OK, y’all, week two is down, and I’m feeling way more optimistic about this season.
First off, I’m a little surprised to be in such a small minority that is #TeamSilky. I knew she’d be a polarizing figure, but I have yet to encounter a single other Drag Race fan charmed by Silky. Yes, she’s A LOT, but, you guys, this is reality-TV about drag queens: A LOT is table stakes.
I’m wondering now how many opinions have changed following this episode. Academia is not exactly the friendliest environment to a plus-size, black, queer, effeminate Southern man, but Silky is working toward a PhD. That’s amazing! Yas, Silky, take up space!
But how did everyone else come across? Let’s look back at the queens first real chance to break out of the pack.
We kicked the week off with the gals still ob-cyst with Soju’s little problem. In one of her several hilarious lines of the night, Vanjie talked about a potential cyst the size of “Gauntomino Bay,” and it was impossible not to love her.
Following her big win last week, Brooke was feeling herself, which irritated Scarlet. On the one hand, she warned us “When you feel your own oats so hard, you forget that there are other oats there,” which, really is just good advice for anyone, I guess. More troubling though is Scarlet’s belief that her snoozer of a runway outfit last week was worthy of win. I’m getting strong Milk vibes off this one, and I do not mean that as a compliment.
Our mini-challenge is a favorite: The celebrity photobomb. It requires all the gals to throw together some quick drag — a great equalizer among queens of varying skillsets — and then depend on their charisma, vision and point-of-view. Everyone seemed to have some fun, but two queens really go for it: Brooke — showing off a little booty — and Silky, who got fully nude.
They both were awarded the win, which meant they were the team captains for this week’s acting challenge. The gals were split into two teams to parody a pair of Oscar-nominated films: Good God Gurl, Get Out and Why It Gotta Be Black … Panther.
Brooke led the Marvel spoof along with Nina West, Ra’Jah, Honey, Shuga, Plastique and Ariel. During prep, Brooke floated the idea to Plastique that her character should lean real hard into a cartoony Asian accent, and it’s … complicated. On the one hand, this is the kind of humor this show all too often defaults to, and Plastique seems genuinely into the idea. Still, I’d rather this idea originated with Plastique. Even though Brooke prefaced it by saying it might be problematic, that’s sort of like saying “no offense” or “not to sound racist, but …” Acknowledging it almost makes it worse, because it’s premeditated. Sorry, I’m a #snowflake.
Anyway, the real juicy stuff happened when Ru swung by to visit, and the gals — particularly Ariel — leapt at the chance to throw Silky under the bus for being too much. They seem seem petty and bitter, and Ru is having none of it. “Are you trying to one-up her?” Ru asked the group. They all shake their heads and act coy like Alyssa Edwards as Katy Perry in the season five Snatch Game. No, Ru, never! But Ru was having none of it. “You might want to think about it!”
Now, RuPaul did not become a multimedia mogul by accident, child. So he sashayed right over to Team Silky and reported right on back. When Ru confronted Silky about the assertion that she sucks all the air of the room, Silky responded by saying she’s not sorry for having such a big straw to suck! YAS!
That’s when Silky tells Ru about her Master’s Degree and work toward a PhD, and I — someone who recaps reality TV professionally and won’t stop using the word “lewk” — am mightily impressed. You show them, Silky! You show them all!
Michelle and Ross were directing these romps, and it felt like a real mixed bag. Brooke’s team was up first, and goddamn, her instinct was spot on. Plastique is crushing this challenge. If only Brooke had as much vision for her own part. She could barely wrap her pretty little head around a straight-forward joke: “Beyoncé WHAT?!” Shuga Cain was having fun with her part as a weed smoking Auntie Maxine, and Ariel struggled to not add “gurl” after every sentence. (I feel that, gurl.) I have no idea what story they were telling or what the plot was, but it was sort of fun!
Silky’s team was a much better time, but not necessarily due to her involvement. Off the top, Vanjie was stealing the show.
