'RuPaul's Drag Race' Recap: Episode 2 Brings Seven New Queens & One Beard (Yes, Beard)
Previously on RuPaul's Drag Race: We discovered that, gasp, this season's premiere was split into two "big openings," with only seven of the fourteen contestants making their grand debut in each. Death drops were promptly executed, garments hot-glued, runways stomped — and ultimately, Ms. Kelly Mantle was sent packing. Still, the question lingered: Who else could possibly be in store? Cut to...
The same damn queens. Fresh off their first runway performance, victory-dancing triumphantly into the workroom, the original six are greeted by pink champagne, cupcakes, and silly string — which they promptly spray all over one another (I pity the girl who has to pick that crud out of her wig in the morning). Right quick, though, they begin to speculate about their forthcoming competitors: "I wonder what the next troglodytes are like," Vivacious bellows, miming the two groups meeting with a hand gesture that resembles a Venus fly trap eating itself. I can only hope she's right. And just as the champagne begins to flow, Mother Ru pops out in her best Mommie Dearest drag to tell the girls to pack it in for the night, because company's coming in the morning. Finally.
Moments later, it's a new day in the workroom, with new dress forms, new wig stands — and the remnants of last night's party, accompanied by a sad, farty trombone wail. The shade of it all! I assumed, perhaps naïvely, that these two premieres were held in a parallel time frame, at least as far as the contestants were concerned. But no: Episode 2's girls are sloppy seconds, and they now they know it. The writing's on the mirror, in lipstick.
Still they enter, wigs held high, for Meet the Queens, Round 2:
BIANCA DEL RIO
... reads instantly as a central-casting, painted-to-filth, capital-D Drag Queen. She just has that look — namely, the "8 pairs of lashes, thick white liner" deal that makes it unclear whether her eyes are actually open at any given moment. Bianca brands herself as "an insult comic, just like Don Rickles, but in a dress" (which is now something I desperately want to see). This means that the producers will likely rely on her for cutaway one-liners; let's cross our fingers she's actually funny.
TRINITY K. BONET
… has chosen to rock a Sasha Fierce-ian up-do — which is appropriate, because in her mind at least, she is "about as close as you're going to get to Beyoncé." She is also wearing two strings of gems across her face, which remain a mystery. Her term for herself is "video fish" — meaning, I can only imagine, "fishy enough to be in a music video" and/or "inspired by Planet Earth: Deep Ocean." (My vote is for the latter.) After her grand entrance, she and Bianca stand in uncomfortable, shifty silence, broken only by Trinity's mumblings of "cool." Cutaway to Bianca making a tasteless Hurricane Katrina joke. Please, save us, someone fascinating…
… is not going to be that person. With a tiny leopard-print dress and an airhead giggle that puts Newlyweds-era Jessica Simpson to shame, she is looking to be the Adore of this week's group. "Joslyn Fox is one foxy lady!" she recites into the camera, before honka-honka-ing her own nonexistent boob. When Trinity compliments her legs, she blurts "I do like to eat at IHOP!" Sigh. Meanwhile, Bianca finally lands a jibe: "It looked like she went to a Claire's boutique, fell on a sales rack, and said 'I'll take it!'" Fair point.
THANK THE LORD ABOVE. Perfection has arrived, with a matador outfit and a catchphrase to boot: "Milk! She does a body good, guuurl!" The hip cut-outs, the daisy-bedecked platforms, the drawn-on gaptooth — this queen is serving me some Mac DeMarco in Pamplona realness, and I am living for it. Milk also mentions that she is "a clubkid, a very conceptual performer" — so we'll see how well she gets along with Vivacious (and, more importantly, Ornacia). I predict an "old school vs. new school" tiff or 12. Meanwhile, Milk bonds instantly with Bianca over their not-quite-fishy styles: "We're all just a bunch of clowns, aren't we?" she offers genially, to which Trinity shoots back an immediate and pshaw-ing "No." Party lines, officially drawn. [NOTE: For all those still mourning the absence of the Olympics, it turns out Milk was a pro figure skater in a former life. Johnny Weir, eat your heart out.]
