Order in the court because the time has come to strut back into the pink workroom with the walls made out of fabric and it’s time to sit down and talk about what goes on in the wild and wonderful world of drag. Specifically in the world of Drag Race, a world where even when the show is over and everything is filmed, we still get so much drama from the cast that it’s honestly amazing. Hell, isn’t the season 3 cast due to create some drama now? Anyway, let’s get into it and go through the major elements of the show in this new structure of recap (Let’s see how long I keep this structure up)
Enter The Werkroom
Everyone comes back in after Gia’s elimination and you can tell that there are so many different kinds of reactions, from the simple reaction of Monique being over it all to Manila trying to show that there was a lot more to this situation. I do find it interesting that when we hear from Monique in the workroom, they never actually show her speaking so I’m going to guess she said that bit about wishing Gia the best at a very different time… just a hunch I have.
They then show who Trinity picked and we all knew that Gia was going home if Trinity got to pick. It feels fair that everyone was going to pick Gia to go, but I do really wish we’d get to an episode where both queens pick someone different because otherwise, the judges may as well pick. We also might end up getting that if Manila’s last words are any hint. I just want more moments like we got in All Stars 2 where we saw a few occasions where the top two picked different people and it allowed the queen who was still in the competition a chance to prove themselves. I do really hope we can get to another moment like that soon because I’m not a fan of predictability in All Star eliminations.
Once again when we get into the episode proper and RuPaul walks in, we don’t have a mini challenge. I have now given up hope that we’re going to get another one. We had the reading challenge in week one and then… that’s it. That’s all we’ve gotten for mini challenges which are usually the fun frivolous moments that let people pick teams or just do something silly. Does VH1 just not like extra content now? Is that it? Because I’m old enough to remember when every episode had a mini challenge, now they’re rare as Season 1 cast member’s teeth!
The main challenge has our girls breaking up into small teams to appear in a court show hosted by Michelle Visage, a show called Jersey Justice meaning this is a gigantic ad lib challenge that the queens are going to need to deal with. The teams are Latrice, Monet & Monique handling the case “How About Them Cakes?”, Naomi & Manila handling the case “You Made Me Look Like A Bitch, Bitch!” and finally Trinity & Valentina handle the case “I’ve Been Snookered By Snooki”. It’s a potentially fun idea that could allow the queens to really show off their comedic talents and some of these queens are naturally funny so as long as no one steps on anyone else’s jokes, we should be OK.
The show that they’re going to be on is so obviously a People’s Court knockoff and we see that the second we get onto the set, down to the voice over and the text overlay. I’m a tiny bit stunned it wasn’t a Judge Judy knockoff because we know how much RuPaul loves that show. I’m also stunned that this exact main challenge wasn’t held in reserve for when they inevitably get Judy as a guest judge but that’s neither here nor there. This is the kind of thing that this show does wonderfully, takes a piece of pop culture and tweaks it just enough that it becomes ridiculous. Now, onto each of the girls and how they did in this challenge.
Manila & Naomi
Manila created one of the greatest cartoon characters to ever appear on this show. From the minute she walked in she was an over the top caricature of a Jersey girl and just when you think it can’t get better, she reveals the most elaborate poodle wig that you’ve ever seen. It’s glorious watching her constantly deliver comedic highlight after comedic highlight that all crescendos with her literally barking like a poodle. The fact that Michelle didn’t stand up from behind the bench and say “That’s the winner, episode over” is amazing to me.
Naomi was such a character from the jump and if she had been paired up with anyone else, maybe she would’ve been the star. Her bit about her name was hilarious and her slow reveal of the kind of salon she owns was perfect… but, you’re in a room with Manila Luzon barking like a poodle so she’s not even close to that. It’s a great performance but no way is it up to Manila’s level.
Latrice, Monique & Monet
Latrice was… there. She was there. She was physically there on screen and made mouth sounds and expressions but none of them were laugh out loud funny. It’s honestly shocking to say this because Latrice is such a powerful presence but there were moments when I just forgot she was there. She basically let Monique and Monet handle everything and when she was literally being asked questions by Michelle, there were no jokes anywhere to be found.
