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RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars E4 - Drag Spoof-quels

By Chris Feil

First thing's first: a hearty condragulations to RuPaul on that Outstanding Reality Host Emmy! The win felt richly deserved after nearly ten seasons of giving us the best competition reality show and her long legacy as a television personality. Now if we can only get the show itself recognized, as well.

After the immediate fallout of Alyssa sending Ginger home last week, the heat was on Miss Edwards for flipping the script on sending the queen with the harshest critiques home. Her defense on keeping Katya on the basis of consistency (being top 2 the previous week, whereas Ginger never registered) fell on deaf ears. Here's the thing: even if they're basing it off judges critique, it's still open to interpretation by the deciding competitor. These girls are acting like their given hard data on who to send home and ignoring how the narrowed field may require them to rethink that strategy.

This week's challenge paired the girls off for drag movie sequels to some of our favorites here at The Film Experience...

... except don't expect anything too familiar to the originals. Licensing sure is expensive!

For "Velma and Weezy", Katya struggled to kick off last week's vibes early on but pulled herself together thanks to a perfect hornball pairing with Detox. Their Velma and Weezy was the most distanced from the source material (zombies? cannibalism?), but they clearly had more fun than the other pairings. (But even after that lipsync, I'm still waiting for Detox to consistently rise above the pack.)

On the flip side, Alaska and Alyssa were a more disjointed pair for "Wha' Ha' Happened to Baby JJ?". Alaska made for a hilarious Bette Davis while Alyssa's Joan Crawford was even crunchier than her Snatch Game version. This is the type of challenge that Alyssa bombed every time in season five, so you could see her poor performance coming a mile away.

Roxxxy Andrews also struggled yet again with an acting challenge despite doing well with those on her season. To be fair to Roxxxy, she was also the only queen saddled with a character not from her original film - without catchphrases or visual references to borrow, it leaves her at a disadvantage to the other queens. A "Showsquirrels" without a Crystal Connors is a "Showsquirrels" we don't want! And maybe that last minute switcheroo with Phi Phi didn't help.

About Phi Phi: Her Nomi Malone was an ace visual match, which she's previously recreated on Instagram. Her runway this week embraced the difficulty creating a double look even if it made the reveal a little choppy. She's taking a lot of extreme ire online for returning to her villainous roots when saying she's trying to turn over another leaf. But a villain is an important component to a show like this. This season specifically, would there be any dynamic to even speak of between the contestants?

You can hate her behavior all you want, but she's becoming the most involving part of the season. Even with this many fan favorites, each episode has felt in some way about her - she is kind of defining the season's narrative.

The runway was a reveal challenge inspired by Violet Chachki's season seven tartan extravaganza. I hate to break it to you Ru, but as gamechanging as Violet's look was, the girl didn't invent the gimmick. Here's some highlights:

Best Reveal - Roxxxy Andrews. Two distinct looks, transitioned effortlessly. And please, a reveal challenge is her challenge.

Not Today, Satan - Katya may have done just okay on the challenge and delivered a super average dress, this visual gag is the kind of thing we love her for. Something as simple as this shows her point of view better than other queens are doing right now.

Hilarious Fan Service, But... - Alaska came out as her "straight up, motherfucking dick pig" season five creation Lil' Poundcake, which made for plentiful laughs, but side stepped the actual runway challenge. Also, anyone else tired of seeing her hiding behind characters this season and ready to see the real Alaska again?

Alaska and Phi Phi got to take the lipsync, with a bottom three of Katya, Roxxxy, and Alyssa. Alaska's win resulted in tears and she sent the beloved Alyssa Edwards home. Anyone bitching about the Rolaskatox revival should take note that none of that trinity chose to be challenge partners and that per the dumb girl code, Alyssa did receive the harshest critiques. And back to subjectivity: as Alyssa's partner, Alaska had a front row seat to her weak performance.

But how sad to see the kindhearted buffoon Alyssa Edwards go home, especially one week after such a rousing win. Perhaps if the season's narrative doesn't belong to Phi Phi, then it belongs to Alyssa.

