By week two of Drag Race the cast can usually be sorted out into frontrunners and also-rans. As of this episode it seems obvious that Pearl has one of the final slots in hand. There probably hasn’t been such a strong early leader since season 3, when EW.com was asking “Does Raja have this season locked up already?”. Rumor has it there will only be two finalists this year and smart money seems to be on Miss Fame being the other, with perhaps Katya as the third most-likely candidate.
It almost certainly won’t be Violet Chachki, who comes off very poorly this week. The episode starts with her proclaiming how she hates Michelle Visage. Of course you do, we all sometimes do. But to announce that on the show itself seems like being a real sore loser—or it would, but for the fact that Violet had actually won the previous week.
This week’s mini-challenge had the queens pose for the camera as leaf-blowers blasted them in their faces with wind. For some reason Moby appeared to help RuPaul judge. Given the show’s love of bawdy puns, it’s a mild surprise that there weren’t any Moby Dick jokes. The criterion for judging isn’t very clear, and all the girls looked hilariously demented, but the winners were announced as Ginger Minj and Trixie Mattel
I swear that the producers sit down every year and try to imagine the most absurd scenarios that they can force upon the queens. (Remember when Sharon, Phi Phi, Latrice and Chad had to do a song and dance while dressed up as dogs?) This year, the girls are split into two teams for the main challenge, Team Trixie and Team Ginger. Both teams must dress up as stewardesses and lip sync through commercials for Glamazonian Airways. As the queens are picked, Violet is second-to-last to be chosen. When there’s a consensus among the cast about your attitude, it’s not the editing.
As the teams head out to dance rehearsal, the choreographer is flummoxed by Miss Fame’s incompetence. “Her hips don’t move like a woman’s hips should move.” I wonder why that is? In all fairness to the queens, it is painfully clear how much work they have to do in a tiny amount of time, and the fact that they manage to perform anything half-decent is a testament to the talent and drive the cast brings to the show.
Some more of Violet’s awkwardness is seen when Miss Fame reveals a personal tragedy. It seems that with the shunting of Untucked to YouTube instead of Logo, we’ll be seeing more of these intense moments in the show proper. Which is perfectly fine, since most of the contestants do have compelling lives and backstories. Miss Fame is no different, discussing how the grandfather who raised her was murdered when she was in high school. Violet’s takeaway? “Miss Fame’s been through a lot, it seems like. It must be really hard to go through a lot like that.” Murder? Hard to go through? Um yes, that seems like a fair conclusion to reach.
The performances of the two teams are quite funny and well-done, especially given the timeframe. One stand-out was Mrs. Kasha Davis, who mugged for the camera with perfect old sitcom realness. Then the girls had to come out in an abbreviated Jet Set Eleganza runway. Michelle Visage, wearing an airplane ring with cringey literalness, attacked Ginger for her Greek-style dress because it’s not what one would wear on a plane. It is exactly, however, what a jet setter would wear on a yacht. But that’s two weeks in a row where a target of Visage’s ire is awarded the win, as Ginger gets the W.
Now it’s time to put on the tinfoil hat for a minute and speculate. It seems pretty clear that Ru will occasionally have a queen who’s gotta go in a given episode, and to make sure that she goes home Ru puts her up against a contestant who doesn’t necessarily belong in the bottom two but will obviously pull off the win. That certainly seemed to be the case this week, at least. First on the chopping block was the hideously terrible and terribly hideous Sasha Belle. But rather than having the flailing Miss Fame lip sync against her, it is Katya who is chosen to perform.
Earlier in the episode it was established that Fame has limited performance experience but Katya has a dance background. Well as soon as the music starts Katya slays Sasha with such ruthlessness that Stalin himself would be proud. While Sasha writhes around like a beached whale (without the empathy that evokes), Katya nails every note. Though we’ve seen a jump-into-a-split before, it’s still impressive. But when Katya slowly slid into a split from a standing position, one almost felt sorry for Sasha.
In the end it was Sasha who got home, feeling dumbfounded given her alleged strategy for how to win the show. Want to win RuPaul’s Drag Race? Talent and personality are key, as are humor and a good sense of style. Give the judges something they haven’t seen before. Now, am I saying the Sasha Belle was the worst contestant in Drag Race history? Pretty much. Even Magnolia Crawford had a schtick at least.