Well Ho. Ly. Shit. ladies and gentlemen. Even if Season 7 wasn’t a god-awful disappointment in Drag Race herstory with non-stop group challenges and lackluster personalities, Season 8 has already taken the cake within just 2 episodes. Willam take the wheel!
If you haven’t seen the episode yet, get ready for some big spoilers. If you have seen the episode, you know exactly where this is going.
With Naysha Lopez eliminated last week, the contestants—and viewers—were left thinking, “If the beautiful, renowned pageant winner went home first, who’s next?” Laila McQueen knew she had something to prove after surviving last week’s bottom 2, admitting, “I’m no longer the big fish in the small pond.”
And other queens knew it. Quoth Naomi ever-slim: “Everyone wants to be the star, not the entourage. And right now, Laila’s the entourage.”
The Mini Challenge
This week’s mini-challenge got things cracking. The too-damn-sexy Pit Crew introduced clothing donated by Out of the Closet Thrift Stores for the first task: to create cha cha drag couture and dance to AB SOTO’s fun RuPaul track, Cha Cha Bitch.
AB SOTO was hot. The queens were… good sports. Kim Chi was all arms and knees and Derrick was surprisingly terrible, while Thorgy delivered with a hilarious Frida Kahlo number. But the winners of the mini challenge were Cynthia Lee Fontaine, whose kuku swallowed galaxies, and Chi Chi DeVayne, whose well-placed death drop earned one of RuPaul’s best lines in Drag Race this season: “Take that, Donald Trump!”
The Main Challenge
The winners of the cha cha challenge were made team captains for this week’s main competition: #BitchPerfect. Two teams were assembled to compete against one another in the ultimate drag acapella lip sync battle à la Pitch Perfect. Cynthia led “The Lady Bitches” while Chi Chi wrangled “The Shady Bitches.”
And that’s where things got prickly.
This week, Ru unveiled a never-before-seen element to Drag Race (which, after 8 seasons, is refreshing and long overdue): The Shade Tree. For anyone who grew up watching MTV’s The Real World, the queens now have a confessional booth in which to gossip about each other or share their innermost fears without anyone else around. This is a big deal since these contestants are locked in a workroom together with no privacy under highly stressful circumstances, ready to shank someone for even thinking sabotaging thoughts.
Bob, Robbie, Kim Chi, Derrick, and Laila were all under the leadership of Cynthia—which to me looked a whole lot like Bob demonstrating actual leadership while Cynthia said “kuku” on loop. But Kim expressed 3 heartfelt concerns, some in The Shade Tree and some among her teammates:
- She knows she’s a terrible dancer, and she’s letting that’s whittle down her confidence.
- Just over 3 years ago, she used to be 350 pounds. Though she’s lost a significant amount of weight, she’s still self-conscious.
- She’s a virgin.
Cities have been razed with lesser bombshells.
But Kim’s teammates were kind, supportive listeners and helped remind her that she’s a great performer, even though Bob called her “the worst dancer in Drag Race history,” pointing out that she couldn’t even do a simple step-touch without falling down. Said Cynthia: “Kim Chi falls and my heart just drops out of my kuku.”
Meanwhile, The Shady Bitches were a trifling mess. Acid Betty publicly criticized Chi Chi’s leadership several times throughout the rehearsals for their musical number, and when Ru asked about a comedic moment Chi Chi asked Thorgy not to perform, Thorgy divulged for all to hear, “I’m probably gonna do it anyway regardless of what Chi Chi says.” Betty called Chi Chi a tyrant, Chi Chi called Betty a bigger one, shade was cast, imaginary bark dust was thrown, and figurative hair was pulled.
On-stage in rehearsal, the Shady Bitches practiced their number with choreographer Jamal Sims. Dax struggled to integrate choreography quickly and admitted that she was feeling too locked in her head to just absorb and perform the dance moves.
Now here’s the funny thing: Before Ru left the work room, she said, “We’re gonna see the real ‘creme de la creme’ rise to the top.” Laila took this to mean Seattle’s beloved burlesque performer and Season 6 contestant, BenDeLaCreme. “Is she coming back?” she asked with nothing short of sheer terror in her quaking voice.
