Mon. Jul 6th, 2020

TV Rucap: Drag Race All Stars 5 Episode 2 “Skin In the Game”

You can only imagine that the worst nightmare of any queen competing for a spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame would be finding yourself sentenced to be that dreaded first boot, and last week, that dubious distinction fell on the shoulders of Season 8 alumnus Derrick Barry. Her premature departure was accompanied by an immediate pang of loss, where it felt like we were about to be deprived of opportunities to chomp on our popcorn when Derrick would inevitably lunge at India Ferrah’s throat, or just read any of the other queens (though, oh my, she surely did not disappoint this past week in her post-All Stars interviews). Still, this is a competition with nine drag queens competing for $100,000 and a huge title, so it would be difficult to envision a season of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars unfolding without some messy antics along the way where we’d get to clutch our pearls and gag on cringe content. Surely someone must step up to that plate: enter Miz Cracker.

Post-elimination, as the girls huddle and nod in agreement that Mayhem Miller deserved to be the girl to continue in the competition, it could have been so easy to let Jujubee’s vote against Mayhem cast the shadow on the rest of the week. While eager at first to shut down potential hard feelings between Mayhem and Jujubee (“I think she said it’s not personal, and I think she gave a reason why,” Miz Cracker interjects, defending Jujubee’s vote against Mayhem), apparently Miz Cracker was not content to ultimately sign up for RuPaul’s Best Friend Race. Some of the most hilariously pathetic drama happens when it’s completely pointless and unnecessary, and it’s hard to think of a reason why Cracker would think that it’s a good idea to announce to her fellow competitors the next morning that she wishes she had brought some white-out (not exactly BenDeLaCreme style, who used it to remove herself from the competition back in All Stars 3) to write in Ongina’s name. While she continues to reason that Ongina failed to convey a sufficient hunger for the crown compared to Derrick or Mayhem, the expression of this sentiment feels like a glaring unforced error: while she may not agree with it, Ongina was safe, and while it’s not only just petty, it seems like a pretty bad strategy to be the first to place her bid on making an enemy, and position herself as the girl responsible for stirring up drama where there was none to be found, especially when this season, everyone has a vote for who goes home each week. Come on, Cracker: don’t you know that you’re supposed to make us eat it, and not just roll our eyes at you? At the very least, if you’re going to play the villain, please stay tonally consistent: if you don’t play well with others, it doesn’t really work when you eventually complain about when they don’t enjoy working with you.

But, the reactions to this unfortunate display of tomfoolery is cut short once RuPaul crashes the confrontation to announce that this week’s Maxi Challenge is a girl group challenge, where the girls are split into teams of three, where they’ll write and record their own original lyrics, choreograph and perform to an original song called “I’m in Love.”

Ranking the “I’m in Love” Girl Group Performances:

These girl group performances always feel like filler challenges: everyone is usually mind-numbingly adequate across the board. No one usually really stands out as either being notably inspired or spectacularly terrible: drag queens are simply asked to dance around and lip sync to tracks of pre-recorded vocals and mediocre lyrics they’ve written themselves, and at the end of the day, rankings feel somewhat arbitrary, when these tend to be the type of challenges where a year from now, no one is going to remember who did well, or even what they did. And this time, the concept of the stage design even feels like recycled leftovers from Season 12’s Top 5 challenge where the queens sang in front of frames “mirrors,” only with a few Valentine-themed props scattered about. Well, every episode can’t be the Snatch Game, so at least this challenge happened sooner rather than later!

1.       Shea Couleé

Still, a true sign of a queen’s star power is to be found in the ability to emerge from one of these minor challenges as its singular saving grace, and this week, that was none other than Shea Couleé. And really, no one else came close. Shea was the only one who served consistently solid lyrics with rapid-fire swagger and clarity in her delivery of a tribute to her crush, Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman (“I’m dreaming about Wakanda life we’ll lead” is a clear standout for the smartest pun), and brought beauty, body and face to the runway in a stoned full body nylon nude illusion that was tastefully contoured, and most exemplified the this week’s “Love the Skin You’re In” theme. 

