First off all, let’s give it up to RuPaul’s Drag Race for providing the world with the lightly Hamilton-inspired Kardashian musical it didn’t know it needed. This sort of random cultural mashup filtered through a campy sensibility is what this show does best. And let’s not pretend that an actual Kardashian musical is not a thing that will some day come to exist, first as a satirical off-Broadway hit, and then, eventually, an earnest attempt at a cash-in by the family that flops in previews. And in the end, there will probably be a redemptive opera in the vein of Anna Nicole.
Let us also continue to praise this season for staying course on the wild ride of twist and turns and actual competitiveness which we predicted. What the show sacrificed this go around in competitor kookiness and catchphrases, it has more than made up for with a competition in which we’re not sure what’s coming next.
This episode gave as a surprise early exit, the emergence of a new front-runner, a queen who had mostly slid through as safe and finally emerged as more than just filler, and some surprising (and perhaps uncomfortable to watch) new all-too-human dimensions to these queens we hadn’t seen before.
1. Eureka O’Hara
While normally the departing queen gets the last spot on these rankings, we’ll send off Eureka on top. We were so sure she had a lock on at least a top 4 spot (even if she rode a divisive Ginger Minj/Darienne Lake-like edit there) our jaws were dropped by her early injury exit, even if it seemed obvious and necessary. If her re-emergence on Season 10 comes to be, we can only hope she’ll have learned to curb the bits of insecurity-driven bitterness that turned some viewers off and emerge as the queen to beat then.
2. Shea Coulee
After taking a bit to settle in, here’s how comfortable Shea is feeling now: after snatching a second win in a row she turns back at Ru like she’s an old drag sister to compliment her with “Mama, you look so good tonight it’s sinful.” This queen cannot be shook right now, not even by another queen who spent half the episode obsessing over hope that she failed as Blac Chyna.
Here she finds herself paired once again with a challenged partner who threatens to drag her down, but while Valentina didn’t overcome it to shine on her own, she didn’t let it drag her down to erase what she already achieved in the season.
4. Sasha Velour
It wouldn’t surprise us if another queen with artsy and edgy interests similar to Sasha’s might cringe at the idea of taking part in challenges involving things like cheerleading and Kardashian musicals, and even though these types of challenges might not be her obvious area to shine in, she does seem to give them all she’s got with glee. Still, the Lindsey didn’t particularly look like Lohan. It was more sort of The Office‘s Catherine Tate channeling Kathy Griffin channeling Lohan, but maybe that’s not so bad.
Ms. Peppermint has been all over the place in this competition, but two top-three finishes over five episodes speak for themselves.
6. Nina Bo’nina Brown
Last week was the first time I’d watched the show in a bar, and even though it was located in the Brooklyn home turf of Aja and Sasha, it was Nina who elicited the biggest cheers. There’s clearly a lot of love for her out there, but this week she exhibited unbecoming sour grapes and a certain sense of paranoia. It wasn’t cute, but at least we got the fiercest single tear ever shed on reality TV since Lauren Conrad on The Hills.
7. Alexis Michelle
After weeks of sliding through the competition as just “safe,” Michelle, a self-proclaimed Broadway queen, is finally served up a chance to shine and takes advantage of it all the way to a top three showing. Though, any chance she had of coming out on top was doomed by that wardrobe choice (to be fair, a queen either has a magnificent faux fur outfit in her closet, or she doesn’t). Could this be the start of a late rise? Next week’s “Snatch Game” might be make or break for Alexis.
8. Trinity Taylor
When Trinity isn’t front and center she seems to fade into the background. She’s a fine queen but seems to lack an X factor that reminds you she’s there even when she’s not a major part of the episode’s plot.
Aja’s swore her early fumbles would light a fire under her. We’re still waiting.
10. Cynthia Lee Fontaine
Cucu seemed to have been cruising through on personality alone. Her return may have been welcomed, her moments off the runway bonding with other queens and sharing tear-inducing moments warm, and she hasn’t yet worn PE shorts on the runway, but Ms. Santy Alley had yet to actually wow anyone in a challenge. Starring as the central Kardashian was her chance, but it seemed she put more effort into painting her face like Kim that learning the words and it was a ticket to the bottom. That dress didn’t help.
11. Farrah Moan
I mean, we all agree that tonight she would have ended up going home if not for Eureka’s bum knee?
12. Meghan Trainer
Her name is ‘no.’ Her number is ‘no.’ That unicorn onesie was ‘hell no.’
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