RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8, Episode 4 Recap

May 26, 2023

This fucking season. I swear.

This week, the remaining nine queens were divvied up into teams and tasked with creating trailers for new TV series. I want you to remember that part. The end products were supposed to be pitch trailers for TV series. The queens were allowed to do basically anything they wanted. Any genre, any approach, any characters — whatever. Just make it funny, basically.

The three teams — decided via glitter hidden in balloons popped by the Pit Crew mounting/being mounted by the queens — were: Heidi N. Closet, LaLa Ri, and Kahanna Montrese in “Run, Queen, Run,” a thriller comedy about busted queens trying to steal a successful queen’s magical tucking panties; Jimbo, Kandy Muse, and Jessica Wild in “Best Friends for Never,” a teen horror comedy about two snotty bitches who bully a new girl that eventually snaps and murders them; and Darienne Lake, Jaymes Mansfield, and Alexis Michelle in “Get Off Island,” a spoof on “Lost” where ditzy broads wash ashore on a tropical island where they are besieged by celebrities who faked their deaths (think Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, etc.).

Team “Get Off Island” was clearly getting the loser edit from the very beginning of the episode. Darienne took the lead on the concept, Jaymes cosigned on it, and Alexis raised concerns that maybe it was too complicated. She rolled over real quick, and after Michelle Visage — in the director chair — made it very clear to all involved how unenthusiastic she was about their bit, Alexis immediately gassed up the bus in the work room, and proceeded to drive right over Darienne in particular once they got to judging. Not a cute look, at all, Alexis. In my opinion, there was nothing wrong with their performance in the challenge. The primary criticism was that it was “too complicated” and that it wasn’t as funny as the panel expected that group to be. We’ll come back to that in a second.

Team “Run, Queen, Run” pivoted from their original concept, of the busted queens trying to kidnap the gorgeous queen, by switching to a magical tucking panties MacGuffin. I personally don’t think this concept was any less complicated than “Get Off Island,” and while there were some funny moments — Heidi and LaLa were both committed to their foolery and busted looks — it’s not like it was laugh-out-loud funny. Kahanna was present. She wasn’t bad, but she didn’t add anything. She required a lot of direction from Michelle. Some scenes did not make any sense (what was Heidi with the “touch it, touch it” thing?). But my biggest issue is, How is this supposed to be a TV show? Do the thieves attempt to steal Kahanna’s tucking panties episode after episode? Are they the Hamburglars of drag? How is this a concept that could sustain more than, I don’t know, 30 minutes in total? Given that, how does it meet the challenge guidance overall? Regardless, the team was safe.

Team “Best Friends for Never” was the winning team. There was drama early on in the conception stage as Jimbo threw out ideas, going to the “Mean Girls”/”Carrie” spoof seemingly quickly. And Kandy shot down every idea Jimbo put out there (at least per the edit we saw, which I’m confident is a heightened version of what actually happened). I said in my previous blogs that Kandy has been coming off more likable this season than she did in S13, and that changed considerably this episode. In addition to her being a No Person in the team portion of the challenge (you know, that person you work with who shoots down any ideas but who doesn’t come back with any practical solutions, just more bitching? The fucking worst…), she was also stirring up drama in the work room and is clearly playing this game harder than just about anybody I can recall in All Stars history, with the alliance talk and voting strategy. Anyway, their trailer featured Kandy playing herself as a Regina George character, Jessica as her slutty No. 2, and Jimbo as the dorky new girl they relentlessly terrorize until she snaps and murders them both. The end. If the main criticism of the Low team was that it just wasn’t funny enough, what about this trailer was funny? Kandy fake made out with a Pit Crew member. Jessica fake blew a Pit Crew member. They threw things at Jimbo. Jimbo killed them. The only thing that was remotely funny were the shots of Jimbo screaming in existential rage. How is that clever or interesting? It’s lowest-common-denominator shit. Blowjob jokes. Jimbo had zits. Like…what am I missing? And again I say, How is this the trailer for a TV show? Is the show a season-long arc of two assholes shitting all over a new girl, and her descent into madness? The trailer shows us the end of the story. How does this meet the challenge?

