RuPaul’s Drag Race
That stunning looks shall not perish from the Earth, buy your Martian plot today, methane producers! Yes, honey, we’re getting a full-fledged three-look ball with uncut runway commentary for 11 remaining queens, which is enough to leave us gagging in our werk-bunkers. Western industrialization and carbon emissions may have irrevocably wrought our end times, but praise Jesus/John Legend we’re able to go down smiling and stanning this episode in our planet’s latter days. There’s plenty to discuss, and we haven’t much time before our acidic oceans rise and shut the whole ball down! Hahaha! Haha. Ha.
After a fairly toothless tiff between Monique and Mayhem following last week’s elimination, we come to this episode’s mini-challenge: comedic posing in drag to be superimposed as photobombs in contemporary “celeb” photos (quotation marks only because Grumpy Cat somehow makes the cut). Aquaria wins with a fun and fecal sight gag next to Kimye, and her prize is a useless $1,000 credit from Postmates since their app is broken as of this writing and their customer service is nonexistent. One or both of us have waited two hours for a late-night McGriddle delivery on the service to no avail and we will never let it go, okay? Apologies to Aquaria for winning this worthless prize!
While segueing into the main challenge RuPaul bleakly brings up climate change, which comically cues the show’s signature cymbal sting as if runaway desertification has the same dramatic weight as a queen’s malfunctioning glue gun. Then comes the real gag as Ru reveals that this week’s maxi-challenge is to create three looks — or “lerrks,” as she seems obsessed with pronouncing — for The Last Ball on Earth: Alaskan Winter Realness (beachy resort wear), Miami Summer Realness (toasty furs and hides), and Martian Eleganza Extravaganza (planetary resettlement couture). We’re spoiled rotten to have a ball this early in the season that showcases this many queens, and it’s a brilliant move on the show’s part to mix up the traditional challenge order.
The queens begin assembling their looks and the werkroom is abuzz. Monét X Change hubristically snatches up some quilted red patent leather as Asia watches the fabric go wasted on Monét’s subpar sewing skills. Cracker offers a bit of backstory behind her own perfectionist work ethic, and Asia digs into her role as the preeminent needlewoman of the group, offering help to every queen seeking her counsel. She bounces from one corner of the room to another, giving Monique pointers on garment construction and then immediately showing Aquaria proper topstitching. Truer drag altruism hasn’t been seen since Bianca offered to help outgoing queens pack their bags on season six, so Asia’s a real chum here, and we daresay an early contender for Miss Congeniality.
After Dusty suffers some glue gun burns while constructing a chicken wire corset, RuPaul pops in for a good old-fashioned walkabout to check in on the girls. She marvels at Asia’s impressive pedigree and expects great things from her as she rattles off her clientele (Texan dance squads, Alyssa Edwards, Dolly Parton, and Gladys Knight, for example). Ru then walks over to Aquaria and makes her repeat a newly minted mouthful of a catchphrase (“Some girls in the werkroom chose to read books; I chose to turn looks”) three times for the sole purpose of embarrassing herself, and we then hear about the Vixen’s godmother training her to sew with scrupulous precision. She also quickly plugs her popular Black Girl Magic show, a staple at Chicago’s Berlin nightclub. Blair gets some face time with Ru as well, remarking on how her youthful, zygotic look could become a secret weapon as the other queens underestimate her for resembling a full-on blastula. Elsewhere, Monét discusses her drag style with Ru as being a bit more utilitarian than the average look queen, and Cracker confirms in a confessional that Monét can hold down a gig by use of charm alone. We’re always a big fan of these drive-by chats, if only for the fact that we get more authentic glimpses into these queens’ backgrounds and drag worldviews as they communicate them with poise to Mama Ru herself.
The next day, our queens scurry about the werkroom and release more longwave radiation than all the Earth’s greenhouse gases combined, and Monique engages in an adorably bizarre breathing exercise as Blair helps out on the sewing machine. After hearing Asia speak on her parents’ passing (resulting in her caretaker instincts) and Aquaria speak on her nonexistent sugar daddies (resulting in her looking amazing, apparently), we arrive at a seemingly bonkers assertion from Monét that the British accent developed after the English settled in America, and that American English is the “original” way people spoke the language after the settlers “went back” to England. This throws Asia and Monique into a fit of hysterics, and while it does sound plucked from a bad Texan social studies textbook, Monét is … right? Basically, the English developed nonrhotic (“British”) pronunciations in the 19th century as a marker of status while rat-faced Americans were left sounding poor and unrefined. We’re shook, too, but this is indeed facts. Stick to your guns, Monét! Keep stunting on these queens with your nuanced understanding of linguistic history, okrrr?!
