I know that Valentina’s elimination sent shockwaves around the globe, but even eight months ago in the vacuum of space where this episode was filmed, the ladies FEEL it. Everyone comes back to the workroom experiencing full shookification, and not just because they’ll never know if she stoned those tights. Her departure hits Nina the hardest: she feels guilty because they were on a team together, and feels bad in general because she is a person whose mental illness is being exploited for entertainment value. (Like, sure, we can just say she’s “being negative” and write it off, but I think in our hearts we know that she needs a lot of professional counseling and that putting her in a high-pressure competition that separates her from all of her support structures is wildly irresponsible AND ASSHOLES LIKE ME WHO MAKE FUN OF HER ON THE INTERNET FOR SURE AREN’T HELPING.) Sasha, as an intellectual, rightly recognizes that faux interventions steeped in the non-reality of reality TV won’t make a dent in the issue, so she steers the ship elsewhere. But if she, Trinity, Shea, and Peppermint are all through with this discussion, then the editors are going to give up and roll the opening credits.
As usual, the following morning offers no time for anything involving small talk, video messages, or minigames. If they rushed it any faster, Ru and the contestants would have to teleport into the room like on Star Trek. It’s worth cutting to the chase, though, because the week’s main challenge announcement is spectacular: the annual makeovers have arrived, and the recipients this year will be members of the crew! Since I don’t personally know the men involved, I can’t grasp the full hilarity of the situation, but it’s clear from the reactions in the room that anyone even tangentially involved in the process is getting their whole entire life right now. There’s so much to explore: uncomfortable straight dudes, workplace drama, open-minded straight dudes, cross-cultural exchange, hot straight dudes… ok, mostly it’s fun because of straight dudes. But come on, how often do we get to really enjoy them? They’re usually so incredibly awful.
After Shea and Sasha pair each lady with her new sister (a task that they take seriously and execute fairly), everyone digs right on into the challenge. Handed the artiest partner, Nina starts getting conceptual with things. It all goes smoothly until she convinces herself that she should sew two outfits even though she knows in her brain (and says out her mouth) that she can’t sew even one outfit. After repeatedly asking for help from people who are busy with their own shit, she finally has to throw in the towel. God only knows how she thought that was going to work itself out. Like, I can’t run a half marathon; I’m definitely not volunteering for a full marathon just to prove a point.
What’s left of the training montage is mostly spent watching dudes clomp around in heels while the queens tease them for how clompy they are in heels. There are some minor ups and downs: Sasha is trying not to be too serious with dour Duncan at her side, Peppermint brings out an inner diva from Sarge so strong that it almost retroactively erases Kimora Blac from reality, and Alexis… well, Alexis is here. The main attraction, however, is Trinity’s new family member Rizzo. I was already sold on that handsome face, but his sensitive discussion of the need for a broader definition of masculinity seals the deal: I am going to fellate him continuously until we are both dead.
The following day, things start off with Ariana Bo’Nina Brown being so phenomenally helpful that she absolutely has to be a plant. Like, she manages to draw out Nina’s insecurities, give a supportive pep talk, and replenish the season’s supply of tragedy with a backstory about her addiction, all while gluing down her own brows. It took me close to a year to figure out how to get my brows to lay flat, and you’re claiming that this guy is brand new? Next thing I know, you’ll be trying to convince me that Valentina started drag ten months ago. Across the room, Trinity is reminding my future husband that her family doesn’t have jewels, and she’s going to use as much tape as it takes to flatten out that fat pussy. (She’s also going to use as many excuses as it takes to catch a glimpse of that sweet D, and I don’t blame her one bit. Just be gentle, girl: he’ll need that equipment later, because he’s getting inappropriately propositioned 24/7 once episode airs.)
The queens bring all the creativity they can to the mainstage with carefully rehearsed runway walks and well-choreographed lip syncs to (part of) a RuPaul song. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given her spotty fashion choices in previous weeks, Peppermint makes two wildly clashing garments and gives her sis a noticeably lopsided paint job. But Winter Green brings such a powerful presence with her that she stuns the judges like deer in a particularly sassy pair of headlights, and they let the family pass safely through to the other side. (I realize that my metaphor has failed because that’s not how it ends for a deer in the headlights, but whatever.) I thought for sure that Sasha’s outlandishly fashionable design and truly transformative makeover would snag her the win, but the panel prefers Trinity and Glittafa for their sharp dance moves and smooth crotches.
Though her pedestrian tastes once again underwhelm, Alexis skates through to safety. It has less to do with her own abilities and more to do with the fact that Shea left her sister a little ragged around the edges. I feel like if that wig hadn’t collapsed, it might have been a different story. Nina, on the other hand, was destined to lip sync pretty much from the get go. Without a set of newly-created garments to wear, she and her sister have made do with a couple of black corsets, and the overall effect is that they barely tried. (I’m not totally convinced that poorly-sewn yellow overalls would have been a significant improvement, however.) Moreover, their bunny heads make them look like the imaginings of a pothead randomly cycling through the character creation screen of a really weird video game.
As “Cool For The Summer” starts, it’s clear that Nina needs to get out of here. She can’t even pretend to want it anymore. And honestly: good. If Eureka got an honorable discharge for her busted knee, I think we owe this wascally wabbit the same respect for her busted brain chemistry. Her negativity and paranoia are not her fault, but this scenario is not her friend. Hopefully there are people back home who she trusts that she can lean on while she finds a good therapist. As for Shea: this song wasn’t the best opportunity for her to show the slayage you know she can bring, but she did what she needed to do. (The real gag would have been if she had hit the bottom last week against Valentina and fucking Deadpooled that song. Ru would have burst into flames.)
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