In Season Ten’s second episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the queens perform a “PharmaRusical”, but Eureka may need a stronger prescription to overcome her anxiety.
The lipsync musical has become a tried and true staple of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and a welcome shift from music challenges of earlier seasons that actually required the queens to sing. Inevitably, the most memorable parts of the challenge are not the queens who shine but the ones who crash and burn. Jujubee and Tyra Sanchez’s disastrous turns in Season Two’s “Rocker Chicks” come to mind.
Like Season Seven’s “Glamazonian Airways” or Season Eight’s “B*tch Perfect,” this week’s “PharmaRusical” was really a test to see who can stand out in a crowd. These challenges are like a Lipsync for Your Life on steroids, and the queens who end up in danger of going home all have the same flaw: getting lost in the shuffle. It’s clear from Alyssa Edwards’ choreography and direction of the queens in rehearsal that this challenge is as much about the size of the performance as it is about getting the choreography down. (Sidenote: can they make Alyssa a permanent fixture on the show? She is TV gold.)
Of course, this episode is also about establishing points of conflict and drama. The Vixen continues to stoke the fire whenever possible, especially when it comes to this middling “feud” between Miz Cracker and Aquaria and their aesthetic similarities. Monét X Change notes that The Vixen is the “whistleblower of the season,” which feels like a new archetype in the cast of characters. As the show becomes more of “RuPaul’s Best Friend Race,” the role of a queen like The Vixen is less about antagonizing her fellow contestants than it is about keeping them honest. (Though we do get to see a softer side of her in Untucked that diffuses any notion that she’s here just to fight.)
Eureka O’Hara — who famously injured herself during Season Nine’s cheerleading challenge — is afraid of repeating history with another mainstage injury, but it’s déjà vu in the workroom as she tests team captain Asia O’Hara’s patience with unsolicited suggestions and interjections at every turn. This is all too reminiscent of Eureka vs. Trinity Taylor in Season Nine’s “Good Morning B*tches” challenge, and an Act One Gun that Eureka’s knee injury isn’t the only thing getting in her way this time around. Meanwhile, much is made of Team Vixen’s lack of prepared choreography which turns out to be nothing but a red herring; this episode is ultimately all about Eureka.
That being said, we see some real promise in the musical among the other queens. Kameron Michaels comes to life in the “Swallowease” number, bringing an unexpected amount of character and humor, while Aquaria’s performance as old troll turned hip Millennial (thanks, Trollvada!) is clever and committed. Monét X Change doesn’t necessarily star in any of the numbers, but she manages to steal the show with each supporting role or one liner she’s handed. Miz Cracker, Dusty Ray Bottoms and Mayhem Miller are standouts as well, while Monique Heart misses a few words, Kalorie Karbdashian Williams disappears in the mix, and Eureka’s struggles with choreography end up being less of a concern than her loose grasp of the lyrics.
We’re told the runway theme is “Best Drag,” but allegedly the queens were asked to show off their “signature” drag, which explains why most of these looks did not feel like the best they had to offer. That being said, Aquaria’s ode to wheatgrass and Miz Cracker’s ode to gold plating are exciting and innovative, and for what it’s worth, feel very different from one another. We’re going to need some more receipts if this look-stealing conspiracy is going to make it to the third episode.
The Vixen comes out on top this week, while Eureka and Kalorie’s big girl bond is ultimately tested when they both end up lipsyncing to “Best of My Love.” This is the first time we’ve gotten to see Eureka lipsync on the show, and it’s worth the wait. Kalorie certainly doesn’t fail here (we know from that last week’s lipsync that she can deliver), but she doesn’t stand a chance against the raw determination and intensity of Eureka, who gives us drama, comedy and even a little James Brown footwork in order to earn another week in the competition. After tearfully apologizing to the judges for falling short, RuPaul tells her, “Don’t be sorry, be fierce.” Eureka’s staying power this season will rely entirely on how much she heeds that.
That being said, most of this cast hasn’t needed that reminder. Monét is shaping up to be the narrator of the season, and — despite a minor misstep this week —still remains the heart of this season (and potentially its breakout star). Kameron and Blair have been the most reserved so far, and it seems like next week’s marketing challenge will force them to attempt matching levels with some of these bigger personalities. Though, in a season full of stars, standing out may just end up being the challenge every week.
Want to queen out each week on Season 10 with us? Alright Mary is a weekly recap podcast and deep dive into all things RuPaul’s Drag Race. We go in on the queens, behind the scenes, the larger social themes explored on the show and as much reddit T as we can get our mitts on. Subscribe on iTunes!
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Last modified: October 10, 2018