I don’t think I’m alone on this but this week’s episode was just too good.
It was beyond expectations given a string of pretty subpar episodes. They haven’t been bad but they haven’t been firing on all fronts, lacking a heart or an excitement or general wow to make it a good episode of Drag Race. Then this episode comes along and is like “Remember me? I am the show and I can be good at all times.”
I’m going to try to be as succinct as possible but here are seven thoughts on this week’s episode, based on the seven contenders still in the competition.
Spoilers, obviously. Proceed with caution.
7. Ru Has Returned
A main reason why this episode was so great was that RuPaul was actually present. She was in almost the entire episode! She started off the episode with the ridiculous slapping mini-game that afforded her an interaction and improvisation with the queens that we have been sorely lacking for a few seasons now. You actually saw – And believed! – that there was a bond there instead of some sort of Tyra Banks situation where she is transmitted in and out. She then went on to offer very wise advice and critical analysis of character during the workroom review. This was the first time this season (because she didn’t really do it in Snatch Game) where we saw her workshopping with queens. You could see all gears turning! Particularly with The Vixen, we got to see that, yes, Ru does have some sage advice to give that is coming from the heart. The show has long wandered away from that – and from Ru – which is a reminder that she is the key to the show’s goodness when she isn’t trying to milk merch – not some dumbass newbs.
6. Slap Happy
I have to go back to this mini-challenge because it was just so fucking funny. I literally laughed out loud for each of the turns! It was also such an absurd challenge that you couldn’t help but love it. Getting slapped by Ru? Are you serious? If they can riff on this to create other challenges, they are mining gold. I don’t necessarily want to see this specific challenge redone (because it’ll get stale, like reading) but there’s something here to cater an activity to the talents of the queen.
5. Claws Getting Declawed
Another reason why this episode was so great was that it offered some really fucking catty moments and some really fucking lovey moments. This specifically centered around Vixen’s anger with Eureka and the eventual “Come to Jesus.” moment with Asia. That was just too sweet and legitimately brought a tear to my eye. That never happens on this show! This then happened again with Eureka and Monet, two moments that illustrated that these queens do indeed care for each other. The claw moments were uncomfortable and maddening though because everyone was trying to tell Vixen to focus on the game and not being mean to be mean. It was particularly striking when she was poking Eureka’s bee’s nest during rehearsal although, to be fair, she was right: Eureka was being a baby. Vixen just goes for the kneecaps. She’ll be great in a few years. Lil bb Vix needs to grow up – and listen to Asia!
4. Cher Is There
This Cher challenge had the real potential to fucking suck and, no, it did not suck. Even Asia’s bombing was charming! The musical challenges are always sensitive because not everyone can sing and, as we saw, literal singing and dancing is actually really fucking hard. What made this work was the subject material was so strong and the performances were just as strong, equally as kooky and stupid without being lowest common denominator. A moment like Monet’s “cultural appropriation” bit illustrated that the show is aware of its downfalls and can offer savvy commentary in simple ways, addressing problems like race through art instead of having [Insert Queen] addressing [Insert Societal Woe]. Everyone did well though! Even Vixen’s phone-in was good, particularly because her dancing was so sharp. I loved it all.
— RuPaul's Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) May 11, 2018
4.5. That first Sonny was…
Jin Yang from Silicon Valley.
3. Glittery Goodness
This runway. This runway! This was the first runway, in my opinion, where it actually felt like Drag Race. Every single outfit was good and it actually looked like mastercrafters were at work instead of people who got thrown bones to participate. I only have very minor critiques here: Cracker’s concept was cool but just did not make sense visually and, perhaps, could have been streamlined to be more effective since I didn’t “get” what was happening until she explained it which is never a good sign and Vixen’s paper dress was rad but I wish it were shorter, perhaps a mini-skirt something. Otherwise, Asia’s fucking killed me and Aquaria somehow predicted that this episode would air the same week as the Met Gala. What fucking synergy!
2. UGH. KAMERON???
The episode started off with the foreboding line from Kameron in confessional that, ““It’s a little surreal: I can’t believe I’ve been here as long as I have.” Agreed, girl. Because you are boring. I was convinced she was going to go home and it was thusly produced like that since she was bad at singing and unsure and overall kind of “Eh.” as she had been. This is why her win was surprising! She deserved it, yes, but her storyline wasn’t a phoenix situation but instead the sort of swan song befitting of someone who is going home. That she did not though. My issue with Kameron at this point though is that he’s failing up. His being so hot seems to have carried him behind the scenes and he is going to pull a Sasha Velour and somehow get into the top three by doing absolutelyfuckingnothing. Too little too late, in my opinion. She is not good! Don’t give her a pass.
1. Nix’d Vix.
First, I wanted both queens to stay because that lipsync was just so fucking fantastic and the song choice – Dee Lite’s “Groove Is In The Heart ” – was so wisely chosen. It was the perfect dessert for a fantastic feast of an episode. Vixen did indeed need to go home for many reasons but I was honestly bummed because I was hoping she would turn around her bitter fruits into some sort of delicious juice by the end of the season. Instead she dragged her feet out in anger – but slightly less mad. I was glad that she was in many ways redeemed before departing, having a moment to right the wrongs before she departed. Her performance wasn’t that bad though: she just had the unfortunate job of being the less good in a group of very goods. This was a nitpicking sort of week and her not firing a little slower on all cylinders saw her get docked. I’ll miss you, Vix! Thanks for the memories!
Next week ought to be fun since we’ll be visiting “Breastworld.” I cannot wait. I’m excited about this show again!
In keeping with this season, my stuff got all shaken up again.
Vanessa Vanjie Mateo
Kalorie Karbdashian Williams
Dusty Ray Bottoms
Blair St. Clair
The Vixen(Down one – and out. Gone too soon, kinda, but she’s going places.)
6. Kameron Micheals (Up one, as a formality. I’m going to reiterate what I said again and what I said last week because Kameron should not be here: “I swear to god if this mother fucker fails up, pulling a Sasha Velour top three and then takes it, I am never going to watch this show ever again.”)
5. Aquaria (Down one. I don’t know what to do with this one either because she is great and slow burning but I don’t think is top three.)
4. Miz Cracker (Down two. The opposite of Aquaria, Cracker came on so strong but has so fucking fizzled. I’m over her but I do very much love her.)
3. Asia O’Hara (Up two. I would have thrown Asia into the top spot had she not been on the bottom. She did so well this week and looked so good. Cher brought her down and I’m hoping next week she can rise higher.)
2. Monet X Change (Maintained. If it weren’t for that fucking tape! Monet: you know better!)
1. Eureka O’Hara (Maintained. She didn’t own it this week but she was far from sinking. At this point, Eureka just needs a little more polish – but she is inches away.)
What’d you think? Did you love this week as much as I did? I hope so.