"RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 5: Adios, my nutty auntie


Que lastima! What a tragic ending to another wonderful episode. The Final 6 queens -- Alaska, Alyssa Edwards, Coco Montrese, Detox, Jinkx Monsoon, and Roxxxy Andrews -- first had to emote during “The Crying Game” (she’s a man!). Then they put their (over)dramatic skills to use in telenovela scenes opposite a somnolent Wilmer Valderrama, whose agent clearly forced him to appear here to satisfy some kind of debt.

Again I’ll dissect the queens’ performance, in order from most successful to least.

Jinkx Monsoon became the first contestant of the season to win more than one challenge -- it is remarkable that we got to F6 without any clear frontrunner -- by nailing both the acting challenge and the runway. Jinkx is a trained actor, so it’s not surprising that she killed it in the telenovela. She dialed it up past 12, with her orgasmic teen literally mounting the furniture in ecstasy. Hilarious. The Dia de los Muertos ensemble for the runway was a risk, but a brilliant one. RuPaul audibly gasped at Jinkx’s reveal, and the last time I recall that happening was with Tyra Sanchez and the wedding episode back in S2. That’s telling. Also telling: we got clear-cut proof of what has been emerging as the story over the past four or so episodes, that the other queens have been coming after Jinkx because they know she’s the one to beat. Four out of five of her competitors named Jinkx as their stiffest competition for the tiara. They’re absolutely right. Unfortunately that’s also going to paint a giant target on Jinkx going forward. And I’m just not sure how she’s going to handle that kind of pressure, going from underdog to top dog.

Alaska came in a close second, once again. Something tells me that’s kind of the de facto tragedy of Alaska: really good, just not quite good enough. Alaska was great in the crying mini-challenge, serving up some Liz Taylor in Tennessee Williams Realness. And she was better than most as the histrionic matriarch in the telenovela. Her weakness was once again the runway, where she wore yet another cheap-looking prom gown. She was saved by whipping out two maracas, but it’s clear that the judges have become bored with her predictable wardrobe.

Roxxxy Andrews bounced back after two terrible weeks with a funny performance in the telenovelas and a runway look in which she actually showed us something different than body-ody-ody. For once she didn’t wear lycra! And her make-up was toned down enough so that we could actually see her (beautiful) face! Roxxxy also showed some uncharacteristic self-awareness at multiple points in the episode, and was endearing in her interactions with Detox. But then she shot herself in the foot with her defensive, off-the-hip remarks in “Untucked.” I do like Roxxxy, but she doesn’t make it easy to root for her.

Detox finally did something worth discussing this episode. A few things, actually. First, she broke down during the crying mini-challenge, explaining that she had a boyfriend who died a few years back (we got some additional details about this later in the episode, and it sounds like a pretty complicated/emotionally fraught experience) and so everyone fake crying made her extremely uncomfortable. It was a very real moment and made me rethink my opinion of Detox as aloof and over seemingly everything. Detox also did OK in the telenovela. But as the judges all seem to be telling her all of a sudden, OK is not nearly enough at this stage. In the work room Ru said that Detox has consistently been getting the note that she’s giving “B+” when they need “A++.” That’s interesting, because we haven’t seen Detox get any feedback in weeks. She’s almost always middle of the pack. I think most viewers -- myself included -- gave up on Detox several episodes back. She’s been so forgettable for so long, just seeming not to really try at many of the challenges. Tonight the show felt like it was setting up her inevitable boot in the next few weeks (her unfortunate sombrero ensemble only helped to move her closer to the door). That’s remarkable, because pre-show there’s no question that Detox was a favorite for the win.

Coco Montrese continues to destroy my will to live. She is just a thoroughly unpleasant presence on this show, and one of the most infuriatingly self-absorbed queens to ever disgrace our screens. Her petulant, passive-aggressive attacks against Jinkx and Alyssa became tiresome weeks ago, and I was desperately hoping for her ouster when she landed in the Bottom 2 for choking a bit in the acting challenge. But a stunning long-sleeved, bright orange jumpsuit and a dead-on lipsynch to the rap in Paula Abdul’s “Cold Hearted” kept her around for another week. I can’t stand Coco, but I can’t argue with that decision. (I do think her runway outfit helped her a LOT in that LSFYL.) But god, she cannot learn how to shut her mouth. In both “Untucked” and in her talking heads she was just a catty, insufferable old hag. What was that BS about Alyssa being there for a competition but the rest of them were there for some higher purpose? And how America’s Next Drag Superstar has to be willing to commit to the challenges? Like you committed to the children’s show challenge you threw, or the singing challenge in which you were a defensive bitch, or the perfume challenge in which you blatantly kissed ass while totally missing the point of the assignment? She's so full of shit her eyes are BLUE.

But we must say good bye to Alyssa Edwards, my adorable, befuddled drunk aunty. I started this competition absolutely loathing Alyssa, but after a few weeks her well-intentioned cluelessness really grew on me. Her mugging in the mirror. Her hysterical double takes. Her folksy confessionals. So charming! But beyond that, Alyssa really is a fierce queen and a hell of a performer, as evidenced by tonight’s lipsynch. But the other contestants had valid points when asked why Alyssa was the weakest queen currently in the pack. Alyssa reflexively said she wasn’t an actress, a singer, or a comedian. She’s just a performer. I still think she legitimately tried in every challenge (more than I can say for Coco). But Alyssa gets…easily flustered, I think. You could see her psyching herself out going into that LSFYL and there was no competing with Coco and those damned sleeves. So farewell, crazy aunt Alyssa. This season will be FAR less entertaining without you.

NEXT: The annual drag sister episode, this time with military men. Please, god, let there be beefcake. I don’t think we even saw the Pit Crew ONCE this episode!