This week on RuPaul’s Drag Race, the queens tackled sequels of three famous camp films and brought their best two-fashions-in-one reveals to the runway.
As with last episode’s lip sync extravaganza, this episode is a greatest hits of queen performances – the weakest pair of acting jobs are still hilarious and the worst runway is gag-worthy. Uneven (some would say unfair) judging casts a pall over affairs and makes the obvious winner of the week look messy as a result.
However, none of that compares to the reveal of the final frames of the episode, which found the four eliminated queens staring back at the five remaining queens through one of their workroom mirrors. The eliminated girls are back and ready for their revenge!
And now, on to the rankings!
1. Alaska Thunderfuck 5000
Runner-Up, Season 5. Pre-Season Rank: 1. To date: 2, 1, 1. Average: 1
An acting challenge is the perfect bounceback for Alaska after a week where she would have been in the bottom if not for her shrieking alien runway outfit.
While her results were bit mixed, the show’s reflexive applause for her efforts prove that this season was designed for Alaska to win in the same way All Stars 1 was Chad’s game to lose.
Be warned, fair readers: I’m about to drag this beloved drag queen a bit despite her top ranking.
Alaska is gifted with the most gag-worthy, meme-generating character in the trio of acting scenes, Bette Davis’s legendary Baby Jane. I have to believe that this script was destined for Alaska no matter what, just like the script with the “tired old showgirl” joke was going to be Phi Phi’s (who knows what would’ve happened if they paired up).
Alaska slayed in her uncanny Baby Jane impression, which proves she could have easily done Bette Davis for Snatch Game (a Jinkx favorite on the Best of the Seasons tour). However, all the mugging as her impressive caricature made her scene also feel like the Snatch Game – it was joke-to-joke instead of moving smoothly through a story as the other two did.
While you could blame the script for the herky-jerky quality of the scene, it didn’t help that every one of Alyssa’s interjections felt like a full stop in the action. Alaska was a clear winner, but she doomed Alyssa in the process.
As for the runway, this was one of Alaska’s weakest of all time yet she got a pass for being Alaska when Alyssa got a fail for being Alyssa. The runway theme was a dual-fashion reveal, but Alaska’s lumpy trash bag burqa didn’t qualify as fasion. Beneath, she presented a decidedly inelegant take on her legendary, foul mini-challenge creation, Lil’ Poundcake. It was shabby when it should have been stunning, which would have only further sold her petulant mugging as Poundcake.
(Non-fan E caught a glimpse and said, “Well, that was pathetic.”)
Luckily, the judges love in-jokes (as do fans) so they ate it up. However, it’s insulting to see such applause for Alaska in joke-mode when everyone else in the field smoked her on reveals and were all considerably more elegant. She then delivered a lackluster, unserious lip sync on one of the best lip sync songs of all time – “Got Be Real” by Cheryl Lynn – all while Phi Phi destroyed it with perhaps the best sync of the season.
We get it Alaska – you’re a skilled impersonator, even of your own characters (including yourself). I came into this season rooting for Alaska, but after four weeks of All Stars I’m looking for something a little bit more. Hopefully Alaska delivers in spades for next week’s comedy challenge to keep some semblance of objectivity going in this race since it’s not destined to be suspenseful.
Otherwise, I’m hoping for an upset by the queen who has Charisma Uniqueness Nerve and Talent right in her name…
2. Detox iCunt
4th Place, Season 5. Pre-Season Rank: 6. To date: 3, 2, 2. Average: 2
Detox continues her run to the finals with another flawless episode, though she doesn’t produce anything as memorable as Neon Antionette or her silver dragbot from last week. She has yet to make a serious mistake in this competition and this is the first week she’s let up on her clear dominance of the most gagged-over runways.
Detox already proved her acting prowess in Season 5 and she doesn’t skip a beat in this episode. She doesn’t drop a line, has impeccable comedic timing, and serves great chemistry with Katya. Her script was a little dopey, but that just lets Detox prove that nothing can keep a good queen down.
