RuPaul’s Drag Race S08E02: I Won’t Survive

My apologies for the tardiness of this recap! I had some technical issues with the video quality on the Logo app, and when I tried to get screencaps to use by searching “Bitch Perfect” on Tumblr I saw more vaginas in 20 seconds than I’ve seen in my whole life, so apparently that phrase is a thing outside of this episode. But I’d rather look at a million strange vaginas than post a recap with shitty image quality so I waiting for the video stream to fix itself. Anyway, on to the episode!

We begin as usual with the queens returning to the workroom to digest the previous elimination. Laila is feeling pretty glum about having been in the bottom two in the first episode and she confessionals about all the various queens who should have been there in here place. Hey Laila, remember last season how like 80% of the episodes started with a salty tirade from the queen who would eventually go home? I’m not saying this is foreshadowing but I’m not not saying this is foreshadowing.

The next day, as the queens wait for their next challenge to arrive, they talk about which one of them is the prettiest now that Naysha is gone. Derrick votes for herself while others name-check Naomi. Bob the Drag Queen is like

and is saved from this pointless conversation about a drag quality that has never gotten anyone the crown by Ru’s She-Done-Possibly-Got-Herpes message. This week it’s full of puns about singing and choirs and everybody is like “Fuck, already?!?!?”

But before they can shit their pants too much at the prospect of singing on national television, they have to suffer through a mini-challenge in which they have about 5 minutes to get as far into drag as they can (using clothes provided by a thrift store) for a Latin dance-off. Somewhere Naysha Lopez is sitting in a bathtub wearing her Miss Continental crown and ruining her mascara.

The best thing about this mini-challenge isn’t the dancing but getting to see our queens looking busted in their slapdash makeup:

The dancing goes pretty much as you’d expect, with queens like Cynthia, Chi Chi and Naomi performing well, Thorgy and Bob and Betty performing comedically, and Kim Chi embarrassing herself with her utter lack of skills. Ultimately their dancing is judged by Ru (wearing one of his best outfits ever) and Wilmer Valderrama in a sequined cowboy ensemble.

*Not actually Wilmer Valderrama
**Though you may recall he has been on this show

Chi Chi DeVayne and Cynthia Lee Fontaine are named the winners, which means that they get to be team captains for the main challenge. Chi Chi doesn’t even try to pretend that this isn’t a punishment, because she knows her ass is on the line if her team fails. Meanwhile Cynthia is too busy calculating how much time has to pass before she can mention her cuckoo again to be worried about it.

It turns out that everybody’s pants-pooping was for nothing because nobody actually has to sing this week. Instead, this is Season 8’s equivalent of Glamazonian Airways: a highly choreographed group lipsync performance combining both songs and spoken word. Except this time all of the songs are by RuPaul, arranged in a cappella style. And the whole thing is, of course, called Bitch Perfect, which is the only acceptable drag-related a cappella pun and therefore it was very difficult to name this recap. BUT ANYWAY! Cynthia’s team will be playing the Rancho Carne Toros to Chi Chi’s East Compton Clovers, if we want to compare this shit to a far superior movie. The teams end up as follows:

Team Cynthia:
Bob the Drag Queen
Derrick Barry
Laila McQueen
Robbie Turner
Kim Chi

Team Chi Chi:
Acid Betty
Thorgy Thor
Dax ExclamationPoint
Naomi Smalls

It’s not surprising that Kim was picked last (she confessionals “I wouldn’t pick me, either”) given her lack of dancing skills, but it’s a little weird that Naomi was second to last! The Violet Chachki similarities continue, I guess, except that Naomi seems really sweet.

Drama breaks out pretty much immediately in Chi Chi’s group, because Acid Betty is an asshole basically. She questions everything Chi Chi says and generally acts like a Negative Nancy. Thorgy Thor, who has known her IRL for a long time, confessionals that Betty’s “artistic nature” means that she acts like a jerk and nobody in New York wants to work with her. Bet Chi Chi’s regretting picking her first!

Cynthia’s team is a bit more harmonious. Everybody seems to like Cynthia and think she’s a sweetheart so I’m trying sincerely to stop being so annoyed by her and chalk the cuckoo-heavy first episode up to editing. But… it hasn’t quite worked yet. Anyhow, their biggest drama is the Kim situation which they easily resolve by assigning her the “nerd” character. Also Laila is annoyed to be assigned the role of Derrick’s character’s little sister, because she thinks she’ll fade into the background. Honey, that was going to happen no matter what character they gave you, all shade.

Speaking of Derrick, am I the only one getting an “intensely earnest suburban youth group pastor who idolizes Kirk Cameron and needs you to come to the next lock-in” vibe from her out of drag?

Ru comes by to talk to the teams and get caught up on all the potential season-long storylines growing in her little drag cabbage patch, and after stoking the already burning fires of uncertainty and enmity she mentions that there’s a new, seemingly-pointless room available to the queens called the “Shade Tree” which they can use as a sort of video diary whenever they have something to get off their chest. I don’t know how this is different than the confessional except maybe there’s no producer behind the camera asking leading questions like “How much of a fuckstick is Acid Betty?” But sure, ok Ru, we’ll go with it.

