Welcome to my recap of the seventh episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 7 – Legendary Legend Looks, a design challenge of making a kissing cousin of an iconic RuPaul look that doesn’t have too close of a family resemblance.
What do you want from a reality competition TV show? Your answer may reveal if this no-eliminations All-Winners season is right up your alley or leaving you down in the doldrums.
Personally, I watch reality competitions for excellence. Whether that’s physical prowess on American Ninja Warrior, mesmerizing glass blowers on Netflix’s Blown Away, or the O.G. reality competition winner Kelly Clarkson on American Idol, I want to see someone plucked from relative obscurity and elevated to the height of their industry to show off skills that would otherwise go unseen. I also love
That’s not what everyone is looking for! Some people delight in the drama, the flubs, the flops, and the un-self-aware cringe of reality competitions, cheering when an ill-equipped underdog makes a deep run. This is a crowd who loves the gamesmanship of Big Brother and slow-moving train-wrecks like The Masked Singer.
I’m not saying this pair of preferences are completely mutually exclusive of each other. You can love a superstar talent and a crash-and-burn!
The thing is: this season of Drag Race is completely free of crash-and-burn. We’re watching a showcase of eight of the best-on-TV drag queens in the world whose camera skills have been battle-hardened by one or two passes through the Drag Race machine. Yes, there’s a competition happening, but without eliminations the show is much more about watching the process of drag excellence unfold than it is about the tops and flops of the week.
That’s everything I’ve always wanted from reality TV. No loveable underdogs. No shocking eliminations. Eleven episodes of excellence that hopefully ends with a deserving winner. Imaging getting to see Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood go head-to-head for an entire season of American Idol.
At the same time, I can understand how that is absolutely exhausting for someone who needs the spiciness of some cringe – or, at least some tough judges critiques – to liven up their reality TV.
Which side do you come down on? And, how did you feel about yet another challenge where no one was horrible.
Well, maybe one person was horrible, but we’ll get to that in a moment! Plus, at the end of the recap I’ll update my Episode 6 power rankings to show where the queens stand after another week of Legendary Legend badges. (Want to skip right to the power rankings? Go for it!)
Readers, start your engines! And, may the best drag queen… win!
Drag Race All Stars Season 7, Episode 7 – Legendary Legend Looks Recap
Platinum Plunger Aftermath
The queens return to the workroom after The Vivienne and Yvie’s lip sync, with Viv looking much worse for the wear and Yvie interviewing that it feels “pretty immaculate” to go from last place with zero stars to tied-for-first in the span of a single two-star week.
Jinkx makes her return to the workroom wielding the Platinum Plunger and looking… a little more ticked off than many of the blocked queens have been thus far. To be fair, she is the first queen to earn a second block, to which she interviews (in the immortal words of Kennedy Davenport): “Well fuck my drag, right?”
Back in the workroom, Jinkx admits she had a feeling Viv might use a block against her, but was still “a little irritated” to be blocked by a member of her own team from the Total Ruquest Live Challenge. Viv punches back that if Jinkx is irritated, she is “fucking furious” to have snatched a second win without a star to show for it. Ridiculously, in her confessional she demands that her chyron be changed to “Karen,” because she demands to speak to a manager about getting a second star.
Jinkx continues to pull a sour face as Viv insists that “friendships aren’t coming into this” and “it’s every man for himself at this point.” I think saying these sorts of things is just as critical an error as Viv telling Jinkx she wished she had the chance to block her, which is what started this mini-rivalry. I’m not sure why you would make yourself out to be the most-ruthless queen in the room when you know there are several mini-alliances and you’re not in any of them.
Whenever you’re the first queen to declare “no holds barred” you tend to be the next queen to have a previously-illegal hold used against you.
(Did you know that “no holds barred” is a wrestling reference? Well, now you do.)
Ultimately, Jinkx decides being blocked twice, along with being the first queen to two stars and the first to three wins, is a complement… but also hints that she’ll be happy to deliver another block to Viv as repayment.
“A new day in the workroom!”
It’s a new day in the workroom, and Monét misses her apartment and her hairless cat, Colleen.
(Hopefully she didn’t leave Bob in charge of feeding her! Bob hates that cat.)
All of the queens are acutely aware that they are the halfway mark of the competition, and the five of them them with just one star are eager to get back on top – especially Shea and Monét, who haven’t had a win since Week One!
(It must be said, Raja is in the most fabulous retro late-60s look – a shirt with a massive flower pattern, wide flair-leg pants, and chunky red platform boots.)
The RuMail of the day is all fashion references mixed with bawdy puns. When Ru mentions a “long black train,” Trinity’s eyes light up – she came prepared to slay RuPaul’s Train Race this season!
RuPaul enters the workroom in yet another weirdly slapdash outfit – a royal green satin jacket embroidered with golden pineapples, but a plain white tank top, somewhat ill-fitted white jeans, and a pair of sandals. Were they filming this in the dead of summer? Even if they were, this look is far too casual for a workroom entrance, Ru!
In a puzzling turn of events, Ru shows off… a Pinterest board(???) of her iconic fashions, and then reveals that this challenge is sponsored by Pinterest. As a frequent brand strategist and business intelligence analyst, I cannot explain to you what Pinterest is hoping to get out of the 10 to 100 thousand dollars they sunk into this single brand mention. How many new users would have to flock to their website to make that worthwhile?!
