Welcome to my recap of the tenth episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 7 – The Kennedy Davenport Center Honors Hall of Shade, a roast where the comedy barbs are directed at the rest of the cast, plus an unusual light-up runway.
One of the first things I ever wanted to be as a child was a comedian, long before I ever set foot on stage to discover my love of performing.
Mostly I think I appreciated it when adults were laughing with me instead of laughing at me because I loved watching stand-up specials from all-time greats like Robin Williams and George Carlin.
Later, I realized that being intentionally funny is an incredibly hard task – much too difficult and unpredictable to pin career aspirations upon.
Many drag queens have a similar realization during their runs on Drag Race.
While a sense of humor is essential for almost any queen to survive her early days performing for tips in local bars, that off-the-cuff self-deprecation isn’t the same as the improv and roasting required to make it through a season of Drag Race. We’ve seen many a queen arrive on the show assuming they are hilarious who then fall flat in comedy challenges.
If you’ve ever thought that queens tend to be funnier when they return for All Stars, that’s because they are cheating. It’s an open secret that while queens are prepping outfits for their return runs, they are also turning to their funnier peers and to actual career comedians to supply them with a stock of jokes about other queens most-likely to return to the show. Many queens who have cleaned up in an All Stars library session or roast challenge were working entirely from pre-written material.
That’s why I’m not surprised that this challenge is not about roasting a random honoree, like Lady Bunny or even the titular Kennedy Davenport. This season has taken every opportunity to let its winners be well-prepared for the challenges, and this is no exception. Even if the queens didn’t have a single back-channel source on which other winners to expect, the pool of possible queens was small and mostly full of friendly faces.
Did Monét workshop her set with Bob? Absolutely. Did Shea ring up Peppermint or Miss Cracker? I wouldn’t be surprised. Even a powerhouse like Jinkx might’ve ran some lines with Ben de la Creme.
That means I went into this episode with incredibly high expectations. An All-Winners roast should be all hits, and no Farrah Moans. Did every queen rise to the challenge? Find out in my full-episode recap, below. Plus, at the end of the recap I have a deep game theory update to my Episode 9 rankings to explain who can make it into the finale and how. (Want to skip right to the power rankings? Go for it!)
Readers, start your engines! And, may the best drag queen… win!
Reminders: I consistently refer to Drag Race artists with their drag names and with she/her pronouns even when they are not in drag, which is the convention of the show. Some performers may have different personal pronouns. Drag is inherently brave, political, and artistic, and all drag is valid. It’s also hard to do. I’m commenting on drag artistry in how it comes across on this specific television program, but the reason I’m commenting at all is because I celebrate all drag!
Drag Race All Stars Season 7, Episode 10 – The Kennedy Davenport Center Honors Hall of Shade
Platinum Plunger Aftermath
The queens return to the workroom after the lip sync, and Monét is a mix of elated and relieved about finally scoring a second star.
In interview she jokes about “waiting until the end” to make her move. It’s not like she hasn’t been trying her hardest the entire time, but there’s also something to the idea that it doesn’t always pay to be a strong middle-of-the-pack player in a full-season competition like this one. Reality TV trends towards certain character archetypes and plot tropes. It doesn’t tend to send a group of totally unsurprising finalists to a finale. Having some last-minute momentum truly is a great strategy, even if Monét didn’t engineer it all by herself.
The queens have one other pressing topic to discuss, which is the fact that Raja is about to finally find out after seven episodes of suspense that there is absolutely no secret to the Platinum Plunger!
Raja stalks into the room and doesn’t even look at the assembled group of previously-blocked queens. Instead, she stalks to the mirrors to check her make-up while in voice-over she interviews, “I am a scorned woman. I’ve been humiliated in public. Shame on them. Shame on all of them!”
While it comes off as a silly bit, there’s a kernel of truth inside of it. As it turns out, Raja wound up blocked for a challenge where she had the power to excel. She more-or-less volunteered for that, thinking that from a strategy standpoint she did not want to be the only queen to head to the finale with no secret Platinum Plunger knowledge.
Now she is blocked and it turns out the plunger was not the proverbial forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden. It was just a bedazzled bathroom tool, after all.
As the queens head off to de-drag, many of them are doing the math on who is sure to wind up in the finale – none moreso than Shea, whose path to the ultimate lip sync tournament keeps getting slimmer and slimmer. I cannot imagine her level of stress heading into these final two challenges. The fact she can gamely discuss it in the interview chair without cracking from the anxiety is impressive, as is how little she shows it on her face in the workroom.
“A new day in the workroom!”
It’s a new day in the workroom, and Trinity’s only wish is that the next challenge is “something I can do.”
The only things we’ve ever really seen her fail at is comedy and reading – not library reading, but literal reading from a teleprompter in her Season 9 morning show challenge. Trinity has discussed struggling with learning disabilities including dyslexia, so the challenge of reading scrolling text on a teleprompter is likely a nightmare for her. I imagine quickly reading jokes off of cue cards for a comedy challenge isn’t much easier.
