RuPaul’s Drag Race – Season 7 Episode 9: “Divine Inspiration”

My Waters have broken!

Still, Waters Runs Deep: This, in all honesty, has not been a vintage season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. It hasn’t been a terrible one, but the combination of mediocre queens and uninspiring challenges has made it difficult to muster up much excitement for it as we squeak our way towards the end. This week’s episode felt like a step in the right direction by bringing in John Waters as a guest judge and theming the whole episode around his work, which I’m sure is still a formative experience for a lot of drag queens and LGBTQ kids as a whole. The only problem for me as a viewer/blogger is that the only John Waters film I’ve seen all the way through is Serial Mom, so there were probably a lot of references in this episode that flew right over my head, so I’d like to apologise in advance for anything I missed. (I’ve seen the musical version of Hairspray, does that count? Ah well, can’t blame a guy for trying.)

Reading Festival: The first order of the day was for Ginger to wipe Jaidynn’s lipstick message off the mirror, as everyone around her exhaled loudly that they did not expect to see her on that side of the workroom quite so early on. And if Trixie was expecting a riotous reception, well…there was a possibility of a riot, that’s for sure. Nobody was particularly pleased to have an additional opponent in the competition, although there was a vague sense of “well, if SOMEBODY had to come back, I’m glad it was you, I guess”, which is better than nothing. Miss Fame, however, was not shy in admitting how pissed off she was at the prospect of being bested by someone who hadn’t even been there for half of the competition. (Foreshadowing!)

The episode opened with the traditional read-the-other-queens mini-challenge, which is always a favourite of mine. However – and I hate to sound like I’m being negative about this season yet again – this year’s reads felt curiously toothless. Probably the best read of the entire challenge was Trixie asking Ginger if she ever saved Carol Ann from the poltergeist in the TV (admittedly I did have to resort to Google to get the visual reference, but it was a good one), and I did also like Violet’s “haute couture? More like haute glue” read on Trixie, but those were the standouts in a very, very lean selection. Bonus points go to Pearl for apparently attempting to read Ru as part of the challenge, but given that we never saw what she actually said, I’m assuming she either said nothing, or said something that wasn’t particularly funny. I am disappoint. I’m going to go back and watch the season five edition again, where even the weaker reads were redeemed by Alyssa Edwards howling with delight. Oh, and Trixie won, which seems fair enough.

Muddying The Waters: The maxi-challenge for the week saw the queens auditioning for roles in musicals inspired by John Waters movies, with songs provided by Lovely Lucian Piane and direction courtesy of the uncompromising Michelle Visage. The queens were instructed to form themselves into teams, at which point Katya and Kennedy made a beeline for each other, as did Ginger and Trixie, leaving the unholy trinity of Miss Fame, Pearl and Violet to work with each other yet again.

Kennedy and Katya were given a song called ‘Cha Cha Heels’, inspired by the film Female Trouble. Katya initially wanted to play the star role of Dawn, because she saw that there was a lot of comic stuff that she could do with it, but then Kennedy pointed out that it was a heavy singing role, and given what we learnt about Katya’s vocal talents in the spoof video challenge, they agreed that it would be sensible for Katya to play the role of Dawn’s mother, while the stronger singer Kennedy played Dawn. When they went in to rehearse and film with Michelle and Lucian, Kennedy gave a good vocal performance but had a little bit of trouble remembering her lines and hitting her marks (like when she forgot to drop the Christmas tree on Katya, which was the big climax of the scene). Katya, however, took the underwritten role of the mother and played it drunk, brash and crazy, really letting loose and rolling around with her legs in the air, much to the delight of Michelle and Lucian.

Ginger and Trixie’s song was ‘Eggs!’, inspired by Pink Flamingoes. At first Ginger was cautioned that she was playing it too sweet and innocent as Edie, so she really went for broke and trashed it up as much as she possibly could. This translated into her performance being a total scene-stealer in a very literal sense, because there wasn’t much that Trixie could do to keep up. For her first full episode back in the competition, we got a lot of Trixie this week, particularly in terms of confessionals with Trixie telling us how brilliant Trixie is, and also with Trixie worrying that everyone else who returned to the competition in previous seasons ended up going home the same week, and she doesn’t want to continue that thread.

