‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ S14E3 Recap: Balls Busted

Odd themes sink this pair of balls.

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There is a unique and particular humiliation to watching RuPaul’s Drag Race alone at 10am on a Sunday at the Victorian State Library — among the people queuing outside for the opening— then spending hours screen capping and formatting a compilation of hideous drag queen looks. But it must be done: I am, after all, visiting Melbourne to Yassify The Dome.

This week, our cast met, including the two previously eliminated queens, who returned to absolutely no build-up, and Ru challenged the cast of fourteen to each present three looks for one of two balls: that’s 42 looks, so you’d be forgiven if you can literally remember nothing that happened. I barely did even after my second viewing — this was a sensory overload, and also, dare I say, not very good? (I dare!!!)

When it came to the runway, my friends and I were confused and had to double-check whether they made all three looks in the werkroom, as it …seemed as though they had.  But they hadn’t, just (“just”, as if it’s not awe-inspiring) the wedding looks. I’m not sure why it was so underwhelming (to me), other than perhaps the themes themselves weren’t very inspiring.

While the 14 queens competed against each other this episode, there were two balls: the first premiere group had a ‘Hide & Chic’ theme of camouflage-animal prints, and the latter was given ‘Red, White and Blue’. Oddly disparate/unrelated, even though they both included variations on the same three runways: ‘resort wear’, ‘evening ware’ & ‘bridal couture’.

We also had some amazing patriotic looks for S12’s Stars & Stripes runway (and there’s a few other instances, too), so it all just feels a little phoned in on an episode design level? It was like the producers said, “what if we did a ball but made it as non-sensical as our acting challenge scripts, which people love?”. (Or, for the Las Cult readers, the third graders were invited to write an ep of Drag Race.)

It’s a shame, as I liked getting to see so many looks/having a ball this early is a fun chaotic, and the two in one could work, too. It was overwhelming in a good way: we’ve seen a lot of each queen now, and have a good sense of this cast. There are a lot of strong competitors here, and the queens who… aren’t as strong… are really interesting and feel genuinely unique (this isn’t shade, I mean it as a compliment! That was also not shade)! This cast is packed with loveable queerdos.

Do These Things Three To Slay Another Day: Carry A Chocolate Bar On The 2nd Tuesday Of The Third Month, And Walk Backwards Through The Fog

Before the ball begins, we get an incredibly convoluted moment where the queens sign a chocolate bar they pick at random that they’ll open at elimination. If you’re the one with a golden ticket, you get to stay. It felt odd they made such a big deal out of the signing process, to establish it couldn’t be rigged by production: we all know it’s rigged! Speaking of rig, Maddy was left a little flustered about what to do in front of the pit crew, which almost justifies the whole chocolate bar device (which we all KNOW will create a double shantay between two top contenders/best friends). Almost.

rupaul's drag race s14e3

Powerful, important.

I hate to say it, but Maddy just seems very uncomfortable on the show this episode in the werkroom and runway, and when Ru later says she needs a widdle edge, I couldn’t help but wonder: why exactly does she do drag?

I know we’re all already over all the Maddy takes, but Ru is right. There is something missing from her presence on-stage, which so far mostly focuses on characters with clear storylines/with a lot of ‘theatre kid’ energy. And I don’t mind that (I loved it last week!), but it does lack a certain passion — I’m not sure if I can see Maddy deriving power/confidence from her drag in the way queer people do. I don’t think that’s because she’s straight, but maybe because she doesn’t ‘need’ drag, or she doesn’t need to pull from that ‘cunt pussy queen werk diva’ feminine energy that (as annoying as all those words are) is incredibly liberating for lots of queer people.

This is also a lot of projecting! And it’s not fair to say! I don’t know how Maddy feels about drag, and I would love for the above paragraph to age terribly in a few weeks’ time. But she is also just clearly very overwhelmed and isn’t sure where her space is on the show.

One queen who is assured of her place centre-stage is Kornbread. Every quip, every moment: a star! She even decided the episode needed a mini-challenge and spent $1000 of her own money for the good of TV. By God, she is a WINNER regardless of how the eps shake out.

We simply must keep these balls moving, but this episode managed to squeeze in a lot of sweet moments with the queens. Somewhat unlikely friendships (Willow & Kornbread, Lady & Angeria), Kerri living her delusion with her ‘dress’ in the werkroom, Orion disclosing her mother’s suicide: I know the queens have only just all met, but there’s a real warmth in the werkroom right now. (It’s entirely possible I am finding what I need to find here, but so be it!)

