The following post contains spoilers for the February 2 episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season three.
This second episode of All Stars 3 didn’t make me mad, it made me disappointed.
I was disappointed in Shangela, who showed up for this week’s challenges but didn’t quite display the kind of dazzle expected of someone who’s made it clear that she’s going for the crown. I was even more disappointed in my girl Milk, my favorite drag queen this season. She spent this entire episode behaving like Honey Boo-Boo hopped up on ultra-go-go juice instead of the amazing fashion queen that she is. This episode really made me rethink exactly who I’m rooting for. Do we all need to get on #TeamShangela? #TeamBen? #TeamKatyaWasRobbedBringBackKatya?
This episode’s challenge was a recreation of VH1’s iconic Divas Live, with each of the girls playing a different diva, from Janet Jackson to Mariah Carey to Julie Andrews, singing a version of a RuPaul track. Ru did the girls a solid and gave each of them divas that were right up their alley. We can also assume that they knew about all this beforehand, and they had all of those costumes ready to go and were working on their impersonations with copious YouTube viewing at home.
Thorgy, right out of the gate, complained that she’d gotten Stevie Nicks, questioning her status as a gay icon and bemoaning the fact that she’s less camp than some of the other divas that were assigned. But wait. Stevie Nicks is way better than Julie Andrews! Has Thorgy never been to Night of a Thousand Stevies? It’s a drag queen staple.
Thorgy’s real problem with this challenge was her lack of imagination. As Aja told us during the episode, all she needed to do was lean into the crazy, witchy side of Stevie and bring us a larger-than-life version of the rock ‘n’ roll icon. Instead, she basically just put on a top hat and shawl, dispiritedly shook a tambourine and tried for a realistic Stevie. Sorry, girl, but this isn’t about realness, it’s about drag.
Milk, meanwhile, spent this episode testing everyone’s nerves. She shaded Shangela throughout the entire rehearsal process, and then Shangela told us that Milk thinks she’s better than everyone else because, well, she does. Milk’s diva look also totally missed the mark—she said she was going for Celine Dion’s most recent Met Gala appearance, and while it was a fierce choice and a reference that New York fashion queens might get, she needs to know her audience and play to people who have no clue who Anna Dello Russo is. Trixie is right, if she had worn Celine’s iconic backwards tuxedo, everyone would have known exactly who she was. Instead, she got out there and looked like some sort of glamazon space monster from the planet Divatron. It was a cute look, but it did not give me Celine Dion vibes at all.
During the performances, it became clear that Shangela and BenDeLaCreme would be in the top—not only was Shangela’s Mariah outfit a total stunner, with its gigantic butterfly crown, but she played her Mariah to the hilt. (But let’s be honest, making fun of Mariah Carey is lower hanging fruit than a pair of testicles on a hot summer’s day.) Ben’s Julie Andrews was killer, but mostly due to the frisson of seeing Julie Andrews rap RuPaul’s “Call Me Mother.” Again, she was given an easy assignment and managed an easy A. (God, I love that movie.)
Kennedy, however, didn’t look so much like Janet Jackson as she did a neutered version of the opera singer from The Fifth Element. And it was pretty clear that she was saying “cantaloupe, watermelon” instead of the words of the actual song she was assigned. Shangela’s Mariah, meanwhile, was the perfect level of over-the-top, and BeBe’s Diana Ross was spot on. Thorgy'd Stevie Nicks was neither over-the-top or spot on, hovering in some sort of tired purgatory of mediocrity we usually reserve for high school productions of Hairspray.
After the Divas performance, the queens were assigned to walk the runway in a new and improved Ru-demption recreation of their worst outfit from their season of Drag Race. I anxiously awaited Aja’s turn, whose busted Heat Miser look from season nine was one of the worst in Drag Race herstory. She didn’t do much better this time. Yes, her makeup looked better and her clothes were more refined, but maybe we should save the plush red and orange looks for movies about 90s club kids and not, you know, 2018.
Shangela’s Christmastime look was an inspiration, but the red blobs on her bodysuit looked less like ornaments and more like pustules. It was like she had some rare mistletoe-related disease. Ben’s diamond-soaked outfit was cute, but Michelle Visage’s comment on it was right—all these girls seem to want to wear these days are bejeweled leotards. Can we get some variety up in here? Especially from a queen like Ben?
However, the absolute worst of this challenge was Kennedy Davenport. She redid a “death becomes her” look, where queens were asked to imagine their own deaths in fashionable terms. Kennedy’s idea was that she was burned in a fire and then crystallized. She came out looking like she was wearing a fleshen cocoon with a Mohawk made out of vacuum bags bursting with dust. Then she unzipped it to reveal a white, sparkly feather ensemble that looked like it was made for the world’s first blind figure skating champion. Even worse, she had jewels all over her face, just like she did during her entrance look at the top of the first episode. It was like she had a glittering herpes outbreak, and somehow, she managed to pull off two absolutely disgusting looks in one outfit.
Kennedy and Thorgy ended up being this episode's bottom two, while our tops were Ben, Shangela, and BeBe (who I thought played things remarkably safe, but I can appreciate the fierceness of her Diahann Carroll goes to a power lunch Ru-demption getup).
But Milk—for the love of God—then got upset about being merely safe, crying both to the judges and the girls backstage that she should have been in the top three, and that she should have been praised more for all her hard work. Sister, please. Her runway look was glamorous, but her makeup was a mess. It looked like someone stuck the top half of her face in White-Out and the bottom half in a toaster oven. And her Celine Dion performance was a mess. She was lucky to be safe at all. Whining about not winning, especially when the other girls already think she’s a stuck up bitch, was not the look to go for here.
I knew Shangela was going to win the minute she pulled out her jump rope during the lipsync, which was set to the Pointer Sisters’ “Jump.” But Ben’s tactic of just following Shangela around and tiredly aping her was a bit genius. It was a great way to pull focus and make a little bit of fun out of Shangela’s more sincere and artistically superior dance performance. But the most disappointing thing for me about Shangela this episode ended up being who she chose to continue on in the competition: her friend Kennedy Davenport, rather than Thorgy, who offered her an alliance in the workroom and is a real player. If Shangela is really going for the crown like she says she is, she would’ve kept Thorgy. Instead she sent her packing, of course protesting repeatedly that she didn’t think it was her time. I guess that means we’re stuck with Kennedy for yet another week. Let’s just hope she’s done sticking things on her face. Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
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