2.       Miz Cracker

“He played a boxer, so he moves around my ring just fine” is a dirty, yonic serve, and “When things get rocky, I’m like ‘please release that Rocky IX’” is also a lot of fun. Miz Cracker was maybe the most exhausting queen to watch this week, but she really brought it to the first half of her verse, even if takes a couple attempts to catch the rest of her lyrics. 

3.       Jujubee

“Taking off my bras, please fill up my house” is the kind of lyric that feels like a gleefully crass adult take on a childhood Uncle Jessie in Full House fantasy! Juju will never not land her comedy!

4.       Mariah Paris Balenciaga

It seems as though the cohesive thread that connects the best of the girls’ collective lyrics is adult content, and “I take his trident how I can” leaves little to the imagination in her Jason Momoa Aquaman fantasy. 

5.       Mayhem Miller

While hers might be one of the least memorable sets of lyrics this week, she’s reliably a solid performer, and she has a fun stank face when she sings, “Forget about those muppets.”

6.       Alexis Mateo

She’s in a difficult position, because she’s the first girl up, and she’s far from a remedial performer, but her performance lacks some kind of “wow” factor. Also, singing about how your crush makes you “really gassy” doesn’t exactly feel like the right approach?

7.       India Ferrah

“Sending Britney back” because she feels “very attacked” is a story idea that might have made sense twenty years ago (whoa, time really flies) back when Britney Spears and India Ferrah’s crush Justin Timberlake actually dated, but it’s not really it anymore. And, yeah, Alexis was right in her confessional when she says that India is a fierce lip sync artist who’s not afraid of cosmetics, but put her in a group challenge, and other girls outshine her. 

8.       Ongina

Aww, poor Ongina had another rough week, starting with Cracker’s unsolicited attack on her level of commitment, and onto the vocal struggles of not being a singer and also losing her voice while having to record her track. While she feels stiff in her performance, she’s really giving it her best effort, so you do kind of have to give it up for the girl.

9.       Blair St. Clair

There’s something about her performance overall that feels like a theatre kid desperate to impress, from the deliberate will to shock with the pick of Hannibal Lecter as her crush, down to an over-enunciated lip sync that doesn’t even match the recording of her own vocals. And in case this ranking was in doubt, her pink latex gown on the runway also comes off as eager to “think outside the box,” but was the wrong way (and wrong category) to do it.

At judging, Shea’s declared the winner of this week’s Maxi Challenge (who else could it have been?), and India Ferrah, Mariah Paris Balenciaga and Ongina are the week’s Bottom Three queens up for elimination.

The Lip Sync: The Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance”

All that stood between Shea and closing her bid for the crown back in Season 9 were a lip sync of Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional” and Sasha Velour’s now iconic rose petals, so it’s understandable that she’d be nervous to see that this week’s Lip Sync Assassin is none other than Dancing Queen Alyssa Edwards, of the famed “Shut Up and Drive” and “Cold Hearted Snake” lip syncs (some of the shows best ever, period). But once the music plays, it actually feels like this has to be Alyssa’s most phoned in lip sync, maybe ever? Girl, where are the death drops and the splits and the Alyssa Edwards-ism gags? Her lip sync is glorified walking up and down the stage, intermittently twirling the fringe at her arms and hips. Meanwhile, Shea shows that she was prepared to kill her lip syncs in this All Stars bid, and she’s channeling humour through dance moves and duck walks and booty and titty shakes, instead of planting herself to a stationary position and making silly faces like some of those white girls do. If last week Shea was just revving her engine, this week, she really arrived to stake a claim as an early frontrunner for the crown.

And with that, Shea’s declared the winner of this week’s lip sync, and claims the $20,000 pot at stake. But with that, she’s also responsible for deciding which of the three Bottom girls is the one who must go home. When it came time for the Bottom Three queens to plead their cases to stay ahead of the lip sync, Ongina all but volunteered herself to go home, saying “this is not me giving up: this is the fairest thing to do,” and Shea honours that, choosing to send her home. Ongina thanks RuPaul, telling her “eleven years ago, you changed my life… and you’re changing it again.” It will be sad to see her go: we waited a long time for her to grace our screens ago, and she waited a long time for this, too.

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