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Nine Thoughts About RuPaul’s Drag Race: Season Eight, Episode Four

The tension of the RuPaul mid-season slump is killing me because we’re on the edge of some exciting plays between characters but instead are getting the pre-cum bubble of tension before anything bursts into some delicious television. Yet: we’re still in some fairly good territory. These are nine thoughts for the nine queens who competed in this episode!

As always, spoilers ahead. Catch up on previous recapping of this season here.

9. The challenge groups naturally self-selected themselves in a very interesting way.
We had the BFFS—Kim, Not Jinkx, Naomi—and the NYC Queens—Bob, Acid, Thorgs—and the etc. mutant grab bag of Chi Chi, Derrick, and Bye Nayleesha. First: the BFFs were sweet and cute and fascinating because who knew the fashionable Kim and Naomi would be buds with Not Jinkx? The real Jinkx would not have been friends with them but, again, these are different and times and different queens who want to be nice, which is cute because it’s a reality TV show. Spill the tea! The NYC team is a powerhouse with mixed voltages that we’ll touch on later but a natural dividing. The last group? A metaphor for this season: the superhuman, super strong and lovely (Chi Chi) are being forced to commune with the basic (Derrick) while coping with lots of unnecessary added in ass fat (Bye Nayleesha). Also well done for having Ru actually announce the runway look at the top of the show, therefore earning Chi Chi’s storyline. More on this later.

8. That room with the tree where people talk or something returned for a second time!
The Forced Into The Shade Tree, right? It’s an Interesting concept but I’m still not convinced it’s a necessary tool since it was absent last week and, this week, Chi Chi’s private admission felt weird and canned. It’s like social networks Path or Ello or Peach, two years after their big break: it’s a vacuum for people to talk where no one cares to listen.

7. The Bob vs. Thorgy drama was an empty bone.
The inter-NYC fighting between Bob and Thorgs was a cheap attempt at drama. Sensationalized? Kind of. Manipulated editing aided by willing talent to dish in interview as a means to serve a storyline? Absolutely. Instead of Thorgs merely annoying Bob, it was spun into vacant hate. You’ll notice Bob is never heated with Thorgy because she is a very mature adult who has no room to “get excited” and cause drama. It’s purely giggly annoyance that was made to feel like a battle. The same can be said for both Bob’s tiff with Lucien and Thorgs’ beef with Bob: Bob’s gripes with Lucien were 100% relatable and understandable and Lucien was crafted to look so high and mighty and smart when his answers (Lorde???) were fairly flat and not useful; the Thorgs drama was just Thorgs talking, likely including Bob in the conversation, making honest jabs about how she feels like Susan Lucci. (Also: wasn’t it really weird and uncomfortable when Michelle commented that Bob’s aesthetic was “Rachet Drag”? That felt mildly offensive from someone who knows better.)

6. Derrick: you are not Courtney Act.
He is no one. He is sad. He needs to go home, wipe the shit off his ass, and cry into a mirror.

5. Rest in peace, Pit Crew. You’re half missed…?
Where has the Pit Crew been this season? Yes, playing instruments and wheeling things in but they feel cut out in an odd way, reduced to lesser characters that were once built up and buzzed about. Are they actually extraneous and window dressing now or are they just being cast as such? Why have a Pit Crew if you don’t get that tension between queens and men hoping to grope? Or are they a product of the show clearly needing more time to cover its many moving parts since they were the first thing to go…? But, really, they serve no purpose outside of naked production assistants.

4. This was a fun challenge!
Like last week, this was quite an inspired challenge and, overall, not terrible. Well done, challenge producers! There was room for people to falter because they wanted to show off (Derrick) and there was plenty of room for people to not actually have to sing (Naomi, Kim). It was fun, too. The NYC New Wave look and feel was so beyond perfect and the BFF Punk act was really well done. Did anyone else notice that Not Jinkx looked like a bizarro off-universe Violet Chachki? It was weird. Related: it was nice to see otherwise happy-sad fashion mops Naomi and Kim have out-of-character fun that still fit their aesthetics. The most surprising thing that, despite their poor performance, the etc. New Wave group didn’t do a terrible job and looked semi-cool (but not as cool as Chi Chi wanted them to look).

3. Debbie does quaaludes.
She was so out of it. It was like watching someone pour water on an already dripping painting of Debbie Harry.

2. Chi Chi is never not herself.
She is herself to a fault and I really, really appreciate that. Unlike the Bob and Thorgs storylines forced into our mouths, Chi Chi’s poor girl, “I gotta do me!” story building was excellently executed. You saw with Chi Chi that she can turn any rag into a rich and, despite a bad group, she will do herself and save herself and turn her bottomness out. She knew from the start of the episode that she would be on the bottom so she rightly prepared and set a warning alarm that she can and will and does do her shit. She’s not coasting and is playing a very interesting game. As long as she doesn’t go mid-season apathetic, not wanting to play anymore, she’ll be fine. She is the second coming of Tyra Sanchez that this show has been missing for seasons and seasons. If you still aren’t sold on Chi Chi, you need to get yourself to Untucked because, yet again, she revealed herself as the star with emotional breakdowns and being a wise ear to judge’s critique (which was brilliantly expanded upon this week in Untucked).

1. Didn’t I tell you the budget went up?
Blondie and “Call Me” this week? Gigi Hadid and Chanel Iman next week? The show has finally arrived.

Moving on to the breakdown, which is starting to get interesting.

12. Naysha Lopez (Like. Didn’t I say this last week? Bringing Naysha back was the biggest let down in relationship to story of all the seasons. It was built up and a huge opportunity but, nope, it was predictable—and her bouncing out was predictable. This could have been used much better with a former, better queen who could have elevated the competition. Oh well. Know to keep something better in your back pocket, Ru girl producers.)
11. Laila McQueen
10. Dax Exclamationpoint
9. Cynthia Lee Fontaine
8. Derrick Barry (Maintained. He has got to go.)
7. Naomi Smalls (Down one. Eh. I don’t hate her! She’s so pretty but she’s so, “I don’t want to just be pretty!” and then she is just pretty.)
6. Acid Betty (Down one. She’s good! I appreciate lots about her. She is just…predictable? She reminds me of molecular gastronomy: cool and inventive but full of nothing.)
5. Robbie Turner (Up two. He turned it out! When he isn’t whining, he’s fairly agreeable. He should never go beyond number five, though.)
4. Kim Chi (Maintained. She could drop more. She needs to listen to Naomi’s advice! She’s pretty wall dressing right now. Step it up in personality, Kimch.)
2. Thorgy Thor (Down one. Still love her! She only falls because the faux-drama was dumb.)
2. Bob The Drag Queen (Down one. Sames as Thorgs.)
1. Chi Chi DeVayne (Up one/two. She is the new Tyra. I’m telling you. If she can permanently block the ‘tude, she’s gold.)

What do we think? Do you guys like Derrick more than I do? Does anyone else feel like things were a little bloated in the drama department? Am I the only one in love with Chi Chi? Let a boy know.

Photo via.

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