RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 8 Episode Three – RuCo’s Empire
The next day, the queens dance into the Werk Room, even Kim Chi. Robbie barely has time to note that they’ve survived another challenge before RuPaul is running into the room with another Big Pimp hat (this one is black), and the Pit Crew are wheeling in a rack of black robes. This is for the mini-challenge, which is for the queens to create Supreme Court “realness.” The less real the better. A quick shot of Derrick hot-gluing sequins and we’re off to court!
RuPaul reads mini-bios of each Supreme Court Justice (or is that Rustice?) as she struts by. Naomi does a dozen mouth pops, Derrick whips her hair like Britney would. Acid Betty has altered her robe into a short, utterly sequined cocktail dress. Robbie has added red tulle and claims to be Donald Trump’s ex-girlfriend. Kim Chi’s bio says she’s from the firm of “Ching, Chang, Chong,” which even embarrasses RuPaul. Thorgy has added a rainbow to her robes — which seems vaguely political. Chi Chi drops and gives us booty pops. Naomi wins.
Then RuPaul reveals the returning queen — Naysha. This is who I wanted to return, but it seems a little anti-climactic, after a week of rumors and speculation. I’m not really excited, but there’s only time for Robbie to throw a little confessional shade before we’re into the main challenge.
It’s a team acting challenge — to perform scenes parodying Empire. Since that show is already high camp, it’s going to be interesting to see the queen try and top it. Naomi, as the mini-challenge champion, captains one team. Naysha, as a welcome back gift, gets to captain the other. They quickly pick their people. Naomi picks Robbie, Bob and Chi-Chi. Naysha picks Derrick, Thorgy, and Kim Chi. Left with the choice of Cynthia and Acid Betty, Naomi goes for the less abrasive Cynthia.
Naysha’s team reads the script. Naysha gives Kim Chi the starring role of “Chocolate Chip Cookie,” (the Taraji P. Henson part). Kim Chi isn’t comfortable, but gives it a try. Acid Betty makes faces and questions Kim Chi vocal choices.
Back from commercial, Bob explains that they are doing a scene from Empire, and it’s right up his alley. Naomi has never seen Empire. Robbie seems to be directing — and rather well. Chi Chi is confident that they are going to win.
On Team Naysha, Naysha says, “Just an observation that I’m making? Thorgy and Kim switch.” Okay, that’s a decision and not an observation, but it’s a good one — because Kim Chi is definitely no Taraji P. Henson. Thorgy reads her lines with a lot more energy.
The teams discover that it’s Thorgy and Bob in the same starring role — and Thorgy really perks up. You can see she relishes the challenge of being compared with Bob. “There’s a fire under my ass,” Thorgy confesses.
Now we’re at the video shoot. RuPaul makes sure to thank River Works, who sponsored the set, and to introduce co-director Faith Evans. Team Naysha is first up, with Derrick getting the “lame” sound effect simply for greeting RuPaul with the phrase “Whazzup.” We see a line from Thorgy, and a couple from Acid Betty, and then Kim Chi says a line — followed by the lame sound effect. RuPaul tells her she’s not being rachet enough and suggest she add finger wags and tongue pops. Which, amazingly, she immediately does. I think of Kim Chi living in her own special anime-filled bubble. But, give her a clue and she’ll run with it. (Unlike seven previous seasons, where RuPaul gives notes, and the queens stare blankly at him.) Also, Kim Chi’s face is completely different than her normal anime-face. It looks nothing like Anika, the character she’s parodying, but it works.
Thorgy has to beat Naysha’s character with a broom — and she does it with relish. Derrick’s big moment as “Gingersnap” is to come out to her family. She tries, but she can’t match the energy of the other queens. I guess that, along with sewing lessons, aspiring Drag Racers need to take a few acting lessons. Wait, not acting lessons. Over-acting lessons.
Now to Team Naomi. Naomi is secretly fingerling, because Faith Evans was married to Biggie Smalls. RuPaul invites the queens to ask Faith questions. Bob asks, which hand is better to “slap a ho” with? Faith goes with the left, since she’s left-handed. It takes me more than a moment to recognize Chi-Chi, who is playing “Shortbread,” (based on “Hakeem Lyon”). But I have to say, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a convincing “butch lesbian” character on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Cynthia does her bit, but can’t remember her line. Neither can Robbie, which seems ironic, since Robbie has the most training.
