‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Recap 8×07: Oh No She Better Vote

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Episode seven starts with Derrick Barry literally crying that at least three queens in the room want to see her go home—a sentiment shared by many on the internet. The vitriol Derrick gets online is quite out of proportion to her shortcomings, real or exaggerated. Unlike such dreadful past queens as Sasha Belle and Monica Beverly Hillz, Derrick is demonstrably talented: She knows how to paint, and she knows how to dance. One would think that that would be enough to reign in the extreme hate, but apparently not. That said, it seemed to be a given that she was going home this week. But wait—we immediately cut to Thorgy predicting that Derrick or Chi Chi is the next to go! That’s universal reality-television code for the speaker being, in fact, the one eliminated that very episode. Up until this quote, it hadn’t even seemed like Thorgy was in any sort of danger. Very worrisome for the beloved Ms. Thor and her fans.

This episode’s mini-challenge is pure silliness. Drag Race loves to take X-rated concepts and put them over—quite transparently—in a G-rated fashion. The queens are tasked with taking a group of underwear models and, based on one random fact about each one, deducing whether they prefer the “top bunk” or the “bottom bunk.” Spoiler alert: there was only one top in the whole crew. Derrick wins the prize (some mattresses) though it has no significance for the competition at large.

For the main challenge, the queens were put into pairs and cast as political opponents. This challenge pretty precisely mirrors the season four “frenemies” challenge, which had the contestants paired with their mirror opposites. We were earlier treated to a clip with Thorgy talking smack about Chi Chi in order to establish animosity between them, and Bob’s rivalry with Derrick has been a running issue for weeks now. That left Naomi Smalls and Kim Chi, although the two quite obviously were enemies in no sense (and in fact are both primarily look queens.)

After two lackluster episodes in a row, this is probably the best episode this season so far. By the time it gets down to six queens, all the filler queens and also-rans have usually been weeded out. Now, the most obvious to go is, in fact, not the one who usually leaves. In the aforementioned season four episode, for example, it was Willam who was disqualified when by all accounts DiDa Ritz was next on the chopping block.

The queens have to generate campaign ads that promote themselves as presidential candidates while also smearing their respective opponents. The six queens are all so committed, funny and professional that it’s hard for the show to make it seem like anyone flubbed it. One of the standard Drag Race moments is a note from Michelle or RuPaul, followed by the queen staring blankly (alongside a musical sting to play up their cluelessness). This week only Kim Chi who seems unable to take direction correctly. No matter how many times Michelle and Carson tell her to read her line as “What a fat ass!”, she keeps repeating “What a fat ass!” Even funnier is the fact the Kim wrote the line herself, and Michelle is reduced to literally delivering the line as it’s meant to be said—to no avail.

The runway this week is based on perhaps the most inspired look the series has ever seen, namely Detox’s grayscale appearance from the season five finale (which even got her mentioned on the Drudge Report.) The queens interpreted the “black and white” guideline in various ways, with mixed results. Bob’s take was a stunning harlequin/crazy clown getup drawing from the movie Freaks (although the blonde wig seems to be wrong for the challenge.) Derrick took a page from Violet’s first episode last year and had a black dress that unfolded into white. Clearly Derrick didn’t understand the challenge was to make herself look like a black-and-white photograph as well, applying makeup to her face alone. Naomi Smalls continued to rule the runway, combining a perfect color palette with the same short dress that Raven wore at one point during season two. Kim also excelled enormously, with a French mime makeup that was truly a work of art. It wasn’t clear at first if the time constraints that the queens paint under would allow Kim to showcase the makeup skills that got her cast, but this week dispelled that fear. Finally, we had Thorgy and Chi Chi, neither of whom delivered looks that were particularly on-point or memorable.

Finally, we get to the ads, and they were hilarious. Despite clocking in at a mere forty-five seconds, they were overall so funny that they seemed much longer. Bob and Derrick especially hit joke after joke after joke, among the best comedy the series has ever seen. Naomi also knocked it out of the park. It’s far too easy to underestimate her since past fashion queens like Raja were rarely funny, but her commercial nailed it.

Then we get to Kim Chi. Her ad wasn’t particularly funny and led to the most painful moment of the season so far. Kim has a strong lisp—mocked very playfully by her partner Naomi in her ad—and as a result of this is no doubt overly insecure about public speaking. So while the judges critiqued her delivery, she understandably took the criticisms very hard and was brought to tears. Their points were more about her inflection than her pronunciation, but emotionally that was obviously a hard thing for Kim to accept. Heartbreaking.

