RuPaul's All-Stars Drag Race Episode 1 Recap: It Takes Two
Oct 27 2012 01:00 pm ET
On the series premiere of RuPaul's All-Stars Drag Race, the 12 returning contestants are thrown for a loop when they learn they have to compete as pairs. A half-baked/opposites attract photoshoot shows clear frontrunners, but one team has a major Shemergency.
Surprisingly, there is no preamble as we go right into the slightly modified credits for RuPaul's All-Stars Drag Race. We then see each alumna strut down a West Hollywood street before entering the WerkRoom for a second go-round at becoming a Drag Superstar. The best part of these lovely ladies being returning contestants? No lengthy introduction is necessary. Here is the cast:
Tammie Brown (8th Place…out of 9 contestants)
Shannel (4th place)
Nina Flowers (Runner-up and Miss Congeniality)
Pandora Boxx (5th Place and Miss Congeniality)
JuJubee (3rd Place)
MiMi Imfurst (11th Place)
Yara Sofia (4th Place and Miss Congeniality)
Alexis Mateo (3rd Place)
Manila Luzon (Runner-up)
Latrice Royale (4th Place and Miss Congeniality)
Chad Michaels (Runner-up)
I like that all the runners-up and Miss Congeniality winners are represented. But MiMi Imfurst and Tammie Brown? Really? "Someone's gotta go home first," Manila says, in reference to MiMi.
Ooo girl, we've got SheMail. "You don't have to be a star to be in my show," RuPaul tells the girls, "you have to be an All-Star. You may think you know how to play this game, but girl, you don't know the half of it." Ru enters to the cheers of the cast. We then learn what's at stake this season: Entry into the Drag Race Hall of Fame (whatever that is), a boatload of MAC cosmetics, a fabulous vacation, and $100,000. JuJubee interviews, "that's like 500,000 chicken nuggets." I did not realize how much I missed JuJubee until this very moment. Raven also points out that the price is four times more than the grand prize from her original season (take that Miss Tyra Sanchez!).
Of course, the bigger prize also means bigger challenges. The queens will not only need to bring Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent, but also Synergy. Why make the acronym plural? Because the queens will compete in teams of two – and if one queen fails, the pair goes home. "The ultimate shade of it all," Latrice interviews. The Pit Crew enters with a box, and 75% of the cast recoils at the thought of Shangela popping out to create more chaos. The box opens and Shangela is nowhere to be found. Instead, the box contains smaller boxes with photos on sticks. The queens will have the opportunity to pick their partners. Ru will count to three and each queen will hold up the photo of their first choice for partner. If there's a match, the queens will pair up. Here's how the teams formed:
Raven and JuJubee = Team Rujubee
Chad and Shannel = Team Shad
Tammie and Nina = Team Brown Flowers
Manila and Latrice = Team Latrilla
Yara and Alexis = Team Yarlexis
Pandora and Mimi = Team Mandora (team formed by default)
The Pit Crew presents some cocktails and the queens get to let their hair down for a bit to process all the twists that were just thrown their way. Pandora appears to be the most bothered by the script flippage that has happened – not only did she want to win this season on her own terms, she certainly didn't want to get saddled with the overly aggressive MiMi. Latrice tries to cheer up Pandora, but Miss Boxx is not in the mood.
After the cocktail hour, Ru returns with details for the first challenge. The teams will produce a high fashion photo spread. The first photo will feature the queens in a "half-baked" state, meaning mid-transformation with no wigs. The other photo will be based on the theme of "opposites attract" with wet and wild dynamics. As an added twist, each queen's makeup must be done by her partner. "Check your trust issues at the door," Ru warns.
