It's the crucial Top Four challenge! Everybody has something to prove today: Jinkx and Roxxxy are vying for dominance in total wins, and it's Alaska and Detox's last chance to catch up. Coco and Alyssa are gone, Ivy and Jade and Lineysha and everybody else are gone, and we're down to ...Rolaskatox and Jinkx.
While we roll the opening credits, I want to take a moment to acknowledge a couple things. One: my apologies for this recap being so late. As I was writing last night, the news of the explosion in West, TX was breaking, and the video from it wrecked my capacity to be snarky about drag queen fashion mishaps. This has been a shitty week in America, but it's heartening to see people rallying around those affected by the tragedies in Boston and West. Hopefully I can do my part to bring you, dear reader, a little levity, by reading some bitches down today. ;-)
Second, a congratulations and shout-out: at the viewing party on Monday night, I found out that my friends Ashley and McCord are engaged!
Aren't they the damned cutest? Marriage equality hasn't made its way to Georgia yet, so I'm lobbying for a New Zealand wedding. Upon hearing the news, Blake's on the Park, the bar in Atlanta where we watch RuPaul's Drag Race each week, brought over champagne to celebrate--thanks, Blake's!
Oh, the show's back on! The top four discuss how Alaska and Jinkx still haven't lip synched for their lives, and Alaska invokes the name of Tyra Sanchez for making Final Three without ever lip synching. (She does not mention the other person who made Top Three their season without lip synching: first-season runner-up Nina Flowers.)
SheMail! RuPaul rattles off a list of candies, but before we can get to the ball challenge, #EverybodyLovesPuppets! This is a reprise of last year's Top Four challenge, complete with the Big Pink Puppet Hole.
Time for the Punch and Mary show!
Jinkx and Detox do fine with the mini-challenge. Jinkx's Lil' DeDe is a string of exasperated Detox catchphrases, executed in a canny voice, and Detox's Lil' Lasky whines about Sharon, because as we learned from the RuPaul Roast, there's apparently only one best way to come for Alaska.
Roxxxy's snoozing, over-contoured Lil' Jinkxy starts okay, but derails when Roxxxy narrates from Lil' Jinkxy, "I try to seem so innocent all the time, but I'm really a bitch! I'm here to win it, and you guys have no idea!" Smiles faulter, and once Roxxxy finishes, Alaska tells her only-half-jokingly, "That was rude."
Alaska saves the puppet show and rightfully earns the mini-challenge win with Lil' Poundcake's baby sister, Lil' Miss Thang. If Alaska ever retires from drag, she clearly has a second career in dollmaking; Lineysha wasn't necessary for Lil' Miss Thang's tearaways for her tearaways, haaaaay!
After declaring Alaska the mini-challenge winner, RuPaul introduces the ball challenge, and this year, it's the Sugar Ball! Like past years, the ball challenge is a three-look extravaganza, and the final look must be made from scratch and incorporate an unconventional material. In the past, the "unconventional material" has been fruit, Monopoly money, and live dogs. This year, it's candy!
Roxxxy is giddy for a "sewing challenge," though everybody seems to have been given a white corset to use as a base. Really, it's a hot glue challenge, maybe an E-6000 challenge if you're really getting fancy-crafty. No matter! The girls set to work.
As soon as Jinkx said "Alexander McQueen" and started fucking with antlers, my brain and my heart went in different directions. While my brain knew Jinkx had this in mind...
...my heart hoped for a decidedly different homage: I've been waiting five seasons for a queen to have the tucked cajones to pummel the runway in a recreation of Santino's infamous Sexy German Deer Lingerie look from his season of Project Runway.
After all, imitation is flattery, and flattery is the most direct path to Santino's pants, right? Jinkx could have recreated one of those looks in candy, and it would have been ...well, a big swing, but an unforgettable runway moment, and like Mama Ru says, it do take nerve. And the worst that could happen is that she'd have to lip synch "Malambo No. 1," right?
Dear Season Six hopefuls: please, please, please, I want one of you do this.
My apologies: we've all digressed.
RuPaul turns serious, and tells Alaska, "You've been criticized for being a little rough around the edges." Has Ru been watching a different show than me? Because if my memory serves, Alaska got raked over the coals mid-season for being too polished-one-note, and correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't we eight challenges into the season, when she hit the runway in that "Red: For Filth" look, that she was rewarded for finally looking a little rougher? Whatever, maybe RuPaul is confusing Alaska's critiques with somebody from last season.
My eyesbrows went up too, Alaska.
RuPaul moves on to Jinkx. We find that nothing can kill candy couture like Too Much Exposition.
