'RuPaul's Drag Race' Recap: Episode 11, 'Bring Back My Queens!'

Brittany Moseley,Erica Thompson
Nina West

Brittany: As soon as I saw the judges for this week—Wanda Sykes and Lena Waithe—I knew this was going to be anepisode. And girl was it. Cyst updates, old queens, WigGate, winners robbed and 12,000 cups of tea spilled. Whew. It was fitting that this week started with the slap challenge. What better way for the queens to get out all their pent up frustration than by pretend slapping their frenemies? (Although I’m sure some would have preferred the satisfying smack of a real slap.) 

Erica: We were given some great highs this episode, only to be disappointed later. There was an eerie foreshadowing of things to come at the beginning as a mellower-than-usual Silky reviewed her “roach” and padding critiques, while an exuberant Nina seemed determined to “step her pussy up” even in the aftermath of her win. But yes, that slapping mini-challenge was so delicious! Where were all these glorious one-liners during the reading competition? 

Brittany: Apparently they weren’t as sick of each other’s shit two weeks ago. There were some great barbs in there—Yvie’s testicle-esque head, Brooke Lynn embarrassing Canada and A’Keria’s lack of edges among them. Brooke Lynn, who brought quite a bit of sass while still managing to remind everyone that she is indeed a dancer, won the mini challenge. And then the real show started. 

Erica: Brooke Lynn continues to surprise everyone. She won the reading challenge as well. After all those critiques about her subdued personality, she has really blossomed. But before she could bask in the win, six eliminated, “stale-ass, dry-ass” queens (to use Silky’s words) returned as subjects for the current queens to make over. Brooke Lynn was in charge of pairing everyone up and, for the most part, was fair with her choices. First, she chose Plastique for herself (an “easy canvas”). The other couples were: Nina and Shuga, Yvie and Scarlet, A’Keria and Honey, Vanjie and Ariel, and Silky and Soju. That last pairing was a bit shady. What did you think of that?

Brittany: I don’t think anyone wanted Soju, so no matter who Brooke Lynn had stuck her with, it would have been called “shady.” Maybe there was some shade there, but this is a competition. Any other queen would have done the same thing. As every contestant in every reality show has ever said, “I’m not here to make friends.” Once the queens were paired up, it didn’t take long for tea to be spilled, which brings us to WigGate. If you watch “Untucked” or follow “Drag Race” on Twitter, you already know the story. A quick recap: When Ariel Versace was eliminated, she left several wigs (her “children” as she called them) behind in her emotional state. In an episode of “Untucked” Plastique said Ariel was her best friend, so naturally Ariel left the wigs for her (or so Plastique claims, which we later learn is not the case). Since then, it sounds like all the queens have laid claim to Ariel’s children at some point in the competition, and Mama is not happy about it. 

Erica: I guess I’m thinking about the Soju thing too deeply. Like, in my opinion, Yvie is Brooke Lynn’s biggest competition. Why not give her Soju? But...Yvie or probably anyone else would have done a good job with her—whereas Silky whined and didn’t put her best foot forward. I didn’t know about WigGate before this episode. I empathize with Ariel, but girl, we need to focus on this makeover challenge. As her partner, Vanjie, stated, we don’t have time to be looking for your tumbleweeds (tumbleweaves?). 

Brittany: WigGate was just the beginning of the workroom drama. Scarlet Envy was back to her old self, traipsing around the room, half done up, like she’s goddess’ gift to drag. (“Hide your mirrors,” Nina quipped.) Silky was on the struggle bus with Soju. Besides Soju’s former cyst problems (she’s all better now, thank you for asking) she also doesn’t wear heels due to tendonitis. I have never seen so many drag queens shook at once. When she tried on a pair of heels (which weren’t even stilettos as Miss Vanjie pointed out; just “regular six-inch heels”) her walk was… something. Plastique summed it up perfectly when she said she looked like “a teletubby trying to strut for the first time.” The whole ordeal rendered Dr. Ganance speechless, which I believe is a first.

