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RPDR RANT: All Stars 3, Episode 2

Aedan Roberts

Oh boy.

I guess let's begin? Episode summary: girls walk back in, Ben has a sad, the Maxi Challenge is revealed, the girls rehearse, they perform Divas Live, the top 2 LSFYLegacy, and the wrong bitch gets sent home (DISCLAIMER: opinions may vary).

Now on to the Breakdown. In no particular order this time:

AJA: After her somewhat meteoric rise in Episode 1 Aja kind of faded back into the masses this episode. Don't get me wrong: she did well enough- it's just her Amy Winehouse was a mixed bag. The performance was decent but her look was dollar-store Winehouse: her hair was the Winehouse Beehive but WAAAAAAAY too clean and smooth and her outfit was fairly generic. Amy was a bit of an intentional mess- her stockings were always ripped, her clothing kind of a modern Hipster take on the 1950's, her makeup severe and the cat-eye overly emphasized. It's almost as if they gave Amy Winehouse to Season 9 Aja, not the far-more-polished AS3 Aja. Because Aja's messier Season 9 makeup would have been more up the Winehouse alley and her sloppier costuming and wigs would have benefitted the impersonation nicely.

Her re-interpretation of Princess Disastah, however? Gorgeous. It definitely upped her scorecard this episode in my book. It was refined, lovely, and she looked like a Flame Princess The House Down Boots.

Her performance/runway all added up to safe for me, so I was pleased with her placement.

BEBE ZAHARA BENET: Miss Bebe continues to gracefully float her way to the top. I don't necessarily think she deserved Top 3 (I would have placed Trixie or ChiChi there myself) but I understand the reasoning behind it. She had a really tall hurdle to jump here: Diana Ross is Ru's all-time favorite Diva. You mess that up and you are GONE. Luckily, while she wasn't given much to do, Bebe knew every single Diana-ism and really transformed herself into the ethereal legend. Everything from the hair bounce to the gesturing to the way she would constantly brush her hair back in a majestic way was pure Miss Ross and you could tell Ru was there for it.

I think what ultimately put her in that Top Spot was the combination of her Diva performance and the fact that her runway look was pure, flawless Executive Realness. She nailed both of the episode's challenges.

BEN DE LA CREME: Ben has been exceeding even MY lofty expectations for her this season. Instead of pulling a Roxxxy/Tati from AS2 she's apparently decided that her time would be better spent as a permanent fixture in the Top 2- and I am HERE FOR IT. I was worried that she would begin to show signs of self-sabotage (which has been a rumor floating around since the cast was announced) but so far there isn't even a hint of it. I just hope that trend continues, because I have to say Miss Creme makes for FANTASTIC television. Her Julie Andrews was transcendently hysterical. I do agree that the material she was given was head-over-heels more inherently funny than most of the other girls- but without Ben's ability to really embody that odd combination of prim/proper and bawdy hip-hop the fantastic track would have fallen flat. I mean she NAILED IT. She was EVERYTHING.

And her runway? Gorgeous. She really was "dripping with jewels" (even if they were most likely made of plastic) and the effect was a shimmering masterpiece.

I even thought her lip-synch was brilliant. I loved her lazy mimicry of Shangela. We were all howling with unexpected glee at her out-of-breath-milf-take on 'Jump' and if it were up to me Ben would have won it. I will openly admit Shangela's lipsynch was ALSO fantastic- so I don't disagree with the outcome- but I personally place a higher emphasis on memorability, and Ben's silliness was simply more memorable than Shangela's supremely competent rendition. In the end, however, I see Shangela's win as a blessing in disguise for Ben (and probably the outcome Ben was hoping for). If Ben had walked away with two outright wins in a row she would have placed the biggest target on her back EVER. And it also would have meant eliminating ANOTHER queen- something she clearly wasn't a fan of doing.

CHICHI DEVAYNE: here is where my opinions start to diverge WILDLY from the judging. I thought ChiChi deserved a spot in the Top 3 for her stellar performance as Patti Labelle. It was high-energy, funny and even someone like me (who only has tertiary knowledge of Miss Labelle) could see that ChiChi had her mannerisms DOWN. She was right up there with Shangela and Ben for Funniest Performance and I'm baffled why she didn't at LEAST place safe. Her runway looks was a bit basic (GIRL: a skin-tight, simple spandex cocktail dress?!) but her makeup was GORGEOUS and I don't think it was bad enough to have her wind up in the bottom for the week. Regardless of this, however, I was thrilled with her performance and hope she really steps up her runway game next week so she can place high like we all know she deserves (and if the NEXT TIME segment is any indication she sure does).

