27th Jul2020

‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars 5×08’ Review

by Rhys Payne

This weeks episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Dace All-Stars is the grand finale, with the top three battling it out for one of of them to join the drag race hall of fame and win $10,000. After seven weeks of queens being eliminated we are left with the top three of Shea Coulee, Jujubee and Miz Cracker – whom many have chosen these as there top three from the start. I personally thought it would be Jujubee, Shea and Alexis Mateo but Cracker has been incredible this season, by elevating herself but also keeping the essence of what everyone loves about her drag persona. Shea and Jujubee both stated that it is the top three they imagined from the start, so to see both the competitors and audience agreeing with means that we are getting an honest view of the competition from the television show which is fantastic! This finale episode follows the structure of most of the other finales in the franchise, with the queens having to write and perform an original show and also have to make an appearance on Ru and Michelle’s podcast ‘What’s the Tea’ which traditionally provides the more vulnerable and emotional moments in the episode. We go into this episode keeping in our minds that on the last season of All-Stars there were joint winners and so anything can happen in the drag race world!

As previously stated this weeks episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Dace All-Stars had the queens writing and performing lyrics to the new song ‘Clap Back’… and due to the poor reception ‘I’m In Love’ received, the queens have a difficult task to re-raise the standard of songs from drag race. This is on top of the pressure of wanting to put on an excellent performance AND creating clever lyrics, which is a super stressful environment that I personally would not like to be in. We also discover in this episode that there will be no secret lip-sync assassin but rather the top three will lip-sync against one another… but more on that later! Also on this episode, all the eliminated queens returned by hiding behind a wall and over-hearing the shade the top three were throwing at their competitors, which did add a little drama. The actual televised reveal of all the queens return was a little lacklustre and lacked energy but it was clear that drama was the main reason they returned, as they discussed the dramatic moments from the show and tried to sort them out, with most of them ending up unresolved. What was fantastic about this episode was that the returning queens appeared in the original song as back-up dancers, which I thought was fantastic as it gave every queen a chance to be a part of the project and have a chance to showcase their performing skills.

However, it was only the top three that had to perform their lyrics in the new song and they all did great. With the guest judge this week being Todrick Hall you already knew he would be choreographing the number and because of that you know it will be a dance spectacle. Cracker stuck firmly to her brand by blending a great performance with fun, campy and humours lyrics and performance, which was only exaggerated by the fact everyone was dressed as classic dinner serving staff. At one point they were all doing ballet with Cracker hilariously struggling which just tied the whole verse together excellently. This was personally my favourite performance in the number, as not only was it super fun but also portrayed who Cracker was most perfectly. Shea in this performance had even more pressure on her as her performance in ‘Category Is’ from her original season was so iconic that she had to match that ,otherwise the viewers would be disappointed. I have to admit that I don’t think it was of the same standard but her outfit for this performance was incredible. It was a black and white jumpsuit that seemed to be influenced by Ariana Grande – which was stunning. Also, there was a point in the song were Shea was tumbling in mid-air from dancer to dancer which was absolutely flawless and I know people won’t forget this moment for a very long time! I personally don’t think this number lived up to the hype Ru herself put on it but the number was pretty good.

Carson Kressley (one of the resident judges) summarised this episodes runway perfectly when he described it as one of the best he has ever seen and I have to say, I agree. Starting with Carson’s embellished jacket, that I really want to own as it looked incredible, and sparkles throughout the judges’ portion of the show. Ongina walked the runway with an incredible newspaper dress that was a reference back to her original season but obviously elevated to an All-Stars level, which was beautiful. Blair St Clair also showcased an incredible outfit that was covered with diamonds and made her look like a million pounds. Despite all this, I didn’t personally enjoy Mayhem Miller’s outfit as it was a bit plain but that’s just my personal opinion. The top three also produced incredible looks in this episode and clearly marked themselves out as the remaining queens who are on the fast track for the crown. Jujubee provided a flawless embellished jumpsuit, that made he appear like the classic enlightened figure, complete with her own crown. Cracker played upon her Jewish and Russian heritage and showcased a pink outfit that was dripping with pearls, which were both incredible and told and story, which is what we have come to expect from Cracker. But I was a little disappointed with Shea’s look this week. Despite her discussing how it was inspired by her own mother’s prom dress and the colour working beautifully with her skin tone, I thought it was a bit plain and was overshadowed by the rest of the top three and even some of the returning queens.

The top three then changed into outfits that were more suitable for the three-way lip-sync showdown to decide the overall winner of this season of Ru Paul’s Drag Dace All-Stars. Jujubee’s outfit for this performance was stunning – which featured a jewelled cape and flawless jewelled thigh-high boots, which is something I didn’t expect from Jujubee. The later part of this season showcases Jujubee as someone who possesses incredible fashion and so to see the climax of this progression in the finale worked perfectly. Shea’s blue gown outfit was also incredible, complete with blue hair but in this instance it was Crackers outfit that was overshadowed by her competitors – so it truly anyone’s guess to who will walk out the winner (unless you saw the faux pas Netflix made with the episodes thumbnail!). Regarding the actual final lip-sync, I have never been more disappointed. I refuse to accept that the subdued song “Make Me Feel” by Janelle Monáe was the way we decide who the overall winner is! I would have loved a high-energy camp classic to decide the best of the best, or even a song so iconic it creates an unforgettable moment but alas not. It was decided that the winner of the season is Shea Coulee who was the best performer in this song (in my opinion) and it was clear from the start that she would walk away with the crown but despite this, it was truly deserved.

This is, unfortunately, the end of Ru Paul’s Drag Dace All-Stars fifth series, which was a mixed season but offered the queens a chance to redeem themselves from their original seasons; with a most deserving queen walking away with the crown. For this episode itself, the original song was good and there were many stunning looks. If you are already suffering from a lack of Drag Race, I would recommend you keep an eye out as there is a series starting soon which shines a light of Drag Race Live which is their show based in Vegas!

***½  3.5/5

The fifth season finale of Ru Paul’s Drag Dace All-Stars is on Netflix now.


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