This week’s episode of Drag Race was literally the best episode in the show’s her-story. PERIOD.
And what’s more, All-Stars Season 2 is shaping up to become the best season we’ve seen from the franchise! An amazing cast and an entirely new show model are the perfect recipe to turn what had become a predictable reality show into a freshly re-energized treat!
The QueensWe began the first (90 minute!) episode of the season meeting the All-Stars themselves. Katya was first to enter, serving Soviet hooker eye-patch scarlet sequin realness. She referenced her “crippling anxiety” from her debut on Drag Race Season 7, but says “I’m back with a refillable prescription for Xanax.”
Detox came in next sporting an 80’s skirt suit with a peep-bra moment. Lamenting how she was axed in Season 5 just shy of the Top 3, she says, “I didn’t get my Tic Tac lunch and I want it, goddammit!”
Alyssa Edwards followed wearing a black skirt number with a single shoulder cape and giant plastic bow. “I’m Alyssa Edwards representing Season 5, and I was a LOVELY… 5th alternate.” And all it takes is these 3 queens kiki’ing to prove this show is gonna be fucking epic. They are immediately hilarious, throwing shade, and giving us their best personality traits which we’ve come to know and love. Katya says, “You cannot have a conversation with Alyssa if you’re in proximity with a mirror.”
In saunters Phi Phi O’Hara in a green-sparkled Riddler dress, heel, and hat ensemble. She’s the first notorious “villain” to join the cast thus far, and in her confessional she addresses this. “Last time I had a lot of built up anger and I let it get the best of me. After my season, it was hard to get bookings. It took a lot of work to show people I’m a professional. I want the world to see that I have changed.” Yeah, we’ll see how much of a bitch you’re not when there’s 100k at stake, girl.
Ginger Minj came in next wearing a shimmering fool’s gold sleeveless cape coat, which she tore away to reveal a lacy black leotard. “Come on All-Stars, let’s get… this over with.” And right off the bat, her winning humor stole the show. Of Katya’s red bedazzled eye patch, she says, “You look so much better with half of your face covered!”
Now, we all remember Roxxxy Andrews from Season 5. She was the unrivaled antagonist of the show, making it her goal to sabotage the destined winner Jinkx Monsoon. So when it was announced she would join the All-Stars 2 cast, many believed she would relive her manipulative, bullying ways. She entered the workroom this season in a slinky black leg-slit dress and Detox was happy to be reunited with her Season Sister. But Roxxxy shared insights in her confessional interview: “In Season 5, I let the competition get the best of me, and I got messy. I have a lot to prove.” She’s here for one reason only: to redeem her reputation. Can one of the cattiest Drag Race queens pull that off?Coco Montrese entered afterward wearing a gorgeous black number with a matching wide-brim starlet hat. “Orange you glad to see me?” she says, holding a Dorito makeup compact, referencing her biggest read when she joined the cast in Season 5 and was told her makeup was too orange to take seriously. Hopefully she’ll have more jokes than just this one, because it can only get her so far.
Then, à la Chi Chi DeVayne in Season 8, Alaska entered the workroom wearing a gown made of trash bags, greeting the queens with her signature “Hiiiiiiiiii.” And thus completes the trifecta for Season 5’s wicked sisterhood, RoLaskaTox, an alliance between Roxxxy Andrews, Alaska, and Detox. In her confessional, Alaska references the shadow she had to get out from under. “Last time I was here I was worried about my relationship and how people perceived me.” She’s referring to the fact that she was then dating Season 4’s winner, Sharon Needles, and was criticized for only getting on the show out of nepotism. “Now I’m here on my own, I’m focused, I’m galvanized, and I’m ready to take the crown.”
Tatianna came in next in a gold-accented black dress and face for the gods! The queens teased her for being the only Season 2 contestant in the room, accusing of her of being a specter of what drag “used to be” before Drag Race picked up steam and revolutionized the craft. But Tati is ready: “If they watched Season 2, they should know not to underestimate me, because it doesn’t really work in the end.”
Lastly, Adore Delano walked in with waist-length braids and a 90’s grunge outfit. “They’d like to say I’m lazy about my drag, but I’d like to think I’m a nonconformist. I mean I can’t crowd surf in a corset.”