This turns out to be major foreshadowing.
As suddenly as our RuMail message begins, it is suddenly interrupted for breaking news from none other than the Dancing Diva of Texas, the incomparable Miss Kennedy Davenport!!!
I have a long-standing appreciation for Kennedy, who has so much talent to show for herself and can always use a larger platform to put it on display. She breaks the news that inductees for the Kennedy Davenport Center Honors’ “Hall of Shade” are about to be announced.
Ru enters in one of his more coherent casual looks of the season – a navy-and-white wide-striped blazer and a pair of bright yellow pants with red shoes. He’s still rocking the tank tops under his blazers, bless him. He reveals that the entire cast of all-winners will be inducted into the “Hall of Shade” in a challenge of roasting each other.
Yes, it’s Trinity’s nightmare, back to haunt her for a third time in her three seasons of Drag Race.
Weirdly, queens will be coached by stand-up comic Solomon Georgio, but judged by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and celebrity offspring Ronan Farrow. Farrow is the bigger name of the two, obviously, but I don’t know that he is a major draw for people to subscribe to Paramount+ to watch Drag Race, nor does he come to mind when I think “comedy and fashion critiques.”
To establish the running order of the roast, the queens participate in an inane random-draw of confetti filled balloons that they must pop by humping the pair of Pit Crew. Fun fact: red-headed crew member Bryce Eilenberg is an Aerospace Engineer and a long-distance runner!
This exercise yields the totally cringe detail of the camera focusing on a piece of colored gaff tape on the stained and unswept floor to indicate each queen’s spot in the line-up, since there wasn’t another visual cue.
Our order is Raja, Yvie, Shea, Jinkx, Trinity, Monét, Jaida, and Viv.
At this point, Trinity has to be ready to shit her pants between the return of her worst challenge and needing to follow Jinkx. Meanwhile. Monét is probably loving being sandwiched by weaker roasters, and Viv could do much worse than the closing position with Jinkx buried in the middle of the line-up.
Jinkx interviews that even with the most challenge wins under her belt, we’re now headed into more “Monsoon Territory” given her proficiency for roasting. I love that Jinkx asks her cast mates up front if any topic should be off-limits for her to roast. Many great roasts go deep and push those sensitive buttons for people, but in a group of peers there is no reason any joke needs to cross that line.
We see Jinkx chatting further with Viv, who cackles about having already improved all of the obvious trope-y British deficiencies about herself – thus robbing the queens of comedy material.
It’s a solid point about the meta-game of roasting a cast of All-Winners. It’s not as easy to mock someone fabulous and successful as it is to mock a queen having an uneven run unless you rely on crushingly obvious topics, like Trinity being filled with plastic and Monét being bald and having a luscious ass. In order for their roast material to sizzle, the queens will need to find slightly more nuanced ways to dunk on their cast-mates.
Raja has out her dictionary and thesaurus, Viv is worried her British humor might not translate across the Atlantic, Shea is feeling the pressure, Jaida is slightly freaked out about not having roasted before, and Trinity is quietly spiraling about facing “her kryptonite” for a third time.
The wild thing about Trinity performing poorly in roasts is that she is one of the most consistently hilarious queens in the history of the show! She is full of catch-phrases and ironic comments – her saying “I call shade” in Season 9 Untucked remains my all-time favorites!
The other queens give Trinity some encouragement, but she rightly points out that her off-the-cuff reactionary humor is hard to replicate in a scripted environment.
I think there’s truth in that, but we’ve seen Trinity slay in improv and branding challenges (as well as the Draguation Speeches!) where she has at least had to work from an outline. The key for her is to not force the jokes and to not over-script herself. Both of her previous roast fails involved putting on an elaborate character when all any of us want is more Triinty. The more her set sounds like her natural self, the more success she will have.
Only Jinkx and Monét are feeling great about the roast, though Yvie is excited to give roasting a try since she didn’t get a chance to roast on her original season.
The rehearsals are a cute but unremarkable montage of the queens presenting in front of Solomon Georgio and Ross Matthews. All of the queens bring a few jokes and all of them get glowing encouragement.
I think the show moved in the right direction both here and last episode by only showing a quick montage of this prep work. We really only need to see extended rehearsal and shooting footage for a maxi-challenge if either the guest-judge is amazing (like Janicza Bravo) or there is a major misdirect for everyone (like in Season 14’s instant classic Daytona Wind).
We do get to see a few solid jokes that don’t make the final cut, including a vicious one from Raja. It turns out that pure comedy is the one thing that can turn her mellow vibe into a mean streak.
As the queens prep for their roast the next day, Monét and Trinity pair off to discuss their blocking strategy (which seems to zero in on Viv). Jinkx hilariously points out that Monét’s bass voice is such a low rumble that it is bone-rattlingly obvious whenever she steals away to whisper with her ally.
