RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars
Okay, let’s briefly catch our collective breath. Because if you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the last 25 minutes periodically shrieking “INDIA FERRAH IS THE JAMES COMEY OF DRAG” at your TV screen. Let me go grab a sip of water.
Okay I’m back. What an episode. Snatch Game of Love is back and better than ever with some incredibly strong performances from Shea, Jujubee, and Alexis. Not to mention, India Ferrah lobs a drama bomb into the midst of our unsuspecting queens during Werkroom deliberations. It’s a beast of an episode, and probably the best of the season so far. Without further ado, let’s jump in.
First let’s talk about the superior panel: Blair, Jujubee and Shea competing for a date with Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman. For her Snatch Game, Blair St. Clair chooses to impersonate Justin Bieber impersonating Scrappy Doo impersonating Ellen Degeneres. Blair isn’t bad, but in comparison to the juggernauts she’s sitting next to, it’s not even close. She’s understandably on edge. A shaky Werkroom walkthrough with Ru did nothing to solidify her choices, and she goes into the Snatch Game nervous as hell. Someone help this lost Von Trapp child list his favorite things! All in all, she’s not bad, and her gender-bending prom king/queen runway (complete with a campy little crown reveal) is excellence.
Jujubee has chosen Eartha Kitt. I can’t say enough good things about Juju this episode. Her characterization is instantly recognizable and funny as hell. Juju makes the choice to have the most sexual voice and physical behavior as humanly possible, but then be completely unable to effectively flirt or talk about sex. I cannot stop repeating, “I sensually walk over to… the thermostat” every time I adjust my AC. She receives praise across the board this episode, including on her extremely fun ’80s prom dress. In fact, Juju very well could have won this challenge and no one would have batted an eye. Juju denies her frontrunner status at the beginning of this episode, but, at this point, she’s almost certainly top two.
Next up, Shea Couleé as rapper and reality dating show star Flavor Flav. This. Is what. I came here. To do. I was 100 percent sold the minute Shea broke out her oversized clock, and the performance itself was even better than I could’ve anticipated. Shea has each and every one of Flav’s mannerisms down pat, and her ad libs are so good it feels like we’re watching a scripted scene. If Shea ever decides to quit drag (which she should not!!!!), she has a future as a Groundling. When, in the middle of the challenge, Flav began hitting on Eartha Kitt, I lost my mind. In fact, I’m now near positive that Flavor Flav probably did hit on Eartha Kitt. To top it all off, Shea’s runway is a MOMENT. It’s Carrie at prom meets Sasha Velour at the season nine finale. While many queens’ runway references feel out of place and devoid of context or meaning, Shea’s doesn’t. It’s both the most on category and most thoughtful of the runway presentations. Shea receives universal praise, and cleanly claims a second challenge win. Most pleasing to me!
Next let’s discuss Miz Cracker, Alexis, and India, as they compete for the heart of actor, model, and twink Tommy Dorfman. First up is Cracker as Lady Gaga. Hmm. I will start by saying that I am somewhat of a Cracker apologist, but I genuinely don’t think that this was an unsalvageable performance. The cutaways to RuPaul giving Cracker nooch were brutal, but I found myself laughing at several of her puns. Also, credit where credit is due, the recreation of Gaga’s Golden Globes look (down to the Tiffany’s necklace) deserves a distinct TOOT. However, the judges are astute in their critiques. Throughout the panel, you can practically hear Cracker’s mind whirring, and her unwillingness (or inability) to “go with the flow” prevents her from succeeding in this challenge. Cracker could have been in deep trouble this episode. While no one is safe, the judges’ critiques establish a clear bottom two of India and Cracker. However, one of the major side effects of the Ferrah Report that drops in the Werkroom is that Cracker largely escapes scrutiny. But more on that later.