KENNEDY DAVENPORT: girl should have gone home. Sorry not sorry. The rumors going into this season were that Miss Davenport was going to be this season's Roxxxy Andrews and I'm horrified to see the beginnings of that trend in this episode. People may argue that MILK is getting preferable treatment from the producers of the show- and while that seems to be true it is also different. Kennedy's safety this week came down to the thinly veiled threat she made to Shangela: "I don't think 100k is worth losing a friendship over." That read loud and clear to me: "Save me. Not because I deserve it but because I'm your friend. And we wouldn't want that changing now would we?" Am I totally biased in my interpretation due to my dislike of miss Davenport? Oh yes, totally. But my take is based on her personality and how she seems to handle things and hold grudges.

Miss Davenport really shit the bed this week and gave further proof of something I've been arguing since Season 7: the girl can't lipsynch and dance at the same time. Her stellar routine in episode 1 was dancing only- and she killed it. But every time in the past she has been forced to lipsynch while dancing she has turned into a muppet with zero timing. She tends to just throw out all the tricks in her book regardless of whether it works with the song and her mouth movements have zero alignment with the lyrics. Today's Diva's Live performance was no different. She constantly messed up the choreography, her Janet Jackson look was a hot mess that didn't look anything like Janet Jackson, and her lipsynch was Katya in Glamazonian Airways levels of terrible.

And her runway? Sure it was an improvement over her last attempt at this concept- but I still had a slew of problems with it. It had a great reveal- but it went from a tacky, ugly look to a fairly decent (and intensely sparkly) one. I mean, girl? Two episodes in a row with a bedazzled face? I get it, but come on. All those gems glued on there didn't hide the poor makeup job underneath (or may have caused the bad makeup job) and it REALLY made her look like the left side of her face was Picasso-ing it's way down a step or two below the right. If you have a wonky eye it's best to avoid techniques that emphasize it. Kennedy has the capacity to look downright lovely- but her penchant for sticking crap on her face actively works against her.

Between her and Thorgy the answer was explicitly clear: Kennedy had the weaker week. The decision to keep her is frustrating because of what it portends- hopefully the rumors will be wrong, but at this point I'm not holding my breath.

MILK: Oh dear. Miss MILK. Stop making me want to root against you! I really do love me some MILK. I love her general aesthetic, her desire to push the boundaries of drag and really blur the line between Club Kid, Drag and Fashion. I also think she is probably a really sweet queen. But so far in AS3? Girl is coming off as a snotty, entitled little brat and it is extremely off-putting. She also seems to be a little delusional. She was CONVINCED that she had nailed Celine Dion and that she was destined to be in the top this week. So convinced that instead of being relieved at her baffling safety she was brought to tears over it- in the most eye-rolling temper tantrum I've witness on RPDR since Shangela's famous "sugar-daddy" rant of Season 3. We were all Trixie's exhausted expression in that moment.

To put it simply: MILK was not Celine Dion. While I do think she did a decent job performing- and there IS the valid point that she was used the most as a backup dancer - her impersonation was a complete fail. NO ONE would EVER think of Celine Dion with black hair. NO ONE. I don't give a shit if she showed up on some red carpet once with jet-black hair: Celine Dion is iconically BLONDE. MILK just looked like MILK up there and in the context of this challenge that was a failure. We were all baffled why she had made the stylistic choices she did- it was so distracting we barely noticed whether she had done well or not.

And her Runway? It was pretty. It was well done. But it wasn't anything outrageous or captivating. If I'm going to clock Kennedy for her look I have to clock MILK here too: it was glamorous, but in a generic, almost bland way. I don't want MILK there to be bland. I want her to WOW me- because I know she can. She should have shown up with a massive gown that was both avant-garde and chic. A glamorous that only MILK could create. And she gave us boring.

MILK should have been in the Bottom this week. Do I think she deserved to go home? Absolutely not (even if it had been MILK there instead of Thorgy my opinion would remain the same: it was Kennedy's time to go). But her safety was incorrect, and not even my inherent love of MILK can save her from that opinion.

SHANGELA: I was wondering how long it would take for Season 3 Shangela to claw her way to the surface. The answer is: one and a half episodes. I have likened Shangela to Phi Phi O'Hara before- and for good reason. Both are extremely talented, sweet, wonderful queens who turn into conniving bitch MONSTERS in a competition setting (like I tend to do myself). I was hoping that Shangela's successes and improved drag would have given her the confidence not to fall into her old habits but lo and behold: here comes the manipulative mess to fuck shit up all over again.

