Metro Weekly

RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 episode 2 recap: A dreadful “PharmaRusical”

One of the worst Drag Race musical numbers ever overshadowed an otherwise fine episode

Team Asia – Photo: VH1

After nine years of RuPaul’s Drag Race, there’s one constant that always remains true. (No, we’re not talking about Ru’s Botox.) The editing will always, always throw out false flags. Think team two’s going to crash and burn because they can’t get their shit together? Nope. Think that one queen is going to ace the challenge because she’s super confident? Haha, also nope. Episode two of season ten was a prime example of this, with misdirections galore.

Things kicked off with a lot of Drama™, as the queens entered the workroom fresh from Vanessa Vanjie Mateo’s elimination. They quickly forgot about her to instead focus on what is shaping up to be an ongoing plot point this season: the rivalry between Aquaria and Miz Cracker. (For the record, we were #TeamCracker last week.)

It started with overconfident Aquaria telling everyone she was “delicious looking” on the runway (she wasn’t, she was a mess). Then a clip from last week’s Untucked, where Aquaria launched into a tirade about Miz Cracker allegedly stealing her makeup look, as well as borrowing elements of her drag back in New York. Cut back to the workroom, and Aquaria tried to squirm out by throwing shade, saying Cracker stealing from her didn’t bother her.

“No. Too vague,” came the cry from The Vixen, who massively jumped in our estimations.

Determined to stir the pot, Vixen challenged Aquaria to own up to how she felt, gagging the other queens and forcing Aquaria, who refused to admit what she’d said, to walk away.

Responding to the accusation of stealing Aquaria’s look, Miz Cracker, one of the strongest queens last week, delivered an epic burn to camera: “I did a look I know for a fact she’s never done — it’s called being on top.” Our wigs were snatched.

After that rush of adrenaline, it’s on with the show. This week’s mini-challenge was a country-themed dance-off, judged by Ru and Bravo overlord Andy Cohen, as the queens got into quick drag and shimmied along to RuPaul’s “Lady Cowboy” — now available on iTunes.

If you need a visual metaphor, think the Country Queens episode from season two, or the Barnyard Buddies skit from season five. Yes, callbacks to earlier seasons, just like last week. Also, shout out to Aquaria, who missed the challenge description entirely and came as a stripper. (#TeamCracker)

Also, what was with that final dance featuring RuPaul and Andy? We’re pretty sure that’s the most movement Ru has done in at least five seasons.

Anyway, the victors were Asia and Vixen, who won the glory of picking their own teams for the maxi-challenge. Eureka wound up last to be picked, and opted for Asia’s team — much to Asia’s dismay. Eureka talks a lot, apparently.

As for the challenge, the queens would work with a mystery choreographer to lipsync a routine to PharmaRusical, a musical extravaganza about RuPaul’s new (and fictional) pharmaceutical company, featuring amusingly titled drugs to help with unwanted tucked erections and a host of other maladies!

Hopes were high that this would be closer to the giddy heights of Glamazonian Airways, than the mediocre lows of Kardashian the Musical.

Hopes were soon to be dashed.

But before that, we were treated to more Drama™, as Eureka sure enough proceeded to talk. A lot. Eager to prove she had done this all before on season nine, she offered Asia countless suggestions. Asia, meanwhile, barely contained her exasperation.

However, thanks to the power of editing, Team Asia seemed to be in control, even finding time to craft some basic choreography. Cut to Team Vixen, where she’d assigned the parts without asking, no one wanted to work on choreography, and Drag Race‘s editors seemed determined to make clear that it was all going to go down the toilet. There was even a Bring It On reference, courtesy of Monét X Change, as they looked across the room to see Team Asia confidently rehearsing.

Moving to the main stage, we met the mystery choreographer: the magnificence that is Alyssa Edwards (insert tongue pop here), who immediately outshone everyone and made us nostalgic for earlier seasons. Seriously, production team, stop steamrolling these queens with previous contestants.

Again, the editing suggested that Team Asia was on track for an easy victory. Everyone was getting to grips with the choreography, except for Kalorie Karbdashian Williams (ugh, that name), who wasn’t giving enough, and Eureka, who couldn’t seem to get out of her head after crashing out last season with a damaged knee. Coincidentally, that injury occurred on episode two of season nine.