The Kennedy Davenport Center Honors inductees into the “Hall of Shade”
Unfortunately, the Kennedy Davenport Center Honors do not actually feature Kennedy Davenport, which would’ve been a major treat!
However, as a consolation prize, we get Drag Race camera operator Sarge in his “Wintergreen” drag to introduce the program and recite Kennedy’s full “after a long night of hookin'” monologue from Season 7‘s “Death Becomes Her” runway!
The most memorable thing about these eight comedy sets is how short they are. The editors really gave these hilarious queens short shrift when it came to featuring their jokes. This is made even more painful by the fact that the judges critiques and deliberations involve replaying at least one joke from each queen!
Raja gets 92 seconds to tell 7 jokes. She launches a solid string of quick hits, including a “Ru is so old” joke that makes fun of them both. Her best line is “Viv has done so much ketamine, people are betting on her in the Kentucky Derby.” Her performance is fun and it has good rhythm, but there’s no real momentum to it.
Yvie Oddly gets a scant 78 seconds to tell 6 jokes. Her jokes come with slightly longer set-ups, and none of them particularly land save for the longest one, which is also the best. “Even Jinkx has had some plastic surgery done. I’ll give you time to look for it. … ” It’s a joke with layers, because if it was told about anyone other than Jinkx it would imply they were already-gorgeous and their surgical enhancements were near-impossible to detect. However, told about Jinkx, it comes with an implicit “Jinkx is so ugly… (HOW UGLY IS SHE?).” Then, after a long pause, she completes it by coming back for, “No, really, she got her hairline done. Which means that she thought to herself [squeaky Jinkx voice while groping her head] ‘yeah, that’s the problem’.”
Shea Coulée gets a the briefest set – just 75 seconds to tell 8 jokes, several of which have multiple punchlines. She has a good rhythm to her delivery, but none of her punch lines are truly hilarious. Her best bit is probably the “rule of threes” trio of jokes about Jaida being a “skinny little bitch,” but none of them stand out particularly much on their own. Annoyingly, she cuts off the impact of a potentially vicious great read about Yvie (“I can’t think of enough words to describe you”) by adding an unnecessary extra punchline (“Well, nice ones, anyway”).
Jinkx Monsoon gets a mega-sized 107 second set, but that’s because her jokes are so damn good. She gets in 12 distinct punchlines here, which says nothing of how funny her delivery is even in the set-ups of her jokes. I think the best one was probably the final in her “rule of threes” about Yvie’s penis, which was also callback to her Snatch Game: “Yvie Oddly’s dick is so big, when I was doing a line of coke off of it I had time to stop and reflect and realized I’d become my mother.” This shows off the key to outstanding roast material – it is multilayered. Like doing a combo move in a video game to pack in more opportunities to rack up points, when your jokes a built with extra references they garner even bigger laughs from an audience.
Trinity The Tuck‘s set clocks in at a hefty 108 seconds – even longer than Jinkx! That means she has time for 9 jokes, many of which have relatively long set-ups. This really works in Trinity’s favor, because the rhythm of rambling set-up plus quick punchline is a good match for her natural cadence of speech and comedy. That helps to forgive that some of these punchlines are generic (“pinata .. blindfold before he hits it,” “mother delivered one joke,” “so old … Wikipedia”). However, she gets in a wonderfully inane introduction with “The John F. Kennedy Davenport Center of Disease Control” and a pair of specific and absolutely vicious jokes about Monét (being a classically trained musician playing “second fiddle” to Bob) and Raja (being “a tall drink of water” from Flint Michigan).
Monét X Change gets a massive 110 seconds to tell 10 jokes, two of which have lengthy set-ups with many laughs along the way. There’s no denying that Monét had the best rhythm of anyone in the line-up. Maybe that’s down to us getting a more uncut look at her set compared to other queens, but there was definitely a feeling of her building on each punchline. Her lengthy “sheet cake” joke about Viv might be borrowed from elsewhere, but it flipped what could’ve been an easy joke about weight into a much funnier joke about eating your feelings. There was so much good stuff here, including a joke about Jaida’s “teeth of a baby,” that a stock joke about Jinkx’s “one-person” show sticks out as being beneath her average.
Jaida Essence Hall gets an even 100 seconds to tell 6 jokes. Sort of. What actually happens is we get our single true “struggle bus” performance of this season since Viv’s week one word-jumble of a songwriting effort. After scoring two solid opening jokes, Jaida stumbles over every set-up. However… somehow she makes that funny? As she mangles her remaining jokes, some beyond the point of salvaging, she begins roasting herself for being such a screw-up. Thanks to Jaida’s innate charisma, this somehow winds up even more charming than if the jokes had landed. It’s not a good set, but of all possible bad sets it’s probably the best one.
The Vivienne has a snappy 86 seconds to tell and impressive 11 jokes. She might have had the best set. Like Monét and Jinkx, Vivienne is a natural storyteller who finds an arc through her material, making it feel like a real set instead of just a collection of punchlines. Her best sequence is certainly her lengthy set of reads for Monét, which included the requisite Bob joke, but also, “[The X-Change Rate] was meant to be an exploration and reflection of Monét’s talent and personality… and, sadly, it was.”
