Looks! In! SPAAAAAAACE! RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10, Episode 4 Review

Image © Matt Becher

Blessed be, Kitty Girl. This week’s episode was an early ball challenge that gifted us with 33 looks and so much extra time devoted to the runway for an amazing episode that still found time to put plenty of drama in between the lines (and in a fiery, contentious Untucked battle). There are a ton of outfits to cover, so let’s dive right into the episode.
There’s a bit of non-drama drama between Monique and Mayhem post lip-sync over Monique’s direction, but it really just reads as a futile blame game. It’s a lot of Mayhem making grand and surprisingly abrasive statements after admitting that she got talked over just one episode earlier, and there are lots cymbal sounds and proclamations from Monique that don’t really amount to much, but it’s clear that Mayhem is struggling to meet her own expectations in this competition, and the other girls are probably going to move past her if she doesn’t step it up.

Next day in the workroom (side bar: crop top alert!), the week’s mini-challenge is to photobomb famous celebrities, which is a clever opportunity to edit in RuPaul’s Hollywood Wall of Fame ceremony despite it happening months after shooting wrapped. Aquaria takes the win with a dog poop gag, but we’re also blessed with Eureka’s “pusswatcha” (“pussoiccia?”) one of many great slang words for vagina this episode will bless us with. Monique is a little bitter about wins she feels she’s entitled to — it’s tempting to think she’s simply missing where the other girls end up ahead of her (hint: it’s a lot of smaller details), and Aquaria gets a $1,000 Postmates gift card, which she probably wishes was for Seamless instead because I don’t know anyone that still uses Postmates (don’t @ me).

Ru gives us dour warnings that the end of the world is near as a pretense for the maxi-challenge: the Last Ball on Earth! It’s a gift to have so many “lerks” (they will be called lerks forevermore) this early in the season, and I am hyped. RuPaul’s Drag Race is very much defined by its lerks (runway) and its stunts (lip-syncs), and more runway time is always appreciated.

The girls scramble to fight over an impressive range of fabric choices, and Monét hoards the amazing red quilted patent leather, which Asia takes every possible opportunity to point out she has no business working with. Asia flits around the workroom helping all the girls with their outfits and is making a great case — hot off of her win last episode — that she is the season’s queen that can do it all a la Bianca del Rio. The girls are happy to accept and ask for Asia’s advice, which gives a great, positive vibe to the workroom. Aquaria is clearly making a better use of the quilted fabric to the skepticism of the other girls but minimal, graphic drag has been her MO for a while, so this is hardly surprising and I suspect she’ll slay in whatever. Asia gets props from Ru for making outfits for other queens which is a GAG literally one episode after Yuhua left (Monet’s “best drag” was Yuhua’s creation and her clothing Instagram, @byyuhua, features almost every drag queen you can think of in her designs). It’s worth noting again that The Vixen and Aquaria tend to play with similar silhouettes, so any comparisons between the two queens seem to hinge almost entirely on clashes of personality, meaning that The Vixen’s callout of fan treatment between white and POC queens is prescient and entirely relevant to her exact situation.

Cracker brings up rumors that Aquaria has a sugar daddy because she’s young and buzzy, and she defends herself by really speaking to her work ethic and determination. It’s clear that she’s done quite a bit as a young drag ingenue and model, and her self-made success is both admirable and a great setup: Cracker looks right into the camera and says she is more than happy to distinguish herself from Aquaria here by welcoming the idea of a sugar daddy. Monet botches what is actually a true story of the origin of modern American and British accents, but I’m ready for a runway-packed episode so I’m glad we don’t linger on this too long.

RuPaul is clearly committed to runway experimentation this season. This week’s totally wild, experimental futuristic Daft Punk fantasy looks amazing, but also seems to severely limit her ability to emote and enunciate to great comedic effect. The visor is so opaque that I’m not even sure that she can actually see anything going on in front of her, but regardless I live for it. We get a ton of looks in three categories: Alaskan winter (swimsuit), Miami summer (snow), and Life on Mars (spaaaaace), which is an interesting breadth of looks to cover so quickly and it gives us a bunch of great (and a few okay) outfits to gag over:

The Alaskan winter category is a slow start, with a lot of decent but very similar 40s/50s vintage looks. Mayhem and Eureka both have 50s pinup girl bathing suit looks, and Blair has a vintage Barbie thing that is cute and very much her brand. Monét’s look is way too basic for the narrative she’s pushing, and if that’s the first wig you bring out after being critiqued specifically for how simple your wigs are you in danger, girl. The Vixen’s clear bikini and giant fan are very striking and dramatic in a swimsuit-meets-voguing ball way, and Aquaria’s Lucha Libre outfit is a stretch for the theme but just looks amazing and totally different, putting them both in the top. Monique’s look is good (despite an incorrect Beyoncé reference), Cracker’s is interesting but has very unflattering proportions that remove any semblance of curves, where Kameron, Dusty, and Asia’s looks have decent proportions but largely unrealized concepts.

