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Fairytale Justice improv yields few laughs on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.

Image for article titled Into The Woods plus The People's Court yields few laughs on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars.

screenshot: RuPaul’s Drag Race

In the aftermath of episode three, Jaida has newfound validation or vindication after winning both the challenge and the lip sync. Trinity, on the other hand, is a little disappointed at having only won legendary star after two back to back top two placements. The race is pretty evenly matched thus far, with five out of the eight queensShea, Monet, Jinx, Trinity, and Jaida—with one star each and Yvie, The Vivienne, and Raja still waiting on their first. One queen who will not be adding to her star count this week is Jinx, who reenters the room clutching the plunger. After Jaida explains that Jinx saying the ball was her only weakness earned her the block, Jinx proclaims that she’ll only hold a grudge if she is in the top two this week. Surprisingly, Jinx decides to carry on the ruse that the plunger possesses some sort of secret advantage or knowledge. The sequence ends with Yvie and The Vivienne hungry for a win, and Raja relaxed and unbothered per usual.

The next day, Jinx manages to create another memorable moment and showcase another talent when she walks into the workroom playing “Bing! Bang! Boom! UK Hun!” on the ukulele. Around the table the queens turn to strategy when Jaida, incorrectly, points out that Monét is the only person with a star who has not been blocked. Monet, who has been trying to stay under the radar, is aghast until the “secret” alliance comes out when Trinity defends her, pointing out that Jaida also has a star and has not been blocked. A video message from RuPaul interrupts. The queens decipher the first clue to the impending challenge by realizing the message is delivered in a limerick. RuPaul enters in a different kind of look, a long pink lamé coat, to reveal this week the contestants will take part in an improv challenge, “Fairytale Justice.”

A spoof on daytime court shows and an update on the All Stars 4 challenge Jersey Justice, the queens will be divided into two teams and must relitigate disputes between fairytale characters. As winners from last week, Trinity and Jaida choose teams. For the same reasons that she blocked her last week, Jaida chooses Jinx, followed by Monét and Yvie. Jaida’s team will be portraying the real estate dispute between the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf. Trinity selects Shea, The Vivienne, and Raja. Their case concerns breaking and entering and identity theft with the story of Goldilocks, Little Red Riding Hood, and Hansel and Gretel. After a clunky product placement from Mane Club, the queens break into their teams to brainstorm.

The groups select parts and go over their ideas. Yvie takes on the role of the Big Bad Wolf after her performance as the Boogey Man in Snatch Game. This is the second episode to reference how much the judges loved that performance, but was it really that good? In the role of the three little pigs, now sisters, Jaida, Monét, and Jinx go over characterization. They land on sexualized social media influencers with Monét’s sister sitting with her boyfriend the Big Bad Wolf. Jinx proves to have the most ideas as well as an eclectic arsenal of characters from the start, suggesting it was wise of Jaida to block her on this challenge. On the other side of the room, Raja is chosen to be the grandmother in another reference to her being the eldest queen. While Raja finds improv to be the epitome of unpredictability and is undulating between anxiety and excitement, ohn the latter end of that spectrum, The Vivienne is pleased to try improv after having no such challenge on her original season.

It would appear that, from previous track records, this is a strong cast in terms of improvisation. While The Vivienne may not have had an improv challenge before, she won Snatch Game in her season and placed high in an acting challenge. Raja proved safe in the QNN News challenge of season 3. Jaida was safe as an apple in her season’s first improv challenge, and won the second during the political debate. In season 11, Yvie’s only win, shared with Scarlet Envy, was in an acting challenge, and she placed safe during LADP improv episode. Shea also shared a win with Sasha during the improv challenge of season 9 and was ranked safe in All Stars 5. Jinx, perhaps the strongest actress of the season, is a two-time Snatch Game winner, acting challenge winner, and placed high in the improv Draggle Rock episode of season 5. Oddly, the potentially worst improvisers would be Trinity and Monét, who have a sort of advantage having participated in Jersey Justice during All Stars 4. Balancing this advantage is the fact that Trinity placed low during the episode and Monét found herself in the bottom.

Image for article titled Into The Woods plus The People's Court yields few laughs on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars.

screenshot: RuPaul’s Drag Race

In spite of a promising premise and Jinx’s guarantee to take “yes and to the max,” Fairytale Justice was a bit of a slog. Overall, it just wasn’t very funny. Everyone gave competent performances, but that belies a persistent problem with the edit of this season. Without a mixture of good and poor performance, everything ends up being very middle of the road. Clocking in at twenty minutes, the entire production felt overlong and bland. There was something off about the pacing.

In the workroom, everyone feels confident about their performance. They discuss the professionalism and teamwork, while they also seem to agree that The Vivienne and Jinx are likely at the top. The queens also start to theorize a potential pattern developing regarding blocking. Shea and Jinx point out that the person who had blocked a queen last week tends to be blocked themselves the following week. If this pattern holds up, it would be Jaida getting the block for the next challenge.

