“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Recap Realness: Bring Back My Merle

rpdr s7e06 01Though Kasha’s recent departure caused quite a stir with the audience, it seems to have minimal effect on our remaining nine contestants. Kandy’s cleaned that mirror so many times that Logo is required to report her as one of their janitorial staff, but she remains confident that her purpose on the show is to send the other girls home one lip sync at a time. I’d laugh, but given how many lifelines she’s been thrown, it wouldn’t shock me if she was straight-up hosting next season. That ever-thickening smear of black liner under her eye will be down to her tits by then.

Oh also the editors would really like for us to believe that Fame has serious beef with Pearl because of negativity or whatever, but absolutely no drama results from this assertion.

The next day begins with Max opening up a tiny umbrella to shield herself from the vulgar sex talk with which the other ladies debase themselves. Like, can’t we all just cover our ankles and talk about daffodils? Sadly, her prudishness distracts from the top/bottom discussion. Can we get a rundown on that one? Inquiring dick pigs want to know.

rpdr s7e06 02Ru (fisting top/watersports bottom, for the record) jumps in with a video message about wigs and a mini-challenge about a really fantastic dream I had last night. The girls face a row of men wearing nothing but caps and underpants and ask one by one what they’re packing. Most offer a numerical score, but one has a game-ending monster in his pants. It turns out that drag queens are like truffle pigs when it comes to sniffing out panty snausages, because only Ginger manages to close out the round with points on the board.

As the default winner, Ms. Minj gathers a team for herself and divvies up the remaining gals as they face off for the week’s main task: portraying Ru, Michelle, and Merle in three variations of the story behind the judging panel switcheroo. Ginger makes a grab for Kennedy and Katya, then saddles Max with Violet and Kandy because she’s downright hateful. That leaves Pearl, Fame, and Jaidynn to figure their shit out.

And figure they do! Pearl is full of ideas about the foot-fetish-y things they could all do together, but her team is wildly disinterested in her input. By the time they hit the set with Ross Mathews, no one knows their lines and the vibe is strange to the point of being surrealist. Fame’s full-stop interruption with a directionless monologue about her feelings is so bizarre that I start to worry I accidentally tuned into David Lynch’s Drag Race (which would, incidentally, still have Max as a contestant). The team ends up pulling together a decent video, with Pearl’s addled, cartoonish take on Michelle garnering special notice. It’s not accurate or even especially good, it’s just nice not to have to check her for a pulse every ten minutes.

rpdr s7e06 03To portray Michelle’s take on the story, Max opts to embody Merle as a cartoon villain, because that’s how the vixen Visage would view her. Ross Matthews immediately crowns her “the Meryl Streep of drag” because it is revolutionary to him that someone put even thirty seconds of thought into her performance. To be fair, she does seem like an Oscar winner when compared to her sullen teammates. Violet remains beautiful, bland, and slightly bitchy, but Kandy sticks out like the sorest thumb with her stilted delivery, busted look, and overall unwatchable nature. Seriously, the concept of a mid-episode elimination needs to be instated. She shouldn’t be here.

Team Minj has an easier time. Ginger and Michelle are both secretly The Penguin when they take their make-up off, and so the pairing of actress and role is sublime. Similarly, Katya sees through Merle’s veneer of professionalism and plays her as a particularly dotty substitute middle school teacher. As for Kennedy, I don’t think she’s acting: I’m pretty sure the pit crew gave her a large handful of miscellaneous pills before the camera started rolling. Despite Miss Davenport’s near-absence, however, the group is unquestionably a frontrunner.

rpdr s7e06 05The next day’s runway theme, perhaps in a continued ode to Merle, is Death Becomes Her. While the queens prep for their mortuary mainstage, Jaidynn reveals that her family may disown her if she doesn’t marry a woman and play it straight. Violet is once again blindsided by the harshness of reality, calling Ms. Fierce’s concern “a real fear.” You got it, Chachki. While you’re vaguely concerned that you might have misspelled your last name, other people have real fear about their relatives kicking them out or getting murdered. Is it wrong to hope that tragedy befalls this child? I just think it would do her so much good.

The parade of painted corpses has a great many highlights, including Max baring her heart and Ginger bearing it all. Katya’s ode to Jaws and strong performance skills earn her a deserved win and propel her team into the safe zone. Which is good for Kennedy, because what even is that costume? Those pills must not have worn off yet.

rpdr s7e06 06Since half of the bottom two is perpetually reserved for Kandy (whose vampire couture is decidedly anemic), the only question is who will join her for the lip sync. The honor goes to Jaidynn, who the judges don’t see as level with the other contestants. Lucky for her, she doesn’t have to be better than everyone: she just has to outlast one queen that no one likes anymore anyway. Though the outcome of the battle is a foregone conclusions at this point, it’s at least a good show. I’m not sure how they landed Ariana Grande as a guest judge, but her presence provides us with a hell of a song and ensures that there are riffs, high notes, and sassy arms as we drive a stake through that Ho’s heart. Descanse en paz, ardilla amiga.


Chris J. Kelly performs under the drag name Ariel Italic; in addition to this recap, he hosts weekly Drag Race viewings at the 9th Avenue Saloon in New York City.