RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars's Game Changer Is Serious Business

None of these hos are safe.

A structurally crazy episode -- no runway! new rules! -- turns out to be a sickening joy, with shade and drama and about a hundred quotable lines. Plus, we finally get to see which of these girls is getting back into the game. So let's get to it!

Look Through That Mirror, Gurl

As you'll recall, last week ended with all four eliminated queens glaring through a two-way mirror at the remaining girls. So naturally, this is the week when somebody gets to kick and claw her way back into the competition. (Or is that TWO somebodies?) Because God is good, the ladies were standing behind that mirror while Phi Phi was reading Alyssa for filth after her elimination. Phi Phi was tired, she said, of Alyssa getting a free pass for always looking like crap and blah blah BLAH. As ever, Phi Phi's insecurity prompts her attacks on other people. Throughout this episode, you can hear the quaver in her voice because she's so upset/mad/scared, and it makes me feel bad for her. It seems like she really doesn't want to be a bitch or a villain, but she can't stop herself using viciousness as a defense. I hope she can work this out someday.

Still...gurl is shadier than the Sunglass Hut at the broke-down mall. You'd better BELIEVE the other queens feast on Phi Phi getting busted for talking trash behind Alyssa's back.

Here are some highlights from the fallout:

  • In an interview segment, Detox puts her foot in her mouth (she's quite limber).
  • Alyssa drops about forty hilarious lines. When the eliminated girls come back into the workroom, Phi Phi tries to front like Alyssa is playing the victim, but she totally isn't. From what I can see, Alyssa is right when she says she doesn't talk shit. It's fair, then, to expect that people will return the favor by saying things to her face. To clarify her point, she adds, "If you're gonna be a bouty-bouty bitch, stand up and be one." "Bouty-bouty"? POETRY.
  • At one point, Ginger tries to jump on Alyssa for eliminating her, but then says she would've refused to let Katya go home if Alyssa had chosen Katya instead. So...okay? As Alyssa says, "I smell a stunt.
  • When the eliminated girls re-enter the workroom, Phi Phi's face is a palette of naked emotions.
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Finally, in what may be her best moment on the series, Roxxxy Andrews delivers the following, perfect monologue to describe what has happened:

"Do you remember when you were in high school on the phone, and you were like, 'Girl, I can't stand her! She is so fake!' And then your friend was like, 'Well, Melissa, what do you think about that?' And they were on three-way? Phi Phi's crack was that 'three-way in high school' crack."
- Roxxxy Andrews -

Bitch, we could stop this episode right here, and it would still be all-time. But there's more!

There's Something Funny Going On. (God Willing.)

This next section, however, is not where the action is. It's more like a calculus class, with rules for this episode replacing sines and cosines.

To wit: the maxi-challenge is a stand-up comedy evening, with the girls performing in pairs for an audience that includes queens from previous seasons. Each pair must include one remaining queen and one eliminated queen. RuPaul will anoint two winning pairs, and the lip syncers will be the eliminated queens. The winner of the lip sync gets to return to the game, AND she gets to choose who goes home.

SO MANY RULES. As I said on Extra Hot Great last week, if it takes two days to explain how to play, your game is wrong.

But we're not finished! Since there are nine queens, the girl without a partner will host the show solo. If she is in the top and also wins the lip sync, then she will get to choose who goes home AND who stays.

Don't spend too much time keeping track of this, though, because the end of the episode changes everything AGAIN.

The eliminated girls pick their partners, and we end up with Tatianna and Detox; Ginger and Katya; Coco and Phi Phi; Alyssa and Alaska; and Roxxxy by herself.

Then there's a rehearsal that doesn't amount to much. Chelsea Peretti is a guest mentor, but she doesn't get to be funny, which is a shame.

Pretending To Love

To their credit, Alyssa and Phi Phi go back to the workroom after rehearsal and formally end their feud. Nobody wants to keep fighting, and I'm sure Alyssa remembers how all that Coco drama hurt her during her original season. But when they hug it out, the tension is thicker than a Double Stuf Oreo. As Coco says, "That hug was like Obama hugging Trump."

Stand-Up Spotlight

Last week, nobody bombed the performance challenge, but miracles don't happen every day. Before we survey the damage, though, let's appreciate RuPaul's glam bathrobe realness on the runway:

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This look is perfect because it's just this side of sloppy, but the fabric and draping are fabulous. Only RuPaul can come out in her "comfies" and still own your ass.

As I mentioned before, there's no runway stomp this week, so the girls have only put together looks for their performances. First up are Coco and Phi Phi, with Coco reprising her character as RuPaul's cousin from the hood.

