Welcome back, folks! Last week our drag queens / POWs were forced to lip-sync, held captive in a loading dock, and then told they would vote each other out of the competition. When contacted for comment, a CIA black operations interrogation team called the episode “a bit too much.”
The opening minutes of this episode give us the highly anticipated epilogue of RuPaul’s Psychological Warfare Race. The queens start their lipstick vote, picking their least favorite queen based on first impressions or, in Denali’s case, the quality of the feathers. The queens (correctly) assume that Eliott is the weakest of the bunch and give him the boot. … Or do they do it? Turns out Elliot isn’t eliminated at all. In fact, the queens voted to send him to the winning team for this week’s episode. RuPaul informs the Queens that this has all been a great Orwellian allegory that your reality is only limited by your perception of yourself. This begs the question: Was it worth it, RuPaul? Don’t tell me, save it for the Senate Intelligence Committee (who I was told was launching an investigation.)
The rest of the episode represents a much more Norman / RuPaul infomercial season premiere (thank goodness). The winning team must write original verses and create a choreography for Ru’s new single. Condragulations. But first, a Course de dragsters Fashion show with two categories: eleganza by day Ladylike and “vampy, night bitch”. I like a Course de dragsters fashion show, but this one doesn’t quite meet the high bar of previous seasons. While there aren’t any iconic Violet Chachki two-in-ones, there are definitely a few highlights. My personal favorites are Gottmik’s fitted Elvira-do-burlesque nightgown, Symone’s’ 90s hair with her rainbow daytime costume, and vampiric Vanessa Williams by Olivia Lux.
Back in the werkroom, a little drama is already brewing. Turns out the queens, especially Kandy and Tina, aren’t that receptive to their new boyfriend Elliott, or his two Ts for that matter. Tina accuses Elliott of being “a mole” (Deja Ru), and Kandy goes into attack mode when Elliott asks her if she thinks she’s going to be home early. I’m not a big fan of Elliott, but I’m a bit obsessed with the lack of self-destruct impulse control it takes to enter a room of competitors (of which you’ve been dubbed “the worst”) and immediately oppose the most confrontational slut in the room. Confidence Goals! The tension only exacerbates during the choreographic rehearsal. Elliott is apparently a choreographer, but, instead of taking the reins, she watches her teammates cannibalize themselves over failed kickball changes and sloppy quarter turns. Elliott doesn’t cheat on them for long, however. Tina the Wise knows a trained dancer when she sees one, and Elliott’s half-baked deception only serves to solidify her status as a “mole.”
On the other side of the stage, Gottmik has a little panic when, in a Joy– like a twist, he realizes he’s accidentally stepped out as a trans man in a song before he had a chance to tell the girls about it in the werkroom. Luckily for Gottmik, most of the other queens are too busy collecting information on the seditious Elliott with two Ts to notice. But nonetheless Olivia and Gottmik have a lovely conversation as they embark on the drag, where Gottmik is able to officially step out, clarify pronouns, and ease some of the earlier anxiety. Before heading to the track, the queens finally resolve their conflict with Elliott in the best way they know: lie! Elliot springs a banality of being happy to be there, and the rest of the queens choir “We love you !!” through clenched teeth as they take shape on a smile. On the summary of the track:
While not as comfortable on stage as, say, a Kandy or a Symone, Gottmik’s two-line verse is perfectly delicious. The judges praise her looks and the versatility she was able to show so early in the competition (I guess they mean: top of the group in the podiums and low of the group in the choreography). It’s a very solid second episode of Gottmik, and it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see her in the top two of the week.
No shock here: Kandy performs the shit of his almost totally unintelligible verse. Pour one for the VH1 closed captioner. Much like her personality, Kandy’s parades this episode are psychically overwhelming, yet hugely entertaining. Michelle does her best to extract a thesis statement from Kandy, a guideline that would make her aesthetic choices a bit more cohesive, but it doesn’t help. Hopefully Michelle will soon learn what Ross already seems to understand: we don’t like Kandy despite her chaos, we love her car of it.
LaLa Ri falls down this episode. She certainly has the most pedestrian daytime look, and her verse isn’t particularly memorable. She’s backed up considerably by her winning personality, making her one of the narrator’s first favorites of the season. What can I say? The girl gives a big talking head. The judges seem amused, however, and I think she might stick around for a while.
I said it last week, but it bears repeating: Olivia. East. BEAUTIFUL. Her smile lights up the stage and, as the judges point out, it’s impossible not to be charmed by her. She’s second as a star after Symone, and she has one of the nicest cups I’ve ever seen. Course de dragsters. Jamal Sims compares her to Beyoncé AND Michelle Obama in the same sentence, and I don’t think the praise is higher than that. Her looks this week are quite stunning and she deserves her place in the top two.
Symone had HIGH expectations to live up to last week (mine), and for a while I was worried that she would not meet them. To put it bluntly, Symone has two left feet. One left foot is Rihanna’s and the other left foot is Naomi Campbell’s, but it’s still the left feet! She struggles hard during the choreography rehearsal, and it is not certain that she will stick the landing. But when that spotlight hits her, the boy turns on. Symone is a STAR. When she takes center stage, it’s a solar eclipse and all eyes are on her. Or maybe not because in that metaphor we would all go blind, I guess. But we still watch, because she’s a star. But not… literally. Ugh, whatever. You understand. Symone eats this episode and even gets RuPaul’s coveted Seal of Approval. Frontrunner.
Tina completes the top of the pack this episode. Her looks are polished across the board (everyone says thank you Florence D’Lee), and she’s saving the best for last: a tin-inspired lamé garment with the reveal of a sparkling ruby heart. It’s pretty good, and it’s a hit with the judges. Her verse is perfectly fine, but it’s hard to connect with her as she loses her sight lines with the cameras for 90% of the verse. As Michelle succinctly puts it: “This is not a bar. (Reader, I laughed.)
Finally, Elliott. One thing I’ll say is that Elliott looks technically awesome this whole episode. Each look is a finished concept and seems to include the mission. It all seems a bit hollow. While Elliott is clearly talented, she doesn’t have the same magnetic quality that makes you want to follow her bow throughout a trip or season. Maybe it’s the star’s lack of quality, or maybe the lack of muscle movement in the upper part of her face, but Elliott doesn’t tell me about this episode, on or off stage.
As you’ve probably seen it coming, it’s the first two, not the last two, that will lip-sync to cap the episode this week, making it the second consecutive non-elimination episode (likely the week next too, if that is the reason). I certainly don’t mind giving the queens a bit more time on TV, and the first episode raised the stakes enough that this non-elimination feels deserved. Accessories for you, RuPaul, maniacal genius. Symone and Olivia Lux take the stage once again for Dua Lipa’s lip syncing Break my heart. They both tear the stage apart, and it becomes a battle of presence and storytelling (the best lip syncs always are!) Symone is, once again, simply irresistible. Her booty, comedy, and body language are all so cohesive and effortless. She earns her second lip-sync victory in as many episodes, and it looks great.
Coming out of this episode, this band actually feels like our top six (sorry Elliott). It’s hard to see how Group Two will stand up to these drag titans, but I’m excited to see them try. Until next week!
Quotes that left my mouth open
• “This is not a bar. “—Michelle Visage
Michelle Visage said, It’s NOT Barracuda, and NO coke-out twinks are coming on stage to give you Tina Burner dollars! Eyes on your camera!
• “This little twink angel comes in… I don’t know who he is… but I’m gagged” —Gottmik
Mark the beginning of “Today 4 U” in Location.
• « Baby, were you knocked out three times in the first episode? “—LaLa Ri
It made me scream. In an episode ?! The poor lady.