RuPaul’s Drag Race attempted to do something the show has never done before: magic. They also sent home a queen who truthfully didn’t deserve to go while keeping one that needed to leave a couple of weeks ago.
The show picked up with Vanessa Vanjie Matteo’s confidence being once again on shaky levels after she beat Plastique Tiara in the lip sync for your life. She appeared confused over what the judges wanted out of her when it came to her personality and performing ability.
I said it last week and I’ll say it again: she’s not ready for the show just yet in her career. Vanessa got lucky last year with a catchprase that we all still use to this day, but this isn’t RuPaul’s Best Catchphrase. It’s a race, a race she’s still barely passed the first lap at all this time in.
Brooke Lynn Hytes discussed how proud she was for winning the previous week’s challenge, while her scene partner Nina West complained about how she didn’t acknowledge the effort she made to help her score the W. I’m pretty sure Brooke did compliment Nina on the runway, but the Cleveland-based queen wasn’t there to see it as both she and Yvie Oddly were declared safe and were not in ears shot to hear the runway discussion.
The mini-challenge is just as silly as the other ones have been, except this one has season 3 vet Delta Work! Delta, who won an Emmy last year for expertly crafting RuPaul’s hair, looked fierce as hell walking into the werk room behind several gorgeous menseses who were wearing barely any clothes for the challenge ahead.
Side note here: Pit crew member Shawn Morales has got to be one of the hottest men I’ve ever seen. I was legit sweating through my cargo shorts watching him in this challenge. Shawn, if you’re into cubs… holler.
The queens and hunky men played a game called “Balls to the Wall.” They paired up, one queen and one sexy dude, to get a ball into a sack without using their hands. Instead, they had to do it head to butt, hip to hip and more. I didn’t really care who won, I was just happy to see seven smoking hot men infiltrate my television screen on a rainy Thursday night.
Vanessa was declared the winner, which was a first for her in this competition. It gave her an advantage in the main challenge, which was all about magic.
Two teams of queens had to put on an electrifying magic show for RuPaul, the judges and an audience of people that included season 2 and All Stars 2 vet Raven. Vanessa got to choose her team, and went with Silky Nutmeg Ganache, A’Keria C. Davenport and Yvie. This left Shuga Cain, Brooke and Nina as the other group.
Vanessa didn’t choose her boo Brooke, but Brooke didn’t pick her the week beforehand. There seemed to be no problem on either side with this, as Vanessa was more focused on making herself great and not worrying about if Brooke was on her team or not.
The girls get some time with a real-life (and super cutesy bearish) magician who helped them learn some valuable lessons in the world of magic prior to their big show. This included him shoving a considerably-sized balloon all the way down his throat with no problem, which made A’Keria hilariously confused in her confessional. He also showed them tricks involving making milk disappear, levitation and more. Oh, and Silky fell asleep and drooled in her chair. Ew.
The two teams approached this challenge very differently. One (Vanjie, Yvie, A’Keria, Silky) opted to improv while the other (Nina, Shuga, Brooke) rehearsed it. It was obvious that the latter team would do better based on the amount of editing they gave to Yvie who was panicking about their group’s decision. A’Keria also looked downtrodden before the show began, which further made me think that their team was going to be a disaster the minute they hit the runway.
Except they weren’t, but it wasn’t great. It was more of, as Michelle Visage once famously said, “Meh.” Nina’s team went first, and they were incredible. Nina’s comedy was so strong throughout the magic show, but she didn’t overshadow her teammates. Shuga, who I love but often forget is on the show, didn’t really execute her magic trick of revealing some cleanly tucked panties out of a magic hat that well. They quickly then went to Brooke, who did well on both her tricks including the final one of making her disappear. It’s a “Reverse Shangela!” LOL.
The other team, known as Da Black Magic, was awkward and unrehearsed. Silky’s outfit was a padded mess and horribly put together, however she did decently well with her milk trick. A’Keria sort of rebounded from her sadness earlier in the day to perfect the whole shoving a big-ass balloon down your throat.
Vanessa wasn’t impressive. At all. There’s the excuse of her being Vanessa, so she should get a pass or something, but that would’ve only work towards the beginning of the game. It’s final seven, and she should’ve pulled something out of her comedic hat that I know she has to really excel in this. Yvie, on the other hand, took pulling a bra out from her bra (I think?) to such a long-winded level that really wasn’t fun to watch. Yvie is weird with acting or improv challenges, sometimes she’s great and other time she bombs.
It’s Caftan Realness on the runway this week, which was fun to watch. Brooke dominated, as she usually does, while Shuga attempted to do not one, but two reveals under her massive red ensemble that went from great to worst.
Here’s where things went wrong: the challenge was judged on an individual basis, not team. Nina’s team should’ve been safe, including Shuga. She didn’t do great but also wasn’t the worst. Vanie’s team was terrible, minus A’Keria, and the bottom three should’ve been her, Silky and Yvie.
Ru decided to put Vanessa in the bottom two along with Shuga. If anything, they should’ve put Silky in the bottom two just to shake her seeing as her ego continues to blow as the season goes on. I do hope this happens at some point as her cockiness is really starting to annoy the hell out of me.
The ladies lip synced to Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama”. Neither of them really pulled it off, even though you could tell they were trying. Like what happened last week with Vanessa and Plastique doing Fantastia’s “Hood Boy.” It was just a lot of standing in one space and moving without getting the feeling of either song.
Shuga went home and Vanessa was safe again. SMH. Here’s the thing, I never saw Shuga winning. She’s perfectly sweet, and excelled somewhat, but I would’ve preferred her to say over Vanessa who simply hasn’t done well at all this season.
Shuga may not be gone for long, however, as the eliminated queens return next week. I don’t think any of them need to come back, but this episode was bound to happen as they do this every freaking season. If I had to choose, I would say maybe Scarlet Envy or Plastique, but I’m fine with none of them coming back at this point.
This is the opinion of one contributing writer and not that of Instinct Magazine or other Contributing Writers.