Detox’s runway was one of her all-time weakest yet still wasn’t bad at all. She emerged in a cloak-like gown that transformed into a slinky velvet one-piece embroidered with flowers with a half-cape that ultimately tore away.
(As for her potential cultural appropriation, E (who, I’ll remind you, is Asian) says, “I wouldn’t say she was in yellow-face just because she had chopsticks in her hair, but the little geisha giggle was offensive.”)
The result was Detox being justifiably safe in this episode. Given that she has just one (bogus) trip to the bottom two to her name, is there starting to be a chance that Ru could actually choose her as one of the all-time Hall of Fame queens?
While the edit is still screaming Alaska, Detox has had nothing but positive remarks on everything but her Nancy Grace and two memorable runways. If she can survive next week’s comedy challenge unscathed it’s doubtful any of the departed queens would come for her.
If Alaska can continue to smoke Alaska on the runway, we might actually go down to the wire on the final decision!
3. Yekaterina Petrovna Zamolodchikova AKA Katya
5th Place, Season 7. Pre-Season Rank: 2. To date: 4, 3, 5. Average: 4
Katya bounced back into the top three this week purely by process of elimination. There’s no other queen left with a credible claim to this spot in the top three now that Alyssa is eliminated from the competition.
Katya’s bottom placement in this week’s challenge was questionable. She was hilarious in the final cut of her Thelma and Louise sequel, and she handled her dropped lines in rehearsal seemingly without stress. If the scenes had been judged as pairs, she would have been safe. Much as with Detox in Snatch Game, it seemed that neither Alaska nor Phi Phi seem to be seriously considering giving her the boot.
Katya’s slinky transformation from show girl to demon wasn’t the worst, but it also arguably missed the top half (depending on if you preferred Detox). Her demonic red dress undersold the potential terror of her look with a perfunctory pentagram and blacked-out teeth. There was so much more to do here! She as sinfully under-accessorized and the chest and back of the dress should have shown as much skin as Roxxxy’s. I also wouldn’t have minded a bigger wig reveal to a shaved-sides mohawk. Altogether, that could have been a stunner.
While her self-confidence is now off the charts, Katya’s remains hopelessly stuck on her own sorts of in-jokes that don’t resonate quite as much as, say, Sharon Needles’ similarly macabre sense of humor.
(Let’s recall that two of her biggest runway victories in Season 7 were also jokey – as Babraham Lincoln for bearded drag and a ship captain with a shark on her leg for Death Becomes Her. Katya just doesn’t do sex or glam very well on the runway.)
It’s increasingly clear that Katya’s not ready to be inducted into the Drag Race hall of fame. Ultimately, she’s now in a drag race to finish on the winners podium even if she’s not wearing the crown. What’s in store for her these next few weeks? There’s probably not a chance that a returning queen would eliminate her, since she didn’t run afoul of any of them.
We’re coming up on a comedy challenge, where she’ll likely wind up in the top group. Both Roxxxy and Phi Phi have relatively low chances of knocking her off – it would have to happen on the runway, and even then she and Roxxxy are equal in their trips to the bottom. However, Katya could be in trouble from any of the returning queens depending on what the next two challenges are.
4. Roxxxy Andrews
Runner-Up, Season 5. Pre-Season Rank: 7. To date: 1, 4, 4. Average: 3
Roxxxy Andrews ended her relative invisibility this week purely because there was no way for her to be left out of the editing of the preparation and editing of this challenge.
In terms of what she’s bringing to the competition, all of Roxxxy’s memorable moments have been constrained to the runway and dance – not enough to take the All Stars crown.
Roxxxy’s baby showgirl in this episode is the most stilted of all the performances, especially compared to Phi Phi’s tour de force sharing the screen. She has trouble with both delivering the language and finding a characterization – we get hints of the same lisping silliness she brought on her legendary Tasha Salad children’s show character. On a regular season, the willingness to be get silly would likely save her against weaker queens, but not here.
