‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars’ Recap: Imperfect Match
This week's ep hit a whole new level.
This is the week AS3 came into its own. All Stars? More like FIVE STARS, honey… oh, honey.
For any episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race to be an unforgettable five-star experience you need: a great challenge (well executed), idealogical drag queen workroom conflict, a killer runway, an iconic lip sync, and elimination drama. This week was the first time AS3 hit a home run, and it felt like we had been waiting forever (but actually it was only episode 3. BRB, I need to revaluate some life choices).
Also, it was the return of dreamy guest judge Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman.
The main challenge this week was an extended improv comedy skit, The Bitchelor, riffing on the TV dating reality show of a similar name. The queens were assigned stereotypical characters and paired off to go on double dates with Unreal’s Bowyer-Chapman.
And it was fun. I haven’t laughed this hard watching Drag Race for ages. Not since…
Comedy challenges that call for top-notch improvising skills are typically what separates the queen from the chaff on RPDR. Usually, this line in the sand gets drawn each Snatch Game, but this week AS3 threw the ladies a fun new curve ball, and we got a masterclass in comedy from some of the best in the Drag Race stable.
Trixie’s a comedy queen, and should have had this one in the bag. Her cutaways as the Fake Girl were genius (“I like my men like I like my coffee: incapable of loving me back!”) and her two-faced shtick with Bowyer-Chapman was solid gold. Unfortunately, she only ended up with the bronze this week after she was unable to stand up to Milk, who bulldozed through their scene.
Aja gave us top notes of Farrah Moan as the Needy Girl, but it turns out it was just that one note. This was definitely a redemption (after her 90210 acting challenge in her season), but this week Aja reminded us that she is a clever kid with a lot to learn. Top marks though for her runway, which definitely placed her at the top of the bottom three.
On the opposite end of the spectrum to Aja, BenDeLaCreme romped home with another winning performance this week as the Cougar. The Top Two alarm started to ring when she sexily asked Bowyer-Chapman, “Have you ever taken out a catheter?”
After last week’s bratty behaviour, Milk had a lot to prove, and sadly missed the mark. Milk is clearly a clever kid and landed some great lines, but he committed the grave sin of improv — chewing the scenery and taking up all the oxygen in the room. This was particularly unforgivable given he stepped all over what could have been a win for Trixie, and he landed himself in the bottom for the first time.
Kennedy reminded us that she is a killer improviser (her Little Richard in Snatch Game was one for the ages), stealing the scene off Aja by breaking down the fourth wall as the Party Girl and ending up passed out on the ground, sans wig, declaring (in character) “I’m a man.”
Chi Chi on the other hand was completely overshadowed by Shangela’s hilarious embodiment of a dom lipstick lesbian on the hunt for a “nice, strong, firm…plastic cup” of sperm to impregnate her polyamorous girlfriend. Chi Chi was in the bottom for the third week in a row, up for elimination for the second time. Her weak run thus far hit home and she (perhaps wisely) surmised that she might have been better suited to All Stars 4.
The Lip Sync And The Elimination
For the third week in a row BenDeLaCreme was lip syncing for her life, but this time she was up against the dancing diva of Texas, Ms Kennedy Davenport. I hereby declare this an iconic lip sync for Kennedy, this week’s winner, for the following reasons:
Kennedy was a lip sync assassin in her season, famously obliterating RPDR fan-fave Katya and sending her home with this acrobatic performance. Going into a ‘Green Light’ lip sync, one might expect similar stunt moves, given the beat behind the track.
2. Drama, Mama
WRONG. Instead of pulling out her now iconic and spine crunching moves, Kennedy focused on the narrative found in the lyrics and went for a fully dramatic performance. She ignored the beat and told a story, and everything about this lip sync came through her face face face. (Not unlike this iconic lip sync from Latrice Royale, which happens to be in my top five.) It didn’t hurt that Kennedy pulled off a slow-burn reveal of a gawjus gown that made her shimmer like a Percocet-filled Swarovski goblet at Liza Minnelli’s house.
This week’s lip sync reminded us of the little chink in BenDeLaCreme’s armour, in that her extraordinary ability to do comedy and camp is offset by her inability to deliver pathos or vulnerability.
So, Kennedy was this week’s clear winner and that gave us one of the best sendoffs in All Stars herstory when she sent Milk packing. It has become expected that the top two queen who didn’t win the lip sync reveals who they would have sent home, but this week Milk weighed in and let everyone know he would have sent Kennedy home last week if he had won.
So then when Kennedy won the week and Milk was in the bottom three, you know what was about to go down. Especially since in the workroom during makeup, Kennedy and her little adopted drag sister Chi Chi were chatting with Aja about Milk’s bad behaviour.
Here’s the thing about this elimination though: it may have been personal, but Kennedy is a professional drag queen. She stakes her entire career on her work ethic, and unlike Milk, Kennedy doesn’t necessarily have the luxury of experimenting and taking drag “to the next level” (or at least didn’t before she made it onto the show).
It would have been galling for Kennedy to have felt so disrespected by someone like Milk, who seemed to ooze entitlement and privilege. Kennedy doesn’t suffer fools, and Milk has certainly been acting the fool in more ways than one this All Stars.
After Ep 3, Who Do You Think Is Going To Win?
It will come as no surprise to anyone who has read this column that I think Trixie walked into AS3 with the crown in the bag, if she wanted it. But this week she named precisely what her problem has been until now. Namely, that she floated and then failed in her season, and thus far she is floating through AS3.
The improv challenge might have been hers to win, had she not been paired off with Milk (and the same could be said for Shangela). Trixie may be the ultimate RPDR representation of millennial anxiety — excels at internet culture (see: UNHhhhhh), but lacks the interpersonal, real world skills to prosper in a competitive environment.
It’s not too late for Trixie to take the lead from the middle, but Shangela and BeDeLaCreme are neck and neck for the win at the moment, with Kennedy easily in the mix as top four potential.
Check your form guides, hunties, this one will be close… but don’t place your bets until this Handmaid’s Tale revenge storyline gets played out and the eliminated queens get another shot at the crown.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is fast-tracked from the US on Stan. Read more Drag Race recaps here.
Nic Holas has written for The Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, Archer Magazine, and Hello Mr. You can find him on Twitter @nicheholas, or in his role as co-founder of HIV movement The Institute of Many.