RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars
This All Stars season is the house that India Ferrah built. In fact, I’m of the mind that India should be given expedited admission into the producers guild, and be retroactively given the title of story editor. Even in the episode after she’s eliminated, the specter of the drama India created still haunts the psyches of every queen in the competition. As a reminder, last week India told Shea that Alexis Mateo had been conspiring against her by campaigning to the other girls asking them to eliminate their strongest competition. This confession turned what would have been an painfully straightforward elimination into a compelling drag whodunnit. India’s knives were out, and they remained out even after her elimination. Indeed, she even chose to leave Alexis with one final piece of cryptic, anumerical, and threatening philosophy: the Five H’s. And it’s that final H (“honest”) that the girls continue to mull over all episode long. Sure, India is gone now, but is Alexis lying? Is she playing a treasonous game against Shea, by all accounts our rising Drag Supreme? Well, as it turns out, no. But the girls don’t know that! Compounding this drama, India hid letters like Easter eggs all over the Werkroom. Little reminders that while she might be gone, she is not done stirring the pot. What follows is an excellent Ball episode that showcases our strong top five and is made even more exciting by the gone-but-not-forgotten India’s final parting gifts.
The theme for this season’s ball is “Charles Family Backyard BBQ” (insert obligatory fracking reference here), and the queens must serve two looks: Country Cousin Realness, and Backyard Ball Eleganza. While the judges’ critiques ultimately establish a clear pecking order, the challenge itself is one of the tightest ever. Each of the top five really brings her A-game, and the final result is almost too close to call. Almost. Let’s get into it.
First up, Shea Couleé. As a deputized member of the Fourth Estate, I’m aware that I’m supposed to maintain some veneer of objectivity, but I just can’t anymore! Even though Miz Cracker ultimately wins this challenge, it feels like Shea won this episode. Let’s start with Ru’s walkthrough, where he asks Shea about the death of her father (as he is wont). In the talk that follows, Shea truly plumbs the depths of human emotion, taking us through the grief that resulted from the consecutive gut punches of the loss of her dad and her sister to cancer, and ultimately ending on an inspiring message of how she carries her dad’s spirit with her everywhere she goes. In addition to Shea’s myriad other great qualities, this week we have the privilege of seeing her thoughtful, vulnerable side. Normally this would be the point in the conversation where Ru tests out a bromide from his dog-eared copy of some Deepak Chopra book, but it’s apparent that Shea has plenty enough emotional intelligence to work through her grief on her own, so Ru simply bows out gracefully and leaves Shea to her work. In the great tradition of Asia O’Hara, Shea ends up helping a few other queens sew in addition to making her own garment, but it doesn’t seem to hinder her one bit. Shea’s tablecloth wedding pant suit and mosquito net veil is stunning. It’s definitely the most creative and daring look on the runway, and the judges don’t really have anything negative to say about it (though Carson tries his best). Her country cousin is funny as well, albeit in a clear third place behind Cracker and Jujubee. Shea continues her ascent this episode, and, even though she’s tied with Cracker for wins, she distinctly feels like the frontrunner.
Jujubee has a strong showing in this episode as well. While technically aNyThInG cOuLd HaPpEn next episode, I have been told by my trusted psychic (Alexis as Walter Mercado) that Jujubee will almost certainly be in the top three. In the Werkroom, Juju and Ru bond over sobriety and creating a chosen family. If you weren’t crying two minutes ago with Shea (though I bet you were), you certainly are now. However, Juju’s highest point this episode is easily her country cousin character, Ping a.k.a. Amberrr. It’s a Newtonian Law of physics that everything Jujubee says is comic genius, and that continues to hold true this episode. Juju’s country cousin is so damn funny that it more than makes up for her simple (but still pretty!) watermelon gingham dress that she/Shea made for her backyard eleganza.
Next up, Miz Cracker. Let this episode be a case study. If you’ve never seen the point of Miz Cracker, please watch this challenge again. Throughout this season and the last, the judges have often chided Miz Cracker for “being in her head.” It’s a valid critique, if not a particularly helpful one. No one can deny that oftentimes Miz Cracker falls victim to trying to overwrite and overproduce her performances on Drag Race. However, what often gets lost in that discussion is that Miz Cracker is smart and funny as hell. This challenge allows the New York City queen to shine at her Crackerest. Every one of Cracker’s jokes lands as Joslyn Opal Rose, and she even manages to build a storyline throughout while she does it. It’s very impressive, and is definitively the most entertaining of the country cousin characters. Her eleganza is a moment as well. It’s the most cohesive look, and she sells every inch of it on the runway. Between the country cousin and the eleganza, Cracker ever so slightly edges out Shea and Juju for highest GPA, and claims the win this week.
