overnights

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Beauties and Beasts!

RuPaul’s Drag Race

Monster Ball
Season 11 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating *****

RuPaul’s Drag Race

Monster Ball
Season 11 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: VH1

Well, what have we here? A little showmance on RuPaul’s Drag Race?! It’s true. Brooke Lynn and Vanjie: Miss Branjie, if you’re nasty! On this episode they come out as a thing, and it’s honestly cute! I’m on board for all things Vanjie and Brooke Lynn this season, with this episode giving a particularly good example of their dominance in the competition. Could this be the final two? Might we see a true lover’s quarrel when this all wraps up (no Brooke Lynn runway pun intended)? Am I truly getting way ahead of myself? Yes. Let’s talk about this spooktacular episode.

After the Miss Branjie reveal and some delicious back-and-forth between rival contestants Ra’Jah and Yvie (see “ … Said The Bitch!” at the end of this recap), we jump into the action. The mini challenge is to become life-sized Barbie dolls that will serve as companions to the new RuPaul doll available online, and actual human doll Trixie Mattel is on hand to crack jokes while the contestants get into their geesh. This is my favorite mini challenge of the season, as it seems like every contestant really expresses their unique sense of humor here for the first time. (Maybe they’re just now getting comfortable?) But the challenge is deservedly won by Ra’Jah, as Starr-Keisha Booty La’Rajah, a mall chick and bus driver who probably seals the deal with the specific of the “extra-large cup of drank” in her hand. Shout out to Silky’s “Sticky Fingers” character, who doesn’t drive a BMW like the rest of the Barbie girls. She drives a “doughnut truck.” It feels good to hear.

One of the smartest things the show has done in recent years has been to capitalize on the best part of any given episode of Drag Race, the runway, and blow it up with a ball challenge early in the season. Thirty-three runway looks is any true fan’s dream, and the theme this week is Halloween. We’ll see three categories: “Trampy Trick-or-Treater,” in which the girls must serve a slutty Halloween costume; “Witch, Please,” in which the girls must be witches; and “MILF Eleganza: Monsters I’d Like to Freak,” in which the girls must be a fuckable monster. The latter must be constructed in the workroom, making this the second sewing challenge of the season. We should be frightened and horny. Sort of like we always are for Yvie Oddly.

While the girls are hard at work, we discover that we do have a Rolaskatox-esque clique this season, consisting of Silky, Vanjie, and A’Keria. Calling themselves “the Dreamgirls,” all three of these queens seem like contenders to make it to the end. On the outside looking in, Yvie sneers. She feels the judges have been easy thus far on Silky, whose style and runway execution are lacking in Yvie’s eyes. She may have a point, but so do the judges. Silky is fun, and that’s not being served too much elsewhere in this competition. Vanjie is Vanjie, and Yvie has certainly provided a strong new POV, but elsewhere? It’s not poppin’.

That said, I do respect how insane Scarlet appears to be. Watching her stalk around the workroom in her barely constructed Creature From the Black Lagoon ensemble, I feel like I get her for the first time. It’s an example of a queen getting out of her head and having fun, something Ariel struggles with across the room. She seems in her head about not wanting to fail, so she’s sticking to what she knows and “keeping it cute.” She’ll portray a scaly mermaid for her final runway look. This is — what?! — not the assignment! Part of me wonders if she wants it to go badly; she seems more overwhelmed every minute in the competition.

The runway is a mixed bag, but there are moments of excellence. The Trampy Trick-or-Treater category is a tough one because it’s always bad for a drag look to look like a Halloween costume, but some girls really elevate this to more than just something spooky to wear while going door to door for handouts. Brooke Lynn Hytes is smart enough to connect a gorgeous mummy look to her abilities as a ballet dancer and executes the entire runway on pointe. It’s really something special and makes everything else look basic. Also making a big choice and sticking out from the pack is Yvie Oddly, who serves a funny and fully committed sexy dinosaur look, complete with claws attached to her pumps. Extra points for the huge hoop earrings. Both of these looks feel like they do more than just the bare minimum. Everyone else looks good, but they’re either off the rack or messy. (Shuga Cain is a particularly good example of the latter — could anyone guess this was a Troll doll?)

