And we're back!
What a great episode, right? It's such a pleasure to watch the workroom fill to overflowing with queens. The first episode of each season is always one of my favorites, in part because it's just fun to watch this many big personalities bounce off one another for the first time, pushing each other and jockeying for HBIC position.
Like her bandmate Willam last year, Detox is the first in the room, in a television-ready graphic yellow and black number. She's joined soon after by Roxxxy, who is a friend from Detox's early days in Orlando, and Jade and Serena, who are both serving up 15-year-old realness. Alyssa comes in--another friend of Roxxxy's--and is followed by Jinkx, darling in her white sunglasses.
Penny, Vivienne, and then in trots Alaska. Sadly, we don't get the big-reveal reaction shot that was clearly intended--by the time the mask came off, somebody had clearly already blurted, "That's Alaska," because nobody looks surprised.
Honey is serving taller-than-the-doorframe Glamazon.
Ivy comes in, dressed to win the Unconventional Materials challenge before anybody else has even started. I'm in love with both Ivy's dress and this exchange:
Ivy: "I used to work as a clown for eight years."
Alaska and Detox, simultaneously: "You still do."
Miss Monica Beverly Hillz is giving me latchhook down and lord help me, I kind of love it.
Lineysha comes in, looking gorgeous, followed by Queen 14, Coco Montrese. I'm not going to get into this drama, because e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y is bordering on sick-of-it at this point, but suffice to say: Coco's style of shade and shit-talk cracked me up the entire episode.
Oooh, girl, you got SheMail! I'm struggling with my image quality this week, but trust: RuPaul looks stunning in this year's SheMail. I actually gasped--she almost always looks good, but in the SheMail, her face isn't beat for days--it's beat for MONTHS.
$100,000! Lineysha takes flight.
Time for the mini-challenge! Category is: Drowned Queen First Time Underwater on TV.
I regret choosing not to include this tip in my Survival Guide to this episode: the outfit you wear for your Grand Werkroom Entrance will probably be your challenge outfit. This happened in Seasons 1, 2, and 3, but they had them in different clothes for Season 4 and All-Stars, so I thought maybe they'd stopped ruining each new queen's outfit. Oh, no: they dropped them into the tank in their full television debut drags.
Say what you want about this outfit, but credit where it's due: Jade Jolie's sparklepony flotsam didn't dissolve and float away in the tank, and that's fairly impressive.
RuPaul has ruined the word "paella" for me forever.
Success at this challenge depended, in large part, upon realizing the trick to staying underwater: exhale most of the way and then go down, blowing bubbles as you go, and get your photo without air in your lungs. It's a shame that Ru and Ruiz weren't coaching them into doing that, as several girls' deep breaths made this harder than it needed to be.
Detox won this, fair and square: with that corset, zero-stretch pencil skirt, and top hat, this must have been impossible to maneuver underwater. The outfit would photograph gorgeously under most circumstances, but not every queen could have controlled it underwater the way Detox did. I also loved the way Monica's yarn dress moved underwater, and Lineysha and Coco gave me everything I needed.
Onto the first de-dragging of the season! Ivy makes a comment about Detox's face work. I want to see Ivy's cheeks and Detox's lips throw down. (And: isn't boy-Ivy just the cutest?)
Meanwhile, Jinkx is getting the same what-a-wierdo edit that Sharon Needles got at exactly this moment last season. I may as well say it now: I claim no impartiality. I love Jinkx, and it is MONSOON SEASON for me. (You've seen Monsoon Season, right?) I am delighted that the other queens are setting themselves up to eat crow about her (at least, I hope), and if she doesn't win the show, she's my lock for Miss Congeniality.
Anyway. It's time to climb abroad a double-decker for Hollywood USA!
This is an undoctored screenshot. The Hollywood USA day-drag bus cruise was as charming as it was baffling, a total Disco Chicken moment: even for RuPaul's Drag Race, shit went beyond surreal for a couple golden minutes.
In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it, they kept the tradition of including Shangela in the first episode (but not the tradition of paying her for it, I imagine).
Dumpster-diving! The producers were disappointed that nobody was actually killed in the fishtank challenge, so they move the challenge supplies from the Marco Marco to a trio of deep dumpsters, where Penny whomps Monica in the face and Serena slams the dumpster lid on Jinkx's head. We head back to the werkroom, where Roxxxy has a make-up dress and Alaska has a horse cock.
Like I said: I am going to LIVE for Coco's running commenatry this season.
Then it's time for tiresome drama about "real friends" in the context of a bunch of reality show contestants who have mostly just met each other yesterday. I'm cracking up at Roxxxy, the Other Pageant Queen here, playing both sides of the Alyssa/Coco feud.
As soon as the Season Five cast was revealed, I decided that I was gonna just hate whichever girl compared Alaska to Sharon first. That said, this show has a long, proud history of excellent queens who get away with talking shit by being too charismatic to hold their shade against them (Raven, Manila, among others). Jade knows how fucking cute she is, and of course I'm charmed by her; she's obviously bucking to be this season's addition to that category.