On the mainstage, Michelle and Ross are joined by Logan Browning and Tisha Campbell-Martin, who both look completely stunning as they sit astonished by RuPaul’s acid-opalescent gown and full matching mug (!), which is mostly obscured by a giant face shield. And to say nothing of the hair! We could gag over this look for a few more paragraphs, but we’ve got 33 looks to get through, so let’s break it down queen by queen in all three categories.
Mayhem Miller: A slightly by-the-numbers Alaskan Realness look, but we appreciate the midcentury pinup wink. The Miami glacier look is pretty stunning, and while we all know Mayhem can work some color contacts, the crazy-high hair is the real star here. The final look? Very Motha. We gasped. She is serving you The Bitch You Don’t Fuck With in the Cantina from Star Wars.
Eureka O’Hara: Another midcentury take on resort wear, but we dig the polka dots. The fur look gives her a gorgeous silhouette and goes great with her violet hair, but her Martian Eleganza Extravaganza is the main event here. It’s powerful, it’s bold, it’s fashion editrix in the Star Trek universe fish. Very cool and fun to serve a classic Eureka hair loaf with a futuristic twist.
Monét X Change: The bodysuit doesn’t even bother us in the Alaskan Realness look, but the unkempt neon hair does. Extra points for the nod to radiation, but we’re not sure it’s reading with the judges or without her explanation in voice over. We gag for the wintery second look, and the breath of cold air in her entrance is a nice touch. She loses the momentum with her Martian creation, and we think she’ll agree when she watches it back. While the concept is solid, the construction falls short since it reads as just having been thrown together in a workroom. But, hey, gorgeous girl, and we like the hair a lot!
Kameron Michaels: A decent Alaskan Realness look that is giving us some Lisa Vanderpump fish. The second look is a stunning take on a frozen queen; Tilda Swinton as the White Witch, but make it (even more) fashion. Kameron notes that she’s not too confident in her Martian look, so she smartly gives it a little edge with a comedic characterization. Her “space-bimbo-telecommunications director” just can’t seem to get service on her space phone! What a lovely Joseph Campbell monomyth. Kameron continues to surprise and delight.
The Vixen: We’re big fans of the see-through bathing suit, especially with the cut of the bottom skirt. She’s a body queen, people! And that fan! We’re into it. Into the Woods serves as the reference for her second look, and we love the antlers almost as much as the supernatural touch she gives her character, blowing and fanning snow as she takes the runway. The Vixen explains that if she were going to Mars, she’d be there to boogie, and the disco-inspired turn she takes with her Martian look feels very fun and very her. The thing about The Vixen is that, in this competition, she really seems to occupy her own lane. She continues to be one to watch.
Aquaria: The color story on the masked wrestler look is divine, and Aquaria brilliantly works in a ponytail braid that whips and twirls. Her hand-dyed Miami Summer Realness look is extra special in that it feels appropriate for both cold and tropical weather, a challenge that wasn’t specifically met by the other queens. Her grand finale really slays; a geometric space-villain serving body-ody-ody. Each look was singular, and she did the damn thing this week.
Dusty Ray Bottoms: A little overly embellished at the top with the hat, and not much going on below. The snow queen realness she serves certainly looks cold and royal, but we wish that the light-up effect in the hair read a little bit more clearly from the stage. It’s certainly her best look, and that’s not to say the third one isn’t great. It’s just that, as Tisha Campbell-Martin notes, it’s not super Martian. It honestly lives in the same world as Thorgy Thor’s Wizard of Oz look from season eight. Which is, you know, a different theme.
Monique Heart: She commits the ultimate crime of misattributing a Beyoncé lyric! (“Watermelon” is from “Drunk In Love,” which is not on Lemonade! Did anyone else clock this?) But the print is super cute, especially in the headwrap. Her Miami look is merely a sweatsuit, however. It just is! She comes back hard in the third round with a hilariously bulky astronaut jacket that tears away to reveal … glamour! Not necessarily space glamour, but glamour nonetheless. We live for Monique, her ending pose at the bay doors, and the ooh-ah-ah sensation she gives us. She could do anything and we’d eat it all up, full disclosure.
Blair St. Clair: Another vintage bathing suit, but done with more polish than Mayhem and Eureka even if it might be a little too underdressed. The fur coat she’s rocking for her trip to freezing cold Miami looks expensive as all get out, and her third look would be right at home next to the most glamorous Austin Powers fembot. The thing about Blair is she always looks filthy rich, and we’re dying to see her character’s luxury penthouse in Fort Wayne.