Having ruled out being the sexiest or funniest Seattle has to offer, Magnolia presents herself as "the world's most glamorous trash queen." Which might be cool, if it involved actual trash instead of an ice-blonde wig and some Real Housewife-worthy zebra print. But no one is looking at her outfit — they're too busy staring at her nose, because that thing is contoured to within an inch (or, rather, a millimeter) of its life. Bianca's diagnosis? "Swordfish." Apparently, that's one aquatic creature a queen shouldn't try to serve.
… is a gal whose reputation precedes her. Though she's most famous for being on the first season of Australian Idol (further proof that Drag Race made a devil's bargain with the flagging Idol franchise this season), I first came across Courtney in The Stylish's webseries Transfashionable , costarring Drag Race alum Willam Belli. Joslyn admits she's starstruck — but even the unknowing queens gasp audibly at Courtney's flawless Barbiedoll looks. Magnolia, however, remains unconvinced: "Very pretty, but that doesn't impress me. It's not drag." Okay, can we please stop with the "my drag is draggier than your drag" tug o' war? Boobs, boobless, wigged, wigless, pageant, clubkid — if a look is wielded with intent, then that's all that matters, says I. Damned if dude looks like a lady, damned if she don't. Christ almighty.
And at last, we meet our season's sole plus-sized queen. "They'd better widen the doorways and reinforce the runway!" she booms, striding in decked head to toe in cobalt blue. Apparently, Darienne was this season's Facebook fan pick — which, really, Drag Race, you're going to leave it up to the fans to bring in the big girl again? (Hi, Penny Tration!) Like some larger ladies past, Darienne has that frustrating habit of staying ahead of criticism by making constant jokes at her own expense. When Milk introduces herself, she shoots back "I'm heavy cream!" After meeting Magnolia, "I'm just begging to be pollenated myself!" She and Bianca will have a quip war at some point, and it will be excruciating.
With all the queens finally arrived, Ru sweeps in to inform them of the split premiere, they deliver a few Culkinesque gawps for show, and then, quick, it's time for the Mike Ruiz mini-challenge! Cut to: the Pit Crew standing in front of a giant bed. I am now officially paying attention. I also now have absolutely zero pity for group two; no matter what is about to happen here, it certainly beats leaping into a foam pit. And indeed, this challenge seems like a (sexy, sexy) walk in the park: Pose on the bed with the boys. However, after a few initial shots of each queen, Mike pauses: "We need a little something extra," he muses. "Poppers?" Ru asks eagerly. Unfortunately, no — it's a pillow fight. Suddenly, the frame is flooded with feathers, and each girl must do her best to fight through the fray for a passable boudoir shot. Trinity is confident; Bianca and Milk persevere; Magnolia and Joslyn struggle not to swallow too many feathers. Also, Mike gasps aloud at Courtney's hair-flips, and Darienne makes a joke about finding a cookie in her dress. If she somehow shoehorns food humor into this week's main challenge, I am going to lose it.
Back in the workroom, the queens disrobe, and it's time to see "the man behind the curtain," as Courtney puts it. Not too much that surprises — until Milk notes in interview that Courtney is the cutest boy, and Courtney echoes, "I normally don't do dairy, but for Milk, I'll make an exception." YES. OMIGOD. Screw last week's #AprilLambert, I am now exclusively pouring all of my "make it happen" energies into this Drag Race power couple. They can be the Romeo and Juliet of this competition, their star-cross'd love bridging the gap between uber-fish and avant garde. Guys, I am already writing the movie musical.
Meanwhile, it turns out that Trinity won the photo shoot (see: above), so she gets to dole out assignments for the main challenge: an aptly "Tardy for the Party"-themed task, in which the girls have to create a "high-fashion couture" outfit from boxes containing the remnants of various themed celebrations. (Again, shade.) Trinity predictably picks the "Princess party" for herself, then pairs up:
Darienne — St. Patricks Day party
Joslyn — Quinceañera (which Trinity cannot pronounce to save her life)
Magnolia — Hoedown
Courtney — Republican Party (Ha!)
