Following last week’s Lip Sync LalapaRuza Smackdown and news of the return of 90 minute episodes, season 15 of Drag Race continues its 40 minute episodes this week — and the 200th episode in the series overall — with a ball challenge: ‘The Crystal Ball.’
The queens return to the werk room after Jax’s elimination, with Anetra feeling exhausted after three lip syncs and barely surviving (despite being one of the strongest lip syncers in the show.)
RuPaul quickly arrives to start the 200th episode celebration, giving the queens a mini challenge to ‘photo bomb’ iconic moments from the show. Drag Race has done many mini challenges like this over the years, all with hilarious and obviously photoshopped results — but this season’s photos show the larger problem Drag Race has faced this season, as even the quality of the photo bombed pictures has declined sharply.
The photos of the queens competing were taken against a white background with studio lighting on a camera, and the ‘iconic moments’ they are photo bombing are all taken from screen grabs from the show — but there was little effort made to adjust the studio lit photos to match the lighting of the photos they’re in, making the results look jarring (and not in a comedic way.)
Anetra bounces back from last week’s near elimination by winning the mini challenge by photo bombing herself jumping into Willow Pill’s talent show bath tub.
RuPaul then announces that with this being the show’s 15th year, they’ll be celebrating with a traditional Crystal ball where the queens are tasked to serve three looks. First, a ‘Start Your Engines’ look, an update on RuPauls’s iconic racing suit from the show’s opening theme. Secondly, ‘My Favorite Ball’ — giving the queens the chance to do their own version of one of Drag Race‘s many balls from past seasons. Lastly, ‘Crystallized Eleganza’ tasks the queens to use provided materials to draw up their own ‘dripping with crystals’ look.
Carson joins Ru for a walkthrough of the werk room to see what the queens are planning for their looks. Ru and Carson challenge Spice to switch up her silhouettes, saying that while she is gorgeous, her looks have lacked personality. With how close Spice was to elimination last week — with her fate lying in Anetra’s hands — it’s crucial for Spice to produce a good look this week, or she’ll be very likely to go home.
Mistress Isabelle Brooks remarks that big girls aren’t known for their fashion, but it’s something she plans to turn out. Salina EsTitties — whose fashion taste has been questionable since episode one — brings a lot over to Ru and Carson, and they are quick to try and reign her in. “That’s three very busy things. If style, maybe isn’t your forte, keep it simple, but keep it amazing,” Carson advises. After last design challenge landed Salina in the bottom, she’ll need to heed this advice to avoid a revisit to the bottom two.
The other queens aren’t given screen time interacting with Ru and Carson, which — accounting for Drag Race‘s sloppy editing condensing the show from 90 minutes to 40 at the last minute — likely indicates Mistress in the top and a Spice vs. Salina lip sync. It’ll certainly be surprising if other queens fumble this, especially with how Drag Race has chosen a paint-by-numbers, hand holding approach to its storytelling this season with its limited airtime. Things were a lot less obvious when each queen got their rightful amount of time in the show.
After quickly going through some of their favorite Drag Race moments from the past 14 seasons, the show heads off to the runway where RuPaul stuns in a gorgeous red look. Julia Garner guest judges this week, and RuPaul announces the 200th episode before ‘celebrating’ with a lip sync to his song ‘Cake and Candy.’ Like previous seasons, RuPaul’s lip sync consists of him standing in place and shimmying while half naked male dancers do a routine around him.
The Crystal Ball begins with the Start Your Engines look. Mistress Isabelle Brooks updates RuPaul’s classic jumpsuit and embellishes it with words big girls have been described as on the show. Marcia Marcia Marcia takes the look different from the classic pink/red the other queens have done, making for a modern and stylish ensemble. Salina EsTitties also experiments with the jumpsuit’s color, opting for an ill-fitting, baggy pastel blue look.
Malaysia Babydoll Foxx’s jumpsuit looks absolutely nothing like the original, and its only clue that it even relates to Ru’s original look is the helmet she’s carrying. Loosey’s updated look goes over to the arts and crafts side of things, but still meets the criteria for the challenge more so than the two looks before her.
