Serving face, face, FACE.
As Chris pointed out in his own recap of this episode, one of the interesting things about this season is that there aren’t two warring factions like in previous years, when we had Heathers vs Boogers, Freak Queens vs Tired Ass Showgirls or Rolaskatox vs The Theatre Kids. This time, we essentially have lots of little fractures in the group dynamic – Darienne hates Ben, Bianca and Trinity want to keep each other at arm’s length, Adore and Laganja are the best of frenemies, and so on.
As such, it feels like the producers spotted what was going on and designed this episode around the specific purpose of poking at all those burgeoning feuds and seeing which one would blow up the biggest. The mini-challenge was dispensed with as quickly as possible, because it was entirely irrelevant to that side of things (the queens had to put as much shiny crap on their hands as possible and then compete at hand modelling, Laganja wins because…well, why not?), so as soon as that was taken care of, Ru informed the queens that the challenge this week was to shill her new cosmetics range (Glamazon, by ColorEvolution. That’s “Glamazon, by ColorEvolution”), and Ru was going to pick the teams herself, just for MAXIMUM DRAMZ. So of course that meant pairing up Adore with Laganja (the better to explore the rising tension between them), Ben and Darienne (the better to make it impossible for Ben to ignore Darienne’s obvious loathing of her), Trinity and Bianca (the better to force two people with very different work ethics to have to co-operate on something), and Courtney and Joslyn (the better to explore how Joslyn’s hero-worship of Courtney would withstand the reality of Courtney as a human being). Each group was given their own demographic to target their ad towards: Adore and Laganja had mean girls, Ben and Darienne had cougars, Bianca and Trinity had working girls, and Courtney and Joslyn had hot mamas.
In terms of how all these dynamics played out: Adore was pleased to be able to spend some one-on-one time with Laganja again (because they were pals before the competition, lest we forget), but started to find her quite tiresome after a while – not so much because of her mannerisms and schtick (although that would have been entirely understandable), but because Laganja kept contributing terrible ideas to the process. Essentially, Laganja is someone best suited to being given minimal responsibility while simultaneously being led to believe that she’s steering the ship, and that’s pretty hard to pull off on a two person team. Despite Laganja’s obvious shortcomings (when asked by Ru and Michelle to act more like an airhead valley girl in the commercial, Laganja mistakenly assumed this was an invitation to reprise her Rachel Zoe impression. Ru’s and Michelle’s reactions spoke volumes), Adore’s mean girl act was right on target, and she managed to carry Laganja all the way to the win. Yep, that’s right – they were being evaluated as teams for this challenge, which seemed like a convenient excuse to be able to put at least one front runner in the lip-sync showdown this week. Also, hilariously: Michelle Visage had real issues with them acting like bullies, even though THAT’S WHAT THEY WERE TOLD TO DO, and Special Possibly A Bit Drunk Guest Judge Leah Remini shouted her down over it. Leah Remini really is so much fun now she’s left the Scientology behind. Her shouty, sprawling but enthusiastic approach to the judging panel was lots of fun, and I’d be more than happy to see her return for another stint – and hey, if Michelle ever decides she wants to go part-time like Santino did in season three, I hope Leah’s the first and only person they call to fill in for her. (If they so much as think about Kelly Osbourne, I am flipping over all of the tables. ALL OF THEM.)
Trinity also managed to benefit from who she’d been teamed up with, but in a more holistic way: she and Bianca managed to put their differences to one side and focus on making Trinity the best Trinity that she could be. Bianca encouraged her to be confident in her delivery, to find the humour within the role, and while Trinity still had some diction issues (Michelle couldn’t understand her pronunciation of “car do'”), their commercial with Bianca as a working mother/CEO and Trinity as a professional hooker was both funny and effective, clearly earning them the runner-up spot for the week.
