RuPaul in Ruview: Episode Two of Drag Race
Cynthia Lee Fontaine is back!!! Cucu!!! Hahaha!!! CUCU!!! CUCU, CUCU, CUCU!!!
Cynthia is this season’s ‘mystery’ returning queen however social media is a forever snitch and internet sleuths (https://www.reddit.com/r/rupaulsdragrace/comments/50335l/rupauls_drag_race_s9_speculation_thread_30/d72ngr6/?context=3&st=j10s4wdm&sh=3da1fbbb) were quickly able to deduce that Ms. Fontaine, who finished tenth in season eight, would be back.
In rather delightful news, Cynthia was able “kick cancer in the cucu” and is currently in remission, using this time to have a precious second stab at the drag race crown. Her return, though, has some of the queens shook; they worry about Cynthia’s ‘past knowledge’ of the competition as a threat – a somewhat unfounded concern considering queen had three eps max. But #Cucu I guess.
Hello, Hello, HELLO
Lisa Kudrow makes an adorable appearance at the beginning of this episode as a special guest who doesn’t do an awful lot (though her mere presence on the show left the queens and myself gagging). Ru explains that his signature “hello, hello, hello” entrance is in fact derived from Kudrow’s character Valerie Cherish in The Comeback (which you should all rent on iTunes immediately).
After Kudrow sashays away, we jump straight into this week’s Maxi-Challenge: a group cheer battle. Large group challenges have a notorious history of being either good or awful. Sadly, this challenge veers towards the latter. At this point, I’m not sure why the show doesn’t just scrap these challenges, but they are a good way of separating the wheat queens from the chaff queens. They also have another important purpose - narratives.
Drag High School Drama
Every gay male on the show would know the distinct feeling of utter rejection from being chosen last for group team sport. That’s why it’s downright betrayal when Ru makes the queens do it to each other every season.
Nina Bo’nina Brown and Cynthia are our cheer captains for RuPaul’s Glamazons and the B-52 Bombers (named after this week’s special guest judges, the B-52s!!!) respectively. Nina decides to perform community service and recruits Jaymes Mansfield to her squad. Jaymes is somewhat slighted by being referred to as an ‘underdog’ but she should honestly take what she can get. In today’s narrative, Jaymes is our team deadweight.
Last to get picked is Valentina who joins the Bombers and who has pissed off queens like Eureka due to her relative drag inexperience. Valentina doesn’t care for drag politics though, she’s our underdog today and she’s ready to bite off just as much as she can chew.
In the preparation part of the episode, Jaymes causes a mess for the Glamazons, when she asks to be Floozy, then opts for Snoozy when she realises she’s not cut out. Cuts of her repeatedly flubbing her lines bode very badly for her fate this episode.
The episode jumps from sequence to sequence rather quickly but it benefits from the slower moments set in the workroom.
The cheerleading aspect of the main challenge prompts Peppermint to open up about a violent bullying incident in high school. Her story, unlike many others like hers on drag race, has a more positive ending. While she’s not one of the younger queens, the optimism at the end of the story does signal more positive developments in LGBT+ acceptance since RPDR premiered in 2009.
My Funny Valentina
The star of this episode really is Valentina. We get very little of her during preparation segments, but the little we do is sweet. She shares a cute philosophy about smiling when in doubt and it’s one that pays off for her.
Just as an aside – the moment in the show when the queens mock Valentina for her Virgen De Guadelupe candle is a touch insensitive. The producers, who chose to play mariachi music during the sequence, could’ve handled it better as well.
The final cheer video is a weird mess, and the lack of polish is evident, but it’s still fun. In it though, Valentina shines through a commitment to character and unmatched energy. It’s an energy which wins her the crown, alongside her beautiful runway look – an homage to her mother’s wedding gown.
Trinity Taylor and Shea Couleé round out our top three, with engaging performances in the challenge and killer runway looks.
I know some of my loyal readers have requested detailed outfit evaluations for every queen but at this point it’s too difficult. I’ll do a brief rundown until we’re down to a smaller number of queens. Category was white party.
SICKENING: Valentina, Shea Couleé, Charlie Hides
GOOD: Nina Bo’Nina Brown, Eureka, Farrah Moan, Peppermint, Alexis Michelle, Cynthia Lee Fontaine, Sasha Velour, Jaymes Mansfield, Trinity Taylor
GOOD BUT FIX YOUR FACE: Aja
NAUGHTY-CAL: Kimora Blac
Whatever Happened to Baby Jaymes
Jaymes, Kimora and Charlie are bottom 3 for this week. Charlie escapes thanks to a great runway and Jaymes and Kimora are left to lip sync for their lives to the B-52s’ Love Shack. Despite the B-52s being on the panel, the queens deliver a lacklustre performance. Jaymes gives a better performance than Kimora, but she is the queen who gets sent home.
I do want to touch on Jaymes and Kimora for a bit here. Kimora’s purpose here is obvious. She’s Gia Gunn: great soundbites, drama and a pseudo-villain role. I honestly can’t object to that – I capital ‘L’ Lived for Gia “feeling like pussy, feeling like cunt” Gunn parading outfits one by one to Adore chanting “how is she though?” If Kimora can deliver the same entertainment value as Gia, her place on the show is ~justified~ but we’ll have to see.
At several points in the episode, it seriously looked like Jaymes was gearing up for a growth arc. On the other hand, there were signs she just wasn’t ready at this point in her drag career and that’s fair. There was a moment in this Untucked where Jaymes is leaving the lot in a car; a producer asks if there’s any final things she wants to tell fans. She leaves us with “I promise I’m funny”. I don’t think she’s wrong. It’s sad we don’t get to see that.
Lines that snatched me
- “Hungry, hungry hip pads”
- “Who does cartwheels anymore? It’s not the 80's.” As I mentioned, Kimora making a strong case for being the Gia Gunn successor we deserve
- “I hear she cums in peace”
- “I’m an illuminati princess, they tried to silence me and I’m like ‘no bitch, I’m still gonna talk’” Aja’s runway descriptions are so great... can she stay???