RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8, Episode 9 Recap

July 1, 2023

Well hello hello hello! Apologies for missing the last two weeks of recaps; I was traveling overseas and just caught up on Episode 7 (Ru Crime Story improv comedy) and Episode 8 (I’m a Winner, Baby design challenge). Maybe I’ll go back and blog them in the next few weeks, but honestly I don’t have much to say. I thought the winners were largely correct — I might have given the improv challenge to Jessica over LaLa — and the eliminations (Kahanna, then LaLa) were absolutely the right choices. Both succeeded in using this All Stars opportunity to reframe their Drag Race experience, but I don’t think either had anything additional to show us at this point.

As Episode 9 opened, there was, of course, controversy over Alexis’s decision to eliminate LaLa, after LaLa spared her in Episode 8. Kandy and Jimbo raised this on the show, but it became a tempest in a teapot on social media over the past week, with Season 14’s Kornbread — increasingly the least congenial of all the Miss Congenialitys — slapping at Alexis for going back on her word. Alexis defended herself both on the show and online by stating that she never promised LaLa that she would not eliminate her, just that the she would never forget what LaLa did for her. People might consider that semantics, but those people have clearly never watched a reality TV show. If someone does not say explicitly, “I will not vote to eliminate you,” you have no alliance. Alexis had to cut someone. And I think she did the math correctly, knowing that axing Kandy would have had blowback from not only the fandom (she’s polarizing, but Kandy has some extremely loyal fans), but Ru and production as well, who have a clear fondness for Kandy. LaLa was the easier cut there politically, although she was also less of a threat to win than Kandy. But the fandom being what it is, Alexis cannot catch a break, and is being drubbed over what was a completely ethical move. It must be exhausting to deal with all this shit, I swear.

This week’s challenge: the roast of Carson Kressley. Overall I thought everyone did solid to excellent — there were no bombs here. I’ll go over my thoughts, weakest to strongest.

Kandy was the weakest of the night for me, both in the roast and on the runway. Her set made me laugh the least, but again, it wasn’t bad. It was roughly on par with her Season 13 roast — which she won, I believe because everyone else sucked — if not slightly better. Her stage presence has clearly grown since then. One of the judges mentioned that she knows how to captivate an audience, and I thought that came through even via the cameras. On the runway, the category was Snow Bunnies, and Kandy gave us yet another bra/panty combo with some accessories. I don’t understand how she is not getting read week after week for very similar, uninspired silhouettes. I feel like we’ve seen that top on her at least four times this season. I also don’t see any evolution in her looks from Season 13. All of that said, I found myself gravitating toward Kandy this episode. She seemed softer somehow, more open and playful than she has been in previous episodes. I wonder if that’s more like the real Kandy, as I’ve heard over and over again that she’s a total sweetheart in real life.

Alexis also delivered a decent set, a big improvement from her absolute disaster at the Season 9 roast that nearly got her eliminated. The judges criticized Alexis for not having enough jokes in her set compared to the others, but I absolutely laughed more and more consistently with Alexis than I did with Kandy. I loved her look on the runway. The super-long hat was a bit odd to me, but I thought the concept, the colors, the fit, and the wig and make-up all felt very fresh. I think it was the second-best runway of the night.

Jessica Wild was strong in the challenge and solid on the runway. What a wonderful journey for Jessica so far. Having been on the show 13 years ago, and to be doing so well this time out — it’s really lovely to see. Jessica was funny and got in a few zingers. Was some of it only funny because it was Jessica telling the jokes, with her unique delivery? Sure. Did it still delight me? Absolutely. I hope Jessica is getting a whole slew of new fans from this season, because she is deserving of all the praise she’s getting.

Lastly, Jimbo once again crushed the episode, getting his fourth solo win this season. I believe that is a record on Drag Race — anyone who had more either had a team win in there, or won in a Top 2 format, with two winners per episode. Jimbo has won 4 all on his own, and that’s not counting Jimbo’s wins on UK vs the World or Canada 1. Jimbo made the audacious choice to perform the roast as Joan Rivers, whom he did for the CAN1 Snatch Game and absolutely nailed. This was funny, it was raunchy, it went for the jugular — all the things a good roast should do. Jimbo’s snow runway was also exquisite. For the lipsynch, Jimbo came out in his Bologna Ghost get-up from the UKvs talent show. At first I was disappointed that Jimbo was recycling not one but two challenge performances this episode. But then I realized, many AS8 viewers probably haven’t seen UKvs, and even fewer probably watched Drag Race Canada. (If you’re among them, fix that now; all three seasons of DRCAN are great, with three terrific winners; Canada vs the World was also an unexpectedly lovely season.) So it’s smart of Jimbo to repurpose successes from those spinoffs that viewers of the mothership may have never seen.

And then, the impossible happened: Jimbo WON A LIPSYNCH. That has never happened in the history of Drag Race! Jimbo has lost literally every single lipsynch he was involved in up to this point. And he won against a legit lipsynch assassin, Silky Nutmeg Ganache, who was ready to do so! The song choice, “Freakazoid,” certainly helped, but so did Jimbo leaning into kooky via Bologna Ghost (and actual bologna) instead of trying to look cute and sexy, which I suspect has been the issue with the previous lipsynchs. Jimbo scored a sweet $10K, and made the difficult decision to send home Alexis Michelle (all three other contestants were up for elimination).

The reasoning for the chop was that Alexis received the worst judges critiques. I can buy that, because as we’ve said before, the judges almost never criticize Kandy, and routinely overpraise her. This season, Alexis has been consistently underappreciated by both the panelists/producers and the fandom. You could tell the elimination really upset her. But I hope Alexis realizes how incredible she was this season. I always admired her talent in Season 9, but as a personality I didn’t always feel the connection. I was 100% on board with her this time around. I think Alexis addressed all her weaknesses this season, and presented an extremely polished, diverse All Stars run. She should be proud of herself — she really did make the most of this opportunity. Will the judges or fans give her the credit for that? Almost certainly not. But there’s not much we can do about that.

I’d like to point out, briefly, that after all the talk about Alexis not protecting people she said she would, Kandy this episode voted to cut her after explicitly stating last week she would not. So…hello, Kettle, this is the Pot. You’re black.

Next week: the Final 3 make over lesbians into drag queens.

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9 months ago

This was a great roast! One of the strongest, everyone gave it their all. Just as Jinkx proved to us she was the gold standard for Snatch, I think Jimbo just set a similar bar for this challenge.