Vanjie started stealing the show when they picked teams, and Scarlet was picked last. “Miss Scarlet is looking pressed like a panini, bitch!” Vanjie screamed into the confessional camera. Then, when Vanjie got a copy of Good God Girl, Get Out, she reacted: “I’m looking at this script like it’s the Da Vinci Code!”
Truly, a gift.
As the dorky dad, Vanjie didn’t know what she was giving us exactly, but it was definitely both entirely wrong and completely perfect at the same time. Forget Alexis Mateo, I think Vanjie is a descendant of Alyssa Edwards. SHOW ME THE DNA TEST!
Silky was just OK during filming. She seemed to be having more fun than we were, and it bordered on unprofessional. Kahanna and Mercedes really struggled with their small parts, failing to register any discernible character choices.
The real stars were Yvie and Miss “Last Picked” Scarlet herself. Yvie mopped the floor with her role as “Marnie” (lol), while Scarlet managed to play the “straight” man (lol) in a way that uplifted the entire final project. They are two of the strongest performances to come out of one of these silly parodies I can recall.
As the ladies prepped their looks, Yvie decided to poke the cyst (it’ll catch on) by asking all the gals who was the shady queen who tried to throw Silky under the bus. To her credit, Ariel did step up and own her part in the bus throwing … under. Anyway, the other girls were not as quick to take responsibility.
Ra’Jah in particular did not take too kindly to this Yvie inquisition, and she unleashed … well, it wasn’t a read, necessarily, it was more like one of Silky’s full collegiate courses: “Have you ever seen someone finger paint with their feet? That’s Yvie’s mug. No, bitch, You could never. A girl that looks like you, smells like you, acts like you? No ma’am. An ugly girl could never come for a pretty girl. No. It’s an ugly bitch like you crawling out of the swamp to come for me? Mm-mm, girl. I’m over it.”
That read needs a works cited, honey, because there is so much to unpack. It’s the first Ra’Jah moment I am wholly here for.
The runway theme is What’s Your Sign? We’ll go over most of the outfits below in our rankings.
The judges loved Plastique’s dark, fantastical Aries, and they gushed over her just over-the-top enough performance. Yvie also had an impressive runway (hers was modeled on a mechanized lion in honor of Leo), and the judges were very into her work alongside Scarlet, another one of our top performers this week. Shuga received some praise for her performance, but on the runway Michelle was not getting Scorpio. I have to agree. It felt more Mortal Kombat. Our winners were Scarlet and Yvie.
Brooke’s look (ahem Brewk’s lewk) earned high marks from the judges, but her performance was flat. Ariel didn’t wow in either department. Then our clear bottom two, Kahanna and Mercedes were just out of their depths. Mercedes’ runway was something I could put together in one Forever 21 trip. Not good enough.
Earlier in the night, however, we learned about how Mercedes, the show’s first Muslim queen, was put on a no-fly list. The additional travel burden took such a toll on Mercedes she had a stroke. It’s a very tough story, and you can’t help but root for her.
The lip sync was … not great. Set to Britney’s iconic “Work Bitch,” a song literally any gay man could do a lip sync to at a moment’s notice, I was expecting so much more. Mercedes gave us a little wig reveal with what Ra’jah described as a “Toni Braxton” moment. Kahanna literally was doing round-off back handsprings in heels like a lunatic. And yet? Neither seemed to hit the beats. Kahanna I think at one point almost ended up fashion roadkill, while Mercedes gave us a jump split at the wrong time, and it just felt super awkward.
Mercedes got the win (yay?), and Kahanna was sent on her way.
So where does that leave the rest of our gals? Check out my completely subjective rankings below, and leave yours in the comments!
- What a gift we have in Miss Vanjie! Everything that comes out of her mouth is hilarious. I’m obsessed. She’s thankfully not one-note. She’s not entering and exiting every room, conversation and Presidential race like “Miss … Vanjie,” and I so appreciate that about her. Is she an actress? Absolutely not. She got by though on personality and commitment, and that’s more than I can say for a lot of these other gals. Plus, she looks fierce as hell every time. Last night’s look was particularly riveting.
