I don’t think this is working. At this point in All-Stars 8, it’s starting to feel like we’re in a loop. Three out of five episodes now have featured Jimbo wins, followed by a mediocre lip sync that makes her dominance feel anti-climactic. It’s not the first time we’ve seen that kind of track record on an All-Stars season, but, in All-Stars 3, when Dela won five out of the first six challenges, the fact that there were two winners each week gave the season a bit more momentum. Now, especially with Heidi exiting the competition, Jimbo is facing a group of competitors who simply aren’t at her level of creativity or persona cultivation. If she ends up getting eliminated at some point due to her dominance, we’ll be left with a UK vs. the World situation: a group of queens who aren’t ready to take the crown battling it out for what is essentially second place.
Additionally, the drama surrounding Heidi has not felt juicy all season, so when it reaches its peak with her self-elimination this week, it just feels sad. There’s no way of knowing exactly what issues led to her quitting (the recent death of a family member, her lack of connection with the judges this season, and the drama around her all seem like contributing factors), but seeing a joyous light of a queen like Heidi go out this way isn’t fun. It’s just sad. Compare this to Dela’s self-elimination from All-Stars 3, which was high drama: a queen who knew exactly how to play the game using the tools of reality TV to go against the competitive format. This doesn’t have that operatic quality to it. When Jimbo says she saw Heidi in the finale with her, I agreed. They were, despite Heidi’s lack of a win thus far, the strongest competitors. The fact that she’s gone leaves the season with a hole in it that I am not sure the other girls have the ability to fill. Overall, this episode left a dour feeling in me long after it finished. We need some life in this season, and Jimbo can’t be doing all the work on her own.
The episode begins auspiciously enough, with the queens ragging on Heidi about her donkey look last week (which I thought was charming, sorry), and her offering to let them pin the tail on her. It’s worth noting how much she and Jimbo (along with Kandy and Lala) have even dominated the banter portions of the episodes. They know how to do this. Unsurprisingly, given her track record, everybody except Darienne voted for Darienne.
Ru then announces that it’s time for the “Snatch Game of Love,” which has become the de rigueur format for Snatch Game on All Stars seasons (All Stars 7 excepted, as all the winners had to do two normal Snatch Games, which was thrilling). One thing that I appreciate about this format, even if I do miss the typical Snatch Game mode, is that the lack of a physical panel in front of the queens allows more opportunity for physical comedy, which is occasionally used to great effect (think Naomi Smalls fainting as Wendy Williams or the winning queen this week). The guests are Las Culturistas co-hosts Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers, which means they are the first Vulture Drag Race recappers to be guests on the show! I expect to be invited as the coach of the recap-previous-episodes-of-Drag Race challenge any day now. Anyway, they are both very cute and very game. No notes!
From the minute Jimbo announced that she was going to be playing Shirley Temple, I was pretty sure of her win. It’s a perfect choice. Heidi doing Blackbeard I was less convinced by, but then I generally have an aversion to queens doing historical characters whose voices we don’t know — give me an interpretation of someone I’ve heard before! Going in, I was most curious about how Jessica Wild was going to do, having technically done Snatch Game before, but on the first-ever Snatch Game, in which the queens had no idea what they were in for. I’m not a fan of queens doing other queens for Snatch Game, but Kahanna has already proven herself a bit … deficient in the comedic areas of the competition, so I’m okay with the choice to do her mother Coco Montrese if it means she’s more comfortable. Jaymes doing Jennifer Coolidge is blah; every gay man in America has a passable Jennifer Coolidge impression. Alexis walks into the challenge pretty confident, as she won season nine’s Snatch Game with her Liza, and her choice to do Bea Arthur excited me, seeing as we’ve had multiple flops with girls attempting to do Golden Girls impressions.
Then we get to the actual Snatch Games. The first one features Heidi as Blackbeard, Jessica as Iris Chacón, Kahanna as Coco Montrese, and Jaymes as Jennifer Coolidge. This is … not good. The best of the crew is Jaymes, who does fine, but I kind of think the simplicity of this choice is made a bit irrelevant by the failures of the girls around her. Does she do a good job? Yes. Is the bar that high? No. Kahanna flops the minute she actually has to do improv, and Heidi attempts to capitalize on that with some jokes about how badly Kahanna is doing. Kahanna is offended by this, but it seems like pretty typical Snatch Game behavior to me. I just wish Heidi’s jokes at Kahanna’s expense were funnier. Heidi’s showing in general is an argument against doing this kind of character: She doesn’t have much to work with other than “pirate with a peg leg,” while Jaymes has a slew of references at her disposal. I like Jessica too much to spend much time on her Iris Chacón impression, but I will say that I’m hoping she eventually has a character in her arsenal that amounts to more than “loud and slutty.” It’s funny, but it’s limited.
