Like members of an extremely small religious order, the contestants have thus far held strictly to the elimination commandments that they made up the first day. Clinging to the wisdom of the mighty judges has brought them comfort in times of chaos. By sending Ginger home, however, Alyssa has forced everyone to question the validity of their tribe’s ways. If stuffing live eels into that tree stump doesn’t control the weather, does that mean there is no Ten-Legged Low-Carb Goddess smiling down on us? Has it all been a lie? The wayward zealots struggle to make meaning of the Heretic Edwards’ actions. Detox, for her part, assures the others that she would have done the good and pure thing and sent Katya home; the chastened Katya can only nod. Sensing the opportunity to hear her own voice, Acolyte O’Hara dives in to speak at length about fairness. Surely, if the Holy Many-Limbed Lady of Gluten Avoidance existed, she would intervene to assist her loudest daughter by shutting her the fuck up. Seriously, Phi Phi needs to get out of her own way. Her efforts at redeeming herself are like a sex offender trying to win over his neighbors by showing them how inoffensive his dick is.
After a restful night’s sleep (when the souls of the true believers are taken to the Next Place and cradled in Her unbreaded bosom), the cultists return to find a note written by the producers and signed by Ginger that, if you can believe it, reignites the fairness argument! Phi Phi’s inner Likeability Monster begins to stir, but Alyssa and Katya give zero fucks and thus do not feed the beast. With the threat of actual drama removed, RuPaul has no choice but to enter the workroom and give the girls their assignment for the week. As usual, she continues to refer to the maxi challenge even though we seem to have done away with mini challenges altogether; regardless, the task today will be to figure out how close one can get to recreating copyrighted movies without a lawsuit being filed.
Alyssa immediately latches onto Alaska, either because she is brilliant or because she reflexively grabbed the first person she looked at. It’s sometimes impossible to tell whether she is succeeding intentionally or in some sort of thoughtless Zen flow. Either way, the pair will bait the Warner Bros. legal team with a Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? follow-up. Picking from the best of the rest, Katya latches onto Detox to taunt MGM with their Thelma and Louise sequel (though Universal could probably also claim that they ripped off the plot of Death Becomes Her for this one). Last and least, Phi Phi and Roxxxy will wave their red flag at the United Artists crew as they create the next Showgirls, though TRUE fans know that there’s already a second entry in the story: Showgirls 2: Penny’s From Heaven (I’m sadly not even making that up).
Look, we all know how the next segment is going to go. First, two people have to swap parts, because that happens LITERALLY EVERY TIME there is an acting challenge (Phi Phi and Roxxxy perform this season’s exchange). Next, someone from each pair has to struggle to remember their lines (which they were given earlier that day, mind you), while juxtaposed against their partner’s better takes. Finally, the directors will do their jobs and offer direction to the actors, while shady noises play in the background. Sure, we’d all appreciate it if Todrick Hall could remain completely silent (and the editors at World of Wonder are striving for that ideal), but getting something wrong in rehearsal is inevitable. Nobody believes that Alaska gave perfect takes every time, and if you do, I’ve got a Bridge to Nowhere to sell you. (Timely political reference: nailed it.) The one unexpected moment in filming: Roxxxy pronouncing sash as “shaw” and immediately identifying it as “another sequence moment.” Phi Phi should see if she can offer some acting talent in exchange for some of her partner’s self-awareness. It’d be a win-win.
Since the runway theme is surprise outfit reveals, we have to skip the getting-ready montage. As a result, there are literally only 15 minutes of footage before RuPaul’s boss battle entrance, which has to set some kind of record. And yet here we already are: the tearaways are torn away, the screeners are screened, and the opinions are opined. Phi Phi gets neither overt love nor overt disdain for her prince-to-princess reveal. Her Nomi is a hit, though I think the praise is as forced as her performance; she nailed the look and didn’t completely bomb the jokes, but she would have been the weaker link next to anyone but Roxxxy. Speaking of whom: she may not be an actress, but when it comes to stacking outfits, Ms. Andrews is playing some next-level Jenga.
Her progression from good girl to Satan’s prom date earns tepid notice, but Katya delivers in the video segment. Detox is likewise a solid C as a fashion plate and a solid B as an actress, though we’re grading both of those tests on pretty steep curves. The highest highs and lowest lows come from the final team. In terms of adhering to the assignment, I question whether one could call Alaska’s offering two whole outfits; there’s no question, however, that her Lil’ Poundcake look is phenomenal and her Bette Davis realness deserves above-the-title billing. Alyssa, on the other hand, is no actress, and her Joan Crawford from the Snatch Game has aged about as well as the bottle of wine you opened two weeks ago and left on the counter. Still, when she unleashed her camera-covered cataclysm, the bar I was in exploded into gay holleration. It was the YAAAAS heard round the world.
Unfortunately, this segment was filmed many months ago, and not even the sassiest of screams can reach back through time. Alyssa thus lands in the bottom three, along with Roxxxy and Katya. (The judges should have made it explicit that they were putting one lady from each scene on the chopping block, though it still feels wrong since there was only a bottom two last week. And if Scruff and Grindr have taught me anything, it’s that we have enough bottoms.) Alaska, the only person to fully succeed at all aspects of this week’s episode, is obviously one of the lip syncers; she’ll face off against Phi Phi, who sighs with relief at the announcement as though this small victory could ever begin to satiate her endless, ravenous desire for approval.
Backstage, deliberation gets hairy because Alyssa is still pushing for cumulative scoring, while everyone else seems more married to the idea that each challenge should stand on its own. Shaking things up further, Phi Phi calls the tradition of one-on-ones into question, opting to make her decision without input from the gals in the danger zone. Will the Blessed Legsaplenty Celiac Queen rain retribution on our island of loyal manclowns? Praise be to She of the Five Butts; let us honor her with rice cakes and those weird noodles made out of mushroom protein.
No amount of religious fervor can protect us from the lip sync and its bloody aftermath, however. It’s a tight battle, too, but in the end, Phi Phi’s conventional take is no match for Alaska’s ability to break expectations while still exceeding them. But her win comes with a high price: she must make the unkindest cut and send Alyssa home. It’s weird to watch her try to be serious while speaking in that voice and painted like a possessed doll. She even cries about it. Or, at least, she sounds like she’s crying; her face doesn’t actually get wet. Maybe she’s an amazing actress. Maybe she had her tear ducts removed when she was having the rest of her face adjusted. Maybe her drag is so polished that she has learned to suppress her excretions in order to preserve her make-up. Maybe I think about this show too hard.
Anyway, if you thought this episode was over (I did), it’s not. We dive straight back into the workroom for the post-elimination discussion that usually starts the show. The crew inevitably veers back to the subject of fairness, and Phi Phi inevitably dives in to sabotage herself. (I’d say she’s her own worst enemy, but there’s currently a whole pile of people on Twitter vying for that title.) Her tirade about Alyssa is cut off, however, by the greatest reveal in all of television history. Out of nowhere, a light turns on behind the mirror, which we suddenly realize is actually two-way glass. On the other side sit the four eliminated contestants, who have been intently listening and serving ALL THE FACE. RuPaul will go down in history as the first celebrity to make a million people shit themselves simultaneously. Thursday can’t come soon enough.
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