RuPaul’s Drag Race has always been a magical experience, but that took on a whole new meaning on Thursday’s episode, which ended with the ultimate vanishing act.
The mini challenges in Season 11 have been all over the place — I still cringe thinking about the queens’ inability to read one another — so I really appreciated this week’s sillier competition, which paired each contestant with a Pit Crew member for a little relay race. And while Vanessa Vanjie Mateo technically won by getting the most balls into the basket, I’m pretty sure everyone considers themselves winners after spending so much time attached at the hip (or other appendages) to the show’s beloved Pit Crew.
As the mini challenge winner, Vanjie had the honor — or the burden, depending on your perspective — of splitting the queens into two ludicrously uneven teams for a magic-themed maxi challenge. Vanjie enlisted A’Keria C. Davenport, Silky Nutmeg Ganache and Yvie Oddly for her crew (aka “Team Personality”), leaving Nina West, Brooke Lynn Hytes and Shuga Cain to fend for themselves. Mama Ru tried to stir the pot by asking Brooke Lynn if she was offended that Vanjie didn’t pick her, despite their relationship, but Brooke Lynn appeared unbothered by the turn of events. (“She didn’t want our romantic connection getting in the way of our work.”)
Of course, given how things worked out, I’ll bet Vanjie wishes she had recruited Brooke Lynn, whose team put together a funny, entertaining and professional magic show — even if I not-so-secretly wanted them to dress up like the Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus. Brooke Lynn’s team may not have included the same outlandish personalities as Vanjie’s, but the ability to follow a script and remain cohesive goes a long way in this competition. (I’m also going to be laughing about “Girl, where is Nina? Football practice?” for the next few days.)
Meanwhile, Vanjie’s team was kind of a mess, and no amount of screaming “Da Black Magic!” could detract from that. Yes, I appreciated that A’Keria was able to deep throat that balloon — one of the more perplexing tricks of the evening — but the rest of the teammates, including Yvie, just kind of fell flat for me. Then again, considering Silky fell asleep during rehearsal, I probably shouldn’t be surprised.
Fortunately, some of those less-impressive performers were able to Ru-deem themselves on this week’s caftan-themed runway — especially Yvie, who served us double-jointed “enlightened monk realness.” But no one looked more at home in her caftan than Nina, who earned a well-deserved second win thanks to her impressive performance in the magic show. (I love that Michelle Visage compared Nina’s performance to a Saturday Night Live sketch, since Nina revealed Chris Farley to be her inspiration for the challenge.)
Shuga and Vanjie ending up in the bottom two couldn’t have been less of a surprise. In fact, given their performances up to this point — which have ranged from forgettable to regrettable — I’m a little surprised that either one of them is still in the game. Frankly, I would have gotten rid of both of them after their uninspired lip-syncs to Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama.” The only thing Vanjie did to (slightly) edge Shuga out was to angrily remove her jewelry as the song went on, though I might not have even noticed if Yvie hadn’t mentioned that in her confessional.
In the end, though, it was Shuga Cain whom Ru sent sashaying away. Your thoughts on her elimination? Drop ’em in a comment below.