Sasha Colby also aims to switch up the silhouette, going for a dress instead — but her attention to detail, bringing racing stripes to the sleeves for example — shows how she is head and shoulders above her competition, delivering a polished look that clearly references the original without copying or feeling derivative.
Anetra represents her family heritage in her neon yellow jumpsuit. It’s a nice outfit, but is also loosely inspired by Ru’s. Perhaps the briefing the queens get before coming to Drag Race wasn’t entirely clear, but it seems like half the queens understood what needed to be done, and half didn’t.
For the ‘My Favorite Ball’ category, Mistress did a look for the ‘Balls Ball’ of Season 12. The look is made up of a variety of inflatable beach balls, giving a campy mix of S&M sex suit / clown realness.
Marcia Marcia Marcia chose the Bag Ball because “bags are made of fabric!” Using deconstructed canvas bags, she brings a milkmaid inspired look to the runway that doesn’t feel particularly inventive or inspired.
Malaysia Babydoll Foxx chose ‘The Hair Ball’ of Season 3, and she kills it with a black and white hair dress that looks like Cruella De Vil found some extra long-haired Dalmatians and went to town.
Spice, like Mistress, chose the Ball Ball, but used furry pompom balls for her shades of purple outfit that features the same silhouette she’s been rocking down the runway. She definitely looks like the “fuzzy little Furby” she mentions in her voiceover. Love them or hate them, both Spice and Sugar are living in their own world of drag and their looks fit perfectly in that world.
Salina EsTitties makes matters worse for herself with her ball look, taking Season 3’s ‘Money Ball’ and crafting a poorly constructed outfit that looks like a palm tree at the top (?) covered in paper bills and food stamps with her face on them. Her description of the dress, in not having shame in needing government assistance, is nice, but can’t salvage how unflattering it is.
Loosey LaDuca’s ‘Bag Ball’ look is simple, but enjoyable with some explanations — like how the flower crown is made of doggy pick-up bags, but the simplicity of it keeps it from being one of the night’s standouts.
Luxx Noir London’s ‘Hair Ball’ look is perfection, with her Thierry Mugler references apparent. Luxx knows her body and how to play with an exciting silhouette, making for a runway that is high fashion without needing a ton of bells and whistles to accomplish that.
Sasha Colby also chose the ‘Bag Ball.’ (…Were the queens only aware of a handful of balls from the show?) She brings a rhinestoned bag of weed to the runway, playing on the ball being made of bags and also taking the concept of a literal bag of weed and making it dragged out, complete with a lit blunt headpiece. It’s a genius concept, even if the execution feels a bit subpar to Colby’s usual top tier standard of excellence.
Anetra switches things up from the repetition of the other queens’ ball choices, going for the ‘Sugar Ball’ of Season 5. Unfortunately the look is a bit of a mess that lacks cohesion or candy inspiration.
Lastly, the Crystallized Eleganza category comes to make or break the girls, showing who has the talent to craft their own look that fits the brief and looks couture. Mistress, as expected, knocks it out of the park with a beautifully constructed gown that quite literally appears to be dripping in crystals. With her delivering three solid looks, it’s seemingly even more obvious now that the werk room critiques foreshadowed the top and bottoms of the week.
Spice failed to change up her silhouette with her Crystallized Eleganza runway, and the top half felt much more crystallized than the bottom. All of Spice’s runway presentations — not just tonight, but throughout the serious — have blurred together, being pretty indistinguishable from one another at this point.
Marcia Marcia Marcia’s runway amps up the crystals and pearls. Again, her look isn’t particularly inventive or boundary pushing like some of the other competitors, but she understands the assignment and accomplishes the task at hand.
Like Mistress, Malaysia Babydoll Foxx shows that big girls know how to turn out a fashion look just as good as anyone else. The trim around her neckline is beautiful, and the beaded accessories accentuate the look.
