RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 14, Episode 5: “Save A Queen” — Review
Another week has gone by since the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, so let’s remind ourselves of everything important that happened last week ahead of tonight’s new episode!
***Strut carefully! This review contains a number of references to eliminations from previous seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race (Seasons 7, 9, 13) and RuPaul’s Drag Race UK (Series 2, 3) that some may consider spoilers.***
Another Drag Race Injury
Last week kicked off with a blindside. When the cast arrived for their morning chat, they noticed that Kornbread “The Snack” Jeté was missing. Sadly, they received the news that Kornbread was the latest Drag Race contestant to depart the competition for medical reasons, joining an unfortunate club that includes the few but mighty Eureka O’Hara and Drag Race UK’s Veronica Green and Victoria Scone. In a video message to the cast, Kornbread explained that she’d injured her ankle during the previous week’s challenge, an event that was never addressed on screen and seemingly never shared in the workroom.
What feels notable to me—and this was the case for Victoria as well—was the absence of a clear “open invitation” similar to the ones Eureka and Veronica received for the immediately subsequent seasons. I’m not sure if that means we should expect either to return, but I’d certainly like them to. They’ve both got clear star potential and neither had the chance to make deep runs in their seasons.
Also notable is that while I have to believe Kornbread gave a shoutout to everyone in her video message, only a few were aired. She offered general encouragement to Kerri Colby, reconciliation to Jasmine Kennedie after the previous week’s clash, and a final message of support for Willow Pill who she’d taken under her wing and looked after during their time together. They were probably just tying up loose Kornbread story threads, but my brain is poisoned from watching reality competitions for decades, so I can’t help but wonder what it could mean.
Oh! And Ru revealed that Kornbread did not have the golden candy bar. Cool.
Stepping into the Spotlight
Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does a reality television show. So it came as no surprise that with the departure of Kornbread, a number of the queens found themselves with just a bit more airtime. Remember when I asked where Bosco and Orion Story were? And I’ve barely mentioned Lady Camden over the past few weeks. Well, they got their feature this episode. In fact, Bosco and Camden were essentially given a spotlight from the jump. And they shared it with some familiar faces!
We knew from the previous week’s teaser that former first boots Tempest DuJour (Season 7), Jaymes Mansfield (Season 9), and Kahmora Hall (Season 13) would be showcased in this challenge, and I gotta say: all three of them were a delight. They were brought back specifically to be the butt of the joke, and all three really embraced the assignment. Honestly, I would’ve expected production to find one former first boot who wouldn’t have rolled with the punches or encouraged one of these three to perhaps… find their outer saboteur? Ultimately, I’m very glad they didn’t, because the show doesn’t need that, and this challenge was so much fun.
Each former first boot was matched up with a team of three to four artists determined by a truly bizarre mini challenge. And I’m sure some viewers were less enthusiastic about a challenge centered on… let’s say pelvic thrusting, but here’s the thing: I live for the absurdity and unabashed queerness that often comes with a stupid mini challenge! Plus, it did seem like no one was forced to tackle the challenge in ways they may not have been comfortable with (see: Willow’s hip-bump), and there appeared to be some clearly enforced boundaries for how they could physically interact with the Pit Crew, who did seem to be having a blast.
So bring back weekly stupid mini challenges, damn it!
Anyway, the teams were tasked with creating a Sarah McLachlan SPCA-inspired infomercial… that had to rhyme for some reason? I admittedly still don’t understand why they had to rhyme, but I suppose adding a layer of difficulty and uniqueness isn’t a bad thing in a long-running competition like this. Given they had some incredible muses, I think mostly everyone did very well. The two that really fumbled were Jorgeous, who’s struggled to find confidence in almost all of the challenges, and Orion, who’s struggled to meet a specific type of energy the judging panel usually demands. And I think each of them really highlights how Drag Race is a very specific venue for showcasing drag. It’s a game, and it’s meant to throw everything at these artists.
We’ve seen that Orion has a clear and unique sense of style and aesthetic, and Jorgeous proves exactly where she excels later in the episode. This challenge just wasn’t about those skill sets. It’s important to remember that success in the Drag Race arena is only a measure of whether you’re good at Drag Race, not whether you’re good at drag.
Spring Has Sprung and Murder on the Dance Floor
On elimination day, while the cast prepared for a “Spring Has Sprung” runway, a number of noteworthy conversations emerged: Bosco and Camden were once again featured stressing over not having a win, Jorgeous shared her drag origin story (sixteen years old in the club?!), and Willow shared more about her chronic condition and how it pushed her to be on Drag Race.
Unsurprisingly, the runway category inspired very different interpretations among the cast. Some, like Jorgeous and DeJa Skye, approached it through the lens of a Spring fashion season, while others, such as Maddy Morphosis, Daya Betty, and Bosco, took inspiration from the season itself. The big standout for me, and for all the wrong reasons, was Kerri Colby. It… looked like a construction challenge. And I kinda felt like Jasmine was over-praised, but every drag artist I’ve watched or listened to talk about Jasmine’s look loved it, so I clearly just don’t get it. My personal favorite? Willow’s Little House on the Prairie look. I love it for all the same reasons I loved Sasha Velour’s deconstructed rainbow look in Season 9: it’s simple, clean, and inspired. I also really appreciated Angeria’s yellow take on Cardi B’s “Me Gusta” music video dress, even if there were some details that needed tightening.
And the returning queens got to stomp the runway, which was really cool! Personally, I love a queen in a tall blond wig who’s draped in pink, so Jaymes was an absolute dream, and Kahmora? Good god, she’s perfect.
When all was said and done, Bosco pulled off the maxi challenge win. I probably would’ve given it to Lady Camden based on really nailing the tasks set before them, but in both the infomercial and the runway, Bosco made more unexpected choices, so I totally get it. Finally, as we should have seen coming, Jorgeous and Orion end up in the bottom two, and like I mentioned before, Jorgeous showed us why she’s worth our attention. I actually don’t think Orion did especially poorly. She certainly didn’t eliminate herself, even though we’ve been over the shoe thing. Jorgeous is just that good, and ultimately, Orion’s prop chocolate bar was… just chocolate.
Ru called DeJa a lip sync assassin after one win, and folks rightfully raised an eyebrow at that. But I think if we say it about Jorgeous after this week? It’s perfectly warranted. I’d bet money on Jorgeous ultimately walking away from from the season with at least another Lip Sync for Your Life win. Maybe even two more? It’s rare, but I think she’s that good. And while I’m making predictions, I’d say at some point we’re getting Jorgeous vs. Jasmine Kennedie.
And if we do, it’ll be a lip sync for the ages.
We’re getting a classic construction challenge with a twist! Instead of the chaotic rush for items we’ve come to expect, it appears the cast will be challenged to create original looks using mystery materials, sort of like a fashion Chopped. We’ve gotten a taste of who can create outfits for themselves thanks to the ball. I would expect folks like Willow, Angeria, Bosco, and perhaps Daya to find themselves with high placements. As for who we should worry about? Unless we end up with a curveball, I’d expect to see some combination of Jorgeous, Kerri, and Maddy in the bottom.
So where should we look for a surprise? Well, I’d keep my eyes on DeJa and Jasmine, who I expect to put a lot of pressure on themselves in this challenge, which could boost them into the top or result in complete disaster.
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ airs on VH1 in the US and Crave & OUTtv in Canada, streams on Stan in Australia, and streams on WOW Presents Plus everywhere else.