Erica: She was also speechless when Ru came to the workroom and asked her about her padding situation. All she could offer was a weak statement about praying over her pads. She talks so much crap—and drops so many f-bombs—in her individual interviews, but won’t speak up in front of Ru. There would be more of that fake demureness on the runway. (Can you tell I’m over Silky?) As Ru talked to the rest of the queens, A’Keria continued to offer her trademark, colorful commentary. Someone please give her a talk show after this! She also stirred up some trouble… 

Brittany: She stirred the hell out of that tea. While the queens were getting ready, A’Keria decided to “clear the air.” Here’s what we learned: WigGate is still a mess. After all the shit she talked earlier in the episode, Ariel was mum when the queens turned to her for the wig drama deets. She did confirm that she didnot leave her wigs for Plastique. But she doesn’t really care about any of the wigs she left, just the one Ra’Jah—who isn’t there—took. *insert shrug emoji* Things got less fun when A’Keria spilled the tea that Scarlet was surprised Silky and Vanjie were still in the competition. It led to much shouting and many hurt feelings. I’m with Yvie on this one: Just because a person gives you an honest, perhaps negative, critique doesn’t mean the person hates you. Everyone wants to jump down Yvie’s throat when her only crime is being honest whereas all the other queens only speak up when no one is around to hear them. Tl;dr: Same shit, different episode. 

Erica: Agreed. Well, they had to battle it out on the runway with their “Family Values” looks. The goal was for the partners to look like sisters from the same house of drag. (Shout out to Nina West’s drag mother, Virgina, who got a name check this episode.) Some of the queens excelled, and some were a mess. Vanjie stepped up her game in a big way; she and Ariel looked like elegant twins out there. To be expected, Silky and Soju’s disco look was a major dud (and Silky still had issues with padding!).

Brittany: A’Keria and Honey could have been sisters with their big blonde hair and primary-hued bejeweled evening gowns. (I was also getting some RuPaul vibes.) Another great duo was Brooke Lynn and Plastique who also opted for gorgeous, form-fitting evening gowns. They had a great presence onstage as well. Nina, who is well-known for her activism in the Columbus LGBTQ community, decided to wear her pride on her sleeves. She donned a sequenced rainbow flag outfit and Shuga wore a transgender pride flag dress. While the message was an important one, it didn’t translate to fashion. Shuga, known for her glam looks, got lost in it all, and the hair and makeup left them both looking clownish. Also, I love you Nina, but say no to bike shorts. 

Erica: Nina is such a sweetheart. No one can match her passion for the community and acting chops. Unfortunately, the fashion faux pas landed her in the bottom with Silky. I must say, not one of the queens said Nina should go home when Ru asked them. Unsurprisingly, the “Dreamgirls” (A’Keria, Silky and Vanjie) did not throw each other under the bus, so they all put Yvie’s name out there. Yvie may not have had a challenge-winning look—that title went to Brooke Lynn—but she did a decent job this week. 

Brittany: I have to get this off my chest. VANJIE WAS ROBBED. And she knew it too. When Ru gave her a positive critique, all of us expected her to follow it with, “Condragulations.” But no. She said, “You’re safe.” You could see Vanjie’s smile quickly drop when she realized she didn’t win. It was total bullshit. Brooke Lynn and Plastique’s looks were great, but Vanjie and Ariel dropped Cruella de Vil coats to reveal a sparkly red disco jumpsuit (Vanjie) and a Jessica Rabbit red evening gown (Ariel). They then left the stage by recreating Vanjie’s famous exit from the previous season! GAHHHHHH.

Erica: Vanjie was robbed, even though Brooke Lynn agreed to take her along on the trip to Aruba. Things got even more tense when Nina and Silky began to lip sync for their lives to TLC’s “No Scrubs.” It was… underwhelming. I must say that my eyes were drawn to Nina, who had a bit more attitude, while Silky was flopping around the stage. The result was very unfortunate news: Our Columbus queen was eliminated. What an epic run. I don’t think she deserved to go home yet (Silky is getting worse as the season goes on), but I’m so happy she finally achieved her dream of being on the show after auditioning damn near each season. What an inspirational, class act.

Brittany: Can I get an amen?