The Drag Race producers are very, very good at manipulating the show in order to secure more drama in front of the cameras, but this episode is making us wonder if perhaps the queens are out-maneuvering them and they should consider other, less obvious tactics if they want to stir things up. Granted, bringing all the eliminated queens back to face their executioners isn’t a new tactic, which is why it seems most of the queens were not on-board with playing along. Gia tried a couple of times to get some shit started, but it didn’t look like her heart was really in it and Trinity was far too mindful of how things would play out if she took Gia’s bait. Even Valentina remained largely unfussed by the news that Manila and Monet both picked her to go home last week. Everyone was too focused on what was coming next and, once it was revealed to them, working on their acts to perfect the results. Drama wasn’t in the cards for most of them because Ru and the producers essentially said to stop everything and participate in the Dragalympics.
Quick runway assessments:
Surprisingly cute, since cuteness isn’t really her brand.
She can be annoying on camera and she’s definitely not built for a reality competition, but this is Good Drag.
Also cute. We’d go so far as to say it’s borderline too-cute and normal for a Drag Race runway.
This is bad. Latrice is really talking herself up and when she steps out in these ugly, poorly designed dresses paired with the wrong footwear, we find ourselves under-impressed.
Manila showed up with a trunk full of sickening costumes. This almost seems wasted since she was effectively sitting the competition out this week, but considering how many of these things she has, it was no big deal to her to toss out a freebie. Bringing highly successful queens back can often mean not just A-plus gamesmanship, but a veritable fashion parade of costumes designed for her shows. It’s essentially all advertising for them.
Not great. It’s a standard gown that doesn’t flatter her much and both the sheer of the dress and the hose are too light for her skin tone. If this was all serving a nude illusion, it would work much better.
Just okay. It tended to serve her well and give her something to play with during the lip sync, but like so much of Monique’s drag, it’s not quite there yet.
Sickening. Naomi knows how to werk her bod exactly like a world class supermodel. This is one queen who lives up to the women who inspired her name.
A risky as hell choice, but it served to show everyone there that her confidence in her abilities cannot be shaken.
We don’t love her predilection for super-crotchy jumpsuits, but this was a pretty stunning look.
No need for these shots except as a way to uphold one of the oldest maxims of Drag Race: For every tuck, there must come a bulge. Enjoy, darlings.
Okay, lip syncs:
We can’t say we disagree with Ru’s choices to keep all the remaining queens in the game. If this stunt accomplished anything, it showed that Ru made the right choices along the way because to a queen, all the eliminated ones came off looking weaker against the ones still there.
Which isn’t to say these lip syncs weren’t close. These are All-Stars, after all. Every one of them are very good at drag and most of them are very good at lip-synching. How many times did you hear “This is what I do for a living” last night.
The results were super entertaining across the board. Not all of those Ru songs work as lip sync sets and we wish they’d had some killer or classic pop songs from bigger artists to play with, but we got a fairly great 30-minute showcase of all of these queens wearing their best and werking their best.
Did anybody really know that Naomi had this in her? And would she have been pushed this far and given a moment this likely to become iconic if the stakes hadn’t been raised by this stunt? Our point: This interruption of the normal competition didn’t shake out much drama among the queens, but it did force all of them into a do-or-die situation that caused many of them to give some of their best work yet.
Still, there was one bit of drama to be had and the producers more or less rewarded it:
We don’t want to take anything away from Latrice as a performer, but she kept going on and on about the grand offense her elimination was and how epic her return was going to be and … we think she was more than a bit full of it, to be honest. We love All-Stars and we’re loving this season, but Latrice is a pretty good example of what happens when you bring successful queens with large fanbases back to the competition that made them famous. Many of them wind up thinking the whole thing is either beneath them or is not recognizing their stardom to their satisfaction. To be fair, many queens return with a highly specific knowledge as to how to play the game and secure more camera time for themselves. Manila’s certainly been handing storylines to the producers on silver platters. It may just be that Latrice was playing the game and puffing up her importance because she knew she’d be more likely to stay if she could serve up some real drama.
Was this lip sync so close in quality that it forced Ru to keep both queens in the competition. Darling, LOL. But we’re going to have to do the broken-record bit here and repeat a point about Drag Race we’ve been making for its entire decade-long run: It is more about being a variety show with dramatic stakes than an actual competition with rigorously enforced judging criteria. Latrice served up a dramatic storyline that they could either pay off with a painful elimination or they could pay off with a hugely dramatic reveal that literally caused Monique to fall to the floor. We’re not suggesting Latrice didn’t deserve to come back. If anything, we’re suggesting that “deserve” has nothing to do with it. It was a good storyline with a fantastic payoff and they went for it. Let the games continue, we say. Latrice now has only one task ahead of her: Back it up, bitch. Make all those words come true.
[Stills: Tom and Lorenzo via VH1]