We’re down to the final four on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and you know what that means: Puppets! Bitchery! Balls (the drag kind, not the testicular kind)! At this point, there’s a one-in-four chance of getting the boot, which means that some queens are going to keep their nose to the grindstone, while others will take every chance they get to try to stab a sister in the back. Let’s take a look at the shit that werked and the shit that shat.
Coco Montrese is gone this week, as evidenced by the sudden lack of Tang powder and the lack of outraged shouting. Her lack of bitchery apparently broke the seventh seal that unleashes Roxxxy Andrews’s latent vitriolic nature, because she wastes no time in going after Alaska and Jinkx Monsoon, since neither of them have had to lip-sync yet. Roxxxy seems to exist in a warped plane of existence, where being in the bottom two is a good thing, having a diverse skill set makes you a one-trick pony, and all the challenges are secretly decided by sheer luck. Someone needs to hand this bitch a free CD already, because it’s not fucking cute.
Before Roxxxy can go on further about how the winner of Drag Race is decided by a capuchin monkey spinning a wheel, Oooo, Girl! You got Shemail! RuPaul names a bunch of candy bars (which I picked up on because I’m secretly a fat bitch trapped in the body of an even fatter bitch) before boy Ru comes in with a gloryhole and a bunch of puppets. Yes, they’re recycling the Puppet Bitchfest mini-challenge from last year, which I adore because PUPPETS! WHEEEE!
Jinkx and her Detox puppet are funny, if not overtly spectacular, although the biggest payoff is the revelation that Detox refers to her surgically swollen lips as “double decker pecker wreckers.” Detox, in turn, makes her puppet Alaska whiny and not much else. Roxxxy brings the fun to a screeching halt when she uses her puppet Jinkx to take a bunch of bitchy, underhanded pot-shots at her competitor, but thankfully the show is saved by Alaska, who turns things back on Roxxxy by mocking her for her reliance on tearaway dresses, double wigs and catch phrases. Needless to say, Alaska is the winner, if only for reviving the room after Roxxxy’s lack of humour murders it.
In continuing tradition, RuPaul announces that the challenge this week is a ball. Specifically, THE SUGAR BALL! The queens have to prepare looks for three categories, including a Super Duper Sweet 16, Executive Realness and Candy Couture. (You may recognize the Candy Couture challenge from both Project Runway and Face Off. But shut up because Drag Race is better.) As her reward for winning, Alaska gets a 15-second headstart to pick through all the candy, which ranges from candy necklaces to swirly lollipops to GIANT FUCKING GUMMI BEARS OH MY GAWD WANT.
Of course Roxxxy is all smiles because it’s a sewing challenge, which she repeatedly states is her strong suit and not Alaska’s or Jinkx’s. Roxxxy may be a talented queen, but she seems to be stuck in the belief that there is only one way to do drag: her way. To her, Alaska’s gawky weirdness and Jinkx’s old-school Broadway talent has no place in the competition. While this may not be Jinkx’s challenge, she’s placed high in the competition more often than any queen to ever walk through the door, while Alaska’s ability to work with unconventional materials and take calculated risks will serve her much better than Roxxxy’s narrower scope.
Before the queens can get too comfortable with their looks, boy Ru comes back to check on their progress. Ru is actually quite fond of Alaska’s cotton-candy ballerina look, and because she’s using cotton fabric instead of its candy counterpart, she doesn’t have to worry about her dress melting. Detox’s sour-green and black-liquorice dress isn’t all that, and it prompts Ru to ask if she’s actually passionate about winning. Jinkx’s decision to make a candy cane/reindeer monster outfit raises Ru’s eyebrow, mostly because the idea needs to be edited down. But it’s Roxxxy who gets the harshest critique, and it’s enough to make her scrap her weirdly angular dress in favour of a tassled gown made of liquorice strings.
Just when the queens think boy Ru’s reign of terror is over, she drops one last bombshell on them: they’re going to have to do a musical number, and Alaska is in charge of choreography. Alaska. The queen with all the grace and coordination of Paula Abdul falling down the stairs. Eep. Despite Roxxxy and Detox’s constant eye-rolling, Alaska’s decision to keep it simple and precise works to her favour, since the song they’re doing sounds like a collaboration between the Lollipop Guild and the Oompa-Loompas.
When the time comes for the queens to make it to the stage, Alaska has put together an opening number that placates the judging panel, made up of Ru, Michelle Visage, Santino Rice, a seemingly confused Marg Helgenberger and a delighted Bob Mackie (!!!). The queens come out for the first category, Super Duper Sweet 16, with Alaska turning out a slinky black party dress that she plays up with a bratty character. Jinkx tries to make her turquoise Coachella hippie dress work, but it ends up looking a little old for 16. Roxxxy livens up her blue sequined dress with marshmallow corsages, but it looks like something she’s done a million times before. Detox goes for a neon pink ‘80s look, but like Jinkx she doesn’t veer modern enough.
The next category: executive realness. Alaska goes for a perfectly tailored pantsuit, detailed with power-lesbian hair, a hard hat and blueprints. Jinkx wears an orange blazer and skirt, but styling it with a wig filled with writing instruments makes her look like a high school librarian. Roxxxy, having apparently never seen a professional workplace before, decides to wear a tearaway cape because that’s something people wear to the office. Detox pulls out the big guns with a Thierry Mugler blue pantsuit (which some might recognize from her mannequin number), but her choice of a frazzled grey wig sinks it for me.
And finally, we have the candy couture. Alaska, adept at working with bizzare materials as evidenced by her positively divine plastic wrap gown from the first episode, knocks it out of the park with a cotton candy tutu. Jinkx falls short with her couture, going for camp over couture with a candy-cane-inspired bustier and skirt ensemble topped off with antlers. Roxxxy’s liquorice tassle dress, while pretty, once again looks like something she’s already done to death. Finally, Detox’s sour-green dress, accented by black liquorice, is a mess of ideas competing for attention that both literally and figuratively trips her up.
Before RuPaul has her capuchin monkey spin the wheel backstage, she decides to ask the girls who they think should be kicked off. Sensing an opportunity to knock out their biggest competition, everyone unanimously agrees on Jinkx, while Jinkx meekly offers her opinion that Detox should be sent packing. While the queens head backstage so that Roxxxy and Detox can suck each other off some more and Alaska can admit to Jinkx that she only threw her under the bus because she’s the biggest threat, Ru deliberates with the judges. HA! Just kidding! She gives her helper monkey a banana so that he’ll spin the wheel and give the win to Alaska.
Roxxxy is given a safe card while Jinkx and Detox end up lip-synching to Yma Sumac’s “Malambo No 1.” The ensuing faceoff is quite possibly one of the most one-sided lip-syncs in the show’s herstory. If you pit Gary Busey against an oncoming bullet train in a boxing match, it would still be considered a fairer fight than this. Jinkx is all over the campy, operatic number like Roxxxy on a fluffernutter sandwich, and Detox can only lip-wiggle in her wake. If Jinkx had picked up Detox by her ankles, turned her upside-down and literally mopped the stage with her, it would have been less painful to watch. And so, with a departing cry of “MEHHHHHHHHHHHHHHSH!” RuPaul’s Drag Race officially gets Detox out of its system.
And somewhere out there, a capuchin monkey rubs its hands together conspiratorially. “All according to plan,” he says. “All according to plan."