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RPDR RANT: Season 8, Episode 3

Aedan Roberts

At this point it's official: the first two episodes were not a fluke. This is probably going to be, quite honestly, my favorite season of RPDR ever. And after a less-than-satisfying run with Season 7- this season is like a massive shot of adrenaline delivered right into my happy places. 

Now if you need to be reminded about the (slightly disappointing) RuVeal, here we go: last episode saw the second Double Elimination to ever occur in RPDR Herstory. Demoiselle Dax and Little Laila gave a less than stellar (*cough*-awful-*cough*) LSFYL performance and were justifiably let go. Don't get me wrong, I've become a big fan of both girls since learning of their existence- however I really need to calls them like I sees them (and in this instance they just didn't perform). What this meant, with such a small cast of girls to begin with (12 this season instead of the typical 14), is that Ru needed to bring in another girl to fill the unexpected (as far as the audience is concerned) void. So we were treated to a fun little cliffhanger at the end of Episode 2 with Ru calling up some 'ho on Visage's cell phone.

Cut to the beginning of this episode where there is much speculation: will it be Porkchop? Shangela? KATYA?! I'm going to stop you right there: it was Naysha all along, in the Work Room, with the Shitty Cardboard Corset. Cue sad trombone and a single tiny confetti cannon that fizzles.

So we are back to the proper number of girls! All it took was bringing back a girl who was justifiably eliminated in the first episode. (PS: I do like Naysha. Remember, I said in my Episode 1 Rant that she seems genuinely talented and sweet. However her Maxi Challenge was godawful  and her LSFYL was terrible. It wasn't a close call, the girl simply didn't serve it. Hell, she didn't even know the lyrics to 'APPLAUSE'! Out of all the possible people to bring back, a validly eliminated queen is just not one I was wanting to see.) But enough about that- It was a mild disappointment that was very, VERY quickly overshadowed by an otherwise fun, energetic episode.

Here are the challenges:

Mini Challenge: the girls are asked to decorate frocks and dress up like busted Supreme Court Justices (because why the hell not) and, from what I can gather, write their own bios citing a landmark case they ruled in favor of. It was sufficiently silly and Bob's reactions alone justified its existence. Naomi Smalls took the win (because why the hell not, again), and got to be one of the Team leaders, with the other Leadership Position being given to Naysha because apparently we aren't just rewarding bad performance here, we're REALLY rewarding it.

Maxi Challenge: this week our girls are being given an acting challenge where they get to create a scene from a RuPaul-Themed Parody of Empire (a show I've never seen but still know a lot about because pop culture is ubiquitous.) They form into two teams and are given similar scripts with identical roles. So two Cookies, two Schizos, two Closet Cases, etc.

Runway: I'm including the Runway in this little rundown because FUCK YOU IT WAS AWESOME. And it was awesome because everyone was forced to roller skate for it, and the results were either hysterical, cringeworthy, or pretty damn phenomenal.

NOW! On to the breakdown. In no particular order:

Acid Betty: Acid Betty did okay this episode. She wasn't the epicenter of the drama like she was last episode, but her bitchy Talking Heads, rolling eyes, and exasperated expressions all featured prominently nevertheless. Her Mini Challenge frock was cute and her Annie Lennox On Crack Realness during the Maxi-Challenge was a solid performance (though I have to admit I wasn't as impressed as the judges seemed to be. Maybe they saw different footage?).

As for her runway: that seems to be Acid's home turf- one where (judging from this week's Mad Max meets Return to Oz Wheelers Realness) she rules with a stank-faced iron fist. I loved her look. And while her up-'do semi-mohawk wigs may be getting slightly predictable, nothing else is. I love me some Michelle Visage but I VERY often disagree with her critiques and this was definitely one of those instances. The only way you could call Acid's runways "predictable" is if you were referring to the fact that they are always Avant-Garde, outlandish, and well conceived. I dare anyone who doesn't have the inside scoop (or seen previews that give the look away) to actually guess what Acid will do next. I am almost certain you will be wrong.