After some prep, it's time for the first WalkthRu of the season. Ru starts with Team Shad, who apparently have worked together in real life for the last 15 years. Come to think of it, they do have very similar personas, yet Chad isn't as grating as Shannel can be. Maybe Chad feels less entitled? Anyway, they will be doing uptown versus downtown for their opposites attract photo, which could be interesting. However, Ru has noticed the necrotized makeup on both Chad and Shannel's necks. Chad explains that for the half-baked shot they want to add the editorial edge of everyone's neck being on the chopping block. Hmmm. Aside from missing what I think the point of the photo should be (transition), Shad's treatment sounds a little too on the nose.
Ru moves on to Team Mandora and learns they will be doing a Housewife and Hooker motif for their high fashion photo shoot. Ru asks about how the team relationship is working out, specifically "why did the universe put you together?" "I'm a glutton for punishment?" Pandora responds. Pandora tried to deliver it as a joke, but you don't need a magnifying glass to read between the lines. "Just kidding," Pandora adds, but MiMi and Ru aren't buying it. You can tell Pandora is already checked out of the competition.
Team Latrilla is Ru's next target in the WerkRoom. Ru asks Manila what skill she lacks that Latrice brings to the table. Manila says she is envious of Latrice's lovable personality because no one dislikes Latrice. True that. We don't hear Latrice's response to the question and instead learn the duo will be doing a Classy/Trashy hodgepodge for their photo. Ru reminds them to be fierce.
All of a sudden, we are in the midst of the Opposites Attract photoshoot. We don't even get to see the Half-Baked shoot or photos? Hmph. Brandon Showers is the photographer and massive rain showers are the obstacle the queens have to deal with. Team Brown Flowers takes on a Naughty/Nice motif, with Tammie's wig getting knocked off by the rain. Team Rujubee are Dressed (JuJubee) and Undressed (Raven). Jujubee struggles with the water, not unlike how she struggled with the wind during her first challenge way back when. Team Yarlexis has adopted Pageant Queen/Goth as their motif, but flip-flopped the roles. Alexis interviews portraying Yara's drag is almost outside her skill set.
After the photoshoot, the queens start getting ready for the mainstage show. Pandora has yet to interact with MiMi beyond the bare minimum required for the challenge, which the other teams have noticed. Chad asks MiMi what communication has been like within the team. MiMi uses this as a cue to talk directly with her teammate. Pandora admits her concern with MiMi involves her unfavorable reception back in season three due to her over-the-top antics. MiMi says she wants her history to remain in the past and would like this time on the show to be a clean slate. Pandora agrees to work with her partner rather than barely tolerate her.
Mainstage time already? This episode is trying to fit 10 pounds of show into a five-pound bag. RuPaul enters wearing a print gown reminiscent of a heat map of a Rorschach test. Joining RuPaul on the panel this week are regulars Michelle Visage and Santino Rice, Ross "The Intern" Matthews from The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, and former Are You Hot? judge and model Rachel Hunter. This week, the queens will be making their Dream Team debut, so they have been asked to dress as teammates. Let the show begin.
The teams enter the stage as pairs. Team Yarlexis is up first with fun outfits featuring pictures of the teammate on the bust of the outfit. There's nothing spectacular or outlandish about their looks. Team Latrilla enters next dressed as…Teletubbies? Guess which team has won my allegiance for the rest of the season? Manila is using a tablet as her Teletubbie screen, playing clips from one of her music videos as she works the runway. Team Mandora enters next wearing matching blue-sequined gowns with neon green Muppet-felt boas. The look is a little too matchy-matchy (which is surprising since they both drew from their own wardrobes) and gives me a Dame Edna vibe, which isn't a positive in this context.
Team Rujubee enters selling Roxie and Velma realness. Both Raven and JuJubee show us their burlesque before they leave the stage. Team Brown Flowers enters wearing the 13th and 14th looks from Wendy Pepper's Project Runway collection. Although the looks are both strong, they both seem to be a departure from what I would expect from either contestant: the brown mutes Nina's typical color scheme and the fit doesn't suit the Classic Hollywood Glamour aesthetic Tammie offered in season one. Finally, Team Shad enters wearing jungle-inspired bird priestess outfits. They are definitely showgirls, though the costumes seem overdone and appear to hide Shannel and Chad.
