Not only are we in the midst of a truly classic season of RuPaul's Drag Race, but you get the sense that anything could happen at this point and you'd be okay with it. When Miz Cracker proclaims she's aiming to be the first Drag Race winner never to have won a single challenge, it's like, "Sure, why not?" Ru could crown Eureka, Aquaria, and Asia triple winners and it'd be fine. Miss Vanjie could walk backward across the finale stage while chanting her own name, stopping only briefly enough for Ru to put the crown on her head, and continue "Miss Vanjie"-ing stage left to the exit and we'd just be like, "Sure, seems about right!"
Of course, the queens themselves do very much care what happens this season, and thus the show opens with another installment of this season's best recurring feature, "Aquaria rubs the other queens the wrong way, and, after thinking about it, realizes she's wrong and tries to make up for it." Literally, the cold open finds Aquaria complaining about last week's double save while the five other pairs of eyes in the room are appropriately rolling, and then, 30 seconds later after the title sequence, she comes in the next morning like, "Okay, sorry, I get why you all think I was a dick now. Whoops!" True character development would involve Aquaria learning to avoid these situations in the first place, but also she's 21 and this show is filmed over the course of just five or six weeks. The kid's heart is in the right place. She'll figure it out eventually.
Speaking of young gays, have you seen the delightful video going around today of older gay men trying to decode the meaning of younger gay slang (many of the terms originating or popularized on Drag Race)? In all fairness, younger gays do have a habit of absolutely butchering classic gay slang as well. Ever since Alaska wore that "TRADE" baseball cap, younger fans have been completely misusing the term. They're all like, "Oh, yaz, Miss Cameron Dallas is total trade bae snack, mama!" and it's like, "No." Well, for tonight's mini-challenge, RuPaul decides to set the record straight once and for all on the old gay chestnut. While "trade" is somewhat versatile, the queens are challenged to exemplify the classic "rough trade" ideal by dressing like dumb, hunky, extra-masculine men to audition for a new body spray called Trade (which, really, some fashion label should use in real life. Marc Jacobs, are you listening?). Aquaria paints on a little Jacques de Bascher, which is a little too, well, delicate trade. Monét can't quite take the sass out of her delivery. Cracker's transformation was the most drastic, but a little confusing on multiple levels. Kameron relied on that body (though no one told her to stop). Asia comes off as a gay porn star trying to play a trade role (which is sort of a compliment, but not a win). Eureka, of course, is right at home in redneck characterization even as she has to masc it up. Let's put it this way, if one were to hook up with a character like "B.J.," there's no other way you'd want to refer to it but trade.
With Eureka awarded the win, Ru announces it's time for the makeover challenge and then brings out a random assortment of nice-looking young men who we are told are famous on the Internet? Okay, we're not that out of it. We know Tyler Oakley is the template from which all other gay YouTube vloggers came. Kingsley has done some work on various online-only Drag Race postshows before, and maybe has a podcast? We thought Raymond Braun was, like, an actual journalist—a mini Anderson Cooper in training—but apparently we were totally off there. Then there are two dudes who ring absolutely no bells for us, but apparently it may be because they're straight (Honestly, we were shocked? Could they not find two other Internet-famous gays? There seems to be more than enough of them). The show actually does a horrible job of explaining who any of these people are save for Frankie Grande, and it's just like "Okay, but we already know he's Ariana Grande's brother, did we actually need to know more." Whatever, they all seem like perfectly nice boys, and at least they've all seemingly attained fame for their charms and talents rather than stripping down to the underwear like so many Instagram-famous gays.
As part of her mini-challenge reward, Eureka gets to assign the nice social media boys to the drag queens, and she decides she's going to be deliberately shady about it. Though it seems her way of being shady is loudly announcing that she's planning to be shady than actually putting much thought into it. No one here seems completely screwed. As an example: She thinks she's handed Aquaria a curve by pairing her with Kingsley, and yet she just wound up giving her the thinnest of the bunch and, in theory anyway, the easiest to transplant her aesthetic.