(We later see the queens avidly pinching and zooming on tablets in the workroom. They never get to use technology in the workroom other than iPods and they have photos of their challenge looks on easels, so this is clearly meant to suggest them avidly using Pinterest. Yet, nothing about zooming in on a picture is quintessentially Pinterest. They should’ve shown them each with a board full of alternate shots of Ru, pictures of fabric samples, pinning potential accessories… anything about the actual product!)
After showing off her Pins, Ru issues the not-at-all intimidating challenge of creating a signature Legendary Legend look inspired by one of her classic looks of the past 30 years designed by her Emmy-award-winning lifelong designer, Zaldy.
The eight looks to choose from are:
- Ru’s ruby red “Supermodel of the World” look from the cover of her 1992 “Supermodel (You Better Work)” single
- Ru’s 2000 VH1 Divas Live gold sequined dress
- Ru’s deep purple off-the-shoulder gown from the Drag Race Down Under Season 1 promo shoot
- Ru’s golden runway from Season 7’s “The Despy Awards”
- Ru’s shredded silver-and-white look from Season 7’s “born naked” themed promo
- Ru’s Season 5 “Sugar Ball” pink leopard print dress
- Ru’s babydoll, baby blue Season 8 promo look (even if it was color-timed to look green in the trailer)
- Ru’s truly unhinged facekini from Season 10’s “End of the World Ball”
As last week’s winner, Viv gets to pick first and pick the next queen, who in turn gets to pick the next queen, and so on and so forth, which results in these match-ups:
- Viv with the golden Despy Awards gown, who picks…
- Trinity with the baby blue, babydoll promo, who picks…
- Monét picks the facekini look, from the episode of her first lip sync, who picks…
- Shea chooses the Season 5 Sugar Ball, who inexplicably picks…
- Jaida picks the golden Divas Live look, who surprisingly picks…
- Yvie mops the “Supermodel of the World” single promo, who shockingly spicks…
- Jinkx picks the Down Under purple dress, leaving…
- Raja winds up with no choice but taking the “Born Naked” look
There’s a few interesting moments to dissect in there.
Viv has no real alliances, so it’s interesting that she picked Trinity first – who is a heavy favorite in any design challenge and who is almost-openly allied with Monét. What’s Viv’s goal here, other than handing Trinity a win? Trying to fend off some future block? I don’t think this was a big enough favor to warrant that.
It’s unsurprising that Trinity picks her alliance Twinner Monét, and Monét picking her Week 1 sister on a winless streak Shea also makes sense.
However, Shea’s pick of design maven Jaida is puzzling. Design is one of Shea’s must-win challenges along with songwriting, which she didn’t manage to snag last week. She should be doing anything to sandbag Jaida’s potential win as the front-runner!
Then, Jaida picks Yvie over her covert ally Jinkx, and Yvie weirdly picks Jinkx even though Raja gave her a bonus star just one episode ago.
Personally, I think Raja should’ve been a first choice for anyone but the designer gals, since a Raja win is a good defensive play against a win for Jaida (who is in the lead) or Trinity (who is a constant threat). As a result, Raja winds up with by far the simplest, least-inspiring look of the eight – though, she claims it is in her Top 3 choices.
Ru reminds the queens that it’s not about copying her look, it’s about “using it as inspiration to express your own imagination.” It’s a fair warning, as on a regular season many queens would go for a close-to-literal re-do of Zaldy’s work for Ru. However, this crowd of winners is much savvier than that.
Almost before Ru is out the door, Monét teases Jinkx about being stuck with another design challenge, to which Jinkx cheerfully replies, “Viv just wasted her block.” In all fairness, how could Viv know to expect a second design challenge on an All-Stars season! It’s not the norm!
(Monét, later, in interview: “Oh my god, two design challenges? Who… who okayed that? I don’t wanna make no clothes. Can I call a designer? Imma send ’em a sketch.”)
Viv is, predictably, pressed.
Designing Legendary Legend Looks
We immediately learn that one thing that separates this challenge from a typical Drag Race design challenge centered on mimicry is that all of the queens get more or less the actual materials that Zaldy designed Ru’s original looks from! Jaida gets fabric with improbably huge gold paillettes, Monét gets a neon floral and Yvie gets spools of gauzy flame-red tulle.
The actual hurdle the queens need to clear is implicit: This isn’t a “working with difficult materials” challenge. It’s a “start with premium materials and resist the urge to churn out a copy or to design a too-basic slinky dress” challenge.
This challenge demands a concept.
Trinity seemingly has her concept locked in after a mere minute of contemplation. She’ll take the babydoll poof of Ru’s original and move it down to the mermaid tail bottom of a trumpet skirt, echoing the shape of Ru’s look but on a different silhouette. She’s determined to top her last challenge-winning look while absolutely not creating a train!
Everyone’s favorite wine-drinking auntie, Raja, is flummoxed by how quickly Trinity is able to go from concept to design to execution. Raja gets there only after several glasses of wine. Raja tries to sabotage Trinity by saying her look sounds too simple. Alas, Trinity is unshakeable – you can tell she’s already turning over invisible patterns in the air in front of her while Raja speaks.