Finally, Violet, Miss Fame and Pearl had ‘Poo!’, inspired by Female Trouble again. (This was one small problem with this episode: to make the task appropriately draggy, each scene had to be a famous one involving Divine, which immediately reduced the pool that the show was able to draw from. When you factor in the problem that Hairspray has already been a musical, that’s one less film on the shortlist already, so that left the episode with the impression that John Waters isn’t quite as prolific as he actually has been.) The theme here was that Violet would play regular Divine, considering whether to go ahead and eat the infamous dog faeces, with Pearl as the good angel on Divine’s shoulder and Miss Fame as the bad one. Violet underplayed her role, Miss Fame overplayed hers, and Miss Fame spent far too much time trying to direct Pearl. On top of that, there was absolutely no chemistry within the group whatsoever, making this easily the flattest of all three scenes.

Ugly-Pretty: The theme for the runway this week was “ugliest dress ever”, and feel free to make your own jokes about everyone’s previous sartorial failings here. Some played it a little too safe: Kennedy wore an old-lady floral church dress that was a little too on-the-nose, while Ginger wore a ruffled green dress with polka dots that – in all honesty – didn’t look a million miles away from the sort of thing Ginger has worn down the runway any other week. Some were decent, but in the middle: Fame wore a giant inflated silver kaftan, while Pearl and Trixie both went for variations on a sweet 16/prom outfit that was frilly and tacky (and Pearl even went for a Trixie-inspired make-up look). The two standouts of the week were Katya, who wore a thirsty-looking frizzy red wig to go alongside a genuinely hideous knitted yellow dress, and Violet who wore a multicoloured harlequin gown that looked like the sort of thing Coco The Clown mght have worn for a birdman competition. Kudos to Violet for being the most fashionable queen of the season and still being able to look the absolute worst when she needed to.

Female Impersonator Trouble: When it came to giving feedback, Ru, Michelle, Carson and John were joined by this week’s other guest judge Demi Lovato, who apparently turned into Rachel Berry so gradually that none of us noticed. Kennedy’s performance this week was generally well-regarded, but she was told that she could have gone further with both her performance and her runway look. Katya got resounding praise for both her performance and her look, but because stupid hipsters ruin everything, John noted that her dress looked like the sort of thing he could see the coolest girl in Brooklyn wearing. Ginger was praised for her uncanny take on Edith Massey’s original performance in the film, while Trixie was warned that Ginger overshadowed her. Miss Fame was told that she actually sold her outfit too well, making it look almost like high-fashion, and that she acted far too hard in her audition video. Violet’s performance as Divine was criticised for not really capturing the essence of an iconic performer, but her runway dress got rave reviews. Pearl was somewhere in the middle, having given an acceptable performance in both the video and on the runway, but not really wowing anyone. Just to stir the shit, everyone was asked who deserved to go home this week, and everyone said Miss Fame apart from Violet, who said Trixie, and Miss Fame herself, who said Pearl.

Ginger was given the overall victory (Katya WOZ ROBBED, honestly), while Miss Fame and Pearl were left to lip sync to Demi Lovato’s ‘Don’t Really Care’ (featuring Cher Lloyd, of all people). I don’t know if you’re familiar with that song (I’m not, because Demi Lovato only has one good song, and that’s ‘Heart Attack’), but allow me to inform you that it’s an awful nothing of a song that does not lend itself to an inspiring lip-sync performance in any sense. As a result, Miss Fame literally did nothing with it apart from walking up and down the runway, and Pearl just channeled Debbie Harry again with far less success. In a season full of substandard lip-sync performances, this stands out as one of the absolute worst, and honestly I thought they should both have been sent home for it. And Demi Lovato should’ve been sent home as well, just for good measure. However, Ru decided to grant Pearl a reprieve, and Miss Fame was sent home after weeks of circling the drain. I’d really grown fond of her, so I was sad to see her go, but I suppose her time had come.

And In Untucked: This week, a thirsty Ginger cruised a crew member on the smoking ramp, and had a good chuckle with Katya about how terrifyingly dry Katya’s wig was. Essentially, all the good stuff happened outside yet again, with the possible exception of Kennedy falling asleep on the sofa after being left with Trixie and Violet. There was also a supremely awkward moment where Ginger and Pearl had spent the whole time trashing Miss Fame, and the second Katya opened her mouth to say anything, the door opened and Miss Fame swept past with a face like thunder. Oh, and Ginger’s determination that no one in the world deserves to win anything as much as she does led her to deduce that Violet had literally stolen everyone else’s ideas for her fright-frock and that’s why the judges liked it. Oh Ginger, you vile misanthrope. I really hope you don’t win.

Next week: a dancing challenge. Where’s Alyssa when you need her?

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