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THE POP BIN

A place for me to post things that aren't related to my art or shameless self-promotion.

RPDR RANT: All Stars 2, Episode 4

Aedan Roberts

This week was another doozy. Honestly I think it's safe to say that this will likely apply to every goddamn episode. And while I don't necessarily agree with decisions made here and there, the overall quality of AS2 has been probably the best in the series so far. Some may not be thrilled with the LSFYLegacy format, but it really has done a good job of adding new dynamics to the formula and the challenges have all been a blast (even if the performance ones have suffered, as they always do, with lopsided roles.)

This week once again ditches the Mini-Challenge altogether due to the complicated nature of the Maxi-Challenge: each queen pairs off and co-stars in a mini version of Drag Shequels. PhiPhi and Roxxxy wind up with Showsquirrels (based on Showgirls), Detox and Katya band together for Velma & Weezy (based on Thelma and Louise), which leaves Alaska and Alyssa coupling for Wha' Ha' Happened to Baby JJ? (based on What Ever Happened to Baby Jane).

Now - ON TO THE BREAKDOWN! In no particular order:

Alaska: many people are getting the sense that All Stars 2 is to Alaska what All Stars 1 was to Chad Michaels: a relative farce of a "competition" created specifically with Alaska's win in mind. While I do share this theory in some sense I also believe that with or without producer manipulation Alaska was going to be a force to be reckoned with. She's insanely talented, charismatic, intelligent and quick on her feet. And now that she has embraced her status as one of RPDR most beloved queens (and doesn't have the shadow of Sharon Needles' win hanging over her head) she is tackling every challenge with a zeal that sets her apart from most of the other girls. Her performance tonight was simply hysterical- both on and off the runway. Her Baby JJ was one of the strongest of the night (though I do believe it was helped by being immediately compared to Alyssa's less . . . . meaty role) and her Lil' Poundcake runway reveal (which, lets face it, was not really a "2 looks in one" - which was the challenge - and more of a costume reveal) wasn't very good for the challenge but made up for that with being absolutely HYSTERICAL. The makeup made for some of the best reaction shots of the night and one of the more memorably silly lipsynchs yet this season. In the end I agreed with the judges: while Phi Phi's lipsynch was tighter and more true to the song it was Alaska's ever-grumpy Lil' Poundcake that stole the show- even in those ugly black flat platforms.

I wasn't, however, thrilled with her ultimate decision to send Alyssa home. Especially if you were to go by her (and Roxxxy/PhiPhi/Detox's) "pure" system of relying exclusively on the judges. By all accounts Alyssa's critiques were not any better or worse than Roxxxy's and Alyssa DID have a completely salient point that Roxxxy has been in the bottom twice to Alyssa's once. PhiPhi can complain all she wants about how the judges let Alyssa get away with murder because she is Alyssa- but those are the judges and by PhiPhi's own arguments their opinions should matter more than her (or Alaska's) own sense of justice. I just feel at this point that Rolaskatox has been one of the biggest reasons why Roxxxy has escaped elimination twice now (while sending home girls I'd much rather have stayed). It is likely just a coincidence but every time Roxxxy fails Alaska magically takes the win- and at this point the confidence Roxxxy shows in her little one-on-ones with Alaska during these deliberations is beginning to feel more and more telling.

Detox: Detox did well. I . . . I think that's all I can really say here. Her performance with Katya made for my favorite of the three clips and her runway - while not the most interesting or creative 2-in-1- was still a really lovely outfit that she rocked. So yay Detox! Keep going you wonderful Silicone Wonderland.

Katya: one of the reasons I do subscribe - at least in part - to the idea that this season is rigged for Alaska is how Katya has been treated so far. It is my massively biased opinion that, going into All Stars 2, Katya was going to be Alaska's biggest competition- which is why I feel like some of the decisions over the last couple weeks feel like an attempt to create an artificial gap in their chances. Last week she was given the most thankless role in the Maxi-Challenge (not her fault) - and while her look really was Bottom 2-worthy (which was her fault) - I found the judging to be ridiculous when it concentrated on her Princess Di. This week felt even more egregiously unfair, but this time when it came time to dole out results. Katya, in reality, did pretty marvelously this week. While she was given the "I struggled with the lines at first" generic edit that one queen each season is inevitably pegged with- once she got her bearings she proceeded to steal the scene out from under a delightful Detox. She was gross and hysterical. And her runway? It met the challenge criteria (a true 2-looks-in-1). And while it wasn't the most interesting or flashy dress on the runway she was one of the only ones who added a story to it. Sure the tear-away bangs revealing a pentagram and a black-goo smile were easy little garnishes, however they elevated the otherwise simple look into a hilarious demonic reveal that had the bar I was in cheering.

Which brings me to why I'm pissed off with the obvious manipulations in judging. WHY was Katya in the Bottom? More to the point: WHY WAS THERE A BOTTOM 3 THIS WEEK WHEN THERE WAS ONLY A BOTTOM 2 LAST WEEK? When Katya found herself in the bottom alongside Ginger and no one else everyone understood: the competition was running low on girls so the Bottom 3 went to 2. It does this every season at some point. But to then, the following week with even less girls, revert back to 3?! Especially when Katya did so much better than either of the other Bottom 2 that it was obvious she was safe? What was the point of that bullshit other than to give Katya another artificial mark against her to make her less of a threat to Alaska's inevitable crown? Blech. At any rate I'm just happy Katya got her groove back and I'm excited for her performance next week.

