‘RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars’ S7E5 Recap: The Body-Ody-Ody Is Here, And She Keeps The Score
When Jinkx said, "Some say being born is an act of trauma", I felt that.
Normally, this week’s challenge type — turn your trauma into a meaningful, witty minute of television — leaves me a little uneasy, but the All Winners cast are well-equipped to navigate the somewhat exploitative elements.
Instead of nudging queens to discuss things they’re not ready to reveal (Pandora in AS6, Pearl in S7, arguably Kornbread in S14), the ‘condragulations’ speech challenge saw the cast approach the task from a different vantage point: as inarguable success stories, they’re able to reveal some kind of adversity with distance. Or side-step it completely, as was the case with Raja, Monet and Shea, who kept things relatively light. They don’t have to reveal shit if they don’t want to — clearly they won’t get critiqued for being “surface level”, let alone face going home — and all eight queens can write a funny, interesting speech without mining their traumas.
Having said that, my favourites were the rawer speeches by Yvie and Jinkx. Neither necessarily revealed any great truths about themselves but spoke of failure and trauma, respectively, with a surprising depth considering how short their time on the mic was. It’s a real skill to discuss how ‘failure is important’ and “being born is an act of trauma” without falling into clichés or pop-psychology platitudes, and they both did that, for me. I wasn’t tearing up or anything, but they both felt like very lived-in messages that would actually have worked at graduation. But Ru loves the absurd, and Raja gets the star (alongside Jinkx, duh) above Yvie for a bit about being a cult leader, which while good, felt like a bit of consolation for not giving Raja a single star across the past three weeks.
Two Stars? Nancy Pelosi An Inspiration To These Queens? Okay Now We’re Just Making Things Up!
Ru raises her pink tracksuit, elf ears and six toes look from last week with a werkroom outfit that is more confusing than anything that Dall-E could conjure up.
He announces this week’s challenge and that both winners will be awarded two stars — one for themselves, and one to give away to one of the six queens who didn’t win this week. It doesn’t make much sense other than to allow the cast to play some minor mind games, and signposts we should expect more abritrary twists to come. Thankfully, it doesn’t actually matter because who really cares!
Monet, as the blocked queen, gets to pick the line-up order for the speeches. She doesn’t really do anyone dirty bar maybe The Viv, who she puts last (good!) but after Jinkx (bad). That’s a subtle level of pettiness, in return for being blocked last week. In the werkroom, all the queens get to it, and oddly Shea seems the most nervous. She can’t concentrate with all the bantics and yelling, giving off huge “guys!! we need to stop messing around!!!” energy, which unfortunately I relate to.
The queens workshop their speeches with Carson and Nikki Glaser, an actual comedian (was Ross not available?). The only queens they really worry about are Raja, who is going full-force with a cult leader character, and Viv, who is also playing a character of sorts: a drunk version of herself. If you’ve ever seen bad drunk acting, you know how cringe it can be — it’s really, really difficult to pull off, let alone make funny.
Both steam ahead regardless, and are rewarded for it: Raja gets a full Ru cackle for her warlock robe alone, and Viv does a pretty impeccable job, even if I don’t find it that funny. As we were reminded last week, she’s a very good actress, though it does kind of miss the mark of the challenge: watching a sober person be blind drunk is pretty far from inspirational. That’s probably why she’s not up for consideration when it comes to deliberations, as Drag Race and Ru love when obvious jokes (Trinity’s devil!) are done well, and that’s exactly what Viv does here.
Monet fully phones it in this week, knowing she’s blocked; Trinity gives a perfectly tailored speech about struggling to read as a kid; Jaida remains loveable even if I don’t remember what she did; Shea hit the notes but it felt a little robotic, which is maybe a wider criticism I have for her so far this season (and… AS5, possibly); Jinkx obliterates everyone with a story about being hit by a car. All Stars 7 remains a competition to see who can keep up with Jinkx, and it’s a little surprising that the answer’s The Viv, as she started off the show a little unconfident. Her win energised her though, and I guess she can’t win again because the show doesn’t want the same top two as last week.
Justice for Yvie! I supose I’m a little sad because this felt like the first chance she had to win a challenge so far, and given she’s not really regarded as highly as the other winners (unfairly, may I add. She’s so, so good!), the fact that she’s the last to be star-less will no doubt be used by her detractors. It does feel good for Raja to win, finally, though: I almost wish the judges awarded a top three each episode, as I think Yvie, Raja and the Viv would all be doing much better than their track records show. But also, who cares!
Okay So My Barcelona Hotel’s Internet Is Terrible So Here’s An Instagram Video Of The Runway Sorry. Did I Mention I’m In Barcelona?
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This week’s runway theme is all about the RHOSLC S2 trip to Veil where Jen Shah was arrested by Homeland Secruity. Monet comes as a caged bird, desperate to be free: a bold move to support Jen, as is having such a loose reference to veils. But Monet knows she’s not going home, and so ran with her idea — it’s beautiful.
Shea is absolutely stunning in a layered pleated look inspired by her grandmother in the garden, though some of the magic was lost on me when I realised this was a Robert Wan design head to toe. Just wearing designer feels a little like cheating, even if I love it (also, Wan’s description of his own inspiration behind the look and collection this is from is remarkably similar to Shea’s, which is… odd.). I wish the show included Shea shouting out the designer in her voice-over (I reckon she did say it, just because she didn’t mention Valentino when wearing a haute couture look earlier this season either, which seems… impossible… for her to not mention.
Trinity dons her fourth (and, she promises, final) train for the runway. It’s exquisite. No notes. Jinkx’s veil is held up by butterflies, giving it an ethereal, forest nymph quality — I agree with Bob and Manila on the Pit Stop that it probably didn’t need that front veil, but that’s so minor. I don’t love Raja’s Vogue/Voile look as everyone else seems to (the ‘Voile’ pun requires a bit too much explanation), but can’t deny how beautiful it is; Jaida has a similar look but is a little creepier, all in black. Viv stands out from the pack in a blue (didn’t she say in the design challenge she doesn’t wear blue??? was that a joke??) bondage fit where the veil chokes her till she cums, and Yvie looks possibly the most beautiful we’ve ever seen her.
The judges give the win to Jinkx and Raja, which was a mistake not only for making these two queens lip-sync to Lizzo’s ‘Better In Colour’. Both clearly don’t know the words, and getting a white queen to lip-sync to a song about loving your Blackness is… a choice! Maybe this means we’ll finally stop getting Lizzo songs, as the judges are forced to pick Jinkx by default, as Raja just kind of bops around like an auntie at a wedding. Meanwhile, Yvie wins the lip-sync from the sidelines, mouthing every word.
Jinkx may pretty much have a spot in that top four at this stage, but she might struggle in the lip-sync smack-down, if these past few weeks have been any indication. Hopefully they step away from the pop world for her, but not immediately as next week the queens will be split in two for a girl group challenge. The Viv is blocked — retaliation for Viv saying she would have blocked her last week if she hadn’t won — but we won’t find out who the queens give their bonus stars to until next episode. Hopefully they both pick Yvie and all of a sudden we have a new front-runner: chaos!
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