Monique saved the entire bit, her performance was the kind of over the top comedic gold that I expected to get out of this concept. Her dramatic description of the case was amazing, especially her indignation at the cake having white people on the cake or her raising her hand to “Objectify!” Every single expression she pulls is iconic and hilarious.
Monet starts incredibly strong and bounces off everyone really well right up until she gets into the lengthy story about the playground in fourth grade. Once she gets into that, all momentum died. She never broke character and she bounced back with the exchange about being Mrs. Head Quarters but that sudden drop in the middle slowed everything down and it’s only because of Monique that the entire bit ended relatively strong
Trinity & Valentina
Trinity was really strong. Her look was hilarious, even if hers wasn’t as cartoonish as some of the other’s were but she brought it with a lot of great jokes and a very committed performance. I was giggling the entire time seeing what she did and she would’ve been my favourite… and then her scene partner turned up and it was all over.
Valentina came in several minutes late, half dressed and looking like garbage and absolutely destroyed everyone. She had a lot to prove because it was the team up performance episode that sent her home on her season, so now she’s not only proven she can lip sync but proved just how insanely funny she can be in an ad lib challenge. Every single thing she did was adorably hilarious.
I also want to give huge props to Michelle Visage who really helped each team get something out of the material. She not only was a really fun character to watch but she is basically why the worst of the three sketches ended in a laugh because she knew how to get something insane to happen. Oh, also, they had Stacy Layne Matthews obviously green screened in as the court stenographer and I’m very much here for that… if she’s not on AS5 after all this work, I’m not going to be happy.
Runway Top and Bottoms
The theme of this week’s runway is Swerves and Curves so everyone is going to be padded to the gods.
Manila Luzon came out with an outfit that looks like you’d wear it to the park to walk a very expensive poodle. Her dress made out of actual bed padding (a quilt) is a fun way to take on this idea. It’s really hard to say anything about a Manila Luzon look because it’s just so perfect. The proportions are right, the cut is right, the fabric is right, the details are right. It’s a wonderfully put together look that just works from the top of her head to the bows she slipped onto her heels. It’s gorgeous and fun to look at, but hard to talk about because it’s perfection (And it’s also a Chanel reference? Hi, I do not know my fashion references that well so that flies over my head)
Naomi Smalls coming out as a 50’s housewife with a burnt pie was a delightfully campy creation that looks like it was lifted right out of an I Love Lucy episode. Her curves are certainly a little more subtle and carefully thought out, but every little element of the look is perfect. The mascara tears on her cheeks are such a fun little touch to go along with the burnt parts of the dress. One look at a still image of this look and you instantly know what she’s trying to do and she sells it with her runway.
Trinity took the idea of swerves as literally as she could and ruffled everything. EVERY. THING. The swerves all along her outfit and through her hair are such an interesting way to handle it and I really liked what she did with the idea. I do kind of wish it wasn’t a body suit, I know she needs to show the tuck as part of the brand but it means there’s this weird break around her hips where the swerve idea stops for a second and it just makes me wish everything was covered in swerves. I still love the look though.
Valentina presents one of the most intelligent costumes by doing a deconstructed look that shows off just what an outfit looks like before its put together. It’s a very interesting way to present the padding, by actually showing the padding that’s underneath a dress when it’s being built. I really loved the idea behind this one and once that idea sinks in (because she says what she’s doing) it’s brilliant… my problem is that at the start there was no clue what she was doing. At the start she walks out without a wig and wrapped in a sheet and I just wish that she’d maybe sold the idea at the beginning. She wants to show us what’s under the drag? Walk out in a gown, make it a tear-away so you can reveal the actual look, then do the runway. It’s still a great idea and a great look; I just wish she sold it better
Monique leans into her iconic Brown Cow catchphrase and pads everything she possibly can in an over the top look that looks like it belongs in some kind of fever dream. There are so many curves and swerves that I can’t get enough, from the fish tail at the bottom to the shoulders that look like every shoulder pad from Dynasty got stolen to make the look. Her dress basically has a hidden Mickey in it; it’s amazing to look at. I just hope this is the last we see of the cow print, a few references to that works but there are other prints.
