RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE recap: "RuCo's Empire"

Last week’s double elimination was a shocker, yes.

Chichi may have summed it up, appropriately: “This is a wake up call for all of us. If you ain’t steppin’ that pussy up, your ass is going home!”

The queens debated who they felt might be the one to return, and they reached back: Victoria Pork Chop Parker, Shangela. Producers were wise to leave the reveal until the maxi challenge, so before that we had this week's…

Mini Challenge: Supreme Court realness. The queens were given just 30 minutes to prepare what RuPaul referred to as “Judge Judy couture.”

Watching Bob the Drag Queen howl – being the one who entered first – at each of the remaining queens was hilarious. There is no doubt these episodes are severely edited and the shame in it this week is that we’re given no idea what he’d found so funny. Rumor has it the queens wrote their own intros, which explained why some descriptions were completely over the top (see next paragraph) while others left us wanting: Cynthia Lee Fontaine, as a judge, “made herstory with her landmark verdict legalizing sex.”

From Naomi Smalls: “She almost got disbarred for excessive mouth pops.” You had to watch it.

She provided the best laughs during the mini-runway (thank you, editors) so it came as no surprise when Naomi won the mini challenge. For it, she became a team captain for the maxi challenge. Who would lead the second team?

Naysha Lopez.

The one who got sent home back in episode one. Had the season progressed a bit further, it would’ve made sense to bring someone back who was a bit more deserving. Though the queens understandably guessed it would be someone (again more deserving) from a previous season, something about that just doesn’t seem right to me. I mean, that person would’ve had years more experience as a post-Drag Race queen and most likely learned some tips that these queens wouldn’t have considered yet. (i.e. the excessive editing).

Maxi Challenge: overacting in a pilot for the new TV series called “RuCo’s Empire.”

So Naysha, “as a welcome back gift,” is a team captain and she immediately immolates herself and her team by choosing the most unlikely members. Remember, the goal is for them to overact, and she chose (in this order):

Derrick Barry



Acid Betty


Naomi Smalls, showing a bit more logic with her selections, chose (in this order):

Robbie Turner

Bob the Drag Queen


Cynthia Lee Fontaine


Yes, Betty and Cynthia were the remaining two, thanks to (I’m assuming) Betty’s combative attitude and Cynthia’s humor extending only so far as the word “coocoo.”

ChiChi: “I think the other team should be worried, because they have a lot of members on their team that are, like… not…black.”

As star of the faux TV pilot, both Bob the Drag Queen and Thorgy Thor proved they would hit it out of the park during both the Werk Room and filming (where they were joined by RuPaul and Faith Evans). Kim Chi and Derrick Barry visibly struggled during filming, though I didn’t see Naysha blow the room up, either. On the other team, we saw Cynthia and Robbie Turner struggle. It struck me, though, that perhaps (… perhaps?) they’re all run through the ringer during this point in each challenge, nit-picked to the nth degree, so that maybe (… maybe?) they’re all left on pins and needles, unsure of who’ll be edited to appear sinking like a rock during the episode that we see on TV.

I mean, hindsight is 20/20 so if you watch this show twice it all lines up the second time. Kind of like Big Brother, where once per week someone wins the POV challenge and reliably spends the entire episode bragging about “making a big move” only to bail when it comes time to do just that. Things you can count on.

The emotional high point of the episode comes in the Werk Room, not at the make-up mirror this time, where Thorgy reveals his mother died of cancer when he was just 19 years old, and that his family only revealed that she was dying on the day she died. These scenes happen so fast that you’re rushed into making sense of them quickly, so initially I was like, “well, I’m sure his dad did it to protect him. He was away at school and …” but as the scene went on – this one lasted a little while – it sort of seemed obvious that, if you’re kids’ mom is dying, you bring the kids home. Huh.

On the runway, dubbed Rollergirl Realness, the queens had to wear roller skates and prepare a matching outfit.

Judges included: RuPaul along with…

Michelle Visage

Carson Kressley

Tasha Smith

Faith Evans


Most everyone seemed on point, except for Naomi Smalls, who draped a pink shear curtain around a bikini; Bob the Drag Queen, who attempted to disguise his inability to skate with a robot body suit; and, Cynthia Lee Fontaine, with an outfit that worked from the midriff up (RuPaul: “it’s Barbara Mandrell on wheels!”) but completely failed from there down (baggy shorts, red fishnet stockings, white sport socks).

Next came the reveal of the performances from “RuCo’s Empire.” I have to give it to the producers here. While it wasn’t entirely clear to what degree the queens were granted the freedom to ad lib, we watched two very similar scenes – one from each team – that were, at the same time, not in any way the same.

Naomi Smalls’ team, and especially Bob the Drag Queen, delivered a more compelling and entertaining scene. No question.

Back on the runway, these were the queens declared safe: Naomi Smalls, ChiChi DeVayne, KimChi, Naysha Lopez.

Those who remained, “represent the high rollers and the low rollers of the week.”

Thorgy Thor

Derrick Barry

Acid Betty

Bob the Drag Queen

Cynthia Lee Fontaine

Robbie Turner

Perhaps needless to say, Bob the Drag Queen was the winner.

Certainly needless to say, the bottom three included Derrick, Cynthia, and Robbie. While it appeared for a moment that Derrick would be called to lip synch, with her tearing up and the extra pause before RuPaul announced her safe, the bottom two was Cynthia and Robbie.

RuPaul gave them a choice: “Do you want to lip synch in heels or wheels?” and from the moment Robbie said, “wheels” (immediately following Cynthia’s “heels”) I think we all knew he would stay. He said it so confidently, too, though.




See also:

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE recap: "Bitch Perfect" (season 8 episode 2)

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE recap: "RuCo's Empire" (season 8 episode 3)

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE recap: "New Wave Queens" (season 8 episode 4)



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