The other two teams didn’t fare quite so well: Courtney and Joslyn were funny, but the filming process for the commercial looked pretty painful, and they got dinged by the judges for not making it clear that they were selling make-up, and Santino criticised them for looking too dowdy for the “hot mama” brief. And in a matter specific to Joslyn, Michelle was FURIOUS that she turned up for the black-and-white themed runway wearing a monochrome version of the same general beads-and-underwear outfit she got read for last week. There was also trouble between them as Courtney obviously views Joslyn as a lesser-tier queen (despite the fact that last week Joslyn was in the top three and Courtney was effectively told she was on notice) and wasn’t particularly shy about making this known, and even Joslyn with her sunny disposition couldn’t quite find a way to spin that into a positive, so she spent a fair bit of confessional and Untucked time talking about how hard it is when someone you admire thinks that you’re not good enough.
And speaking of hostile working environments, Darienne spent the entire task throwing shade at Ben every chance she could get, while Ben pretended not to know what the problem was. I get the sense that there’s nothing between them that couldn’t be solved by Darienne just saying outright “I think you’re really full of yourself” and Ben saying “gosh, I hadn’t realised I come across like that, I’ll try to take that on board”, i.e. the sort of conversation no one ever actually has on reality television, but instead Darienne kept making ha-ha-I’m-joking-no-seriously-I-hate-you comments and Ben just sat there and took it all. Their commercial was a failure too, as they decided that their cougars should basically be Jocelyn Wildenstein and made the whole thing revolve around funny frozen surgery face and the funny way it makes you talk, to the point where the judges told them that it read more like a commercial for surgery or drugs than for make-up. Also, Ben got told that her hair on the runway looked like a penis in a bandage, which was a harsh-but-fair assessment, and Michelle harped on about not really knowing who Ben is because she’s always in some sort of character. It’s almost like this is a competition for drag queens or something, isn’t it Michelle?
As a result, Ben and Darienne ended up lip synching against each other to Exposé’s ‘Point Of No Return’ (no, I’d never heard of it either, but it gave Bianca a chance to make a super-shady comment about how Darienne probably has it on cassette from its original release, so that more than justifies its inclusion in my book). It was probably the closest we’ve had yet, but to my mind Darienne’s performance was stronger and more suited to the song. Of course, given the way that the season has been edited so far, there was no way Ben was going to finish eighth, so while Darienne was the first queen declared safe, Ru decided to keep Ben as well. It’s as good a week as any for a non-elimination, I suppose, but given the nature of the challenge and the way that the contestants were actually judged as teams, I can’t help thinking this was always earmarked as a chance to drop a popular contestant into jeopardy and save them with a non-elimination. It was a little anticlimactic, which is perhaps why we got a double bill this week.
And in Untucked: Ben cried because Michelle doesn’t know who she is, and Bianca told her not to take it personally, because it’s Michelle and it basically just means she wants you to cry in front of her or wear a big frock or something. I mean, Michelle’s wants and needs aren’t that hard to second-guess. Just don’t wear green, whatever you do. Meanwhile, Laganja threw a strop because people weren’t suitably reverent towards her after winning a challenge, and as a result found out that everyone thought she wouldn’t have won if not for Adore. Laganja’s endless need to make every episode of Untucked entirely about her own personal journey is clearly every bit as wearying for the other contestants as it is for the viewers. Meanwhile, Trinity finally got a chance to enjoy not being in jeopardy and bonded a bit more with Bianca over her inner dark side. The message in the Big Pink Box was a lesson in how to control your edit on Untucked from none other than Alyssa Edwards: this of course gave her drag daughter Laganja another opportunity to pop her lips in response to everything Alyssa said and scream “YASSSSSS MAMA, OWCURRRRRRRRRRR” a lot. Everyone was fucking sick of her shit at this point, and more so when her origin story turned out to be “I told Alyssa that I wanted to do drag, she told me not to because I’m so brilliant at everything else and it would be a crime to all of those other industries if I devoted myself to drag instead”. Courtney told Joslyn that she was “not as polished” as the other queens in the competition, which is probably true, but at the same time, Laganja Estranja has absolutely no business nodding along in response. Oh, and then Ben led an entirely spontaneous expedition off to the other bar, accompanied by Joslyn, Trinity and Laganja, which meant that each room had one member of each team in it and they could all complain about how annoyed they were with their teammate. HOW CONVENIENT!
Next: drag is easy, comedy is hard.