Similarly, Jaida is feeling instantly inspired. She’s going for a sort of Ru-ception theme, designing a dress inspired by Ru being inspired by Diana Ross that would fit in just fine at Divas Live. She runs the risk of doing something too close to the original, but we all know Ru loves a Ms. Ross The Boss reference.
In interview, Jaida once again shows that she is quietly the reigning strategist of the season, saying “Two stars just ain’t gonna cut it, sis.” It sounds like she may have done the same math I have and realizes that the first queen to 3 stars has an almost insurmountable advantage when it comes to getting into the final lip sync tournament.
Of all the queens, it feels like only Shea and Raja have any impediments when it comes to their materials.
In Shea’s case, that is because the challenge follows the same rules for everyone: they get more or less what Zaldy started with, and in the case of the “Sugar Ball” dress Zaldly didn’t start with leopard print fabric. He hand painted the pattern.
That seems like a massive stumbling block to hand to any queen. If anyone can surmount it, that would be Shea or Trinity. And, Shea is hungry for it right now as she walks out of missing a win in one of her best challenges and into another one of her best challenges.
Shea is going to invert the shape of Ru’s dress and hand-paint the leopard print!
In Raja’s case, her materials are fine, but Ru’s “Born Naked” look isn’t really about the materials – it’s about the glam-punk aesthetic of how they are shredded from the dress down to the boots. If Raja shreds her materials in exactly the same way, she’ll wind up with too similar of a dress. But… how many ways can you shred fabric?
Jinkx’s impediment is less the materials and more… herself. She picked purple for a second time this season, and now she is stuck trying not to repeat herself – both in avoiding another trainwreck and in not making the same grecian goddess look over again. But, what Jinkx has on her side is she’s blocked. She’s not in contention for a star, so she can go a little wilder on this attempt than she might typically go – and, she could still wind up with the power to block if she wins!
(This leads to two hilarious bits. First, a Kill Bill riff with sirens and red lights going off as Jinkx glances over at Viv. And, second, Jinkx makes an intricate corset look without first expanding her mannequin to her size, which leads to trashing all of her work during a subsequent comedic mental breakdown full of maniacal laughter.)
RuPaul visits the workroom after at least an hour has elapsed based on Trinity having already made an entire ruched skirt with a mermaid bottom (although, with Trinity, that could’ve been 10 minutes).
The first queen Ru summons to chat is Yvie with her “Supermodel of the World” themed look. Ru reminisces that she released her single on her birthday, November 17, 1992, and Zaldy patterned the dress after Versace looks of the time – only for Versace to tap her as a model just two years later after her fame from the single!
In return, Yvie reveals that “Supermodel of World” was released the year she was born… so, Ru is probably heading outside right after this to key her car.
In even-more-depressing news, Yvie reveals that growing up in her house Ru’s name was “like a curse word” due to her homophobic father referring to anyone who was visibly queer as “a RuPaul” (to which Ru responds with wide eyes and a grin: “GOOD!”)
Monét reminds Ru of what I already clocked – that she chose the facekini because it was from the week of her first lip sync against Dusty Ray Bottoms to Nicki Minaj’s “Pound The Alarm”!!! Monét reminds Ru (or, informs her… you never know with Ru) about how the episode broke the internet, which she credits to Ru’s oddball look (but which was equally because of Monét’s savage lip sync, complete with a fake-out split followed by an actual one).
(Ru claims she wore the facekini because she’s not afraid to try new things, but I still think it’s because she had pink eye or a case of eczema or something. A rash, not a herpes sore.)
Shea gushes over Ru while Ru gushes over her own “Sugar Ball” dress, saying she saved it for that episode (which included Jinkx’s iconic lip sync against Detox) because she knew Bob Mackie would be there and she wanted him to see it. Ru confirms that the original leopard print pattern was hand-painted, and Shea goes all-in on committing to hand-painting her own version in the workroom in a single day.
Raja hilariously arrives at her meeting with Ru with what looks like a pile of gauze bandages. She wanted “Supermodel of the World” because she was graduating high school in 1992, which doesn’t offend Ru nearly as much as Yvie being born then! (Also, this means Raja is competing with someone eighteen years her junior, which is pretty wild to think about – the range of competitor ages on Drag Race don’t tend to be so broad in recent seasons.)
Ru call’s Raja’s design sketch “very thunderdome,” and it definitely is! It’s a single V whose point plunges deep past her crotch and whose splines extend past her shoulders to be even with her head. Her sketch suggests a vague central shape of draped fabric, but Raja volunteers that it might be made entirely of braided ropes. It’s a peculiar direction for one of the main seamstresses in the cast, considering it was also Jinkx’s tact in the Game Show themed ball.
Before departing, Ru ruveals that this week’s extra special guest judge will be none other than the fashion punk Betsey Johnson, a legendary designer and all-around kook known for looks that mash up high school prom with haute couture fashion. This is the rare guest judge where you can tell all of the queens are genuinely excited for the opportunity to walk in front of her!
In the wake of Ru’s walkthrough, Yvie determinedly works the hem of her pants through a sewing machine, and a short time later we see they are looking incredible on her elongated frame. Meanwhile, Monét gets flummoxed by her hat-making, of all things, and Shea has just finished her print-painting while everyone else is starting to clothe their dress forms.