Runway: All Glowed Up
Our judges tonight are RuPaul, Michelle Visage, the hilarious Ross Matthews, and for some reason Ronan Farrow.
(I actually am a fan of Ronan both as a journalist and a commentator. He’s just an odd fit for this episode. I feel like he would’ve been better for Draguation Speeches, which was more earnest.)
Sound the alarm, RuPaul is in dark hair! Ru so often wears a wide variety of blondes that any time she dons a red wig it’s a notable occasion. They tend to be paired with these slinky “lady of the night” types of looks.
This runway is intense. Each queen produced a light-up costume, and they dimmed the lights in the studio so they would stand out while spotlighting each queen’s face. It’s a high level of intricacy for what feels like a victory lap for the entire cast, who all produced show-stopping moments.
Raja‘s look is probably the one amongst these that would read better live than on camera.
That’s because she uses lasers to generate her illumination, which don’t always show up well on camera and which also benefit from a fog machine. It’s honestly a little confusing to look at in the dark, and the tight camera angles aren’t helping any.
Her butterfly-cage body outline over a well-executed nude illusion catsuit is interesting to look at unlit, and it’s absolutely coated with swarovski crystals so that it shimmers as much with the lights on as with them off.
Also, her scaffold platform shoes are absolutely wild – I can’t think of ever seeing anything quite like them.
Yvie Oddly‘s fungal dress stays lit up for her entire runway walk. It has an ethereal glow while the stage lights are on, but once the lights go down she looks like something out of James Cameron’s Avatar. The execution of the gradual bioluminescent glow within each mushroom cap is uncannily perfect.
Honestly, her dress is a marvel of construction even without the layers of soft glow. The way the mushroom caps strategically form her peaked shoulders, her exaggerated hips, and a swell at the knee is astounding. Her glittering rainbow of eye make-up and her mossy, glowing hair take it over the top.
This is high drag excellence.
Shea Coulée is a walking sunflower angel in a costume that gives a slight hint of Carnivàle.
I have to admit that I think it is really hard to take anything with a sunflower and make it look runway-ready. Maybe that’s because sunflowers aren’t usually in high-end elegant bouquets, or maybe I just associate the flower too hard with casual dress prints from the 90s.
Either way, I can’t say I was excited to see Shea walk out in sunflower couture.
However, I was excited to see it light up. Shea went hard on making sure every single petal of her flowery suit would glow as golden-bright as the sun, including her flashing headpiece and the split golden head of the flower behind her. I think this a clever effect that none of the other queens thought to use – essentially, backlighting themselves to emphasize their silhouette. Also, her “summer girl” make-up with twinkling freckles was adorable.
I’m not sure anything about this could have been executed any better.
Jinkx Monsoon sent chills down my spine with her burning witch runway. Between this and last week’s art history, she lucked into a pair of back-to-back themes at the end of her run that would put the lie to the idea that she served similar fashions all season.
Somehow, Jinkx and her team managed to engineer this romantic white satin dress to glow from within with red flame – including little flickers at her shoulders. Truly, I cannot even begin to fathom how she achieved this effect. It looks like the flames are being projected onto the dress by a follow-spot.
This is a show-stopper. Even re-watching it to take notes it sent a shiver through my body.
Trinity The Tuck goes for a standard evening wear dress with all of its lines lit up in rainbow lights, plus a giant back-piece that looks like a skeletal flower formed from giant loops of light.
While this is a marvel of construction, I think it might be the weakest of all of these light-up looks. In only highlighting the horizontal shapes of of her dress with light, Trinity suggested the shape of the dress but erased the outline of her body. The look needed lights down her curves to highlight where her silhouette stopped so it didn’t just look like those horizontal lines continued off her body and onto her back piece.
Also, I hate to even point this out on a look that clearly involved so much engineering, but several her light strips look a bit uneven or twisted. The net effect is impressive, but there are too many minor distractions.
Monét X Change goes subtle with her light-up look, and if there was ever a week to NOT go subtle it was probably this one.
On the upside, that means she has by far the loveliest dress with the lights on. This galaxy-inspired dress with a giant poof of an asymmetrical shoulder looks like something Ru would wear next episode. I love the gorgeous iridescent violet color. I also love her make-up!
However, when the lights go down this dress fails to impress. Inside of suffusing the entire thing with a soft glow like Yvie or Jinkx, the dress only features single points of light meant to read as constellations. It’s hard to tell if any of them form the shapes of actual constellations, and for unfathomable reasons Monét’s entire torso is entirely devoid of light.
There’s no real shape or illusion being conveyed here when the lights are off. Monét looks like a malfunctioning Christmas tree. It’s a bummer, because – again – this dress is absolutely stunning. However, while Monét nailed this fashion challenge, she failed the engineering test.