On Elimination Day, the queens prepare for the “rollerskating” runway theme. Bob admits that he’s never roller-skated. He’s trying to mask that inconvenient fact by creating a cardboard car. He’s going for a Transformer effect. Robbie is hoping he can make up for his horrible acting performance with a killer roller-girl outfit. Apparently, he worked at a roller rink. (At the Season 6 finale, Jinkx Monsoon roller-skated onstage in a huge princess skirt. Is this a Seattle thing?)
We hear Thorgy’s backstory. While Thorgy was living in California, her mother was dying from cancer, but her family didn’t tell her until the very end. Thorgy rushed home, but her mother was on her deathbed — and she never got the chance to really say goodbye. She doesn’t want to be, because she knew it came from love, but she’s angry at her father and sister for keeping the truth from her. “I don’t know where to put that anger,” she confesses.
RuPaul skates down the runway in an impeccable pink and blue jumpsuit. Faith Evans and Tasha Smith (from Empire) are guest judges, along with Michelle and Carson (whose favorite cookies are “Samoans.”)
Naysha wears a pink satin disco top, with pink satin panties. She skates pretty well — until she falls. Thorgy looks like Suzanne Somers with an afro — which works, because there was that shot of people roller skating in Santa Monica in theme song of Three’s Company. Well played, Thorgy. Derrick Barry does a Katy Perry imitation. Kim Chi cannot be faulted for her runway walk this week. Acid Betty is wearing Mad Max. Naomi Smalls wears her familiar silhouette — in pink this time. Bob has abandoned her Transformer car plan, and looks like a Tron robot. She flails badly, but doesn’t fall. Or at least, they don’t show her falling. Cynthia has gone country, Barbara Mandrell-style. Chi Chi is good at skating, just like she’s good at everything. Robbie has on bedazzled denim, with her Rita Hayworth hair.
Quick to the scenes. Kim Chi does a lot of tongue-popping, but her lines are unintelligible. Acid Betty’s “Macaroon,” plays her with multiple personalities and, possibly, fleas. Thorgy is great, Naysha is definitely okay, and Derrick is, unfortunately, in another play. The scene earns big laughs and applause.
Naomi claims to never have seen Empire, but she’s doing a perfect imitation of Anika. Robbie isn’t as bad as the show pretends she is. Cynthia tries hard, Chi-Chi (as I said before) is the best butch lesbian ever on the show. But Bob? Bob is the scene. Bob is everything Cookie Lyon can, should, and ever shall be. If Simon Cowell were judging this — he’d just get up and give it a standing ovation.
Naomi, Naysha, Kim Chi, and Chi Chi are quickly called safe. I’m relieved for Kim Chi — who was getting a loser edit during the main challenge. I’m a bit disappointed for Chi Chi, and Naomi, who gave excellent performances.
As for the tops and bottoms, Thorgy is praised for her meticulous performance. Derrick is challenged by Michelle to show her soul (instead of delivering Britney Spears or — this week — Katy Perry). Acid Betty’s performance is described as “Sybil, with a bit of Carol Burnett.” Michelle thinks Betty’s outfits are getting predictable and wants to see her do something different. “Be you — but don’t be you. Give us less, but more!” Carson snarks.
Bob’s “Tin Man” runway look needed lubricant, but Tasha loved her performance. “Taraji is going to die! Lee Daniels is going to die!” she raves. Cynthia was terrible, but also hilarious. RuPaul asks her what she thinks about her outfit. “I love it,” Cynthia bubbles, reminding me so much of Joslyn Fox. The judges can’t help but laugh along with her.
Michelle’s critique on Robbie’s runway is to lose the necklace she’s wearing. They criticize her acting performance. Robbie explains that she had trouble incorporating the directors’ suggestions — and that she was originally cast as Vanilla Wafer (the Anika part). That was a smart recasting move, because Naomi did a great job as Vanilla. Honestly? Robbie wasn’t terrible.
In the end, Bob wins the challenge and $3,500 dollars in fancy eye wear from Bradley Kenneth. I would have called Derrick and Cynthia for the bottom, but it’s Robbie and Cynthia instead. RuPaul gives them choice to lip-sync in either “heels or wheels.” Cynthia chooses heels. The determination with which Robbie chooses wheels makes me sure that she’ll win. However, Cynthia really serves it, and she seems to be drawing the eyes of the judges until Robbie flies off the stage backwards. She lands on a crash mat, so it was a planned move — and RuPaul gives her the victory. Cynthia is sad to leave, but has no regrets. Since she managed to plant a catchphrase (“cu-cu”) into the RuLexicon, she’ll be remembered.