Latrice comes out in a beaded gown that looks absolutely gorgeous on her and fits her body beautifully and looks stunning as hell… but it’s a gown that we’ve seen before. It’s literally the second photo that you see of her if you Google her name in Google image search. Look, I’m not saying queens can’t reuse looks, you absolutely can and you should because this stuff is expensive as hell… but why not pick the red outfit from that same Google image search? If we’re reusing looks, add some more curves and swerves. It just hurts because Latrice is so good and can do so many amazing things, she’s easily one of my favorite queens ever and after so many interesting smart creative conceptual looks hit the runway, she comes out in a really pretty dress.
Monet does a beautiful reference to the infamous Kim Kardashian photo where she balanced a wine glass on her ass. It’s a very clever reference that gives her so much to work with, she recreates the look perfectly but putting that image in motion makes it hilarious. The bouncing martini glass on her ass alone can get a good solid giggle but to throw in the wine bottle throwing confetti everywhere is the capper on a wonderfully fun look.
After the critiques, the top two all stars are Monique and Manila… again. I can’t say that I’m stunned, it’s a perfectly appropriate top two that brought the laughs. The bottom two were Latrice Royale and Monet X Change and even though don’t really like that we have to choose between two of the most charming queens on the show, it’s also a bottom two that I understand considering the challenge but I hate it so much. Everyone clearly seems to hate it, no one more than Manila who basically can’t stop crying. This is the most painful elimination that we have ever seen because both queens are wonderful and I don’t want either of them to go home… and then Valentina does an entire bit about how she’s upset with the criticism that Monique shuts down quickly by pointing out that she’s safe and we end that quickly so we can get back to the emotion. It’s a genuinely powerful elimination discussion, it’s clear that Manila wants nothing more than to save Latrice and I understand it, meaning that the wild card in this is Monique. If Manila wins then we go into this knowing that Latrice will stay, but Monique could go either way so if Monique does better in the lip sync then we’re in for a moment.
Lip Sync For Your Life.
This week the girls lip sync to the iconic Elton John song The Bitch Is Back as performed by Tina Turner, which explains the outfits that the two queens chose for the performance since both queens decided to dress as Tina Turner. After Elton John gives them the standard warning to not fuck it up (Yes, Elton John sent a video message… he better be a judge on the UK Drag Race!) the song starts and it’s on.
Both queens come out of the gate strong, delivering fun energetic performances that really work for the number… and they both stay that way. Each one delivers something a little different. Manila is doing a lot more controlled work, getting a lot of good little jokes in there and meanwhile Monique is dancing like there is nothing else with her spins and twirls. Both of their performances are different but both of them are genuinely great. It’s neck and neck for the entire performance and there isn’t that one moment where someone pulls ahead, it’s a down to the wire performance that could go either way. So often with these lip syncs you can usually guess who’ll win because they’ll have a moment that stands out and pushes the needle in their direction. This doesn’t have that, it’s neck and neck and that only makes the tension in the room higher than ever.
Somehow, RuPaul makes a decision and that decision is Monique. I honestly do not know how she made that choice, I was expecting a “You both win” because both of them were great and produced one of the best lip syncs of the season but I guess that she wants to save that for later on. Monique does the very thing we knew that was going to happen this whole episode, the thing that every story point had built to… she sends Latrice home. It’s heartbreaking and you can see it almost makes Manila crumble on the stage. It’s a moment that, by the way the competition is going, is fair but it still hurts so much because Latrice finally got to come back and show everyone what she can do and we need that large warm bit of love in the season. Sure, they’re inevitably going to do a bring back a queen episode and I’m sure Latrice is going to be the one to do that (because, I mean, how could it not be her?) but until that time as always you should support her on tour, buy her merch and just remember that she is Latrice Motherfucking Royale and no one will ever take that title away from her.
Next week, we roast a bunny.
Manila: Just for the record, on Wikipedia, I won this episode
Written on the Chiron under Manila during the challenge: Suing Over Doggy-do
Trinity: Where are the jokes?
Michelle Visage: You kiss your mother with that fucking mouth?