Hey, Drag Racers! It’s so nice to be back after a week long bout of sickness that saw my dear Kevin O’Keeffe take over last week’s recap. I’m glad to be back, so let’s get it rollin’.
After last week’s complete annihilation of Yuhua Hamasaki at the hands of Mayhem Miller and “Celebrity Skin,” the queens come back to the room and The Vixen already gets in a great read at the very top of the hour. When discussing Asia O’Hara’s win, she says, “Nobody give her shit for borrowing the gloves, though” as a pointed comment as to when it’s OK or not OK for queens to win for a look that includes components borrow from another queen.
My favorite part about this drama is that it pulls back the curtain a bit on not only Drag Race as a phenomenon but drag as an art. The Vixen and Asia O’Hara probably see it as communal/collaborative, where Aquaria was coming from a place of competition. Let’s see if the show can get any more mileage out of this tension in the coming weeks.
This week’s mini challenge finds the queens photobombing famous celebrities. The challenge seems odd since the queens are usually stars in their own right, a fact that challenge winner Aquaria picks up on during her session, when she feigns picking up dog poop behind Kim Kardashian-West. It’s the first challenge win for Aquaria and also the first hint of humor from the looks-based queen. As we’ve seen from queens like Violet Chachki in the past, serving high fashion and being able to be mildly funny (Violet wasn’t that bad at Snatch Game!) can bring you far.
A lot of Drag Race viewers will be rightly surprised to see the ball challenge some so early.In seasons 8 and 9, only five contestants remained (this is when Derrick Barry and Alexis Michelle were each sent packing) for the ball. But, just like an oddly placed “Very Best Drag” runway, this season is front loading familiar challenges, hopefully making way for some fairly innovative ones down the road.
This year’s ball theme is “Last Ball on Earth” and the three looks are Alaska Winter Realness (a summer look), Miami Summer Realness (a winter look) and a Martian Eleganza Extravaganza. Immediately, Monet X Change grabs a red, stiff bubble wrap fabric the color of Britney Spears’ “Oops I Did It Again” bodysuit. However, Asia O’Hara quickly comments that it seems like Monet doesn’t know how to work the fabric and is cutting it all willy-nilly instead of making and executing a plan.
Asia O’Hara gets a lot of welcome screen time during the workroom scenes due to her workroom knowledge and her motherly nature with the other contestants.Later, when RuPaul comes to visit the girls, she even reveals that fashion and working with clothing are her full time job and that she’s sewn hems (shout out again, Derrick Barry!) for Dolly Parton and Gladys Knight.
People doubt Aquaria’s ability to deliver a look, especially since it seems like, in the workroom, all she’s serving is Milk Paper Doll Touch the Fashion Change Your Life realness.
Viewers might feel like this is the first of the 90-minute episodes where, strangely enough, the workroom moments just feel too long. With too little drama for a narrative arc, the show resorts to small moments for color that are a little boring. Monique Heart has an endearing laugh. Dusty Ray Bottoms gets a hot glue gun burn. Eureka and Monet practice donkey kicks. Eureka has a twang-y accent. It’s all very RuPaul’s Best Friends Race.
When Ru does come to the room to visit the queens, we get the aforementioned visit with Asia as well as a visit with Aquaria, where RuPaul calls out her lack of a challenge win. Given that Aquaria won the mini challenge and is a looks queen who is getting a severe amount of camera time out of nowhere, it’s clear the show is building up toward something: but is it a good or bad performance?
When Miz Cracker asks Aquaria whether it's true that a sugar daddy pays for her drag, Aquaria not only handles the situation well (and answers with a lot more respect than she does The Vixen) she also gets in a funny Shangela reference.
The funniest of the workroom segments comes when discussing Eureka’s twang and Monet X Change adds that the standard American accent is the real British accent and that the British accent evolved later. All the queens jump on her to tell her she’s wrong but here’s the thing I REMEMBER LEARNING THE EXACT SAME THING. I think I learned in a Shakespeare class that like, Shakespeare was performed originally in an accent closer to American than modern British? Did I make that up?
Ru herself embraces a futuristic look on the runway tonight, which, while not perfect, is fun and new for her. With each of the 11 girls sporting 3 looks, it’s a bit hard to sum up how everyone looks, but here are some notes on the queens.
Blair St. Clair is nothing if not a consistent queen. She may end up being safe, but her three looks speak to each other and seem to be part of a collection morse than almost any other queen. Kameron Michaels may not always hit a home run, but when she does, she really goes there. After last week's feather look, her Miami Summer realness look is the one that best captures the futuristic and cold-weather themes at the same time.
Mayhem Miller, Eureka, The Vixen, Monique Heart and Blair St. Clair are all deemed safe and asked to leave the stage.
The judges read Monet X Change for her Britney Spears-inspired look for being a bit too homemade and "sloppy." Kameron Michaels receives heaps of praise for her ability to deliver stories along with her outfits. Aquaria, likewise, gets great notes from each of the judges for not only serving fashion but also serving the look on the runway.
Unfortunately, Michelle Visage says Dusty Ray Bottoms' look was "off the rack," and also criticized her for misunderstanding the assignment and not going futuristic enough. The judges call Asia O'Hara out for her looks, which seem unpolished and "cute."
At this, Asia O'Hara breaks down on the runway and says that she took far too much time helping other girls and didn't help herself. It feels like the judges would usually read a contestant for saying that, but the girls on the runway jump in and, in an authentically heartfelt moment, support their sister and corroborate her story. While it didn't work out well for Asia this week, it's nice to see her getting the same storyline as Bianca Del Rio in season 6 the confident, seasoned queen willing to help out others.
After a quick deliberation, Ru hands Aquaria the win, solidifying her "look queen" status. However, Monet X Change and Dusty Ray Bottoms, two New York queens who bring humor to the game, land in the bottom.
Perhaps it's in celebration of Nicki Minaj's release of singles "Chun Li" and "Barbie Tingz," but the girls face off to the queen of rap's "Pound the Alarm," and Monet X Change way outperforms Dusty Ray. At first, Monet fakes out the panel by showing that she's about to do a split or a death drop but ultimately saying it's not time. RuPaul and Michelle can't stop laughing. Later, she delivers the split to great effect. Dusty just kinda shakes around the stage and doesn't look like she takes the song very seriously. Continuing this season's lip sync trend of one queen demolishing the other, Monet wins.
• Does anyone else think it’s low-key racist that the queens kept asking what Yuhua’s lipstick mirror note meant when she wrote what the note means right below the Chinese lettering?
• OK, Monet’s leopard onesie is a LEWK. I was surprised that she left it on for a mini challenge, though. However, that does lend itself to the theory that Monet isn’t always giving 100 when it comes to her looks.
• When Monique heart called Aquaria “Aquafina” tho!
• They’re still saying Vanjie's name!
• Did no one in the room get that Aquaria was referencing Matilda when she said the whole “They chose books, I chose looks?” Does AQUARIA know she’s making that reference?
• Monique, let me say this once. Beyonce does not sing “Watermelon!” on Lemonade.
• When Monet was talking about British people and said “Colonize and crystallize,” referencing Ms. Kennedy Davenport, I fell out!