RuPaul's Drag Race recap: New Wave Flashback
After last week’s elimination, there was a void in the Werk Room the size and shape of Cynthia Lee Fontaine’s cucu. The queens gathered to pay their respects — but mostly, they gathered to talk about themselves before they erased Cynthia’s lipstick message, which she had written using only her cucu. Cucu, cucu, cucu. Okay, I just had to get in a final few mentions of Cynthia’s cucu while we still can. Cucu. That’s it for the rest of the season, I promise!
Derrick complained about his critique from Michelle. “She said I don’t have a soul,” she recalled falsely, prompting the others to remind her that Michelle said she “didn’t have soul.” Then Derrick said something that made me lose all love for her: “Then I’ll just start twerking,” strongly implying that Michelle’s critique was about race. It was at that moment that Derrick revealed herself to be truly basic. Not basic in the way that Michelle will call Chi Chi’s outfits “basic,” but basic down to her core. I loved that even Kim Chi got in on piling the shade on Derrick, with “Be someone other than Britney!”
For the Maxi Challenge, the queens would divide into three three-person New Wave bands to perform a song for a crowd of groupies. Robbie, Kim Chi, and Naomi immediately linked arms to form one group, the New York queens banded together, and not very surprisingly, Chi Chi, Naysha, and Derrick were stuck together. Again, Kim Chi with the devastating shade: “The third team just feels like leftovers.”
The other teams circled over Team Leftovers like vultures staking out a trio of injured, makeup-wearing antelopes that are almost dead but not yet dead. When each team had to choose Punk, Synth, or Party for their New Wave subgenre, Robbie and co. immediately chose punk — an interesting choice, given the group members — and the other two teams battled it out over Party. It didn’t add up too much of a battle, though, because Team New York saw that Chi Chi was the disgruntled group member and immediately picked that scab. Chi Chi caved after the slightest bit of prodding and said he’d like to do Synth, and just like that, it was clear that their team was doomed.
But first, Team Synth dug itself into a deeper hole. Naysha came up with a brilliant plan to do a song and performance all about shapes. Shapes! What a sexy concept. They should throw a box of Tangrams at the audience. Chi Chi suggested cardboard cutouts for costumes — as the self-described “Cheap Queen,” she needs to get crafty now and then — but the other girls shot the idea down, with Derrick snootily saying, “This is a girl who shops at Michael’s for every outfit that she owns.” Seriously, I’m liking Derrick less and less. Derrick is definitely Britney between the release of Britney and In the Zone, which every Britney fan knows is the worst, most unimaginative era.
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Acid Betty tried and succeeded at derailing Team Naysha even more by encouraging this whole shapes idea (“Synth is all about the shapes!”) Team Robbie seemed off to an equally inauspicious start when Kim Chi suggested focusing their performance on “chicken wings.”
Meanwhile, all was not well on Team New York either. Thorgy scoffed at every musical suggestion that her teammates made, bragging that she’s a “professionally trained violinist, cellist, and violist.” I’m not quite sure how that helps in a campy performance about stinky street food, but whatever. Robbie and Kim Chi saw the weakness on that team and further distracted Thorgy from her task, and she was all too willing to take the bait, which drove Bob even crazier.
That crazy followed Team New York — now known as Street Meatz — into the studio with the luscious Lucian Piane. Lucian was rightly advising the girls to go less vaudeville and more B-52s, which Bob didn’t understand at all. Bob threw a little fit because she couldn’t handle even the slightest bit of criticism. When Lucian threw out the name “Lorde” almost arbitrarily in an effort to explain his point, Bob pounced. “Okay, I’ll be Lorde then,” she said, voice dripping with sarcasm, which wasn’t Lucian’s point at all. Bob’s meltdown was so hilariously irrational that I almost wasn’t mad at it. Instead, I was laughing uncontrollably. To go after a judge — a notably sweet one, at that — and then to somehow blame it on Thorgy was just classic Bob.
NEXT: Now on to the main event!