Detox's review is similarly harrowing; while the other queens have already plowed through bags of hot glue sticks and rolls of duct tape, it appears that Detox has only spray-painted her corset. RuPaul brings up the question of whether Detox has been underperforming, and whether Detox's heart is fully in the game. In this moment, Detox doesn't really have a response.
(Yesterday morning, at the Elimination Lunch, Detox said flat-out, "I know I didn't perform as well as I could have." She explained that she had just returned from a DWV tour when they began filming Season Five, and had to prep/pack for the show last-minute. On top of that, she had also just found out about her father's cancer, and was much more upset and distracted by it than she let show on-camera. She gave an update on that too: Papa Detox has finished chemo (though is still recovering from the chemo's side effects) and is currently cancer-free!)
RuPaul is also dubious of Roxxxy's look, so the werkroom walkthough concludes with no points awarded to anybody. However, we've got some excellent guest judges!
And... wait for it... get ready to queen the fuck out... it's Bob Mackie!
After RuPaul leaves, Roxxxy grabs a fresh corset and starts from scratch. (Was there just a big pile of white corsets for do-overs? Where's the tacky little picture frame letting us know these are from CorsetConnection.com?) Roxxxy begins work on the tedious-but-tried-and-true method of unconventional material challenges that's been keeping contestants in the safe group on Project Runway for years: Glue A Million Tiny Items To a Corset In A Nice Pattern.
Meanwhile, Jinkx is providing just cause for murder.
Fortunately, her peppermint pounding is interrupted by rehearsal for Lucian Piane's latest horror, "Sugar Babies." Poor Lucian--on the one hand, he produces RuPaul's music, which is a pretty sweet gig. On the other hand, he also has to create this absurd bullshit. (If you get "Sugar Babies" stuck in your head, just think back to "At the Bitch Ball" instead, which had more-embarassing lyrics but less-irritating music.)
All four queens are grinding each other's nerves, and the entire sequence stresses me out. It's now that I realize: in the past, the Top Four episode has always been my favorite because it's such a high-tension, demanding challenge, but this season, I'm too invested, so I just find my own anxiety rising on the queens' behalves. Thankfully, a dance at Alaska's skill level means they eventually come up with a simple, executable routine with very few opportunities for anybody to fuck it up, and Roxxxy and Jinkx don't actually punch each other, so I'm declaring victory for the Sugar Babies.
Back in the Werkroom, we're treated to a mash-up of Jinkx fighting a sleep attack while Roxxxy throws some seriously unsympathetic faces. Cooler heads prevailing, I realize that this probably isn't as nasty as they've made it look, but I'll admit: the first time I watched this scene, I was screeching "EVIL! You are evil!" at Roxxxy.
We're twenty minutes into the third-from-last episode, and I'm calling it now: this is not the edit Roxxxy would be getting if the producers of RuPaul's Drag Race were genuinely considering crowning her. They learned after Tyra Sanchez: America wants to like its winner, and nobody likes some bitch who laughs at people struggling with neurological disorders, for crying out loud. The race for the crown of Season Five is between Jinkx and Alaska.
But I'm ahead of myself. Elimination Day has arrived, and the queens are at Stress Code Red. Jinkx is debating whether to ditch her out-of-control hoop skirt; Detox is still unsure of her acid-green look; Alaska is attacking her Sugar Babies hair.
As we cut to commercial, Alaska is still battling with her cracking, crumbling candy concoction, screaming in frustration as it literally falls off her in chunks. But now, time is up, ladies: it's time for the runway show!
What in the actual fuck is RuPaul wearing? Not to come for Mama Ru, but can you imagine what Santino would say if one of this season's queens wore that? You and I both know that it would be a slaughtering critique.
Best Breasts on Panel clearly goes to Michelle Visage! When I die, I want to come back as that corset.
We open the show with the Sugar Babies. I'm cracking up at the line "Chocolate powder's best for undertones," because as we've learned this season, Tang is the actual best powder for undertones.
Anyway, the Sugar Babies are cute, but they're not the main event. It's time for the runway I've been waiting for all season: the Sugar Ball. Commence. Shake. DOWN.
Category is: Super Duper Sweet Sixteen!
Alaska puts on a pitch-perfect look and performance; her outfit is flawless, and you'd have never guessed the head-cracking frustration she was facing just hours earlier. She resisted the impulse to over-accessorize (think how this would have instantly aged ten or fifteen years with the wrong sparkly necklace), and her little black dress is exactly on-point: she could be Junior Prom Queen. I'm smitten with the giftwrap bow in her hair.
