Things start off on a solemn note because this most recent elimination is forcing people to reevaluate their prospects. I doubt that anyone ever viewed Coco as real competition, but Tatianna came in hot that first week, and her dismissal proves that even a strong contender can be sent packing for one botched challenge. The saving grace in this situation: THE RULES. No one likes to give a sister the chop, but Katya and Alaska manage to sleep at night by reminding themselves that their selection was based entirely on what the judges said. It’s a deflection that allows everyone to keep their sanity. Except, of course, for Alyssa, who has already lost hers. And while her antics might not be to some people’s liking, rest assured that I would personally smother Phi Phi to death in her sleep in exchange for one more episode of Alyssa’s Secret.
After the credits, it’s a new day in the workroom, and the revelation that Katya hates that part of the show as much as I do only enables my fantasy that one day she and I will be best friends. Phi Phi continues trying to read Alyssa because she still hasn’t accepted the Goddess Edwards into her heart like the rest of the queens. Together, they chant “BEAST” and giggle like middle schoolers at a sleepover, not even bothering to respond to the blue-haired gollum’s taunts because nothing she says could possibly matter while they are in the presence of true, unadultered, witless excellence.
Speaking of which, in walks Ru. Since the network won’t give her another 90-minute time slot, she blows past the mini-challenge and skips straight to the main event: the girls will be lip syncing to a long-form musical number, performing as (and about) great women in history. It’s an assignment that immediately worries Katya, given her plane crash of a showing last time she tried this type of gig. Luckily, no one remembers anything about her season except how completely delightful she is. I’ve blocked that whole debacle out so thoroughly that when they show clips from her first lap on the show, it’s like new footage to me. And I recapped those episodes! But I’ll never forget that Phi Phi referred to “gee eye effs” in her talking heads segment this week, and I’ll never forgive her for it, either. Even in the midst of a raging debate over correct pronunciation, she manages to find a new way to piss everyone off.
As usual, the show carts out some tepid rehearsal footage and tries to make us believe that anyone who didn’t nail the choreography on the first try is destined to fall off a cliff into a pit of burning snakes. Sorry, editors, but I’m not at all impressed that you found clips of people not knowing the dance steps. Neither is it shocking that they caught Phi Phi trying to sabotage others. (The only surprise, really, is that she thinks it will work. It must suck to be the least stable, the meanest, and the dumbest.) Of course, back at the make-up table the next day, she’s suddenly virulently anti-bullying. Because she’s the real victim here. How awful that she experienced social consequences for being a horrible shitlord! At least she has this chance to pave herself a road to redemption one backhanded comment at a time. Like, girl, you don’t need to remind Ginger that her dress is massive. SHE’S FAT THAT’S JUST HOW BIG HER CLOTHES ARE.
In the Lip Sync Extravaganza, Alaska and Phi Phi both do completely serviceable jobs as Eve and Helen of Troy respectively. Detox manages to stand out performance-wise because it’s been a couple years since she’s shown us that jaw waggle on TV, so it seems fresh. (Giving me that not-so-fresh feeling: her “innovative” take on Marie Antoinette that Robbie Turner just did for Season 8’s neon runway.) Ginger’s horsing around is great, but Alyssa’s got more pizzazz than a whole warehouse full of bedazzled guns. Given what a drunken egret of a man she is, it’s easy to forget that she’s actually very good at what she does, even if “what she does” falls in a pretty narrow range. She’s a tough act to follow, but don’t cry for Roxxxy, Argentina: she holds her own. Katya, sadly, falters again, though I think most of the blame lies with the material. Princess Di is a beloved icon whose tragic death we all remember. It’d be like assigning everyone New York landmarks to sing about, and then asking Katya to close the show with a haiku about the Twin Towers.
The runway theme provides everyone with great insight into how bleak the future of a drag queen really is. (You can’t exactly make enough to save for retirement, so your options are basically to lip sync into your 80s, starve, or die young.) Continuing her streak of outstanding looks, Detox locks in one of the top spots with her silver body paint moment. Alyssa takes the other win in spite of her confusing creation, which holds your attention in a Two Girls, One Cup sort of way. I think Katya’s look represents the kind of drag she would be doing in the future, but the judges aren’t here for it, so she’s lined up on the chopping block next to Ginger Minj, whose outfit is so generically bad that my attempts at a punchline just roll right off it.
Backstage during deliberation, the only real drama comes from everyone’s worry that their carefully constructed game rules won’t be followed. It’s not that Alyssa wants to fuck with the system: it’s that her brain works differently from everyone else’s. She has some unique form of glittery autism. “The Future of Drag” is being incoherently hilarious at a party, falling into a split, and then telling everyone you have Edwards’ Syndrome. Though the consensus seems to be that Katya should go home, some question remains as to whether she will.
Detox asserts before the lip sync that she’s confident she’ll win, but her assurance is misplaced. See, she pretty much has only one gimmick with that lip quiver, and she used it up in the challenge. Her competitor, on the other hand, is a whole season’s worth of pageants condensed into human form. Alyssa’s costume change isn’t a weakness: it’s a chance for her to give you another look. She brings the fire-in-the-eyes, legs-in-the-air, the-power-of-Christ-compels-you DRAMA that the judges crave, and her victory is sweet. Even sweeter: her understanding that Katya is a more dynamic contestant than Ginger. Trimming the Minj might not be the more popular option, but it’s for sure the more interesting one.
(Speaking of interesting: when Ginger says that she and Alyssa do “kind of the same thing,” what thing is she talking about, exactly? Having teeth? Breathing oxygen? Their Venn diagrams have like six molecules of overlap.)
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