‘RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars’ S7E2 Recap: Everybody Loves Puppets
Justice for Dave, nine years later.
Just when I’d all but given up on Snatch Game as a format, in comes the All Winners cast with not one but two Snatch Games that had me screaming “shut up!” and “stop!” at my TV. As close to perfection as we’ll get.
With this cast, we knew Snatch Game would be good: Trinity, Jinkx, Viv and Shea have all won the challenge before, and Monet came close too. But all eight queens were funny — not to be rude (though I’m sure she’d agree), not even Yvie bombed! Sure, relatively she was less polished (choosing Rico Nasty as one of her characters was such an obviously poor choice, I wish her sisters stopped her!), but in any other Snatch Game, her disarmingly sexy Boogieman would have put her towards the top.
What a masterclass of an episode, from Jinkx’s Judy Garland to Raja’s Madame to Monet’s Mike Tyson and Trinity’s double-whammy of Lucifer and Leslie Jordan. It’s probably safe to say each queen had a stronger performance and one was an obvious backup, but combined, everyone had at least one strong showing. Since there’s so much to discuss, I might steal the old ‘power rankings’ structure of other recaps.
I know I invent the rules of my own rucaps, but it’s near-impossible to rank these performances, but the easiest choice, by far, is putting Jinkx first.
Her Natasha Lyonne was solid, but her Judy Garland is easily one of the best performances we’ve ever seen. From breaking out into song to looking straight down the camera and acknowledging that S5 makeover star Dave didn’t kill Judy, Jinkx bodied everyone else and Renée Zellweger too.
Every beat had a point and a buildup to something greater, from asking for Ru’s name only to later call her “Broom”, or from the repetition of asking for her camera. PER-FECT-ION, especially when she made the Snatch Game continue as Ru tried to wrap filming up: you could accuse her of showboating, but when it’s this fun, what of it?
I’m a little torn between picking second place: the judges went with Trinity, but I’m gonna give it to Raja, even if her second performance as Diana Vreeland barely got any screentime. But just look at Raja as this fucking Puppet.
The prosthetics with the makeup was so impressive, the strings on her arms; visually, this is beyond, but there were jokes to back it up. Yeah, the ‘Summer diamonds’ line is older than Lady Bunny (remember when Jaymes Mansfield tried it out to crickets in S9?), but I’m choosing to believe that was a meta-joke about puppet humour. Raja is remembered as a fashion eye-con, but she’s proved that she’s very, very funny too, and has a wealth of references that don’t merely play to Ru’s nostalgia, but works with a modern audience too. (I had no idea who Wayland Flowers was either, don’t worry). And what we saw of Vreeland was very funny, gave me Drew Droege as Chlöe Sevigny: plus the transformation is pretty remarkable here, too.
Trinity probably edged out Raja for the judges with two equally strong performances, rather than one clear highlight. Playing a little faggy devil is a bit of a cheap/obvious joke and isn’t my favourite of the night even if it did make me laugh, but it’s a choice that works really well for Snatch Game, opens up so many easy one-liners. And there’s also the meta-element, which I was a little surprised the show didn’t mention (maybe it was cut for time?) — Trinity was embroiled in a bit of a Reddit controversy when people linked an account called SheDevilByNight to her. The account purported to be a Black trans woman who loved (and often defended) Trinity: whether or not it was actually her (it’s not as proven as Reddit would like you to believe), the whole thing really coloured a lot of people’s judgement of her. There’s no way Trinity played the devil by coincidence; this is pure troll.
Add to that a very sharp Leslie Jordan — who even stole the last laugh of the night from Jinkx’s Judy by correcting her rendition of the Drag Race theme — and you’ve got a masterclass. Like her AS4 performance as Caitlyn Jenner, it might not really feel that original, but it’s certainly very smart and strategic. TTT is a competitor.
Okay, Jaida’s Lady Chablis was fine, but her Prince made me laugh almost as much as Jinkx’s Judy Garland. Michelle said it was “so stupid” and bad that it was good, but I thought it was a great rendition of a ridiculous, confusing icon. Prince would whisper that Lil Nas X and Lady Bunny released “Old Old Road”, and then lick his nipple. Plus, Jaida looked HOT. I don’t have to explain myself!