The eagerness of the guys ranges the gamut from Frankie, who is so excited that he'd only be disappointed if his transformation ins't a total slay, to the straight guys who just kind of nervously shrug and mention they've watched a few episodes with their girlfriends. Raymond, in particular, seems at ease and instantly bonds with Asia. He picks a favorite jacket out of her wardrobe, and expert Asia barely breaks a sweat in deciding she can create a specially fitted replica on the spot. They're so calm and collected that you wonder if maybe they forget this is a competition. Tyler and Monét are, of course, just loads of charm and personality and instantly bond. They're upbeat and positive, but neither seems to give much thought to the aesthetic direction of the transformation. Eureka and Frankie, meanwhile, are getting on like old friends.
Kameron is paired with the cuter of the straight boys, and you'd think the situation would be any drag queen's dream, but Kameron unfortunately keeps her gears in shy and reserved mode and the pair barely seem to connect at all. They both have abs. They both have a few strategically placed thirst traps on their Instas. They both kind of seem to have some affinity for geek culture. Yet at least from what we see, there's no discussion of workout routines or video games.
The show tries to build up a similar awkward straight-guy/drag-queen discomfort between Miz Cracker and her guy, but in a rather clever bit of editing Cracker spins her guy around to reveal a perfectly beat face. She had him look like Mariah Paris Belnciaga's white cousin (Cracker cousin?). Mug for days, honey.
The added twist—that they must record DIY lip-sync videos together to a RuPaul song—made sense considering that so many of these guys are YouTube stars, but it didn't seem like that much of a challenge compared with the previous makeover-challenge twist.
Now, let's break it all down in our power rankings (which, as always, take the entire season so far into account):
Listen, we get that Eureka's personality can be a little grating at times. Eureka herself gets it, but as Eureka continues to make a strong case for the top three, if not the win, something of a backlash is growing that only reminds one of the similar backlash that hit and likely ultimately denied Ginger Minj of Season 7's crown. Some people even seem to think she's being "forced" upon us. Honey, she's polished, she's talented, she deserves to be here, and if you think her size doesn't have anything to do with the backlash then you probably think Cameron Dallas is Trade.
Eureka's transformation of Frankie was spot on, and even though the two look very, very different, Eureka managed to make the pair look like twins sisters who just happen to have different metabolisms. Sure, the look wasn't Eureka's strongest, but did anyone have their best look tonight?
Like we mentioned, this pair seemed to be at such ease that they forget that there was the possibility of a win or a loss at stake. It was great, but we just wonder what would have happened if a little bit more of a competitive fire was lit underneath them.
Aquaria's top-three passport is already stamped, and we're not pretending otherwise, but this was just a total miss. We wish Aquaria would have doubled down on a signature Aquaria look and gave us more of that club-kid-meets-new-wave edginess. Instead we got third-rate European royalty that couldn't score an invite to Meghan Markle's wedding. We don't want to see Aquaria go, but we do kind of want to see her slay a lip sync. Tonight was the opportunity for that.
Okay, we actually couldn't stop ourself from letting out an audible "yasss" when Cracker won. It would have felt wrong for Cracker to leave this competition without a win. Sure, her sister's makeup was more Mariah (though at least Aquaria couldn't accuse her of ripping it off from her), and Cracker's outfit was very reminiscent of Violet's Hello Kitty look, but it worked and they sold it on the runway. It's hard to think the top three at this point is anything else but Eureka, Asia, Aquaria, but could Miz Cracker suddenly emerge as the only queen whose first name doesn't end with an 'A' to make the cut should it be another top 4?
Whatever energy and charisma Kameron conserves during the rest of the show, she certainly can expel it all during a lip sync, can't she? Unfortunately, for whatever reason, she chose her most basic look of the season for tonight's look-focused episode, and it didn't suit her well. She's now been in the bottom two twice in a row. Can she pull it together to surge to the final?
Monét X. Change
It's tragically been apparent for some time now that Monét was destined for an exit right before the finale, but that doesn't make it any easier. Of course, it only makes sense her exit comes during a challenge focused on looks. Aesthetics have been her weak point all season. While we're of the opinion that when you're watching an actual drag show in the club at 2 a.m., it doesn't actually matter what a queen wears as long as she is turning it the f*** out on stage (as we know Monét can), it does matter on Drag Race. The judging happens on a catwalk after all, and some basic green glitter isn't going to cut it.
Of course, Monét will continue to slay clubs at 2 a.m. across the world for years to come after all of this. It's what she deserves, and, hey, there's always a future All Stars season to slay with the help of a styling consultant. Fittingly, she went out with one of the best "losing" lip syncs of the show's history.