The return to the workroom this week leaves everyone with a lightness in their step, as if they’ve just removed a fake pregnancy belly made of insecurity-fueled rage. When Alyssa says that the decision was “unanimous,” she isn’t just talking about the fact that she and Tatianna agreed: she means that everyone watching at home was frantically reaching for the White-Out to scrawl “Phi Phi” on the nearest tube of lipstick. And it worked! Just like The Craft taught us: if you and your friends all want the same thing at the same time, then your wish comes true. Unfortunate side effect: one of you might turn heel and make some villainous choices. Let’s hope none of our girls is susceptible to the draw of the Dark Side…
By the next day, though, no one seems to have gone ‘90s goth (not that I would challenge that shift from a fashion perspective). In fact, the only retro element of the process is the reintroduction of the long-lost mini-challenge. Mama Ru has sponsors to please, so we’re treated to a lightning-fast edit of a ridiculous golf game that probably felt interminable in real time, all so that Andrew Christian can remind the viewing audience (half of whom are already wearing his neon, assless creations) to buy expensive-yet-barely-there go-go boy underpants. Scruff isn’t explicitly mentioned, but their participation is heavily implied since most of the models have nice torsos and no faces. Alaska wins the game, and as a prize is given the opportunity to advertise the people who make Ru’s suits.
All that corporate shilling, it turns out, was actually thematically important to the episode’s main task: the six remaining queens will develop a product prototype and make a commercial for it. To help them with this process, Ru brings in Marcus Lemonis, then repeats his name several times so that the queens in the room won’t forget it and the viewers at home can quickly Google him. His low level of fame and complete lack of drag knowledge make him the least convincing expert the show has ever booked; Katya is so underwhelmed by his presence that when he says her idea is a disaster that needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, she makes zero changes to her original concept.
To give World of Wonder credit: the shooting-the-commercial segments are less forced than I expected. Everyone has a couple slips but more or less seems to deliver because they are, after all, professionals in the top of their field. They’re also all friends, as the getting-ready-for-the-runway montage proves. Some of them are, of course, closer than others; Katya waxes poetic about the importance of having a select few ride-or-die bitches who can be real with you, while Rolaskatox hugs it out over how special and lasting their bond is and how happy they are that it totally won’t affect the competition at all. AT ALL. Whatever, I really want to explore more about the circle of close Judies that exist entirely to call Katya out, because I feel like her conflation of love and criticism says a lot about her.
The main stage theme of PANTS inspires another round of brilliance from everyone involved. Perpetually bootylicious Roxxxy serves up some Studio 54-26-54 realness, while Katya uses a yellow pump and an unnerving amount of confidence to turn an alien extra’s costume on Star Trek: Voyager into the highest of fashion. Alyssa is in a similar boat: the only cohesive thing about her various garments is that they’re all black, but any randomly generated outfit becomes inspirational when positioned below her beautiful, crazy face. The runway is and always will be Detox’s domain, and her capri creation looks like a million bucks. Alaska knows that to make America great again, we just need more fringe. But the most scream-inducing moment of the night (at least by the barometer of the screaming queers I watch with) is Tati’s homage to T-Boz, which gave my retinas such a deep, delicious fuck that I needed Left Eye’s condom glasses. (Rest in peace, Lisa.)
I normally wouldn’t be excited for a show to devote this much of its running time to commercials, but I can’t wait to see what the ladies have created. (Note to all businesses: book drag queens for your commercials. I’m available and cost-effective.) Though not exceptionally charming or creative, Roxxxy gets through her wig seminar just fine. Katya’s, on the other hand, is pure, genius-level art. Alyssa’s is like art for lizards: it bypasses logic and taps directly into the brain’s pleasure receptors. I have no particular feelings about Detox this week. Her video has a terminal case of meh. We knew Alaska would come up with something weird and hilarious, but wildcard Tatianna once again pulls through with a showcase of her tart yet endearing wit.
When it comes time for the judges’ critiques, however, the waters in the shark tank get a little choppy. Katya’s place in the top two is a no-brainer, though I question how Ru is going to follow through on the promise of making and selling a spray-on mood stabilizer at DragCon. Roxxxy’s fourth trip to the bottom is similarly foreseeable. But Tati gets scolded for not mentioning her product enough, even though Alaska (who also said next to nothing about what she was selling) receives high praise. For my money, Detox should have been the other queen on the chopping block; her idea was garbage in more than one sense of the word. But I’m not the one in charge here.
During backstage deliberations, Roxxxy sounds like your elderly grandma when she starts speaking with alarming frankness about her impending death: just smiling and saying that it’s God’s will that her time has come and giving her belongings away. Tatianna, having already crossed the threshold once, comes at the conversation giving undead realness with the chilling, sexy hunger of a vampire. Again, in my mind she doesn’t even belong in the bottom, so her departure seems out of the question.
And then several things I disagree with happen. FIRST, I disagree with Ru’s continued mispronunciation of “duu-laaz,” because it makes me think that she’s tipping the winner in something other than American currency. No one is pregnant enough to need ten thousand doulas. SECOND, I don’t care if neither of them are going home, I disagree with both of the top two wearing fucking flats. THIRD, I disagree that Alaska won that lip sync, flag reveal be damned. And FOURTH, I strongly disagree with the choice to send Tatianna home (and FIFTH, disagree that Rolaskatox had nothing to do with that decision). I bind you, Lasky, from doing harm! Harm against other people, and harm against yourself!
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