It's the end of the world as we know it, and, after last night's episode of RuPaul's Drag Race, I feel SICKENING.
In a surprising twist, Ru bumped up the usual ball challenge way early in the season, which meant looks on lewks on lerks from all the queens.
The choice ended up being an inspired one. Here we needed minimal time to watch the gals sew, so a super-sized runway did more to showcase the queens' talents than another group performance would have. Here's hoping this is a change that sticks for future seasons.
(Also: Could a super-sized Snatch Game be ahead as well?)
Even with an extended runway, there was still plenty of time for drama in the workroom.
It all begins with Monique feeling salty over being “thrown under the bus” by Mayhem on last week's runway. To be fair to Mayhem, it was a very gentle toss under the bus. But to be fair to Monique, we did see Miss Heart repeatedly check in with Mayhem throughout the challenge. This may not be RuPaul's Best Friend Race, but I guess it is RuPaul's Bus Driving Race, or something. The spat fizzles as they both declare “game on!” like we're not three challenges deep already.
The ladies also congratulate Asia on her win, and Vixen gets in one expert dig at Aquaria warning everyone not to give Asia any guff for borrowing gloves for her winning ensemble. The message is unmistakable, and Aquaria is visibly shook.
The next day the ladies return to the workroom for a mini challenge all about photobombing celebrities. Unfortunately, they're not hitting the streets of LA to actually harangue the stars; instead they'll do a photoshoot and then get Photoshopped into a celeb snap.
Monique, Cracker and Blair seem to crack the right combination of creativity and character, but it's Aquaria that really shines. Her doo-doo pick-up pic sure didn't stink, and she's awarded the win. What does she get? Oh, just $1,000 from Postmates, which will fill a queen with an awful lot of disco fries.
The maxi challenge this week is THE LAST BALL, which if a certain orange dum-dum fires the wrong “smart missile” it just might be! Ru's apocalyptic vision for the future demands the ladies dress for winter in Alaska (which will be warm) and summer in Miami (which will be cold), because climate change is real, y'all. The third look will be for a new colony on Mars.
The girls will be crafting their Life on Mars looks — I'm sorry, “lewks” — I'm sorry “LERKS” — in the work room. Hot glue abounds, with some girls like Monet, struggling with a difficult fabric. Luckily, Asia is masterful seamstress, and she spends a lot of time helping all the girls.
We also learn about how the Vixen learned to sew by tracing her name written on a napkin with needle and thread. Cracker shares a story about how her fathTer responded to her winning a national gold medal in karate by reminding her that she'll need to win another if she doesn't want people to think it was a fluke. That's where she gets her edge.
There's also a brief, hilarious world history debate between Monet vs. Monique/everybody else. It starts as a conversation about Eureka's twang, but turns into an argument over which came first: the English or American accent? Monet asserts that the accents were mostly similar until people went back to England, which is met with incredulity from the rest of the girls. Never have the gays all Googled something so en masse since Bieber's nudes.
Her timeline isn't exactly right, but she's not wrong. The English accent as we know it (“non-rhotic,” meaning no hard Rs) didn't develop until the Industrial Revolution when the upper crust wanted to distinguish itself. The more you betta know.
The juiciest moment is Aquaria's when Cracker gingerly confronts her about rumors that Aquaria has sugar daddies. Aquaria denies the charge, leading to Cracker looking dead into the camera — which isn't done nearly enough — to remind America that she is open to having a sugar daddy. Aquaria's self-made, “started from the bottom” aesthetic is not a look Cracker is wanting to steal, Cracker says with a wink. Well played.
It actually turns out to be Aquaria's episode all-around. Not only did she pick up the win at the mini challenge, but this week's fashion-focused maxi challenge plays to her strengths. She even flashes a T-shirt-ready catchphrase to Ru: “Some girls in the workroom chose to read books; I chose to turn looks.” (Although, she's unable to accurately repeat it at Ru's prodding. Gotta work on that branding, bitch.)
The runway is indeed a full gag. However, it should be noted, none of the queens slay the way Ru does in this Leigh Bowery-esque, outer space club kid, mask-for-mask eleganza. She looks like Erika Jayne had sex with Daft Punk on a funfetti cake, and I. AM. LIVING. FOR. IT.
There's hardly a flop in the entire THIRTY-THREE looks we're blessed with this week. However, someone's gotta be top, and someone's gotta be bottom. (Ain't that always the way?)
Our top three include Aquaria, Cracker and Kameron. Aquaria sends three insanely sharp ensembles down the runway, serving high-fashion that transcends each category and makes it uniquely her own. Cracker shows that she can just as easily fire off one-liners as she can fully-realized fashion fantasy. Kameron continues to surprise, sending three stellar looks to the mainstage.
Less fortunate were Monet, Dusty and Asia; the lattermost revealing she lost a lot of time helping the other girls. In a different context, this would have read as an excuse. However, the other girls onstage leap to Asia's defense, backing up her claim that she truly helped every other queen. The judges admire Asia's altruism, but remind her to not forget this is a competition. The airplane oxygen mask metaphor is apt; secure yours before helping someone else.
Dusty's Alaskan winter ensemble is egregious enough to land her in the bottom for that alone. It's bejeweled sea captain on top, goth pirate below with a dash of late-‘80s Cher and a bit of dominatrix for good measure. None of it works. Neither her Miami summer nor her gorgeous, but not quite on-theme Mars outfit can save her.
