‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’: Season 10, Episode 5: Getting to 50

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’: Season 10, Episode 5: Getting to 50

Fortunately, we went to this war with the army we want, and our semper fine girls lined up in fetching formation. Monique Heart detonated the runway in grenade earrings and camo chaps, and a newly focused Asia was the bomb as a purple-fatigued Mad-Maxine. But The Vixen, in an Ann-Taylor-for-Army-Surplus capsule-confection, was named the victor.

Our Ru-tenant then announced that the battle was moving to lower ground — the daytime talk show, that hallowed American theater of war — in which the ladies’ improvisation skills would be tested in front of a live audience.

The Vixen was ordered to split the troops into assignments — silly segments for the talk show, to be hosted by the delightfully off-brand “Bossy Rossy” Mathews. She intentionally paired her two mortal enemies, Eureka and Aquaria, openly admitting that she “didn’t try to [expletive] nobody over except those two. They’re both two big babies, so I hope they suffer.”

Eureka and Aquaria were “two big babies,” all right — they both latched on to their segment, “Look At Me, I’m A Sexy Baby!,” and milked the bit dry. Convicted scene-burglar Eureka once again pocketed the challenge, realizing her weight was gold and emerging naked but for a diaper and bib, parroting my Tinder mantra — “I’m shaped like a fat baby already, so why not give them, like, legit fat sexy baby?”

For a “look queen,” Aquaria was surprisingly funny, shaking her rattle-dazzled nipples and cooing in a baby voice (an accent that was, sadly, as liminal as Nicole Kidman’s in “Big Little Lies,” though it didn’t affect the accolade-winning chances of either).

Upon finding out that her husband had left her for a baby (funny, this is why I joined Tinder), Eureka’s character decided to become one, and upon finding out that Aquaria was the baby he left her for, she threw a ground-pounding tantrum that brought the house down, the house down.

The rest of the squadron’s improvised devices were not terribly explosive. Blair was zero-dark-twenty-one as a cactus’s cuckold, hitting the panic button early on in her scene with the wig-snatching Monique by screaming their agreed-upon “safe word”, which was, of course, “Vanjie!” (Has any first-eliminated queen ever made such a memorable impression? If she is not brought back, I will girlcott this show.)

Surprisingly, Monét, a brilliant improviser in her live shows, misfired with a confusing setup that attempted to conflate angel food cake with the hip pads her character was “addicted to” eating, and her bit collapsed. Sweet Mayhem soured as a pickle-phobe, while her partner Miz Cracker tickled as “Dr. Dill,” a pickle who was also a psychotherapist who was also Jewish, and then was not.

The Vixen and Asia’s “Single Black Female” bit really threw the dog out of the window — their attempt to mock Cracker and Aquaria’s copycat feud did not progress beyond their similar yellow dresses and, after swinging and missing at all of Ross’s jokey pitches, The Vixen simply walked. I mean, I only made it through level two at the Upright Citizens’ Brigade, but even I know that the cardinal rule of improv is “Yes, and,” not “No, bye!”

On elimination day, Mayhem attempted to broker peace between Eureka and The Vixen. After a painful “Untucked” clip in which Eureka was legit bitchy and The Vixen threw water boiled with fission, the latter froze to ice as Mayhem amiably advocated for an armistice.

Eureka ceded the battleground to The Vixen, gently offering her space and conceding that, although she was sure she’d said “y’all” and not “you” (this was important in a context that I have neither space nor energy to describe), if “you” was what she’d actually said (it was), she was sorry.

Eureka shared that, after a lifetime of antagonism and abuse, drag helped her “find her voice,” and admitted that, now that her mouth has been opened, she can get “a little out of hand.”

This elicited the glimpse of The Vixen’s inner workings that we have been longing to catch, as she confessed in turn that for most of her drag career, she would silently “show up, get my money and leave,” but that the “current climate” radicalized and uncorked her.

“I go from 0-100, because it is still new for me,” she said. “And I don’t know how to get to 50.”

Eureka extended an olive branch, a bowl of picholines, a dish for the pits and a cheese plate, and offered to shake Vixen’s hand, but was rebuffed. The generous Eureka warmly said, “Just know that my friendship’s here. Whatever direction that goes in.” The Vixen smiled, but only to apply her blush. Then she growled, “I’m tired of this mushy [expletive].”

For the many experiences that have led her to this moment, and the many systems that have undoubtedly failed her, I am truly sorry. But, Vixen, it’s been 18 months. I’m afraid of getting to 50 in this climate too, but we must, and this is how we do it. The same softness which once made you a target now compels people to trust you with their stories. Take their hands.

Waving a white flag of a gown, Ru announced the fashion challenge, “Denim and Diamonds.” The girls answered the call of booty, as cutout backsides ruled the runway. The Vixen got her range of motion down to 50 in a killer denim mermaid dress; Asia destroyed in a distressed Tina Turner homage; and Miz Cracker delighted in a Pippi-esque long stocking with a hilarious buckteeth reveal. When will she win a challenge? She is qualified and without obvious flaw. Did her husband cheat or something?

Kameron surprised in a “young Dolly Parton” look, and in a lovely moment, Ru gave her the floor to express her lifelong adoration for the guest judge Shania Twain, who has gotten to 50 quite nicely. (Well, she is Canadian. Single-payer and poutine do a body good.) Eureka, in a funny-sexy Elvis-style jumpsuit, won the maxi-challenge, as well as two tickets to Cirque du Soleil in Vegas, for which she now has the perfect outfit.

Aspiring “chocolate Judd” Mayhem looked more like “strawberry LaToya Jackson,” and Monét’s cutout jumpsuit created the wrong kind of gap in the crotch. The two were sent to their stations for a lip sync battle to Ms. Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like A Woman.”

Mayhem made a strong standard-issue showing, but Monét, a lip sync beast, twisted it out Vanjie-style, butching it up in a cropped wig and pantomiming smoking a joint whilst riding a motorcycle. In a coup de main, she sealed her style and her safety by pulling out not one, but two cans of Aqua Net, and spraying away the competition. (Is it cruel to hope that she’s in the final two every week? Her lip syncs have been the highlight of the last two episodes.) She shanté-stayed, and our dream-diplomat Mayhem was dispensed, to bring her message of peace to a world that urgently needs it.

Readers, I implore you: We’re all terrified of World War III, so let’s not start it with our sisters. Although this life is competitive, reach out to your fellow struggling women and offer them your hand. We can only get to 50 together, and these days, we’re all just improvising. Let’s go, girls.

See you next week. Over and out.

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