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It's bad, y'all. There are no jokes, and even though the judges will compare their hoodrat conversation to some kind of mediocre play, they don't even deserve THAT label. Even bad plays have a story arc. This mess is just a collection of random sentences about beating your mug with Chee-tos. Woof.

Then we get Alyssa and Alaska...

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Alaska interviews that she wants to give Alyssa space to be her random self, allowing them both to shine. Which is both considerate and shrewd, as I'm sure Alaska doesn't want to lose. Their routine certainly lets Alyssa's freak flag fly, and Alaska gets laughs by making one-word comments in response to the crazy jabbering. I can see how, in the room, it might be funny. On camera, though, it doesn't quite read. The pacing feels stilted and weird, and I think you need to be in the presence of their competing energies to feel it land.

Then comes the Ginger and Katya show...

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They're funny and polished and exactly the pros I would expect them to be. Their shtick is that that they're frenemies, and they trade clever, bitchy insults while sporting aggressively cheery smiles. Katya goes full Russian, and my favorite joke involves Ginger calling her "Balki." Bronson Pinchot represent!

Next comes Tatianna and Detox...

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You guys? This is the best performance Detox has ever given on the show. During most performance segments, I feel like she's holding something back, as though she can't quite let loose. But between last week's Thelma and Louise parody and this killer stand-up, she seems to have worked her shit out. She and Tati play raunchy socialites who can't help going blue with their garden party stories. Tati -- who is also back in top form -- does a great bit that makes me laugh where she pretends like she's going to reveal she has a penis. At the end of the "confession," though, she drops into her deepest man voice and says, "I used to have braces." The timing kills. Meanwhile, as she walks off the runway, Detox trips. After she rights herself, she says, "That Sally Field, that cunt, she lied to me about the Boniva!" YES GOD. A true queen turns every mistake into a victory.

As for Roxxxy's solo hosting? The less said the better. She slips into the Delta Work vortex from season four, where she keeps making jokes about how unfunny she is. It's awful.

Fortunately, we can get distracted by all the other queens in the audience. There are so many, including Chad Michaels, Gia Gunn, Leganja Estranja, Alexis Mateo, Vivacious, and Latrice Royale. Also, gloriously, Nicole Paige Brooks is seated next to Kelly Mantle:

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COME THROUGH DRAG RACE HERSTORY! I remember Nicole from my days in Atlanta, and though she didn't have a great run on the show, I still like her. Kelly Mantle also struck me as a smart, interesting queen who just wasn't quite right for this format. Seeing them together is a reminder of how many interesting girls have strutted across this stage.

And who can forget Victoria "Porkchop" Parker, fresh from her cameo last week?

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Her lack of enthusiasm is giving me life.

Judging and Kvetching

The reason I think Alaska and Alyssa worked in the room is because the judges are gagging for them. They also love Tati and Detox, though they rightly say that Detox's accent was distracting at times. (It was still her best performance, though.) Ginger and Katya get muted praise, mostly because their rivalry shtick seemed unvaried. Roxxxy gets heavily criticized, and so do Coco and Phi Phi. No surprise there. Coco won't be returning, while Phi Phi and Roxxxy are the bottom two. Katya and Ginger are safe, which means Ginger is also out again. That leaves Alyssa and Tatianna as the top two eliminated queens. They will be lip syncing for their lives, and RuPaul loves saying that phrase again.

Lip Sync For Your Life

It's a lip sync with actual stakes! Since the winning girl gets to stay in the competition, you can feel the energy soaring in this performance of Rihanna's semi-hit "Shut Up And Drive." (It was the single released right after "Umbrella," so it never had a chance.)

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Both ladies kill it. Alyssa pulls out all the dancing, dropping to the ground in time with the music and contorting her body in beautiful ways. Tatianna is less overtly physical, but her focus and attitude are incredibly sexy. During the bridge, they both go wild with some freak-out dance moves that I love.

And then they both win. Meaning they both come back on the show. (They split the $10,000 "cash tip.") And they BOTH have the right to send someone home. If one chooses Roxxxy and the other chooses Phi Phi, then both of those girls are out. NEW RULES ARE THE GREATEST PLEASE NEVER STOP CHANGING THE RULES.

Roxxxy can breathe, though, because Phi Phi gets double-slapped. She's going home like whoa, and she brought it on herself. Bye, Phi-licia!

Most Watchable Moment

Let's keep the opening scene on repeat, so we can see people reading Phi Phi forever.

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