Bullet Points – RuPaul’s Drag Race 05:11

Ladies and Gentlemen, your final four!

Well, wasn’t this a fun, sweet, wholesome episode?

Ha!

While there was some fun to be had, it got really nasty on last night’s episode of Drag Race as the final four all bared their claws.

First off, the puppet challenge returned from last season (and after the success it has had, I would be okay with it staying in the rotation). Basically the girls are given boy puppets of one of their competitors who they then have to drag out and use to read them with. And while the results were mixed from catty (Jinkx) to mean-spirited (Roxxxy’s was so shocking even RuPaul was taken aback), Alaska rightfully won with her hilarious Roxxxy puppet, complete with multiple wigs and tearaways.

Then comes the main challenge: the girls must compete in The Sugar Ball, a modified drag ball where they must perform an opening number choreographed by Alaska and design three different looks. While the girls put everything together, Jinkx has a slight meltdown due to her narcolepsy rearing its ugly head again, and feeling the outright hate from her competitors, which can be summed up thusly:

* Roxxxy – “You’ve been lucky in that every challenge has been a comedy challenge and this isn’t a competition for comedy queens!” (Not true, she’s worked her ass off to be here and consistently pushed herself.)

* Detox – “You’ve had a lot of coaching and guidance and frankly you’re too young to be here!” (Not true, she’s taken the critiques to heart and acted on them.)

* Alaska – “You are the single biggest threat to all of us.” (Very True. Sharon Needles may have the record for most competition wins, but Jinkx sets the record for being in the top three for eight consecutive weeks.  Don’t believe me; refer to The Drag Race Scoreboard!)

Runway time and Ru is a vision in magenta (which is a fantastic color on her). Joining Ru, Santino, and Michelle on the panel this week are CSI actress Marg Helgenberg (who was slightly clueless on the panel), and this man…

About time he returned! Not only is Mr. Mackie an iconic designer (as Ru rightfully said, “Cher was born naked, and the rest was Bob Mackie!”) but was also the very first guest judge on Drag Race. I just wish Ru or one of her handlers could have convinced him to lend her one of his gowns for this episode.

And with the rather simple opening number the Sugar Ball begins…

Super Duper Sweet Sixteen – For this part, the girls were asked to look like teenagers.

Alaska walked out in another black dress and blonde wig. Again. This sadly is her default look, and while she looked great I wish she had worn some color. That being said, she stole a page from the Sharon Needles playbook and served up a full-fledged character on that runway, as a rich teen girl glued to her phone.

Jinkx gave us Jan Brady realness, which worked except when you looked at the face. It was too contoured and cut in to read as a young girl. As Michelle rightfully said, it was her Sweet 47th!

Roxxxy had a cute dress but it didn’t look at all like a sixteen year old. It felt a little too mature of a look.

Detox served up 80s teen realness. Not a bad look per se, but not a modern look either.

Executive Sugar Mama Realness – For this part, the girls were asked to look like business women.

This is what I think won it for Alaska. Not only are pantsuits incredibly difficult for drag queens to pull off (because the tailoring is counter-intuitive to how men’s bodies are built and if not cut correctly can ruin the illusion of a feminine sillouette) but by god she’s doing it. It also helps that she’s selling the character of the woman on the construction site. And Alaska is rocking the short hair. It’s a killer look for her.

While Ru referenced the other famous Miss Monsoon with this look, I felt that it didn’t go far enough in trying to sell the idea of the frazzled secretary.

While I might rag on her mean-spiritedness and her very narrow view of what drag should be, I have to say that this is probably my favorite look Roxxxy has sent down the runway in the entire competition. This feels like a fully realized character (you know who she is and what she’s about the instant you see her) that is flawlessly executed. And credit where it is due, she managed to incorporate candy into all three of her looks. It’s those touches that make her a strong competitor.

Speaking of favorite looks, this is one of my favorites from Detox. It perfectly encapsulates her 80s aesthetic. If there is one critique, it’s that it doesn’t feel like there is any personality behind the look.

Candy Couture – For this part, the girls must create a couture look using candy.

Not the most original idea in the world, but Alaska made it work (especially in light of her slight loser edit that she was getting as her dress was falling apart). Plus as Mr. Mackie rightfully pointed out, it was the only outfit that really looked like candy on the runway.

While I can understand why she ditched her candy-covered hoop skirt (which was a mess), it’s a shame she couldn’t have found a way to incorporate more candy above the waistline, because this looks half-assed. Ru warned her that her looks were dated and not modern, and her stubbornness didn’t allow her to course-correct.

Speaking of course-correcting, Miss Andrews did so to great effect. As much as I hate her sullen attitude (and I fear that it’s going to come down to her and Jinkx for the final two instead of Alaska and Jinkx), this look was spectacular, and a great example of taking the critique and adjusting. But as Mr. Mackie said, it didn’t necessarily read as candy on the stage.

A sharp look, to be sure, but where the heck was the candy, which was one of the key parts of this challenge?

Ultimately it came down to Jinkx and Detox for the lip sync, to Yma Sumac’s “Malambo No. 1″; an odd but perfect choice that plays to both Detox and Jinkx’s performance strengths, which came down to Detox’s jaw-wiggle versus Jinkx dancing (and twerking) her butt off. It was an epic lip sync and both ladies rose to the occasion!

In the end, Detox was told to Sashay Away, which was a surprise to me in the fact that I honestly thought that Ru would have a moment and send all four to the finale. While I still think this is Jinkx’s contest to lose, Alaska’s consistency and Roxxxy’s late-competition rally do not make that a guarantee.

Side Note Number 1: While I do not have footage of the epic Detox/Jinkx battle, I did find this archival footage of legendary drag queen The Lady Bunny performing “Malambo No. 1.”

Side Note Number 2: Over the weekend, RuPaul put up this tweet…

To which I say, “Oh Christ! Not again!!” Last season, RuPaul famously shocked everyone by withholding the winner from the final episode, saving the reveal for the reunion episode. She even went so far as to film three separate endings to keep the suspense up for as long as possible, keeping it from the queens themselves. While I can understand why she did it, I can’t say that I agree with it, as it felt cruel at the time to the queens and (more importantly) the audience. Brace yourselves, everyone, and be prepared in case she doesn’t announce the winner next week.

Originally Published on 15 April 2013 as part of “The Idiot Box,” my column for l’etoile magazine.

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