Speaking of shape, illusion, and engineering, Jaida Essence Hall pulls off a look unlike anything we’ve ever seen on Drag Race.
She is effectively her own parade float, giving the illusion that her torso continues down a mermaid tail that swishes sideways to pop out of her dress in three dimensions even though she is simply walking inside of it.
The illusion is jaw-dropping even with the lights on, but it’s something beyond when the lights go down. The engineering of this look isn’t so different than Trinity’s, but it relies on several different layers of lights – some continuous, some flashing, some glowing softly, to sell Jaida’s mermaid as if it’s a flashing neon sign hanging outside a swanky bar.
The Vivienne pulls out something entirely different than the other queens with a lovely, soft set of angel wings that produce a heavenly, feathery glow in the dark.
We’ve seen several queens bring several different wing illusions to the runway across the many Drag Race franchises, but these might be the most realistic ones we’ve seen. Viv is able to extend them fully and firmly on both arms, but when she hugs herself they fold around the contour of her body in a pleasing way, wrapping her with colored light.
I wish she had styled this a little more towards “biblical angel” to take advantage of the beautiful construction of the wings. It really begs for an over-the-top crown of many glittering eyes, or some other kind of Raja-style golden maximalism. Her sea green pageboy wig takes it to more of a Club Kid place. That’s fine, but she was on the bring of bringing so much more drama with a light-up look that is so well-engineered.
Judging, Lip Sync For Your Legacy, & The Platinum Plunger
RuPaul opens the judges’ critiques by announcing that All-Stars, All-Winners rules are about to be revised.
The revision? NO MORE BLOCKS! This makes sense, as blocking a queen heading into the penultimate episode’s final chance at earning a star would make that performance meaningless for one queen. That’s no fun, and it cuts into the multi-way fight for spots in the finale.
(I have to admit, I had no idea how these critiques would go based on the Roast and the runway. On Roast alone, I thought it might be Jinkx and Viv, or perhaps Monét. After seeing the runways, I thought perhaps Shea would pick up her desperately-needed 2nd star. I had no inkling things would turn out as they did.)
Michelle thought Raja was “really funny” and was “the meanest out of everybody.” Ross thought she was more than funny, she was “hilarious.” Ronan calls her runway incredibly and says it “felt risky,” and Michelle adds “I would say we’ve never seen it on the main stage of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that anywhere.”
Michelle calls Yvie’s roast set “lower key,” which seems to be a nice way of saying, “You didn’t have many punchlines.” Ross thought her runway was incredible, and Ronan calls it “Kitschy in the best way possible, it’s campy, it’s fun, it’s really stunning.”
Michelle loved Shea’s suit in the roast and how she “boss bitched” it and Ronan echos her comments. They thing Shea dressed for success and carried herself in a way that matched. Ross thinks her runway was “breathtaking” with the lights, but both he and Ru might like it even more with the lights up where they can see the details.
Michelle gives a great note to Jinkx, which is “we were laughing so hard you had to hold.” Knowing when to hold for applause and laughter is an incredibly tricky skill to master as a stage performer. You need to leave enough room for the audience to quiet down and catch their breath to hear your next line, but if you pause for too long you lose your rhythm. This is where Jinkx’s close-to-a-decade of constant live performance benefits her compared to queens who pumped out a lot of digital content. She knows how to make a live audience laugh and how to milk that laughter. Ronan calls her “an incredibly accomplished stand-up.” He also thinks her outfit told a story and was technically dazzling, with which I wholeheartedly agree.
Michelle calls Trinity’s look “a carnivàle – so glowy and fun” while avoiding saying anything specifically nice about it. However, she calls Trinity’s roast, “freaking hilarious,” and Ronan adds “incredibly jokes, great, great material.” Ross compliments her for (finally) getting out of her own way in a roast. Ru adds, “You are in your element. You have got. it. on. lock.”
Ross loves watching Monét perform because of her confidence. Ronan agrees that beyond her material being great she just knows her stuff. Michelle damns the runway with faint praise, repeatedly calling it “classy” (and making a joke about that being outside of Monét’s typical wheelhouse).
Ross goes off about Jaida’s mermaid look to delay having to talk about her roast. As the camera pans up from her tail to her head, there are so many details that weren’t even visible with the lights down! Ronan seems close to speechless over it as he calls it “dazzling.” Then, Michelle delivers the kindest possible critique of Jaida’s roast, which is that she looked beautiful and that she actually wound up being more interesting as a roaster once she messed up her jokes and went off-book.
Ross says he “didn’t write a single thing down” because he enjoyed Viv’s show so much. Michelle says she feels “confidence and supported with you at the helm.” Ronan appreciated that Viv’s outfit works with and without the wings, and even liked the pageboy haircut. Ru says, “Well done. Very, VERY funny.”