“Witch, Please” goes better, as it allows for a lot more creativity. Plastique Tiara offers us “Maleficent’s Asian sister” with a headpiece that’s truly major. Nina West’s burning Salem witch may be a little Halloween costume-y, but her performance really stayed with me. It’s straight out of a haunted house. Shuga Cain’s Bloody Mary is scary in a real way, and you almost forget that it’s her entirely. It’s her one runway offering this week that’s clear, and it is very clear. Shame that her other two were so nondescript, because this shows there’s really something to this queen. Brooke Lynn and Yvie stay in the lead with a lived-in Enchantress from Suicide Squad and a slutty witch with a white-eyed twist, respectively. As an added bonus for Brooke Lynn, the actress who played the Enchantress in Suicide Squad, Cara Delevingne, is on hand as one of the guest judges, alongside Elvira (truly the MVP of the episode).

The main event is the “MILF Eleganza: Monsters I’d Like to Freak” final runway presentation, and for the most part the frontrunner queens stay queen. Plastique will almost definitely be placed in the top following her sexy grim reaper with superlative spooky facial makeup, Brooke Lynn turns out a dark Woman of the Manor complete with a snake draped over her head and neck, and Nina West caps off an impressive week with a runway I won’t soon forget. Recalling Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, West removes a face to reveal another with a disgusting gash as a mouth. This week, Nina moves way up in my rankings. Unfortunately for Yvie, she drops the ball in the final act. I understand, to an extent, not wanting to get pigeonholed as the monster, macabre queen, but this is literally the challenge where you do exactly that. If it’s your thing, commit to your thing! The voodoo doll she offers here doesn’t look like it’s believed in by the person wearing it.

Overall, props are also due to Vanjie, who was watchable and high fashion across the board. She’s dismissed as safe, as is Nina, who I would have put in the top instead of Plastique. She’s  given props, but clocked by Michelle for her lack of personality. Shuga Cain is in trouble for obvious reasons, as is Ariel for offering a MILF look with no element of horror attached whatsoever. Brooke Lynn is obviously winning the challenge as the judges are simply bowled over, and Yvie is likely safe despite a disappointing third look. The judges cannot stop talking about her Trampy Trick or Treater, and lose their mind over the clawed pumps. Calling back to that queen’s criticism from early in the episode, Silky is finally poorly received for shoddy outfit construction, and it looks like she may be a contender for the bottom two. Silky is such a fun, larger than life queen. What does it mean that she didn’t have fun with this challenge?

Brooke Lynn Hytes wins, and it’s deserved. This is her second sewing challenge win and this victory makes her the only queen so far to win twice. It’s safe to say we do have a concrete frontrunner. The bottom two is no surprise: Ariel and Shuga, and they lip sync to Whitney Houston’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight.” Ariel looks like she’s winning until she falls… extremely hard. It’s as tough to watch as any epic fall on the show’s history, but credit has to be given where it’s due: she keeps going. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter enough to keep her from getting the chop, though I have to say it feels like she won despite the fall. Shuga doesn’t give more in this lip sync than she has on the runway this week, and I wouldn’t have minded a double sashay away.

… Said The Bitch! A Weekly Quote Roundup:

Ra’Jah (on Yvie Oddly criticizing her): “Bitch, how dare you. You, first and foremost, are not sickening at all. You are literally wearing trash. I’m not gagging. [Pause.] I mean, I’m gagging from the smell. Do you bathe?”

Said the Bitch!!! This comes seconds after Ms. O’Hara saying she is going to “project positivity” because she “always goes to the negative.” Seconds! I’m going to have to ask that Ra’Jah never change. She is this season’s breakout confessional star. And this season has Vanjie in it! I am gagging. From the smell of comedy, bitch!

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Beauties and Beasts