After all of last week’s OPALENCE, what are the queens going to do this week to top it on RuPaul’s Drag Race?
We join the queens after Kahanna’s elimination, when Mercedes saved herself with a lip sync that showed she wasn’t quite ready to go home, but as Vanjie tells us, she needs to step up her game because she’s “a little introverted” and her looks aren’t that strong. She’s right.
The queens congratulate Yvie and Scarlet for their wins and Nina says she should have won and fears she’s starting to fade away. She is also right. Ariel says she thought she was going to kill the challenge and admits she didn’t. Silky says that Ariel, a “social media girl” is “one-note” and can’t hold her own against real entertainers. It seems the battle lines are being drawn.
The next day, Ru enters the work room and takes the queens in the wayback machine to 1990, when Madonna kicked off her Blond Ambition tour, “Groove is in the Heart” and “Black Velvet” were topping the charts and girl group Seduction was a thing. Yes, in this week’s challenge, the queens have to do whatever it takes to sweet talk their way backstage to meet Michelle Visage and her bandmates – and they only have 15 minutes to achieve their “all-access, VIP looks.” I could have probably watched a whole episode of just this challenge because, 1. I love quick drag and 2. I think some of the queens’ characters would have great backstories.
Brooke Lynn kicks things off (looking better in 15 minutes than I do after 45 minutes of getting ready, but that’s a story for another time) giving us “Great White North” realness. Her hockey-playing honey doesn’t impress. Speaking of Honey, her twerk skills (or lack thereof) also don’t get her through the door. Plastique’s dim bulb gets a giggle and Mercedes once again has problems communicating, but this time it’s on purpose…right? Vanjie, when asked to name three Seduction songs, said “Seduction Seduct and Selectivity.” (I couldn’t name three songs either, girl.) After a few quick takes from Scarlet, A’keria and Shuga, Honey gets Ru laughing by shaking her butt and showing off her “good” rabbit fur coat. Ariel attempts a British accent (and hilariously mentions “tea and crimpets”) and a pregnant Yvie wants Michelle to sign her baby. Nina apparently borrowed Rami Malek’s Bohemian Rhapsody teeth to play a super nerdy fan who claims Michelle is her mama and Silky is…Silky, almost knocking the set wall down to gain access.
After the too-short challenge, Ru deems Ra’jah and Nina the winners and introduces this week’s maxi challenge. The queens are putting together “She-vangelical talk shows” devoted to divine divas. The “live” shows feature conversions and hymns of praise. (Yes, this is yet another acting challenge. Wheat, chaff, you know the rest.) Nina and Ra’jah pick their teams.
Team Nina: Vanjie, Yvie, Silky, Brooke Lynn, Ariel, Mercedes (obviously the last one picked)
Team Ra’jah: Honey, Scarlet, Shuga, A’keria, Plastique
Nina is very excited about this challenge and hopes to be as memorable as Latrice was in hers (where she memorably uttered “Get those nuts away from my face.”) She and her team agree to worship Britney Spears and go about casting the roles. Silky says she wants to sing and Ariel suggests they sing together, which gets Silky’s goat, especially because Ariel was so vocal about Silky’s tendency to be loud and extra last week. Ariel just wants to build a bride between them and move forward. Nina and Brooke Lynn are the hosts Vanjie is the converter and Mercedes and Yvie are the non-believers. Everybody is understandably worried about Mercedes after last week’s challenge.
Over on Team Ra’jah, things already seem to be not going quite as well. There’s no consensus on a diva, with Dolly, Diana, Patti and Whitney all being mentioned (Whitney was taken out of consideration because she was “in a bad place” so many times.) Shuga mentions Mariah Carey and they all agree on her because they all know “a little bit” about her (remember this, it will come into play very soon.) Scarlet and Shuga are the hosts, Plastique is the converter and Honey and Ra’jah take on the musical duties, something Honey is confident will give her the opportunity to showcase her talents. As the group talk, they do notice that they really don’t know much about Mariah. As they try to name some of her songs, Shuga says “Emotions” which prompts Ra’jah to start singing “So Emotional.” Umm…that’s a Whitney song. I smell trouble here.