Salina EsTitties manages to deliver a third awful look, making her three for three. Another ill-fitting dress comes out for the Crystallized Eleganza runway, a pale pink color that’s more satin than crystal, with crystals forming a design on the gown rather than encapsulating the look.
With how badly Salina’s looks were for this episode compared to Spice’s floundering performance over the past few weeks, it’s going to be a hard decision on who to send home — but in all honesty, these three runway looks from Salina are just irredeemable. Spice’s personality may be grating and her drag may not be bringing anything particularly new to the Drag Race runway, but at least her runways for the Crystal Ball were fitted and matched the description.
Loosey brings a crystal pageant girl for her runway presentation, wearing a ‘Runner Up’ sash. LaDuca’s runways and performance in general have been pretty strong at the start of the competition, but after her meltdown following her safe position in ‘Daytona Wind 2‘, there seems to be a crack in the facade — with her lip sync LalaPaRuza effort being middle of the line and her Crystal Ball looks not being very memorable either.
Luxx Noir London brings crystal ice to the runway with a ballerina looking design complete with fairy wings. Luxx knows how to sell a garment on the runway, but considering how amazing her previous runway presentations have been, this one just feels a bit underwhelming in comparison.
Sasha Colby’s Crystallized Eleganza runway is certainly dipped in crystals, even if there’s a bit of a disconnect from the top and bottom of the look, with the ornate top half feeling couture and the skirt on the bottom feeling more off the rack.
Lastly, Anetra closes the Crystal Ball with a very strong look, complete with a crystallized spine protruding from the gown and more coming out of the arms. It’s stunningly decorated from head to toe, with the fishtail being exquisitely eye-pleasing as she struts the runway.
For the judge’s critiques, RuPaul decides Marcia, Malaysia and Luxx are safe — reasonable judgement based on the three of them delivering good — but not great — runway packages overall.
Of the remaining queens, the judges start with Salina. “You always get so close, Salina,” Michelle says, as the judges praise her personality but critique the looks for not being polished.
Spice gets praised for the details in her reimagining of RuPaul’s jumpsuit, but criticize her Crystallized Eleganza look for being hot-glued and messy.
Mistress gets praised for all three looks, as she deserves. “I keep getting more and more impressed,” Michelle says.
As for Loosey, the judges enjoyed the jumpsuit but found the Ball look disappointing, and the detailing on her Crystallized Eleganza look is also critiqued for not providing the most flattering shape.
Sasha receives high praise for all of her looks, with RuPaul praising her for being a success story of the house drag system. Sasha attributes that to her dance school training, finding family in her queer dancer family. “You do your house very proud, and sharing your story…it lasts forever,” RuPaul remarks.
Lastly, Anetra has to explain her Ball look — rightfully so with how messy it was, with Carson remarking it looks incomplete. Especially compared to how stunning her Crystallized Eleganza look is in comparison.
In a shocking turn of events, Sasha Colby actually wins with Mistress only being placed high. Of course, Sasha deserves the win, but perhaps Drag Race‘s production editing still has a few tricks up their sleeves with how it appeared they set Mistress up for a win.
Loosey finds herself safe, leaving Spice and Salina EsTitties to lip sync for their lives to ‘That’s What I Want’ by Lil Nas X.
Salina mostly stands in place, shuffling around while Spice does much of the same but with more of a pouty face. Toward the end of the song, things start to pick up, with Spice hamming it up into an exaggerated death drop with her high-slit skirt. In the end though, it wouldn’t be surprising if this were a double elimination.
Salina is spared, though, with RuPaul sending Spice home — likely for doing the doggy walk motion in the lip sync that she’d promised to never do again on the runway. “I may not know how to lip sync, but I do know how to trot,” she says as she exits, doing the motion one final time to applause and laughter.
Next week’s Drag Race sees the queens interviewing artists including Frankie Grande and Charo in one-on-one interviews. Watch RuPaul’s Drag Race on Fridays on MTV and streaming on Paramount+.