The first group had me extremely worried, but the second group does a lot better. Alexis’s Bea Arthur seems perfectly calibrated to delight Ru, with references to George Peppard that might be lost on the show’s younger audience and a reliably sour face. Kandy and Lala both choose reality-TV personalities, with the former doing Renee Graziano from Mob Wives and the latter doing Sukihana from Love & Hip-Hop: Miami. Both of these are passable, and both queens always have a joke when Ru sets one up for them. I do think that reality-TV personalities are unlikely to win Snatch Game because they tend to be so ready-made for this challenge, but, after the first group, I’d still count this as a win for both of these queens. But the true star of the week, the one queen who did a Snatch I’d put in the Hall of Fame, is Jimbo as Shirley Temple. The voice is insane, the makeup is deranged, and the jokes come rapidly. When she started to tap-dance, I started laughing so hard I had to pause the episode. Truly an incredible, incredible Snatch Game. I don’t like the idea that Jimbo will simply wallop all the other queens through to the end, but if all her performances are as exciting as this, I can’t be that annoyed.
Then we get to the drama of the episode. Kahanna brings up that she felt badly about how Heidi treated her in the Snatch Game, which Heidi apologizes for, and then Kandy jumps in, saying Heidi told Jimbo that Kandy said she’d come for Jimbo. It’s a big game of she-said-she-said, and it’s not particularly thrilling since none of it happened on-camera. Heidi turns to Alexis for confirmation of what Kandy said, and Alexis stumbles over her words in a way that ultimately gives me the impression that Heidi is telling the truth, but there’s no real way to know. Then Heidi, rather unceremoniously, quits the competition. It sucks to see one of the most charismatic competitors the show’s ever had go out this way, and it puts a damper on the rest of the season.
On the runway, the category is a classic “Show us your best Ruveal” moment. Jessica cycles through three looks, and her first two are pretty lame, but her final, fried egg–themed number is very cute. Kahanna walks out wearing very little clothing, which forces us to ask, “How can she possibly do a reveal?” And it turns out the answer is that she will simply end up naked. Hot! Jaymes does a Muppet into a gown into a bodysuit into a swimsuit, all of which are pretty ill-fitting. Michelle notes that it’s becoming a little “samey same” with Jaymes, and I have to agree. Kandy begins as a housewife, reveals into a gown, and then reveals into a bodysuit, none of which have anything to do with one another. Meh! Lala, though, has the worst runway of the week, seeing as her first look is nothing more than a shapeless bag and her second is a pretty typical bodysuit. Yet again, Jimbo shits all over the other girls. She does an Adam and Eve–inspired look in which her own boy face is sculpted on the back, and then she turns around to reveal herself as Eve. It’s pure creativity. Alexis breaks out an updated version of the costume reveal she won New York’s So You Think You Can Drag competition with back in 2014. I’d seen it before, so it didn’t necessarily shock me, but it is really good drag and all the more impressive for not having pieces left on the stage.
Jimbo rightly wins her third challenge, and lip syncs against season 14’s Jasmine Kennedie to “Hallucinate” by Dua Lipa. (Drag Race will produce lip syncs to every song off of Future Nostalgia if it kills them.) It was nice to see Jasmine, new mug and all, but when Jimbo almost slips mere seconds into the song, it ruins any stakes this lip sync may have had, and they weren’t that high already. This queen can. not. lip. sync. Not that it matters, because both Jessica and Kahanna get to stay due to Heidi’s quit. If I were the producers, I might have just used this opportunity to get rid of Kahanna, if that’s who the queens voted for. She’s a fierce queen, but she is not doing well in these comedy challenges, and I don’t think she has the time to learn, given that she’s in a group full of girls who consider comedy their biggest strength.
Also on Untucked…
• Heidi leaves a message, Kandy is worried that the girls will think she’s been gunning for Jimbo, Matt and Bowen come in, Jasmine gets ready to lip sync, Kahanna gets ready to go home since there’s no way she’s staying over Jessica. It’s pretty by the book.
• Sorry for the late Rucap! I was moving yesterday.
• Alexis Michelle Watch: As much as I did not enjoy watching Heidi quit, I did enjoy the level of histrionics Alexis worked herself into over it. Stay dramatic, queen.
• Predicted top four: Jimbo’s a lock, obviously. Jessica still feels like a good option, even if she did have kind of an off week. Kandy’s been fading into the background all season, so I guess I’ll knock her out for now. Leaving me needing to choose between … Kahanna, Jaymes, Lala, and Alexis? By process of elimination I think it’s probably Alexis and Jaymes, but I am very unsure. Hoping to see someone else plant their flag in the season soon.