Sat. Aug 8th, 2020

TV Rucap: Drag Race All Stars 5 Episode 4 “Camo no she betta don’t”

Considering that two of the lipsticks casts last episode were to send Shea home (Mariah’s was for India, and another four were for Mariah… wait, where’s the eighth lipstick? Is Monét keeping it as a memento of another successful lip sync on RuPaul’s Drag Race?), Shea handles this realization quite well. At this point in the competition, Shea feels like the frontrunner for the crown (even if her performance in the challenge and the runway were absurdly underrated at judging last week), and it looks like she understands that the other girls have good reason to be scared of her.

This week’s challenge begins with an unfortunate ensemble of the queens pretending to be straight men (that should have been purged from the final edit, and hopefully can be wiped from our memories), and then the queens dive into a TMZ-inspired improv challenge. Sadly, all three of the sketches are not really funny, and have confusing plots: each girl feels more like watching Miss Vanjie or Plastique in the Season 11 improv challenge, when there’s no one who hits it out of the park like Brooke Lynn Hytes or A’keria Davenport. 

Ranking the Challenge

1.       Jujubee

Juju is serving up her vision of a Lori Loughlin/Felicity Huffman college bribe fantasy, and that wig is omg exquisite! Who knows what kind of accent she’s trying to feign, but at least she’s going for it! She doesn’t have the funniest lines of all the girls, but she really is the one who seems the most comfortable and effortless in this challenge, and that goes a long way. 

2.       Miz Cracker

Cracker is coming up with some of the best one-liners (“our relationship has been over more bumps than your foundation stick” is brilliance), but her delivery comes off as a little too self-conscious or more desperate to be funny than she needed to be. Still, she has good chemistry with Juju, and it would be hard to suggest that she’s not one of the standouts. 

3.       Alexis Mateo

This kind of challenge is typically the environment where Alexis’s manic energy thrives best, and she’s often funny, but it’s also quite often too much and a little annoying. If Shea hadn’t been there to keep her in check, this could have been really bad.

4.       Shea Couleé

In her enemy ladies who lunch skit with Alexis Mateo, Shea is constantly reeling Alexis back in when she starts to lose the plot, and keeps the storyline feeling as coherent as possible. 

5.       Mayhem Miller

Mayhem’s not horrible, here: she has some conviction and energy happening, even if nothing she says ends up being side-splitting humour. But making “beep!” noises as she scans India the shoplifter with a metal detector is a nope: surely she could have asked nicely for them to add in some sound effects in post?

6.       India Ferrah

This is the first week in a while where India Ferrah isn’t dead last: she starts out making an impression with a lewk and strong physical presence, but once she opens her mouth, she’s low energy, as usual. Her concept of having a licking addiction also fails to land: it kind of crashes like the vase from her taint, but bless her heart for trying!

7.       Blair Saint Clair

Oof, the only thing you’re going to get from this performance is a migraine. She’s mistaking screeching for “going big,” and this is just another week where she awkwardly tries too hard to feign an ugly-cry face to over-compensate for her tame personality. She even fails to follow up “I didn’t even want to go to Drag U!” with a punchline like, “I wanted to be a social media influencer!”

Unlike last week’s botched judging, most of the judges’ conclusions feel pretty reasonable, especially considering that it’s a difficult week to compare the girls’ performances, since the challenge was pretty terrible (though they try to spin it as though it’s because it’s All Stars, where everything the girls touch is golden). Miz Cracker is their favourite of the week and the winner of the challenge, and while some of the queens are stunned that it’s Mayhem Miller and India Ferrah in the Bottom Two, it’s a decision that’s grounded in reality.

The Lip Sync: Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been”

This week’s Lip Sync Assassin is Morgan McMichaels of Season 2 and All Stars 3. She’s kind of a surprising choice for a “Lip Sync Assassin,” because we’ve only seen her lip sync twice on the show: she was sent home by the departed Sahara Davenport to Martha Wash’s “Carry On,” but her lip sync of Stacey Q’s “Two of Hearts” with Sonique is one of the early season lip sync classics. Cracker has only lip synced once on Season 10, when she was sent home by Kameron Michaels in a performance of Vanity 6’s “Nasty Girl.” This feels like it could be anyone’s game: while Cracker looks incredible (and should be thanking Blair for lending her that wig, which is a style that should replace the wigs currently in her own repertoire ), she could be feeling the pressure of the $20,000 riding on the battle, whereas Morgan likely hasn’t had as many opportunities as she’d like to prover herself on the show, and you know she’s hungry for it.

As “Where Have You Been” starts to play, both girls start off slow (although Morgan gets to full speed sooner than Cracker does), and build up to Cracker serving her her sensibilities, trying a bit too hard to emphasize the comedy, and she duck walks and vogues and cartwheels into a wobbly split, while Morgan twirls her cape with nerve, until choosing to ditch it. Both girls work every inch of the stage, have great chemistry when they eventually caress each other’s bodies, and Morgan points to Cracker’s lady parts as Rihanna sings, “searching for you baby.” And that alone should win her this lip sync! After that, Cracker’s overly reliant on attempting gag after gag, with playing peekaboo by the stage entrance, bending over backwards like she’s Yvie Oddly, and multiple death drops, including one where she stretches out her arm to motion as if she’s pulling up her body by a string. All of these are good individual elements, but it feels a little bit desperate as a whole, while Morgan is effortless from start to finish.

After such a lackluster challenge and lip sync last week, and an even worse challenge this week, this episode really needed a fierce lip sync to atone for the previous hour, and this one did that, and feels like the season’s best so far. Even though both are strong, Morgan’s competing in a different class, entirely, and it seems like Morgan cleanly beat Cracker. Morgan is announced as the winner, but it feels like a gag once Ru adds that Cracker’s won, too. Since each girl has won, that means that if they each pull a different lipstick, two girls could potentially be going home. 

But both girls pull Mayhem Miller’s lipstick, which is rough for Mayhem and Morgan, who have been best friends for twenty years. Even though it feels more like India is the girl who has overstayed her welcome, it isn’t really surprising that both the cast vote and Cracker determine that Mayhem is the one to go home, because Mayhem didn’t really put up much of a fight in trying to convince the others that she deserves to stay. You also wonder, if after three consecutive weeks in the Bottom, that the other girls realize that it might be strategic to bank on the possibility that India keeps failing next week in order to maximize their own chances of sticking around? Mayhem has a good attitude about this, serves a little unbothered smirk, and sashays away.

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