“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Recap Realness: Four Wrongs Don’t Make A Right

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It took me a minute to figure out what was wrong with the beginning of this episode, other than all the shots of men in hotel rooms. Lamenting Porkchop’s absence? Check. Talking about how Akashia needs to throw that unholy attitude back into the cracks of Mount Doom from whence it was forged? Check. Milling around aimlessly in anticipation of SheMail? Check.

And then it hits me: the reason everyone is so aimless is because the tradition of leaving a lipstick message on the mirror has not yet been established. How did we ever live without that? Though, to be fair, Porkchop would have written something polite and bland. She didn’t even stick around long enough to get a catch phrase or in-joke.

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When Ru enters to describe the mini-challenge, she’s so full of new age spiritualism that I’m worried the pit crew will be administering high colonics. Thankfully, we’re not looking that deep inside the contestants: they just need to take selfies, and the most expressive expressions win. The surprise winner is Ongina, who had an advantage in that her bald little head is basically all face. Akashia takes second place by impressing us with the ability to deliver something other than the nastiest mug imaginable, though I suppose we oughtn’t applaud her for smiling only when Cher’s absence is mentioned.

It turns out that the ladies will be broken into two teams, each captained by one of the recently crowned Sisters of the Superior Snaphot. Each person in the foursome will have a unique, vital role (just like in a sexual foursome): one does hair, one plans make-up, one builds costumes, and one devises choreography (just like in a sexual foursome).

From the start, Ongina seems on better footing, basically because she’s not the living incarnation of Cruella DeVil with a pair of giant ashy balls tucked between her thighs. Plus, she’s got Shannel’s powerhouse contour creations, Nina’s wig-bending fantasia, and Rebecca’s… OK, Rebecca dresses exactly like that girl you hated in high school, but that’s a look, right?

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Not that the team is without its challenges. Shannel, for instance, is rather particular about everyone else’s efforts. While she’s right that the presentation being created isn’t totally cohesive, she’s wrong in thinking that anyone cares about her opinion. Also troubling are Ong’s overcomplicated dance moves, which make the whole team seem lost. Wait, is that why these are “the Lost Episodes”? Because no one has the faintest idea what’s going on? Breakthrough moment, y’all.

Team Akashia is doomed pretty much from the moment their captain is chosen. After wrestling an adversary physically to select songs for the lip sync, she spends the next 24 hours actively impeding every part of the process. An overachiever at heart, she’s not content to barely do her own job: she makes sure that everyone else’s progress is also more or less halted. Tammie can’t even get past the design stage with her outfits because of all the “no” being thrown around. Then again, she did want them in wrap skirts and capes, so I can’t say I’m entirely sympathetic to her plight. When it comes to dancing, Akashia handily destroys Jade’s work by learning maybe a quarter of the routine. She’s no better in a state of rest: even when already seated and immobile, she refuses to let Bebe style a wig on her head because she doesn’t do that.

Ru checks back in to announce that the special guest judge is a member of Destiny’s Child, and Akashia makes a noise like a goat being passed through a pasta machine. Sadly, this happens before the part where they learn that it’s not Beyoncé. No, not Kelly either, the other one. What, was LaTavia busy? Michelle Williams is such a letdown that even Ms. Charles almost gets her name wrong. On set. With the woman standing right there. Like, we’re not even gonna do another take? Voice-over? Did we run out of storage space on the iPhone being used to film this sequence?

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The runway presentation goes about like you’d expect. Ongina’s team (who call themselves Serving Fish, but who I think of as Day-Glo Old Country Buffet Hostesses) has a tighter lip sync, a tighter performance, and tighter costumes. Except Nina, who bumbles around like the girl you have to cast in the play because everyone gets a part, OK? Akashia’s team (who the captain independently named 3D, but who I will call Destiny’s Bastard Children from a Secret Affair) is wearing brown bathing suits and no one dies during the routine, and that’s about as far as we can go in terms of compliments. It’s no surprise that they find themselves on the chopping block.

After being called out for exuding a palpable wave of negative energy (and not having the skill to back that stank up), Akashia finds herself lip syncing again. Tammie, who was out of her element and uninterested in adapting, also has to dance. Sadly, she seems to think that she only has to dance. What a shame that her top can’t stay in place as well as her lips! Her opponent, by contrast, kills it, probably because heart-stopping performance is a step on her path to committing actual murder. Michelle Williams sheds a tear because this is the best gig she could get, and she just got upstaged by a performer who she referred to as “a sloppy man.”

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The judges rule that this plane of existence simply wasn’t ready for Tammie Brown. It may never be. Away she trots. When you realize that she gets to leave Akashia while the rest of the contestants have to stay and marinate in her ever-stronger waves of aggressive stankitude, you begin to realize what a genius choice that was. Like, it’s probably not worth it to put up with this. You can make $20,000 on your own.