In private, Ross opens by highlighting Jinkx, saying “she’s as good as anybody at the Friar’s Club.” I really think this is the sort of thing the show as searching for with an All-Winners season – showcasing queens who are already at a fully-professional level at a number of skills that people are famous for in other venues. We’ve seen queens design to the level of Project Runway winners, and Jinkx has shown herself to be a comedy professional that could easily kill on SNL or in any club in the world. Ronan calls her runway the most innovative, but also “funny and campy, but also kind of dark and weird.”
Ronan also thought Monét was a standout. Her highlights how her lengthy set-ups allowed her to make her punchlines seem more improvised and casual (which was also an earmark of Trinity’s set). Ronan calls her runway “understated and classy,” which seems like a negative critique to me in the context of a runway where all of the queens were asked to be a walking Lite Brite.
Ross and Michelle thought Trinity’s runway was thrilling, for some reason. Maybe it was a lot more impressive in the room because of how bright her lights shone, but every time they show a clip of it I hate it a little bit more. Michelle goes to bat hard for her in the roast, because “none of us really expected her to do THAT.” She says Trinity had many jokes, which hints that there was more material we didn’t see.
(This is confirmed by queens on social media, including Viv, who highlighted that at least one of her good bits was cut.)
Ross closes with a hard sell for The Vivienne. Ronan really nails it: “She wasn’t just telling the jokes and going through the existing material, it really felt like she was playing and doing improve at the margins.” We’ve already established how much he loved her runway, and he continues to gush over it in private. Michelle echoes my comments from above – that “we’ve seen wings a few times, but these were softer, and bendier, and you kind of felt emotions when she was presenting it.”
The queens return and RuPaul reveals that the winners are Jinkx Monsoon and Trinity The Tuck!
This makes our finale math very interesting, as it means Jinkx now has a guaranteed spot in the Top 4. At worst, Trinity might have to tie-break into the finale, but this puts her squarely into contention depending on what happens next week.
The Jinkx and Trinity lip sync to “Kings & Queens” by Ava Max. The less we say about it, the better. Jinkx is dressed as a sexy pilgrim. At one point, she mimes being a chess piece and she later attempts a cartwheel. Trinity elaborately mimes performing a sex act on Jinkx for some reason. Her insistence on forcibly interacting with the other queen in each lip sync is getting a little gross.
Jinkx wins, because we can’t have a double sashay on an All-Winners season. After the lip sync, she calls offstage to the seated queens, “What made me think I could do a cartwheel in a corset?”
Next week: Finally, it’s the Variety Show! Ru says it’s the last chance to earn Legendary Legend stars and, ominously and almost-directly to Shea, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Drag Race All Stars Season 7 Episode 10 – The Kennedy Davenport Center Honors Hall of Shade Power Rankings
The rankings solidified this week, with Jinkx cementing at least a tie-break into the finale alongside Jaida and Monét beginning to claw her way back into contention.
As predicted for several weeks running, next week’s final challenge is a variety show!
How does that leave our final full-cast power ranking before heading into the final four lip sync battle? Well… that depends. If the Variety Show awards just one star to each winner like a typical challenge, things are pretty locked up in terms of results. There are only four possible groups of finalists it can produce from five possible outcomes:
- Jinkx and Jaida/Trinity OR Jaida + Trinity = Finalists are Jinkx, Jaida, Trinity, and a tie-break between Monét, Raja, Viv, & Yvie.
- Jinkx/Jaida/Trinity and any 2-Star Queen = Finalists are Jinkx, Jaida, Trinity, and the winner.
- Jinx/Jaida/Trinity and Shea = Finalists are Jinkx, Jaida, Trinity, and a tie-break between all the remaining queens (including Shea).
- A pair of 2-Star Queens = Finalists are Jinkx plus a tie-break between Jaida, Trinity, and the two winners.
- Shea and a 2-Star Queen = Finalists are Jinkx, Jaida, Trinity, and the 2-Star winner
Ah, but will it really be that straight-forward? I don’t think so, because it is unsurprising and it leaves Shea almost surely locked out of contention for the finale. They’ll want to keep things more surprising than that.
What won’t we see?
I don’t think we’ll see more than two winners, because distributing stars to one additional queens does nothing to break up the potential series of tie-breaks. Similarly, I don’t think it makes sense for both winners to be awarded a charity star, because there is no potential result where we have only two confirmed finalists and then need two queens to emerge from the tie-break.
What might we see?
I think we could see multiple stars awarded to the winners. I also think we could see Jinkx or the lip sync winner get a single extra star to give out to break up the tie-break. Or, it could be that the lip sync winner gets a guaranteed spot in the finale even if they wind up in a tie.
What happens if we look at the outcomes from above assuming winners get two stars each?
- Jinkx and Jaida/Trinity OR Jaida + Trinity = No change. Tie-break between Monét, Raja, Viv, & Yvie.
- Jinkx/Jaida/Trinity and any 2-Star Queen = No change. Finalists are Jinkx, Jaida, Trinity, and the winner.
- Jinx/Jaida/Trinity and Shea = Finalists are Jinkx, Jaida, Trinity, and Shea. No tie-break!