Street Meatz looked incredible and worked out their solid, simple choreography, mostly involving their microphone stands. Thorgy was a big standout, and Bob was actually behind the rhythm a little bit, but once again, her onstage charisma masked the flaws.
Then came Dragometry, which was honestly painful to watch. The song was probably too lyrically unstimulating even for a 2-year-old Sesame Street fan. Why exactly did we need a primer on basic shapes, emphasis on “basic”? Nobody on the team gave a strong performance, but Naysha was the worst — she seemed to struggle with her synthesizer and just didn’t project any kind of star quality. Worst of all, at one point, the lyric “You might be shaped like a bumblebee” was sung-spoken.
The biggest surprise came from Les Chicken Wing. (Seriously, what was with the focus on portable foods on this challenge?) Each of them seemed to genuinely be having fun. Kim Chi was totally uninhibited and didn’t let her strong lisp get in the way of her sing-chanting; the lyrics even joked about it. Robbie ended up the performance with a misty spit-take and shouted, “Buy our vinyl in the back.” Robbie really led this team to victory, bringing him up many notches in my Burn Book.
The neon Runway theme brought out some showstopping looks, especially from Acid Betty, Bob the Drag Queen, and Kim Chi, with a disturbing but funny Picasso look. Robbie, who’d come close to elimination last week, clinched the win, and Dragometry ended up in the bottom. Lucian told Derrick that he was disappointing as a performer despite looking great. “You’re not giving us 100 percent,” he said, and Derrick promptly broke down into tears.
But the bottom two turned out to be Naysha and Chi Chi, after they took turns throwing each other under the bus. Chris Stein, who turned out to be an even better guest judge than Blondie, called Chi Chi out for wearing the same boots in the challenge as the runway. Chi Chi brought up his financial troubles, and Michelle cut her off: “You don’t need money, girl.” Maybe you don’t need a ton of money to cinch your waist, but you kind of need some money to do well in this competition. Michelle, more than in any other season, seems to be spouting off Things That Reality Competition Judges Say, whether or not they’re really valid, like, “I’M BORED!!” (to Acid Betty — Betty might be a lot of things, but she’s not boring), “THAT’S NOT AN EXCUSE!”, or “MORRRRE!”
Anyway, the lip sync was another keeper, with “Call Me” by Blondie as the song. Naysha started things out with a bunch of flips, Chi Chi did a sloppy but spirited death drop and then a ton more cartwheels, and then they started crawling on the floor with each other. It was a photo finish, but Naysha ended up getting eliminated — not really because Chi Chi was so much better in the lip sync, but because she’s put forth so much more passion in the competition so far. Naysha, as much as I came to like her, really had no business coming back to the competition. I would have rather kept Cynthia’s cucu — damn it, I promised I wouldn’t say that word again, but it came up organically!
- Bob the Drag Queen: She’s still looking like the clear frontrunner, but her lead is by no means a given.
- Thorgy Thor: I’m loving Thorgy more and more lately, and her performances are on-point. One outright win and she could move ahead of Bob.
- Acid Betty: Michelle keeps clocking Acid for no reason, but I think she’s special, smart, and has killer drive. Also, as the season continues, she’s acting a bit more like a human being.
- Robbie Turner: Between last week’s lip sync and her excellent creativity this week, Robbie’s looking like the queen most likely to surpass one of the New York ladies.
- Kim Chi: She’s showing so much more comfort and charisma on stage. She’s found a way to use her introversion and nerdiness to her advantage, and that’s a big feat.
- Chi Chi Devayne: I really like Chi Chi; it speaks to the level of talent this season that she’s so far down on the list. She needs to channel more of her warrior spirit and not let her financial situation make her too desperate in pursuit of the cash prize. I know that’s hard, though — being broke is a giant spirit-crusher.
- Derrick Barry: “You and I, we’re like so bye-bye.”
- Naomi Smalls: Is she still in this competition? She’s flying totally under the radar, and that’s not going to hold up much longer.