With a nervous laugh, Shea interviews that she’s making “a ruffle-sleeved bolero jacket, a top, belts, pants, and a scarf… it could basically be a collection.”
The next day we get our first glimpse of Jaida’s sparkling garment, but still none of Viv’s or Monet’s. Meanwhile, Trinity is still actively making gloves for her own dress but somehow also is making ruffles for Shea’s bolero jacket and also is helping Monét sew her neckline. It defies all logic and reason, but Trinity is determined not to catch a second block! She will make all eight outfits, if that’s what it takes!
She interviews, “Y’all already know The Tuck ain’t no middle of the road kinda gal,” and this is why I deeply adore and often identity with Trinity. She may miss the mark sometimes, but that’s never because she does anything halfway.
Monét and Trinity non-covertly confer, calling Raja’s dreamcatcher-esque dress “a nightmare-catcher,” and debating if it’s wiser to block Jinkx or Yvie. Trinity doesn’t want to block Jinkx a second time, but Monét – who famously would’ve sent Manila home if Naomi didn’t – is ready to do so.
Runway: Legendary Legend Looks
Our judges tonight are RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Carson Kressley, and Betsey Johnson – who at 80 years old came out and did a split for her runway walk.
(She has done this at her shows for decades, though tonight it apparently went awry and she injured her ankle.)
RuPaul’s look is “meh.”
I never love how velvet looks under the Drag Race stage lights, and this dress is not making a strong case for itself with its weird pleats, gold chain, a slit that rises past her hip bone, and an awful nude delusion that goes right over where Ru’s nipple ought to be.
For all of Ru’s statuesque gorgeousness, I feel like Zaldy never manages to pull off realistically-colored and appropriately-placed nude illusion on her. However, I am a fan of this massive halo of windswept, wavy, platinum blonde hair.
Yivie Oddly showed up in one of the best pairs of pants we’ve seen in a design challenge, but paired it with a whole lot of nothing up top.
Her Japanese hakama pants are really gorgeous – wide legged in a fashionable way without evoking retro flares like the ones Raja wore in the workroom. However, there’s just not enough happening in the top of the outfit to hold attention. Yvie crafted a loose pink crop top, but it’s too much pink in the middle of a look whose colors should be giving FLAMES! (The original just had a pop of pink on the belt). Plus, she pitched to Ru that she would be wearing gloves that would extend up past her shoulders to flare over her head, but what we got was more of a tulle shrug, to which I say :shrug:
There are also a few distracting details, like the white hem line on the bottom of her shrug, and her two-toned lips. There are several strong elements here, but it’s not a cohesive look.
I feel like she even could’ve gone bare-chested with a pair of pink pasties and it would’ve had more impact than this, but when it comes down to it she oversold the tulle gloves to Ru and Shea turned in something similar but superior.
The Vivienne’s “Despy Awards” look is gorgeous… because it is Ru’s “Despy Awards” look.
Or, at least, the straps, criss-cross chest, vintage hair styling, and rabbit-ear bonnet are pretty damn similar. It’s a pity, because Viv pulled off a fun Westwood-derived deconstructed skirt on the bottom half, but there’s no escaping the near-perfect copy of the top.
Again: amazing garment. I love it. It’s just too close to the original to win the challenge.
(Also, the black shoes are a boot.)
Shea Couleé followed through on her similar-to-Yvie idea to turn Ru’s iconic leopard-print dress upside down.
I think there are things that work about this look and things that don’t. Shea’s hand-painted leopard print pattern is a win. Some of it looks a little peculiar if you get up to close to it, but from a mid-distance it reads perfectly. Also, she executed her shawl of structured ruffles and frills better than Yvie did. Finally, the black vinyl barely-there bolero is brilliant – I love it.
What holds this look back are the pink pants and their big belt. The belt wound up with one very big leopard spot on the front, and it makes it look like there’s a hole through Shea, or like someone took a giant eraser to that one spot on her look. Then the pants… are just pants. It’s not only that their pink was totally washed out by the stage lights and background. They were too much of a single color block when that same color was also at the top of the outfit. Also, there is something slightly awkward about the crotch.
The answer was not to also paint the print onto the pants. It would’ve been overwhelming! I think the solutoin was something much more minor than that, like a black satin tuxedo stripe. down the side.
(Actually, what I think would’ve really worked is a pair of black pants or a black pencil skirt, with either including with a pink tuxedo stripe up the side.)
Is it time to say that Trinity The Tuck might be the best seamstress in the history of Drag Race? I think the only reason we can’t say it is because Jaida is making a strong case for the same superlative on this very episode.
We’ve had a slew of successful sewing queens on the show, from Alexis Mateo to Bianca del Rio to Utica, but I don’t know that we’ve ever had another queen who can so quickly execute a vision that is high fashion and perfectly-fitted to her shape as the two gowns Trinity produced this season.
What’s even more impressive to me than the construction of this gown is the restraint. Trinity is always one to over-style, but she lets the gown do the talking and smartly accentuates that with just a pair of perfectly sharp bows. Giving the floofiness of the dress itself, it was so smart to go with these knife-edge crisp bows rather than adding more droopy fluff to the look, which would’ve weighed it down.
