Did anyone see this episode coming? Did anyone, on any Reddit, chat about a big “twist” that was coming to this season? Did anyone await a “goth” queen doing something wild?
I’m sure someone, somewhere, saw “this” coming but what happened in episode six was this season’s “I’d Like To Keep It On” moment. It was shocking and kind of fucked up, a sort of gay bandaid being ripped off by everyone’s problematic fave, one that both boosts and tarnishes an entire season – If not career! – of work.
Anyway. Let’s digest this episode that I got not one, not two, but three messages about.
Spoilers, obviously. Proceed with caution.
5. Receipts Upon Us.
The most satisfying and unexpected part of the episode was the opening first act plus in which the dead queens returned to show their eliminators receipts. It was a delicious confrontational bit, where everyone came for everyone in a very, very great way: Thorgy went in on Shangela, demanding she know why she was sent home given that there was no valid explanation; Morgan came for Ben, exposing a vacant, unintentional two-facedness that Ben doesn’t know she leads with; Milk came for Kennedy only for Kennedy to come for Milk, resulting in Milky, delicious tears of truth; Aja told Bebe that she sucks for not giving her credit for dressmaking and Bebe’s reaction was typical gay feminine energy version of James Earl Jones; and, beautifully, Chi Chi sat there and was like “What am I doing here? I deserved to go home.” This bitch fest set the episode off on a wonderful, if not somewhat predictable, foot of designed dramatics since Ben waddled away from the queenly tabled addled and goth, living up to his interview look that he’s an emo Jughead. Unfortunately for her, she never recovered.
4. “You Fuck With me, You’re Stuck With Me.”
Before I dissect the challenge at all, let’s skip to the pre-runway/performance workroom that was offered as a wonderful counterbalance to the receipts session. You had Milk and Kennedy make peace in a very sweet, good way, one that showed us that pre-show time is a time for drama and peace instead of gay history (AHEM, SEASON NINE.). The Milk/Kennedy bit fed nicely into what we all were expecting: Ben confronting Morgan because the drama between them didn’t sit right. The two have a sweet moment and you can see gears turning in Ben’s head, that Morgan is good and that they’re now a new form of sisterhood that the show had waited to revealed because of Morgan’s tendency to zoom – and stay – on reality star realness. It was at this moment that you knew something was up. The peace and mindfulness charged other queens to do their best with the air clear but, for Ben, she had some sort of awakening. This was when things got suspect, when you knew she was going to do something weird and “selfless” on Morgan’s behalf. This was when Bobby and I turned to each other and squinted, knowing Morgan would return if Ben won – but not who would go home.
— Mike T (@majtague) March 2, 2018
3. This Is How You Do A Group Challenge
To me, this was the real heart of the episode: a stellar challenge. This was a triple challenge in that you had to design a character, write a rap, and sing and dance it as a group. It was quite good! And, really, it was a backhanded Spice Girl sendup which I’m shocked it took nearly thirteen seasons to hit. The episode skated evenly edging the teams against each other, with the team of dead queens appearing to have the upperhand. Morgan was under produced and had little — but necessary, as a formality — screen time while Ben was produced to look like she would fail a la a bad rehearsal with not-Lucian Piane, Adam Lambert. Fail she did not! Both teams did super, super well and, in my opinion, was the dead girl team’s win. They were more cohesive and, save for Chi Chi, did something fun. The old queens were good but not as cohesive or thought out, as Shangela and Kennedy’s “What queen??” proved. This, really, is the big gripe: why did the non-sent-home queens win? There was little explanation for a pretty evenly matched performance. Sure, Bebe’s Eurafrican scat session was inspired but her delightful oddity did not tip the scale and, if it did, there was no real emphasis on why this team won over the other since all we got were individual reviews. Which is all to say…
This used to happen so much but you could feel the producer’s breath and see their fingerprints everywhere in this episode, specifically around Ben. When Ben was crowned top girl with Bebe, the moment she stepped into the workroom I had a feeling she was going to pull some stunt, self-selecting in a way that is a win-win for everyone. This is why the team win felt so odd: was it crafted that way to see how Ben would react? Had Ben expressed wanting to go and the producers played it up, to have her exit be a bigger boom than Adore’s exit last season? The lipsync was also not Ben’s best: they just wanted to gag the queens and us, magnifying this twist in a bigger way than necessary. It was great, don’t get me wrong, but the puppet strings were somewhat apparent.
1. St. Ben De La Creme, The Martyr Of Reality Television
Can you believe her? Like. In my notes, I wrote, “Jesus Christ TV Superstar” because there was this air of such haughtiness that really irked me. Yeah, sure: so good of her but also what the fuck? To turn down a clear shot at $100K to “be nice”? Girl, go home. She blew up the competition in a way that now leaves it as anyone’s game — in a not-great way. Remember when Valentina left, essentially at her own hands? The season kind of fizzled after since the star left the solar system. Ben isn’t this season’s star but there was a sort of shadow that she cast over the cast. With that removed? No one is going to rise to the level of talent they need to rise to. None of the currently running queens have a track record within this season that proves they are worthy of the title. That’s why Ben’s exit was a shock to the show’s detriment: people who were coasting are going to upgrade their coasting to a sort of elevated “Eh.” Maybe Morgan will pave a new way but, honey, she is a tired variety of reality star and that will make subsequent episodes exhausting. And about Morgan: did Ben make the right choice? I really wanted Thorgy to come back (Duh.) but it was so clearly between Milk and Aja with Morgan forced in because of the “history.” Who would have been best to have return? Either of them, really, but I actually would have been intrigued to have seen Milk return. She was one of the more interesting to watch in the challenge and would intrigue on the runway. A brat, sure, but somewhat fun. With Morgan, we’re going to get exactly what we have been getting. I will tell you that she is a phenomenal live queen, as I’ve seen her many times locally. But on the show? She sucks. I don’t think Ben’s exit or her return will do the rest of the season’s body good. That is my hot take.
What an exciting episode that I fear is the end of a short era.
Onward to the ranking, which got way fucked up.
Thorgy Thor(She got no love this episode. RUDE.)
Milk(Performed better than expected but I think she knew she didn’t have a chance.)
Chi Chi(She is so lovely and so nicely was like, “I don’t want to be this season’s Roxxy Andrews.”)
Aja(She did well! But also felt underrepresented in the episode.)
Ben De La Creme(Down four – and out. Said my peace but this was a dumb career move. You do you, I guess, Ben.)
5. & 4. Morgan McMichaels & Kennedy Davenport (Tied – up six & maintained. These two are going to skirt out of the show. Kennedy, while I love her, is on borrowed time. Morgan isn’t going to wow and, if she’s not out next episode, she will be out shortly thereafter.)
3. Bebe Zahara Benet (Up two. She’s growing on me! No longer a spy, sure, but she won’t win. If she does, it’s only because Ru is clearly playing favorites.)
2. Shangela (Down one. She’s been sagging. It’s mostly her fashion, I think, but a good queen is not just a performer. Shangela is the total package but said package got beat up en route.)
1. Trixie Mattel (Up two. I last minute swapped Shangi and Trixie only because Trixie is slow burning to a win. She has gotten better and would fill Ben’s “I’m not as great as I am!” card but her downfall is how shitty her lipsyncs are. We shall see. I don’t really care who wins at this point but this season sure made a very roundabout way of giving the obvious fan winner – Trixie – her title.)
Your thoughts? Tell me!