Bombs and SnipersPer usual, RuPaul entered the workroom from on high after all the queens got settled, chanting her “Hello, hello, hello” tagline. “I can’t believe you’re back!” She says. “No really, I can’t believe you’re back. I thought the restraining order was still in effect.”
Facing this lineup of 10 memorable, talented, unique queens, Ru tells them they are all here because she believes they each have something to prove, “to me, to your fans, and most importantly, to yourself. From this point on, everything you do is about building your legacy.”
Then, she drops Bomb #1 of this episode: “I won’t be eliminating any queens this season,” Ru says.
Immediately afterward, Bomb #2 crashes down: rather than the bottom 2 contestants lip syncing for their lives, with one of them being eliminated each week, the top 2 will lip sync for their legacies each week, and the winner will receive $10,000!
At this point in the game, it’s all too good to be true. You could go on Drag Race, never be eliminated, and get rich by winning a few weeks of competitions even if you don’t end up with the crown!?Ru then explains that the All-Stars’ first mini challenge will be what typical Drag Race seasons have to wait a few episodes for: reading. Referencing Paris is Burning, the competitors throw shady jabs at each other. The juicy part? These jabs have been stewing over the span of 8 full Drag Race seasons, so we always knew it was gonna be good. This was the PERFECT move for the show’s producers—get the shade out fast, showcase the girls’ wit, and start things off with some drama.
Some highlights include:
- Phi Phi O’Hara: (to Tatianna) “Sweetie, if you don’t have a wristband, you can’t be in here for the meet-and-greet.”
- Katya: “Ah. Ginger Minj, the true winner of Season 7… of TLC’s I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant.”
- Ginger: “Adore, do you know what makes you the #1 fan favorite of all time?” Adore: “No.” Ginger: “Neither do I.”
- Alyssa: “Alaska? GUTTED. Roxxxy? ROTTED. Phi Phi O’Hara? GILA MONSTER. And Coco Montrese? BEAST!”
- Adore: “Roxxxy Andrews, it’s good to see a filler bitch this season, and I’m not talking about that ass.”
- Roxxxy: “Alaska, like her outfit, trash.”
- Alaska: “Roxxxy, proving that obviously a diet consisting solely of hatred for Jinkx Monsoon does a body good.”
Katya’s reads were on point but Alaska earned her win with some hilarious jokes. She won $2,000 worth of glasses, so her Anna Wintour impersonations can carry on for at least another month.
All-Star Talent Show ExtravaganzaThe producers’ second perfect move for the first episode was choosing this week’s Maxi Challenge: a talent show in front of a live audience. Ru told the girls they will get to choose their own talent and showcase how much they’ve grown since their first appearances on Drag Race.
This was perfect because 1.) it wasn’t a group challenge (we’ve had enough of those, thanks), and 2.) each queen got to perform to her strong suit.
While the gals prepared for their numbers in the workroom, Alyssa dished some salt right off the bat. “Now Roxxxy, don’t unpack. It’s a talent show, okay?”
Meanwhile, Detox and Roxxxy skipped arm-in-arm around the sewing tables singing about twinning. Alaska followed this up in her confessional: “The original parts of RoLaskaTox are here. However, that does not mean the band is getting together.” This is actually huge since, with a strongly forged alliance, 3 contenders really could guarantee their own ascension to the top. You’ll find out why in a second.
The competitors chatted while getting into face at the vanity. Phi Phi shared that she is ready to be seen as more than just a Drag Race villain. “I just want people to see there’s more to me than just an angry little orange monster,” Phi Phi says. And Roxxxy followed suit. “I was a bitch. I played those mind games. At the time, Jinkx was so close to the crown, how was I gonna get her out? I’m obviously not as funny as her, not as smart as her.” But she claims to have turned over a new leaf. “I’ve learned from my mistakes and I’ve changed my attitude. I don’t want to be that girl. I refuse.”
But Katya laughs about this “I’m a new woman” charade in her own confessional interview. “Some of the girls might be more interested about rehabilitating their image rather than winning the competition,” says Season 7’s Miss Congeniality. “But I’m here to show I’ve become a total fucking monster.” [Cue insane cackling.]
