‘RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars’ Recap: Backyard Blitz BBBQ (Extra B Stands For ‘Breast Plate’)
India continues to play the game even after she's been eliminated, but it's a game only she is playing.
Jade Thirlwall said it best: “that’s so upsettin“. Put out your finest piece of chorizo for Alexis Mateo, gone from All Stars 5 far too soon. And all because of a little seed of doubt from India who this week confirmed that she lied about Alexis conspiring against Shea.
Last week, I was happy to give her the benefit of the doubt and say the truth, boringly, was somewhere between the middle. But when pushed on the point in an interview this week, India said that Alexis didn’t try to get her to vote against Shea.
Instead, she and Mayhem asked India, after voting was done, whether she also voted for Shea. A final breast-plate sized spanner in the works, India’s attempt to save herself last week by throwing Alexis underneath the bus ended up taking them both down.
While it’s pretty clear from these recaps I’ve been rooting for Alexis, it wasn’t sad to see her go home now so much as it was sad to see her go under these circumstances. Knowing what we do now — that Derrick queer historian Barry was right about India — it’s a little frustrating to see Alexis backed into a corner over something she didn’t do.
Towards the episode’s end, as she and Blair plead their cases to stay, Alexis is a little reserved and doesn’t match Blair’s fighting spirit. Coming from Alexis, it’s the same as being utterly crushed. She deserved better — not necessarily to win or to make top three, but to go out on better terms.
Having said that, you have to give it up to India for making excellent TV. None of us thought she would be one of All Stars 5‘s main players, but she’s certaintly made herself known.
This week’s challenge was a barbecue ball at Ru’s house, with the queens presenting two looks: a character look as a ‘family’ member Ru invited presented with a voice-over, and an outfit created from barbecue supplies. Unfortunately — and maybe it was the vague theme — this ball was a little deflated.
Please Welcome To The Blitz… Ja’mie Duran
Part of the reason design challenges are usually among Drag Race‘s best episodes is that we spend most of the episode in the werkroom, watching the queens be themselves.
The walk-throughs with Ru take up most of the time though so there’s not too much cute back-and-forth between the queens. Ru dives into Jujubee’s sobriety and talks to Shea about her father and sister passing due to cancer just before S9 aired.
It’s a little tactless — Ru more or less says ‘so, tell us about your dead dad’ — but the moments don’t land as opportunistic as the Ru’s trauma mining has in the past, due to both queens’ reactions. Perhaps that’s because Ru is both long sober and lost her mother to cancer.
As someone who is very open about their sobriety and has talked about it both on the show and elsewhere, Jujubee is perhaps a little more ready to transition into jokes at the end.
Shea’s pain seemingly pours out of her, but there’s a lot of strength in her articulation of grief. The edit is a bit awkward — it looks like she starts crying then Ru just walks away, but after people began to question Ru’s reaction, Shea wrote on Twitter that both Ru and the crew spent a bit of time talking to her that wasn’t included.
While the queens make their looks, Blair discovers a letter India left her, as does Shea. Jujubee can’t find one and goes looking.
When background sticky-beaking through drawers doesn’t reveal one, she settles onto what India left Alexis too, reading out the short and not-so-sweet note: “Alexis, I still love you. Open your heart”.
Sometimes, you realise these drag queens are 30 and 40something-year-olds writing mean letters to each other: between this and India’s ‘four H’s’ sign-off, it’s all just a bit tiring.
What else? Not much really happens in the werkroom. Miz Cracker stresses, Blair says the words ‘high fashion’ 800 times, and Shea shows she’s a sweetheart by going around and helping everyone with their sewing dillemas.
Did Anyone Try The Salad? I Thought The Salad Was Lovely
This week, All Stars has three special guests: two of RuPaul’s sisters sit on-stage at the BBQ in a delightfully awkward scene, and Bebe Rexhar, who must have determined that there were no perverts at the barbecue and assumedly bought along some bad bitches and Rexhars to fill some seats.
Before we move on, Bebe’s choice to head on the show is clearly some SEO bait to bury on Google that very embarrassing feud she had with Aquaria because she and the other S10 finalists didn’t fawn over her backstage one time. I support it fully, and will not remind people of the very embarrassing moment.
First up, the queens introduce their cousin country realness character, complete with a mad-libs voice over. Miz Cracker’s is by far the funniest, as she goes for a white trash Stevie Nicks thing, but Shea and Jujubee also do well.
Blair also goes for a white trash look but ends up like a mixture between Sue Sylvester and Sharon Needles, and Alexis does a wig reveal, which makes no sense for the challenge at hand.
Jujubee wears a very big Jaquemus hat, which is the crossover between Drag Race and hot gay French designers that we deserve.
As for the barbecue elegeanza, Miz Cracker is again the obvious winner — her red-and-white dress is simple, but well-executed, and the little shuttlecock embellishments go a long way. She also manages to look more like Lady Gaga than she did in Snatch Game.
Jujubee isn’t the strongest seamstress, and creates a cute tube dress with little plastic watermelons in homage to Cheryl Dunye The Watermelon Woman, the first feature film directed by a Black lesbian.
Shea goes for a backyard wedding bridal look with gingham chaps, and she sells it, even if it doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny.
In the werkroom, she says working with napkins might’ve been a mistake, and it might just be the combination of the base material and the many working parts — the veil! the flowers! the shuttlecocks at the brest! the chaps! — that makes it look a little unfinished.
Miz Cracker is given the win, and while the new rules say everyone else is up for elimination, the queens quickly decide that it’s down to Alexis and Blair due to the judges’ critiques.
Your mileage may vary: Alexis’ kiddy pool-as-crinoline and cut-up cup dress is really inventive even if it looks a little shabby. It’s certainly much more fun than most of the others, especially Blair’s, which aims for editorial but misses the mark and takes itself way too seriously.
That’s kind of my main criticism of Blair this whole season, really. She’s clearly come back with something to declare — “I’m all grown up now, bitches!” — and as a result hasn’t really ever let loose.
I like Blair: her looks are stunning, and she’s done a solid job in the challenges. But everything is very calculated — the queens say as much back-stage, when they compliment her on how they see how hard she works on the show. But she forgets to have fun — or, if she is joking around in the werkroom, we don’t see it on the show.
Miz Cracker picks Alexis, as do all the girls bar herself. She’s going home either way, but not before lip-sync assassin Roxxxy Andrews comes out to dance to Ariana Grande.
She looks stunning and exudes the quietly confident sexuality of Grande’s Dangerous Woman era, though the song’s a little slow. It’s a hard one to do much to so Roxxxy breaks out the reveals, and while that part doesn’t really make much sense for the song, it’s pretty entertaining all the same.
Cracker’s foray for lip-syncs definitely isn’t this kind of track, and Roxxxy pretty much takes it by default.
Next week, the final four take part in a stand-up challenge, featuring long-overdue guest Jane Krakowski as coach. Surely the words ‘comedy challenge’ alone suggest who our final three will be, but, as Naomi reminds us, life’s not always fair.
RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars streams on Stan, with new episodes each Saturday 2pm AEST. Canada’s Drag Race begins July 3, with episodes dropping each Friday 1pm AEST.
Jared Richards is Junkee’s Night Editor and Drag Race recapper. He’s on Twitter.