Now let's talk a moment about the Untucked. Girl . . . Acid. Sweetypoo. Sugarlumps. Honeyshmoops. We get it: you are a bitter bitch and you like to be the conveyer of Hard Truths. However there is a line and you kind of cartwheeled over it in Untucked. I mean, seriously: why did she think it was okay to continuously come for Trixie's looks during what was supposed to be a sweet message to Kim Chi? How could such an Avant-Garde queen who prides herself on making it more about the art than convincingly pulling off a female illusion be so fucking blind to a fellow queen who follows the same philosophy? I spoke before about wondering how long it would take for Acid to implode - I think we just saw the fuse being lit.

Bob The Drag Queen: Bob completely OWNED this episode and thank the Drag Gods for it. She threw drinks, hammed it up, and improvised her way directly into our hearts and the Top 3 for the first time this season (and hopefully not the last). Not only that, she managed to (very much deservedly) snatch the win for her hilarious performance. Lets get real here: it was an acting challenge and Bob is a seasoned MC and comedian. The bitch had it in the BAG- but it didn't make her win any less satisfying. I watched this episode from Metropolitan where Thorgy was hosting the viewing (who gave me LIFE, by the way) and even this incredibly biased group of Thorgy Stans were rooting for Bob to take it (though, admittedly, we were all also rooting for Thorgy as well). A big shout out, by the way, to Bob for showing Darienne Lake how you do a brown bedazzled jumpsuit. That reveal ("Then why did I wear thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii - one second I'm not done - iiiiiiiiiiiisssssssss") was just AMAZING. So many gif-able moments.

When it comes to her runway: upon closer inspection I really do love it. Sure, it was a silver leotard with robot detailing- but it was clean, it fit extremely well (with good padding) and it was the perfect outfit to wear to a Roller Skating Runway for someone who has no idea how to roller skate. When you are on skates with little-to-no experience you tend to move like a poorly designed wind-up robot from the 50's, so when Bob shuffled his way around the catwalk it worked (near-miss tumbles and all). This was a great episode for Bob. Hopefully she will continue to rock (although if the trailer for next week is any indication Miss Bob may be in for a bit of a rough patch.)

Chi Chi DeVayne: She did alright. Honestly Chi Chi was more background dressing this episode- something I didn't really mind after a very Chi Chi-driven episode last week. One thing was made clear here, however: Miss DeVayne is not really much of an actress. She delivered her lines in what I have to assume was a homage to April Carrion's lesbian real-estate agent (which is to say she butched it up and it just kind of read as a guy in a wig). She does gets points for writing her little rap herself from scratch (a little tidbit of info from Miss Thorgy), but her performance just didn't hold up to the high bar she set for herself in Bitch Perfect.

As for her runway? I have to agree with Raja and Raven who both gave her look a Boot. It just wasn't very good. It wasn't the worst one- that distinction goes directly to Ms. Fontaine Blank- and she made up for the boy-body and shoulder-blade-boobs by being the second most skilled roller skater (her backwards skating down the runway was pretty impressive)- but overall she kind of wound up in the lower end of "safe" this week. Hopefully she'll up her game next week.


Derrick Barry: I have to say it here: Derrick may be becoming my Kennedy Davenport of Season 8. She's a girl that seems to be hyped up quite a bit, and who is constantly being described as a performance powerhouse- yet her efforts on the show, to me, are much less than impressive. Also similar to Davenport is my personal belief that so far she's one of the girls whose judging has been disproportionately, bafflingly high- and who will likely make it further than I think she deserves. I understand that if things had gone my way the LSFYL wouldn't have been nearly as epic, but I sincerely believe that Derrick Barry did far worse than Robbie Turner this episode. Her Supreme Court Judge was forgettable, her performance in the Maxi-Challenge was, I would argue, the worst (though in her defense that was also the worst role to have), and her runway was Low Rent Katy Perry and didn't make any sense for a Roller Girl runway. She did look cute in the outfit- it just wasn't the right one for this challenge. All together there was really no redeeming quality that could have placed her slightly higher than Robbie- so she better thank her lucky stars that Ru wanted to see a girl Roller Skate The House Down in the LSFYL and placed her in un-deserved safety this week.