You may be reading this and thinking, Oh my god, stop taking the challenge so literally; they were just supposed to do skits, who cares if they could actually be TV shows? But like THAT WAS THE CHALLENGE. If the challenge was just to make skits, then the challenge should have been Make Skits. This isn’t even the first time they’ve done this. This is very similar to a challenge in Original Recipe Drag Race Season 9, which gave us Teets & Asky, Sister Mary Koonts, and the terrible Nina & Tina. Most if not all of those could have be serialized shows (Nina & Tina was barely thought out, so I can’t speak on that). Like, this isn’t that hard. And 2/3 of the teams this episode just totally ignored the concept of the challenge, and they were either safe or rewarded for it. It makes no sense.

So we had Jimbo win, again, for the second time in 4 episodes (high 3/4 of the first 4 episodes, for those keeping track). Jimbo was easily the best part of that team, but that’s damning with faint praise. Jessica and Kandy were both High for playing broadly drawn versions of themselves. Which should not surprise anyone, because Kandy Muse can literally only play Kandy Muse. The only time she didn’t was the improv challenge in S13, where she gave us FUCKING NOTHING. I love Jessica but the constantly going straight for the sex jokes is getting old quickly. None of this groundbreaking. None of this new for viewers. It’s all quite boring, in fact.

Jimbo was pitted against Lipsynch Assassin Shannel to “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett. This was Jimbo’s best lipsynch outing yet…and she still lost. It was not a great lipsynch, but that said, I would love to see Shannel back for a full All Stars season. She looks great, she’s a total professional, and she was one of the original queens fucked ruthlessly by Production. I’d like a do-over, please.

Speaking of queens fucked over by Production, let’s talk Heidi N. Closet, who is visibly chaffing at getting virtually no attention from the judges. I thought Heidi and LaLa were both better in their skit than Kandy or Jessica in theirs, but they were judged as teams. Which I guess means that the judges found Jimbo’s performance so strong that it outweighed anything else we saw. I thought Jimbo was good, but I wouldn’t go that far. In four episodes, Heidi has been High once, for the “SNL” spoof. In “Untucked” last week Heidi flirted with quitting the competition, and this week, when people were pushing buttons in the Work Room, she very quickly reverted to a negative place, and threatened to spill some off-camera T that would burn this season down. The gap remained closed. For now.

After Alexis left her teammates for dead on the runway, she was marked safe, leaving Jaymes and Darienne in the Bottom 2. And it didn’t take much to figure out where this was going. The lipstick vote went to Darienne, and she was axed. This was a surprise to nobody, probably even Darienne. They chucked her in the Bottom last week and she was getting very little attention from the edit. It sucks, because she waited a long time for this return spot, and I don’t think she was ever going to be allowed to go deep in this competition. I thought she was solid in the challenge, and that team’s script certainly had more interesting lines and references than the other two. But none of that matters because Kandy Muse was playing Kandy Muse, and Jimbo was screaming, and I guess that’s just HYSTERICAL, you guys. Groundbreaking television, really.

I failed to mention the runway prompt, which was Ass the World Turns, aka looks that focused on the booty. I was largely unimpressed by most of what came down the runway. I will give props to Kandy for doing something very different for her in the inflatable anime look. And Heidi at least attempted to do something different by giving us Sexy Fashion Eeyore, but I am not sure I ever needed to see that concept brought to life, thanks.

Speaking of runways, note that the eliminated queens’ looks for this week were not even shown in the main episode, so that Fame Game twist is already going SUPER well.

Next week it’s Snatch Game of Love. I find myself struggling to care, because this season more than any All Stars season since at least 5 feels like it is very much on rails, leading to an inevitable conclusion. There is a clear group of frontrunner girls who are getting all of the attention and praise from the judges and the edit — even when unwarranted based on challenge performance — and the rest are apparently just there to pick off, Agatha Christie style. That’s not compelling television, and I hope something drastic changes soon because this ain’t it.

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