08th Jun2023

‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars 8×05’ Review

by Rhys Payne

In last week’s episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars season eight we saw Lala Ri and Heidi N Closet really shine as the bumbling duo of inexperience criminals and Jimbo claim the win after performing as an unhindered character dragged into a murderous rampage after being bullied by some popular girls in school! Jimbo keeps up her streak of losing every single lip-sync she had ever competed in on the show as we see the return of Shannel all the way from season one! I do have to say that the performance itself was fairly repetitive with the returning assassin twirling and Jimbo head-banging throughout! We sadly had to say farewell to Darienne Lake after Alexis Michelle essentially blamed the whole team’s shortcomings on her as the dead celebrity island was initially Darienne’s idea. I thought that while the idea was hers initially there was plenty of time for the team to change it or use that immense acting experience Alexis supposedly had to help steer the performance to the top! We also saw the early stages of some tension bubbling up between Heidi and Kandy as the former teased some secrets that were shared behind the camera that she is close to revealing.

It was revealed that this week’s maxi challenge was the return of the snatch game of love! This saw the queen busting out their best celebrity impersonations while they try to win the hearts of a mystery celebrity guest. What is interesting about this iteration of the challenge is the fact that Jessica Wilde actually appeared in the first-ever snatch game on Drag Race but this slight dating show twist makes it somewhat different to how the game was originally presented. Additionally, the last iteration of the stars snatch game was during season seven which was an All-Star season where we witnessed that iconic Judy Garland by Jinkx Monsoon and two of the queens, namely Alexis Michelle and Jimbo, on this season delivered incredible performances on their original seasons as Liza Minelli and Joan Rivers respectively. There are also multiple queens this season who have never competed in the snatch game and so the pressure to perform is only amplified after previous insane performances!

We learn that Jaymes Mansfield would be playing the iconic Jennifer Coolidge who has skyrocketed to fame recently after appearing in White Lotus! I thought that Jaymes did a wonderful job of impersonating the iconic character while managing to squeeze in a plethora of movie references throughout. It was revealed that Kahana would be showcasing an impersonation of her own drag mother and season five superstar Coco Montrese. Now I totally understand the idea of impersonating someone you are extremely close with but it can very easily (and did) become a very fine dance between homage and insult. Kahana really played up the famous “look how orange you look” quote from season five as she painted herself in bright orange makeup, however, I thought the actual voice and aggressive nature were very accurate to what we saw from Coco on her season. I don’t fully understand the creative choice that Kahana made to not wear a wig and that alongside the orange makeup looked quite jarring and to be honest if this was an impersonation of me I would be somewhat insulted! Equally, however, the short answers did make it fairly hard for Ru and the other queens to banter with. In a unique decision, Heidi decided she would portray the eccentric pirate Blackbeard in the snatch game which I was fairly disappointed with as it did just seem like Heidi in a pirate costume. There were a couple of funny moments from Heidi particularly when her peg leg fell off! I do think there were also moments where Heidi appeared to stamp on other people’s jokes even when she was not a part of the conversation which one queen in particular became extremely aggravated with! The entire challenge however was dominated by Jimbo as they showcased a incredible impersonation of Shirley Temple, who is not someone I am particularly familiar with. However, this was a hilarious performance complete with an over-grown children’s style look and voice that made some of her more mature creative choices that much more striking! She bantered wonderfully with the older portrayal of Bea Arthur (by Alexis Michele) wonderfully and Jimbo even managed to break out an eccentric attempt at tap dancing which was hilarious! In terms of the separate ‘episodes’ of snatch game, the two winners were Jimbo and Jaymes Mansfield.