Next up, the queens hit the main stage to polish the choreography they’ve been working on with perennial Drag Race guest, choreographer Jamal Sims. Jamal throws out most of what Cynthia’s team came up with and gives them an all new routine. Kim can’t even master a simple step-touch move so everybody gets nervous. He forces her and Laila, the second worst dancer in the group, to practice over and over in front of everybody else and Jamal, I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but judging from my experience being the only person in class unable to master the “u” pronunciation in French 101, that shit does NOT work and will only make Kim and Laila never want to take drag dance class again.

Chi Chi’s team fares better, and Jamal lets them keep a lot of their original choreography, though he does reject Chi Chi’s original idea of accompanying the line “Give me one shot of adrenaline” with a dance move that mimics shooting up, and revives Thorgy’s idea of adding a comedy bit where she punches Acid Betty (probably fulfilling a long-standing dream) which Chi Chi originally nixed. Ultimately Dax is the only one who struggles with the moves.

After rehearsal Kim freaks out about her inability to grasp the choreography and becomes the first one to go into the Shade Tree to vent her feelings.

But her team encourages her, and Bob gives some good advice about using her awkwardness as part of her characterization.

Chi Chi is also very nervous because although she is the strongest dancer in the group, she thinks she’ll be in the bottom two if she can’t get the rest of her team up to her level. But Thorgy sweetly tells her that if it comes up she’ll tell the judges that Chi Chi was a great leader. This sweet moment is immediately undercut by Acid Betty making a shitty comment, but whatever, it made me start really liking Thorgy when I was on the fence about her before.

While the queens get ready on performance day, Kim talks about how she used to weigh 350 pounds  and how people don’t treat you like a human when you’re fat. Acid Betty and Dax chime in with stories of childhood chubbiness but the photos they show as proof look like garden variety baby fat to me. I’ll buy that being a little chubby on top of being visibly gay probably made things rough, but Kim still wins this sadness contest.

Bob asks Kim if all the fellas started falling at her feet after she lost the weight, but she says no and that at 27 she’s still a virgin. Everybody’s jaws hit the floor as though the ghost of Divine herself just floated in and ate a ghost shit, and Betty is especially shocked because, she says, when she met Kim at a gig before they were on the show she was hitting on her HARD. Kim says she thought Betty was just being friendly and I’m like “GIRL I FEEL YOU HOW DOES A PERSON EVER KNOW WHEN ANOTHER PERSON IS HITTING ON THEM HUMANS DON’T MAKE SENSE!!!!!”

(It was also at this point in the episode that my friend and I came up with a pitch for a reality show called “A Hot Dish for Kim Chi” which would be like the Bachelor(ette) but instead of people trying to marry her it’s just a bunch of hot dudes competing for the honor of divesting her of her maidenhead.)

ANYWAY! This is the second week in a row which has focused on Kim’s background but unlike last week it’s more of a “you’re in the bottom” sign. And the only other queen whose past we hear about is Chi Chi’s, when she talks about how when she was young she had a gun and wanted to join a gang, in part to try to cover up the fact that she was gay, and that she saw a lot of rough shit and knows what brains smell like and is lucky to be alive. LET ME HUG YOU CHI CHI!

We move on to the runway, where Ru introduces this week’s judges. And we don’t have Carson OR Ross, but instead have THREE guest judges: Lucian Piane, who arranged the music for Bitch Perfect (and also I think cowrote all of the Ru songs featured in it), Jamal, and Ester Dean who apparently co-wrote a lot of hits and was also in Pitch Perfect. They settle in to watch the show, which from what we saw of rehearsals seemed like it would be a disaster, but is actually so put-together that I think they got a lot more time to rehearse than we were led to believe!

Team Cynthia is at a huge disadvantage because their characters, music and choreography are kind of boring (since they’re the “good girls” or whatever). They are all wearing blonde wigs and I kept getting Robbie, Derrick and Laila confused. Nobody fails outright, though, even Kim!

Team Chi Chi is pretty great! Despite all of her bitching and complaining, Acid Betty does a good job, and Thorgy is endearingly wacky. Naomi was pretty invisible in the overall episode but held her own, and Dax managed to get the choreography right in the end. Chi Chi is the standout, though, especially when she does a handstand-split while lipsyncing. I was fond of Chi Chi in the first episode but I kind of fell in love with her this week.

We get a brief look at the queens in their runway looks (category is: Movie Premiere Realness) which I’ll separate into groups for easier digestion:

Flops

I don’t want to say that Cynthia needs to pad more because I disagree with the notion that a queen has to pad a lot to look acceptable, but for a queen who proudly admits on this week’s Untucked that she has a silicon ass you’d think she’d be sad about looking so… scrawny in this boring gown.

Dax’s dress just makes me deeply sad. The colors and fabric are super dated, she has two tiers going and neither reaches the floor, and her hem is messy. Her head looks nice, I guess.

I don’t know what the fuck Laila was thinking with this. The random black panels on the dress are pointless and confusing, and her wig is not only flat and boring, but it also clashes with her dress in both style and color. And her makeup makes her look like a drunk ghost. All of the T and shade on Earth, girl.

