It’s unclear who would be the person to launch an urgent petition to make sure every Drag Race episode was ninety minutes, but it sure should happen immediately. Frankly, I’m positive most fans would be happy if some of the queens were simply locked in a Big Brother style house and never allowed to leave. The longer shows allow for far more context and far less edited storylines (see Thorgy Thor’s interview at the end of last week’s recap for more on that).
We start this week with some leftover lipstick shade from Thorgy, hoping for a Bob/Derrick/Naomi final three. Thorgy was obviously still upset that A) Kim Chi didn’t have to lip sync last week despite having a poor video and B) Chi Chi wiped the floor with her in one of the best lip syncs in series history. The queens immediately start ripping into Derrick Barry for her clothes and her makeup, which she responds to by actually being receptive for once.
Then comes the mini-challenge.
The annual puppet show is basically a twist on the reading challenge. Usually by the time it gets to the final five, all the remaining queens are quite good at throwing shade. This year that is certainly the case. Derrick immediately reverts to her defensive and snippy manner, attacking Naomi’s bit despite the challenge being a good-natured roast. At one point she even mocks Naomi’s effeminate speech pattern almost like some high school bully. If Derrick isn’t the most cringe-inducing queen the series has ever seen, it’s hard to think of who is. (Shannel? Serena Cha Cha?)
Every other queen enjoys getting ripped on, and has the self-respect and awareness not to take themselves too seriously (on a show about men wearing dresses!). But Derrick can’t help but heckle Naomi—“That sucked!”—as she does her thing. It’s very reminiscent of Phi Phi refusing to have a sense of humor during season four’s puppet show. Chi Chi wins with her Bob impression, and of course good-natured, comic Bob was laughing the hardest at the reads. Seconds after the challenge is over, Derrick tears right into Naomi again.
If this episode were shorter, we’d probably miss the prolonged exchange. The two refuse to back down, and it turns into a match of bitchy badminton as each comes for the other one. Even the legendary Phi Phi/Sharon battle was far shorter than this (or at least it felt that way). The argument is the most intensely awkward since Pearl and RuPaul stared each other down last season, and the whole time it’s a question of when will the madness stop? (Hopefully never.)
At this point in the season it seems like Bob the Drag Queen pretty much is a shoo-in to take home the crown. Thorgy would have been the Adore Delano with an outside chance, but between Bob’s challenge wins and her popularity with the fans—which is what seems to have been the determining factor since season four (Ru’s no dummy)—it feels like a given. The question is if she will ever have to lip sync, as the past two winners never had to.
For the main challenge the five will have to put forward three looks: a baby drag outfit; an outfit inspired by their mothers; and an outfit made out of literal books. The queens also will have to put on a dance number a la Strangers With Candy’s protagonist Jerri Blank, in what is probably the best worlds-collide moment in television history. (But wait, there’s more of the Derrick/Naomi fight first!)
The dance performance is pretty perfunctory and pointless. It seems like an afterthought to the main event, the Book Ball. By the time we see the ball’s first round, we know that Derrick is in trouble. One of the fatal mistakes on Drag Race is listening to people’s advice. Milk doing glamour and Max losing the white hair got them both sent home immediately. This episode, Derrick decides to paint her brows on for the first time, showing that she is willing to drag up her makeup—only instead of looking like a queen, she looks like a perpetually surprised loon with too much Botox. It is ludicrously tragic and tragically ludicrous, and her runways are by far the worst of the five. Kim Chi wins, which is hardly a huge shock. This challenge is right up her alley, and precisely what she excels at.
What’s surprising is how strong every else is for every single look. In fact it’s clear that Bob will be the one lip syncing with Derrick, though not due to flubbing the challenge at all. Her looks are quite solid, and are only comparatively the second-worst. The lip sync itself is to an old Sylvester track. We all know Derrick is an excellent dancer and makes a living that way. The question is whether her dance skills, like her drag, are versatile, or if she’s just a jack of one trade. The answer becomes immediately obvious. Though Bob is hardly doing backflips and splits, her performance is far more in tune with the song than Derrick’s pop princess moves. This season’s villain is finally sent home.
UPDATE: Six questions with this week’s eliminated queen, Derrick Barry:
Observer: Your Britney makeup skills are obviously amazing. Do you think you could make anyone look like Britney or is that unique to your bone structure?
Derrick Barry: I think I can do a similar makeup style on anyone but I don’t know that I could make them look like Britney. I wouldn’t mind trying! I think she has one of the coolest faces in the world.
You look so tiny compared to everyone else. How tall are you?
That’s because I worked with a bunch of monsters this season. I’m only 5’9”. It was a really tall season. My heels are all four inches, and every episode I was over six foot. I think Naomi is like 6’4”. They should all be playing basketball.
It’s very hard to tell who you actually didn’t get along with, and who it was just the show. What is your relationship like with the rest of the cast?
They’re all so creative, and they’re all so talented. I feel like even if I did fight with someone, we made up right up away. Especially with Bob, right away we apologized. You move on that fast. For the viewers, they don’t want to believe that, they want to think we hate each other. That’s just not the show. I think I’m in a better place with everyone now. I got to right a lot of the wrongs in Untucked.
What did it feel like watching yourself?
It’s weird watching it back because I realized how stressed out I was. I didn’t get to be myself all the time. I was always worried about what’s coming next, I couldn’t believe I was there another week. I doubted myself a lot which kind of made me come off like I didn’t know what I’m doing. I wish people would have seen more of the lightheartedness. It’s hard to go through everything you’re going through on the show and be yourself at the same time. You’re not eating, you’re not sleeping.
How are you dealing with the hate?
The most horrible thing someone said was that they wished my suicide attempt was successful. I was like, That was so long ago! How did they know about that? Just kidding. People are so cruel. Why would you ever say that to someone? What if that were true and someone wasn’t as strong as I was? What a horrible thing to say. After the fourth episode, I didn’t let it get to me. Like on Snatch Game, even if I placed high they were still very mean. Some people thought I should have gone home after the political episode that I won…and that was the cast!
I don’t understand it and I never will. I’ve heard these stories from Drag Race girls. I thought people would like me, I get along with them in meet and greets. For some reason, the Drag Race fans have it out for everyone. It’s not just me, it’s everyone and RuPaul gets it the worst! Every week, it’s “you shouldn’t have sent this person home” and “you better not run into me in public.”
Did you ever consider bald-with-an-umbrella Britney for snatch game?
Absolutely not, there was no way. I would like to continue being a Britney impersonator for the rest of the my life. Unless I do SNL, there’s no way I’m making fun of Britney. I know Snatch Game is close to SNL, but it’s not.