With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein, how do you solve a problem like The Vixen? So far this season on RuPaul’s Drag Race, she’s outpestered every pest, driven hornets from their nest, and even thrown that whirling dervish Eureka out of whirl. Conditions are to the point that, because she knows that if she has to sit in that Untucked area backstage she’ll end up popping off on some other queen, The Vixen privately confides that she just hopes she’s not deemed “safe” this week. She’d rather be in the bottom three than risk cutting off valuable kiki time by reminding white queens of just how loaded words like “crafty” actually are. During an earlier fight, Monique Heart said she worried that The Vixen’s commitment to the warpath would stand in the way of presenting “her blessing.” And “The Bossy Rossy Show” fully brings that conflict to a head. And only on Drag Race could a fiery semiotics lesson so comfortably stand shoulder to shoulder with another personality donning a full-body pickle suit and toting around a doctor’s clipboard.
As though sensing that the season is becoming defined by The Vixen’s defiance, Ru’s mini-challenge this week involves giving the queens duffel bags filled with camo-print fabrics that they need to turn into fashion casualties. The shredded soldier duds make it a sloppy challenge for nearly everyone, though Kameron Michaels gives viewers what they clearly want by flexing those not-at-all-padded guns and dropping to give us 20. But even though all’s fair in love, the same goes for war, so Kameron is passed over for the win in favor of The Vixen. And, of course, with the win comes the opportunity to pair everyone in the room up for the maxi-challenge. While The Vixen doesn’t appear to put much thought into it, she does make it a point to pair Eureka with Aquaria, the two queens with whom she most fiercely came for in Untucked. Though she’s clearly intending to set the two up to fail, apparently she’s never heard the maxim “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
The shadiness doesn’t end there. The maxi-challenge forces the queens to improv their way through a segment on The Bossy Rossy Show, a strained and none-too-timely riff on The Jerry Springer Show. Each pair of queens is assigned a specific show topic, and The Vixen and Asia O’Hara are given a scenario where one of them accuses the other of being a copycat. The Vixen, naturally, sees an opening to twist the knife further into Aquaria and suggests that the two of them turn their segment into a thinly veiled roman à clef about the feud between Aquaria and Miz Cracker that, by this point in the season, only seems to fascinate the remaining queens who aren’t Aquaria or Miz Cracker and literally no one else in the entire world. At first, Asia seems to think that might be a touch too extra, but after going from first to near worst the week prior, thanks to her decision to offer a helping hand to each of the other queens, she also knows it’s time to step up her game and treat the competition as just that: competition.
There have been enough acting challenges so far in the season to know that these queens aren’t the strongest band of thesps in Drag Race herstory. It doesn’t help them that Ross Mathews isn’t up to the challenge of playing their straight man, leaving them without much to play off of. Add to that the fact that the queens have to share the stage with someone who, otherwise, is already scrutinizing their every move. It’s a recipe for caution, not comedy. Some of the queens do manage to stand out for the right reasons, but none of them are justifying full-ticket prices on the level of a Katya or a Bob the Drag Queen or a Jinkx Monsoon. Eureka and Aquaria, to The Vixen’s chagrin, work fine together, and deliver an adult-baby joint tantrum that’s deemed the top highlight, though for my money Miz Cracker’s giant pickle-wearing doctor removing her glasses to reveal that she’s actually just a giant pickle is the smartest gag of the night. Cracker handily overshadows her scene partner, Mayhem Miller, as Kameron Michaels surprisingly does in her scene against Monét X Change. Meanwhile, The Vixen and Asia clearly thought that merely referencing the Aquaria-Cracker feud would be enough to sell their segment, and thought about virtually nothing else beyond that.
Up until now, The Vixen’s intelligence about optics has allowed her to resist being reduced via editing to a typical, Phi Phi O’Hara-style villain. This week, she allows herself to fall into her own trap (as Monique warned weeks ago) by diverting her focus away from presenting her own truth and, instead, throwing cherry bombs at other queens for the sake of stirring up drama. (And as anyone who’s been following this week’s Robbie Turner “Uber-gate” could tell you, drama for drama’s sake is just foolishness.) Her denim-n’-diamonds runway lewk this week is about as strong as anyone’s, and so for Ru to grant The Vixen’s wish and not make her safe, but rather place her among the bottom three, feels like an unmistakable warning shot. And Ru handing the win to Eureka instead of Miz Cracker (whose Hee-Haw/Pippi Longstocking runway outfit was as inspired as her pickle doctor) feels similarly pointed. You focus on the competition too much, you end up only giving them ammo.
And speaking of ammo, both of this week’s bottom two—Monét X Change and Mayhem Miller—feel like their arsenals are running on empty. Neither musters up much fire while lip-syncing to guest judge Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.” Mayhem does a pretty cartwheel in her pink skirt, while Monét passionately sheds nearly every piece of her clothing, which considering the look she slapped together for the runway is clearly the smartest move. Monét’s lip sync isn’t the revelation that her Nicki Minaj workout was last week. (In fact, Monét manages to somehow get upstaged once again by Kameron Michaels, who RuPaul asks to tell Shania how wonderful she is, a testimonial that only serves to highlight how boring both Kameron and Shania are.) But in the end Monét turns it out enough to give her a fighting chance to see the week where The Vixen finally sets aside her boxing gloves.
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