RuPaul's Drag Race season 11, episode 11 GIF recap: Westward no!
After 11 seasons of seeing the world through their entertaining narrative enhancement, we’re finally familiar with the RuPaul’s Drag Race editors and their overt handiwork. A queen gets zero airtime? She’s safe! Another spills her life’s trauma before hitting the runway? She’s a goner! And if you watched Thursday’s episode of the long-running reality competition’s series, you’ll understand why, in hindsight, this image of Yvie Oddly cringing as she rips tape off her stomach likely aimed to prophesize our collective reaction to the elimination that soon followed.
But, before we mourn perhaps the most beloved queen in recent Drag Race her-story, let’s take a moment to savor the art of bitch-slapping, shall we?
That’s right: This week’s mini-challenge sees the return of the Slap Out of It mock brawl contest, albeit with slight rule changes after Ru’s hand actually made contact with Asia O’Hara’s cheek on season 10 (the queens now slap each other instead of presenting both cheeks to Mother).
Because there’s literally no other point to this challenge other than producing fantastic GIFs, please enjoy the series of mimed violence on display below:
The best moment, however, isn’t a slap at all, but rather Brooke Lynn Hytes’ Dynasty-inspired reaction to being slapped.
She’s got dancing legs — and replay potential — for days!
Back to the main competition, Ru brings six previously-eliminated queens back into the Werk Room for the perennial makeover challenge. Judging by their outfits, Ariel Versace returns for a make-under (*crickets*)…
Say it again: *claps* Honey *claps* Daddyport!
As the winner of the mini challenge, Brooke Lynn Hytes gets to pair the eliminated queens with the six ladies still in the competition. Her strategy includes pairing everyone with a queen of similar size and stature, minus Silky and Soju. Silky plays sweet and sisterly with her cyster, but, in a confessional, expresses deep dismay at being paired with the kindhearted Soju (and had the nerve to complain about the incessant mention of Soju’s iconic, leaky cyst!).
As that drama simmers (it later comes to an Ornacia-sized head), Vanjie probes Ariel on #WigGate. But first, some background: During episode 6 of Drag Race‘s behind-the-scenes companion series Untucked, several queens accused Plastique Tiara of robbing Ariel’s vacated work station of several wigs left behind in the wake of her elimination. As one of Ariel’s best friends during their time on the show, Plastique claimed Ariel left the wigs specifically for her, though her foes felt the wigs were meant for everyone. A free-for-all ensued, and Ariel’s hairpieces were ultimately distributed throughout the Werk Room.
Back in the present, Vanjie plays her best Orpah meme and asks:
F— the case of Bre’s missing granola bars from cycle 5 of America’s Next Top Model! Ariel reveals the most shocking truth behind a reality show mystery when she tells Vanjie:
Gooped! Not only by Ariel’s answer, but by these brilliantly edited, washed-out shots transporting us back to the scene of the crime. This is the kind of absurd editing we’ve come to love on RuPaul’s Drag Race: In the land of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the reality of a man accidentally leaving his wigs behind deserves a flashback aesthetic typically reserved only for hilarious dramatizations of murder and/or insane medical happenings on shows like Snapped or Mystery Diagnosis.
To distinguish the ghosts of wigs past from the carcasses of wigs present, we get a saturated shot of a wig Ariel claims she definitely wants back in her possession:
As well as the bloodied, bruised corpse of another dearly departed hairpiece lingering on a forgotten shelf next to Nina West’s fringe hat:
To offset the tension, Scarlet returns to the Werk Room in Yvie’s full-denim getup, channeling Apple Bottom Jeans preparing to f— up fashion forever in 2003:
Also, these shots of Silky tending to Soju’s hair are works of art and deserve to be displayed at an internationally renowned museum as digital art:
In non-cyst-related news, Soju can’t walk in heels:
And Silky can’t stand it.
Surprise, Detective A’Keria Chanel Davenport is confused:
All while Brooke serves her best Gia-Gunn-smiling-while-Farrah-Moan-fell grin as she watches her master plan to oust Silky fall into place.
Later, Detective A’Keria is on the case when she hears Scarlet talking about how she’s surprised that Silky and Vanjie are still in the competition.
She promptly brings up this information while the girls have an otherwise peaceful kiki as they lovingly cup their sisters’ faces in their hands while applying makeup for the challenge.