- A pair of 2-Star Queens = Finalists are Jinkx, both of the winners, plus a tie-break between Jaida and Trinity.
- Shea and a 2-Star Queen = Finalists are Jinkx and the 2-star winner, plus a tie-break between Jaida, Trinity, and Shea.
That is much more exciting than the line-up above, so I think we’re going to see a two star reward for this final challenge. And, if either of the final two results happen, I’d expect a tie-break star as well.
(Why a star rather than an an additional lip sync? In the first case, we’ve already seen Jaida and Trinity lip sync twice, and in the second case three-way lip-syncs are messy.)
Finally, I’d suggest you keep in mind the major storylines we’ve seen edited into this season. Usually, Drag Race storylines get whittled down as queens are eliminated, and that process of elimination means they’re already resolved by the finale. Not this time! While not every one of the open plots can see resolution, I expect more than one of them to play into next week’s edit:
- The “Twinner” alliance between Monét and Trinity
- Shea’s ongoing underdog arc
- Raja’s just missing out on several early wins
- The Vivienne’s rivalry with Jinkx
What does that mean for our power ranking going into the penultimate episode?
#1 Jinkx Monsoon – 4 Stars from 5 Wins, 2 Blocks (was #2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, & Pre-Season 1)
Projected finish: 4-6 Stars, Guaranteed Finalist
Jinkx absolutely devoured this season. She won half of all of the challenges! With a second well-deserved win in a row, she has absolutely locked her spot in the finale even if she isn’t the odds-on favorite to win a lip sync tournament.
Does that mean she can’t win again next week in the Variety Show? I don’t think that’s the case. If Jinkx gives an overwhelming praise-worthy performance alongside a 2-star queen, giving her the win avoids any messy tie-breaking.
Plus, even if she doesn’t win, she might wind up as the tie-breaker.
That means Jinkx is walking into the next episode with all of the power in her hands and as the true champion of the All-Winners season.
#2 Trinity The Tuck, 3 Stars from 4 Wins, 1 Block (was #6, 3, 3, 4, 4, 3, 1, 3, 4, & Pre-Season 3)
Projected finish: 3-4 Stars (if there is a tie-break star), Highly Likely Finalist
What?! I have Trinity ahead of Jaida?!
Calm down and let me explain.
I absolutely don’t think Trinity is going to win the Variety Show. Regardless of the talent she brings, there’s just no narrative to be gained from giving her the win. She has won this challenge once already on her All Stars season and there are already multiple outcomes where Trinity has a spot in the finale locked.
What happens if Trinity gets thrust into a tie-break? It depends on who breaks the tie and how. I think if Jinkx or the lip-sync winner get to tie-break in the two-stars-awarded scenario, they might believe they have a better chance of beating Trinity in the subsequence lip sync tournament than they do either Jaida or Shea.
Plus, if it purely comes down to track record, Trinity has two more wins than Jaida, since Trinity lost a star to a block and Jaida was gifted a star. That marks Trinity as being nearly as fierce a competitor as Jinkx, which many fans did not expect from this season!
Also? There’s a small chance Monét becomes the tie-breaker to reward the season-long twinner alliance storyline.
#3 Jaida Essence Hall, 3 Stars from 2 Wins (+1 Bonus), 1 Block (was #1, 2, 2, 2, 6, 6, 5, 6, 5, & Pre-Season 6)
Projected finish: 3 Stars, Likely Finalist
Jaida played a great game this season, and now her chances to make it to the finale come down to how much production decides they want to mess with the rules next week.
First, let’s be clear: I do not think Jaida will win a Variety Show challenge. That’s not a knock on her talents. I just don’t think there’s any story there. There would be more potential if she had an alliance with someone other than Jinkx.
Purely from a mathematics perspective, there are many outcomes where Jaida has a guaranteed spot in the finale. However, if my suspicion around the two-stars-awarded scenario is right, the show is going to specifically steer into a tie-break situation for the drama of it.
Previously I was thinking a tie-break might turn out to be a lip sync, which would be a great situation for Jaida. However, if it comes down to being the choice of another queen I think they would all rather face Trinity in a lip sync tournament than Jaida. Plus, in any tie-break situation Jaida will be the queen with the least wins since she got one star through charity.
Being one of the the best lip sync performers and a recipient of a charity star is an awkward spot to be in during a tie-break. While that doesn’t completely scuttle Jaida’s chances at the finale, it also makes things uncertain for her. She does have a low-key alliance with Jinkx, but Jinkx already rewarded that with the bonus star. Would she reward it again with a tie-break, knowing Jaida could then slay her in a lip sync? That’s hard to say.
#4 Monét X Change, 2 Stars from 2 Wins, 1 Block (was #3, 5, 4, 8, 3, 2, 4, 4, 3, & Pre-Season 4)
Projected finish: 4-5 Stars, Likely Finalist
Mark my words, y’all: I strongly, strongly predict Monét is gonna win a variety show.