“Yes she is!” sayeth Ru, wisest and most powerful dragon in all the land.
REMEMBER THAT TIDBIT FOR LATER, KIDS.
Now, before we talk about the performance, it must be said. Chi Chi states she has smelled human brains before. After witnessing gang violence, she described her childhood growing up on the streets. Robbie, spot on, asked Chi Chi if she was running to violence to escape herself. “Were you trying to hide the fact that you were gay?” Chi Chi confirmed that was definitely the case, saying, “I coulda been dead, I coulda been locked up, but I’m here, with you girls. I feel blessed to be here.”
This week’s esteemed judges were the usual buxom Michelle Visage and Ru herself, accompanied by choreographer Jamal Sims who had helped the girls earlier, Ru’s songwriter Lucian Piane, and Pitch Perfect actress/singer Ester Dean.
Such. A. Fucking. Delight. The Lady Bitches and the Shady Bitches tore the stage up, the house down. Laila got her moment to shine in the group, Kim Chi’s terrible dance moves were perfectly in character as a nerdy prep school virgin (not a stretch?), Naomi sauced up some bootie drops, and Betty delivered I-will-cut-you camp. Cynthia accidentally jettisoned her high heel to the ceiling with a can-can kick looking like Amy Sedaris, then transitioned to a nerdy Molly Shannon circa SNL’s Mary Catherine Gallagher.
But Chi Chi’s splits? As Ru later raved, “She was doing her neck ghetto style upside down while lip syncing without missing a word.”
I don’t care if she has smelled brains. That was awesome.
Runway: Hollywood Glamor
The queens then had to reveal their beautiful red carpet runway looks, because performing a huge, choreographed group lip sync number isn’t enough.
Bob, Kim Chi, Chi Chi, and Thorgy all looked gorgeous, but in my opinion were served by Naomi’s black cape-cut gown and Robbie’s red Vera Wang “this is my pajamas” bridal gown.
But the tops and bottoms were named, and despite the group challenge, Ru disclosed, “You’ll be judged as individuals. Harshly.”
This week’s Top 3 contestants were Thorgy, Betty, and the winner, Chi Chi DeVayne. (When Chi Chi was told she won a 4 night stay in a gay B&B in New England, she earnestly asked, “I’m going overseas?” I hope the producers put her up to it, because if not, our favorite trash-wearing brain-smelling possum eater needs a geography lesson).
Kim was in the bottom 3 for her terrible dance moves, but was saved from elimination. That left Laila McQueen, whose pastel cyan wig and metallic emerald gown didn’t jive with the judges, versus Dax Exclamationpoint, who according to Jamal Sims was too “in her head” and not “hood” enough in her group number (which begs the question, how “hood” is “hood enough?”).
The two battled it out in a lip sync for their lives performing to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” Now, here’s the thing: since 100% of the lyrics and chord progressions for this song are genetically imprinted upon all gay men at conception, the performance was surprisingly lackluster. Both Dax and Laila tried to wow the judges by removing the underskirt portions of their gowns and going full-on matador, with Dax clearly outperforming Laila. But neither of them were outstanding.
And then it happened. It fucking happened. In episode 2 of the season. Ru, displeased by Dax and Laila, eliminated them BOTH.
Now, a double elimination has happened before, when Season 5’s Vivienne Pinay and Honey Mahogany were both sent packing. But that was after 4 full episodes of showing their muster, or lack thereof.
After the shocking elimination that left the world reeling—nearly as much as the asteroid strike that is Kim Chi’s virginity—Ru asked for Michelle Visage’s phone, “called” someone (aka talked into the deactivated phone like a toddler would), and asked them to come back to the competition.
Now, the likely choice is Naysha, eliminated just last week. Upon her elimination, Ru said she was sorry to see her go so soon. But based on Ru’s enigmatic words in the workroom about the creme de la creme rising to the top de la top, one must wonder if Ben herself will be asked to come back for the 8th season.
Or Shangela. Because why not?
We’ll find out next week! Staple that weave on because your tracks are about to be suh-NATCHED back.