‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 10 Episode 5 Recap: Country Queens

Welcome back, Drag Racers! We’re only into week five of the competition and season 10 already seems like some of the fiercest set of queens we’ve ever had. Last week, we said goodbye to Dusty Ray Bottoms and Aquaria rose to the top of the pack. And that’s where our drama begins.

After sending her New York sister home, Monet X Change is visibly shaken. Monet is an obviously amazing queen who seems to be struggling a bit on the show. Usually this ends one of two ways: queens bounce back or they fall under pressure. I’m hoping Monet’s path follows the former route because she’s my personal favorite queen of the pack.

Asia O’Hara gripes to her fellow queens that she wishes others had helped her the way she selflessly helped them. Now, Asia O’Hara is an amazing, talented queen but her anger feels a bit misplaced. If anything, it feels like the criticism from her idol, Tisha Campbell-Martin, really got to her. Miz Cracker plays voice of reason and Asia relays to the girls that she’s ready to compete rather than collaborate.

The conversation is actually a larger one about the nature of drag vs. Drag Race, an ongoing low-key theme in this season. (I spoke about this earlier when Kalorie Karbdashian-William’s brand of personal empowerment drag was deemed not strong enough for the show). In many ways, drag families act as surrogate, nurturing institutions that buttress queens so they don’t fall. Asia O’Hara is operating under community drag rules in a national drag competition and Drag Race doesn’t care.

Before we get to the mini challenge, I have to note that The Vixen gets a full character arc in this episode, and the arc begins its bend here. First, The Vixen says rather than fight with Eureka, she’s going to ignore her to kibosh their friction. (We’ll return to this later.)

The mini challenge this week is an army-themed runway that I’m still convinced was sponsored by the Department of Defense to get queer people to join the military. Anyway, The Vixen wins and fuck homonationalism! As The Vixen’s prize, she gets to pair off the queens into teams for this week’s maxi challenge, where the queens improv appearances as tawdry guests on the Bossy Rossy Show, a daytime talk show hosted by Best Drag Race Judge Ross Matthews.

The Vixen chooses Asia O’Hara as her partner. She pairs Blair St. Clair with Monique Heart, Monet X Change with Kameron Michaels, Miz Cracker with Mayhem Miller and, finally, Eureka and Aquaria.

To everyone’s surprise, Kameron Michaels has an face-to-camera moment! She fangirled over Ru’s announcement that country pop queen Shania Twain would guest judge this week (along with Good Wife and True Blood star Carrie Preston).

The Vixen reveals that she was mostly non-calculating when making the groups, except when she put her two rivals Aquaria and Eureka together. This is the second part of her arc!

The Vixen and Asia O’Hara fall on the inspired idea to play Miz Cracker and Aquaria for their “Why are you so obsessed with me?” segment. Monet X Change finds it difficult to work with the muted Kameron Michaels, whose silence is only outmatched by her lack of ideas. Miz Cracker seems to be doing the heavy lifting in her pairing with Mayhem. She jumps at the chance to play a Jewish Kosher pickle, while Mayhem doesn’t seem too gung ho about playing someone with a pickle phobia. Surprisingly, Blair and Monique make a great pair whose comic sensibilities line up.

Blair and Monique are up first and while Blair trips on her improv skills here and there, the two slay, especially Monique. The two are fighting over a cheating cacti husband and Monique’s delivery of “What cactus could resist?” deserves an Emmy. The two cooked up a plan to use “Vanjie” as a safe word in case they ran into trouble during the show and needed the other to step in. Instead, they end up shouting the word at each other multiple times as the crowd roars along.

Surprisingly, Monet X Change comes off a little stiff as a queen addicted to eating hip pads, while Kameron decides to go for broad comedy gold as a queen who huffs tucking panties. Monet does land the loudest laugh when Ross asks her what she thinks of Kameron’s addiction and she responds in a deadpan voice, “You know what, honestly, I think that it is disgusting.”

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Miz Cracker brings her A game as a *checks notes* best-selling Jewish psychologist who is also actually a pickle? Ross comments at first that Miz Cracker takes a while to get going (her jokes are a little bit high-falutin’ at first) but eventually gets there and the crowd loves the pair by the end of the segment. By contrast, Mayhem lands some funny lines but doesn’t seem fully committed to the character.

The Vixen and Asia O’Hara confess to being unrehearsed and it shows. While we as the audience knew they were going for the Miz Cracker/ Aquaria bit, I doubt anyone in the audience knew they barely referenced New York or any specifics about the drama between them. Their segment is salvaged by a double wig reveal.