Ru specifically marked her as having a story of hitting her stride at the right point in the competition. Plus, I think Monét’s multi-season story arc calls for a redemption of her live-singing skills, and we saw in the preview that she plans to sing opera.
I think this is going to mark a variety-show first of a queen performing a subtler talent and the judges going wild for it. Regardless of if the win grants one star or two stars, that gives Monét a strong shot at the finale. Also, I doubt the producers can resist having her be the one to break a tie between Trinity and Jaida – which means she might also score the lip sync win.
Look for Monét to be one of the main characters next week. I feel it deep in my bones.
#5 Shea Couleé – 1 Star from 1 Win, 1 Block (was #7, 8, 6, 6, 2, 5, 3, 1, 1, & Pre-Season 2)
Projected finish: 1-3 Stars, Possible Finalist
If the show continued to play by the established rules, Shea would have a nearly-impossible road to the finale – she’d need to win next week plus win a five-way tie-break.
However, if next week’s challenge winds up being worth multiple stars, that gives Shea the potential to leap into the finale with no tie-break, or to be in a smaller, higher-drama tie-break with Jaida and Trinity.
From a narrative standpoint, it feels like the show has been setting that up for a few weeks now. Shea has been hungry for another win, and it felt like she’s been close several times. To leave her hanging in the final episode feels as though we’d get a storyline with no resolution.
The big question is if Shea can deliver a serve next week on the level of “Category Is.” If you haven’t listened to any of her solo music releases, they are uniformly incredible. Shea’s lyrics, her vocal performances, and the production choices have all been phenomenal. I have no doubt she has one of her best songs packed. If she gives a performance to match, then we’re going to see a major status-quo shake-up heading into the finale.
#6 Raja 2 stars from 2 Wins, 1 Blocks (was #8, 7, 8, 7, 8, 7, 8, 5, 7, & Pre-Season 5)
Projected finish: 2-4 Stars, Unlikely Finalist
Raja was predictably strong in a comedy challenge, and likely would’ve snagged a win if she wasn’t blocked.
Without that, Raja almost certainly needs to win the Variety Show to be in contention for the final lip sync tournament – where she would stand little chance of winning both lip syncs.
Weirdly, that might be working in her favor. If production wants to stack the deck to yield a particular final-two lip sync, seeding Raja into the tournament isn’t a terrible idea. It gives us the satisfaction of seeing her complete her under-appreciated underdog arc and she gets a final moment in the sun.
Maybe she even pulls out an unexpected surprise in a sultry first lip sync like she did way back in the iconic “Straight Up” and winds up in the finale lip sync!
Basically, I think Raja has a glimmer of a hope to win next week purely for story reasons – but, I think Monét and Shea have stronger storylines more in need of a resolution.
#7 The Vivienne, 2 Stars from 3 Wins, 1 Block (was #4, 4, 7, 3, 5, 4, 6, 8, 8, & Pre-Season 7)
Projected finish: 2-4 Stars, Unlikely Finalist
The best possible outcome for The Vivienne this week would have been winning the challenge.
Instead, she got the worst possible outcome: Jinkx winning.
Why is that the worst possible outcome? Now that Jinkx has an untouchable spot in the finale, the storyline of Viv’s rivalry with and possible vengeance against her has fizzled. There’s nothing Viv can do next week to touch Jinkx.
That leads us to two questions: can Viv win a talent show, and does production care about pitting Viv against Jinkx one more time in the lip sync tournament?
I say: maybe and no.
Viv is a powerful singer and there is no doubt in my mind she might be in the top half of Talent Show performers. She could edge into contention for the final stars.
However, what do we get from that? Viv being the queen to decide a tie-break doesn’t come with much inherent drama. And, Viv is actually a bit of a spoiler when it comes to lip syncing, which might introduce too much unpredictability into the finale tournament if producers are pulling for a certain final match-up.
Ultimately, Viv produced her rivalry with Jinkx too well, and now that there’s no more story there I’m afraid she has produced herself out of a shot at the crown. But… it could happen.
#8 Yvie Oddly, 2 Stars from 1 Wins (+1 bonus), 1 Block (was #5, 6, 5, 5, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, & Pre-Season 8)
Projected finish: 2 Stars, Not a Finalist
Our unpredictable drag insurgent Yvie Oddly finally slips down to last place in my final Power Ranking, because I think Yvie’s chances on this season are now complete.
That’s because production holds all of the power in setting up the final lip sync tournament, but then they lose much of the control over the outcome. Yvie is a phenomenal lip sync artist, and giving her a win next week gives her the ability to upset Jinkx or another top queen in the final tournament.
I think if Yvie had more wins under her belt this season, that would be a possibility. However, the reality is that Yvie only has a single win, which makes her a major underdog – and, we already saw Yvie’s “one-win underdog takes the crown” story on Season 11. There’s no reason to play out the same narrative again.
Even if Yvie turns in a bombastic Variety Show performance, I cannot imagine a reality where she is rewarded with a win next week.