overnights

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Raw and Unfiltered

RuPaul’s Drag Race

From Farm to Runway
Season 11 Episode 7
Editor’s Rating *****

RuPaul’s Drag Race

From Farm to Runway
Season 11 Episode 7
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: VH1

We are at that point in the competition where the girls are asked to get raw. That can be taken literally, in the case of this specific episode, but we can go on and get a lil macro as well. Ru wants to see more personality from those who’ve hidden behind runway perfection. He also wants to see some more runway perfection from those girls left who have thus far been all personality. There’s not really a queen who’s given us the best of both worlds at the same time, but a couple of these girls are close, and with this episode it’s getting more and more clear who our Top Four will probably be.

The mini challenge this week asks all the girls to bounce around their big fake titties, potato-sack-race style. It’s very fun to watch in that “it’s fun to watch titties flying” way. For some reason, there are two winners, Nina West and Shuga Cain, which would lead us to believe we are picking teams for some big old maxi challenge again, but we are not! Instead, we’ve arrived at the unconventional-materials challenge, the third design-based challenge of the season. The ladies must use raw and organic farm materials to create a high-fashion look that could stomp the New York Fashion Week runway. I’m personally excited to see another design challenge, and it feels like this season has been more balanced than others in terms of testing these queens as both thespians and seamstresses.

Thus far, Brooke Lynn has been sweeping the competition’s design challenges, and Plastique is feeling the heat. She knows what box she fits into in the competition; she’s a runway girl. And if you keep getting compared to the other runway girls and the losses are adding up, it’s not hard to see you ain’t winning this thing. Meanwhile, Ra’Jah is unquestionably the girl with the target on her back, having repeatedly been in the bottom. But, she reminds us, she did arrive in the workroom this season in an unconventional gown made of newspapers, so maybe she’ll have a knack for this making-something-out-of-nothing gig. Vanjie and Nina are also feeling the heat based on their negative runway critiques in past weeks. The former must serve something new, and the latter … well, honey, she must proportionize.

RuPaul comes out and makes a beeline for the boring girls. Let’s get into it, bitch. She basically asks Brooke Lynn point blank why she is such a snooze. Her answer? Puts me to sleep. I think she receives the message, though I’m not entirely sure how she’s going to express too much personality in this challenge outside of what she’s done. She tells us she is getting emotional and anxious just thinking about getting vulnerable. I hope she knows that misting up right now doesn’t count toward what Ru is saying. This ain’t personality yet.

Plastique is positively weeping within minutes of talking to RuPaul and I just want to say I think this does count as personality. This is drama. This is, forgive me, raw. And RuPaul sees Plastique’s raw reveal that her family isn’t supportive — or even aware — of her drag, and raises her an “I’m your mama now.” Ru goes further than she ever has before, cradling Plastique in her arms and going full, honest-to-God Mama Ru. “You’ll always be my baby,” she glows, fully aware she is on television. Is it transparent? For sure. Does it work on Plastique? Definitely. And I’m sure she’ll absolutely turn it on the runway.

A’Keria isn’t feeling confident about the design challenge, as she’s a fancy girl who loves to exist in a fancy world. Putting pieces of corn together to make a couture look? Not really the A’Keria vibe. Vanjie also gets it from Ru, who tells her she absolutely needs to whip out a new look to impress Michelle. She’ll be watching her ass this week, and closely. Silky basically dares Ru to put her in the bottom and see what happens, and Yvie explains to our host that while her ankle isn’t perfect after last week’s Draglympics challenge, it won’t be holding her back from delivering a high-fashion runway product.

Alyssa Edwards then cameos so she can be Alyssa Edwards. There’s truly no reason why we need to see a “runway walk workshop,” but we don’t necessarily need a reason to watch Alyssa be Alyssa. Seeing her is a reminder that this show is capable of producing truly memorable queens, and it’s kinda fitting that she’s on an episode centered on the idea that these girls need to wake up in the persona department. A highlight moment from the runway tutorial comes when Yvie demonstrates her flexibility despite her injured ankle, and gets in a little diss at Silky, who just told Ru she thinks that Yvie (or “Spooky Dooky”) should go home. If this is this season’s conflict, it’s lacking, but I guess we get it solidified for us that it’s contentious between these ladies. Alyssa is also on hand to, we can assume, choreograph a hoedown dance the girls will do before they stomp out in their unconventional looks, but that all takes place offscreen, which is actually fine with me. I already know that choreo is difficult and that not every girl can nail it in that department. I know from watching this show.

