After two months of gags, goops and ooh-ah-ah sensations, we finally reached the final four on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4. Next week is the finale, and we will then know who joins Chad Michaels, Alaska and Trixie Mattel in the Drag Race Hall of Fame. Exciting stuff! Though you’ll forgive if we’re feeling a bit fatigued from the long trip.
In truth, All Stars seasons just shouldn’t be 10 episodes. When Naomi Smalls cries out in anguish in this episode that we’re “finally” in the top five, you have to empathize with her. We were at top six by the end of Episode 4! Then there was the non-elimination. Then there was Latrice’s return. Then we had another top seven episode, and another top six episode. It took four episodes just to get us back to where we would’ve been after Episode 5 without all the shenanigans.
Speaking of shenanigans, this week’s instalment starts with Trinity the Tuck practically apoplectic over Naomi eliminating Manila Luzon last episode. The principles of fairness that Trinity has held so high all season have finally been shattered into a million pieces, and to her credit, Naomi is pretty unapologetic about it.
She knows this is a different kind of game, and good for her for taking the rules and making them work for her. Monét was also planning to send Manila home, as we see this week, so why should they make Naomi be feel bad?
The fear does give Trinity a giant kick in the ass moving into this challenge: an acting task. The premise is that they’re shooting a Ru Hollywood Story about the failed production of Sex and the Kitty Girl 3. The framing is inspired by the real-life turmoil around Sex and the City 3, and the script is a good bit better than Drag Race’s usual unfunny fodder.
It helps that the girls are playing iconic characters — though, for rights-related reasons (we assume), the women are referred to only as their actors’ names. Thanks to the Ru Hollywood Story framing, the queens are actually playing both actors and characters, which makes this harder than the typical Drag Race acting challenge.
Trinity knows she has to kill it this week, so she fights for the Kim Cattrall role with Monét and wins. In truth, I bet Monét’s Kim would’ve been better, but it doesn’t matter: Trinity does well with it, especially in the scenes where she’s playing Kim instead of Samantha. Her work safely lands herself a spot in the top two, and thus in the final four.
To focus on Trinity would be to ignore the true success story of the week, because holy brown cow stunning, Monique Heart kills it this week. It’s one of the most impressive TKOs I’ve ever seen on Drag Race.
Given the small-but-memorable role of Kristen Johnston in a one-episode arc on Sex and the City, Monique creates a full character. She plays Kristen as an ’80s party girl just reawoken from a coma with a flip phone that needs charging, and the unhinged energy flows out of the Season 10 queen.
Even better, Monique turns out a stunning Puss ’n’ Boots–inspired runway for the cats-on-the-catwalk theme. Her makeup is the best it’s ever been, and she adds just enough flourishes to keep it from going too Cats, and instead creates a real fashion moment. The judges rave about both her challenge and runway performance, and the way she lights up shows Monique really needed the jolt of good energy going into the finale.
I’m delighted that Monique has made the final four, considering she continually got short shrift in Season 10. I’m even more thrilled that her seasonal sister Monét X Change will be joining her, although in less celebratory fashion. Monét kind of registers as just average all episode, and were it not for another queen, would probably be the worst. She doesn’t recover from losing the Kim Cattrall part to Trinity, and it shows. Her runway also looks a good bit too costume-y even for a challenge like this.
I’m frustrated with Monét. She was my favourite coming into this season, and I’ve found myself unable to wholly endorse her work this time around. I think she’s played a third- or fourth-place game, all told, and I’m afraid that’s where she’ll land next week.
Naomi Smalls, on the other hand, has proven quite exciting this season, but really flubs at the finish line. She assigns Sarah Jessica Parker to herself, a self-described Sex and the City devotee, and promptly gets nothing right about either SJP or Carrie Bradshaw. She pulls it together on the runway, serving a fun take on a cat lady look, but Naomi should thank her lucky stars she makes it out of this week.
Instead, we say goodbye once again to Latrice Royale. It’s much less painful to lose her this time than it was last, even though her work in the challenge is probably about third-best this week. She’s a victim of the “if you’re not in the top, you’re in the bottom” rule that comes around at the end of every All Stars season, one I’m very much not fond of. I wish All Stars would just keep a consistent bottom two every week, but the rules of drama mean we must deal with these vacillating bottom group sizes.
Latrice will always be a legend, and she honestly doesn’t need All Stars. But I know how badly she wanted it, which makes watching her lose all the more painful. Sometimes, what one needs and what one so desperately craves are far from the same. Though I can safely say that I both want and need All Stars to wrap up — I’m hungry for Season 11! Bring back my new girls!
💋 Monique points out the “highly melanated top five” before joking that Trinity counts because she’s “had Black in her.” It’s a funny, tossed-off line, but hoo boy, does Trinity stick out like a sore thumb among these girls.
💋 There is an extended sequence, and commercial break cliffhanger, related to a game of rock-paper-scissors over a role in the challenge. That is filler if I’ve ever seen it.
💋 The Standard hotel’s spon-con makes me roll my eyes, but then I remember that this show started with Absolut and LA. Eyeworks campaigns built into challenges, and suddenly some forced ad facts about hotels don’t seem so bad.
💋 “Spell ‘nuance.’” God, I’ll miss Latrice dragging these younger girls without lifting a finger. At the same time, I’ll also miss her genuinely rooting for them, like when she lets out a “Yes!” when Monique’s runway gets good feedback from the judges.
💋 A third leg-baring dress from Ru! I don’t know what inspired him to take such liberties with his usual fashion this season, but I encourage it going forward. Hopefully we’ll see more in Season 11.
💋 Guest judges Jason Wu and Felicity Huffman are both technical in their critiques, which makes for a good panel, but neither comes close to dislodging the now, official number one guest judge of All Stars 4: Jenifer Lewis! That’s right, she came to play in the premiere episode and never let up. Only Susanne Bartsch and Cecily Strong felt like they were playing in the same league.
💋 So who wins this whole competition? My power ranking is coming tomorrow, but I’d place my bets on the Tuck at this point. That has me feeling several types of way, but hey, that’s Drag Race for you.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4 airs its finale next Friday, Feb 15, at 8 pm ET on VH1 in the US and OUTtv in Canada.