Bianca — Luau (Don't worry, she makes the "lei-ed" joke.)
Milk — Toga party
... And with that, the girls get to work. Magnolia makes a show of hating her country-themed supplies, while Joslyn gets giddy over hers. She pulls a plastic 1 and 5 from her Quinceañera box and holds them up, giggling "51!" If she manages to walk down the runway forwards, I will be floored.
By the time Ru comes around, the queens have settled into their usual ratio of "I'm confident and nailing this" (Milk, Bianca, Courtney, Trinity) to "I'm ready to hang myself with this lamé" (Magnolia, Joslyn, Darienne). Still, Ru has her fair share of skepticism for everyone: Will Milk's jumpsuit be sufficiently high-fashion? Is Trinity's "Star Wars meets Buckingham Palace" aesthetic crazy, or just crazy enough to work?
Also, it's worth noting the extent to which these queens are clearly coming into this season with their Drag Race canon already learned by rote. Courtney is able to predict that that her barely-there ensemble will elicit a "Stop relying on that body!" from Michelle Visage, as Carmen Carrera's famously did in Season 3, and Bianca greets Ru with a joke patented by Season 4's Jiggly Caliente. Usually that's the kind of cannibalistic self-reference that spells the beginning of the end for a series — but hey, Season 7 is already in the works, so we can all cross our manicured fingers and pray. Oh, and Milk is wearing acid-wash hotpants. Just in case you were curious.
Speaking of Milk, prior to the runway, she drops a bit of a bombshell: She plans to rock a beard with her Toga party ensemble. Yes, a beard — and not the pretty kind you bring along to an awards show. (You know who you are, Oscar-goers.) Bianca advises her to pack her bags in advance, but Milk is confident in her choice. I am already stoking my "Drag Race only rewards fish" ire, just in case.
Also, at some point, Darienne asks Courtney if she's "like, Natalie Imbruglia famous" in Australia, which — THE DOUBLE-EDGED SHADE — made me do a spit-take guffaw. That is all.
And now, to the runway, where the one and only Khloe Kardashian presides. Why, you ask? "Oh, honey, do you not know my family and my sisters? We're all queens at heart," she declares. Memes comparing Kardashians to past Drag Race contestants, assemble! And meanwhile, ladies, walk your walk:
TRINITY K. BONET
The Look: A Geisha-esque glitterama gown, a giant Elizabethan collar, and some crazy-intricate eyeliner detailing. "Queen Amidala goes to the Met Gala," she calls it, which rhymes, so I'm down. At the end of the runway, she stops to blow some white powder out of her hands. "Serving: Anthrax," says Ru. "I've snorted worse," says Michelle. I'm even more down with that.
The Critique: Khloe thinks Trinity has Kardashian ass — which is fortunate, because apparently that's what the "K" in her name is for. "I think that it would have been fierce without that bulletin board behind your neck," Michelle offers — so Trinity sheepishly removes her neckpiece on the runway. Whatever you say, Michelle.
BIANCA DEL RIO
The Look: A skillfully-executed silhouette-hugger in Hawaiian shirt print. Straw bits in her hair, big yellow bauble earrings, sipping a tropical cocktail — Ru's call-out sums it up best: "Hawaii 5-oh-no-she-betta-don't!"
The Critique: They love the dress, hate the make-up. And sure, Bianca may look like she has on black fuzzy caterpillars in place of lashes, but that's her thing, guys! So what if there are four distinct layers of color in that shadow? She said it herself: Clown realness, the house down.
The Look: Dammit, Darienne — that's all you got? A green sequined top and a black body-con skirt. There is actually nothing else to say.
The Critique: Khloe doesn't like the ruching on the front of her skirt — but it's how she expresses that dislike that's important. Namely, she notes that her own ladybusiness is "large and in charge." GIF, please.