Monet turned in her interpretation of a Why-It-Gotta-Be-White Walker for Miami summer that stunned, but her other looks were more crafty than couture. And Asia's three ensembles are cute, but not exceptional.
It's Dusty and Monet giving a lip sync, and boy do they deliver. Dusty gives us a quirky, spastic interpretation of Nicki Minaj that would have easily won the last three lip syncs. However, she's up against Monet, a certifiable lip-sync assassin. Monet has the judges in the palms of her hands, giving us fierceness, comedy and sex all at once. She speeds up, she slows down, she's note-perfect. At one point she delivers a jump-split fake-out that has Ru in stitches, and it only serves to heighten the excitement when she finally delivers on it later.
Ru tells everyone watching that THIS is what you call a lip sync for your life. I would've been happy with both girls getting spared, but Ru keeps Monet and sends Dusty packing.
So where do the queens stand now? Let's discuss in our rankings below, and leave yours in the comments!
1. The fact Cracker can work a runway and demonstrate a lightning-quick wit on par with Bianca and Bob makes her formidable competitor. Each one of her ball looks was great. Her braided bikini hula bimbo was campy, but still polished. Her Miami summer look gave me Barbie on Hoth vibes, which I'm very into, and her final Martian ensemble was simple, but sharp. She is the one to beat this season, for sure.
2. It was the Aquaria show this week. Her win was well-deserved. (It felt disingenuous to see the judges even try to pretend like it was close, despite Cracker's strong turnout.) I'm not even sure which Aquaria look was my favorite; they were all so strong. The lucha libre bikini with extra-long braid was exciting. Her Lisa Frank fur put a fun twist on an already refined outfit. She took a chance with the villainous Mars paper-fashion, but it paid off in a big way. There are shades of Violet Chachki here, which means she could theoretically ride it to the end (if she can cruise through any roast or Snatch Game challenge under the radar). For now, I'm excited to see what she does next.
3. There's something about Eureka that I still really respond to. Her fashions are generally on fleek (are the kids still saying that?), and she can play the sort of reindeer games this show demands. Her personality can be a bit … much (and this week's Untucked made her look particularly stank), but I still think she's got some chops. Her Alaskan and Miami looks were competent, but safe. I loved the big, sparkly take on the Mars ball.
4. Maybe I'm overestimating Asia, especially considering her bottom three placement this week, but that queen has really been impressing me. Her faltering this week served to endear her more, not less. Even her fashions weren't AWFUL by any stretch. Hopefully, this scare will only put the pressure to turn her into a full diamond down the road.
5. OK, finally, I feel like I'm warming to Blair. This is the first week it didn't feel like she was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the competition. She's been so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to the point of it almost being unnerving. This week, she seemed at ease in the mini challenge and channeled her vintage Barbie aesthetic perfectly across a black-and-white pin-up Alaskan winter, a rabbit fur Miami summer and a bubblegum pink starfleet realness look.
6. I am fully here for the Vixen. No one would ever describe her as conflict-averse, but she also, in my opinion, comes off tough, but fair. I've been watching people scream each other into submission on reality TV since the dawn of the genre, and I find Vixen's approach to be one of the sharpest. It helps that she can also deliver the goods to back it all up. I love her transparent bikini and over-sized fan. (I thought her Miami summer look with the antlers was more The Magicians than Into the Woods, but whatever.) Vixen's Martian couture looked like she'd be right at home with the Misfits tormenting Jem and the Holograms.
7. Monique was mostly fine. I thought that mauve jumpsuit she wore in the Miami category was awful — maybe my least favorite look of the night. I don't see Monique making it to the end of the competition, but I do look forward to her sticking around for a long while, because she delivers humor — and heart — in all her workroom and interview moments.
8. Despite Kameron's top-three finish this week, I just don't see the consistency there yet. This group is so neck-and-neck that (beside Cracker) everyone else's positions in the pecking order feel primed to change at any given moment. I was gagged for the ditzy Martian communicator, and the Alaskan winter bikini was all summer body-ody-ody fantasy straight out of Beverly Hills. Now, I liked the Miami frost queen, but I did also think the blue face makeup gave her a weird sort of goatee shadow that wasn't working for me. Kameron could be this season's dark horse, or she could go home next week, and neither outcome would surprise me!
9. I grow weary of Mayhem Miller's whiteout contacts. So weary. Her Bettie Page Alaskan bikini was a snore, but I did give all the snaps to that hooded crimson number she trotted out on Mars. Mayhem's another queen that could steal this whole thing, but I'm not feeling it this week.
10. Monet's been steadily slipping from the beginning, and all that charm and goodwill started wearing off. The lip sync was legendary, and I hope this lights a fire under her to bring that kind of ferocity to everything else she's doing. I've got my fingers crossed that Monet can bounce back from this and landin top half of the class next week.
11. While Yuhua, Kalorie and even Miss Vanjie (Miss … Vanjie) felt like they went home at the right time, Dusty's departure feels more like a loss. It was the right call, and really more of a reflection of how strong the competitors are this season. Dusty didn't completely fall on her face here, and her lip sync was strong. Rarely have we seen such a deserving queen miss the top 10 for their season, but that's the way season 10 is shaping up, my friends. I'd like to see Dusty come back either this season or, if we're so lucky, All Stars season five or six.
How would you rank the queens?