The vibe on RuPaul’s Drag Race is decidedly weary. No matter how many hearts The Vixen won, she’s exhausting. Even her mirror message requires decoding. No one bothers. They assume it’s another stab at Eureka and move on. Kameron Michaels sits in stunned silence. As the winner, she’s earned extra camera time. She could talk about how hard the challenge was. Maybe act a little excited. Anything, really, is better than mute shock. Or so you’d think. When Kameron finally opens her mouth, she spills more than planned. It seems our quiet little churchmouse knew this was her challenge to lose. She’s done Cher before. Quite a bit, in fact. So why are we only learning this now? Kameron didn’t want to raise judge (or viewer) expectations. Someone’s clearly playing the game.
Production positions Aquaria as the bizzarro Kameron. Her Drag Race fairytale isn’t unfolding as expected. Blinded by sequin eye covers, Aquaria stridently denies being in the bottom three. Don’t know what you’re talking about. Never happened. But the mere mention rocks her equilibrium. She goes on an unscripted rant proclaiming her unequivocal desire for the crown. You can go home, and you can go home, and you can go home. She’s a glittering Tasmanian devil, demolishing goodwill like fine china. Aquaria is the loneliest girl at the party, by her own hand. As she undresses, she jokes, “I wish I had a friend to help.”
This week’s mini-challenge is classic Drag Race. Pointless celebrity cameos, both credited (Stephen Colbert) and un (Laith from Strut). A thinly veiled advertising agenda. And asses. Lots and lots of asses. Pants Down, Bottoms Up is basically Pit Crew concentration. With panties. While the queens ogle the extended Pit Crew, I wonder why RuPaul has forsaken his longtime underwear hookup Andrew Christian. Did Grindr offer more money or are Andy’s peccadilloes finally catching up with him? RuPaul’s official comment on the subject is, “P-nah p-nah p-nah p-nah p-nah.”
The mini-challenge winner, Aquaria, gets to cast the maxi-challenge. Breastworld, like Season 8’s RuCo’s Empire before it, combines acting and drama. Only this time it’s about robots. Aquaria reviews her damage control plan. Win over the other queens. Get nominated Miss Sportsmanship. Win the crown. Bip, bop, boop. Step one: let everyone choose their own role. Sounds simple. It even goes smoothly. Until it doesn’t. Aquaria is so busy being likeable, she forgets to put her safety mask on first. The girl with all the power ends up with the smallest role. RuPaul makes a beeline for her table. “Do you want them to like you or do you want to win?” Attitude readjusted, Aquaria looks RuPaul straight in the eyes and vows to make every syllable count.
Miz Cracker is desperate. Her essence, her spark, her buttery Crackerness isn’t translating to the Drag Race stage. And that just won’t do. RuPaul suggests that maybe, just maybe, she’s overproduced. Her canned shtick needs room to grow. To breathe. She needs to unclench. On set with Ross Matthews and Michelle Visage, Cracker struggles with her Love Boat inspired cruise director. No matter how many times she tells herself to get it together, she just can’t deliver. In contrast, her evil twin Aquaria spins straw into gold. RuPaul reawoke her sleeping dragon. Okurrrrr! Eureka’s desire for the crown fights her need for attention. Attention wins. She argues with the directors. She can’t say “Ivvvvvvvvvy Winters.” She can’t shoot a play gun. She’s a lot. And she’ll probably look great in the final cut.
As the winner of last week’s Lip-Sync For Your Life, Asia O’Hara knows this is her last chance. Her character, based on her Aunties, combines look and performance into one shining Asia moment. Monét doesn’t have to work as hard as the other girls so she ad libs bon mots to make Michelle giggle. Tonight’s biggest question mark is Kameron Michaels. She started the competition as a filler queen. Last week she won. Her growth has been palpable. On walkthrough, RuPaul cautioned that this is Kameron’s turning point. She can either break out and go far or shut down and go home. Kameron’s body language tells you which she picked. Shoulders hunched in, ratty hair covering her face, Kameron chews the scenery. She could have been a contender. Instead we get her swan song.
The best conversations happen while the queens paint. The Season 10 girls honor Sasha Velour with their version of Drag history hour. It’s a fairly woke group, with the youngest (Aquaria, 22) on first name basis with Amanda Lepore.The trailblazers of the past are venerated across the board. From group history to the personal, Asia shares how drag taught her the meaning of sisterhood. This is not RuPaul’s Best Friend Race but it kind of is. Spending so much time together, creating magic, creates a special bond. Like it or not, they’re family now.
Not only are guest judges Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson huge Drag Race fans (see: Ilana quiver at Mother’s entrance), they’re also on RuPaul’s other show, Broad City. The Silver Foxy runway is dedicated to glancing celebrity influences and grandmas who party. Miz Cracker is the rich bitch Sonja Morgan aspires to be. Monét X Change, with boobs hanging low, is Sonja’s actual future. Eureka is the rich bitch Paula Deen aspires to be. Kameron is Grandma Yetta from The Nanny. Asia O’Hara can’t give up dat Reggae life, mon. And Aquaria is an aging Club Kid, done respectfully.
Breastworld is a Hamburger Mary’s ad dressed up as a challenge. Narrated by Stephen Colbert, the story follows Monét and Kameron as they visit the mysterious, lesser cousin of Westworld. The final edit is kind to everyone but Kameron. It’s sad to see someone with promise fall behind. I put it down to exhaustion. Shooting this show is rigorous. Randy Rainbow (challenge celebrity #2) leads us in a rousing rendition of Have You Met a Gay Man? Kameron has one foot out the door but the other taps along.
Top three: Monét X Change, Asia O’Hara, and Aquaria
Bottom three: Kameron, Eureka, and Miz Cracker
The judges hand down their decision. Monét is the star of the night until they realize people might find her runway IV and hair loss offensive. Suddenly it’s time to nitpick her obvious lack of glamour. Opinions are split on Aquaria. Her performance was amazing, her runway misunderstood. But they all agree she stole every moment she could. Instead of doing a straight Sarah Palin spoof, Asia gave her character dimensions. And if her old age includes running around the Drag Con parking lot, hustling folks to buy fanny packs, so be it. It gets her the win, if nothing else.
Miz Cracker is her own worst enemy. She plans every second of her life but gets thrown by change. Cracker clearly needs to spend time with 4 year olds. She’s begging to listen “Let It Go” on repeat. Eureka is knocked for her runway choices (that damn Ross steals my Paula Deen joke) and challenge performance. They expect more of winners. Which brings us to Kameron. To anyone who’s been to a retirement community in West Palm, her runway was Lady Who Plays Mahjong With Nana (so naturally Ilana is obsessed). She had arguably the most important role in Breastworld but she stuck to one hysterical note. Now it’s just a race to see who she will perform against.
Eureka gets the dubious honor. They lip-sync (for their life!) to New Attitude by The Pointer Sisters. Kameron gets ready for battle by removing her earings. She hasn’t given up. She’s ready to bring her all. She dances. She mugs. She removes her coat and transforms into a mutant hybrid: Queen Elizabeth’s head on hot Sandy’s body. Tell me about it, stud. They say you have to watch the quiet ones and the old saw applies. Kameron can dance. Eureka’s low energy and lackluster dancing will never steal Kameron’s thunder. We don’t need acrobatics like the cheer challenge, but at least give Charlie Hides a run for her money. So she does. She splits. She spins. She splits and spins. It’s like a spell is lifted. Eureka can dance again! Huzzah! The euphoria is contagious. The judges are giddy. RuPaul makes the unusual decision to shantay both queens. They brought life to that lip-sync so the lip-sync returns the favor.