It’s not entirely perfect. The downward slant of the chest panels away from the center line give the top a slightly awkward shape, and the central scattering of rhinestones on the bust is a little anemic. But, so many elements of it are perfect, including the giant levitating tiered cake of the bottom of the dress and the spectacular way it shows off Trinity’s ass in the back.
Also, this Madonna late-1980s hair? I am living for it. I’ve been trying to find a wig like this for months.
Look, sometimes you’ve got to be the one to say that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes, so please let me regretfully share the news that Raja’s look is a mess.
There’s no look there! No outfit! It’s just… stuff piled on stuff piled on stuff.
This is bad enough to merit a bottom two on a regular season, which almost no performance or garment would merit on this season.
What’s not a mess is the styling of the look. Raja delivered yet another stunning mug with the pink lips and massive slashes of blush, and yet another gorgeous alternate take on her long gray locks with a swept-to-one-side knotted pony. And, her accessorizing works, from the jeweled headpiece to the crowd of wrist bangles.
It’s the garment in the middle that really doesn’t work.
Jinkx Monsoon’s look is fine. It’s a body suit built up from a corset, but her bejeweling accents are incredibly lovely and the asymmetrical ruffle of tulle on the neckline is perfectly proportioned, even if the clouds of tulle in the rear are too much.
I’m not sure I’m sold on the one-sleeve, one-stocking on opposite sides – I think they would’ve had more impact on the same side to accentuate the asymmetry of the look. This way it just looks jumbled.
Jaida Essence Hall makes one of the smartest moves in this challenge, which is to use Ru’s look to specifically homage Diana Ross. It’s a clever extra layer to take a Ru inspiration and direct it at one of Ru’s literal inspirations, who inspired the original inspiration without actually inspiring the inspiration.
Did you follow that?
It’s not the most-imaginative shape we’ve ever seen from a design challenge dress, but the fact that Jaida pulled it off with a sequin so huge that it makes its own pattern is impressive. Also, clock the waistline – it’s not a single gather at the front to pull off the hip cutouts, but what looks like a massive bow tied with the same sequined fabric.
That Jaida managed to get all of that draping right and flatter her figure and evoke Ms. Ross and smartly accessorize with her faux fur backed with yet more shimmer fabric takes this from “clever” to “brilliant.”
Monét X Change took a surprising tact on this challenge, which was to focus on impeccable construction rather than making an over-the-top garment.
We’ve seen a lot of queens make a lot of catsuits on this show, but this catsuit is snatched. It goes up to a hood and down to the gloves and it is snug in all the right places. Also, she wrapped her fucking shoes. That is dedication.
Honestly, the effect is totally seamless. This is almost certainly a bottom and a top with their disconnect hidden under the corset, but the fact that you even have to question that speaks to how perfectly Monét is selling the illusion that this is a single uninterrupted piece of fabric entirely cocooning her juicy body.
Monét completing the silhouette with a hat is brilliant. Monét’s shape is such that she can either do a pussycat wig and emphasize her shoulders and bustline to make her waist look extra-cinched or she can wear something big on her head to extend her shape and put less focus on her shoulders. The hat did the latter, and it proportionized the heck out of her.
Judging, Lip Sync For Your Legacy, & The Platinum Plunger
Welcome to another week of trying to parse all-positive praise to figure out which fluffy comments are actually harsh critiques in disguise.
Carson loves that Yvie turned Ru’s look upside down and Michelle raves over the pants – as does Ru. Yet, their comments feel a little piecemeal – none of them rave over the entirely of the look, because they can’t say anything nice about the top.
Carson starts by complementing Viv’s makeup. Granted, it’s astonishing, but that’s not what you want to hear first out of the mouth of the design judge for your design challenge. Ru says “the eyes don’t know where to land,” and while she means it as a complement I also took it to mean that there’s not really a particularly standout aspect of this garment – partly because it’s a 50% copy of Ru’s look.
Between critiques, Ru delivers a hilarious confession. “You know how I keep my good looks? Water and rest.”
She nods and smirks. “That’s it. That’s all I do. Yeah.”
Part of the joy of this season is not just “Ru’s having fun,” which is praise that gets trotted out whenever Ru is even awake on the judging panel. It’s that Ru clearly loves joking with these queens. There’s a difference between Ru who is making jokes for her own pleasure and Ru making jokes with other people, for the same reason Ru loves queens who volley on Snatch Game.
Betsey Johnson loves that Shea took Ru’s ballgown and took it to rock’n’roll, which is very true – this is like a neon-and-vinyl version of something from “The Leader of the Pack.” Carson calls it “perfection” and “phenomenal” and Michelle says it reminds her of the original Barbie! Ru says she loves how she “flipped the volume.” No one comments on the make-up, but Shea’s face and hair are stunning. Before her critiques pass, she credits Trinity for helping her put the finishing touches on the look.
Michelle calls Trinity’s look “just beautiful,” “breathtaking,” “masterful,” and “classy” in case you were wondering just how much she loves it. She also loves Trinity’s thought process of moving the babydoll puff down to the trumpet-flare skirt. Betsey loved “the spritz and the glitz” and the way Trinity walked the dress. Carson reminds us it’s “classy and assy” and calls it spectacular, “a Tiffany’s jewel-box moment,” and phenomenal. He confesses that Trinity made him forget this was a design challenge look.
