07th Jul2020

‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars 5×05’ Review

by Rhys Payne

Last weeks episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars: Season 5 saw the elimination of the meme queen herself Mayhem Miller who did appear to be struggling to match the creativity, uniqueness, nerve and talent of the other competitors but it was still a shame to see her leave. This started a discussion between the queens about whether or not a queen should vote for their own elimination. While I understand that voting for yourself does appear to be giving up, at the same time if you know you are the worst-performing queen in the line up then surely it’s within your power to admit that by voting yourself to go home. Also due to Mayhem’s elimination, it means we are now into the top six queens of All-Stars fifth season which means the audience are beginning to see the finale approach, which really helps to amp up the excitement for the rest of the season.

The first thing that was truly noticeable about this episode is how Ru seemed to have put in bucket loads of personality into making this episode which helps combat the loss of momentum for this season which many viewers have noticed and commented on… There was no mini-challenge this episode as the main focus was on the SNATCH GAME! for those who are not familiar with this game, essentially it is a play on 1962 game show The Match Game, where a panel tries to match their answers with the contestants. However in Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars the panel is made up of the queens, doing their best celebrity impressions – with a heavy focus on making Ru Paul laugh. This has become a drag race staple since the second season of the regular series but the past two seasons of All-Stars has created the “snatch game of love”, which resembles more Blind Date with celebrity impressions. This is a key challenge that every queen and fan looks forward to and because of this, the Snatch Game can be an indication of who the forerunners in the competition are.

It seemed that the queens were split into two groups with the first group seem to most struggle; while the second group seem to mostly thrive. However, in the first group, there was only one contestant who excelled: Alexis Mateo who provided an impression of the TV astrologist Walter Mercado. While I have never heard of Walter, Alexis managed to create a hilarious character that I have no doubt was an exaggerated homage to this person. Alexis’ performance was hilariously funny and had me personally laughing throughout. The other two in her group really seemed to struggle with the mammoth challenge but India’s portrayal of Jeffrey Star was particularly troubling and made it painfully clear she was in trouble this episode.

The other group was made up of Blair St Clair, Jujubee and Shea Coulee with Blair being the weak link when compared to the other two but even this portrayal was miles better than India’s attempts. However, my big problem with Blair’s attempt was that at one point she simply passed a question on to someone else, which completely defeats the purpose of this comedy challenge. Jujubee opted to portray Eartha Kitt, who has been used multiple times in the Drag Race franchise but it was noted the Juju performance was one of the best so far. She was hilariously funny and uniquely communicated a lot with Shea’s character. Shea chose to perform as flavour Flav, who I didn’t really know, to perform this challenge. The true mark of a great performance in this challenge is when a queen can take a character who the audience are unaware of and yet can make everyone laugh which Shea and Alexis managed to do flawlessly.

The runway this week was ‘prom fantasy’. Blair was again a stand out for the fashion aspect, as she showcased a gender-bent tuxedo dress that was beautiful to look at but I believe it was the make-up and wig combination that really was the highlight of this look. Additionally, she entered the runway with a top hat, that when removed, there was a tiara on her head! Blair has clearly thought this outfit/idea out excellently and executed it perfectly. Shea’s outfit this week was a homage to the iconic falling rose petals stunt from Sasha Velour that saw Shea not win her original season. While I understand and appreciate the reference and the emotional story she shared about feeling like the butt of a joke, the judges also commented on the fact that the outfit had almost blood pouring which references to the iconic film Carrie. The idea of a horror film moment and drag race moment didn’t blend well in my opinion but it was still a nice outfit. It was announced that the winner of this weeks challenge was Shea although I believe it was a close battle between her and Jujubee (with Juju being the true winner in my eyes.) The episode then had a dramatic announcement that if you weren’t this winner of this weeks episode then you could be going home. In other words, if you are not Shea then you should be worried.

During the discussion the new rules we had one of the most dramatic moment I have seen in a long time: a one to one between Shea and India (which the later begged for), in which India suggested that during the episode in which Shea was in the bottom of the challenge, Alexis and Mayhem tried to coerce India into voting for Shea to go home. This lead to a confrontation between Shea and Alexis but also between Alexis and India herself which really made for a good TV moment. Alexis did explain that if she was plotting against Shea then it would not make sense to only speak to one of the queen about this (as this would only make 3 votes which would not have been enough to represent the majority vote) also Alexis pointed out that it was clearly a way for India’s to try and save herself and Alexis and Shea have a storied past and this could make Shea want to send her home if she wins the lip-sync.

Shea’s lip-sync look this weeks was an incredible black and white outfit that, for me, was very reminiscent of a classic referee outfit; which was very apt as she was almost the judge/referee for the drama between the other queens. It was revealed that this weeks lip-sync secret assassin was Vanessa ‘Vanje’ Mateo who is more commonly known as Mrs Vanje who most famously broke the internet after her elimination in season 10. Vanje was her classic self – making everyone laugh before and after the performance but as soon as the music started she transformed into a very focussed and fierce performer. Shea delivered her song with a focus on being elegant, with a lot of beautiful posing whereas Vanje was more high-energy dance-based performer complete with death drops. Shea won this lip-sync which means she gets to decide who goes home this week. Shea is clearly back to being the dominant force to be reckoned with in this challenge and puts her back as a forerunner in this competition.

Overall, this weeks episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars contained a fan favourite challenge with one fantastic group and one not so good group competing against each other. The runway had a few standouts and the injection of fierce draw help the lull of this season.

**** 4/5

A new episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars debuts weekly, in the UK, on Netflix.


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