Now onto our “bottom two” queens of the week, starting with Blair. Blair is in the unfortunate position of being the only queen left in the competition who isn’t known for being, well … funny. Blair started off strong this season. In fact, she practically established herself as the dark horse with her reading challenge win in episode one. But since then, she hasn’t made much of an impression. While she’s consistently created some gag-worthy moments on the runway, she’s not yet been able to clinch a win. And unfortunately for Blair, this might be her weakest week yet. For her country cousin realness, Blair adopts the persona of the rough-and-tumble Darlene. It’s an odd juxtaposition to see Blair (whose go-to makeup beat is Megan Fox cosplaying as Peter Pan) trying to serve a NASCAR-loving country gal persona. She ends the performance art piece by delivering an odd incest joke, at which Ru’s sisters politely smile without laughing. Her eleganza look, however, is a breath of fresh air. It’s cool, it’s high-fashion, it’s J.Law on the cover of Vogue. The judges nitpick it a little, but it feels perfunctory. However, it’s not quite enough to save her from defending her life along with Alexis a few minutes later.
Last and apparently least, Alexis Mateo. Ugh! Alexis! Going into this season, I had placed Alexis firmly in my top three. Even though she technically has had a similar track record to Blair, I hardly think it’s fair to put them in the same category. Though Alexis did not snatch any trophies this season, we got at least one iconic moment from her per week (Daddy Yankee, Walter Mercado, etc.) So while her country cousin realness (Carmen, Ru’s ex-housekeeper) might be the weakest, and her dress (gown with a kiddie pool glued on the bottom) might be a little disjointed, it still feels like a shame to lose Alexis this week.
Back in the Werkroom, Cracker declares that, despite whatever RuPaul says, the bottom two are actually Blair and Alexis. While this is technically not true (everyone is equally up for elimination), Cracker’s psyop proves effective, and before you know it, Blair and Alexis are pleading their cases to each of their fellow competitors. They’re each frustrated, but Alexis in particular seems crushed. Deserved or not, this is Alexis’ second potential elimination in a row and we can see it’s weighing on her. Eventually, the queens make their way back to the runway to reveal this week’s lip sync assassin, Roxxxy Andrews. Roxxxy looks beautiful, rich, and content in her extravagant ostrich plume coat. She makes a polite, perfunctory reference to her iconic Read U Wrote U verse, and with that we’re off to the races. While Cracker doesn’t win this one, this is clearly the superior of her two lip sync performances in the competition so far. But the judges can’t resist Roxxxy’s burlesque interpretation of the Ariana Grande sleeper hit “One Last Time.” I, personally, do not draw a thematic connection between missing a lover I have wronged and naming my asscheeks “Thick” and “Juicy.” But that is why Roxxxy is Roxxxy Andrews and I am lowly me. Ass-shaking wins the day (as it always does) and so Roxxxy reveals that the queens voted to send Alexis home. I’m going to miss Alexis. In an alternate universe where India didn’t drop last episode’s bombshell, Alexis might have been safe this week, and conceivably gone all the way to top three. But Roxxxy’s asscheeks have spoken, and it’s time for Alexis to sashay away.
It’s the final four! Barring any huge upsets next week, it’s seeming like a pretty tight statistical race among the final three. Cracker jumps to two wins this week, tying Shea, with Jujubee right on their tails in third place. Next week, we get to see who goes into the finale with the most momentum, and, with any luck, India Ferrah will find a way to do some more shitstirring somehow! See you then!
“It DO Take Nerve!”
Quotes that left me mouth agape
• “An inch is 2.54 centimeters. I learned that in math class.” — Jujubee
Fact Check: TRUE. Your move, Kyne.
• “How do you unregister to vote?” — Jujubee
I would like a live, 24/7, Big Brother-esque video feed in Jujubee’s home that I can tune into at any time, please. I don’t think this is too much to ask.
• “I’ve never been a bottom until they started the group bottom.” — Blair
Funny, because I’ve been a bottom, but never a group bottom.