22nd Jun2022

‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars 7×05’ Review

by Rhys Payne

An unexpected gem of this season has been the (not-so) secret alliance between the co-winners of All-Stars Four, Trinity the Tuck and Monet X-Change. The two queens were under the impression that their fellow competitors would assume they have a professional rivalry with one another as they were forced to split the crown and so Trinity and Monet teaming up would be very unexpected. However, in the previous episode, these two queens decided to try and recruit new members into their alliance which severely backfired. In an attempt to find new members they spoke to front runner Jinkx Monsoon, the ever formidable Shea Coulee and winner of seven twelve Jaida Essence Hall; which means that now over half of the competitors in this season are aware of this ‘secret’ alliance but no new members have actually joined the group. After last week’s improvised, fairytale-inspired courtroom drama challenge was dominated by acting juggernauts The Vivienne and Jinkx Monsoon, it was up to the latter to decide who would be blocked from winning one of the sparkly badges in next week’s episode. She chose to block one-half of the creators of the not-so-secret alliance Monet, who seemed very annoyed by this choice. Not only was this a clear demonstration of the lack of power the alliance actually possesses but also was extra devastating as these two are clearly close friends outside of the competition. These two were recently launched into Tik Tok fame after their video of Bridgeton-inspired etiquette lessons with that hilarious “If we went half on the bag we would go together joke” became a viral sound. The betrayal of Viv and backfiring of the alliance on top of the usual frustration of being blocked meant that Monet was clearly very frustrated but she was still playing along with the mystery advantage of the platinum plunger that was invented by Shea many weeks ago. It’s hilarious to watch the queens week by week trying to convince each other that the plunger has secret powers, as Shea has already confessed to the audience that there are in fact no benefits to the plunger.

As the season goes on we are beginning to see the backstage politics of such a television show with the development and creation of different connections between the queens. We already have the idea of the not-so-secret alliance and now the audience have been introduced to a professional rivalry between The Vivienne and Jinkx as they are both passionate about the more theatrical side of drag and specifically impressions of iconic personalities. I think The Vivienne made a mistake however by announcing to everyone that she actually wanted to block Jinkx but was not able to as she was not eligible for the plunger. I thought that revealing her game plan to everyone is a bad idea anyway but especially when it involves one of the powerhouses/front runners of this season. While it’s great to see how the queens interact with one another in these highly stressful situations, it seems like every strategy on the season is backfiring as *spoiler alert* Jinkx regains her position at the top of the competition and chooses to block The Vivienne as revenge.

This week’s maxi challenge had the queens writing and performing a drag-uation (graduation but infused with drag) for the next generation of drag performers. Ru Paul entered the werk room to tell the queens of this week’s challenge in one of the strangest outfits I have ever seen! She wore an unusual black sleeveless top with puffy MC Hammer style trousers that was so different to the usual Klein Epstein and Park suits he usually wears in the werk room. As well as introducing this week’s task, Ru Paul also introduced the exciting twist that the two winners this week would be given two stars, one of which needs to be gifted to another queen. Now instantly I know if I was in the high-heeled shoes of the winning queen I would want to give my badge to either Raja or Eyvie as they are the two queens who have yet to win a legendary legends star and so by gifting a star to one of them would help you keep the lead in the competition. The point of this challenge was having the queens create a speech that was equal part entertaining and equal part inspiring for the audience, with each queen landing at some point between the two ideas. As the loser of last week’s episode, Monet got to choose the order where she used this opportunity to get revenge on The Vivienne by putting her last on the line-up. I didn’t quite understand how being the worst last week relates to having authority for this week’s challenge but we move! I thought it was amazing that during her performance Monet had her name shaved into the side of her head. However, the problem with this wig is that as soon as she stepped up to the podium her comb fell out of he hair which was somewhat distracting. My personal favourite from this week was Trinity the Tuck who leaned more heavily into the inspiration side of these graduation speeches. Before her act, we were informed that Trinity actually had to leave school before she could graduate to help look after her grandmother. I think it was an important moment to highlight that some people do not excel in school and sometimes there are more important things than education. Trinity is clearly doing what she is good at and what she enjoys which at the end of the day is the most important thing for everyone! I thought her speech was very empowering and could have easily fitted into a real graduation event.

