The queens roast and glow in a solid episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars

Image for article titled The queens roast and glow in a solid episode of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars
Screenshot: RuPaul’s Drag Race

The start of each episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars All Winners has become somewhat predictable. The blocked queen returns, intruding on the celebration of the past weeks two winners. Raja, who has been anticipating being blocked for weeks after being told repeatedly that it contains some sort of secret advantage, upends the format when she walks away from her fellow contestants toward the mirror. As she struts back, production underscores with a western showdown soundtrack, as she struts to the couches, circles the queens, points her plunger like a pistol, and simply utters “cunts.” As the final queen to be blocked, it puts to rest the gag of the plunger with a sense of completion as the season heads into its final episodes. Even as the end is nigh, who will be in the top four seems surprisingly unsettled. Jinkx and Jaida have a clear lead and Shea is clearly the furthest away from a victory. However, the middle of the pack is all tied and could easily take the lead in the final two challenge episodes of the season. Even as Jinkx says, Shea could come from behind and win two weeks in a row, making it to the final four. RuPaul’s video message interrupts the queens’ gathering before being interrupted by another announcement. Kennedy Davenport, of season 7 and All Stars 3, takes over the screen to announce The Kennedy Davenport Center Honors Hall of Shade, playing on the Kennedy Center Honors which celebrates individuals­ in the performing arts for their lifetime contributions to American culture.

RuPaul enters the work room to clarify that the main challenge will be a roast, and that they queens will workshop their material with Ross and comedian Solomon Georgio. While the line-up order has been an excellent source of drama over the last few seasons, RuPaul throws a twist with a mini challenge. Recycling from season 14, the queens must pop balloons against the pit crew to determine the order. Jaida is the first to go. While you might assume due to her stature she’d pull a Jorgeous, Jaida pops the balloon immediately. Trinity, likewise, pops immediately. Jinkx, on the other hand, first tries to reverse the position with Bruno. RuPaul quickly eliminates that possibility as Jinkx momentarily struggles to mount and pop the balloon. Shea and Monét have no issues. Raja really steals the show again just through her walk approaching the pit crew. Interestingly with Raja and The Vivienne as the last two, the usually dreaded position of opening and closing the show are left. Raja ends up as the opener and The Vivienne as closer.

In the workroom, Jinkx is abundantly confident. She knows roasts are in her “wheelhouse,” and does the courtesy of asking the queens if any topic is off limits. Monét is also confident based on her past experience at roasts in season 10 and All Stars 4, where she won. Unfortunately, Trinity’s track record is worse, failing in both season 9 and All Stars 4 during the roast. She is particularly preoccupied about the difference between comedy with structure and punchlines and comedy that is off the cuff. It’s similar to Jaida, who has never done a roast, but is struggling to come up with material. They are both queens who are naturally funny but flounder at times in particular comedy challenges. Jinkx attempts to psychoanalyze why this might be and offers to help Trinity, in response for Trinity’s help during the design challenges. The Vivienne has a unique challenge as she is worried that her British sense of humor may not translate to an American audience. Shea, who is normally poised and confident, is feeling the pressure, as each challenge without a star is a lost opportunity for her to get to the top four.

After the queens have worked on their material a little, they get to workshop their jokes with Ross and comedian Solomon Georgio. There is not a lot of information gathered about how the queens may perform in the challenge. They all seem to make Ross and Solomon laugh at some point. We see that Raja has a particularly vicious sense of humor that has been on display through most of the season. Jaida makes a clever joke about Jim Crow that needs some sharpening, but still seems to be battling nerves. Monét seems confident and eager to take the suggestions from Ross and Solomon. Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of the workshop is with Trinity. She seems to be hungry to redeem her past roast performances and has identified her problem between structured and unstructured comedy. Solomon encourages her by saying that they are not mutual exclusive and that she can find spontaneity in the structure.

Image for article titled The queens roast and glow in a solid episode of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars
Screenshot: RuPaul’s Drag Race

As the queens get ready it is clear the challenge has them in a certain mood. Yvie spends some time roasting herself and Monét talks about how she loves being roasted. Shea seems to be having the least fun in the room as she realizes that this week is a must-win for her. If she does not win, it seems impossible for her to catch up with the other queens. Across the room, Monét and Trinity have one of their twinner alliance meetings about strategy. While they think they are sly, Jinkx lets it be known that everyone is aware of the alliance and that Monét’s voice has a way of carrying throughout a room, especially when she attempts to whisper. It still has yet to be seen if this alliance has any real power to it besides getting Monét her preferred role in the acting challenge. Raja, who is blocked, like Shea, realizes that she has a huge disadvantage so late in the season. However, Yvie is there to encourage her by saying that while she may not win a star it is equally important now to prevent someone else from getting a star. The queens also quickly realize with only two more challenges left that there is a potential for there to be six queens tied with three stars. They wonder what a tiebreaker would look like, in perfect foreshadowing of an eventual twist in the competition.

