‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Recap 9×08: Queen of Delusion

Michelle Visage. VH1

This week starts with Alexis declaring she’s “thrilled to see the room thinning out.” There’s no doubt that the editors left this particular line in as an ironic dig at the aspiring Broadway star, for reasons that play out fairly swiftly. After last week’s virtually unwatchable 90210 “comedy” acting sketch, we start out with the highlight of every season: the reading challenge. The subtle fact that Valentina wins this one propels her to be the frontrunner for the whole season. If she can do runway and comedy and is a sweetheart who displays vulnerability—well, that’s close to the whole package.

Everyone, as always, has a good time while being called the nastiest names and being accused of being ugly and talentless. Everyone, that is, with one huge exception: Alexis Michelle. She brings up a big point and touches on some heavy issues, getting upset at jokes about her size. There are two types of people who can’t handle comments about their weight: those who have eating/body issues, and narcissists who are comfortable being gently teased but can’t handle being hit hard. Between the constant creeping smirks in the confessionals to the fact that she gets angry instead of wounded, it seem pretty obvious which one applies to Alexis.

In the Meet the Queens videos, it seemed like Valentina might be the mean girl of the season. If anything it turned out she might be the sweetest one there. During the first few episodes, Trinity Taylor made a ghastly impression. Now, she’s demonstrated her talents and the chip on her shoulder seems to have fallen away. She’s also the first one to make jokes at her own expense—and to laugh at them too.

Alexis has gone in the other direction. An earlier Untucked had her berating the queens for not bothering to let her know that her dress wasn’t up to par, possibly costing her the win for the week. She even refused to let the bottom two listen to their songs and prep for their lip sync while she hashed out the absurd issue. Again: two people were up for elimination, but what Alexis felt was important was that she was only getting silver for the week. Horrors!

According to Alexis’s narcissistic “logic,” she helped many of the girls over the past weeks. Therefore, it was their duty (!) in this competition (!!) to tap her on the shoulder and warn her about her dress—which none of the judges actually hated, but just thought was safe and boring. Yet this week we see just how receptive the thin-skinned thick-everything-else queen is to anything that even smacks of criticism. She can’t handle a joke in a joke challenge, but she can supposedly handle a real “your dress sucks” comment? No one actually admits “I can’t handle criticism.” It is especially the self-absorbed who think they can, because they believe that the only real criticism they would ever get are tweaks here and there—nothing remotely serious, since they are so talented.

As a rule, RuPaul is very receptive, empathetic and understanding but has no time for BS. So to hear him flat out tell Alexis, “So you feel like it’s OK for you make fun of someone else, but not someone else to make fun of you” and nip that crap in the bud—instead of letting the drama play out over the hour—was glorious.

The main challenge this week is a roast, at Michelle Visage’s (surprise) expense. If people wonder what makes this series great, it’s episodes like this one. We get to witness the heights of vicious, bitchy commentary—and the lows of crashing and burning on stage (Trinity and Alexis) as well as the cringing at mean, nasty non-jokes being delivered straight to people’s faces (Farrah). Peppermint gets the win, perhaps out of sympathy since she hasn’t won a challenge yet.

As for the bottom three, at the very least Trinity came out as a realized (albeit stock) character, and though her humor fell completely flat she kept the vibe upbeat and fun—almost impossible to do when dying onstage in a comedy challenge. That shows real self-confidence and professionalism. It’s therefore no surprise that the bottom two are Farrah Moan and Alexis Michelle.

The song is a Dolly Parton number, probably much more up Alexis’ number (being a showtunes gal) than Vegas’s Farrah. It’s not a particularly dance-y tune and though both queens give it their all it’s no surprise that Alexis gets to stay and Farrah is sent home. Though the queen of delusion that is Alexis will surely spin this as “whatever doesn’t kill me only makes me bigger and stronger,” she has virtually zero chance of winning this season. It’s getting harder and harder to see how anyone other than Shea or Valentina takes the crown.

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Recap 9×08: Queen of Delusion