This week on RuPaul’s Drag Race, the queens are challenged to wrestle in front of a live studio audience. The result is one of the best episodes in the history of the show. It really drew the line between the contestants who will thrive on Drag Race and the ones who will be weeded out quickly.
But first, RuPaul challenges the girls to carve out booty pads for their drag look in thirty minutes. The top three most bodacious bodies will win. The queens attack mountains of foam and packing peanuts to cobble together pads like drag MacGyvers.
Phi Phi O’Hara, Willam, and Chad Michaels are the victors.
I’m sensing a trend with team challenges on this show. Every season, the queens are asked to do something ridiculous that can’t possibly end well for the honor of leading their teams. Last season, they had to pretend to be psychic in a blind prop guessing game and throw together a scandalous photo shoot in a few minutes to lead. The year before, binging on fried food was the ticket to directing a fake advertisement. It’s a silly decision that cuts the tension before teams are assigned and it works.
For the main challenge, Phi Phi, Willam, and Chad lead teams of four into battle for Wrestling’s Trashiest Fighters. The teams are split into pairs of faces–good guys–and heels–bad guys–for their ring debut. They are responsible for costuming their fighters, coming up with characters, writing the backstories to the fights, and working with professional wrestlers to choreograph their bouts.Three of my queens to watch for (Latrice Royale, Willam, and Sharon Needles) all step up in a big way for the challenge. They’re all performers who are willing to throw themselves out there for the sake of entertainment while playing to their strengths in every circumstance. The others who thrive in the challenge are Madame LaQueer, Chad Michaels, and Kenya Michaels–no relation. They preen to the crowd, stay in character, and fight in a way that’s funny without feeling too fake.
Team Phi Phi O’Hara has the best story but are dragged down by the performance of Lashauwn Beyond. It’s a shame, too. The judges make it quite clear that Latrice Royale and Kenya Michaels would have won the challenge if they were on the winning team. Team Willam has a forgettable story but good in-ring banter. The crowd really responds to them. Team Chad Michaels wins the wresting challenge for combining great acting with great wrestling, even if their STI-inspired backstory is crude.For the runway, the girls are challenged to wear their girliest drag. The queens are all busy preparing when it becomes obvious that Jiggly Caliente is losing it. She’s paranoid that she’s going to be in the bottom two again because Princess didn’t perform in the ring. Seemingly everyone else tries to convince her to snap out of it, but she’s not having it. It’s a pity part for Jiggly and everyone’s invited to suffer. The other queens do not take the bait. Latrice Royale and Lashauwn Beyond bond over the makeup table while Milan and Chad Michaels connect instantly with Madame LaQueer’s lack of traditional family support. Maybe Dida Ritz wasn’t so out of line last week when she tried to pull the girls together. Even with all the fighting in UnTucked!, the contestants really are forming fast bonds through their shared love of drag.
Chad Michaels and Madame LaQueer are named the co-champions of World’s Trashiest Fighters for their over the top and instantly hateable heels. Princess and Lashauwn Beyond are forced to lipsync for their lives for underwhelming in the ring and on the runway. Ultimately, Lashauwn goes home for not having the confidence to stand up and declare herself a worthwhile competitor.
The judges absolutely made the right choices given the rules of the challenge. The winners had to be selected from the winning team and Chad Michaels and Madame LaQueer made that fight work. Lashauwn Beyond was holding herself back so much that RuPaul didn’t even let her win last week with the judges’ favorite outfit in a runway-based challenge.
But most important of all, we learned that Sharon Needles can do traditional drag.
Now I’m convinced the only thing that can stop her from winning is herself. That or outright sabotage.
Thoughts? Love to hear them.