- It was a pleasant surprise to see Plastique so easily let herself become the butt of the joke. Often times the prettiest gals are often the most tightly-wound. The attention to detail that makes the ensemble come together is typically so meticulous there’s not a lot of room for “fun.”
- Silky did not hit it out of the park this week, but she remains the biggest presence so far this season, eating up camera time like cookies. She was having a bit too much fun during filming, but her runway was fun.
- Shuga served us a bit more Snore-pio than Scorpio on the runway, but that performance was perfect. It was just campy enough, but it also stayed at the right intensity for the scene. Shuga’s short time doing drag may come back to bite her on the runway. It could be a matter of just not thinking big enough. We’ll see. However, I love her personality, I think she’s a natural comedian and she has some real stage presence. If her runways are passable, she could go far.
- After last week’s strong start, the cracks are already showing on Brooke. She took the starring role, and then she immediately shrunk in the face of the task. The runway outfit was great. I loved the plastic neckpiece, but a strong runway is usually not weighed more than a strong challenge performance in overall scoring.
- Good week for Yvie, on stage, off stage, on camera, just all around. She flashed her teeth in the work room, and she flexed her acting muscles in the challenge. That runway look was just like three decisions away from being a craft store disaster, so kudos on that. But even in its success, it still gave me pause. I hope we see Yvie rise like Sharon in season four — a little odd, a little kooky, but there’s a vision and some polish there.
- Oh, Miss Scarlet. Last week’s Violet Chachki runway was a dud. Then, to have that holier than thou attitude is not a cute look, friend. However, she slayed this challenge, no question about it. I loved the bubble guns on the runway, I loved the blue makeup. It was like Elsa from Frozen blew Papa Smurf on her way over, which is just truly my aesthetic. Scarlet could steadily climb the ranks, or she can be this season’s villain. Too soon to tell.
- Nina acquitted herself nicely this week. She didn’t steal the show, but she didn’t flub it either. Had her runway been a little stronger, she may have ended up somewhere on the upper half of this list. Instead, I got a lot of fire from it, and not a lot of lion. Runway is not where Nina is going to excel, so she needs to bring it extra hard to the challenges.
- I’m not entirely sure who Honey is. No, literally. I had to check my notes. That means she hasn’t been a disaster, but it also means she hasn’t been memorable. The lion get up was a little too on-the-nose for my taste. Hopefully she’ll get her moment.
- All hail the shade queen, Ra’jah. There’s attitude there that I am very into. They went out of their way to show her struggle with her lines, so we should probably not get too attached.
- A’Keria is another queen that just hasn’t had a chance to shine. She was fine in the film as Rhonda from the DMV, but, again, just not memorable. Runway was polished, but not super creative.
- I’m not here for Ariel‘s attitude. I’m always a little put off by a self-identified “Instagram queen.” (In truth, I’m put off by an “Instagram” anything — queen, model, influencer, body-positivity icon, stylist, designer, whatever.) It wasn’t that she was a bad actress (she was), but it’s that she was so clearly in her own head. For someone who came in so determined to show us how she’s a real entertainer and not just a walking Facetune or whatever, she immediately crumbled. The outfit was OK on the runway, but the judges were right to call out the poor timing of the little flash. It just illustrates a rookie move and a poor command of an audience. Sorry!
- Mercedes‘ win did not feel like a triumph. It makes me wonder if we brought out the sad backstory this soon, and THAT was her big redemption number, maybe she’s not long for this cast. It didn’t feel emotional or like emotional climax I wanted. Her runway was beyond basic, and she couldn’t even commit to holding the bow and arrow. Come on, girl!
- Kahanna seems lovely, and she is very hot as a boy, but two week were two too many. Her entry look and runway last week were inexcusable. Had it not been for poor, sweet Soju, Kahanna would not have had the chance to re-enter the work room today. Her gymnastics are impressive, but they lacked musicality in the context of the lip sync. There’s talent there, she’s just not fully baked yet.
How would you rank the queens?