The Vixen’s plan backfired. Aquaria and Eureka slay. Aquaria’s slight, young frame in a diaper is definitely a sight. But Eureka steals the show when she comes out repping her full-figured frame without making her size the joke. She’s also able to pull off a believable tantrum that leaves the audience in stitches.

Once we’re back in the workroom, Mayhem Miller works hard to get The Vixen and Eureka to bury the hatchet. Each of them engage authentically in a conversation about what happened and are able to mostly hash out their differences. The star of this segment is The Vixen, who is able to dissect the drama *and* the trauma that each girl brings to the table. During her face-to-cam moment, The Vixen displays an awareness about her own readiness to fight and Eureka’s personality that is perhaps the most emotionally intelligent moment a queen has ever served on the show.

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The queens compete in a mostly-stunning denim runway! I was personally a fan of The Vixen’s denim mermaid look, though I did agree with the judges that she should’ve cinched her waist for an even more dramatic look. Eureka’s outfit is not only on the money, but her curly ringlets add another level to her look. Miz Cracker is the sole queen who really brings the funny on the runway, serving up Wendy’s-inspired red pigtails and buck teeth.

Asia O’Hara, Blair St. Clair, Kameron Michaels and Aquaria are deemed safe and leave the stage.

The judges disapprove of Monet X Change’s boxy jumpsuit and mostly thumbs-down her Bossy Rossy performance. The judges love The Vixen’s look (sans the lack of cinch) but read her for her onenote challenge performance. Eureka gets praise all around for her fearless performance and runway look. In the funniest exchange on the runway tonight, Michelle Visage reads Monique for her cacophony of patterns, including a giraffe print which Monique says is actually “brown cow.”

Mayhem Miller’s “chocolate Judd” couture doesn’t go over well with the judges, who also feel that Mayhem was overshadowed by Miz Cracker, rather than playing her equal in the scene. Michelle calls Dr. Dill “dumbly brilliant” and Carrie Preston was really impressed by her, as well. Cracker lands the second funniest moment when Michelle Visage asks if she’s ever done improv and she responds, “I’ve lied to my boyfriends before.”

Eureka ends up winning the challenge, while Monet X Change and Mayhem Miller end up lip syncing to “Man! I Feel Like a Woman.” Monet X Change creates a full-on motorcycle-riding character and, like her previous performance in the “Pound the Alarm” lip sync, completely steals the show. However, unfortunately, she steals the show from Mayhem Miller, who was an early top player in the competition after winning the first challenge.

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Some notes:

• You have to give major props to The Vixen for how well she is able to speak about trauma in the context of her drama with Eureka. I’ve called The Vixen this season’s thought leader and her commentary this week makes me stick behind it even more!

• RuPaul giving Kameron Michaels a moment to speak to Shania Twain was kind of magical. Given how many queens have left the stage without a moment to speak up, it was pretty cute! But then again, unlike other guests, Shania Twain did not go backstage to talk to the girls, so Ru knew she had to give Kameron her moment right then and there.

• The amount of attention Miss Vanjie has given has gotten this episode outstrips any of this season’s previous episodes! She only gets stronger!

• Anyone else think it’s a little sus that the military-themed challenge also happened the same week that the queens went country? I smell a #Joanne, #DaddyLessons or #Golden-influenced week, y’all.

• It was a little strange to me that Ross Matthews hosted the challenge but then wasn’t given a spot on the judge’s row. But, then again, they have been alternating week by week and it just wasn’t Ross’s week!

• Mayhem’s look was giving me full Brenda Meeks in Scary Movie.

• Carrie Preston came ready to slay while Shania Twain was mostly a snooze as a guest judge, though seeing her sing along to “Man! I feel Like a Woman!” was a delight.

• Aquaria loses points for re-using the “Den-ummm” joke Trixie Mattel made on “UNHhhh!”

• I will never stop laughing at Monique saying “Brown cow! Stunning!”

• I was not a fan of the way the camera kept cutting to The Vixen during Eureka’s positive critique. The show was still trying to create a narrative about The Vixen just based on her facial looks. Who doesn’t eyeroll sometimes?

• Mayhem has a very similar track record to her best friend Morgan McMichaels. In season two, Morgan won the first challenge, was in the bottom very quickly (episode 4 for Morgan, episode 3 for Mayhem) and then went home on episode 5.

• It’s official: Monet is a lip sync assassin!

• Omg Ru’s “Miller Time” pun was too straight for me.


Mathew Rodriguez

Mathew is a staff writer at INTO. His work has appeared in Mic, Slate and Complex. He loves "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Flannery O'Connor and female rappers and is working on a memoir.

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