RuPaul’s Drag Race opens, as always, with an ending. While mourning a friend’s elimination (this time Dusty Ray Bottoms), they can’t help but examine their own mortality in the game. The black Martha Stewart has buyer’s remorse. Last week, she was too busy playing Mother to complete a runway-worthy look. So Asia O’Hara does what anyone would do in her place: she blames. The other girls used her. They took, took, took without giving. They never call. They never write. Kinda sounds like they’re treating her like a mom. The other queens want to comfort her but they’re scared to get too close. They’re grateful for the help but no one wants to be associated with her shoddy reproduction of Shangela and Alexis Mateo’s Season 3 TwinBot costume. There are limits.
The quick drag mini-challenge honors the ongoing fight for LGBTQIA rights. The Pit Crew, in camo panties, deliver army kits that need some razzle dazzle. It’s a reboot of the Season 7 Orange Is The New Drag challenge. Aquaria steals the show but The Vixen is named winner. As I recently explained to my sister, new to the show, the mini-challenge wins never make sense. It’s almost like Production just hands it to the character that will move the story towards drama the fastest. Allegedly.
Tonight we get what I like to call a RuPaul Humble Brag Maxi-Challenge. Based on his groundbreaking 1990 appearance on Geraldo, the queens improv episodes of the Bossy Rossy Show with Ross Matthews. The Vixen assigns the scene duos, RuPaul the shows. They’re provided stories and basic costumes. Tthe rest is up to them.
The Vixen thinks she dealt judiciously with her team selections. She only purposefully set up Eureka and Aquaria (previously established foes). Unlike Shangela from All Stars 3 (or Stassi and the Choad), The Vixen should be comparing herself to Game of Thrones. She plays revenge as a long con. It seems she’s met a kindred spirit in Asia. When their Why Are You So Obsessed With Me? script gives them the opportunity to play the Cracker/Aquaria feud for laughs, they jump. Unfortunately for fans of comedy, they don’t deliver the goods. The Vixen evokes Cracker and Aquaria’s contour and face shaping, and they get extra points for removing their wigs the right way (with another wig on underneath!), but none of it makes up for the awkward, stilted acting. Great concept, strong planning, weak execution.
Blair and Monique go into I Married A Cactus as a solid team. They even create a safeword in case either gets in trouble. Vanjie! On set, Monique snatches the scene before she snatches Blair’s wig. That’s just a bonus. As if she’s Samson to The Vixen’s Delilah, Blair weakens. All she can manage are a few, timid Vanjies. In the glare of the lights, Monique is stunned. They forgot to make a post-Vanjie plan. So she Vanjies back. It’s Vanjie on Vanjie, growing louder and more syncopated with each shouting. Soon they don’t know if they’re yelling at or with each other. Ross jumps out of his seat in excitement. This is how you make daytime TV!
Kameron worries that Monét will outshine him on My Freaky Addiction Is Ruining My Life. Monét is concerned about doing a talk show with someone who doesn’t talk. But it’s all moot. They’re both terrible. The whole segment is terrible. I don’t think I even like Ross right now.
Save Me From My Deadly Fear Of Pickles stars Mayhem as Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice. Cracker is a kosher pickle with a dick in a box. Cracker’s the perfect blend of smarts and physical comedy. Looking like Sandra Dee underscores her raunchy jokes. Mayhem disappears into the woodwork.
Finally, it’s time for the disadvantaged team to prove their salt. Eureka and Aquaria star in Look At Me! I’m A Sexy Baby! as, well, sexy babys. Aquaria looks like Linda Evangelista in a diaper and bib. Please tell me those are pacifier pasties! But Eureka takes the show and sits on it when she walk out as bare as her challenge partner. It’s body positivity in all it’s finest. They both give boffo performances (Aquaria’s taking place whenever Eureka takes a breath). As can happen in competitions, the expected losers turn out to be winners. After all.
The The Vixen/Eureka drama finally eclipses the The Vixen/Aquaria drama. Mayhem brings the two together to fan the flames mend fences. The Vixen isn’t receptive. Eureka takes a break from Reality. She bares her soul to The Vixen in offering. I’m terrified The Vixen will throw it in her face. Instead, she opens a small part of her heart to Eureka. She refuses a hug but we’re applauding baby steps.
Carrie Preston from Nails (my favorite actress on a really good show) and Shania Twain (gay icon à la Stevie Nicks) join Michelle Visage and Carson Kressley at the judging panel. RuPaul welcomes them wearing bubble wrap.
In what must be a nod to the Real Housewives of New York, the runway category is Denim and Diamonds. Kameron is ready for a mountaintop Renaissance Faire. Blair goes modern. She’s 1980’s mall Barbie (that’s modern for Blair). There are 3 versions of chaps: hospital gown (Monét), mermaid (The Vixen), and boots (Monique). Mayhem is the first to eschew denim so her pink and diamonds stand out. Miz Cracker is a country Pippi Longstocking, buck teeth and freckles aplenty. But it takes a Texas queen, honoring a Texas Queen, to show them how it’s done. Asia O’Hara, as Leeanne Locken, is everything that’s right with this world.
Top three: Eureka O’Hara, Monique Heart, and Miz Cracker
Bottom three: Monét X Change, The Vixen, and Mayhem Miller
Judging aside: Michelle brings RuPaul to tears (again) whispering a simple, “Vanjie…. Vanjie…”
Winner: Eureka. She gets pride, money, and two tickets to the Cirque du Soleil show Nene was in.
With a stacked bottom three, it’s going to be a fierce lip-sync regardless of configuration. Monét X Change and Mayhem Miller are tapped to perform Man! I Feel Like A Woman by Shania Twain. Here’s the thing. Both of these queens have been in my top 3 since the cast was announced. I expect greatness. Monét opens with a wig under a wig. It’s in response to RuPaul’s workroom shade but neither wig is impressive. Monét plays dirty. She rides a Harley. She smokes. She has props. Mayhem is a country princess. She struts around the stage in her cowboy boots, rhinestones winking at the cameras. Mayhem sees Monét working her magic on the judges and gets shook. She perseveres as western Barbie but keeps one eye on Monét at all times. Monét feels the energy shift as a power surge. She takes a final swing and knocks it out of the park.
Monét X Change, shantay you stay. Mayhem Miller, sashay away.
Next week: The big hat is back. RuPaul challenges the queens to create DragCon panels. For extra drama, they have to pick their own teams. The Big Sick’s Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon guest judge.