RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Willow-Pilled

RuPaul’s Drag Race

A Pair of Balls
Season 14 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating 4 stars

RuPaul’s Drag Race

A Pair of Balls
Season 14 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Photo: Bravo

Okay, I’m mad. The reversal of two eliminations and the promise of future saves through stale candy-based shenanigans? Get these queens OUT! Though perhaps I’m just salty because this means we’re discussing 14 queens and 42 total looks this week. This has officially become a recapper labor rights issue! I’m unionizing!

My laziness aside, the conceit of this week’s challenge is a good one. The queens are split into two separate balls depending on which premiere episode they starred in. The queens from episode one will be walking in the “Hide ’n’ Chic Ball,” whereas the queens from episode two will be walking in the “Red, White, and Blue Ball.” The split proves quite successful for me, as it both provides visual differentiation to break up the potential monotony of seeing 14 looks in a row based on the same category and decreases the probability of a repeat of season eight’s infamous Kimono-gate. I’m also assuming we’re, at best, one to two seasons away from some sort of metaverse or NFT Ball, so let’s count our blessings while we can.

Let’s get into it:

Alyssa Hunter
Alyssa is probably the safest of all the safe queens this week. Every look is definitely good, but there’s otherwise not too much to say about them. Her red resort look? Good! Her Mugler-inspired leopard-print dress? Good! But that doesn’t stop her from being very bothered in Untucked at her safe placement. (Which is just fine by me, by the way! What’s the point of a backstage after-show if the queens don’t bring a little ’tude?) Alyssa learns that perhaps her trajectory in this competition won’t be quite as straight as she might have imagined. But not a bad start!

Of all the queens in the competition, Bosco’s transformations are the most consistently impressive to me. While her looks aren’t the most inventive or original to walk the runway this week, each one is well tailored and executed to her vision. Are pants and a matching bralette going to take a queen to a soaring victory? Probably not, but hey! It’s only week three; what’s the rush? My prediction is that Bosco will prove herself to be a slow-burning queen, under the radar for the first few episodes but with massive potential for an impressive late-season run. Calling it now.

Willow Pill
Yes, I’m fully Willow-pilled. And it seems so are the judges. Episode one they (rightfully) all jumped aboard the Kornbread train, but I’m thrilled to see that Willow hasn’t escaped their notice either. Every look of Willow’s is perfect, not to mention her top-notch eye for detail, body proportion, and design. The judges heap praise on her as Ru asks, “Where’d you get your sense of style?” To which Willow replies, “I think I explored bad taste for so long that I just ended up getting good taste?” Perfect answer, perfect queen. No notes! Willow deservedly claims the win tonight and establishes herself not just as an early fan favorite but a front-runner alongside the likes of Kornbread and Angeria.

Keri Colby
Keri is indisputably beautiful. To the point where it’s difficult to peel my eyes away from her face to even examine her garment. Which is to her benefit, because when I managed to do so, I didn’t always love what I saw. Her purple leopard-print suit is her best category hands down: It fits her like a glove, and the details (sunglasses, spinning fascinator) are lovely touches. The same can’t be said for her animal-print eleganza. There are feathers where no feathers should be, and there’s bunching in places where fabric shouldn’t bunch. It’s all very busy, and not helped by the sloppy construction. However, much like me, the judges can barely tear their eyes away from Keri’s flawless face long enough to notice, leaving her safe.

For a queen who ends up safe this episode, Kornbread dominates an awful lot of the story. And for good reason! As Kornbread discusses her fraught relationship with her family, my heart breaks for her. And as she turns around to help Willow as she experiences a flare-up of her cystinosis, my heart warms. I love this queen! While the look Kornbread makes from scratch in this episode is quite rough around the edges, and her resort runway is nothing to write home about, it’s still difficult not to see Kornbread as an obvious front-runner. Her strongest moment comes in the form of a sleek black leopard-print gown, which is probably what kept her safe this episode. But I can only imagine we’ll be seeing Kornbread back on top very soon.

Orion Story
Orion returns to the competition this week after her fake elimination last week, but unfortunately she doesn’t manage to impress. None of her looks are “bad” per se. I’d even go as far as to say I enjoyed the leopard-print Xena tribute. But the silhouettes are repetitive, and in a season filled with unique perspectives and standout drag personas, Orion fades into the background. She escapes the bottom two by the skin of her teeth this week, but … two bottom placements in a row? Not a good start.