Then there is the runway. Roxxxy is the clear runway winner – maybe of the entire season, with the only outfit that matches the ease and ingenuity of Violet’s legendary tartan flying squirrel transformation. It’s the only transformation that isn’t “dress to other dress” and the construction of it is marvelous – slipping off the shoulder straps of the original outfit leaves Roxxxy in a stunning backless halter that gives all the juicy body we love from this queen.
Despite that, Roxxxy holds steady in 4th place. Another performance of the magnitude of the first challenge would easily bump her back into contention for the finale. With Detox on a powerful run through the competition, Roxxxy’s best bet would be skirting a bottom placement on another low week for Katya – but, to do that she still needs to hold off Phi Phi!
Luckily, she’s likely not in danger of interference from any of the eliminated queens aside from Coco, who hasn’t got a chance of coming back against Tatianna, Ginger, and Alyssa.
5. Phi Phi O’Hara
Runner-Up, Season 4. Pre-Season Rank: 9. To date: 8, 7, 6. Average: 7
I have conflicting emotions about Phi Phi and her continued bottom ranking – sympathy mixed with distaste.
Phi Phi utterly wrecked the competition this week. It was one of the strongest all-around performances in a single episode of all time – up there with Violet’s original reveal and nudity and Jinkx’s telanovela acting and Day of the Dead runway.
Phi Phi’s acting performance was a tour de force of a quality I wasn’t aware she was capable of delivering – neck and neck with Jinkx’s Broadway-caliber chops. Phi Phi was entirely lost in her character, who was viciously funny. For a second consectuive week, she was fearless in the face of getting ugly.
She was also unquestionably the best on the runway along with her scene partner Roxxxy. Her king-to-queen transformation had some many lovely layers – both figurative and literal. The way the sleeves of the dress tucked under the skirt was a marvelous bit of construction, and the detailing on the chests of both outfits was wonderful.
And, to run things out, Phi Phi very clearly won the lip sync while delivering Cheryl Lynn realness in her impeccable cat suit (perfectly evoking Eartha Kitt with her heavy blue eyeshadow). That Alaska won the lip sync only to kick off the same person as Phi Phi is a clear example of producer rigging.
It must be hard to do so well and be so consistently ignored because your given role is that of the villain. And yet… is it the editing that makes Phi Phi come off villainous, or the actual words out of her mouth? Sure, her selfishness can be chalked up to editing – if you never show her helping anyone, it’s hard for fans to believe she’s helpful! However, she also railroads Roxxxy again (after talking her out of her Snatch character) by switching parts with her only to outshow her magnificently. Then, Phi Phi is a sore winner both before and after the lip sync, making it impossible for the other girls to be happy for her.
Can she survive two more cuts to make the finals? It could happen. Phi Phi’s got stronger performance chops than Roxxxy and Katya is on a bad streak. However, that’s without taking into account whatever tomfoolery the returning queens will be up to. If they become a factor in eliminating a remaining queen they’re not going after the magnanimous Alaska, Katya, or Detox.
That means that, as with this week, Phi Phi’s best shot is clinging to Roxxxy, the one other queen she has the best chance of knocking off and then hoping for a construction challenge where she can upset Katya (or maybe Detox).
Eliminated: Alyssa Edwards
6th Place, Season 5. Pre-Season Rank: 3. To date: 6, 5, 3
With an average of 5, it feels like Alyssa should still be in the competition, but it was clear that she was the weakest both in acting and runway this week. Perhaps if Roxxxy hadn’t destroyed the runway you could make an argument that her potential was all tapped out. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
(Also, Alyssa’s move to axe Ginger wound up being a game-changer in that she was Alaska’s best competition for an acting challenge.)
Of course, Alyssa was only off the show for a total of five minutes, and stands a pretty good shot at being the queen to come back next week. I’ll just say she should have bagged the transformation on her paparazzi dress and saved it for another runway, because it was spectacular.