As a final note in fairness to Miss Barry after all the negative stuff I wrote above: the girl is a fantastic Drag Queen. She really is. In almost any other season she really would be the one to beat. However her lack of versatility, her self-imposed limitations, and her obvious insecurities are being emphasized in a season that seems to have one of the highest talent-levels yet to be see on RPDR. She is being out-danced and out-performed by Chi Chi. She's being out-prettied by Naomi. She's being out-acted by Bob and Thorgy. Hell, she's even being out-ego'd and bitchy'd by Acid Betty. And that really must be hard for a talented girl who is used to being the brightest star in the room. And to end on a good note: I am glad she was there in the Untucked to defend Trixie's style from Acid Betty's bafflingly horrible opinions. So shout out to Derrick for coming to Miss Mattel's defense. It doesn't excuse the terrible performances in this week's episode, but it did help me dislike her continued presence on the show just a little bit less.

Kim Chi: Kim Chi joined Miss DeVayne this week fading into the wall paper. Her performance was awful, but in an endearing way that was funny to watch. More importantly she took direction well and did what Mama Ru asked of her with no sass-back, and the obvious effort paid off in her safety.

As for her runway look? I loved it. She was giving me Bird of Paradise Victoria's Secret Angel and I was living for it. Miss Kim may end up having the most consistently brilliant runway in RPDR Herstory if she keeps this up. And I hope she does. However all of this together couldn't compete with the sheer forces of nature that were Bob and Thorgy - and as such she was relegated to more of a background role this episode. She'll be given her next moment to shine soon, though. After next week's episode I believe they will be getting back into more of the fashion challenges, so I predict Miss Kim will be destined to steal the spotlight again. She just needs to give Thorgy and Bob their very-much-deserved moments.

On a side-note: Miss Thorgy revealed at the viewing event that she believed Kim Chi to still be a virgin to this day. So get on that, single Chicago boys!

Naomi Smalls: Naomi Smalls was fun. I'm not sure what made her Mini Challenge efforts better than any of the others, but I was fine with her taking it nevertheless. And her performance in the Maxi-Challenge was safely competent (she played the part of Punching Bag and Liquid Receptacle for Bob admirably). I also loved her runway this week- it was lovely, retro, and polished. And it complimented the way she glided down the runway (somewhat messily) on the roller-skates. I will also say that Naomi (and Kim) probably have the Best Wigs this season as well. Naomi's are lush, well-composed and beautifully encapsulate the Old Hollywood Glamour. Plus her makeup seems to be consistently on-point. I don't have much else to say about her this week, so this will be a bit short. The girl is good. She may be getting lost in the crowd currently since her personality seems to be much more subdued, but so far she's been doing well and I'm excited to see more from her.

Naysha Lopez: First off, this is kind of how I felt about her return: "I'M BACK BITCHES!" *confetti cannon* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . aaaaaaaaand safe.

If Naysha wants to do more than be the second girl to come back and not be immediately sent home again she really needs to up her game. Outside her return I completely forgot she was in this episode. Nothing about her performance could be seen as justifying her return- but that's about as harsh as I can get. Her Roller Girl was actually really, really good and so far she seems to be a really sweet girl (which is always a pleasant addition that is needed to balance out the shade from the bitchier contestants). A little egotistical, but next to Derrick Berry and Acid Betty she's downright humble. 

Anywho: so while, yes, she did survive her first day back I don't really see that continuing much longer. BUT WELCOME BACK GURL! I hope you prove me wrong!!!!