RuPaul cuts to the chase and announces Teams Latrilla and Rujubee as the Top Two. After complimenting their looks and photos, RuPaul declares Team Latrilla the winners of the challenge. They will receive custom gowns from Sequin Queen, however, with only six episodes there will be no immunity. Both teams are dismissed.
The judges begin reading the teams. We finally get to see the half-baked photos, but only for glimpses as they flash on the screen. Yarlexis had an Edward Scissorhands theme that gets tepid praise. The problem for this team was the opposites attract shoot, which Santino didn't get. Mandora's opposites attract photo also led to confusion, with Ross telling the models they got lost in the chaos of the scene. They did have a striking half-baked photo, with Pandora looking to the side with her ears covered as MiMi screams in her direction. As for the runway presentation, Michelle hates that MiMi covered her weight loss with the Muppet boa while Santino just hates the outfit on both contestants.
Brown Flowers has the best-received half-baked photo, with the judges praising the vulnerability of the piece. Their opposites attract photo receives mixed reviews. Ross loves Tammie's weirdness in general, but Santino lost Nina in the photo. Nina needs to pop, y'all. Finally, Team Shad gets put through the wringer. Michelle and Santino both dislike the funkiness on the neck in the half-baked shot and Santino hates Shannel's outfit. In other words, Santino is picking up exactly where those two left off. Ross offers a less baggage-laden critique, suggesting the duo overthought the photos.
The teams leave so the panel can deliberate. Ross lost both queens in Yarlexis' photo, but Rachel loves both contestants. Michelle hated Mimi's styling and RuPaul notes there is some bad chemistry on Team Mandora. Nina of Brown Flowers was not as powerful as everyone was expecting, but Ross thinks Nina and Tammie dimmed each other's light. Michelle hated Team Shad's photos and Santino says they "both have speculative taste levels." I'm already looking forward to the Reunion.
The full cast returns to the stage. RuPaul tells Brown Flowers they "are serving crazy in any language" before declaring them safe. "You are extremely funny ladies," RuPaul tells Mandora, "but your opposites did not attract any praise." Team Mandora is up for elimination. RuPaul describes Team Shad as "too much yin and not enough yang." As for Yarlexis, the runway presentation was cute, but the photos were a washout. Team Yarlexis is safe, which means Team Shad is up for elimination.
This season, the Lip Sync for Your Life gets a little more complicated. There won't be a four-way face-off: each team will send one person to compete. However, if the representative has a "shemergency" in the first 60 seconds, the partner on the sidelines may hit a button to tag out and take over. Each team has only one Shemergency Brake for the season. The time has come for MiMi and Chad to Lip Sync…for their team's life.
This week's song is "Opposites Attract" by Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat because yes. This matchup is almost unfair, as MiMi is hyper-kinetic (and therefore sloppy) while Chad is in "lip sync assassin" mode. Seriously, MiMi is doing air guitar -- it isn't pretty. We get to see some shots of Pandora eyeing the Shemergency Brake, but she does nothing. As the song draws to a close, MiMi is all up in Chad's spot, which Chad does not (and should not) appreciate.
The song ends and the teams reconvene on the runway. No surprise, Team Shad is told "Shantay, you stay." RuPaul tells Pandora and MiMi they are the most loved and most unforgettable queens (respectively) in Drag Race history. At least one of them will be missed. The queens exit the stage. Rather than lipstick messages, the departing queens remove photos of themselves from a wall of fame setup. Well, I think both of them are supposed to do that, but only Pandora bothers to show up. "I was an all-star before and I'm going to be an all-star after," she says. Back on stage, RuPaul reminds the 10 remaining queens "with great power comes great 'Responsitrannity'" and asks for music.
Next week on RuPaul's All-Stars Drag Race:
Mike McComb – TVLatest.com
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