After weeks of bitching about how Trixie shouldn’t be here, Ginger is suddenly sad to have sent her home. Not enough to pull a Katniss Everdeen and go in her place, but enough to express an audience-friendly amount of remorse in a talking head segment. Across the room, teamwork seems to have built a bond between Katya and Violet. They’re at opposite ends of many spectrums (old/young, funny/wooden, disgusting/fashionable), but they share a love of the vogue-tango, I guess. They seem like people who’d be into a thing that’s not actually a thing.
Then, out of nowhere, Ginger comes for Violet for not having lip synced yet, so Violet comes for Ginger for showing weakness, so Ginger says that she cries every night (wait, really?), and it’s real heated. We’ve got like three or four plotlines in the air already and the credits haven’t even shown yet. This opening segment is more eventful than some of the earlier episodes in their entirety.
And we’ve still got so much to cover. Kennedy reminds us the following morning that the Old Lady Brigade is here to stay, though the fact that we’re being told this immediately makes me worry that we’ll lose one of them to lip syncing or Alzheimer’s in the near future. At least they all survive long enough to listen (with hearing aids firmly in place, one assumes) to Ru’s latest Teleglam (feel free to use that for Season 8, bee tee dubs) about branding or whatever.
Ru descends the staircase not to immediately explain what the hell she’s talking about, but instead to haul out the puppet mini-challenge. Remember how last season, the contestants could all do eerily accurate impersonations of each other? Cling to that memory, because it was a moment of crystallized beauty that will comfort you in the face of the drudgery this show sometimes becomes. Everyone tries, but this basically becomes a Muppet Show version of the reading challenge. And you’d think that would be fun, but other than the felt on their hands, everyone is out of material. Violet gets bonus points for her picture-perfect visual recreation of Katya, but Ginger’s takedown of our favorite useless beauty earns her a win.
Now here’s where the day takes a turn for the delightfully insane. After teasing a world-famous special guest, Ru introduces a live, completely silent person in a Hello Kitty plush costume. This being haunts the periphery of the episode to remind us that cartoons are alive and have opinions, and thus we live in a world without laws or gods. The main task for the week is to sew an original creation out of the Sanrio products hauled in by the underused Pit Crew.
As the ladies begin their preparation for this project (which consists mostly of complaining about it), Ru continues her Parade of Absurdity. See, last night she met with the Devil at the crossroads in order to gain unclean powers. Imbued with His insolent glory, she performed the Dark Rite that would call forth an Old One from his restless slumber. And lo, Santino is risen! The girls recoil in dread from his droopy gaze and vile stench. (Well, that’s not strictly true. Ginger reuses her “flood my basement” line and Violet seems to throw some flirty glances. Maybe Mr. Rice’s contract stipulated that he’d only appear if it looked like at least two people wanted to have sex with him.)
He circles the workroom to dispense his wisdom, though it seems clear that he’s going to be making clothes for these ladies outright because there’s simply no way they’re doing it on their own. A job’s a job, right, Santino? He also pretends to be an expert on corseting with Ginger, who I’m sure is really excited to hear what a thin man with no drag experience has to say on this issue.
Just as they’re leaving (in a burst of sulfur and flame, one assumes), Ru stops for one final barb. She’d like everyone to create a second look, in which they’ll embody a new BFF for Hello Kitty. To help them with the task and make sure that the episode remains fully reminiscent of a fever dream, she gives everyone giant white heads. (After this many days of applying heavy make-up, they’ve probably already got those. I hope they’ve been exfoliating!)
On the main stage, this ends up being a riot. Note to the producers: make next season’s assignments weirder and dumber. Between this bobble-headed nonsense and the tape face challenge, it’s clear that half-assed, clownish bullshit has much higher entertainment value than carefully scripted and rehearsed pageantry. I could watch female impersonators embodying counterfeit Sanrio characters all day. I give extra points to Ginger, the only contestant to notice that Hello Kitty and her friends have non-human features, and Katya, for committing so completely to the Soviet silliness.
The runway looks balance pretty well between camp and couture. Though Ginger’s cat lady cuteness comes correct and Pearl manages to make an irregular children’s sleeping bag look fashionable, Violet rockets to a win with her retro-futuristic set-phasers-to-kawaii concoction. On the other hand, Kennedy’s bow-ridden bathing suit is accurately clocked by heaven-sent guest judge Rebecca Romijn as a “basic ho stroll outfit.” I feel bad for poor Katya, who admits that she had no idea what she was doing, but her valiant attempt to cover for it with a complicated backstory still kind of comes across like a verbal combover. Girl, we know there’s nothing under there.
And so the Dancing K’s must duel to the death. It’s a tough call. On the one hand, Katya is infinitely more interesting as a performer and contestant, serving her special blend of beauty and mental illness in fashion choices and interview segments alike. Kennedy is a little duller all around (having twice this episode bluntly informed the judges that she lacks creativity), but there’s no question that she sinks Katya in this sync. Though I hate to see her go, it’s time to put this mail-order bride back in her packaging and send her home. In her honor, I’m going to pour out a bottle of vodka. Into my mouth.
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.