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Emotions are running high following Charlie’s surrender. Most people voice their disappointment with their voices, but Trinity, being a woman of action, jumps for the mirror so hard she almost breaks it. (Good thing she didn’t: that’s seven episodes of bad luck, and she’ll be eliminated long before that.) What follows is a discussion so predictable that there must be a computer program editing the clips together: “I was thrown under the bus,” “I need to stand out from the crowd,” “some of these girls are too confident,” blah blah blah. Part of the reason this season is falling flat is because we’re wasting time with stock phrases that could be spent on people’s individual personalities. When you have cerebral artists like Sasha and shit starters like Aja and legitimate weirdos like Nina, just let them do their thing. Whatever they come up with will be more interesting than the story arc you’re shoehorning them into, I promise.

s9e05 01The following morning, we’re still missing the video message segment (which is honestly a smart cut, since it always had to be re-explained anyway), but Ru announces the triumphant returns of the mini-challenge and the long-lost Pit Crew. The girls are given an unspecified amount of time to get into quick beach drag, then handed a selfie stick and a side of beefcake and let loose. The person who takes the best group shot with the boys is supposed to win, but instead Ru chooses Alexis. (Seriously, look at the picture she took; it isn’t flattering.) Her victory earns her a generous gift card and the authority to assign roles for the week’s main task: a lip sync performance of a Kardashian-themed musical.

Her choices seem just and well-informed for the most part, but there are notable exceptions. It’s unclear where Cynthia would be a good fit, I guess, but making her the center of attention as Kim had to have been a strategic move to make Cucu say bye-bye. Plenty of people don’t get the character they wanted most, but no one has more to say about it than Nina. She didn’t just want to play Blac Chyna: she needed it. She’s addicted to that solo like heroin, and she will not be satisfied until it is hers. She will wander the Earth in a state of endless hunger, forever cursing Alexis and Shea, the harpies who stole her one true happiness. She will carry this hurt with her until she is nothing more than a rotten, unblended corpse, and even then she will probably haunt the studio.

s9e05 02Aja halfheartedly tries to console Ms. Bo’nina Brown Baxter-Birney, but the already-difficult task of mustering sympathy for such a minor slight is made all the more challenging when Eureka hobbles by on actual crutches. Like, she’s got a physical injury that hampers her ability to carry out more than half of the competition’s demands and she’s been assigned the aggressively stupid role of North West the future space demon and she still has a decently positive outlook. Honestly, this whole situation is dumber than asking Todrick Hall to come on this show AGAIN. It’s dumber than asking the audience to be shocked that someone in rehearsal wasn’t clear on the dance steps, as if that isn’t the entire point of rehearsal. It’s dumber than writing an extended musical number about a family from a reality TV show.

The dumb continues for a little while the next morning, when Team New York marvels at Aja’s magically smaller nose. (I’d love to know what kind of crunches she’s been doing in her hotel room.) But every episode needs a serious moment, and this week’s is a doozy: Eureka’s apology for her crack about eating disorders leads to three revelations: Shea used to be bulimic, Sasha used to be anorexic, and Valentina is currently anorexic. So yeah, that’s a lesson learned regarding jokes about sensitive subjects with people whose histories you don’t know. At least she said she was sorry.

s9e05 05The Kardashian musical isn’t exactly a modern classic, but neither is it a total debacle. Pretty much everyone shows up to do their job (these are, after all, working professionals). Alexis chose her own role shrewdly, and makes a meal of her Kris Jenner moments. Similarly, Peppermint’s Britney is better than some of the actual Britney’s recent live performances, and Shea turns her brief cameo into the evening’s best moment. On the other end of the spectrum, Cynthia does that Cynthia thing where she is on a different plane of reality than everyone else: her mouth isn’t in sync with the lyrics, and her impersonation isn’t really an impersonation. The dark cloud of yesterday’s tantrum still hangs over Nina, and no amount of sparkle on Farrah’s cheek can mask the dullness of her stage presence.

After the faux fur runway, the judges have a more complicated situation on their hands: Peppermint and Alexis rose to the top in the challenge, but sink themselves with pedestrian fashion choices. That leaves Shea to stomp off with the win, even if half of her outfit is a repeat of her entrance ensemble. The bottom three pose a similar challenge: Nina and Farrah both served strong visuals, but neglected to get into the Kardashian spirit when needed. (Cynthia is a charming and wonderful queen, but let’s face it: she failed in the musical and she almost never looks good.) But eliminating Ms. Bo’nina Brown Bader Ginsburg for being in a bad mood seems indefensible even by this show’s ever-shifting standards, so Ru submits Cucu and the Iron Lady to the ultimate indignity: lip syncing to a Meghan Trainor song.

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And like Meghan Trainor herself, their showdown doesn’t matter. After watching the valiant (though by no means epic) battle, Ru stops the show to consult with the shadowy cabal of queer illuminati witches that secretly controls the entertainment industry. Their decision, which she relays to the contestants, is that due to her injury, it’s time for Eureka to sashay away. Which is a rude-ass demand, because you can’t sashay on crutches. Here’s how you know that I’m not a member of the secret coven steering this ship: if it had been my call, I would have set the fan base’s hair on fire by following Eureka’s departure with a straight-up double elimination. Seriously, are either Cynthia or Farrah going to win this season? No! Absolutely not! Not in a million years. So let’s streamline things and get down to business. Or, you know, we could do it Ru’s way and keep them both. Whatever.

 

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