Ru also adores it, saying Trinity looks like Dorothy Dandridge. Carson also points out two elements I missed: the way the skirt uses multiple textures, and how perfectly detailed Trinity’s bows are. It’s not only that they have sharp edges – the zoom-in on the stoning on the bow on her waist is stunning. She stoned that in less than 24hrs in addition to making the entirety of the rest of her dress plus parts of at least three others!
Betsey has to go post-verbal to describe Raja’s garment, which feels appropriate. Carson pulls out the positive as only a former host of Queer Eye can do, explaining how Raja has a knack for featuring just enough of her body without being a body queen who shows off tons of skin. Ru complements the hair and the headpiece and refers to it as “Disco Mystical.” Michelle calls it an eyegasm, and Raja admits that it went more maximalist than even she intended, calling it “Bed, Bath, and Beyond Thunderdome.”
(Now there’s a great before-and-after theme!)
Michelle to Jinkx: “Somehow, we always end up back at the saloon.t” She’s not wrong, bu Carson rightly complements the fine detailing of the glittering bodysuit. We get a tight closeup on it, and even if all of this fabric was pre-sequined and pre-tasseled, Jinkx deployed it cleanly and with great attention to detail on the lining. Betsey says it is “very elegant in its kind of wonderful trashiness,” which sounds like a backhanded compliment someone flung at one of her collections that she has joyously repurposed here. Ru very kindly praises Jinkx for pulling through in a design challenge and delivering on her original vision.
Carson calls Jaida’s look “like Bob Mackie for Cher,” and I don’t think anyone else needs to say anything else to know that he is describing a look that will go on to win the design challenge. Michelle loves that it is 60s glamour and Betsey loves the touch of the tiny fur. Ru is buying Jaida’s reference-within-a-reference to Divas Live and Jaida giggles with satisfaction.
Ru is already laughing when she announces Monét, which is never a bad sign. The judges weirdly avoid praising Monét’s construction, with Carson mentioning the fabric (which she had no control over) and Michelle tagging the hoop earring that are pierced through the facekini onto Monét’s fabric-covered ears. However, Ru goes in on the intelligence of the competing prints and the silhouette. Betsey loves the pattern-on-pattern and calls it a “Day-glo marble cake.”
In private deliberations, Ru says everyone was fabulous. How do we pick a winner in this crowd?
Michelle immediately goes hard for Jaida Essence Hall, saying she was “completely smitten” with Jaida. Michelle rightfully says it could easily be a red carpet look tomorrow, and Betsey volunteers to wear it but Ru suggests that even Carson would look like a million dollars wearing it. Carson loves that she “distilled down” to the original Diana Ross inspiration.
Betsey seems truly inspired by Monét, calling her “a real piece of art.” Now we get the construction praise. Carson and Michelle are fascinated by how hard it was to make a bodysuit look so simple when it goes up to the crown of the head and down to the glove. And, Ru echos my own reaction – that the hat was the perfect way to give Monét an illusion of proportion in a look that offered nowhere hide or alter her natural body shape.
Carson loves Shea’s point-of-view and Michelle loves how well the hand-painted print looked. Betsey says Shea is like Clockwork Orange: “scary but gorgeous” and “fantasyland but in a modern, modern, modern way.” Ru confesses she was worried about how her all-time-favorite dress would translate, but she seemed genuinely pleased that it was Shea who got to interpret it.
Finally, we come to Trinity. Michelle can’t decide if she’s going to gush or be struck speechless, but she and Carson both emphasize how ludicrous it is that Trinity made her dress in “an afternoon” while also constructing pieces of the looks of most of the other queens.
Ru doesn’t even comment, clapping for silence.
When the queens return, it’s no surprise to hear that Jaida Essence Hall and Trinity The Tuck are awarded the win. In any other line-up Monét might’ve pulled it off, but there was no denying the level of perfection from these two dresses.
Jaida and Trinity are lip syncing to “I Want Love” by Jessie J., and after a few frustrating weeks of low-key lip syncs we finally have a hot performance on our hands!
Both queens start out with nearly identical moves until the beat drops, at which point Jaida takes a running, sliding split across the entire width stage. She executes it so quickly that the spotlight can’t even keep up with her.
Yet, Trinity is finally doing the thing she hasn’t been doing at all this season, which is pulling us in to her lip sync before she explodes with silliness. She builds and builds with face work until she drops into a perfected versions her now-trademark somersault. Then, she builds some more before a knee-slide across the entire stage that is so aggressive that she winds up with her face buried in Jaida’s ass as if it is an airbag in a car crash.
Jaida is never not spectacular, but this is the case where one queen was just in the groove of the track the entire time. Trinity rightfully takes home the win, the $10,000, and the chance to weird Platinum Plunger.
After a lengthy stalk up and down the line of queens, she follows through on her earlier promise to Monét and blocks Yvie.
Will avoiding handing a third block to Jinkx prove to be a mistake or the very thing that saves Trinity from a future block from Jinkx? Either way, the next few weeks are going to be a very tight competition!
Things are getting complex in our rankings now that we have Jaida with a third star and Trinity clinching her second win.