Link to Full Episode
Unfortunately, Logo is locking their episodes. You need to have a TV provider to see Episodes Two and Three.
The sad music starts and we’re into Untucked. The backstage is swept, and the stagehands come forward to get everyone down the steps without killing themselves. Naysha is overjoyed to still be in the competition. Chi Chi wants to slay, not be safe. Naysha is excited to have survived the first elimination. She figures she dodged the returning queen curse.
They discuss which queens are top and bottom. Thorgy and Bob are certain to be tops. Kim Chi thinks (inexplicably) that Acid Betty will on the bottom. Chi Chi’s guess for the bottom two are Cynthia and Robbie. She attributes Robbie’s poor performance to helping everyone else and forgetting about her own lines. (Which is exactly what happened to Robbie in Episode One, come to think of it.) Naomi says that Robbie is too much in her head. Chi Chi calls Robbie’s wig a cheap version of Naomi’s, which brings a smile to Naomi’s face.
They talk about the awfulness of Cynthia’s country realness outfit, which Chi Chi thinks will send her home. Naysha insists that she loves Cynthia, but joins in on the general ragging. Chi Chi was surprised that Kim Chi wasn’t in the bottom, because Michelle would hate her “underwear” look. Kim Chi blinks in surprise and explains that her outfit (all colorful feathers and nude lingerie) is an interpretation of John Galliano look. Part of it was made by her friend, Raoul. Naysha breaks in to talk about Raoul, who is one of her friends, too. He’s apparently 5’4″ and cute as a button.
Talk turns to types. Kim Chi likes men who are tall, dark, and handsome. She asks if any other queens have ever made love while in drag. Chi Chi has and acts it out for everyone. Naomi asks if they’d have sex with anyone in the cast. Chi Chi would with Bob — and talks at length about her reasons. Which are basically that he’s tall and presumably well-endowed. She’s asked about Acid Betty and I can’t make out her answer, because it’s all bleeped, but whatever she says makes the others roll around with laughter.
They are joined by the top and bottom queens. Acid Betty tells them she’s on the bottom, but Bob insists that Betty is in the top group. Robbie notes that Michelle didn’t like her roller girl look. She begs to differ, there were many photographs at the roller rink. In the seventies, everyone was wearing Farrah Fawcett hair. (The unfortunate thing is that Robbie’s hair is not “Farrah Fawcett” at all.) Also, Michelle didn’t like her necklace — but it wasn’t even Robbie’s. She borrowed it from Thorgy. Thorgy laughs and reveals that she lent Laila some cuffs last week. So, her jewelry is voodoo. Thorgy confesses that she’s going to keep lending out her jewelry until she sends everyone else home.
Cynthia talks about her outfit critique. She’s proud because wearing shorts (however ill-fitting) was out of her comfort zone. Acid Betty tells her she should have taken off her red fishnets and worn bell bottoms instead. Derrick holds onto the one bit of praise she got from the judges: Carson called her runway dress “unique.” She’s trying to do her best, but she can’t give the judges what Acid Betty does. Bob tells her not to even try, “they don’t even want that from Betty!” she laughs.
The TV is rolled in and the queen brace themselves for an emotional moment. It’s not too emotional, it’s just a video from Trixie Mattel for Kim Chi. She encourages Kim Chi, and calls her the nice person ever. She reminds Kim Chi that Kim got her her very first drag gig in Chicago. Kim watches intently, trying to concentrate on Trixie’s message, while Acid Betty complains about Trixie’s “ugly” make-up. After the video is over, Derrick calls Betty for, basically, being a bitch.
“I don’t get the make-up!” Betty explains.
“It’s not for you to get,” Derrick replies. Bob surprises herself by agreeing with Derrick.
We watch Cynthia nervously rehearsing her lip-sync at a mirror. At the opposite mirror, Robbie calmly sits and licks a tootsie top. Cynthia tells Robbie that, whatever happens, she loves and respects Robbie. “Well, it’s terrible,” Robbie says. She’s laced into her roller-skates by the stagehands, and I for some reason, I flash on combat skater Tonya Harding. I hope her shoe laces don’t break.