Red, White & Blue

Runway baby! Let’s start patriotic: from left to right, we’ve got red resort wear, white evening gown and wedding couture. I’m going to order them from my most to least liked, beginning with… Angeria, I guess. She’s just so well put together, is so poised on the runway, and has a great theatricality to everything she does. I’m into it! The judges agree, and she just misses the win this week.

rupaul's drag race s14e3

Okay I put the wedding dress in the middle by accident

Daya really came out strong this week, with a set of diverse looks that show she’s not just Crystal Methy’d Redux. Very happy to see her back.

rupaul's drag race s14e3 recap

The middle is very ‘Bad Romance’-esque, no?

Jorgeous is a bit of a surprise in the top three this week. I like her looks more than most (again, I think she has a real presence that makes up for the simple ‘disco woman dress’), but her accidental confederate and Puerto Rico flag dress isn’t exactly on-theme for wedding. I don’t care, but it’s the sort of thing the judges normally hate.

rupaul's drag race s14e3 recap

That white look though.

Everyone else in RW&B was fine/more or less equal. Lady Camden is probably the one queen I don’t feel like I quite get yet, but I like all the structural elements in the white dress & the wedding couture she made. Interesting! (Not shade, sincere.)

rupaul's drag race s14e3 recap

Lady kind of looks like Kyle Richards in the middle?

DeJa reminds/lets us know she’s a seamstress this episode, and these dresses do seem immaculately made from what I know of seamstressing (whether or not Michelle makes a face at ripped tights or not, or the camera zooms in on an unfinished hem).

rupaul's drag race s14e3 recap

The ruffles on the side.

If you watch Untucked, you learn that Jasmine talks a lot and is perhaps already getting on some of the girls’ nerves. I like the lobster claws, though it makes me wish for a full Her (the legendary Powerpuff Girls villaintrx) look on the stage one-day.

rupaul's drag race s14e3 recap

I am 99% confident you could find a photo of Zooey Deschanel wearing basically Maddy’s red jumpsuit, and possibly even find it in a She & Him music video. Did the second look get explained at all?

Hide & Chic

From left to right, zebra print resort, leopard evening, and the werkroom-made animal print wedding dress. Willow nabs the win this week, which I don’t necessrily agree with, but there is something nice about the show rewarding less production-heavy drag: reminds me of the early seasons. (Again, not shade).

rupaul's drag race s14e3 recap

I think Ru only did ‘Wiwwow Pill’ once this episode??

Bosco is really cementing her place as one-to-watch, though it feels inevitable Michelle will call out the horns and her trademark brows at some point.

rupaul's drag race s14e3 recap

I love those leopard print pants a lot.

After a shaky start, Alyssa established that pageantry we’ve heard so much about. Maybe next week’s acting challenge will show another side to her, or maybe they’ll just encourage her to ‘go really big’ to overcome any language barrier??? Whos to say.

rupaul's drag race recap s14e3

The stage lights correspond to the animal print? That’s the power of a coffee enema.

Kerri tells us she doesn’t sew, and then she tells us on the runway. May we all be as beautifully delusional as her selling that dress — look at that pose! I can’t argue with it! The dress is now beautiful!

rupaul's drag race recap s14e3

The first two looks are my fave she’s done yet, too.

Kornbread wins the episode in every way except the actual challenge, which she is fine at. It does not matter.

rupaul's drag race recap s14e3


After being sent ‘home’, Orion is almost in the bottom two again for laying on her schtick a bit thick. I don’t care, I really love it.

rupaul's drag race recap s14e3

Always appreciate a Heathers nod (even though they played croquet, not golf).

And then there’s June. It was hard to watch: she really crumbled in confidence this episode and lost almost it all for her 2nd and 3rd walks. It’s over long before her outfit falls apart during the lip sync to Kylie’s ‘I Love It’, which is more of a loss by default than Maddy outperforming her.

rupaul's drag race s14e3 recap

Not moving those leaves really broke me.

Next week, June returns with Elliott With Two Ts, as they act in a ‘sizzle reel’ acting challenge, similar to the Untucked lipsync during S5? Until then, stay enemated.

RuPaul’s Drag Race S14 is available to stream in Australia on Stan, with episodes dropped each Saturday 3pm AEDT. 

Jared Richards is Junkee‘s Drag Race recapper, and a freelancer who writes for NMEThe Big IssueThe Guardian and more. He’s across the internet as @jrdjms