RuPaul’s Drag Race – Season 7 Episode 8: “Conjoined Queens”

She’s baaaa-aaaaaaaaaaaack!

An Affair To Forget: Having survived her second lip-sync in a row, this time Jaidynn had to wipe Max’s lipstick off the mirror. Jaidynn told us that this was very sad for her, because she and Max were such good friends. Er, they were? It would’ve been nice if this had really been brought up on the show, because it felt a bit out of left field to me. I can’t really mourn what I never witnessed, guys. Meanwhile, everyone else was well aware that Jaidynn was on borrowed time at this point, so they were suitably muted in support/basically relaxing because they knew they were going to have to do something pretty terrible to get sent home this week. Besides, with the news that someone was going to be returning, everyone was kind of on edge anyway.

Royale Pardon: The mini-challenge for the week was your basic “do something with this basic material quickly and make us laugh”, in a style challenge where the queens had to model prison jumpsuit chic in a task named “Orange Is The New Drag”. Coco Montrese will be pleased. Special guest judge/advisor/saviour for this was Latrice Motherfuckin’ Royale, reprising her scene-stealing turn as Large Marge the prison guard from the Hot In Tuckahoe sitcom challenge in season four. I would say that seeing Latrice made me realise how unmemorable all of this season’s queens are, but let’s be honest: I was already there. Seeing Latrice just amplified everything I was already feeling. The general feeling of “eh” for this season’s queen’s was demonstrated by the challenge results, where everyone was kind of fine, nobody was terrible, but nobody was great either. Kennedy won, because…someone had to? And Kennedy seems to be the default in those scenarios.

Slight Return: Then Trixie Mattel came through the doors, and everyone was all “fuckin’ DUH”. And then just when everyone had got used to that, Tempest DuJour, Sasha Belle, Jasmine Masters, Mrs Kasha Davis, Kandy Ho, and Max also strode back in, because apparently we’re doing things a bit differently this year. This time, the Queens have to compete to earn their return to the competition, so they’re all going to be paired in a twosome with an existing queen (Just like All-Stars! Because that worked so well the first time) where they’ll all be playing conjoined twins. As the mini-challenge victor, Kennedy gets to assign the pairs, so she puts herself with Jasmine (because they’re besties), Ginger with Sasha (because they’re friends too apparently), Mrs Kasha Davis with Katya (Real Housewives of Drag Race reunion!), Pearl with Trixie (because Pearl sent her home and this was a chance to make nice), Max with Violet (because they seemed compatible), Kandy with Miss Fame (likewise), and Tempest with Jaidynn (because there were two people left). Ru informs the teams that the partner of the winning queen in this challenge will get to return to the competition, and as usual two failing queens will face the lip-sync for their lives.

The queens get to work and come up with the following ideas:
Kennedy and Jasmine: will be joined at the hip, and then will do something pageanty. My face, it is of surprise.
Ginger and Sasha: will be joined at the tits.
Max and Violet: will be old-fashioned showgirl queens, again joined at the hip.
Pearl and Trixie: will be a biologically-unbalanced set of queens where one is beautiful and charismatic and the other one is a walking disaster. (This is entirely Trixie’s idea, though you wouldn’t know it to hear Trixie talk.)
Miss Fame and Kandy: will also be joined at the hip and will be ‘plastic surgery victims’.
Katya and Mrs Kasha Davis: will be old Atlantic City hookers joined at the vagina.
Jaidynn and Tempest: intend to sidestep the obvious racial issue with the storyline that their mother was a whore who had a lot of guys in the same night, and they will be joined cock-to-butt.

Two’s Company, Is Also A Crowd: Most of the surviving queens are not best pleased at the thought of assisting someone to return to the competition (though in some cases, like with Katya and Kasha or Kennedy and Jasmine, they’re happier about it if the person they’re assisting is an actual friend), but Ginger is basically apoplectic about the whole process and specifically about being paired with Sasha, who has no ideas and does not want to contribute in any tangible fashion, preferring instead to just stand around talking with other people, asking them what they’ve been up to and going “hey, isn’t it crazy that we’re back?” (What’s crazy is that Sasha was introduced to us as a superfan who had cracked the formula of how to win RuPaul’s Drag Race) So not only has Ginger been left to do all the work single-handedly, but there’s also the added issue that neither Ginger nor Sasha can sew.