Before we could get to the runway portion of the episode, we saw the eruption of the tension between Kandy and Heidi. Last week we saw Heidi tell the audience and other queens that there is some secret gossip from Kandy that would particularly upset Jimbo (with those two and Heidi supposedly in an alliance.) This argument began with Kahana expressing how she felt that Heidi was kicking her while she was down during the snatch game. I do have to say that there were moments where Heidi made jokes at the expense of Kahana but when these jokes did not elicit a laugh from anyone they did come across as insults to the struggling queens. This conversion continued as Kandy jumped in to talk about the supposed gossip splitting up the alliance of herself, Heidi and Jimbo. The most confusing part of this fight was when Alexis was brought into the conversation as she supposedly heard this behind-the-scenes drama and when asked Alexis said she had heard Kandy talking about gunning for Jimbo. However, when challenged Alexis appeared to change her viewpoint saying she had not heard anything. This then caused Heidi to become extremely frustrated and then decided to exit the competition. Now there is no way for us as an audience to fully understand what actually happened behind the scenes but I personally think that Heidi showed incredible bravery to step away from a potentially toxic environment to focus on her own well-being!

The runway category this week was “Ru-veal yourself” and I have to say that I never enjoy these categories where they have to showcase a reveal. I think part of the excitement of costume reveals is when you do not expect them but this category is making sure the audience knows what they are waiting for. I thought it was extremely clever for Jessica to pay homage to the iconic chicken outfit she wore during season two as the outfit began with a feathery yellow outfit that was thrown off to reveal an all-white outfit. This eggshell-inspired outfit was my least favourite of the three looks as it looked, yet again, like an egg fancy dress costume. This was then peeled off to reveal an outfit with egg yolks and all splattered across the look. While I enjoyed the campiness of the look and the homage to an iconic moment I think that when compared to the other queens was not as heightened as everyone else. Kahana walked the runway in an incredible yellow feather show-girl-inspired look in essentially bra and panties. As expected her body looked absolutely amazing and I could never think it would be possible for her to get even more naked but she did! Kandy showcased a wonderful housewife outfit that revealed a gorgeous red dress. I love this housewife-to-princess-inspired arc and if it was up to me that’s where this outfit would have ended. However, Kandy decided to include a third reveal as the dress was removed to reveal what to me appeared to be space-inspired undergarments which to me didn’t particularly make sense. The highlight of this week however would have to be Jimbo who wore a nude bodysuit playing with the duality of Adam and Eve. The backside of the outfit had a male face and body with the front side being the Eve-inspired side which was flicked between during the runway presentation. On the Eve side, there was a massive red apple (nodding to the biblical story) from which a massive snake was pulled out of. This outfit not only looked amazing but was also wonderfully unique!

It was announced that Jimbo is yet again the winner of this week’s episode with Kahana and Yara in the bottom. I have to say that I really enjoyed the outfit Jimbo decided to wear for her lip-sync which was a wonderfully camp hybrid of Norma Desmond and Elton John with purple feathers and jewels all over the outfit. We learn that this week’s secret lip-sync assassin is none other than trans icon and season fourteen star Jasmin, who is known for being one of the greatest dancers to ever grace the Drag Race stage; which does not bode well considering Jimbo has lost every lip-sync they have ever competed in. Almost as soon as the music starts Jimbo is seen taking a slight tumble which is not a fab start but as she found her groove, she showcased a wonderful wig reveal as the jewelled turban is removed to showcase a vibrant wig. I have to admit that this was one of the best Jimbo lip-syncs we have ever seen however, she didn’t really stand a chance against Jasmin. Not only did the returning assassin pull out the iconic Dua Lipa twist to ‘levitating’ but also an incredible back handspring/lean to a split that was absolutely insane! It came as a surprise to no one when it was announced that Jasmine is the winner of the lip-sync which would usually mean the group vote decides who goes home. But Ru Paul interrupts to announce that no one will be going home as Heidi sadly left the competition. Initially, I thought that this was a kind motion as the queen and fans have already lost one fan favourite today but when I actually thought about it, this means that in next week’s episode, we are going to have a drama-filled opening as the queens reveal who voted for who with both options being in the room to challenge the votes.

Overall, there were a few impressive performances in the snatch game with the expected queens excelling (namely Alexis and Jimbo) which was fairly predictable. The runway category was also somewhat disappointing as it lack the unexpected nature of costume reveals. I thought the lip-sync was one of the best we have seen from Jimbo with Jasmin really showing why she has earned the title of lip-sync assassin!

***½  3.5/5

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