Raja decided to deliver the speech via a cult leader character which was not what I expected from this fashion icon. As trainee teachers, we constantly have to share the classic saying of “Aim for the moon, at least if you miss you will land on the stars” and to see Raja develop this statement by adding “then you will combust and die” was very funny to me! Raja’s unique performance really stood out amongst the rest of the queens while also being extremely entertaining! I was very impressed by Eyvie Oddly this week as she was one of the only queens to do her whole speech from memory. When it was her turn to share the speech she took a pre-rehearsed tumble that resulted in her notes flying into the air and landing in a wild pile which was very clever but also very entertaining. I also really liked her hand-decorated cap and gown which fitted her chaotic nature perfectly! Eyvie talked about how failure is an essential part of any learning journey, which is something that does not get talked about enough. Making mistakes and learning from them is key for any development and so if you are heading onto a new career/location etc., it’s important to know that somethings things don’t work out the way we planned them and that’s perfectly okay! Jinkx also decided to perform as a character but she did a witch-inspired act and cleverly planned her speech to be both entertaining and hilarious. I thought her line “Granulation to the fruiting class of whatever year you are watching this from on YouTube” was brilliant! Her rival the Vivienne decided to lean a lot more into a character-based performance where she delivered her speech as a drunk person talking about her sobriety journey. She was the only person to stay in character the whole way throughout everyone’s performance and constantly caught the attention of the viewers. Her rude but hilarious comedy throughout cleverly fitted the drunk persona, which was performed excellently making for a fantastic graduation speech gone wrong!

The runway theme this week was ‘Veiled It’, where the queens had to find an outfit that showcase an extravagant veil. I have to say that I absolutely loved Monet’s bird-inspired look this week that had a beautiful birdcage headpiece and feather flawlessly placed through the dress section. The attention to detail of matching shoes and the feather motif worked beautifully with all sections working together flawlessly! However, the runway theme was veils and Monet wore a disappointing veil for the first few moments on the runway and then took it off, so while I loved the look I did not think it fitted the category well! My favourite look on this week’s runway would have to be The Vivienne who did a blue bondage bride look, with restraints all down her body with a wonderfully sparkly blue outfit that looked incredible on her. I also really enjoyed Jaida’s towering funeral look which, while being flooded with fabric, still managed to tease the sensual being underneath all the material!

This season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars seems to be carefully picking celebrities to appear on the show that makes sense with the challenges the queens have just done. We were treated to an appearance by Nancy Pelosi the American politician who is currently serving as speaker of the United States House of Representatives. She delivered a very empowering speech to the queens, which was perfectly times considering the controversial move Texas has made of banning young children at pride shows. It was declared that Jinkx and Raja are the winners this week (I personally would have gone with Trinity) and these two queens get to decide who gets the extra badges at the beginning of next week’s episode. I have to admit that this was a very one-sided lip-sync battle the Raja being very subdued throughout. Jinkx was dancing across every inch of the stage and so made sense when she was declared as the winner of this week’s episode. The episode began by The Vivienne saying how her rivalry with Jinkx is coming to an end as Viv will never be in the bottom and so cannot be blocked, but unfortunately, this plan also backfired as Jinkx choose the block the only UK queen from winning a badge next week!

Overall, this was a very entertaining but also an uplifting episode of Drag Race All-Stars. Over the years, Ru Paul and her show have struggled to balance the line between inspiration and emotion (look at the critically torn apart pink table talk episode from All-Stars Six) but this drag-uation challenge was this done right!

**** 4/5


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