Redemption Song: So the point of this episode is clearly to give everyone who got booted in the front half of the season some sort of redemption arc, or at the very least some closure to their narrative. This works better for some than others: obviously Sasha doesn’t really get to improve her reputation in this episode, while Kandy’s and Jasmine’s contributions are also kept to a bare minimum. Tempest gets a decent amount of airtime to talk about drag and her life and the pain of hiding who you really are, which is all very interesting but at the same time I feel like Tempest’s backstory took up so much of her single episode on this season that, without wishing to sound callous, I’m not sure how much of it I want or need. Oh, and this week in “Miss Fame’s Comedy Corner”, Ru tries for the “how’s your head?” set-up again, and Fame misses it once more. Even Kandy, stood right next to her, is all “FFS!” at this point, and Kandy is hardly the hardiest hammer in the comedy toolbox. (It is brilliant, however, that Miss Fame’s tendency to talk tirelessly at Ru in the workroom has started getting the Geri Halliwell treatment from the editors. Brava.)

Look, Two’s Walking: On the runway, Kennedy and Jasmine are very solid and have got a very consistent look, but are slow and unexciting. Likewise, Fame and Kandy have got their look on point, but it’s not a new or exciting concept and they’re not really bringing anything unseen to it. Ginger and Sasha are a hot mess – actually, they’re a hot-glue mess because that’s how Ginger put their costume together. It’s all lumpy, uneven and misshapen, and there’s actually a giant glob of glue visible under Ginger’s tits. Tempest and Jaidynn are also a mess: their concept is kind of one-note, and for twins who were supposed to be joined cock-to-butt, I’m finding it borderline miraculous that they appear to be wearing individual pairs of trousers. In better news, Max and Violet work wonderfully together – Violet’s influence sees Max wearing actual make-up and exhibiting more personality than she’s ever shown on the runway before, while Katya and Kasha are flat-out hilariously, rolling around the stage drunkenly leering at everyone. Trixie and Pearl clearly have the best gimmick, and it’s executed brilliantly – they’ve obviously put a lot of time and thought into the stories of these two characters, but Trixie’s performance is so big that it overshadows Pearl to some extent.

Heart Of The Mattel: While I appreciate the show trying to make it look like the returnee actually had to work for their spot this time, the process still feels a bit flawed: it was always going to be Trixie, of course, but picking Pearl as the winner (because that’s how it was being judged, on the queens still in the competition) so that Trixie can return when they praised Trixie’s performance and criticised Pearl’s seems weird to me. Personally I thought both Max and Mrs Kasha Davis would have been equally deserving of a return to the competition (and to be perfectly honest I’d probably rather have either of them around than Trixie), but I’m not sure there was ever much of a serious plan to bring either of them back.

You Know Where The Diore Is: Unsurprisingly, Ginger/Sasha and Jaidynn/Tempest are the bottom two (imagine that, the two queens who were eliminated first end up being the biggest sandbags), and end up lip-synching to Tiffany’s ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’. It’s finally the kind of energetic, inspired lip-sync that we’ve really been lacking this season, and even Tempest and Sasha end up helping their partners rather than hindering them. But Ginger’s is the best performance (once she’s freed herself from those awful tits, and for once I don’t mean Sasha), so it’s third time unlucky for Jaidynn, who has to sashay away. Along with Sasha and Tempest, and Kandy and Max and Jasmine and Mrs Kasha Davis.

Untucked: Obviously it’s quite a loud one this week, because there are so many queens milling around backstage, but probably the most interesting part of it comes from Trixie, who reveals that “Trixie” was actually the derogatory nickname that her stepfather used to call her whenever he felt she was being too effeminate as a teenager, so Trixie reclaimed that as a drag name and made it something she could draw strength from. So that was an interesting character beat, and the sort of thing I like from my Untucked.

Next week: John Waters movies. I know nothing about John Waters, so this should be…interesting.


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