‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars’ Recap: Martyr? I Barely Know Her
The most dramatic episode of the season so far.
Hey Kitty Girls! Annnnnnd we’re back! After two dud eps, this week AS3 returned to five-star form and boy howdy did it deliver. This week was the rudemption ep we’ve all been waiting for, and if that wasn’t enough there was herstory-making elimination drama AND a Spice Girl-esque challenge. So stop right now, thank you very much. I need somebody because…
This Week’s Shade
Where to begin! Not only did the eliminated queens return this week for a second chance to get back on their bullshit win the crown, but BenDeLaCreme pulled the ultimate stunt queen move when she sent herself home. We’ll get to that face crack of the millennium moment shortly, but first let’s look at the definitive drama ranking of the rudemption queens.
Milk’s rudemption narrative was not one of triumph, but about being made painfully aware of his arrogance and privilege. In a twist that will shock no-one remotely familiar with intersectionality, that revelation came thanks to the emotional labour and heavy lifting performed by Kennedy, who sunk her bell hooks into Milk’s exposed whiteness.
Milk has become a cipher for the many spoilt young white queens who turn up on the show and talk about drag revolutions, while in the background, hard-working POC queens don’t always have the luxury of being focused on becoming “the future of drag.” Milk and Kennedy’s interaction may have been moving, had Milk not turned around and centred his shame. Milk is still sour, it seems.
Morgan has reality TV drama in her DNA. She comes from the old school of stirring the pot and she has nothing to prove (or lose) given she was sent home first and hasn’t the same level of fandom as the other All Stars. So it came as no surprise when she came for DeLa with full force, calling her out as a hypocrite and giving us some of the most interesting drama of the season. Not because she is particularly adept at spitting venom, but because it gave us the moment many of us knew was coming: the destabilising of DeLa.
That confrontation saw BenDeLaCreme spiral, potentially repeating the chain of events that was her undoing in season six. Instead, DeLa slipped the script, returning Morgan to the competition and sending herself home.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Thorgy, in the same way that you feel for people on episodes of Embarrassing Bodies, or that show where people fall in love with inanimate objects. She wants to be good, and in many ways she is, but she just can’t leave well enough alone. There was an incredibly low likelihood of Thorgy being returned to the competition, but it didn’t matter — she had her overwrought moment in the workroom calling out Shangela for sending her home.
Aja and Chi Chi round out the rudemption drama ranking: Aja stayed clear of it all, aside from a well deserved dig at BeBe for taking full credit for her winning look last week, and if you ask me was the queen most likely to make a comeback. Chi Chi, in true adorable form, all but declared she was just back to get some snacks from the craft services table. During the deliberation, Chi Chi was here to make it clear: she didn’t want to be the Roxxxy Andrews of this year. God, I love her.
The Lip Sync And The Elimination
OK, so here is where shit got real… ly weird. DeLa’s Goth Spice character landed her in the top two. (Sidebar confession: one of my Yahoo chat names circa 1997 was “GothSpice”. I also chatted as “CyberSpice”. This isn’t a joke. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest). For the second week in a row, BeBe’s performance in the main challenge also landed her a top spot. This is perhaps the least plausible thing to happen this week, and that includes how the fuck DeLa got her hands on that white-out.
In a welcome format change from All Stars 2, this season’s rudemption ep gave the winning queen the power to send someone home AND bring one queen back. It made for some great deliberation drama, as DeLa and BeBe had just three remaining queens to chose from.
As we now know, instead of sending Trixie, Shangela, or Kennedy home, DeLa pulled out a lipstick with her own name on it and declared she was quitting. She had even written her own name in white-out, just in case we needed the visual clue. Lord knows what BeBe thought was going on while she waited to choose her own lipstick.
The lip sync was performed to ‘Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here’, which for the children is a stirring 90s diva track. Tbh, BeBe had this one in the bag until she committed the cardinal sin of lip syncs: ripping off your wig to reveal nothing but your bare boy head.
BeBe’s boy head has been concealed this entire season, and I for one think her fade looked as fresh-and-queer as fuck. However, it is a known fact that a drag queen needs to keep her wig on unless she is planning a stunt, and that wasn’t enough drama to warrant a wig self-snatch.
This left the gate wide open for Ru to be able to award DeLa the win, which definitely wouldn’t have been influenced by the producers in her ear screaming “CHOOSE DELA!!!” So, DeLa shocked us all by sending herself home, despite being on the inside track for the win or at least a top spot.
“Wanting to go out on your own terms, already a winner,” is, in this Drag Race tragic’s opinion, insanely controlling when you think about what these queens sign up for. Last All Stars, Adore also bowed out when she realised this experience wasn’t for her — but she did it in the workroom, and in the second ep. This reeked of martyrdom, instead of actual self-care.
DeLa has proved herself, and certainly reinvigorated her brand, but to just quit while she is ahead before the going gets tough proves that she was never deserving of a spot on the winner’s dais. Drag Race is all about the highs and lows, the intensity of the fandom, and (let’s be honest) a terrifyingly neo-liberal arc for anyone who takes the crown. This disruption of the narrative is some BeDeLa Sanders shit, and I am glad it ended this way as it paves the way for the two queens who have been more deserving of a place in the winner’s circle.
After Ep 6, Who Do You Think Is Going To Win?
And just like that, we’re back to a two horse race, the illusion of democracy: Coke vs. Pepsi, Britney vs. Christina, Trixie vs. Shangela.
Trixie is yet to deliver a solid win, so she is currently the underdog of the two. Shangela stumbled slightly this week, but she also has a keen survival instinct. I’d wager she can smell prefabricated drama a mile off, so it’s no surprise that she was a little low-key this week.
This week was the stuff Drag Race dreams are made of. Let’s keep it going, All Stars 3!
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.