Last week, RuPaul’s Drag Race showed the highs and lows of an early ‘Snatch Game‘ leading up to the producer-influenced lip-sync anyone could’ve seen coming from the start of the season: Sugar vs. Spice. With Sugar victorious in the lip sync, this week’s episode kicks off with lots of tension in the werk room now that the twins are separated.
There’s also tension brewing between Mistress and Marcia over who was ‘second place’ in Snatch Game. It feels a bit weird seeing the queens argue over who came in second place, but perhaps All Stars is to blame, where two top queens win challenges each week.
Either way, this is Drag Race and not All Stars, so seeing the queens bicker over who was first runner up just feels like messy production for some screen time. Although with how fantastic Loosey’s Joan Rivers performance was, it’s no wonder the rest of the queens would see second place as a worthwhile title.
This week’s mini-challenge is the reading challenge, and like ‘Snatch Game’, this one’s usually reserved for later in the season. It’s interesting how Drag Race is shifting around its usual format to keep things lively, though it all feels bittersweet knowing the episodes were planned to be 90 minutes and were cut down, especially when there’s more queens participating in these iconic challenges. ‘Snatch Game’ and the reading challenge wouldn’t have been so noticeably succinct if A) they were in their usual place and there were less queens or B) the show had the runtime to let the challenges shine with more competitors.
The reading challenge is cut down to about one read per queen, except for Mistress, Sasha Colby, and Loosey LaDuca. This gives some of the queens just seconds of reading (Anetra’s reading challenge segment is just four words, for example, “Robin Fierce, swipe left.”) Only Loosey manages to get enough time in the edit to make three reads, and she’s victorious in the challenge.
For the maxi challenge, RuPaul challenges the queens to join three teams of ‘Fashion Houses.’ The ‘House of Kressley’ will utilize Carson’s town and country decor, with ‘The House of Matthews’ taking Ross’ Palm Springs inspired furnishings. Lastly, ‘The House of Visage’ takes Michelle’s Jersey Girl aesthetics. The houses will each need to create individual couture looks that are cohesive enough to be a fashion house collection.
The materials for the challenge are unconventional, with the queens utilizing curtains, upholstery, pillows, and other things each taken from an interior designed room inspired by the judges. Without Sugar, Spice finds some early trouble in the challenge, realizing that she’s usually the designer with Sugar being the one who knows how to sew. She’s also planning a ‘slutty’ look that will seemingly clash with the rest of the house’s plans for ‘royalty’ — but it’ll be okay because “she has a tiara.”
This challenge always shows which queens have the creativity and talent to go far in the competition. As Drag Race has evolved, so has the fashion and style the queens bring to the runway, but that’s also allowed queens with enough money to have outfits made for them and just bring them in their suitcase. Challenges like this one separate the queens who can tailor their own garments and those who only know how to make baked potato couture — because to quote Jiggly Caliente, “Beyonce don’t be sewing her shit.”
Amethyst is another of the queens not adept at sewing, and she’s feeling the threat of landing in the bottom again — knowing that her third time in the bottom so early in the competition won’t end well for her. With the way Drag Race weaves its storylines, they’re either setting Amethyst up for a quick downfall in the next few weeks — or she’ll be the season’s underdog who has surprising stamina as the competition gets more cutthroat.
As the runway presentations get started, RuPaul greets this week’s judges — Michelle, the hilarious Ross Matthews, and celebrity guest judge Janelle Monáe.
The House of Visage’s fashion line starts with Mistress Isabelle Brooks channeling her inner Michelle very much in a short skirt and flowing black cape. Aura Mayari shows more skin in a revealing zebra print bra and skirt look with a gold cape and accessories made of zebra print rugs. Amethyst gives a good early Drag Race Michelle hairstyle with bangs and a ponytail, with a flowy, gold number paired with a gray fur stole that feels a bit disparate with the rest of the outfit.
Spice shows the most skin in another zebra print design, but keeps her look completely black and white with purple accents, unlike the other looks before her that all included a touch of gold. Luxx Noir London keeps the purple accents going, with a flowy purple top, zebra pants and gold curtain rod hooks for dramatic effect. For the House of Visage, Luxx Noir London takes top prize with the line’s final look, and although the looks don’t all feel entirely cohesive, they still fit the theme overall.
Next is the House of Kressley, with Robin Fierce opening the line in a leather top with a blue skirt and shoulder piece. Jax stuns in a Heathers inspired grey and red plaid ensemble complete with fiery orange hair and mallet. Anetra brings things back to the blue color palette, and looks stunning in blonde hair. Anetra’s outfit isn’t the most detailed (there’s not even really a bottom part to it), but she knows her body and it fits well. Salina EsTitties gets swallowed in a comforter, but then reveals a tailored red and brown leather look underneath. This is the best she’s looked so far on the runway, with some of her past week’s choices being…choices.
The House of Kressley is tied together through the plaid and leather, and their outfits honestly feel more intentionally part of a line than the House of Visage’s, even though the Kressley girls experimented with more colors.
Sasha Colby comes first for the House of Matthews, in a resort-wear green swimsuit print and stunning white and pink coverup. Colby’s makeup, hair and accessories add to the look and elevate it — she honestly looks so stunning that even RuPaul can’t help but cheer from the judge’s table. Loosey LaDuca brings a pantsuit and big hair that continues the Palm Beach aesthetic and takes it to one of the rooms at the Trixie Motel. Her look is well tailored and eye catching.
Malaysia Babydoll Foxx uses the pink color from Sasha Colby’s look and pairs it with a similar pattern to Loosey’s pantsuit, complete with a dramatic hat. Marcia Marcia Marcia twirls down the runway in a flowy skirt and mint heels with orange accents. Her makeup is certainly more dramatic — though still pretty subtle in comparison to some of the other competitors.
When it comes to the judging, RuPaul splits the teams up, making Mistress Isabelle Brooks, Aura Mayari, Spice, Anetra, Loosey LaDuca and Marcia Marcia Marcia safe enough to head to Untucked.
The judges critique Amethyst first for her poor tailoring and stole. They praise Luxx’s runway walk and beautifully skilled tailoring especially on such a detailed pattern. Robin Fierce is praised for her Vivienne Westwood style look, while Jax gets criticized for her outfit not fitting correctly and not selling the outfit’s narrative well enough. The same goes for Salina, whose over the type outfit swallowed her and failed to fit properly, despite Monáe praising her for her desire to innovate, despite not executing everything well enough.
Sasha Colby receives praise for her look, though Monáe did clock her struggle to remove the coverup. Malaysia gets further praise for her well-tailored garment, shocking the judges when they hear it’s the first thing she’s sewn in her life and irritating her competitors.
Drag Race entirely cuts the judge’s deliberations this episode, then cutting back to the top and bottom. Luxx Noir London rightfully wins the challenge, with Amethyst, Jax and Salina being the bottom three. RuPaul saves Jax, pitting Salina and Amethyst together in a lip sync to ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’ by Janelle Monáe.
Unsurprisingly, the third time is not the charm for Amethyst, who fails to impress RuPaul and is told to sashay away.
Next week sees the girls being challenged to make Golden Girls girl groups. Watch RuPaul’s Drag Race on Friday’s on MTV and streaming on Paramount+.