'RuPaul's Drag Race' Recap: Episode Four, 'Trump: The Rusical'

Erica Thompson,Brittany Moseley

Brittany:Talk about starting the episode on a bad note. We catch up with the queens right after last week’s infamous group lip sync battle, and it’s clear Mama Ru’s disappointment left its mark on some of them. The mood in the workroom is bleak. On the other hand, they are now motivated to step their collective pussy up. 

Erica: Everyone except for Miss Vanjie. I love how all the queens were crying, but her face was completely dry like, “Well, I did a good job.” She would be singing a different tune later. But things were back to normal when the ladies got their next challenge--imitating Rachel Maddow! Of course Mercedes had never heard of her. 

Brittany:When Mercedes said, “I should have done a lot of research before I got here,” I let out an arms-in-the-air groan loud enough to wake the neighbors. 

Erica: So after reading a rather tricky script via a teleprompter, Scarlet Envy emerged as the victor of the mini challenge. I actually thought Nina West would be in the running for this one. I didn’t laugh as hard at the flubs; I mainly felt embarrassed for all the ladies who struggled.

Brittany:Some of those readings were difficult to watch. It just proves that journalism is not for the faint of heart! I did chuckle when Silky put her Maddow frames on over her glasses. Proper eyewear is no joke. (I write this as I’m wearing my own Maddow-esque eyeglasses, prescription strength, ’natch.) 

Erica: That would have been me; I can barely see and haven’t made another attempt at contacts. As the winner, Scarlet was in charge of assigning roles in the production, “Trump, the Rusical.” I pondered what I would do in her shoes. Would I sabotage anyone? I think I’d just try to give everyone a fair shot to avoid another group lip sync. (I winced so hard at the queens calling it a gang bang.) I know last week you had an issue with judges calling Silky Cookie Monster. Do you think casting her as Oprah was more fat-shaming? 

Brittany:I didn’t think it was fat shaming. The casting made perfect sense to me. Silky has a loud, exuberant personality much like Oprah. There are some queens who might have also done well in that role (Shuga immediately comes to mind), but it takes a big personality to embody Oprah. And spoiler alert: That casting decision worked out pretty nicely for Big Silk.

Erica: The queens were not ready for the choreography by Yanis Marshall. Yvie Oddly was surprisingly good despite her connective tissue disorder. I just love how she has overcome her challenges to be a fierce queen and, really, in the running for the finals in my opinion. Rah’Jah O’Hara showed some major insecurity talking about Brooke Lynn Hytes’ lovely demonstration, and we soon found out why: Despite Ra’Jah’s claims of dance training, she embarrassed herself in rehearsal. She should’ve gone home with Honey Davenport last week. 

Brittany: Note to self, Ra'Jah: Taking some dance classes 15 years ago does not make you a dancer. I agree with you about Yvie though, and I think Brooke Lynn is another potential shoe-in for the final five. I know it’s still early, but she seems to be a triple threat queen.

Erica: And speaking of a projected final five, what I like about Scarlet is, although she looked like a stick bug in a hurricane (Yvie’s words, not mine), she took her awkwardness in stride--unlike Ariel Versace, who just stood there in defiance like a brat. She is so overrated. Maybe we should just skip to the final five. 

Brittany:To be fair, it can’t be good reality TV unless someone has a meltdown and weeps profusely on national TV by episode four. I think Ariel finally realized that no matter how popular she is in Jersey, it’s a whole new ball game on “Drag Race,” and she is very outmatched. But the real tears this episode happened in the workroom where Nina and Mercedes shared personal stories about some heady topics: homophobia and anti-Islam sentiments. 

Erica: No one told us “Drag Race” newbies that the workroom is the equivalent of the therapist’s couch. I was enjoying Branjie trolling us (did you see Brooke Lynn kiss Vanjie?) and Silky drawing on her eyebrows with a permanent marker (we can’t forget to mention she came out as a registered Republican this episode) before things got heavy. I had no idea what Nina West went through in college, nor had I heard about themurder of Matthew Shepard. I’m happy Mercedes found the courage to open up about her religion and be publicly proud. 

Brittany:Nina West’s involvement in and support of the LGBT community is well-documented in Columbus. As a straight person, it’s easy to look at our city and only see love and acceptance. But there is so much hateful rhetoric that Nina and others in the LGBT community have grown up with—and continue to deal with today. I appreciated her sharing, and I think Mercedes did too, as it encouraged her to speak about her religion. 

But on a lighter note, yes I saw that kiss (I still want details, Branjie!) and I don’t think I laughed as hard this episode as I did when Brooke Lynn quipped that Silky gets her makeup at Office Max. 

Erica: Nina is a gem. And she did well in the musical; her facial expressions are always on point. I thought everyone did a good job overall, but after last week’s Mariah Carey challenge fail, anything was a step up. In real time, I was pleased with Mercedes, but, in hindsight, all she did was not mess up or look awkward. She didn’t bring anything to her role as Ivanka Trump. As always, I was entertained by Vanjie as Rosie O’Donnell (oh my gosh, the judges called her a lesbian Fly Girl), but she didn’t really embody the character. Although Ra’Jah looked gorgeous, she didn’t take advantage of her role as Omarosa. Standouts for me were Yvie as Kellyanne Conway (that makeup was vicious) and Silky as Oprah. I thought Yvie should have won the challenge. But I was happy for Silky. 

Brittany:It was frightening how much Nina looked like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I loved Brooke Lynn as Ivana (must have been her Norwegia roots…) and Scarlet as Betsy DeVos. Vanjie was fun to watch as always, and the judges agreed, but they also said she didn’t embody her character. Mercedes and Ra’Jah were left in the bottom two and honestly, they could have both gone home. But Ra’Jah did knock the James Brown lip sync out of the park. Granted, that wasn’t hard to do next to Mercedes, who was basically a limp fish.

Erica: Yes, I must say Ra’Jah surprised me and lip synced to live another day. I enjoyed her dancing, and the song choice was a nice change of pace. Prior to the showdown, the ladies walked the runway in their best “orange alert”-inspired looks. I don’t know how Yvie managed to bring it again after last week’s jellyfish getup, but she delivered with her clown outfit! And Shuga, who is one of my favorites, took a risk by dressing as Donald Trump with a bag of Cheetos in hand! Vanjie, or I should say “Tanjie,” looked beautiful and avoidedwearing red yet again, but the judges knocked her for donning a similar style of dress. And being in the bottom brought the waterworks that were missing at the top of the show--along with a slice of humble pie. (Side note: How did Plastique Tiara get her hands on Cardi B’s outfit? No fair!)

Brittany:I know I’m a Vanjie apologist, but that insane headdress she wore more than made up for the rest of her outfit. Still, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Vanjie (and Nina too!) will keep progressing.