Scarlet is forced to explain her reasoning in front of everyone, and she does so while the camera captures the oppalent hand ballet of Yvie painting her face:
Though it upsets Silky, a completely unbothered Scarlet digs in her heels, criticizing Silky’s position in the top six because she’s allegedly received the most assistance from the other girls and, therefore, doesn’t deserve her spot in the final six. Yvie — whom I usually love for her brutal honesty that doesn’t tip-toe around people’s feelings and reflects a person who looks at life through a realistic lens instead of rose-colored Werk Room glasses — comes to Scarlet’s defense, telling Silky to not let personal jabs affect her personally (lol). Still, bless Yvie for being one of the only queens who regularly checks Silky when she deserves it.
On the runway, Yvie turned the typically gorgeous Scarlet into a stunning, denim-covered interpretation of the monster from the Predator movies (and, honestly, Scarlet’s face has never looked better. At least on the Drag Race stage).
Though the judges hated it, Yvie’s look is consistent with what she’s given us on the show so far: Technically impressive (I don’t care what the panel says: This look is detailed and well-constructed) and so far outside the box it should be named Shangela.
Nina continues her bid for Miss Congeniality by sacrificing her creative side to make a vital statement about LGBTQIA+ unity on a mainstream platform, showing off a couples costume that pairs pride colors with trans colors. It’s not the most visually pleasing look, but its sentiment is more impactful than a sleeker design would’ve been. What a woman!
A’Keria’s is… fine! But, if either of these outfits were worn on their own in any other runway challenge, she’d find herself near the bottom. (To clarify: She looks stunning, it’s just… boring).
Conceptually, Silky hits the mark (that material is a choice that, in my opinion, works), but her portion of the outfit is literally falling apart on her hips (and Soju’s makeup is… just a choice!)
Detective Michelle Visage locks in on a target!
Most of this episode seemed to be building toward a long-awaited Vanjie victory. We saw her working diligently to tailor Ariel’s gown to her body, and the results of her labor finally showed what Vanjie has promised this entire season: That she’s listening to critiques and working her ass off to make sure she corrects herself exactly how the judges want her to.
Brooke and Plastique, however, look even better. Still, Vanjie winning this challenge would’ve fulfilled the narrative arc Drag Race set out for her at the start of the season: Ousted legend fully redeems herself after an intensely fought uphill battle. Still, Brooke takes the W, and vows to share her prize (a vacation) with Vanjie. Adorable!
For the second time this season, Ru asks the girls — and the returning queens — who should get the chop. Nearly everyone picks Silky, though a handful (Silky, A’Keria, Nina, Soju, Vanjie) choose Yvie. Silky — who’s spent most of season 11 saying awful things about those she either views as competition or simply doesn’t like — tells the judges she thinks Yvie can’t be America’s Drag Superstar because she’s not kind to people. Yvie’s reaction says it all:
In the end (defying the editing narrative laid out beforehand), it’s Nina, however, who ends up in the bottom alongside Silky, who looks genuinely shook that she, after spending 11 weeks practically begging RuPaul to put her in the bottom for an epic lip-sync, actually landed in the bottom.
Having never hyped up her own lip-sync abilities, Nina’s performance — while underwhelming — didn’t land with the resounding thud that Silky’s did. Silky’s lip-sync was a series of performative promises deflating before our very eyes.
First off, she didn’t know the words to TLC’s “No Scrubs”:
Second, she slips on a piece of her outfit that’s literally falling off her body due to poor construction:
(Side note: This is what it looks like when you had to lip-sync for your mother f—ing life today, bitch, but you were not mother f—ing ready. Not ready to do so!)
Third, she botches a wig reveal when wig reveals are already a tired gimmick that, at this lengthy point after Roxxxy Andrews’ pioneering hair-toss on season 5, feel completely lifeless (unless you’re Monét X Change spoofing the move by revealing a blonde pussycat wig under a blonde pussycat wig on All-Stars 4).
Fourth: Whatever this is (Category is: Samara coming out of the TV to kill Martin Henderson at the end of The Ring).
Fifth, she lets Brooke and Vanjie’s shadowy silhouettes out-perform her in the background:
RuPaul sums it up:
And, in a total act of defiance against the storytelling techniques editors have conditioned us to across 11 seasons, Nina is eliminated.
Yvie, remind us how that one feels?
RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11 returns for its penultimate episode Thursday, May 16 at 9 p.m. ET on VH1.
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