Ru comes in to check on the teams’ progress. In a she-larious pep talk, he tells Team Nina that the key to success is to find a rhythm and just “do you.” After delivering his inspirational sermon to Britney’s congregation, Ru heads over to see Team Ra’jah. Ru was excited about their selection, and Honey assured him that she was the diva they collectively knew the most about. Ru quizzed them on some basic Mariah trivia (like the name she gave her fans) and they failed. Ru says they need to put together something that truly converts non-believers to Mariah-ism and then says he’s giving them all of his good lines. Despite being frightened by Ru’s words, they decide to stick with Mariah. Girls, you in danger.
Team Nina heads to the set and Ross again takes on directing duty. He reminds the queens that they need to preach the good word of Britney and that the show is live, so there are no retakes. And, with that, the It’s Britney, Bitch Network (IBBN) is on the air with the “Gimme More Power Hour of Prayer.” Nina in huge hair and a Southern accent that had me craving sweet tea, was the perfect host. Brooke Lynn was good too, although she threw in references to not one, but two songs by Christina Aguilera in her opening monologue. (For shame!) They then promote the “Leave Britney Alone” fund, which provides frappuccinos and car seats to our southern fried diva.
In the second segment, Vanjie, in a pink suit and a big blonde wig, chewed up the scenery in the most delicious way. In an introduction packed with Brit references (even bringing up the time she used a gas station bathroom sans shoes) and hair whips, she was killing it. She brought out “chicken heads” Yvie and Mercedes to convert them. Yvie gave us full-on Adore Delano and, after her “Britney scalping” and a generous does of Stronger perfume, emerged a Brit-loving blond bombshell. Vanjie then thanked herself, which cracked Nina up. Mercedes had best thank her lucky stars she made it on this team this week, as she once again proved that acting isn’t her forte (and she was wearing flats! That’s the biggest sin committed on this episode.)
Ariel and Silky were able to put aside their differences and put together an entertaining musical segment (Ariel was particularly proud she remembered all of the words.) The team did kind of slay.
Team Ra’jah are up next, with their talk show, “When You Believe.” Scarlet and Shuga struggle slightly with their opening segments (lots of card reading and awkward pauses.) Ross does not look nearly as amused. Plastique, wearing a butterfly covered wig, kept reverting to a deep, demonic voice (which Honey pointed out was “not a good choice”) as she converted Ariana Grande fan A’keria to the church of Mariah. A’keria’s non-believer said she gave Mariah a chance by watching her movie, Sparkle. No one clocked her for mixing up Sparkle with Mariah’s “classic” Glitter? Really? Someone really needs to educate these children. Sigh. Scarlet shimmies in her seat for what seems like the millionth time, and then it’s time for the Honey and Ra’jah musical (and I use that term lightly) segment. Ra’jah promises to “turn the party out” but the pair fumble thorough their performance, which, as Randy Jackson used to say, was a little pitchy, forgetting the words more than once. How. Awkward. Their show (mercifully) ended, and I ended up looking as perplexed as Ross, who advises the queens to “bring it on the runway.”
Elimination day is here and Shuga is nervous for her team. Not so much Honey, who came to the realization that he might have been having a “Milk moment” when she thought she slayed, but the finished product provided a different picture. A’keria noticed that Vanjie and Brooke Lynn were engaged in a little “cuddle bunny type of stuff.” Could there (finally) be a Drag Race romance on the horizon?
We also learn in the work room that Mercedes does not want to talk about religion, so don’t ask, not even you, Drag Race producers. Yvie paints her entire body pink. Yes, her entire body, including her “anteater” (thanks, Vanjie.)