June Jambalaya
June’s first look is easily her most successful. Zebra suits her quite well, and her perfectly fitted two-piece suit (with a matching coat and bag, of course!) sets her off to a great start. Unfortunately, it’s downhill from there. She looks pretty in her leopard, but the length is all wrong, as evidenced by her tripping and stumbling down the runway. Her strategy for her eleganza look is to hide half of it behind an oversize bridal bouquet like a pregnant actress on a multi-cam sitcom, and, honestly, I respect it! But much like when Julie Bowen tried it, June wasn’t fooling anyone.

Daya Betty
Daya Betty (a.k.a. Miss Daya Bettic) comes back into the competition with a fire under her tushy. Her looks are rock solid, each one imbued with specificity (and a little kitsch, of course). Unlike in her first episode, her personality shines through, and I “get” the Daya Betty brand: crafty, campy, Crystal Methyd-esque, but not enough to feel like a carbon copy. It’s a much stronger showing, though still not enough to stand up to the titans of Angeria or Willow. That’s fine by Daya, though, who is happy to sit this week out, sipping cocktails on Untucked watching the other safe girlies anxiety-spiral.

Props where props are due: Angeria plays this episode pretty perfectly. I can’t say I get “resort” from her red baby-doll dress, the same way I don’t get “eveningwear” from her white jumpsuit, but hey! They’re both hot as hell! If nothing else, Angeria is a pageant girl, baby. She nails the presentation of every look, causing me to immediately forget any minor quibble I might have had originally. The judges remain enamored with Angie, and she secures yet another top placement this week, just slightly edged out in the end by Willow. Episode three? Check!

Deja Skye
For a seamstress, Deja Skye made very little impression on me (and the judges) this week, which doesn’t bode well for her. I don’t think any of her looks were unsuccessful, but the fact that she lip-synced in her first episode and couldn’t place high in a sewing challenge (potentially her strongest skill) doesn’t inspire faith that Deja will be sticking around in the long term. However, there’s that “lip-sync assassin” moniker that RuPaul gave her, so maybe she’ll be with us a while yet.

Jasmine Kennedie
Jasmine is none too pleased with her safe placement this week, as we find out in Untucked. And I get it! Clearly a lot of attention and planning went into Jasmine’s looks. We have the careful reveal of the lobster claws in the first look, her eveningwear (which looks quite expensive), and her well-executed patriotic gown for the final category. Unfortunately, she can’t quite edge out Angeria or Willow (or Lady Camden for that matter, but more on that in a second), resulting in Jasmine placing safe this week. Better luck next week, queen! Still rooting for you.

Of all the queens this season, I think Jorgeous has shown us who she is most effectively. Every time she walks the runway, each step is positively filled to the brim with Miami hot-girl energy. Yes, the garments fit her like a glove, but it’s more than that. Whenever she steps out I can’t help but think, God, I want to go to a Jorgeous show, and there’s no better feeling than that. Michelle isn’t obsessed with her Selena-inspired eleganza, but RuPaul says that she was “born for drag,” so I think we can safely chalk this week up as a win for this Jorgeous Jorgeous girl.

Lady Camden
If I were to give the title of “robbed queen” to anyone this episode, it would be Lady Camden. Sorry, but she didn’t miss! Her red resort look was pitch- perfect (and felt much more on category than Angeria’s), and her couture eleganza look was an impressive feat of seamstressing. She’s somewhat self-deprecating about it all on Untucked (very British of her), but if I were her, I’d be wicked pissed! (Very Boston of me.)

Maddy Morphosis
Maddy set a high bar for herself after her internet-breaking headless runway last week. (Well, not literally high. She was wearing flats after all.) But unfortunately, she can’t meet it. Her resort look is an ill-fitting jumpsuit that the judges deem “pedestrian,” and her eleganza is just as forgettable. RuPaul, seemingly empowered by her coffee enema, is right: None of it seems to have that EHHhNnnNNHHhhh factor. Heterophobia prevails tonight, and Maddy’s lack of “It” factor lands her in the bottom two alongside June.

Forty-two (!) looks later, Maddy and June are sent to the bottom to lip-sync for their lives to Kylie Minogue’s “I Love It.” The lip-sync is — to use a technical recapping term — “bad.” The judges deem that Maddy is marginally more passable than June, which probably came down to the fact that Maddy kept her shoes on. I suppose we could call Maddy a lip-sync assassin, but the assassin in question is like … Patrizia Reggiani. Was the job done? Technically, yes, but there’s no way she’s getting away with it. Not even a Hail Mary chocolate bar can save June, making her our first official elimination of the season. So long, queen!

Almost a month later, we finally have our first elimination of the season. Drawn-out, early-season shenanigans, and a new scheme RuPaul has concocted to emotionally torment the girls while plugging branded merchandise? Drag Race is back, baby! I’m hyped.

Until next week!

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Willow-Pilled