Team Vixen, meanwhile, walked out to meet Alyssa with nothing. They claimed to have characterizations, but Alyssa quickly tore them to pieces (“middle of the road” is not a compliment on Drag Race). Pretty much everyone seemed to be a weakness, especially Blair, who looked like a child trying on his mom’s shoes for the first time. (Seriously, Ru. That ID check we requested last week?)

Back in the workroom, Eureka proceeded to have a breakdown because she was picked last and criticized by Alyssa. Everyone rushed to hug her, while Asia essentially rolled her eyes to camera. We’re with you, Asia.

The episode’s weirdest moment came while getting ready for the main challenge, when Dusty Ray Bottoms debated doing her signature dot makeup, which Michelle slightly read her for last week. That conversation somehow led Kalorie to discuss being 340 pounds in high school. No, we don’t see the connection either, but it brought a couple of minutes of emotional therapy, as Kalorie talked about being bullied not for being gay, but her weight, including having a Coke can filled with urine thrown over her (side note: we’re never drinking Coke again).

Finally, it was PharmaRusical time, and as the judges (including special guests Halsey and Padma Lakshmi) settled in for a musical extravaganza, it quickly became clear that what we were actually getting was SEVEN MINUTES of excruciatingly bad lipsyncing, acting, and singing, as well as jokes that either failed to land, or only managed a slight titter.

Seriously, this was a mess, and it wasn’t helped by several of the girls failing to know their words (Kalorie and Eureka were the biggest offenders) or totally missing their characterization (Aquaria, who’s 21, looked exactly her age while trying to play an older woman).

Nothing about PharmaRusical worked. We still can’t get over just how long this segment felt, how consistently unfunny it was, and how mediocre the performances from some of the queens were. Dusty, Vixen and Yuhua Hamasaki were among those who did their best to polish this stinking turd, but it was a welcome relief when the music finally stopped.

With that out of the way, it was on with the runway. This week’s theme? Best Drag.

Our Tops:

  • Asia O’Hara stunned in a pink bodysuit and cape that perfectly matched her skin tone.
  • Dusty Ray Bottoms wore a beautifully tailored, Beetlejuice-inspired blazer. Paired with big hair and gorgeous monochrome makeup, she was probably the strongest runway this week.
  • Miz Cracker‘s metallic gold dress and giant rectangular hair cemented her win in the Cracker/Aquaria feud this week.

Our Bottoms:

  • Sorry judges, who apparently loved Aquaria‘s outfit, but her androgynous drag was a definite miss for us.
  • Kalorie Karbdashian Williams wore a bland, bedazzled bodysuit that just looked amateur next to the other girls.
  • Kameron Michaels continues to be a man in a wig. There’s no illusion here, not even with butterflies over her body.

Once the runway was over it was decision time, and curse you editing, you did it again! After an hour of misleading foreshadowing, it was actually Team Vixen who won this week’s challenge, with Team Asia all up for elimination.

Monique Heart almost fell in the bottom thanks to a relatively quiet main stage performance and a confusing runway reveal, but Eureka and Kalorie were ultimately lipsyncing for their lives.

Kalorie and Eureka lip sync for their lives – Photo: VH1

Performing to The Emotions’ “Best of My Love,” there was no editing trickery required here. Eureka easily pulled out the best performance. After failing to remember most of her lines in the main challenge, she crushed her lipsync, outshining Kalorie at every turn and reminding us why RuPaul was so eager to have her back on season ten. Sorry, Kalorie, your time is up.

Our takeaways from this episode? The downfall of Lucian Piane continues to hurt Drag Race‘s musical numbers, and this was one of the worst offenders yet. It was just… bad. However, one surprising element of episode two was how loose the judges panel felt. After All Stars 3 seemed to leave RuPaul, Michelle, Ross and Carson a bit tired and stiff, it was nice to see the boisterousness of season nine return.

And that was episode two. What did you think? Did you gag over any moments we missed? Will we ever have a nice thing to say about Aquaria? Let us know in the comments!

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.