PhiPhi O'Hara: I'm extremely conflicted with PhiPhi. Let me just get this out of the way: she did wonderful this episode. Her Naomi was hysterical and her runway was one of the better true 2-in-1 looks. She deserved her win. But that attitude, girl. There is a lot to be said here- about her own actions and those of the fans. PhiPhi has been getting so much hate for how she is being portrayed on All Stars 2 that she is sobbing in the shower and apparently forgoing the Ru-union. She is vocally decrying editing for her woes- and while I do think editing can manipulate things, they can't really fabricate shit out of thin air. PhiPhi sadly said everything she is being shown saying- and it's what she's saying that is pissing people off. HOWEVER: PhiPhi is a talented-as-fuck queen who does NOT deserve fucking death threats. It makes me incredibly angry to think that people would do something so vile to any queen who has the courage to be on this show and PhiPhi- regardless of the crappy things she said or opinions she's given that people disagree with- does NOT deserve that kind of hate. So lets all PLEASE calm down and spread love, not hate. This show is simply too wonderful to be associated with the behavior of some of it's more immature fans. Regardless of whether I agree with PhiPhi's opinions concerning Alyssa or Alyssa's decision to keep Katya (which I vociferously don't) I still respect her and wish nothing but the best for her. Hopefully once we all get our collective shit together PhiPhi may decide to attend the Ru-Union after all. That is, however, if Ru and Co. even want her there. And judging by Ru's own social media this may spell the end of PhiPhi's relationship with WoW, regardless of how this season turns out for her.

Roxxxy Andrews: If it weren't for Roxxy's breathtakingly sexy runway look I would have called her performance this week a total bust. Miss Andrews, when PhiPhi tells you to switch roles with her? That isn't because she thinks YOU'LL get the better end of that deal. Either way, though: Roxxxy was probably going to fail that challenge regardless of her part. I try to picture her playing Naomi and I just can't. Not with the same spot-on delivery PhiPhi was shockingly (to me) able to whip out. Roxxxy has shown, through her time on this season and her original one, that she has two personas that she can apply to acting challenges: Tosha Salad and Tamar Braxton (which is a slightly sassier version of Tosha Salad). Anything else seems to be a bust for her.  To put it bluntly: I truly believe that Roxxxy's performance was the worst of the night. It was as poorly done as Alyssa's without any of Alyssa's inherent charm and accidental genius (which does count for something, PhiPhi, sorry 'bout it.). And while her look was KILLER- it still wasn't enough, in my eyes, to save her from being the person who SHOULD have gone home. She was DAMN lucky that the winners this week were Alaska (who, regardless of what she says, obviously has an inability to pull the trigger on her Rolaskatox Sister) and PhiPhi, whose hate-on for Alyssa was fifteen inches long and as thick as a beer can. Ah well. At least she was fun to look at on the main stage.

Alyssa Edwards: Alyssa was this season's Black Horse (registered trademark of Joslyn Foxx) and may have come out of this the true winner of All Stars 2- regardless of whether she gets to come back next episode. Alaska left her season with many grumbling she should have won (not me, but I get it). Katya had an even larger grumbling fan-base. But Alyssa? Unlike most of the girls she's one of the only ones whose elimination was not contested (though I do wish she had stayed longer than Coco). She was NEVER a front-runner in her season- if anything she was a pleasant oddity of brilliant memes and accidental hilarity who coasted on her amazing lip-syncs. Now, though? In four episodes she managed to convey that she not only has a profound understanding of what makes her so special- she also knows how to wield that power in sickening, riotous ways. She has been THE highlight of this season filled with highlights. Every week there was something new that she brought to the table- all the while managing to come out of each episode the only girl (other than Katya) who wasn't needlessly shady, bitchy or conniving. She was there to have FUN and she brought everyone else along for the ride. I even found myself agreeing with Alyssa in most instances. She took this competition by storm and I simply wasn't prepared.

When it comes to her elimination? I don't think it was the correct choice, but the argument certainly has credibility to it. Her performance was second-worst of the night (though that didn't stop me from loving the fuck out if it. It was an uneven role to begin with- that script was always going to be Baby JJ with stage-hand Blande- so at least her weirdness kept her from fading completely into the background.) As for her runway? I loved it. The entire bar loved it. There must have been something lost in translation, because all I saw was a dress made out of flashing cameras and I was LIVING FOR IT. This is Drag, people. Not High Fashion. And Alyssa's was the campiest, draggiest, most wonderful expression of that ideal on that stage. But apparently the other girls weren't feeling it. Sigh.

Anyways, I was originally hoping Tatianna would have another chance to come back, but at this point I've switched my vote to Alyssa so I get to see The Greatest Top 3 Ever: Alaska, Katya, and Alyssa. Give all three of these girls crowns. They ALL have won All Stars 2.

See you next week all!