(Plus, her Twitter page is just the sweetest thing ever. Dammit, she has an advanced degree in Lovable.)
Workroom walkthrough, and then it's time to paint for the Main Stage.
It's like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure for "packing tape" jokes.
Alaska pulls out a photo of her and "Noodles," and the floodgate of questions about their relationship opens. Alaska handles it gracefully, finally shutting down Alyssa's pestering "But wasn't it hard for you...?" questions with a bitch-please "Yeah." Meanwhile, Serena thrashes for attention instead of properly beating her face, and Jade takes her bait to exchange some kindergarten reading. What-frigging-ever.
Main Stage! Commence. Shake. Down.
Best Breasts on Panel this week awarded to Michelle Visage. (Yep, this is going to be a weekly thing for me. Get into it.)
Roxxxy would only need to borrow Ivy's juggling clubs to complete the Shannel look. Of course, Roxxxy is just as stunning as Shannel, and takes home the win for her lookit-that-juicy-ass couture.
Jinkx looks adorable in her tip-to-toe teal. It worries me a little that her runway walk is more character than model, all smiles and wiggles--if she doesn't adjust her Main Stage presentation, I can't see Santino being kind to her about it later in the season.
Detox is stunning. She committed to a color palette that came up through her dress and into her hair and paint colors; if she hadn't committed fully, any one of these elements might have been garish, but together, the effect worked for me.
She didn't get much air time this episode, but my other favorite this season, Ivy Winters, gave me EVERYTHING. The dress could have won a Project Runway challenge, and even though the internet tells me I'm the only one, I loved her hair and styling too. That said: I cannot handle an entire season of RuPaul squealing "Iveeeee Winteeeeers!" If Ru keeps that up, we're all going to start instinctively flinching when she comes on-screen.
Honey does the most subtle, gorgeous make-up. I adore how this girl paints. The outfit was kind of a lot, an all-gold version of Jiggly Caliente's RuPocalypse kitchen sink extravaganza, but the overall effect was lovely enough that it wasn't subjected to the judges' scrutiny.
Oh Jade. I hope you brought a few outfits that aren't Lisa Frank Down, because the judges are going to let you wear the rainbow two or three more times, max, before they start making you lip synch for it.
You know, Alyssa was grating on me for most of the episode, and I know this outfit got mixed-at-best reviews, but when I watched Alyssa on the runway, I ate this concoction up and wanted seconds. I loved the hair and the lip and the feathers and the wacky black-and-white ruffles in their unapologetic combination; like Detox and Honey, this outfit's whole is better than the sum of its parts.
Poor Penny. She committed the same sin that's landed several past queens in the bottom two for this challenge: you can only get away with a simple dress and minimal styling if you execute it flawlessly. I wish she'd been wearing about half a dozen more things, y'know?
Y'know. Like Coco did.
Vivienne's dress didn't excite me, but her hair was gorgeous. The screenshot doesn't do justice to how it moved; she was one of the only girls with hair that didn't read "wig."
Alaska's dress was a big swing, as they say, and she connected: with that blue-purple fabric underneath, the overall effect was fantasy couture. I still don't understand how she physically moved it from the mannequin to her body.
Lineysha turned it out! She's been my dark-horse favorite since the cast list was announced, and she didn't disappoint. You know she's a professional designer/costumer, right? Anyway. Wallpaper! I'm in love.
Oh, Monica. She was nearly last down the runway, and the judges had stopped paying such scrutinous attention, or she'd have been in the bottom three. Monica strikes me as the type who's already gone through her reality-contestant-trope Banji Fightin' Bitch phase and has come out a sweetheart on the other side, you know what I mean? I'm beginning to really like her, but this look didn't do it for me.
And then there was Serena, who looked like a living Photoshop mishap. Did she look in the mirror and conclude that her art-school pedigree and pencil-body would amount to something Raja-esque? That's the only justification I can figure for her willingly walking the runway like that.
Oof, that LSFYL. This lip-synch was Penny's to lose. In all seriousness: She was the fan favorite, she has experience and followers already, and her dress wasn't a crime--it was just too simple, and her makeup was overcompensating for the stage lights a little. Ru was ready to kick Serena out the door, and she sent Penny to put Miss ChaCha to bed. But you. have. to. learn. your. words. It's a shame that Penny went home this way, because she wasn't out-performed--she beat herself. If ever Ru was going to prove that the LSFYL can truly save you, no matter how busted you are going in, Serena surviving this week is the object lesson.Next week: Team challenges! It looks like we're sending up previous seasons' best catfights. Featuring Detox and Alaska as Sharon and Phi Phi! (And hopefully I find a way to get these screenshots in better-than-Etch-a-Sketch quality. Busted-ass recapper...)