It’s time to bring it to the runway and Ru (as always) looks stunning in a green gown. She introduces Michelle, Ross and this week’s guest judges, SL fave Troye Sivan and Guillermo Diaz from Scandal (also winner of the “Guest judge molested by Silky this week” award…see Untucked.) The category is fringe and the dolls deliver some lewks.
Honey – Upon seeing her long black gown with wide fringe strips, Michelle exclaimed “my VHS exploded!” That’s better than how I was going to describe it.
Scarlet was giving me a little Marilyn in Bus Stop, but all in white (she even had fringe on her fingernails…that’s dedication)
Shuga gave a nod to her “native heritage” with an American Indian-themed leotard
Plastique looked dazzling in silver fringe and a high ponytail
A’keria described her look as the “goddess of love, body and beauty”
Ra’jah was in a red fringed leotard with thigh high red glittery “get em’ girl” boots
Nina gave us a “fun, fanciful” fringed dress with a mushroom top
Brooke Lynn went hippie, or as she put it, “Coachella meets Woodstock” with a gown embellished with daisies
Vanjie worked 70s-era Cher hair and a barely-there red fringed bodysuit
Yvie delivered pink jellyfish realness. I still don’t know why she had to paint her junk pink for this.
Mercedes was in a black bodysuit with camouflage accents and fluorescent yellow fringe (and matching fringed hat)
Arial worked holographic sequined fringe and huge purple hair
Silky wore a dress from “Bob Mackie’s Cookie Monster collection” (thanks, Ross)
Coming as no surprise to anyone, Ru declares Team Nina the winner and Nina gets her first mainstage victory. Trying out nine times is finally starting to pay off for my fellow theater kid. Congrats, Nina. The IBBN crew is safe. The same can’t be said for Team Ra’jah.
During the judges’ critiques, Scarlet is complemented for her runway look, but Guillermo thought she need to pay more homage to Mariah in the challenge. Troy said he felt the whole team looked “panicked.” Ru noted that all of the Mariah knowledge he shared with the team made it to the performance, and that was about it. Shuga was also praised for her runway but got criticism for her pacing during the challenge. Ross told Plastique her demonic turn in the challenge just didn’t work. Plastique went on to claim that she has only been aware of “pop culture” for a few years. This, kids, is your “excuse of the week”. Guillermo loved A’keria’s “couture Carol Burnett” look but Ross think she needed more set up for her challenge performance. Troy told Honey that he wanted to wear her runway look “to brunch or something like that” but all agreed the musical segment of her challenge fell flat. Michelle clocked Ra’jah for her obvious, watered down leotard. Ross said the teamwork wasn’t there and they didn’t have a clear vision.
Ru is the Grinch of the runway, describing Team Ra’jah’s performance in three words: “Stink. Stank. Stunk.” When asked who was responsible for the disastrous challenge, they all refused to throw anyone under the bus and felt their failure was a collaborative effort. (You can tell it’s early in the season, can’t you?)
After more deliberation by the judges, where Shuga was deemed the best of the worst, Ru adds another chapter to the book of Drag Race her-story by declaring that all six of the losing queens must lip sync for their lives. Another diva, Jennifer Lopez, provides the soundtrack with a remix of her hit ‘Waiting for Tonight.” If you had a hard time trying to watch two queens duke it out on the runway, keeping track of six queens is just as much of a trainwreck as you’d think it would be. Scarlet had a wig reveal and Honey awkwardly leapt off the stage, losing a shoe in the process. I can’t really figure out exactly what Ru was thinking when they cut to her during this, but she sure wasn’t amused.
Since we started this season with more queens than usual, and since there were six up for elimination, I kind of thought a double elimination was in the cards, with Honey and Ra’jah heading home. I was half right, Ru decided to send Honey packing (although I still think Ra’jah would have been sent home before Honey’s chaotic lip sync.) Our legacy girls are starting to thin out, aren’t they? Next week, it’s a singing AND acting challenge, as the queens hit the stage in “Trump: The Rusical”! This ought to be something. See you next week!