January 25, 2011 at 08:00 AM EST

It was a foregone conclusion that RuPaul would eventually bring back a sashayed, old queen from a past season to be a contestant again on RuPaul’s Drag Race. In the reality competition world, that move is nearly older than RuPaul herself. But the gal that was chosen for this extremely illustrious distinction was completely out of left field: It was none other than last season’s polarizing first-episode cast-off, the delightfully named Shangela! “And it’s Shangela!” said fellow contestant Mariah, in reaction. “Halle-lou!” she added, referencing Shangela’s “famous” sound bite. Halle-lou, indeed!

Truthfully, I was hoping for the glorious return of EW fave Pandora Boxx! But, then I reconsidered: Everyone would have loved that—well, at least I would have—and such a move probably wouldn’t have gotten any tongues wagging. Instead, pick one of the most loved/hated contestants from last season, bring her back, shake it up, and stir! Instant drama. Those sluts producing Drag Race are smart. It was genius, too, when right after Shangela emerged from that huge gift box (see: the ridiculousness above), footage from last season popped on the screen showing the young queen getting booted in last year’s premiere, after she lip-synced atrociously against Sahara Davenport. “I have a feeling,” RuPaul intoned at the time, “we haven’t seen the last of you, yet.” What ominous foreshadowing that none of us could have seen! Did RuPaul know something then that she wasn’t sharing a year ago—or was it just coincidence that she said such a thing? I can’t wait to ask next time I chat with Ru. I’ll keep you all posted, of course.

The rest of the episode was your typical episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race—but super-sized into 90 full minutes of ridculata instead of the usual 60! Here are my quick, recappy thoughts about last night’s premiere:

• Celeb photographer Mike Ruiz is so damn hot. That’s all.

• But so are the all the boy’s in Ru’s pit crew. I love how they seem so simply gleeful to be a part of the show. (See a casting video here! Drool.)

• Loving that there are three plus-size queens this season! That’s a record for Drag Race! If one of them doesn’t win, it will be a travesty.

• What is the deal with Stacy Layne Matthews? I’m sort of confused about what’s going on there in general. I’m putting in an official request now for a full-blown delving-into-Stacy’s-backstory episode. (Hence the quote from Raja: “Stacy looks like a girl outta drag. I was like, ‘Is that somebody’s mama?'”) And yes: Her alleged hometown of Back Swamp, N.C., is a real place. Must go there.

• Mariah = Kim Kardashian? That should be more of a statement than a question, actually.

• Did you know that Raja is a good pal of Adam Lambert’s? Interesting, right? No wonder why ex-American Idol contestant was spotted at the Drag Race premiere party in West Hollywood last week. (And no, he’s not in drag himself, despite his appearance indicating otherwise.) Also: Raja proved herself to be a fierce competitor, considering she won the show’s opening holiday card photo shoot challenge and the main challenge. And: She’s funny! Or nasty, depending on your humor: “To win the very first challenge feels good,” Raja said of the . “Feels like I staked my claim and put my little mark on this competition. I kind of lifted my leg and pissed on it a little bit.”

• Shocker! Shangela still kinda sucks, as evidenced by her having to lip-sync for her life again. And that huge snow(wo)man Frostgela? No. Like, no. But I do, however, appreciate her sense of humor.

• Delta Work. Isn’t that an awesome drag name?

• Mimi Imfurst, why did you sew your outfit? Especially if you don’t know how to sew. Regardless, I still loved her outfit the best—a Virgin Mary. Is she this season’s Pandora Boxx? And, that breakdown? Loves.

• Venus D-Lite has had lots of plastic surgery, in her cheeks and chin. Why doesn’t she look better?

• RuPaul could have served more on the main stage. But maybe she’s just holding back for later in the season. At least I hope so!

• Where is Merle Ginsburg?! Miss you! Mean it! Not that I’m complaining about Michelle Visage, but I mean! I loved Merle!

I’ve said it before, but I want to die and reincarnate as RuPaul’s Drag Race guest judge Vanessa Williams. Did you see her hooters? “Got some gifts for Santa!” she told Ru, referring to her out-of-control boobs. Gurl was having FUN!

• That the Interior Illusions Lounge still exists. Thank goodness.

• The fact that the winning prize of last night was a $2,000 gift certificate to SequinQueen.com. I die that such a website/enterprise even exists.

• Raja wins! I already said as much, but she deserves another shout-out. Werq!

• Shangela and Venus D-Lite for lip-syncing for their lives. Or, cat-fight for their lives or whatever. Wasn’t that one of the most bizarre things you’d seen in a while?

What’d you think Drag Race fans? Loving Raja? Wondering what’s up with Stacy? Living for Mimi Imfurst like me? Sound off below!

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

More from EW.com:

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’: Q&A with America’s Next Drag Superstar Tyra Sanchez

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ sashays into third season

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ on PopWatch

RuPaul—as host, mentor, and creative inspiration—decides who’s in and who’s out.
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