“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 5, Episode 4: Faux pas de deux


It was fitting that an episode that focused on ballet would signal the end of Act 1 of “Drag Race” Season 5. This week’s episode really moved things along to the next stage. The remaining chaff got wiped out brutally. The frontrunners were solidified. And now that the Alyssa/Coco drama has seemingly settled (if it ever actually existed) we’re getting to the major tension of the season, which I expect will boil over in the next few weeks. And on top of that, the challenges were a hoot.

The mini-challenge was a disco dance-off. I guess the overarching theme was Ru’s history and dance, but did we really need a reason to see these queens slap together 10-minute drag and act the fool in broke-ass afros? No. No we did not. Just sit back and enjoy. The winners -- aside from all of us, when the Pit Crew started dancing -- were Jinkx Monsoon and Coco Montrese, both of whom busted out some legitimately sweet moves. Of course they were named team captains and tasked with picking mates for the main challenge: staging “No RuPologies,” a ballet telling the story of RuPaul through dance. Amazing.

The ballet was broken up into two acts, one act handled by each team. Team Jinkx got Act 1, and it featured Alaska as Ru’s mother, Jade Jolie as young Ru idolizing Diana Ross (Lineysha Sparx), and Jinkx as 20something genderfuck Ru going wild in the city with Ivy Winters as Lady Bunny. Act 2 featured grown-up Ru’s rise to fame and internal struggles. Team leader Coco portrayed “good Ru” opposite her supposed nemesis Alyssa Edwards as “evil Ru,” Detox was “Supermodel of the World” Ru performing with Honey Mahogany as her idol, Diana Ross. And then Roxxxy Andrews was modern-day “Drag Race” Ru crowning America’s Next Drag Superstar, Vivienne Pinay.

The goils were coached by “So You Think You Can Dance” alums and noted hot pieces of ass Travis Wall and Nick Lazarini, so they weren’t exactly left to the wolves. Most of the queens did surprisingly well with this ambitious challenge. Standouts included the dance-challenged Alaska, who played to her comedic strengths; Ivy and Jinkx as basically the sluttier, draggier versions of Laverne and Shirley; and Alyssa, who totally lived up to her dancer background and really killed the “Black Swan”-like character she had to play.

This was, in fact, the episode that made me root for Alyssa Edwards. At the beginning of the season I was on Team Coco, but she lost me last week with her frankly pathetic, illogical dramatics. Alyssa this week became endearing between her excellent performance, her fantastic talking heads (Alyssa’s reaction shots are priceless), and the hilarious faces she makes while putting on her make-up. This was Alyssa’s finest hour, and fittingly, she won the challenge.

Jinkx and Ivy also received high praise for their work and costumes, and Ru literally said that Jinkx is a contender for the long run. I agree and hope she sticks it out. I also thought it was another strong showing for Alaska, Detox and Coco looked amazing on the runway (what was with the crazy short mainstage intros this week?), and I don’t know what the hell judge Santino Rice was on, but I thought Roxxxy Andrews looked incredible in what I will call the Lifesavers dress.

Unfortunately Roxxxy landed in the Bottom 3 for her lead-footed performance, but escaped lip-synching for her life. That dubious honor went to Vivienne for continuing to be incredibly dull and Honey for being boring AND poorly dressed. They performed to Britney Spears’ “Oops I Did It Again” and were, as you might guess, boring. Low energy. They mostly stood there and paced occasionally. Honey threw in a head bop or two. Vivienne sometimes pointed. Welcome to Yawnsville, population two drag queens.

Which is why I was so delighted when Ru delivered her verdict: they were both told to sashay away, because neither one of them proved that they had the fire to win this competition. Ain’t that the truth. Both Vivienne and Honey had “filler” written on them from the beginning, but I was already growing weary at the prospect of either one of them pointlessly hanging around for another episode. Honey seems like a lovely human being with lots of positive energy. She’s just not exactly a star, and as multiple people pointed out this episode, sister needs to step away from the caftans. She has an obsession with them that rivals Dorothy Zbornak, and at least Dorothy had midnight cheesecake binges as a justification. Honey, this episode more than any other, totally looked like a dude in a wig wrapped in a bedsheet. Again, sure she’s lovely in person. But not a drag superstar.

Vivienne believes that she IS a superstar, and Vivienne is wrong. About so many things, really. She bitched and bitched that she dislikes Roxxxy because of her energy (meaning: Roxxxy has energy, and Vivienne has none) and because Roxxxy is an attention whore. Hello. Child. You are drag queens on a reality-TV competition. You are by definition all attention whores. Vivienne also thought she didn’t have time to really show Ru who Vivienne Pinay was. You lasted four episodes. That’s 1/3 of the season. If you can’t show us who you are at that point, you don't have it. Finally, after her totally dismissive, pouty reaction to her elimination, Vivienne assured herself that no matter what, she’s the fishiest queen ever on “Drag Race.” Cue Alyssa Edwards side-eye reaction shot. Fishier than Carmen Carrera? Fishier than Jujubee or Tatianna? Fishier than Kenya Michaels? Absolutely not. Pretty, sure, but I wouldn’t even call her the most believably feminine queen this season. That distinction goes to Jade Jolie.

Speaking of, I alluded to this in the intro: I believe tonight we saw Jade Jolie get the call to move up to house bitch. I’ve been amused by people’s sunshine-and-lollipops take on Jade from the get go; I’ve always detected a ruthless little viper under all those teeth and wigs. In “Untucked” most of the queens let it be known that Jade is a real pain in the ass in the work room and has an attitude problem. Alyssa even spectacularly shoved Jade under the bus when the judges asked her to nominate someone for elimination. Backstage Jade got into it with Alyssa, with Roxxxy, and maybe someone else, while other queens -- including Lineysha -- came after Alaska for her runway looks. This season has felt very competitive from the start, but tonight’s episode really crystallized the vitriol flowing behind the scenes, and I suspect things are going to explode in the next 2-3 weeks. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

NEXT: Snatch Game! Let’s see if these queens can inject some life into that semi-stale challenge…