RuPaul enters the main stage in a leopard print gown adorned with black swirls. The one-shoulder dress is complemented by black accessories and a stunning red wig. She greats judges Michelle, Ross, and special guest judge Ronan Farrow. Ronan confesses to lobbying hard to be invited on to the show and through his commentary, it seems like he’s an avid follower of the series. However, considering it is a comedy challenge, you wonder why Solomon Georgio wasn’t invited to be the judge this week. After announcing the runway category as “All Glowed Up,” the roast begins with a special introduction by the president of the Kennedy Davenport Center. While one would assume it is Kennedy Davenport herself, RuPaul surprises everyone when Wintergreen enters. A fan favorite from the season 9 makeover challenge, Wintergreen, also known as Sarge the cameraman, delivers a monologue honoring Kennedy Davenport by reciting her epic explanation of her “Death Becomes Her” runway.

Image for article titled The queens roast and glow in a solid episode of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars
Screenshot: RuPaul’s Drag Race

Raja opens the roast with a particularly venomous roast that is equally hilarious. With a deft touch, Raja manages to make triggering subjects like addiction darkly funny. It was a tone that many recent contestants in the franchise would not dare to attempt, but a seasoned queen like Raja handles with aplomb. Yvie, who lacked roast experience, holds her own. She roasted several of her fellow queens. While not the funniest, her delivery was confident and well prepared. Shea, who desperately needs to win this challenge, came in poised and controlled. The main issue was that her punchlines lacked, well, punch. It was a well-constructed set, but the roast was at a fairly low temperature. Jinkx’s confidence was not misplaced. She was at ease on stage and pulled off complicated jokes with great skill. She managed to make another joke about snorting a line of coke off a dick fresh again and ended with a well told incest joke at Trinity’s expense. Trinity, who seemed to be most nervous about performing at the roast, did surprisingly well. From calling Jinkx an ugly baby to numerous jokes involving Monét’s mother, Trinity really proved herself when she worked in a reference to Flint, Michigan. Monét almost seemed thrown off by how well Trinity did. Despite the shock, Monét delivered a confident, if at times casual, roast. The only complaint was that the performance could have used a little more precision, but overall, she nailed the assignment. Jaida, on the other hand, faltered. Despite this she persevered and proved why Jaida is so endearing. At the same time, it continues to prove that Jaida needs to take her comedy more seriously. Throughout the season, she has seemed underprepared for the comedic challenges and manages to get by on charisma alone, which happens again this episode. It’s a little frustrating to see someone with the natural talent not apply it better. Finally, The Vivienne closes the show perfectly. Her performance was wonderfully above it all. She even managed to respond to jokes made at her expense. Her performance was sublimely written and performed.

On the runway, the lights went off to showcase each queens’ All Glown Up looks. Raja starts with a black latex meets infrared butterfly that continues her warrior aesthetic. Yvie, equally inspired by nature, presented a glamourous glowing mushroom in a look that showed Yvie can also present a very polished look to the runway. Another nod to mother nature, Shea’s sunflower fairy was an impressive use of light. The wattage alone was impressive. Jinkx took the theme from natural to supernatural with a nod to the occult. Celebrating witches who have been burned at the stake, the look manages to both electrify but also feed into the character Jinkx has cultivated over the years. Trinity took the theme to the tackiest of extremes. Potentially causing epileptic shock, her lights were the most intense and frenetic. The neon colors with the lights on kept the look interesting, but the construction of the back part felt a little sloppy for her usual precise designs. In the light Monét’s gown looked regal, but with the lights off it felt dim. Perhaps it was going after the light show that was Trinity, but Monét’s look needed more glow. Jaida’s mermaid fantasy looked much better in the light where her construction was impeccable. In the dark, the construction felt haphazard with the lights cheapening the original look. From the sea to the sky, The Vivienne closed the runway with an angelic look with rainbow wings.

Image for article titled The queens roast and glow in a solid episode of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars
Screenshot: RuPaul’s Drag Race

After the judges discuss the performances further and provide some insightful remarks, they declare the winners to be Trinity and Jinkx. It’s not an underserved win, but the idea of pitting Jinkx against the Vivienne would have been more rewarding dramatically. The two winners, now stripped of the power to block, are still competing for a cash prize. They perform to Ava Max’s “Kings and Queens.” Jinkx, who has appeared somewhat on autopilot during lip syncs, manages to offer some variety and even an attempted cartwheel. These two queens have lip synced the most this season, and while Jinkx managed to surprise a little, Trinity felt fairly predictable. She did her drop to the knees and turn, followed by some ass shaking, but it’s all things she’s done before on the stage. RuPaul declares Jinkx the winner. Moving into the final challenge episode before the top four, Jinkx has the lead with four stars, followed by Trinity and Jaida with three stars. It appears as if Shea is out of the mix depending on how the others perform. At the end of the episode RuPaul says “where there is a will, there is a way,” which suggests that it still could be anyone’s game.

Stray observations

  • They couldn’t turn out the lights for Ginger Minj during the Future of Drag runway in All Stars 2, but they can do this for All Winners.
  • The runway felt like the show angling for a Emmy nomination in lighting.
  • Thank you The Vivienne for giving a Single White Female reference on the runway.
  • Trinity’s make up on Jinkx’s boob during the lip sync was my favorite part.
  • Michelle is really a non-entity on the show when she isn’t allowed to say the truth.
  • I hope that Yvie Oddly and Willow Pill do a family mushroom performance soon.
  • In Untucked, Ronan Farrow referencing Ansel Elgort playing him in a biopic was certainly a choice, considering all those allegations. I guess Ronan only reads his own reporting on sexual assaults in Hollywood.

#queens #roast #glow #solid #episode #RuPauls #Drag #Race #Stars

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