As a song, “Show Up Queen” is not exactly a bop. But we can’t have everything we want, and the seventh episode of this All Stars season checks enough boxes that it’s hard to muster any real disappointment. After all, the girl group numbers can’t all be “UK, Hun,” right? There’s not a ding-dang-dong in sight, but “Show Up Queen” (the episode, not the tune) still gives us a satisfying yet hotly-contested win, a clear but contrasting bottom two, some heartfelt weepery, a handful of good jokes, a fun runway, and a good lip-sync that could have been great were it not for a Tayce wig going on the lam.
All that, and a world-class sight-gag. Who could ask for more?
Well, Pandora, for one. After more than a bit of wonky judging this season, the “Show Up Queen” critiques are right on the money, for the most part. This week, that’s bad news for Pandora “I’m a Legend, Dahling” Boxx, an iconic Drag Race veteran who’s just never been very good at the sexy sexy dancey dancey stuff. Must all drag queens be great dancers? Of course not. But the ability to sell the hell out of a combination, especially when you’re not feeling all that confident, is about as essential as knowing how to use a sewing machine. You can win Drag Race without it, sure—but it’s a hell of a lot harder to do so.
That’s especially true of a season in which the queens are fairly well-rounded. Not all the All Stars are good at all the things, but nearly all of them can at least hold their own in pretty much any challenge. As the competition tightens, though, that skill becomes somewhat less valuable. Neither of the queens in the bottom two turns out a disastrous performance, but this is All Stars—“not disastrous” will only get you so far. And in “Show Up Queen,” despite the fact that they hold their own, both Jan and Pandora get shown up.
Interestingly, while their performances are very different, each lands in the bottom two—and it’s a pretty clear bottom two—for the same reason. It’s the writing. In Jan’s case, the issue is one of misunderstanding the assignment. (Also, I suspect, misunderstanding what RuPaul meant by “funk.”) It’s understandable that Jan can’t help but dwell on the judges’ repeated requests for sincerity, honesty, vulnerability, and all the other words they use while trying to tell Jan that she just needs to ease off the gas a little—that she should stop trying to tell us who she is and simply be who she is. But this is the exact wrong time to fixate on that. Unless you’re J. Lo, telling people how real you are is a fairly surefire way to give the exact opposite impression.
For Pandora, though, it’s not so much that she misunderstood the assignment as that she missed an opportunity. This isn’t a “cherry pie gift certificates” situation—Pandora can write about anything, and perform it in any way she sees fit, so long as it’s inspirational in some way. Michelle isn’t wrong when she says that the “ha-ha-has” are a bit of a waste, and while the sentiment behind Pandora’s verse is right on the money, the lack of specificity and all the dead air pretty much confine her to the bottom two. You don’t have to sing or dance to do well in one of these challenges! Just ask Lawrence Chaney!
A close bottom-two makes for really good TV—as evidenced by the Alexis Mateo-announce tie vote—but so does a close race for the top. As has often been the case this season, the win could have gone in a couple of directions. For my money, Ginger has the best verse, and Kylie, Ra’Jah, and Trinity all do really well in terms of both writing and performance, the last two in particular. But both Ginger and Ra’Jah take some criticism for their stagewear looks, and we’re at the stage where that kind of thing counts. That leaves Trinity and Kylie as the top two, and while Kylie’s runway look is gorgeous, Trinity’s is, well, this:
Add in a terrific runway presentation and we’re looking at a winner, baby. And as the queens discuss in this episode, TKB’s second win makes her the frontrunner, at least for the moment.
Things can change quickly in Drag Race land, however, as Jan and Pandora can attest. Jan exits All Stars (for now) with some strong performances and great looks behind her; I, for one, wish her All Stars return hadn’t come so quickly on the heels of her first season, but I’d be shocked if we don’t see plenty of Jan in the future. Pandora’s wait was far longer, but as this is her second All Stars go-round, it’s unlikely that she’ll be back for another. Let’s hope that she manages to pull out a win next week, because if she doesn’t, I suspect she’ll have to pack up her silly-string-shooting brassieres and leave the werkroom behind.
And what do you know: next week is Snatch Game Of Love, a perfect make-or-break situation for the queen behind what’s arguably the best non-winning Snatch Game performance ever. Sexy sexy dancey dancey may not be Pandora’s strong suit, but being funny sure is. She could triumph, but at a time in the competition where “good enough” isn’t good enough, her victory would have to be decisive, indeed.
- Kate’s Corner: “After last episode’s bobble, season six is back on track. I didn’t love the main stage performance, but the episode was a hoot. It also clearly delineated the top five—Pandora will need to slay the Snatch Game of Love to make it through the next elimination. Highlights: Ginger blending into the wall, TKB and Ra’Jah slaying the challenge, and another near-iconic lip-sync. If only Trinity’s wig had stayed on! Lowlights: The actual song was pretty forgettable and Untucked was a snoozefest. Also, I’m running out of patience for the game within the game. Stop teasing us and game on already!”
- Untucked: Wow, this Untucked was dull. All the good Untucked-style content was in the actual episode. I think my favorite part was when Eureka asked Ginger if they could go talk for a minute and then they talked about... exactly what they would have talked about while Pandora and Jan were talking to TKB.
- It’s really too bad about Trinity’s wig. It takes a lot to beat Trinity in a lip-sync, and it’s happened twice now.
- Bam! forever.
- “I promised my dog when I left I was gonna buy us a house, and $10,000 is not gonna be enough.”
- Give Ginger an Emmy for the wall bit. Maybe one of my favorite Drag Race moments ever, honestly.
- I’m surprised we haven’t seen more interaction between Kylie and Pandora. Kylie’s “humble pie” lyric reminded me that those two were on the same time for that weird-as-hell cherry pie gift certificate challenge.
- My gif-s to you for the week: Drag.