Mixed Reviews

Chi Chi looks absolutely beautiful and I love her to death but I can’t 100% disagree with Michelle Visage that this is a bit of a safe look.

Bob also looks great but the sheer black dress thing has had its moment (and that moment was wayyyy too long). Kudos to her for pulling it off though. Her legs make me less mad at the sheerness.

Derrick is wearing a Britney dress with a really awful red wig which I think she feels is enough to make her look like she has range. It’s not.

Robbie looks good I guess but I’m already sick of her whole vintage shtick.

Box Office Smashes

I don’t even care that Naomi already wore those sandals because she’s a knockout. And she celebrates not being encumbered by a boat by prancing up and down the runway.

Thorgy is the only one not to wear a gown, and her disco jumpsuit (and disco hair) look terrific. And her walk is peppy and full of personality. Hell, it’s downright spunky!

Acid Betty rubbed me the wrong way a lot this week and the bottom of her dress is ridiculous, but I do have to grudgingly admit that it’s a high-impact look and the spiky fascinator is a nice touch. Still hate the way she does her makeup, but whatevs.

Kim Chi gets ragged on for her walk again this week, but come on, this is gorgeous. A queen can learn to walk better in her heels, but you can’t teach her to put together a look like this. So there!

 

The judges send half the queens backstage so they can critique the top three (Chi Chi, Thorgy and Betty) and the bottom three (Laila, Dax and Kim). Betty is salty about Chi Chi being in the top because of their clashes during rehearsals, but the egg is on her stank face because Chi Chi is named challenge winner! Her prize is a four day trip to an all-gay B&B in New England, which she mistakenly thinks is overseas (thus reinforcing my early impression that she would be the Joslyn Fox of this season). This season is two for two on picking the correct challenge winner so far. Don’t fuck it up, Ru!

It’s kind of BS that Kim is in the bottom, because it seems like they’re just punishing her for not knowing how to dance. But she worked within her limitations and performed well in the end, so who the fuck cares? I don’t know who would have gone in her place though, since everybody did pretty well on the whole. ANYWAY, I don’t think anybody had any delusions that they would let a fan favorite like Kim lipsync this soon so it’s not a huge surprise that she’s sent to safety while Laila and Dax face off.

The lipsync song this week is “I Will Survive” and they make a big to-do about how it’s the ultimate gay lipsync song and if you’re ever going to bring it, you’re going to bring it to this song, etc etc, so you know something is coming. And what was coming was… a not-half-bad performance from both of them to be honest.

They didn’t set the world on fire and maybe their interpretations of the song were a bit expected (and maybe it was a bad idea for Laila to go all Milan on us and strip down to her panties), but it was no Honey Mahogany vs. Vivienne Pinay so it was truly surprising when Ru passed down her judgment.

I suppose after everybody saw the return of Trixie Mattel coming from a mile away last season they wanted to catch us off guard with this double elimination. And they did! And for a final twist, Ru borrows Michelle’s phone to place a call to a mystery person, asking them to come back to the show. Who do you think it will be?

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Catweazle is an 11th century wizard trying to make his way through the modern world while living in a disused water tower with his pet toad.
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7 Responses to RuPaul’s Drag Race S08E02: I Won’t Survive

  1. artdorkgirl says:

    SO MANY THOUGHTS!!!

    Firstly, I would crack up if they bring Shangela back, just to f with people. And while the lipsync was lackluster, I saw worse last season, so I was genuinely shocked when Laila and Dax were sent packing. Laila deserved to go, and I loved how she was like “I went from being a big fish in a little pond to a little fish in a big pond” and my brain said, “honey, you’re from Lowell. There is no pond”.

    Secondly, I think I love Thorgy. She’s so sweet and quirky in an original way (I’m shading you, Robbie). You’re right, “spunky” is a great word for her.

    I also agreed about Cynthia’s padding. For someone who makes a big deal about being “curvy”, she was flat as Laila’s hair!

  2. flanny says:

    I don’t have access to cable again, but I’m amazed at how much just watching the premier has made me committed to this season. Thanks for the recaps!

    Also, I watched an episode of Family Ties last night that was heavily Skippy-centric and I cannot believe how much he and Thorgy Thor look like each other. Is Skippy a time traveler?!?!?

  3. collin0truckasaurus says:

    I don’t like when they strip down during the lip sync! I just feel like it’s cheap and also tacky and also a sign that you can’t stand on your lip syncing alone. I thought they were both kind of boring but also not bad enough to send them both packing.
    I loved Acid Betty’s runway look.

  4. old man fatima says:

    I closed my eyes and scrolled down really fast because I haven’t seen this episode yet, but please just tell me if you’ve watched Priscilla!

  5. algunarubia says:

    I don’t mind them stripping down when they lipsync if their look was really not good for the lipsync, but they need to wear something good underneath. Like, when Coco Montrese ripped off her skirt for “When I Grow Up” that worked really well. And when Raja and Carmen stripped when they lipsynced together, that was great. But it usually doesn’t work that well.

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