Revenge Finally Pays Off - Oh, maybe it's not the last we've seen of Alyssa! After a season of teasing, the revenge factor finally comes to fruition next week - and yes, there will be a returning queen. In maybe one of the most satisfying moments in the show's herstory, the eliminated queens are revealed behind the workroom mirror, the camera zeroing in on Alyssa and Phi Phi just as Miss O'Hara was getting shady to Alyssa. Television gold!!

Current Ranking:

  1. Alyssa Edwards OUT?
  2. Detox
  3. Alaska
  4. Katya
  5. Roxxxy Andrews
  6. Tatianna OUT
  7. Phi Phi O'Hara
  8. Ginger Minj OUT
  9. Coco Montrese OUT
  10. Adore Delano QUIT

Gif As Episode Grade:

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Reader Comments (8)

i'm so far behind on this show because of TIFF but as soon as I catch up i can't wait to devour these articles

September 17, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I'm a hardcore Alyssa fan so i might be biased but


*tongue pop*

But seriously, I fervently believe that none of them could rise above that non-part she was given. She had what, two lines? And she was primarily a foil to Alaska's awesome Baby JJ. It's borderline impossible to match those performances.

Her runway wasn't fabulous but it wasn't bad either. I rather loved the cameras.
While I actually screamed when I saw Lil' Poundcake, Alaska should have been read for having a total lack of a first look.

It just hurts because quite unexpectedly Alyssa was actually a contender. I loved her since her first season but even I knew that no one could flop a challenge quite like her so to see her actually KILLING IT? such a treat.

Phi Phi? I get it. She has to feel quite helpless when it comes to how she's being edited and that has to be extremely frustrating but on the flipside, she did herself no favors by giving them material to create the bitch image and her antics on social media aren't helping in the slightest.

Alaska has this in the bag but it would have been so nice to see Alyssa in the top 3.

*sad tongue pop*

September 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

The thing about Phi Phi is that's she's not NATURAL. She's so affected. When she's "good," it's totally contrived: Snatch Game and this week's episode differ only in how amped up her mannerisms are; her whole "365 Days of Drag" gimmick works for people because she recreates iconic looks--and, by the way, her runway looks this season (besides last week's alien, which way mostly pre-produced) have been totally pedestrian, which calls into question her actual talent as a makeup artist/costumer and her POV as a drag performer. She's a cipher recreating other peoples' ideas. She's cast as bitchy because, other than being conniving, there's no compelling personality there.

September 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBD

Nathaniel - can't wait for you to catch up because this is the best season full stop

Derreck *agreeing, also sad tongue pop*

BD - I can agree a bit on her performance affectedness, but her cosplay brand of drag is high quality. And drag is rooted in impersonation, even if you're just emulating/performing/deconstructing gender tropes

September 17, 2016 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

I have nothing against cosplay drag--although dressing up as a character is inherently less creative than traditional drag--but I don't see the quality of work being replicated in her runways, which makes me question 1) was there just not enough time? 2) was she not creating the looks in her 365 days of drag? and 3) who is Phi Phi as a drag performer?

September 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBD

Great write up Chris but your ranking of Detox is way too high, I always find her over praised .... Alaska has been the break out all-star all season long :)

September 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRami

Alaska and Detox are running away with this season. Roxxxy, Phi Phi, and (sad to say a very demoralized) Katya are having a hard time even keeping up.

Thanks for the recaps, Chris.

September 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

I do have to say I feel bad for Phi Phi...many of the queens, Alaska, Roxxxy, even Sharon Needles, have said she's super cool and chill in real life. For instance, at the end of the episode, they're making it seem like she's just ranting on and on like a bitch, and everyone is just staring like -___- but Alaska literally said Phi2 was asked her thoughts by producers, and answered. Other people could've ranted like that but it's not shown. I'm not saying she's the best queen, and I personally think she should've already gone home, but she doesn't deserve to constantly death threats and such. That's ridiculous.

September 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

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