You know it’s a tight race when Monet’s Mike Tyson is towards the bottom of the list. Individually, it was one of my faves of the night (plus Monet, regrettably, looked hot as Mike), but his performance as Martin Lawrence’s character Sheneneh didn’t really connect for me, probably because I didn’t know the character. I’m never a huge fan of playing an actor or comedian’s character, as it feels like a bit of a cop-out: smart if you’re not a strong performer, but I expect more from Monet. Very clearly her back-up, when Mike Tyson was, to borrow Jinkx’s sporting terms, a knockout.
Viv’s performances as Joanna Lumley’s Patsy Stone and Catherine Tate’s Nan are both really strong, too, and she doesn’t just repeat another comedians’ punchlines. I really enjoyed whenever she was on-screen (which wasn’t a lot), but I wish one of her choices wasn’t a fictional character. I hope Viv gets time to shine later in the season: she was amazing in E1, but like she says, there’s a heap of huge personalities here.
I’m pretty skeptical of Shea choosing TikTok star Elsa Majimbo as a character, but maybe that’s just because I think all TikTok comedians are pretty one note, even if they are funny. Her second choice to play Miss J Alexander was much more lively and interesting, and also offers me a chance to link Leiklei47’s new track featuring Miss J called “Jay Walk”. Both had some good moments and never had a joke fall flat by my count, but it did feel like Shea took her foot off the accelerator for an ep: even so, she’s better than most Snatch Game players.
I love that Yvie leaves this episode happy that she’d “redeemed” her S11 Snatch Game, as this is easily the weakest showing of the bunch even if she’d also win “most improved”. Like I said, Rico was just a piss-poor choice, but her twist on the Boogieman was really fun: the punchlines didn’t always hit, but it was weird, entertaining and overall funny, which is pretty much Yvie summed up. Plus she looked so GOOD. I’ve always been on the ‘Yvie HOT’ train, so I’m glad everyone’s caught up even if it was weird to see Ru’s critiques this week just be “you’re hot”.
Having just ranked the queens’ performances, these Snatch Games really did feel like a victory lap for everyone. No one was stressed (well, maybe Yvie as Rico), and every one just sat back and had fun. It was a nice shift from how anxiety ran S14’s Snatch Game (and a lot of the season, really): that’s the nature of the competition and I love the drama (and by God imagine no eliminations in S14), but there’s something to be said for letting the queens be at ease and just do their thing.
This week’s runway is all about leather, and my God. Were these queens given extra time to prep for this season? Yes, all of these queens have more funds and resources to play with, but it’s the concepts that are really shining through. But maybe that’s just what it means to be a winner. (Side note: this makes me realise just how good Willow Pill’s runways were. An unbelievable mind that could compete with these queens before she was even crowned!).
I’m particularly enjoying Monet’s glow-up. This dress is stunning. And to steal Raja’s thing, I’m calling a trend alert between her and Jaida: brown is in! Jaida’s Matrix-inspired runways is one of my favourites of the night — a straightforward idea done really, really well.
Nobody does it like Raja, but I want to shout out Yvie’s inflatable hair too. I think the main thing I love about this series so far is that it’s celebrating each queen’s lane, rather than trying to get them to show versatility: each has a distinct style and type of drag, and they’re all standing shoulder-to-shoulder, whether they’re as large as Viv’s or as lotioned as Shea’s in her Basquiat-Catwoman suit. Stunning.
The judges give the top two of the week to Jinkx and Trinity, which is also a helpful way to show how the ‘blocking’ system works: Trinity has won, but doesn’t earn a star, which is what will be counted at the competition’s end ahead of the final lipsync tournament. The two duke it out to Adele’s ‘Rumour Has It’ — between that and the guest judge being UK socialite/IT girl Daphne Guiness, I wonder if this episode was geared towards being The Viv’s moment just as last week was clearly lined up for Shea. Jinkx wins the lip-sync, and decides to block Shea. Just desserts for last week, and a sign that the blocking system could actually get pretty complicated.
Next week, the queens take on a ball. I can’t wait to see what Raja and Jaida do in particular. Until then!
RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars S7 is available to stream in Australia in Stan, with new episodes dropping AEST 6pm each Friday.
Jared Richards is Junkee‘s Drag Race recapper, and a freelancer who writes for NME, The Big Issue, The Guardian and more. He’s across the internet as @jrdjms