It’s Showtime!Ru, buxom and beautiful, sashays down the catwalk in a shimmering gold floor-length gown to her usual song, “Covergirl.” But the song is FINALLY remixed and adds another breath of fresh air to what had become dangerously redundant. She is greeted by usual judges Michelle Visage and Carson Kressley, with a new permanent judge Todrick Hall (musical powerhouse, excellent actor, and YouTube megahit), joined by this week’s guest judge, Raven Symoné. (We were all thinking it: don’t you dare say something insensitive and tone-deaf like “Watermelondrea,” Raven. Thankfully we were spared and we just got to enjoy her kickass Thunderdome gladiatrix getup instead.)
Adore sang her original song, “I Can’t Love You,” and totally nailed it. But her waistless black-sequined dress didn’t do her many favors. Alyssa followed with a variety show including a puppet, a tear-away black robe, a dazzling scarlet fringe dress, and all the choreography you’d expect from Alyssa’s lip sync number. And goddammit that song was catchy as hell, brought home with Alyssa’s drop into the splits.
Coco took the stage in a flowing pink gown with sheer sleeves and a platinum blonde Marilyn Monroe wig. She danced beautifully in what seemed like homage to Rosemary Clooney, but the number didn’t have anything special. Detox lip synced while playing drums covered in glow paint, spraying a neon Rorschach test all over her black bra and panties. The vocals to the original track were clearly autotuned and weak, but shaking her sizeable ass got a rise from the crowd and the judges alike.
In what was arguably the best demonstration of true talent that evening, Ginger sang a beautiful song about “dreaming your own way.” Her soulful vocals were absolutely breathtaking, and her stage presence was a great example of commanding attention simply by standing still and letting your vocal talent do the talking.Katya literally threw down with a mind-boggling gymnastics routine, including handstands, cartwheels, a back bend turned full upside down crab walk like a damn Japanese horror movie, rounded out with a jump drop into splits. SIMONE BILES WHO.
And in the worst performance of the night, Phi Phi sang a song. Acapella. She had some good vocal moments but her shaky breath support and pitchy note-seeking didn’t do her any favors. Now we’ve all had those moments—usually Tequila O’Clock—when we decide to belt and botch a karaoke song. But Phi Phi took herself far too seriously and unfortunately didn’t showcase the talent to back it up.
Next, Roxxxy hit the stage with a burlesque number, including a striptease out of her gorgeous white gown into white lingerie, a saucy dance with huge white feather fans, and, in a throwback to her greatest Season 5 moment, a wig-under-the-wig reveal! Then Alaska “sang” an original song, but while Ginger and Adore sang serious songs with serious talent, and Phi Phi sang a serious song while taking herself too seriously, Alaska sang horribly while making fun of herself. And that is how you cover up the fact that you’re a bad singer: make them laugh.
Lastly, Tatianna shared a spoken word piece called “The Same Parts.” At first the audience didn’t know what to expect and it could have fallen flat, but the poetry was hilarious, the execution was perfect, and the crowd ate up every filthy word.
After all these (mostly) bombshell performances, Ru commended the girls on a job well done, and dropped Bomb #3 of this week’s episode. “Now I told you I won’t be eliminating any of you. And that’s true. Because this season, you’ll be eliminating… each other.”
Now we knew from this season’s trailers that the top queens would be responsible for eliminating fellow contestants. What we didn’t know was that Ru and the judges would be choosing the bottom queens each week, and the winner of each episode’s lip sync would choose one of the girls of that bottom grouping to go home. This removes the possibility for eliminating your fellow lip syncing queen, so no one can axe their immediate competitor, but it still puts the choice in one queen’s hands.
Alyssa, Detox, and Katya were all deemed safe this week and sent backstage. Then, the critiques began. And girl, there were more fangs than in Tyra Sanchez’s crooked grill.
CritiquesWe all thought Phi Phi would be the undisputed villain this season. Or perhaps Roxxxy, or even Tatianna. No. We were wrong.
After this week’s critiques, All-Stars Season 2’s villain is clearly Michelle Visage. “This is All Stars. I’m gonna share all the T,” she started. “If you get hurt, get over it, up your game.”
Despite Adore’s excellent vocal performance, Michelle leaned in hard on her outfit choice for the runway, leaving Adore in tears. And while Todrick felt Coco’s old Hollywood glamor looked great in her dance number, Michelle went in on her makeup choices. “In your first season, you were orange. Now you’ve turned those Doritos to soot.”
