, which means we’re destined for heartbreak. There is no good candidate. Crunching the numbers, Trinity has statistically the worst “track record.” There’s a lot of hemming and hawing, but it’s too tight for them to give anything away during deliberations.
Back on the mainstage, we have a winner returning in Jaida Essence Hall. So good to see her! She and Eureka turn it out to “Good Golly Miss Molly” by Little Richard, leaving Ru no choice but call it a tie. Both Eureka and the gals picked Trinity, which logically makes sense, but emotionally feels wrong?
So where does that leave us? Damned if I know! Trinity was my top pick most of this season, and now it feels like truly anyone’s to lose.
1. Stranger things have happened, but maybe it’ll be Eureka to surprise us all. She’s a great candidate. She was a polarizing queen in her earlier runs; she has an extended platform thanks to HBO’s We’re Here; and it’s a gag for a returning competitor to make it all the way. All these gals are worthy, including Eureka. She needed this win, and it’s a well-timed boost coming into the final stretch. I didn’t think her Fashion Oops was the most clever, but she looked great as someone looking bad.
2. Ginger almost seems too obvious. She’s been steadily stupendous on this run, a consummate professional. She brought so much professionalism and craft to those awful acting challenges. Carson’s comment about being too refined (echoing earlier feedback in rehearsal that she was too pageanty) could be her downfall. Ginger had the showiest Fashion Oops, but she never let the gimmicks distract from her performance as she came down the runway.
3. Did you hear when Ra’Jah said she made ALL OF HER CLOTHES on the mainstage? That’s amazing. Especially tonight’s. I adored the fuchsia half get-up she put on for a Fashion Oops, but it was also the way she performed with the garment. And when she finally put it on at the end, it was just beautiful, even if it only covered half her body. (Especially because it only covered half?) The main challenge sort of performance doesn’t seem to come naturally to Ra’Jah, which is ok! If anything, it made her successful story tonight even more impressive.
4. Don’t get me wrong, I think Kylie still has a real shot at the crown. I have a feeling she’ll do great shooting a music video, and she’s had some real high highs throughout the season. Her story tonight struck a really nice (and difficult) balance, and she had everyone on the edge of their seat. I wish Fashion Oops had just a little something else. (Maybe Michelle was onto something with the glitter.) The corn dog bit was good, but the callback during critiques was GREAT.
5. Sigh. I get it. Someone had to go. Much like I wish I could’ve seen Silky end her dominant lip sync run with a return, I wish we could see Trinity overcome her season six sads, earn a legion of new fans and take her rightful place in the Hall of Fame. Sadly, that’s just not how it’s going down. By all objective measures, it had to be Trinity. She was inconsistent, her outlook was getting grim. The judges thought her performance needed more air, and the Fashion Oops didn’t pop. These are minor critiques, but we are at the penultimate episode of All Stars. Trinity certainly can leave with her head held high. She showed us that she is THE drag Beyoncé, all her lewks were fierce, she showed off comedy drops and inspiring stories. She’s well on her way to legendary.
How would you rank the RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars queens this week?