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With another elimination out of the way, Trinity is too focused on the prize to express any concern or regret. Frankly, she’s relieved to see Nina go (though probably not as relieved as Nina herself). To her credit, Alexis briefly congratulates Shea before turning the focus back to her favorite topic: herself. She’s tired of the judges telling her that her looks are basic. The obvious answer is to stop dressing like a midwestern high schooler from the ‘90s, but I guess she’s waiting for someone else in the workroom to tell her that. Somehow, she hasn’t yet realized that we’re at the Top 5 of a phenomenally fierce competition, and the only assistance she’s going to get is some help packing. Sisterhood is cute and all, but I’d consider throwing an actual family member under an actual bus for $100,000.

s9e11 01There’s no time for a video message from Ru the following morning, but I’m OK with it because I could watch Trinity dodge invisible bugs for days on end. Let’s have fewer crying jags and more manic episodes next season. For now, though, we’re sticking to the formula with the annual puppet mini-game (aka the Rereading Challenge). One by one, the ladies drag up their felt dolls and improvise shady scenes that would give the Muppets nightmares. Shea nails Peppermint’s signature scream, which has become my favorite sound in the universe and should be incorporated into future seasons like the shade rattle. Peppermint earns some laughs for painting her version of Alexis green, while the real Alexis struggles to elicit any sort of reaction from the crowd. The clear scene stealer is Sasha, whose dead-on mimic of Trinity’s country accent underpins a series of razor-sharp reads of several members of the cast.

Her prize is the dubious honor of choreographing the opening number of the Gayest Ball Ever: in addition to serving three looks, the queens will wiggle their ribbons in a rhythmic gymnastics presentation that everyone will have to pretend to enjoy. (It will unfortunately be impossible to outdo Ru’s stupendous demonstration of proper wand-waving technique.) They’ll then serve rainbow flag realness, clomp the runway as unicorns, and finish up with a Village People look of their own design. Since this is the first official season of RuPaul’s Best Friend Race, the gals confer on their role assignments and make sure that everyone is happy with their place in the village. They have various levels of stability in the reasoning behind their selections, unfortunately.

s9e11 02Sasha and Shea, as the cowboy and construction worker respectively, see the high-fashion potential in their selections. Similarly, Trinity is still looking to escape her pageant roots with a runway-ready cop creation, though at this point no one sees her as just a pageant queen anymore. Peppermint goes for the biker because she likes black, and Alexis… oh, Alexis. Remember ten minutes ago when you shouted “I would never wear that color” in regards to your puppet’s turquoise dress? Maybe instead of waiting for someone else’s advice, you should start taking your own, because fixating on the beads in the Native American costume immediately sounds like a terrible idea. (As does, let’s be honest, dressing like a Native American at all. The group’s original lineup also had a GI; why did we not go with that as an option?)

Dance rehearsal goes about as well as you’d expect for a non-dancer trying to corral some of the biggest egos in the country. Each of these people thinks she’s first in line for the top spot and behaves accordingly. And then back in the workroom, they have the audacity to blame Ms. Velour’s direction. Basically, they can’t be held accountable for talking instead of listening because it’s someone else’s job to manage their nonsense. Not surprisingly, Alexis is the biggest champion of this theory. While waiting for someone to tell her not to waste three hours gluing plastic baubles to an ugly corset, she stresses that the problems stem from Sasha’s insecurity. Yup, Sasha’s insecurity. That’s it.

s9e11 03Of course, on the main stage the next day, the whole ribbon routine proves to be completely inconsequential. It barely impacts the critiques, and the judges grimace through it like they’re watching someone else’s kid’s piano recital. When it comes to clothes, Sasha serves knockouts for all three categories: her cubist take on the rainbow is outside the box, her Medieval unicorn is by far the most interesting and artistic of the night, and her couture cowboy can herd my cattle any time. (Look, I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, they can’t all be good lines.) Shockingly, she is only safe, with the win going to Shea. And admittedly, that construction cape was art, but her fetish unicorn forced me to think of that whole category as an extended pony play porn, and the panel fully admitted that her rainbow look didn’t fit the theme. So, I guess congratulations on failing a full third of the assignment? Whatever.

Trinity delivered three great outfits: she may not have risen to the top, but easily escapes the bottom. The devil is in the details for Peppermint, however: a bit of sag in her unicorn costume and a slight lack of inventiveness in her leather creation leave her in danger of elimination. The most deserving critiques obviously go to Alexis, who doesn’t see the problem with wearing, in her own words, “a literal rainbow flag” for the first part of the runway, or with wearing a skirt that could literally be from Rainbow as part of her couture presentation. Also, she may have to resign from her throne as the queen of wordplay for thinking it was clever to wear that archery “bow” in her hair.

s9e11 04In the next talking head segment, Alexis fumes that she shouldn’t be in the bottom because she thinks she’s more fashion than Pep and Trinity. And suddenly it all makes sense: she doesn’t have working eyes! How did the pre-season medical screening not catch this? The poor girl is sent blind into the gladiator pit with Peppermint, and frankly she’d have a better chance against an actual tiger. Our Lady of the Glorious Lip Sync burns it down once again. She is unstoppable. She cannot be outshone once that music starts playing. Tearfully, this season’s Broadway baby takes her final bow before heading back to the workroom to pack up rack after rack of the stunning, sparkly, fashionable dresses that she repeatedly promised but never wore.



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