Oh dear, Jinkxy. In the very first episode, when Jinkx was unpacking her wardrobe and explaining her narcolepsy, I noticed both that wig and that tunic. I've spent two and a half months terrified that when she finally trotted them out, this would be exactly what she did with them. I could buy this look as the "Northwest Pacific stoner chick extravaganza" she described, but the category was Super Duper Sweet Sixteen, not Super Saturday Afternoon at Discovery Park with My Boyfriend and His Acoustic Guitar. (And that's at-best: save the candy-necklace headband, the accessories all read older, and to be completely honest, the whole ensemble looks like a kindly mid-30s art therapist for troubled middle schoolers. Or maybe Sweet Sixteen High Elf Duchess.) RuPaul wanted a chic, young party-dress evening look, and it breaks my heart to say it, but Jinkx missed the mark by every metric.
I'm not in love with Roxxxy's look, but it's cute enough. She should have left off the headpiece entirely, or went in another direction with it; something about it reads retro-cigarette-girl to me, and the marshmallow in her hair looks like a tiny roll of toilet paper. But her hair is on-point and, compared to the rest of the Super Duper Sweet Sixteen looks, she's not at the bottom of the pack.
Oh dear, Detox. It's not as egregious a miss as Jinkx's, but it's still a lot of not-quite-on-point look. It's a confusing combination of decades--the jacket reads Pink Lady, but in an '80s magenta--but nothing about it reads modern. Granted, it's a cute ensemble, and I could see a 16-year-old wearing it, but as a costume, not a birthday outfit. Compare this look to Alaska's: this is what I meant what I commended Alaska for not over-accessorizing.
Category is: Sugar Mama Executive Realness!
For the second look in a row, Alaska is perfectly on-point. RuPaul and I saw the same inspiration: real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, on the right of that side-by-side. I'm living for the red pumps and necklace. She nailed her body shape in that suit, and she looks like a million bucks--and like she'll fire you the moment you fuck it up. Tens across the board, Alaska.
(By the way, since it's especially apparent here, sorry for the horrendous image quality in this recap. I didn't have access to my usual HD source for taking these screencaps, and I'll probably replace them once I do get better video quality for this episode.)
Once again, it's a swing and a miss from Jinkx. The suit looks 60% off at JC Penney, and the frazzled bun and reading glasses send this look into the realm of substitute teacher, not executive realness. There's nothing polished or expensive going on here, and while this might be the vision of "sugar mama" for the-character-of-Jinkx-Monsoon, the queen behind the character should have aimed higher.
Roxxxy's look is a little more executive-fantasy than executive-realness, but it's on the right track. In my head, I hear Nina Garcia grousing about unrealistic ready-to-wear looks designed for "women who curate art galleries." Because yes: in the real world, the skirt is too short and the cape is a bit affected. The whole is better than the sum of its parts, though, and I'm on board with this look.
When Detox came out, I cocked an eyebrow at the television and said out loud, "That's her Mannequin look." Per the highly-knowledgeable @justinsheadshot, filming for this season took place after that linked video was shot, so this was a look that Detox brought pre-assembled, tip to toe. I wish Detox had switched up the styling: the suit is a gorgeous color and on-point for the category, but the hair is a bizarre birdsnest that doesn't make sense in this context, and an upscale bracelet or necklace would have elevated this look.
Category is: Candy Couture Edible Eleganza!
I know this look put her through it, but Alaska pulled it off! It's become a trite saying, but she looked like a confection: I believed that those tufts of cotton were actual cotton candy, and the V shape of the scattered pink candies enhances the look of the corset and elevates the fashion pay-off. I know the shoes were threatening to fall apart, but aside from that, she was able to fake an effortlessness to this look that made it quintessential Edible Eleganza.
Peppermint Venison was the best of Jinkx's three looks, and honestly, the more I look at it, the more I like it! It's still a hot mess, but it's a cute hot mess, and yes, thank goodness she ditched the hoop skirt. In past Jinkx looks, I've been delighted by her inclination to overaccessorize (see: her Marie Antoinette look; her Perfume Launch Party look), but here, it looks unfocused and overthought. It's a shame that the hammered peppermints don't really come across as anything besides light-pink on the corset; it's hard to tell that there's candy used in the outfit at all. Still, she looks cute-as-a-button as the Abominable Snowjinkx.
Miss Thang nailed it. This was a really ambitious outfit, especially for having only started it after RuPaul's werkroom walkthrough, and it really came together nicely. I love the horizontal back of the corset, and that she brought the licorice down from both her hips and her bust, filling out the skirt more than one layer would have. Though it obviously draws comparisons to this look...
...I honestly like the licorice version much better.
Detox's acid-'80s obsession continues through this look, and like Jinkx's look, the more I look, the more I like it. I'm not sure that it hits "edible eleganza," exactly, but it's kind of delightful anyway, isn't it? I love the triangular headpiece and the swirly black-and-white lollies at the hips. The skirt felt like an unfortunate afterthought, but had she switched up the lower half, this would have come together in a way not even Santino could've come for.
Runway critique! Alaska gets well-earned rave reviews, while Jinkx gets read down. Roxxxy draws a comparison to The Devil Wears Prada, while Detox draws one to Fatal Attraction.
And then, it's time for that big-cringe question: who should go home?
It's as predictable as it is painful: Jinkx names the queen who has already lip synched twice, and Rolaskatox comes for Jinkx. There was no question that Jinkx's name would be coming from Roxxxy and Detox, but my heart broke when Alaska named Jinkx too. Of course, we (and RuPaul) remember that, only a couple weeks ago, Alaska and Roxxxy also named Jinkx when RuPaul asked about their biggest competition. Still, though: it sucks to watch one person get dogpiled on. For her part, Jinkx holds it together, recognizing the value of keeping her composure in this moment.
And on that cheerful note, it's time to Untuck.
Over in the Gold Bar, category is: Villain Edit Realness. Roxxxy and Detox bag on Jinkx for her laugh and her sleep attacks, and Roxxxy sasses, "Besides your narcolepsy, you got a whole lot of other problems, and I don't know if they make pills for it." In confessional, Roxxxy continues her rant: "Jinkx's outfit looks like a whole hot shitty trailer Christmas mess. You look like someone beat you up and threw you down the dollar store Christmas aisle, Miss Thang! You look a shitty, hot mess! Go home!"
It feels horrible and hateful. Like I said: this is not the edit Roxxxy would get if the producers of RuPaul's Drag Race planned to crown her.
To Roxxxy's credit, she posted this the morning after the episode broadcast. It's long, but give her the benefit of the doubt and read it.
I have nothing but respect for this response: she completely owned the nastiness of her words, and the tone of self-loathing for what she saw of herself on RuPaul's Drag Race makes it easy to remember: every single one of us has been a shitty jackass to people we like, and most of us are lucky that our shitty jackass moments don't unfold on national television.
That's the last I'm going to bring up of Roxxxy's behavior, because you saw it too, and so did the rest of America. (Real life T: this recap is now officially late. You saw Untucked. There was cattiness, there were puppets, there were sweet words. Let's go back to the runway, shall we?)
Alaska wins the challenge by a mile! Roxxxy is safe, and Jinkx and Detox are left to duel it out.
Honestly, I can't say that I knew, for sure, that Jinkx could nail a lip synch: after all, she almost-exclusively sings live when she performs. "Malambo No. 1" was exactly the right song for her, though, and she does a fantastic turn of it. Yes, with Detox on her third lip synch, all Jinkx needed to do was not fuck it up, but she went beyond: it was a really, really fun performance, and Jinkx absolutely won the lip synch fair and square.
RuPaul announces that Detox shall sashay, and Jinkx drops to her knees and bows to Detox. It's sweet and awkward. Swawkward, if you will.
I really enjoyed Detox over the course of Season Five, and though she didn't have the season she wanted to have, you must give her credit: Detox's 80% is better than most queens' 110%. I'm already looking forward to seeing her on All-Stars!
Here's my own denouement to this episode: I think that this week really put Alaska at the front of the pack for the crown. This episode, we saw major failings from both Jinkx and Roxxxy: in her final chance to show her capacity for fashion to the judges, Jinkx bombed the runway (partially because she ignored RuPaul's advice during her werkroom walkthrough consultation), and while Roxxxy's runway performance was solid, she came off as completely unlikeable through the course of the episode. On the other hand, Alaska was a role model for both diplomacy and fashion sensibilities, which is a weird combination, but after charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent, those might be the next two most-important factures for America's Next Drag Superstar.
And now, of course, the final three is tied at 2-2-2, and Alaska is the only queen who hasn't lip synched.
You know I've been Team Jinkx since mid-November, so brace yourselves for the eleventh-hour betrayal: after this episode, I'm rooting for Alaska. I adore them both, and truly, I'll be happy when either of them wins. I wish there were two crowns. But this episode, Alaska earned the crown. In two weeks, I hope she wins what she's earned.
Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below--I love reading what you think every week! Meanwhile, hit me up on Facebook and Twitter, and stay tuned--I have a really, really exciting surprise that's been uploading to YouTube for two days now. I can't wait to share it with you!