Asia O’Hara: The placement of the fur balls feels intentional on the bathing suit, but the overall execution is a miss. For a queen that goes so big so often, all her looks feel a bit unfinished and lacking. We like the second look because of the way it blends “I’m cold” with “But I’m still in Miami, bish!” and it feels more quintessentially Asia, but the Martian ensemble ends up looking very homemade. Sure, all of these looks actually are homemade, but this one looks shoddy. She wouldn’t be in trouble if she hadn’t set such a high bar for herself, but alas, she most definitely will be. Points for keeping balls as a theme for all three looks, and we like the balls she coughed up! Go cough, queen!
Miz Cracker: We stan Cracker for all time, but the Alaskan Realness look was a little off the mark for us with the bikini top blending a bit too much with her skin tone. The green hair skirt is inspired, but also makes the look a little uneven. Maybe if the wig on her head was green too? Her other looks are extremely fun, with the MVP being her Martian Eleganza Extravaganza. It comes complete with a life-giving oxygen tank and a glittery, studded helmet to, you know, keep her head from exploding out there in space. Careful not to crack-her, Cracker!
Watching this runway is a real treat, and when it’s time for tops and bottoms to be announced, you feel that it really could go many ways. There is not much to criticize here, and it’s interesting that this terrific runway recalls the Future of Drag runway in both theme and in how brilliantly it’s executed across the board. Mayhem, Eureka, The Vixen, Monique, and Blair are all announced safe, leaving the rest of the queens to nervously await their fate.
Monét is understandably read for her iffy first and third looks and she’s visibly disappointed. We’ll later discover in Untucked that she had assumed she was in the top until the judges’ critiques. Kameron deservedly receives an earful of praise for her overall presentation from look to look, and Aquaria exchanges some pleasantries with the judges before getting all the love the panel can possibly cull together for her cohesive, tour de force effort in this challenge. What Aquaria has done reminds us of Kim Chi’s season eight Book Ball triptych, in that all her looks are being worn by the same fashion “character.” It’s a big week for her, and we can’t see how she’ll lose this challenge.
Dusty gets praise for her beautiful Martian ensemble, but it’s rightly critiqued for being a bit off-theme. As for her other looks, the judges aren’t blown away. Asia has an emotional moment and obviously doesn’t want to make excuses for her unfinished work by bringing up the generous time she spent helping other queens. The rest of the queens have her back, and there’s obviously a huge amount of love, support and appreciation in the room for Asia. RuPaul tells Asia that she must put herself first in the future, and we get a sense that she won’t land in the bottom two.
The judges gag over Cracker in a way we didn’t entirely predict this week, but there is something to say about how, like Asia, Cracker has set quite the high bar herself. Later in deliberations, Ru will refer to Harlem’s Barbie on Bath Salts as “flawless,” which is high praise indeed, mama! Ru obviously sees a frontrunner here, and the story producers standing behind video village take note.
The bottom two sees Monét X Change and Dusty Ray Bottoms face off in a New York vs. New York lip-sync for your life. They represent and then some with a lively, energetic and airtight performance of Nicki Minaj’s “Pound The Alarm,” but Monét takes it the extra mile with smart choice after smart choice. The highlight of her performance has to be a jump split fake-out that cracks the judges right open. She makes good on the promise of a jump later in the song, Chekhov’s Gun that it is, and slays Dusty. That isn’t to say that Dusty’s performance is lackluster; it’s actually really excellent! But someone has to go and, as Cracker later says in Untucked, Monét X Change may very well be the best working queen in New York. We will wager that Ms. X Change is not going anywhere anytime soon, especially since she needs to feed the children more bits of little-known world history.
Fun times in the workroom, real interpersonal drama, runway looks to slay the whole goddamn Mars colony, a gaggy lip-sync, and an absolutely stunning and risky runway look from RuPaul? We’ll take it! To infinity and beyond, queens!
SAID THE BITCH! A Weekly Quote Spotlight
Miz Cracker [after asking Aquaria about her alleged sugar daddies]: “I don’t want to imply that I don’t want a sugar daddy. If anyone would like to be a sugar daddy for me, I don’t need to build from the ground up. I admire Aquaria, but that is not a look I’m trying to steal.”
… SAID THE BITCH!!! Fine, it’s not even bitchy, but it’s very funny and given straight to camera, which we don’t see enough on this program. This is comedy, honey! Watch out for Cracker — she’s quite obviously the smartest, quickest gal in the room.