Right now there are eight more stars on the line, if no one gets blocked, which means the most any one queen can win is four – and no one is going four in a row! It’s much more likely we’ll see two or three queens pick up two wins each, and the rest get singles.
With the star distribution currently sitting at 3, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, that means even if all three 2-star queens manage to advance to 4-stars, Jaida will still hold off all of the rest of the queens. Otherwise, we could get one 4-star, 2-3 queens at 3 stars, and a multiple-way tie at 2.
Will the show really allow queens to get locked in for the finals this early, or is another twist still to come in the four remaining competitive episodes?
With this week’s design challenge out of the way and next week confirmed to be scripted acting, I’m already 1-for-4 on my predictions for our remaining challenges. I suspect what we have left are:
- A proper on-stage comedy challenge like stand-up or a roast. Even having already seen the Draguation Speeches, I think there’s no way they don’t pitch this softball to Monét, who is an expert roaster, when we’ve had two design challenges for queens like Jaida, Trinity, and Raja.
- A straight-up branding or “promote yourself” challenge. It’s not an every season staple, but it tends to produce hugely meme-able moments and the show loves that.
- A talent show. Since every queen is around every week, there’s no reason this can’t be late in the season. Plus, saving it to late in the season makes it feel BIGGER, whereas usually an All Stars season starts with it to make the whole season feel big. This season didn’t need that.
Could I be wrong? The two other major challenge types we also haven’t seen are a choreographed Rusical (which seems like a waste with this cast) and a fanciful character challenge (which might be too similar to the Draguation Speeches).
What does that mean for our rankings? Shake-ups will continue, even if morale improves!
#1 Jinkx Monsoon – 2 Stars from 3 Wins, 2 Blocks (was #1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1)
Projected finish: Wins 1-2 of the remaining 8 stars from any challenges for 3-4 total stars.
How do I have Jinkx in first place still, even when Jaida has more stars?
BECAUSE WE ARE GOING INTO A SCRIPTED ACTING CHALLENGE and Trinity didn’t block Jinkx! (More on that in a moment.)
Even more importantly, not everything rides on winning next week for Jinkx. That’s especially true if my challenge predictions are correct.
If Jinkx does win next week, she will have 3 wins. Then she will almost certainly get blocked at the end of Ep 9 (if she doesn’t manage to win twice in a row), will be out of commission in Ep 10, but will be free to win the final challenge in Ep 11.
If Jinkx doesn’t win next week, it’s likely someone who is bad at game theory will give Jaida the block as the three-star front-runner rather than Jinkx. That means Jinkx can win in Ep 9, which leaves her in the 3-win club even if she gets blocked at the end of Ep 10 from winning Ep 11.
I think only way to keep Jinkx out of the finals is for her to get blocked two weeks in a row, which involves her not winning either of the next two challenges.
Good luck with that, ladies.
#2 Jaida Essence Hall, 3 Stars from 2 Wins (+1 Bonus), 0 Blocks (was #2, 6, 6, 5, 6, 5, 6)
Projected finish: Wins 0-1 of the remaining 8 stars, possibly from a Branding challenge, for 3-4 total stars.
Jaida remains #2 in the power ranking, but since she picked up the star I predicted for her in this challenge she has now been cemented as our front-runner.
Why do I have our front-runner behind Jinkx? Because I don’t think Jaida is going to win next week’s scripted acting challenge, and if anyone other than Jinkx wins the lip sync Jaida will probably get blocked.
Should she get blocked? No. At this point in the competition, blocking a queen with 3-stars is a waste, and Jaida might not have another win in her. You want to be blocking queens with 2 stars to prevent them from clinching another finale spot before you do. Yet, I don’t think most of these queens are playing that strategically. Jinkx and Jaida might be the only two.
However, if we assume Jaida can’t win next week and is most-likely to get blocked, that means she is out of competition for two of the four final stars. By my math, that still puts her in the finals, since there aren’t enough stars for four other queens to get to four stars to shut her out. Of the remaining challenges her best shot of picking up another star to pad her record is in the Branding challenge, and there’s a 1-in-3 chance she winds up blocked for that.
#3 Trinity The Tuck, 2 Stars from 3 Wins, 1 Block (was #4, 4, 3, 1, 3, 4, 3)
Projected finish: Wins 1-2 of the remaining 8 stars, possibly from acting, comedy, or branding, for 3-4 total stars.
I said this week was a must-win for Trinity, and she won it! I think there is a very strong chance this means she is headed to the finale. She really only needs to pick up one more star to clinch it, and two to be absolutely sure.
Not only that, but since Jaida also won and painted a target on her back, Trinity’s chances of getting blocked next week are relatively low. Even though just about everyone in this cast could win a scripted acting challenge, but Jinkx and Viv locked in a feud, Trinity just made Shea’s look (and Shea already blocked her once), and Monét is an alliance with Trinity. It feels like Yvie is the only queen who could win who would block Trinity.
That’s why Trinity’s choice of Yvie as a block this week is so interesting. Trinity says it was because Yvie had momentum, but was it really because she didn’t see Yvie winning another challenge and thought she would be safe from revenge from her? Skipping the chance to block Jinkx awas the right call – it keeps Jinkx’s ire focused on Vivienne, which also benefits Trinity since she overlaps Viv’s skillset as much as Jinkx does..