Miami summer seems to be the strongest look for most of the girls, and we get a lot of typical Snow Queens that are lovely and beautiful and totally blown away by Kameron, who comes out looking like a holographic alien winter witch with a coke problem in a complete 180 from her last look that is elaborate and striking. Monét’s cold air effect is easily the best visual prop and I’m not even sure how she did it (baby powder in her mouth??) so it makes the other snow flurries and breath effects basic by comparison, though her look is still a little underwhelming. Aquaria’s second look is just as amazing, Cracker has a great sort of Arctic Bond Girl/Planet Hoth adventure getup, and Asia’s neon leopard fantasy looks like it came straight out of a Nicki Minaj editorial shot, but the rest is basic ski/snow stuff. 
Mayhem’s Mars look is thankfully as strong as her Miami summer ensemble, serving up an alien Grace Jones fantasy with a separate pair of contrasting contacts; how many of those does she have, exactly? And how are her eyes not completely bloodshot after? Eureka gives a space exec twist on her go-to loafed silhouette, which is fun and clearly something the judges eat up. Monet’s look, again, is a cool concept from the neck up but falls apart below — the red quilted leather dress looks unfinished, like it was more ambitious than a bikini but unwilling to commit itself to be a gown or jumpsuit, and it’s disappointing. Future Black Marilyn sounds like SUCH a vibe, and I wish it were more realized. Kameron’s telecom girl in space is cute and campy, and while it’s less strong than her snow look it’s polished and rounds out Kameron’s range as a solid performer and designer. The Vixen seems to have fizzled out, leading with a strong look and then ending up with an okay but unremarkable blue number.

Aquaria’s villain look is super simple and may have even taken less time than some of the unsuccessful looks but is sleek and strong. If you were watching on a big enough TV, you might have noticed a little blurring — this outfit is serving a LOT of body. By declaring herself a nearly-nude villain she’s tied together with a theme that follows archetypes of the hero, the victim, and the villain throughout the ball, and while this look leans a little toward 80s campy cartoon villain fantasy, the unexpected cohesion of three totally different outfits is wonderful.

Dusty’s look is a cool steampunk faerie that doesn’t register as space-themed whatsoever, and Monique pulls off a reveal from air conditioning duct arms to a gown (for some reason?). Blair’s look is a cute vision of the year 2000 as imagined in 1950, and Asia has a cute concept that looks just a tad unfinished, and the white foam balls don’t help when they could’ve easily just been any other color than the default white. Cracker closes it out with a cute — if basic — duckwalking glittery astronaut swimsuit, and the marathon of lerks is over.

Aquaria, Cracker, and Kameron are rightly the tops of the week, and Aquaria takes home a deserved win that is full of cutaways to Cracker looking threatened. Cracker gets a lot of praise for her looks, which are a little basic but have a fun, editorial vibe that resonates with the judges, and her personality remains a strong selling point.There’s an emotional moment when Asia, clearly toward the bottom, is visibly upset over being unable to complete her looks after helping the other girls. Everyone else on the stage steps up and vouches for her, which is another great moment. Asia is a very positive, central figure with a lot of good energy around her, and while this slip-up is a minor setback her overall attitude and performance likely still means she’s a frontrunner.

Monét and Dusty are up for elimination, and knowing Monét’s performing style means a Dusty win will be a tough one. “Pound the Alarm” is also much more suited to Miss Xchange, whose campy, high-energy dancing style is both a better choice for Nicki Minaj and for Drag Race. Dusty ends up looking entirely out of her element, which is the unfortunate reality of being a more alternative drag queen in such a mainstream competition (although Sharon killed “It’s Raining Men”…just saying!). Monét takes the lead and performs with ease, including a perfect death drop fake-out and some gags with her gas mask. Dusty ends up being the second New York queen to be sent home in as many weeks, and the crowd is thinning out! Who will go home next, and will The Vixen fight them before they leave? Stay tuned.

Some final stray observations:

Best Baby Hairs: The Drag Race judges that make the best impressions are the ones that clearly come in the appropriate amount of glam. Logan Browning’s bejeweled baby hairs and legs-out ensemble was a major lerk in and of itself, and that’s tough to pull off next to whatever the hell RuPaul was wearing.

Best References to a Vagina: Glamour puss, pusswatcha, and poondanda; this was an episode full of snatch. Ridiculous names for vaginas are evergreen comedy, and I’m ready for more. More!

The “Bob the Drag Queen” School of Dance Award: Monét Xchange has definitely established some dancing patterns eerily similar to Bob the Drag Queen’s trademark drag queen desperation move. (You’re welcome for the Drag Race deep cut.)

Episode Rating: 5/5 pusswatchas

See you next week!