Let’s move on to Alexis Mateo. I don’t know why I ever doubt Alexis. When it comes to personality and comedy, she has never let us down in three seasons of Drag Race (don’t fact check this). For the Snatch Game of Love, Alexis chooses Walter Mercado, a ubiquitous Puerto Rican celebrity most famous for his television show where he gave astrology-based readings. I’m not super familiar with Walter Mercado, but if Alexis’ Alicia Keys is any barometer, I’m sure he’s nothing like what we saw. But truly (and I mean this) WHO CARES. Alexis is effortlessly entertaining, and honestly if she had just straight-up said “I am impersonating myself for Snatch Game,” I don’t think she would have received any pushback. She blows her fellow panelists out of the water, and easily steals the heart of Dorfman. The runway is a win for Alexis as well, where she stuns the judges in a well-executed red prom dress. This episode is a win for Alexis, or at least… it would have been. We’ll get to it soon! I promise…
Lastly, it’s the whistleblower herself, India Ferrah, who plays problematic YouTube makeup mogul Jeffree Star. (I will be reaching out to Tati Westbrook for comment.) India was, in a word, utterly flawless. In what will go down as one of the best Snatch Games ever seen on the show, India elevated the practice of celebrity impersonation to high art. Her performance as a flawlessly characterized Jeffree Star served as a dual metacommentary on both the parasitic nature and the performative vulnerability intrinsic to celebrity cultur— HAHAHA okay, okay I’ll stop. As we all saw, India flopped the Snatch Game hard. She has essentially no conception for the character, and the few jokes she musters just end up being set ups for Alexis’ funnier punch lines. India has had a string of bad weeks, and this is the worst one yet. All signs point to her elimination: a neat and narratively satisfying conclusion to her downward spiral beginning the second episode. But India has other plans.
On the mainstage, Ru informs the queens that from now on, if you’re not the winner, you’re in the bottom, and therefore up for elimination. There are some grumbles (notably from Alexis), but there seems to be an unspoken understanding that it’s India’s week to go, and there’s no need to make a fuss about it. Shea all but confirms that this is her perspective when she says out loud to the queens, “I feel like I have everything that I need.” India can smell her elimination in the air. But, like any clinically diagnosed sociopath or normal gay man knows, a surefire way to deflect negative attention away from yourself is to start bringing up some old shit. So India insists on a one-on-one meeting with Shea, and that’s when shit starts to get good. India tells Shea that something has been “weighing” on her. No, not the two to four kilograms of costume jewelry she wears down every runway, something even heavier. India explains that two weeks ago, Alexis and Mayhem conspired to send Shea home by approaching India and asking her to pick Shea’s lipstick. “…What?” Shea replies in shock. “I’m not asking you to vote her out,” India says. “But I need you to keep me here.” There it is. The bomb has been dropped. Of course Shea immediately confronts Alexis about the accusation in front of the rest of the queens. To her credit, Alexis seems shocked and gives (in my eyes) a credible denial of the accusation. But India seems equally convinced. The conversation ultimately goes nowhere, and neither party relents even one inch of territory. The only real consequence of the Werkroom drama is to cast a pallor of doubt over the proceedings, and to give Shea a morally justified reason to potentially send Alexis home. Eventually it’s time for voting and the lip sync, and the final tally is anyone’s guess.
Much like the food terms “natural” or “grass-fed,” the term “Lip Sync assassin” is not yet regulated by the FDA and can therefore be misleading. Vanjie seems as surprised as I am to be given this title, and is predictably soundly defeated by Shea. Shea wins a cash tip of $10,000 and earns the right to eliminate a queen. When she tells us it’s India, I’m relieved. Do I believe Alexis is innocent? Not necessarily. Would I have been disappointed to see one of the season’s strongest competitors sent home so abruptly? Absolutely. Is answering my own questions a cheap and overused writing technique? Yes, but shut up.
When all is said and done, India’s last-ditch hail Mary pass did nothing to change the outcome of this episode. But we sure as hell got some great entertainment out of it. I look forward to reading the full story in India’s upcoming book A Higher LoyalTea hitting stores this fall. With India gone, I think any of the remaining queens could make a strong case for Top 3. Shea and Juju feel like lock-ins, but Cracker is right behind them. Not to mention that Blair and Alexis have yet to falter in this competition (potential conspiracies aside). Next week’s episode will be a crucial step to narrowing the field, and to quote Katya, I can’t wait to see how this turns out. Toodeloo!