RuPaul enters the main stage and she wore blue velvet. Joining RuPaul is the sequin beauty mark from season 13, Michelle Visage, Ross Matthews with a TS Rapunzel gag, and perennial guest judge Jeffery Boyer Chapman. It’s interesting to see Chapman return for a season with no real judges critiques, after being attacked online for his judging during Drag Race Canada. While Chapman did not return to the series, he is a veteran guest judge having appeared in season 9, the All Stars 3 improv challenge The Bitchelor, All Stars 5, and being featured in Season 13. The runway category is announced as “Spikes on the Runway.”

Image for article titled Into The Woods plus The People's Court yields few laughs on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars.

screenshot: RuPaul’s Drag Race

Luckily, the runway proved to be better than the main challenge. Despite looking like a mess while getting ready, Jaida presented a polished Park Avenue punk look in a power suit that was stunning and impactful. Blending Mugler and Blade, Jaida’s look was topped with a sculptural spiked afro. The only drawback was that no one offered to paint the back of her neck for her. Jinx managed to bend the category to her own unique brand of campy characterization. Taking the ugliest fabric, brown crushed velvet, Jinx crossed a porcupine with Norma Desmond. Monét, like Jaida, turned to a dark punk aesthetic. Her look combined two blazers with a repeated shoulder detail at the hips matched with a spiked masked and spiked mohawk. It was an interesting interpretation, but next to Jaida’s look, it needed either more polish and structure or more deconstruction to set it apart. Like Jinx, Yvie gave the category her own unique spin with a green bodysuit punctuated by black spike elements seemingly personifying the fable of the scorpion and the frog. The unwalkable shoes and crutches served as additional spike details. Another unexpected, conceptual look came from Trinity who interpreted spike as a stake with a gothic vampire look. The only issue with this look is that there is so much going on that you almost miss the actual spike element, which the editors were nice enough to give a few close-up shots while she walked the runway. The Vivienne gave the most literal and abundant use of spikes. hellraiser crossed with dominatrix, the only fault is that it was so reminiscent of Shea’s pleather Catwoman look in episode two. The clever decision to go with pale blue over dark set it apart on the runway. Raja also interpreted spikes in an unconventional color. Her look puts the spike prompt but also added unbelievable sparkle. A warrior on the runway, it was the softness of the look juxtaposed against the spikes that made it memorable. If there was a problem it was that the chasity belt that RuPaul mentioned read like a diaper. Rounding out the runway, Shea’s super galactic fairy felt like a reference to her neon caterpillar-butterfly three-in-one look from All Stars 5. It’s a gorgeous look, but the spikes felt like a last-minute addition and the entire mood was hampered by the impossibility of walking in it.

Despite the hopes of last week, the judges reverted to not actually judging. The critics were back to compliments and platitudes. During the challenge, you could tell that Michelle was trying to correct Jaida’s over-reliance on profanity, but in the critique, crickets. No mention of Monét’s snout, which looked like it could fall off at any time. It’s not that anyone did badly or that we have to see judges try to break down contestants, but if the critics are going to be solely positive, it seems like the segment could be done away with entirely. They should just declare the top two and move on. With that said, the top two this week are Jinx and The Vivienne.

Image for article titled Into The Woods plus The People's Court yields few laughs on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars.

screenshot: RuPaul’s Drag Race

Based on outfits alone, it feels like The Vivienne is going to win. It’s not that The Vivienne looks better than Jinx, it’s just you can tell with a dance costume opposed to a floor length gown will give a better show. It was a rather short lip sync, but The Vivienne clearly leads after the jacket throw and fringy spins. What really cinches the win for The Vivienne is when she forgoes the traditional air-instrument number and reaches for a Jaida-supplied actual xylophone to play during the instrumental break. RuPaul declares The Vivienne the winner. Now The Vivienne, the only winner who never won a cash prize on her original season, now has a grand total of $11,500. She also wins the right to block one of her fellow contestants. She does the standard walk across the stage, but makes it memorable by running toward Jaida, who has been foreshadowed throughout the episode to get the block, and at the last minute hands the plunger to Monét, who has desperately tried to avoid this very moment.

Stray Observations:

  • Biggest improvement from their original series goes to Jinx’s wigs.
  • Did no one offer to paint the back of Jaida’s neck?
  • Tajín was discussed much more than Mane Club. They should ask for their money back.
  • Hopefully, Jaida gets a Tajín sponsorship deal out of this episode.
  • Hamela Anderson and Halle Beary were the best parts of the improvs.
  • “As a black bear I cannot call animal control,” was a brilliant joke, but almost too real.
  • RuPaul referencing Trinity’s old nose and Raja’s long dead fans were the highlights of the judging panel.
  • As they get ready for the runway challenge, they discuss what they might do differently. Monet says she would be funny. Clearly, the contestants are able to evaluate their own work. Why can’t the show figure out a way to make this kind of honest and objective evaluation part of the judging panel?

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