Ra’Jah claims the next day in the workroom that she’s had to change her idea for her runway look because Plastique has been stealing tree bark that she’s been meaning to use from her station. However, this is not depicted onscreen. All we get is Ra’Jah telling us in her talking head about that conflict. This is some telling-not-showing bullshit. Why isn’t Ra’Jah stomping up to Plastique and barking about the bark? Bitch, if you’re gonna be a bitch, be a bitch! Go start something. This would give us some personality. This would give us some life in the workroom, but we don’t see it. Offscreen conflict? Unreliable narrators? I don’t think so, honey.

On the main stage we are joined by gorgeous ladies Kandi Burruss and Amber Valletta, and the ladies take to the stage to perform their little country number. It goes by pretty quickly, but we see what we expect to see: Yvie finds a way to make the challenge work for her despite not being able to perform by sitting on a bale of hay and workin’ a violin. Nina has a big old gorgeous dumb stage face. Brooke Lynn can dance. Once in a while, I catch a glimpse of Shuga Cain, who, every now and then, I — and the show — remember is still here.

She is first to the stage for the Farm-to-Runway challenge, and she looks passable in a burlap-based, purple-flowered, windblown ensemble. I’m not sure what the story of the look is, but it is a look. Silky takes to the stage in a couture evening look beaded with beans and candy to create one of my favorite looks of the week. Yvie serves “Hawaiian fall goddess” in her glamorous offering and, despite that combination of words not seeming like they’d work, it really works. I, like the judges, also enjoy her hot red finger-wave wig, and her colorful makeup complements the hues of the outfit perfectly.

Nina West’s wig doesn’t super match her outfit, which is entirely made of corn husks, but I kind of love it. You can tell it’s a step in the right direction in terms of the proportionizing note she received last week from the judges, but she is still a little bulky. Still, it makes me laugh, and that’s Nina’s whole thing. I’m not super getting “farm-to-runway” from Brooke Lynn’s look, but I am getting “good runway offering.” It’s a denim ensemble with orange accents and accessories, and it honestly feels a little Coachella. Style? Yes. Personality? I guess?

A’Keria will be in the bottom with her strangely padded denim look, but I do appreciate the nod to Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestley. I love that she’s the denim version of that character. Vanjie shows she’s come a long way from week one of season ten with her ropes look, which isn’t a standout here but is far from the worst, and Ra’Jah’s offering is fine, if incomplete-looking. You can tell that if she were able to make this a head-to-toe tree-bark look, we would have had something here, but the burlap pants are distracting and falling apart as she walks. Plastique walks the runway last, and does so like a supermodel. She takes her time showing off her feathered, empress-lite moment, and she’s obviously the standout. She’s glowing from the inside out, and it would be tough not to give her the win this week.

Shuga, Silky, and Vanessa are all safe, with Plastique, Brooke, and Yvie occupying the top positions and Nina, Ra’Jah, and A’Keria on bottom. It’s clear during critiques that Plastique is winning and Ra’Jah and A’Keria will compete to remain in the competition, as Yvie and Brooke Lynn were good but not great and Nina West was fine but nowhere near bottom-two-worthy. Seeing A’Keria in the bottom is tough, as she’s got so much more to offer, but oftentimes it helps a queen to lip-sync so we can see what she’s really all about.

Plastique does indeed win, and the predicted bottom two do lip-sync, to “Strut,” by Sheena Easton. Both ladies have fun with it, but A’Keria is a winner in every sense of the word. She embodies the song, has fun with all her literal strutting all over the stage, and buttons her performance by tapping Ra’Jah on the shoulder, pointing to the back of the stage and instructing her, in time with the song, to “strut.” Ra’Jah literally turns and takes two steps to the back before remembering that it’s Ru that has to tell her to leave. She does just that, and we’re down one more queen.

… Said the Bitch! A Weekly Quote Roundup

Ra’Jah (on Scarlet’s mirror message): “I really feel like we shouldn’t read it.”

… Said the bitch! Okay. I will miss Ra’Jah’s sudden and intense bitchiness. I will. She had to go, but at least she went for it. Not even wanting to read the mirror message? I respect that. Maybe she should have pushed it even further and just erased it without talking about it at all? Just a suggestion from one bitch to another!

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Raw and Unfiltered