Though Carson thought Ginger’s pitch was perfect, Michelle criticized her runway jumpsuit. “Literally I couldn’t take my eyes off your vagina.” To which Ginger replied, “Thank you.”
Phi Phi was of course reprimanded for her shaky acapella performance, while Roxxxy’s burlesque number was lauded as “an event” from a “superstar.” And of Tatianna, Ru said, “And look at that body. Are you cinched?” Tati: “A little.” Ru: “I’m gonna fucking key your car.” The judges loved her performance, comedy, and most especially, her makeup.
And lastly, Raven waxed on about Alaska’s hilarious performance and dreamy runway look. “I felt like I had taken mushrooms and was watching Pick of Destiny, and then you flew in on Falcor.” So, Raven is obviously my favorite person right now.
After the critiques, Ru chose the top 2 queens: Tatianna and Roxxxy! What a complete mindfuck for those of us who believed these 2 All-Stars would be some of the first to go home. But they truly did earn their place at the top this week.
That left Ginger safe, while Adore, Coco, and Phi Phi were fated to the bottom, now knowing full well that they could be sent home by either Tati or Roxxxy.
Untucked?Another genius move from the producers for this episode: in an unusual move, the behind-the-scenes footage of what is typically reserved for the show Untucked was instead aired as part of the main episode of Drag Race! This means we didn’t have to wait for a completely different show to see the queens chat while judges deliberated.
That’s because the judges didn’t have shit to deliberate. Bomb #4 of the episode? Ru tasked Tati and Roxxxy with deciding who they would send home if they win the lip sync, before they won. That means a bottom queen might desperately hope for a specific queen to win the lip sync, for her own safety.
The queens all weighed in on how eliminations could be the most fair. Make cuts based on that week’s performance alone? Consider the judges’ critiques and make the choice they would? Send someone home based on their performance throughout the competition?
Roxxxy pulled all 3 bottom queens aside to talk with them. Phi Phi wept, Adore cried with embarrassment and said, “I don’t belong here,” and Coco said, “I’m praying that Roxxxy wins. We’re from the same season. We’re sisters.” Roxxxy acknowledges this and points out she and Coco have been through the most together.
Meanwhile, Ru was drinking cocktails with the judges, telling them about tricking in New York.
Before hitting the stage for their lip sync battle, Tati and Roxxxy were presented with makeup cases containing 3 lipstick tubes, each tube engraved with one of the bottom queens’ names. They secretly made their choice about who to eliminate, stuffed the lipstick in their bra, and took to the stage.
Shake It Off“The time has come for you to lip sync for your legacy!” Ru announced. Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” played, and Tati and Roxxxy were off to the races. Now, this was the first time the Drag Race lip sync performers competed knowing that they were safe, incented to win 10 grand rather than fighting just to stay in the competition. This may be why the lip sync performances were slightly underwhelming this week, but both queens were polished, cute, and fully committed to the song.
Though Tatianna’s performance was fluid and filled the stage well, Roxxxy performed in the spirit of the song with adorable 20’s Charleston dance moves and ass-for-days shakin’. Ru deemed Roxxxy the winner, saying, “You’ve earned a cash tip of $10,000 dollars, honey!”
But then came the hard part. While Roxxxy had just won a shitload of money and, perhaps more importantly, proven herself a true contender as an All-Star without inciting ridiculous mind games with other contestants, she had to decide which queen to go home.
Shockingly, it was not Phi Phi she sent home after such a terrible acapella performance. Nor was it Adore, whom Roxxxy had only known for a short time. Instead, (Bomb #5 this week), Roxxxy chose to send home Coco, the queen who danced beautifully this week, and who was Roxxxy’s Season 5 Sister.
CHANGED WOMAN MY ASS, ROXXXY.
Coco was clearly disappointed to be the first eliminated from the season—as any queen would be—but just as she shared her sadness on camera before packing up her things, alarms went off and RuPaul’s image came on a monitor. In a personalized video, Ru told Coco not to fret.
Bomb #6, and perhaps the most explosive yet: “You have the chance to come back. For your revenge…”
This season has only just begun, and already it’s shaping up to pull Drag Race out of the Season 7 swamp that mired it last year. This very well could be the best season yet!
Stay tuned next week as the queens fight for their legacies, pretend not to forge alliances, and battle for the crown of Queen of the All-Stars! Then check Jetspace Magazine the next day for our Ru-minations recap!