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Now that Jaymes is gone, everyone is quick to point out that she seemed scared and unsure of herself. They were also quick to point that out while she was still here, though no one seems to connect how a roomful of strangers making pointed observations about your skills and personality might lead to feelings of insecurity. Go fig! Which is not to say that the ladies ALWAYS share their opinions: when Kimora says that she was surprised to be in the bottom two, there’s an almost deafening lack of response. As they dedrag, Trinity seethes about the praise Valentina continues to receive (Alexis is going to have to start issuing trigger warnings before she compliments someone) and vows to knock the blushing bride off her pedestal. It’s pretty rare for a queen to win on the main stage two weeks in a row, so it’s likely that Valentina won’t be on top for long regardless, but if you need to cling to that jealous rage, then go right ahead.

s9e03 01The next morning opens with an unannounced “Schtickiest Workroom Entrance” challenge: Alexis and Charlie deliver a short scene, Aja and Sasha do a synchronized jumping heel click, Valentina hits high notes, and whoever is behind her is probably also doing something but the editors forgot that there are other contestants to feature. Luckily, Ru still pays the bills around here, so she manages to steal back some of the spotlight. After her animated video message, she emerges in person to hint to the girls that there might be a hidden camera in the wax figure in the corner. Everyone’s like, A) the wax figure itself is far creepier than the concept of covert surveillance, and B) there’s a full-scale film crew in the room; everyone came here specifically to be on camera. At first I thought this was going to be the setup to a joke, but the whole topic is abandoned before anyone can get to something resembling a punchline, so who knows? Let’s hope it never comes up again, because a plotline where Ru is “secretly” watching the contestants will be not-so-secretly insulting to the intelligence of the viewing audience.

Anyhow, this week’s main challenge will demand a lot of creativity: everyone will come up with a fairy tale princess, write her back story, design a look for her, and portray an animated sidekick who narrates her appearance on the runway. It’s the kind of assignment that presents the opportunity for unique, entertaining successes, but also dull, disappointing failures. After all, we’ve got shallow-ass queens like Kimora, who would be offended by this sentence because she thinks I’m saying she has a flat butt. For starters, she complains that Eureka’s Sewer Princess concept is something she’s never heard of, failing to realize that that is the literal definition of an innovative idea. The poor thing is lost without the ability to pay someone to create her look for her. More alarming still: she’s getting grammar lessons from Cynthia, who replaces one word in every sentence with “cucu” like she’s a fucking smurf.

s9e03 02Farrah is similarly at sea, both figuratively and literally: she’s one of several queens sticking to an aquatic theme, while even gluing cloth to a bra threatens to sink her. If only she had been asked to HIGHLIGHT a dress! And it’s not as though she doesn’t have assistance; Eureka does everything but physically carry Ms. Moan down the runway. (She’d make an adorable accessory, to be fair.) Thankfully, there are some more confident characters elsewhere. Aja, for instance, likes it uncut. (Meaning fabric, you whore. She makes her own costumes.) Speaking of costumes, Valentina does her interview with Ru in a turban and oversized sunglasses. It’s to avoid looking “completely crazy,” she says with the manic-yet-dead-eyed grin of someone assuring the cops that there are no body parts buried in her backyard.

The next day, Cynthia continues educating Kimora (a project that could easily consume her entire life if she’s not careful) by explaining the genesis of her… I’d say catchphrase, but it’s only one word. Elsewhere, Alexis brazenly asks if fans will be disappointed in how Aja looks without Facetune. It’s a downright rude question and I live for it. (But also, she thinks it doesn’t make that much of a difference? Girl. Please welcome to the runway Princess Delusion and her sidekick, Lies.) And speaking of rude: the extended segment on Pulse feels exploitative, so while I’m truly sorry for the losses our community suffered, I’m not here for grief porn.

s9e03 03On the main stage, Category Is: Underwhelming. The theme even extends to guest judges Todrick Hall and Cheyenne Jackson, who bring neither insight nor wit to a role requiring solely those two qualities. The one contestant to grab my attention is Sasha Velour, who creates a compelling, conceptual look and a rich mythology to support it, explained by a well-acted and well-differentiated companion. She’s safe. Peppermint’s piece makes it to the top because Ru can smell tragedy from a mile away and is biologically hardwired to make people relive their childhood traumas. The hunger in her eyes as she hears about the burning kitchen is unsettling, and I’m sure they edited out at least 20 minutes of probing questions aimed at wringing a tear or two out of the situation. It’s unclear why Valentina made it to the top for wearing a tulle-embellished bathing suit; maybe her Enzyte commercial smile gives her hypnotic mind control over others? I’m similarly suspicious of Trinity’s win, which seems as motivated by plot arc as it does by skill level. (Like, at the beginning of the episode, she said she wanted to win, and now she won. I guess the editors think I’ll find that fulfilling.)

s9e03 04The bottom three make sense, I suppose, but the bottom two do not. I do agree that Kimora should absolutely be lip syncing. The one-note joke of a princess who likes big bananas is so lame that even calling it a joke makes me feel complicit in something unsavory. Obviously she’s never put her spoiled girl money toward hired a writing teacher or an acting coach. And when Ru and Michelle couldn’t stop themselves from openly mocking her harrowing saga of appearing on the main stage without hip pads, it was clear she was in dire trouble. But she should have been up against Farrah: I think it’s better to sew something bad than to sew nothing at all. Aja’s look may have been suspect, but at least she worked instead of whined! But after last week’s B-52 bombers, Ru couldn’t allow another dull showdown, and Aja is known for her high-energy performances. The volcano princess may not have had a coherent fairy tale, but she comes through in the end by showing us what an eruption looks like, setting the night ablaze with her jump splits and death drops. The latest fashion trend: Blac is OUT this season.

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