That being said? Girl ROCKED this episode. Her obnoxious "method acting" aside she was absolutely hilarious as Mariah Carey (and who, like Ben, was aided by one of the more inherently funny tracks in the challenge). The look alone was a riot: the makeup was on-point and those spread-wide fake tits barely covered by the deep-v-neck was perfection. Even her obviously-borrowed-from-Laganja butterfly hat was flawlessly Miss Carey. When Shangela moves beyond her dumb catchphrases and shtick she shines- and I was thrilled to see it.

Her runway was also fantastic. I didn't necessarily think the giant plastic globe was necessary (though it was very "drag" in it's over-the-topness) but the outfit itself was lovely and well made. A VAST improvement over her original attempt at a Holiday Themed outfit (though it probably helped a lot that she didn't have to make it herself from found objects in less than a day).

As for her lipsynch? It was great. Very typically Shangela- but when it comes to lip-synching that's not a bad thing. Her time with Haus of Edwards has certainly benefitted her.

My only problems with Shangie came during the girls' backstage time and increasingly annoying confessionals. Like I said earlier it just reeked of S3 Shangela which had me on edge. I'm just hoping she doesn't continue being the one to save Kennedy from elimination and stops the competitive beast from fully taking over- but my hopes aren't high. At any rate: good on Shangela for a fantastic second episode! Much deserved win.

TRIXIE MATTEL: I think Trixie may be suffering from Too High Expectations. For many people, myself included, Miss Mattel was the one to beat coming into this competition. I was expecting a girl bolstered by her wild, deserved success off the show. But so far? She's been kind of . . . just there. Don't get me wrong: her confessionals are giving me LIFE and her performances have been great. But they also haven't been stellar- and that's where the curse of High Expectations may be coloring my perception of Trixie.

Her Dolly Parton was supremely competent. She looked AMAZING, did a great job with the choreography and her runway look was brilliantly hideous (though I really want to see her in something less dowdy next week. Every single one of her looks so far have covered her from head to toe and it's feeling a little . . . stifling).

I don't even think her safety this week was her fault: as with any of these group performance episodes a girl will live and die by the quality of the part they are given. Sure they can elevate a crappy role to something amazing- but every role's capacity for greatness has a cap- and some caps are far higher than others. A great example is Ben's part: she was given a leg up to begin with by having a high-energy, high-octane and intensely funny rendition of RuPaul's MOTHER. Sure she rocked it to hell and back- but even a mildly competent rendition of it would have been fun. Trixie's part, though? The song, the energy of that song, and the choreography given to her didn't exactly give her much to work with. She did the best with what she had- it just so happens that the "best" in this case was middle of the road.

What this means for Trixie is simple, though. While not really her fault she REALLY needs to come out swinging next episode. The pressure is on to prove why she is just as worthy as Ben or Shangela to take the crown. I'll love her either way- but I'm rooting for her to do it. Because I know she can.

THORGY THOR: Well that didn't take long. I was hoping she wouldn't self-destruct for at least a LITTLE while- but I guess the producers really wanted to hurry things along. That's the only explanation I can think of for why they did her so dirty this week. Sure it didn't help that Thorgy seemed determined to find sabotage under every wig and makeup kit- but even stopped clocks are right twice a day and in this case I definitely think she was on to something.

Stevie Nicks could have easily been played up and done hilariously- and Thorgy Thor's admiration for the Diva is likely what held her back from truly embracing the lampoon that needed to occur (a curse many queens have fallen prey to). Aja was on the right track: who cares if Stevie isn't ACTUALLY a witch (although I'm pretty sure she is)? When you get up there you dress as Stevie, but wear a pointed hat and carry a magic wand or something and go full-on hippy clown witch. But even beyond Thorgy's inability to see beyond the subdued nature of her subject- she really was given jack shit to work with. The routine was basic and the track was boring. Considering all that she at least nailed the choreography, lipsynch and look (the makeup could have been less Thorgy, as the judges said, but everything else was perfect)- which is FAR more than I can say about Kennedy.

And I actually loved her Neon Runway Look! I thought it was Tron Meets Steven Universe Meets Nefertiti and it was giving me acid-green EVERYTHING. In that sense alone I disagreed heavily with the judges. It was at least a fun concept- which is more than I can say about ChiChi's take on Neon or MILK's boring glam look. 

No, Thorgy didn't deserve to be in the bottom 3 this week, let alone Bottom 2. And it feels VERY contrived that she wound up there at all- let alone get sent home over Kennedy.

My opinion on the show's treatment of Thorgy in this episode can be summed up in her own final words: "Ugh, GROSS."

Anyways that's it for this week! I actually really enjoyed this episode regardless of the baffling judging. The right girl won, the wrong girl was eliminated, and fun was had by all.

My current Top 3: Ben Dela, Trixie, Bebe (Shangela should probably be there and likely will be, but I still think my first Top 3 will be who I hope for).