RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 4 Episode 1 Recap: Super queen variety show
15 December 2018, 14:23 | Updated: 17 December 2018, 08:50
Trinity Taylor and Monique Heart slay the challenges while Farrah Moan and Jasmine Masters immediately hit trouble.
RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars is back, back, back again! Despite veering dangerously close to the overkill territory with this third season of Drag Race within 12 months (following All Stars 3 in January and Drag Race season 10 in March), here we are ready to surrender our hungover Saturday mornings to RuPaul's army of Drag Queens. In truth, we wouldn't have it any other way.
Despite the promise of "a twist or two" to come, All Stars 4 is still business as usual. There's a mini challenge and a maxi challenge, with the two top queens lip-syncing for their legacy and a $10,000 tip. They will also have the power to eliminate one of the bottom two queens, as chosen by Mother Ru. We'll state our bias up top: we absolutely detest the lip sync for your legacy format and we only need to say three words as to why: Justice. For. Shangela.
That said, its plot-twist potential still keeps our butt cheeks firmly clenched each week, so we'll live with it. Alright, now we've got that off our chest, let's duck tape down our best lace-front wigs and get this show on the road.
Without getting too deep in the arguments about the sustainability of having an All Stars season every year, it must be said that when you compare the line up for All Stars 4 with the sheer levels of iconic queens on All Stars 2, a lot of the AS4 queens just can't compete. That said, the looks that some of the queens pulled out of their deep, bedazzled closets did give us hope.
Trinity Taylor's Sarah Paulson inspired, hand-made green plastic zip tie dress was an obvious highlight and Monique's new found budget is really paying dividends for her looks too (we particularly loved the red blood crystal tear on her face). Valentina, Naomi and Farrah all looked great as usual while Gia Gunn looked like a cowgirl that got lost in the Christmas aisle in Walmart. Jasmine Masters two-piece suit wasn't doing much for us either to be honest. And, unfortunately, Monet getting dragged by Monique for that plain black jumpsuit was what she deserved.
And then for the twist-that-really-wasn't-a-twist, Manila and Latrice coming in together in handcuffs. This seemed to be little more than a way to justify having two former All Stars contestants back on the show (remember what we said about the talent problem?) but, to be honest, it's great to see two queens join who can add real talent and gravitas to the line up.
The Mini Challenge: Reading Is Fundamental
Perhaps it's my foggy morning memory but I don't remember the reading challenge being so early in any season of Drag Race and the reads seemed to suffer a little from the queens not having enough time together to gather fresh ammo. That said, they were still a few killer zingers.
Monet's 'buried in a recycle bin' comment to plastic surgery enthusiast Trinity made us scream out loud. Latrice's two-face shade to Valentina was equally on the nose. Naomi came across well with her reads, as did Monique, Jasmine and Trinity, but it was Farrah - who looked visibly distressed when the challenge was announced - who tanked the hardest. We're expecting water-works any minute now...
The Maxi Challenge: All Star Spangled Variety Show
The best thing about the talent show challenge is that the queens can't hide. They've either got it or they don't. And this year's talent show was no exception.
First up is Monique Heart with her original song 'Brown Cow Stunning'. Now, cast your minds back to AS3 and you'll remember several queens doing original songs, many of them bland or forgettable (hello Morgan McMichaels!) So we entered Monique's number with a slight sense of trepidation which, thankfully, was completely unjustified. She completely nailed it. And - even more surprising - the song was actually quite catchy, as evidenced by Michelle and the other judges mouthing along the words to the song. Stunning, indeed.
Naomi's song was a little more pedestrian but the bold wig reveal saved the day. Gia Gunn's show was undeniably beautiful and one of the strongest of the night. Trinity's comedy performance was great, and we will never forget that tuck reveal until the day we die, but a different vocal style could have taken it from a 9 to 10. And then poor, poor Farrah Moan. While the slip obviously knocked her confidence, we're not sure this burlesque/show girl-inspired performance would have been much to write home about without it. Monet's vocals and sponge-referencing outfit (was the sponge thing really that funny in the first place?) let down what was otherwise a good performance. Manila takes the prize for the most inventive show of the night and Latrice's 'majorettes on popper' routine was highly entertaining too. Valentina's lip sync was fine but did little to change our mind that she's got very little to offer the competition outside of looks, something which Farrah Moan gets repeatedly destroyed for but doesn't seem to stain Valentina's public perception. And then there was Jasmine Masters. We felt exactly like Tyra Banks when she was yelling "We were rooting for you!" on America's Next Top Model. Not preparing a routine for a comedy set is just really dumb.
The real winner here though was Jenifer Lewis. Never have we screamed so hard at a judge's comments or just general demeanour behind that desk. We stan.
Lip Sync and Final Result
A Monique and Trinity lip sync in the very first episode? We've truly been blessed. Or, at least we thought we would be, but we were a little underwhelmed on this one. Trinity's whisper-vocal range mimes were hilarious but she was uncharacteristically static for most of the song, while Monique's wig coming off was a roll-your-eyes kinda moment (we've since found out it was falling off - so she decided to chuck it).
Trinity took the win for the first episode and further cements herself as the frontrunner to take the crown. But what was more uncertain was which queen she would pick to go. Jasmine and Farrah had both disappointed and deserved to be in the bottom two. But both of them have worthy reasons to stay. Jasmine is undeniably an entertaining queen and would be worth keeping for the candid camera lolz alone, but Farrah's self-belief and determination, despite all her tears, was persuasive. So persuasive that Trinity choose to give Farrah another chance. It's hard to see Jasmine go but some things just aren't meant to be.
Winner: Trinity Taylor
Loser: Jasmine Masters
The real winner: Jenifer Lewis
The real loser: All Stars 4 for the lack of memes now Jasmine Masters has left