It is my favorite sports season: Drag Race All Stars. This years’ 10 queens are here to bring it to the runway and leave us gagging for more. What will follow is a quick run down of the happenings in the episode and some commentary on the “who” s, “what”s and “why”s on the competition. It has never been clearer that we are in for something special this season, and I am here for every last bit of it.
Two weeks ago, I let you all know who was competing in this years’ competition. The episode began as all season premieres do: each queen enters, delivers a witty catchphrase entrance line [Shea Coulee: I’m blaaaack (a la Poltergeist) or Mayhem Miller: I didn’t come to crash the party, I came to end it!] and kiki with the other queens as they enter. We learn there is some unresolved beef between two of the queens, India Ferrah and Derrick Barry. Honestly, don’t we all love a sports team rivalry? Hopefully, we’ll get some sort of resolution on that before one of them is eliminated [SPOILER ALERT: We do. It’s in this episode. Gag.]
The reading challenge
The first mini challenge is one of the show’s most favorite mini-challenges: the reading challenge. For those who are wondering how we got 10 illiterate queens on one show, I’ll clue you in to the fact that reading is a term in the drag community for throwing shade at someone in a playful manner, which is to also say, taunting them from the box.
Some were excellently shady [Jujubee, winning her second reading challenge], surprisingly shady [sweet Blair St. Clair, surprisingly winning her first reading challenge alongside Juju], expectedly nasty [Derrick Barry, just being that girl we knew she was], and uncomfortably bad [Ongina, not Ongina!!]. OH! Did I mention that the guest judge for the week was also present for this challenge? I didn’t? Well, he was. And it was RICKY. G-D. MARTIN. Sweet Latin prince Ricky Martin. Singer of The Cup of Life, should you need me to reference something sportsy to keep your attention. He was there. He spoke shadily in Spanish. I swooned.
A talent show
Following this was the staple All Stars premiere maxi challenge: the variety/talent show. This year, we saw a lot of dancing and lip syncing to original tracks, two live singers, and some terrible celebrity impersonations. They were bad. They were just so bad. I held myself I was cringing so hard. You know, like how Randy Johnson has to every time he walks by a bird cage.
I will say though, to Spectrum Cable, get your act together. (Editor’s note: I took me a moment to realize Spectrum Cable wasn’t a queen and I’m not proud.) The show cut out right in the middle of Shea Coulee’s stripper pole routine and Mayhem Miller’s song and dance. From all accounts, I didn’t miss much, but STILL.
Two performances stuck out for me. The first was India Ferrah’s song and dance bit. Sure, it was a song and dance bit like the others, but it felt more urgent and like she was performing at 110%. I had honestly counted her out at first based on her previous performance on her season, but I think she will be a force to be reckoned with this season. We’ll have to see more. Plus, she did a damn somersault in heels and a wig and nailed the landing. Work, bitch.
The second was Mariah Paris Balenciaga’s spoken word piece about slavery and keeping the history resonant and alive by performing in an 1800s woman’s work outfit and covering her hands and a prop window in red paint. Honestly, it was one of the most powerful things I’ve seen in awhile and, being filmed so many months ago at this point, could not have hit at a more relevant time. I want to thank Mariah for that performance.
Twists and twists and twists
So, here’s where the All Stars twist became untwisted and then re-twisted into an even more twisted twist. (Say twist again, Mike. I don’t think they got it.) Under previous All Star rules, RuPaul chooses a top two and a bottom two or three queens. The top two will lip sync not for their lives, but for their legacy and a cash prize of $10,000. The catch is, to quote Marvel, with great power comes great responsibility. The winner of the lip sync chooses one of the bottom queens to go home. Those rules are over.
This new batch of queens is hit with the new reality: Ru will choose one winner and the bottom two (or three – we don’t know, the sample size of episodes in this format is currently at 1). That winner will choose who of the bottom goes home if they win the lip sync for their legacy. But who will they lip sync against if there’s only one winner?
That will be a SECRET LIP SYNC ASSASSIN! Do you just love that emphasis? Couldn’t you just hear the thunder rumbling and the lights flashing? Imagine if you’re playing in the Stanley Cup finals and they throw you into a shootout where you’re in goal and Wayne Gretzky is shooting pucks at you. I know, it’s so dope. That’s the feeling of this change up. So, if the All Star wins, they send home a bottom queen, but what about if the assassin does her in? Well, the other, non-lip-syncing queens DO A SECRET BALLOT VOTE and the queen with the most votes is eliminated by the assassin. That’s right, some good old-fashioned democracy up in here. Well, you know, minus the assassin thing.
And the [episode] winner is…
Tonight, our top All Star was India Ferrah. Remember the one I counted out so many paragraphs ago? Yep, that one. She won the damn thing and I am officially impressed. I’m very excited to see where this goes. The bottom two queens are Derrick Barry for her miserable impersonation bit and Mayhem for her mumbled song routine. The queens go back to the Werk Room to deliberate and vote, and it should be noted that we get the return of Untucked to All Stars airing after the episode! Think of this as your MLB Post Game report, but if it was recorded during the seventh inning stretch and no one knew the outcome of the game yet.
Back on the main stage, India learns she is lip syncing against season 11 winner Yvie Oddly! You’ll recall, maybe, I covered her win that night and boy, lip sync assassin didn’t even begin to cover it. The queens performed Ricky Martin’s Livin La Vida Loca and Yvie put India into an early grave. Not even a second somersault from the back of the stage stopping just before running into a side split could get the attention off Yvie and onto India.
Yvie wins the lip sync and the $10,000 prize is rolled to next week’s episode, so that means the All Star queen could win $20,000. Yikes. I think knowing that your prize money can be stacked like that is really going to make the queens want to win the lip syncs for two reasons: 1) the money and 2) not letting one queen have the chance of getting a $60,000 prize if 6 All Stars lose to assassins. I think it also takes the pressure off the girls from potentially not wanting to win a lip sync because they don’t want to lose favor with the fans by eliminating a favorite.
Since Yvie won, she reveals that the majority of the 9 votes went to Derrick, and Derrick is eliminated. Luckily, during the deliberation Derrick and India have a mild heart to heart and some of the air is cleared with their feud that still doesn’t make much sense to me. Something about India quitting or being fired from a job and one of Derrick’s partners who is also a queen [Derrick is in a long-term, committed throuple] being hired to take India’s place and then possibly doing a routine besmirching India’s name? And India either called Derrick’s partner or some other queen a “pig in a wig”? I don’t really get it, but Untucked tried to dive into it and the most useful thing I learned from that was that you can block someone who blocked you on social media!
Untucked also showed us that Derrick received 8 votes, including India’s, to go home and Mayhem received two – one from Derrick and one from Jujubee, which was surprising. Mainly, I think the right decisions were made tonight. India proved herself to be a fabulous entertainer, and Derrick didn’t do enough to show why she should be an All Star. Next week, more mainstage hijinks and a fresh lip-sync assassin. I can’t wait to see who it is, to hear the queens debrief and discuss the events of this episode, and to find my thoughts. Till next week, sports fans!
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