RuPaul’s Drag Race is known for its wacky twists. See: When RuPaul brought back season 2’s legendary mess-of-a-contestant Shangela at the opening of season 3 in an attempt to shake things up. And, hark: It worked. So we should have seen last night’s big twist coming from a mile away. But you know what? I actually didn’t.
The twist I’m speaking of, of course, is Ru’s decision to pair up the 12 All Stars contestants — ranging from Yara Sofia and Latrice Royale to Pandora Boxx and (yes!) Mimi Imfurst. The decision resulted in some of the show’s best drama, mostly because no one wanted to be paired with Mimi Imfurst, who — if you will remember — was ejected from Drag Race‘s third season because she picked up another contestant during a lip-sync-for-your-life competition.
“On your own, none of you were able to reach the top,” Ru announced before the competition began. “So this time around, you’ll need to add an ‘s’ to your charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. And ‘s’ stands for synergy.” And Ru continued: “Starting today, you’ll be competing as teams of two. You’ll be judged together, from challenge to lip-sync. If one of you fails, you both go home.” Latrice’s response was awesome: “The ultimate shade of it all!”
The aforementioned drama around Mimi bubbled up because no one wanted to be paired with her, least of all Pandora Boxx, who eventually became her partner, mostly because no one else picked her at all. The other pairings — Raven and Jujubee; Chad Michaels and Shannel; Tammie Brown and Nina Flowers; Manila Luzon and Latrice Royale; and Yara Sofia and Alexis Mateo — resulted from both parties picking the others. Mimi chose Pandora; but Pandora did not choose Mimi. I’m shocked, frankly, that no one else matched up with Pandora first. Wouldn’t she make a good partner?
Anyway, the pairing twist had the desired effect that the Drag Race producing team was looking for: It caused a rift between Mimi and Pandora Boxx. And it will likely cause rifts between other duos in future episodes. Besides the pairing drama, there were lots of other great moments from last night’s season premiere. In no particular order, here’s what I noticed:
• Pandora Boxx’s entrance. “Did somebody order a hooker?” Yep, and thank goodness it was you, Pandora Boxx, who arrived.
• Another entrance: Chad Michaels! “Happy Hunger Games, bitches!” she yelled upon entering the workroom. (Genius — and spot on — reference, by the way.) “Hold on, I’m getting a call on my bluetooth. It’s Sharon. You what? You wanna give me my $100,000 back?” Snap!
• And then, yes, the entrance we were all wondering about: that of Mimi Imfurst. “Life is like a paycheck,” Mimi said as she entered the workroom, where the group of queens sat there with their mouth agape. “A generous figure is always nice!” Needless to say, it wasn’t Mimi’s new (slimmed down) figure that her opposing queens were focused on — it was mostly just her mere presence at all.
• Shannel’s explanation of her crazy entrance outfit. “I bought this from the Debbie Reynolds collection,” she said. “This was used in a Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. The beast wore it.”
• Pandora Boxx’s makeup job by Mimi Imfurst — which included a pair of huge duck lips. “I’m a glutton for punishment,” Pandora answered, when Ru asked her why she thought she was paired with the much-reviled Mimi.
• Raven and Jujubee’s photo shoot. Nudity alert! “You’re gonna see penis, baby,” Raven warned, as she revealed she’d be going fully nude. But if anyone should be going nude in this cast, it’s probably Raven. Am I right?
• Manila Luzon’s explanation about why she likes partner Latrice Royale so much. “I don’t think a single person dislikes her, and that’s what draws me to her,” Manila told the cameras. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
• Tammie Brown! Just, like, everything she does ever on the show. And especially this quote from when she was just rambling around the workroom: “Ooo, smell her butt, smell her butt, she’s like a cat.” And then later during her “opposites attract” photo shoot, which took place in the rain, when she said: “Tears in the rain, can’t feel the pain.” She’s basically everything.
• This quote from Raven during her “opposites attract” photo shoot: “I’m getting black rain in my brown flower.” I don’t even know what to say about that.
• On the Tammie Brown topic again, this quote from Mimi about the show’s wacky contestant. “Tammie Brown, I would officially like to declare you Ru-tarded.”
• When Yara Sofia and Alexis Mateo were walking down the runway, RuPaul had this perfect comment to say about them: “Romy & Michele High School Reunion: San Juan.” Yes, yes, yes! Spot on.
• Latrice Royale’s comment about the Teletubbies Realness she was serving on the runway. “If your palate isn’t feeling what I’m cooking, then spit it out, bitch.”
• Rachael Hunter’s response to the runway look of Brown Flowers (Tammie Brown and Nina Flowers). “I feel like we’re completely being transported into another world.” Yes, Mama, yes!
• Chad’s description of her and Shannel’s runway look: “We’re going for birds of a feather flock together meets Dungeons & Dragons.”
• Latrila wins the first challenge/episode! (I’m hoping that Latrice wins the whole thing, honestly.) And then I loved how RuPaul told them that they won gowns from Sequinqueen.com. And that wink and the repeated Sequinqueen.com! Love that Ru is so in on the jokes here.
• Pandora’s explanation of her and Mimi’s fuzzy outfits on the runway. “101 Muppets had to die for these outfits,” she cheekily told the judges.
• RuPaul’s quote during a conversation about Tammie Brown. “They say you should never work with children, animals, or crazy people.” Killer! ’Cause, of course, Tammie is considered a “crazy person.”
• I love the “she-mergency” twist from RuPaul during the lip-sync-for-your-life competition. When do you think that button will get pushed during a lip-sync? Hopefully: very soon.
• Chad’s quote during her lip-sync against Mimi Imfurst. “I am a drag assassin, and I am not going home against the likes of Mimi Imfurst.”
• It wasn’t necessarily a great moment, but it’s worth noting that Pandora Boxx and Mimi Imfurst were voted off in this premiere. And while not shocking, the best part of the whole thing was Pandora’s snarky response: “If I was by myself, I would have won.” Tell it! Because, yes, a statement has never been truer.
Over to you, Drag Racers: What’d you notice about last night’s premiere? Was Pandora screwed? Sound off in the comments below.
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky