Drag Race Season 11 Recap: Draglympics

vanjie recoils

Remember in Season 9 when they had the highly demanding cheerleading challenge that injured Eureka and in order to prevent her from suing them they had to have her back the next season? Well, clearly nobody learned their lesson.

All Glammed Up With Nowhere to Go

ariel lipstick message

Ariel is mourned by just having Plastique bellow “WE LOVE YOU ARIEL!” at the mirror like she’s trying to start the Twilight Bark. According to her mirror message Ariel is apparently calling herself “mom” which… when was that a thing? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone less maternal since Mrs. Bates. AND CYSTERS IS NOT A THING.

Over on the couch Shuga is still convinced her turkey merkin was a “cute look”, no one even attempts to step her down from her delusion and instead the conversation is largel about how Vanjie and Plastique keep having the same silhouette and I bet you could never guess who started this conversation

Yvie starting drama

The Arbiter of Drag herself, who preaches the validity of all drag and then denigrates classic beauty drag and backtracks when Plastique calls her out. Yvie is a mess on Twitter and a lot harder to like if you follow her on there. A’keria does try her best to defend Vanjie saying she can’t really change it if it’s all she brought, but it’s a weak defence given that there is a wall of fabric and A’keria literally made her entire Zodiac gown in the Werk Room. What’s most interesting is how defensive Yvie gets the moment that she is asked if she’ll ever do a glamourous look and I can’t wait for them to tell her to that because it’s a farming-based design challenge next week and I am calling it now that Yvie will dress up as a haunted scarecrow. It kick starts a whole feud between Yvie and Silky if you were wondering what was going to take the place of Ariel vs Silky because it continues the next day with Silky still thinking knowing what The Wiz is was enough to keep her out of the bottom three.

Let’s Get Physical

RuPaul tracksuit

The mini challenge this week is an 80s inspired workout routine lead by Connie Love who I have no familiarity with other than him being one of the sassy hairstylists in Legally Blonde who knows what the Bend and Snap is, and she is a delight – I wouldn’t be mad at them just recycling this mini-challenge every season ad nauseam. I also think I  may have finally worked out this season’s strength is its Quick Drag because Plastique with just a bit of lip gloss and mascara is BEAUTIFUL

plastique quick drag work out

Nina’s was probably the most accurate look with all of her features being a different shade of day-glo

nina west quick drag work out

And as is now tradition, it takes me a good 2 minutes to work out that this was Shuga Caine, queen of being borderline unrecognisable from week to week

shuga quick drag work out

As it’s a challenge that involves rapid and coordinated movement of the limbs you can imagine how this goes for Scarlet

scarlet envy workout

scarlet envy workout 2

scarlet envy workout 3

scarlet envy workout 4

Her attempting to dance is absolutely the most relatable thing to have ever been on television. Plastique on the other hand just Shablams and Death Drops all over the floor, which given the upcoming main challenge, makes sense for her to have been the winner. Bu truly the most entertaining of the bunch was Miss Vanjie who loses her wig within seconds and then just barrel rolls out of shot.

vanjie barrel roll

Silky kind of maybe slips maybe purposefully slams herself in the floor and everyone doesn’t know if they should help her or not

silky slams the floor

Connie Love reacts

rupaul reacts

And then she just sits up eating what is either a tomato or a human heart

silky eating

I DIED.

A’keria revives the good old Asia O’Hara slap fight to secure herself the win alongside Plastique and they get £1500 worth of skin care products.

akeria wins

plastique wins

*Ra’Jah cries into her 15th tub of Ben and Jerry’s.*

TEAMS

As the winners of the mini challenge Plastique and A’Keria win the dubious honour of getting to choose their team mates for this week’s Maxi Challenge: The Draglympics in which the queens will do a LENGTHY routine involving Fanography, Voguing and Shablams. The team selection is largely predictable with Scarlet and her gangly independtly minded limbs being left for last but Plastique with her first choice stares at the line-up of Silky, Nina, Vanjie, Ra’Jah, Scarlet, Yvie and Shuga, with the Trump Musical only 2 week prior, decides that her first pick will be the memorably bad Ra’Jah. Part of me wants to think it was a tactic to make herself look better but… I’m not so sure.

The final teams are:

Team Tuckpantistan (Who will only be referred to as Team A’Keria from here)

team akeria draglympics

  • A’Keria
  • Brooke Lynn
  • Yvie
  • Silky
  • Shuga

Team Glamazonia:

team plastique draglympics

You can feel the camaraderie.

  • Plastique
  • Ra’Jah
  • Vanjie
  • Nina
  • Scarlet

Brooke decides to attempt a mediation between Silky and Yvie because of the conflict from earlier and basically Silky tells her that, it’s work and she’ll put on a happy face to win the challenge and well that’s that drama quashed for now because Silky is what? A professional. The A’keria has her team showcase their skills and Brooke pirouettes and Yvie does a whole load of contorting and writhing on the floor. It’s pretty obvious where this challenge is going because over on the other team Scarlet’s voguing is about to end in a black eye.

Choreography Corner

adam and travis

The choreography sessions are lead by Travis Wall and Adam Rippon, the latter of which appears to be there just to expel the occasional motivational bon mot. Hey, every duo needs a bottom. What is truly baffling is the fact that after Adam failed to bring any sense of personality to this brief stint to the show VH1 thought it was a good idea for him to host the Season 11 Live RuVeal.

Team A’Keria

team akeria choreography

There’s a team member struggling in every area with A’Keria finding coordinating step counts and fan work a bit difficult and then Silky managing to pull off an inelegant Shablam that she then can barely get up from – by the time Brooke has got up and hit the final pose of the sequence Silky has only just managed to sit up and cross her legs. Travis tries to retcon it and give Silky a comedy solo at this point but Silky powers through and really wants to commit to the whole routine – which power to her, I’d have given up and settled for pulling silly faces a la Nina West.
It’s a highly demanding routine and by the end of the day Yvie is feeling it in her joints – the sheer amount of time spent standing in heels during the Ball (and the Rusical the week before) is exacerbating her Ehlers-Danlos but much like Silky she doesn’t want to hold herself back and is very concerned about being babied. It does feel like we are getting a heavy foreshadowing of a Eureka-esque medical elimination and a free return, and given what happens later… I wouldn’t be surprised.

Team Plastique

team plastique choreography

So Plastique puts her master plan into action. It’s obvious now that Ra’Jah just didn’t get along with Yanis because she doing a pretty good job of nailing everything, it’s a little stiff but it’s early stages. Vanjie completely knocks the voguing out of the parks and then it comes to the fanography and neither Scarlet or Nina know what the fuck they’re doing

confused scarlet envy

nina confused choreography

Scarlet can barely lift her leg and snap a fan at the same time, which is basically Baby Drag 101. She then nearly takes Ra’Jah’s eye out and Nina nearly taks out Vanjie and it’s all looking a little hate crime-y so they call it a day.

What’s Yo’ Struggle?

vanjie crying

Vanjie is feeling the weight of expectation on her as a returning queen and the fact her runways seem to be coming across as disappointing to the judges – we know now it’s because she is about to wear her most basic look of the season so far on a week where she is almost certainly in the losing team – although they really should have been judged individually. I’m hoping her runway struggles are just the unfortunate way the runways have aligned because the Queens have no idea of the order while planning their looks.

Over at the Tragedy Mirror Yvie elaborates upon the future of her Ehlers-Danlos and its terminality – knowing someone only ten years older than her who is already in a wheelchair must be a frightening and frustrating prospect for someone whose entire stage persona is built on wild movements and mobility but Yvie of course has an extremely positive outlook an way of discussing it and I do feel like a part of the production team keep prompting her to discuss it just to make her do her head squishy thing

The Draglympics

draglympics groups.jpg

The groups will be performing their floor routines to hastily made tracks of old Drag Race quotes set to a heavy preset keyboard beat – they’re actually quite fun. There’s also some lead up to how Team A’Keria are performing theirs to a song called Shade in order to make an appeal to end Global Warming and the joke is so bad that Michelle literally has to explain it to the audience.

Team A’Keria:

team akeria

All of them are pretty good and amange to keep their energy up throughout, A’keria is mugging to camera constantly and I could not keep my eyes off of her and I could watch her twerking bit all day. Brooke Lynn meanwhile seems to be in a constant state of baffled terror and I’m not sure if it was a character choice or if she saw Yvie land really messily during one of her cartwheely things causing her ankle to go “cleek”.

yvie slips

Silky has a whirling dervish of a baton solo that is a joy to behold. I also heartily enjoyed the fact when everyone was kicking their legs in the air she was just using her arms:

silky using her arms

Shuga… has the honour of playing the role of Season 9 Aja during the mid-performance cool down of Aja vs Valentina. I’m still not sure if the Queens were meant to be lipsyncing or not – it wasn’t made very clear.

And just for the sake of it, isn’t A’Keria just beautiful:

akeria beauty

Team Plastique:

plastqiue draglympics

Well if you wanted to hear a mash-up of Laganja Estranja’s iconic Untucked meltdown and Flight of the Bumblebee you’re in luck! Also if you wanted to see Queens doing a lot of running on the spot and cantering like equestrian ponies then this really was the routine for you. It was certainly a lot weaker than A’Keria’s team – I think a lot of it might be because they had to water it down a lot for Nina and Scarlet, who both still manage to balls it up completely a lot of time; Nina in a series of moves that she repeatedly bungled (she also noticeably doesn’t have to do the Shablam) and Scarlet by just hitting the decks occasionally

scarlet falls over

Nina saves face a little by going for High Camp constantly and Scarlet seems to only latch onto this tactic halfway through. They were by no means awful and I actually had a lot more fun watching them and couldn’t tell you a single thing that Plastique did in that routine except drop into the splits and mop the floor. Vanjie takes the routine front and centre and is her usual Chaotic Good self. I was most impressed with Ra’Jah though, who I personally thought killed her parts of the routine – particularly the voguing segment.

Golden Girls:

For this week’s runway the Queens had to wear their best gold looks, a little weird that we have two colour specific runways in one season, but it was such a good runway for a lot of the Queens – I mean who doesn’t love a gaudy as fuck gown? Unofrtunately for everyone A’Keria LOVES a gaudy as fuck gown and she came down the runway first and pretty much wrote everyone else off immediately:

akeria

LOOK AT IT. That must be at least $6000 of dress and she stoned it and feathered it herself. Look at Ru’s face:

ru reacts to akeria

That’s when you know you’re a winner baby. There were also strong looks for Brooke as Norma Desmond as well as Ra’Jah being the Catwoman I never knew I needed in my life

Rajah Ohara

Less successful were Yvie in (ANOTHER) short, curiously draped outfit that looked like she had made it 4 minutes before the runway

Yvie Oddly

And then there’s Vanjie who just decided to fully plough on through with her tinfoil robot bunny hooker outfit instead of retconning it:

Vanessa Vanjie Mateo

I have a fully runway recap here. The worst part of the runway however was listening to Adam Rippon trying to think of puns and witty remarks, why did VH1 think it was still a good idea to let him host a 2 hour live stream? At least Mirai Nagasu had the descency to just ooh and ahh while sounding like she had taken a couple of valium, she also looked freaking beautiful:

And that always helps.

Judging:

Team A’Keria is a pretty obvious win seeing as they managed to only be prostrate on the floor when it was required of them and after long last A’Keria is finally crowned the challenge winner

akeria wins draglympics

This leaves the entirety of Team Plastique in the bottom to receive their critiques. Nina’s Viking outfit gets deservedly roasting for being a disproportionate nightmare – although no mention of how awful her shoes are and how she should absolutely burn that awful shimmery bodysuit. She is however lauded for camping it up and making up for her inability to dance which, sure, but given the challenge honestly I think she was worse than Ra’Jah, who the judges claimed got completely lost in the background but, I thought she was very good and I will die on this hill of being a Ra’Jah O’Hara Apologist – her runway was great and her performance was at least safe, pulling a couple of funny faces does not a good routine make Miss West. Scarlet is heartily roasted for rivalling Farrah Moan as The Whitest Dancer but also congratulated for at least being the most improved, I’m still shocked that they didn’t play the clip of her falling over at least 4 times. Vanjie, while completely magnetic during the performance has her runway dragged through the mud and just wants to die every second of Michelle’s critique:

vanjie critique

Plastique remains completely devoid of personality on the runway and . As next week is a design challenge it’ll be interesting to see if Vanjie or Plastique is this season’s Naomi Smalls.

Before Ru makes her decision the Queens have to give their opinion on who should sashay this week, with everyone obviously going for Scarlet and then Scarlet picking Ra’Jah because she has been in the bottom. A lot. It obviously causes a scene in Untucked with Ra’Jah being incredibly unreasonable about the whole debacle and Scarlet just being baffled by her reaction:

scarlet envy baffled

You should have said Nina though Scarlet.

Your Last Dance

Scarlet inevitably finds herself in the bottom alongside Ra’jah and they have to lipsync to Donna Summer’s Last Chance, which kind of justifies Ra’Jah’s bottom placement because she gives Hell of a lipsync and embodies the song perfectly. Meanwhile Scarlet gives a valiant performance pulling out all of the stunts including pulling out a pair of scissors that triggers the fear of God in both RuPaul and the health and safety officer

scarlet scissors

ru reacts to scissors

cutting through her gown with some very blunt scissors to reveal a jumpsuit and then glitterbombing the stage in an admirable attempt to mask her inability to dance.

scarlet glitter

There’s some nice interplay between the two Queens and it all ends in Ra’Jah dropping into a splits and Scarlet just throwing her body at the ground in less of a Death Drop and more of a Corpse Flop

rajah and scarlet drop

In the end it was Scarlet’s Last Dance – I think it was just a case of Ra’Jah better embodying the song and Donna Summer herself, it wasn’t quite Latrice vs Kenya by any means though. I think if any Queen does make a return I’d put a handy bet on it being Scarlet, and based on fan reaction she’s almost guaranteed for Allstars 5. Saying “Allstars 5” is already exhausting.

Dr. Ganache’s Hot Button Issue: Wigs

As is now customary the real drama was left for Untucked, and I say real drama because Silky and <insert_Queen_here> glowering at each other does not constitute drama. This “real drama” is the fact that Ariel left some of her very smilar looking wigs over in Plastique’s section, thus leaving Plastique to claim them, but also not because she doesn’t need them given her wigs are pretty stellar, so she said the other Queens could have them. ALL of this happened off camera at the hotel and Silky decides to confront her and Plastique is baffled because clearly none of it was meant in any sort of malicious way

plastique confused

What I do hope happens is that a Queen wears one of Ariel’s wigs and is clocked for it, it’d be the most iconic thing Ariel managed to do.

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