Finally, we had Thorgy and Chi Chi. Thorgy has been one of the two funniest queens this season, but her ad fell completely flat. She seemed more invested in presenting a certain character (in an 80s suit but an old-timey radio diction) than in presenting actual jokes. Chi Chi’s ad wasn’t noteworthy either, but even hers was funnier than Thorgy’s. Now we come to the issue: are the queens going to be judged as teams, or as individuals? It’s never clear (and it seems unclear even to the queens ahead of time). If it were individuals, then Kim would be lip syncing for certain. But whether by design or by luck, Kim is spared. Bob and Derrick share the obvious win while Thorgy and Chi Chi have to lip sync against each other.

While it might seem intuitive that a dance song is easier to perform to, the slow, intense numbers often bring out the most emotion. Jennifer Holliday’s “And I Am Telling You” is hardly uptempo, but the lip sync is also the best this season and one of the best ever. Despite Thorgy’s needless cartwheel at the end, what we see of her performance is stellar. The camera seems to spend an inordinate amount of time on Chi Chi, but every second is perfection. By the time her necklace breaks, showering the stage with beads, it’s clear that Thorgy is going home.

UPDATE: Five questions with this week’s eliminated queen, Thorgy Thor:

Observer: During that last episode, did you know that you would be judged as teams?

Thorgy Thor: Any intelligent person that watches the show knows there’s a lot you don’t see. There was so much left out of that episode that I was disappointed. The actual ad campaign they showed was shorter and they took things out, like really funny comments. If you watch Untucked, when I got in the van, I said ‘Where was Chi Chi then?” That was a whole joke from the video that got cut.

How it went down, in the bunk challenge they said we would be judged individually. I got a little carried away with my character, they wanted hashtags and sound bites. I should have gone stupid. Then, during Untucked, they told us that they switched the song and made it a Dreamgirls track. Chi Chi should not have been in the bottom two, but if I lip synced against the other bottoms they would have been sent home. So I knew during Untucked that I was being orchestrated to be sent home.

I host a viewing party every week in Brooklyn at Metropolitan. I make a lot of cash and have a really good time. I did one this Monday and the crowd went crazy, and that hashtag #JusticeForThorgy happened. I love that everyone is pissed that I got kicked off.

Can you let us in on the whole drama between Acid Betty and the Brooklyn scene?

I refute all of that. Acid Betty was probably just talking for a long time and they kept that in. We are both pre-YouTube, pre-Drag Race queens, we also both lived in Brooklyn before it was cool. It was just affordable. I could count on one hand how many queens were in Brooklyn when I started ten years ago. I helped Betty create a scene, and now people move to Brooklyn for that. Acid Betty is just her own entity, her own creative soul.

Is it true that you auditioned all eight seasons? How close did you get each time?

Every single one. Back during an early season, you could upload a profile and fans got to vote. I think Jessica Wild got on that way. I uploaded this thing and people got to click. We started with a couple of thousand contestants and each day it turned into top this and that. I got top 500 and then 100 and I was like Ooh! And then top 25, that’s pretty damn good for people who don’t know me. Season #3 showed a clip of mine with a blue wig which I got from the dollar store and they told me I was on. Then I was walking to the subway and saw an ad with all the contestants. And it happened to be I signed this big thing, they just flat out lied to me. I lost a lot of gigs and a lot of money that summer. Every other season after that they called me and told me I’m on their radar, that my vid was their fave.

Where did you get that crazy shirt for the confessionals?

Some thrift store. I have like 100 different versions of that. It’s so hideous and so cool.

You seemed to be convinced every week you were going to be in the bottom. Was there a sense of preparedness when it finally actually happened?

I have so much to say to that! I think they made me out to be insecure, but I’m a Gemini, a little ADD and a perfectionist. I’ll pick everyone’s brain for their opinion but I’ll do what I want in the end. No matter what they said I went with what I thought was right. My “second guessing” wasn’t second guessing, it was getting people’s opinions.

I was happiest being on the show because I like constantly having something to do. It’s the camera, and then it’s the challenge, and then it’s over here. You go to the hotel, and after a couple of hours of sleep they wake you up at 7am and I was ready. I also loved the drama of it all. I’d stir the pot, like, “Kim Chi, did you hear what Bob said about you?” Just to watch people argue.

Getting eliminated was not a release and it was not a shock. It was kind of, “OK, if that’s what you guys want.” I got to showcase who I am. I was very proud of myself. I knew from day one how they were treating certain girls, that there was no way I was going to win no matter what I did. I could have sprouted wings and flown across the stage, it wouldn’t have mattered.

  ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Recap 8×07: Oh No She Better Vote