The makeover challenge is one of my absolute favorite weeks on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The competition has been pared down to real contenders; the twists are always interesting; and the pressure serves to turn some queens into diamonds and causes others to crack.
This year was no different, minus the aftershocks of last week’s surprise elimination. The one good thing that came out of Valentina’s elimination was that it shook up the competition. Looking at the queens, I truly felt—for the first time this season—that one misstep could cause a strong queen to go home. And while that causes me angina, it also makes for fantastic television.
The queens return back to the Werk Room after Valentina sashayed away, and the mood is…somber. Nina decides to lighten it by pulling out her stand-up routine. Just kidding; she says that she should’ve gone home. Yeah, no duh. The one thing the queens don’t want to hear is how you too agree that you should’ve gone home. We know. That call is coming from inside the house.
The queens decide to wash their hands clean of Nina and cheering her up, which, technically, she didn’t ask for in the first place, but when you’re moping around, it’s kind of implied. Ru comes out and tells the queens that this makeover challenge, they’ll be making over…THE CREW. The crú. Idk why, but as soon as I learned this, I was wildly happy. The entire universe of Drag Race has gotten so expansive that it was nice to peek behind the camera. It also blew my mind how they keep so much equipment constantly out of frame.
Sasha and Shea, per their joint-win, pair up the girls with the crew members. Trinity gets the hunky gorgeous Rizzo. Shea picks the tall, dark and handsome Josh for herself, and Sasha chooses head-in-charge Duncan. They pair the artistic Aaron with Nina, Alexis with Brady and Pep with Sarge. The pairings are frankly quite even-handed and make a good bit of sense.
The fascinating part of the crew getting made over is that these queens have actual relationships with them. Rizzo is the one to make sure that the queens stay on time. Duncan heads everything. Josh manages the camera along with Sarge. For the last (however many) few days, these queens have seen each other, Ru, and these crew members. So there’s a nice broken-in feeling to the relationships here, which allow for bonds like Trinity and Rizzo, and Sasha and Duncan to form immediately.
Nina decides to go for a bunny cosplay and, despite having never sewn before, make two outfits from scratch. Before the episode began and the challenge had just been stated, I truly believed that it was impossible for Nina to get eliminated. All season long, her makeover abilities have saved her time and time again. I for sure thought someone weaker like Pep or Alexis would be leaving. But Nina’s indecision about sewing, and her sloppy attempts at a Plan B, signal something dead in the water.
Trinity takes Hot Rizzo under her dainty wing and gets her in a pair of heels immediately, before letting Rizzo know that he’s gonna tuck his penis for the heavens. Rizzo is surprisingly game—thank god—and this really allows Trinity’s maternal side, more visible in “Untucked”, to shine through. Goddamit, I love Trinity so much. She reminds me so much of Bianca del Rio—bitchy on the outside but always willing to help out. But Trinity, no offense, is way more versatile than Bianca, and way more willing to go there.
The other star pair are Sasha and Duncan. For the first time, Sasha says, she’s not in her head and is really having fun. I think that stems from Duncan’s own mock-seriousness, which allows Sasha to be more goofy, but from their partnership and their runway, I knew they would be strong competitors.
Trinity & Glittafa Dayze: I was (very slightly) underwhelmed by this duo, only because I had such high expectations, but the tuck was tight and the choreography was right. Points for the name too.
Shea & Bae Couleé: Similarly to Coco in her makeover challenge, Shea looks GORGEOUS and Bae looks a little more…homemade. I believe Shea when she said that she was sorry if it came across that Bae was an afterthought, but the exposed bra strap and wonky wig were pretty damning evidence.
Alexis & Rye Anne Stardust: Literally unmemorable. Rye Anne is wearing the outfit that Alexis walked into the Werk Room Episode 1 in. I love the space theme, but they could’ve gone full-out with helmets and sexy moon boots, and they didn’t. Barbarell-ughh.
Nina & Ariana Bo’nina Brown: Such sloppy fucking work. Everything from the neck down was totally basic, and even Nina’s makeup was pretty bad. Yes, she made herself into a bunny, but a wax bunny that was left in the microwave.
Sasha & Dunatella Velour: Stunning. Amazing silhouettes. Gorgeous makeup. Cute little gimmicks. A complete win for me on all fronts. Sasha is so cool.
Peppermint & Winter Green: I think if their outfits had been slightly more cohesive, like if the trim on one was the main fabric of the other—inverse-style—it would’ve been much cuter. But Pep is so charming, and so lovely when she smiles deep-dimpled, that I was sold.
While it was tight, and I totally thought Sasha was going to win, Trinity clinches the victory, marking it her third win and putting her tied with Shea. Sasha and Pep are safe, so it’s Alexis, Shea and Nina in the bottom three.
This is where we see the real effect of Valentina’s elimination. I had no idea who would be in the bottom two because after V, everything is up in the air. Truly, I think it should’ve been Alexis in the bottom two, but Ru likes to play mindgames with the stronger competitors, and I believe that she put Shea in the bottom to send Nina home expressly. I think Ru tried to do the same thing last week with Valentina, but we all saw how that turned out.
Nina essentially goes one rung above a Charlie Hides and gives a lackluster lip sync to “Cool for the Summer” by Demi Lovato. Shea’s energy wasn’t what I thought it would be, but maybe in a less restrictive dress and a better song she would shine more.
In the end, Nina goes home. Ru calls her “Nina Bo’nina Andre Charles” and says that she’s part of her family now. Ru probably gave Nina so many chances because she saw herself in Nina: a young, subversive black queen who was doing something different to everyone else. I just hope Nina can see that someday.
I’m sad to see a talented queen get sabotaged by herself. It’s no fun; at least when other queens are the saboteurs (a la Phi Phi), you have someone to be mad at. But with Nina, you’re left just feeling sad. I’m sad that she thought she failed as a voice for African-American queens who want to do different styles of drag. I don’t think she failed. I think she left well for someone dealing with her own internal battle.
The top five remains, and after what seems like an interminable season, the end is surprisingly close. My pick is for Alexis to be the next one to go home, but with the challenge being “Gayest Ball Ever,” it could be up in the air again.
FINAL THOTS/STRAY OBSERGAYTIONS
- Rizzo marry me
- Rizzo marry me
- I saw Trinity Taylor wearing olive-green Tevas and now I want to wear olive-green Tevas.
- Dunatella is a cute name, and I wish my last name was Velour.
- Shea pulls off colored wigs like no one else, and her makeup made her look especially leonine and luscious tonight. I adore her.
- I might want Trinity to win? Who am I? I thought I was a Shea-for-the-rest-of-my-days-Coulee fan?
- If Shea ever (god forbid) was eliminated, do you think Ru would say, “Sa-shea coulee away, my dear”? I hope so.