Trinity has slayed scripted acting challenges before, so there’s a chance she gets a repeat win next week while she’s unblocked. And, if she doesn’t win and isn’t blocked, she gets another shot the following week. And, all of the remaining challenges are very winnable for Trinity. She has a clear path and all she has to do is keep being herself.
#4 Monét X Change, 1 Star from 1 Win, 1 Block (was #8, 3, 2, 4, 4, 3, 4)
Projected finish: Wins 1-2 of the remaining 8 stars from any challenges for 2-3 total stars.
Did I really just move Monét from last place to the top four?
Yes I did. And here’s why: after Jinkx, she is the queen mostly likely to be able to win two challenges in a row.
Due to the nature of blocking, the easiest way to pick up quick stars this season is to win and then win again while you are immune to a block. For any 1-star queen who snags a second star, it will be very tempting for the next winner squash their momentum with a block. That why every one-star queen is going to be trying to win two in a row in the final four episodes.
I think Monét might be that queen. The remaining challenge schedule favors Monét heavily and she has been in the background long enough that no one is going to block her until she picks up a second star.
She is a strong favorite for next week’s acting challenge – fast memorization is one of her top talents. If she wins it, that means she’s immune to a block the following week, when she could EASILY pick up a third star and clinch a spot.
If she misses out on winning acting, she still won’t be blocked, which means she still could pick up a second star the following week and then repeat the week after.
Or she could do it the final two weeks.
Essentially, we can’t count Monét out unless she doesn’t win any of the next three weeks. That’s the rosiest outlook for any of the queens outside of our Top 3.
#5 Yvie Oddly, 2 Stars from 1 Wins (+1 bonus), 1 Block (was #5, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 8)
Projected finish: Wins 0-1 of the remaining 8 stars from any challenges for 2-3 total stars.
Here’s where I say the thing I’ve been saying every week: Yvie is a drag insurgent who could pull out a win in just about any challenge.
However, the two challenges where we know she is a strong performer based on her past track record are songwriting and acting. We’re done with songwriting, and she is BLOCKED for acting!
That means if Yvie wants into the finals, she has to win one of the three remaining challenges. I don’t see her topping this cast on stand-up comedy or roast, which means it could come down to branding or a talent show.
I actually think Yvie could be a shocker in the talent show who sneaks pasts the four mega vocalists of the season, so I’m not counting her out quite yet. But, her path to one more star doesn’t feel as obvious as Monét path to two.
#6 Shea Couleé – 1 Star from 1 Win, 1 Block (was #6, 2, 5, 3, 1, 1, 2)
Projected finish: Wins 1-2 of the remaining 8 stars, likely for talent plus one other challenge, for 2-3 total stars.
Shea one of four queens in the “needs two wins” club. While it feels potentially-attainable to her, it’s going to be a battle.
That’s especially true because as soon as a one-star queen snags a second star, it is going to be very tempting to block her again the next week – both to stifle her momentum, and because the chances of a revenge block are less than they would be from Jinkx.
Can Shea really haul in two more wins in four more weeks? It would certainly help if she wins next week, but that might be the hardest of all of the remaining categories for her. I strongly suspect she is going to be the assassin in the Talent Show, but she has also become adept at comedy. She’s not out of the game yet.
#7 The Vivienne, 1 Star from 2 Wins, 1 Block (was #3, 5, 4, 6, 8, 8, 7)
Projected finish: Wins 1-2 of the remaining 8 stars, from acting, branding, or comedy, for 2-3 total stars.
The Vivenne has turned herself into one of the main characters of the season and she has not slipped up in a challenge since week one. That puts her in constant contention for a win. The story producers will be pushing for it to bring extra drama to a relatively placid season.
Will we see either Jinkx or Viv win again next week so they can block the other one? It will be a very tempting outcome!
Viv has the same problem as all of the 1-star queens, which is that she needs to pick up two of the final four wins in order to clinch a spot in the finale.
Why do I have her behind Monét and Shea? As the main character, Viv might have the story producers on her side, but she has several queens gunning for her. She’s already a tempting target for a block from Jinkx, and I’d imagine Trinity is feeling the same way at this point… which means Monét might be feeling it, too. And, if Jaida happens to win again she can block whoever the hell she wants with impunity to clear the way for her quiet alliance with Jinkx.
The last thing you need at this point in the competition is half the cast forming an anti-alliance against you! As soon as Viv wins one challenge, everyone will be frothing at the mouth for a chance to block her the next challenge.
#8 Raja 1 star from 1 win (was #7, 8, 7, 8, 5, 7, 5)
Projected finish: Wins 0-1 of the remaining 8 stars, for 1-2 total stars.
I think Raja is the one queen who is completely out of contention for the finale right now.
Design challenges are her forté, and she missed the chance to pick up either of them. While she is a strong all-arounder, she’s not the best actress, comedian, or talent queen, so she has an uphill climb to snag more than one star in the remaining weeks.
And, if she does get a surprise win to snag a second star, she will be very tempting to block because she is less likely to get the chance to make a revenge block than other queens. Blocks for the current 1-star girls are deadly from here on out.
Raja has been giving us great television, but I don’t think she is going to be winning $200,000 dollars.