Robbie Turner: I truly believe Robbie's ultimate downfall this episode wasn't her performance (which ended up being fairly good), nor was it her Runway (which I actually thought was one of the more successful looks in terms of capturing "Roller Girl"). It was her attitude. I know a good bit of it was probably editing, but unlike Kim Chi (who just went ahead with whatever Ru asked as best she could), Robbie talked back, second guessed, and otherwise got frustrated when she kept flubbing her lines. And then on the runway when it was time for critiques she immediately pulled a Dax and made excuses. Unfunny excuses. Long, rambling, unfunny excuses. And it worked about as well for her as it did for poor Dax. Do I think that this was enough to make her truly deserve a bottom 2 slot? Not really, but it did give Ru the necessary fodder to put her there nevertheless.

I'm going to say it right now, though: whether or not it was a contrived result that Lip Synch was simply amazing. Well worth the obvious manipulations that were necessary to create it. I know Robbie has been a bit off-putting for many of my friends so far, but I'm still a fan of hers and know she's so much more than what's being presented here. Hopefully this lip-synch will have lit a fire under her ass so she can get to work being as strong a contestant as I know she can be. We will have to wait and see.

Thorgy Thor: Thorgy ROCKED this episode. And she was an absolute delight at the viewing event. To me she is quickly becoming the Beating Heart of this Season, with all the joy, frustration, and sadness that brings to the table. When Thorgy feels something you are swept up and carried away with that feeling as well. When she smiles, you smile. When she laughs and dances around, you want to join her. When she talks about her mother passing away from cancer, and the resentment she still holds towards her sister and father for keeping it a secret from her until it was too late- even writing about it now gets me teary eyed. Thorgy, above all else, feels real. Genuine. And when you have someone so relatable discuss something so terrible it really hits you hard. She didn't go overboard with melodramatics. She didn't begin to sob uncontrollably- and yet it was all the more poignant for the emotional honesty.

And that's just her Talking Head Confessionals! Her performance in the Maxi Challenge this episode was second only to Bob (though in my opinion it was just as good). It was made all the more impressive, really, when you consider just how horribly it could have gone. This was a challenge built entirely around hamming up caricatures of Strong Black Women(tm). Every major role in the scenes were written for that kind of stereotype, which would prove to be the undoing of many non-black Queens this week. But not Thorgy. Instead of falling into the same pit as Derrick Berry, Thorgy chose to re-interpret "Cookie" (arguably the most over-the-top SBW in the script) through her own distinct lense. Instead of trying to act "ghetto" (which was cringe-inducing when Miss Berry attempted it in a giant black affro) Miss Thor went for her own personal brand of bombast. So there she is, looking like a brunette Nanny Fine on steroids, hamming it up, whacking Naysha with a broom, and generally stealing the scene. If she had won I would not have disagreed with the verdict (though I'm extremely happy that Bob took it).

As for her runway? It was just wonderful. She seemed to capture the exact essence of a 70's Roller Girl. Thorgy was on FIRE this week and I can't wait to see more from this brilliant lady.

Cynthia Lee Fontaine: Poor Miss Fontaine Blank. If her personality were a mineral it would be 24 karot gold. . . that's been irradiated and given Cu-Cu-based superpowers and a manic kind of happy insanity. I was never really a fan of her looks, her makeup application, or wigs- but she was a total ray of sunshine nearly as bright, and twice as wacky, as Thorgy Thor. If Thorgy makes it to the Top 3 (fingers crossed!) I feel Fontaine-Blank is destined for Miss Congeniality, even with such a short run this season. She made a great impression- a far greater one than I would have predicted based on promotional material. Her absence will be missed.

When it comes to her performance this week? Yeah . . . she really did deserve the boot. For those ugly boy shorts she wore on the runway alone. And while her acting in the challenge was kooky and funny, it was also a complete mess (still, she fared better than Miss Berry). In the end we knew the jig was up the very moment Robbie uttered the word "Wheels." Outside Cynthia busting out an entire gymnastics routine while twirling sparklers she previously hid up her Cu Cu she was not going to out-do Robbie's brilliant efforts. So now we must say Adios to the hilarious, sweet, and wonderful queen from Texas. I look forward to seeing more from her.