The Look: Snoozefest, the sequel — AKA, the world's simplest strapless cow-print dress. At least hers has a big blue ribbon on the back — the babiest of steps towards the camp treatment that theme deserved.
The Critique: Santino calls it basic — which, yes — and immediately Magnolia fires back, "I don't think this print is basic." Throughout the critique, she interrupts and slings barbs, to the point where Ru advises her, "If you want to be in this business, you've got to get people to like you." Ouch.
The Look: Dip a model in Elmer's glue, toss her in the dumpster behind Mood Fabrics, and you will still probably come out with a less slapdash outfit than Joslyn's. Michelle has one word for her drapes on drapes on drapes: "Sandbags."
The Critique: Santino calls it a "parade float," Joslyn calls him a "sexy, sexy bald man." This is one couple I will not be 'shipping, because ew.
The Look: ... starts off with a bang — that is, a jump from out a box — but is, overall, pretty much just fine: A dark blue bikini with a big flowy train. Mmhmm.
The Critique: "I want to skin you alive and wear your body," Khloe moans. She is killing this judging panel tonight. I regret ever having doubted her.
The Look: Beginning with her back to the judges and a red Solo cup chug, Milk makes us wait a moment before revealing, yes, the long grey goatee stuck to her chin, amid a cascade of shimmery, translucent veils. Santino facepalms the moment she turns around. "Hermaphrodite realness," Milk explains. "Father Time," Michelle counters. The situation — unlike Milk's outfit — does not look good.
The Critique: PSYCH! They love it. Or, well, they're willing to tolerate the beard because everything else is so on point. More importantly, Ornacia dug it, too.
The queens retreat to the Form Decor Lounge — AND SPEAKING OF WHICH, though these recaps are already far too packed as is, it is 100% vital to break through the 10 PM curtain and bring you a nugget from Untucked: In a special byte of unseen footage, Ru apparently asked the girls, apropos of nothing, to twerk before they left the stage. So, asses to the judges' table, they did. For a good minute. And it was glorious. Now, back to the judgment at hand:
Opinions stay essentially unchanged from the runway — though Ru does once again jump in with empathy like she did last week with Laganja, defending Magnolia in her defensiveness. Ultimately, though, she pulls out an eminently quotable nugget: "If you're going to be defensive, it defeats the point." Then, she advises Magnolia to camp up her outfit with a bell around her neck. Are y'all at home writing these down? (I would, but my neck bell keeps getting in the way.) Also of note: Khloe talks some more about Darienne's "puffy pussy look," which Michelle calls "coochie ruching" — just in case you needed more ways to say "unflattering to the general vaginal area." Most important, though, Ru plugs her song, "Sissy That Walk" by insisting that Bianca "Sissy that face." Be on the lookout for more things to sissy next week. (My prediction: elbows.)
But for now, this week's results: Bianca wins; Milk is "safe for not playing it safe"; Trinity's just plain safe; and Courtney scrapes by with a "Body: 10; Couture: 6" (better than "Dance, 10; Looks 3," at least). Joslyn gets read hard by Ru, but ekes through this round, probably because Santino put in a good word (again, yuck). So, it's up to Darienne and Magnolia to lip sync, and I am already all but bemoaning the early axing of the big girl — until Darienne just plain turns it to Gloria Estefan's "Turn the Beat Around." From the first shot of Magnolia, lips gawping like a beached swordfish, it's clear she doesn't know the words and can't even summon a convincing "peanut butter, watermelon" substitute. Darienne, on the other hand, is hitting every "rat tat tat on the drum," perfectly mouthing each melisma. It's no contest. Adios, Magnolia.
And last but not least, a wee coda: Episode 2's happy six return to the workroom, high off surviving the runway — only to find last week's group, lying in wait. All wear competitive scowls, Laganja sports nails to kill (quite literally — those things could slash throats). Will they, as Vivacious's hands predicted, rush at each other and scramble things up, 300-style? Guess we'll have to tune in next week to find out...