GIFs | Les Fabian Brathwaite
Last night's episode felt like Drag Race had finally started. I've been on the fence about this season, after a disastrous Snatch Game and more than a few questionable queens sticking around past their sell-by dates, but with [spoiler alert] Derrick gone, Ru arguably has the strongest top four she's ever had—they're all talented, they're all likeable, and I'd be happy to see any one of these hoes snatch the crown.
While Bob the Drag Queen has been the frontrunner and a personal favorite all season, she let her foot slip a bit, and Chi Chi, Kim Chi, and especially Naomi are nipping at her heels. Let's get into the best episode of the season so far—and I'm only half-saying that because Derrick is gone—"The Book Ball."
Strange Queens with Candy
If we learned anything from this musical interlude it's that more drag queens should do Jerri Blank. The brilliantly twisted mind behind that iconic character, Amy Sedaris, was there as a guest judge, along with her brother David. And they both came prepared with their library cards updated and ready to check out some queens.
You Can't Read a Bitch By Her Cover
For the main challenge, the queens had to come up with three looks for the Book Ball: Baby Drag Realness, That's My Mama Realness, and Autobiographical Eleganza Extravaganza. Kim Chi rose beautifully to the challenge, serving artistry for your nerves, giving you a story, and a flower motif, and gagging the hell out of David Sedaris (see above). Plus, she finally found shoes that she can walk in.
Meanwhile, Naomi Smalls is redefining flaw-free for a new generation. Her looks were impeccable, on-point, and on-brand, plus she's the only queen who can make both Jerri Blank and a baby sexy. That's skill, kids. Naomi's really come a long way in this competition, proving she's more than just a FACE and BODY-ODY-ODY.
But not as far as Chi Chi, America's newest sweetheart. You can't help but root for her, and this week she did us all proud, pulling off some of her best looks. It helps that her mother is apparently the baddest bitch of all time—pull through, leopard-print jersey dress!
As my friends were yelling at me via text, in lieu of yelling in my face at our usual Drag Race family dinners, Bob's fashion leaves a bit to be desired. With Naomi and Kim Chi slaying every runway and Chi Chi channeling her mother and/or '90s Pam Grier, Bob failed to live up to Michelle's request for a full-on glamazon moment. Still, Bob was only the fourth best, which in competition this stiff, landed her in the bottom two for the first time.
And now we get to Derrick Barry. Sigh. She was the Phi Phi O'Hara of this season—y'know, just a real evil queen brimming with discord—but without the chops to back it up. Of course, there's not enough talent in the world to back up Phi Phi's evil, but at least girl was serving you different silhouettes. Still, judges were just tossing out A's for effort—a different brow on a cracked mug does not a drag queen make—despite the glaring fact that Derrick was out of her depth. It was time for her to go—if that time was three episodes ago.
Life-Saving Lip Sync Moment
As soon as I realized Bob and Derrick were lip-synching to the disco mix—meaning, it's like 8 minutes long—of Sylvester's "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)," I knew only an act of God (read: Ru) would keep Derrick in this competition. But Ru was too busy fanning Bob's flames, because gurl was on fire, while Derrick was Britney Spears dancing to Sylvester. Though this was Bob's first time in the bottom, she came out on top taking my preferred mode of transportation: the disco shuffle.
It goes from zero to stunning in under a minute.
Drag Race is always at its best when it pulls at the heart strings, and nothing will get a gay boy crying more than talking about his mother. This episode brought up a lot of emotions for the queens—Kim Chi's mother doesn't even know she's a drag queen—and brought out all the tears. I even found myself feeling for Derrick.
Luckily, the Siblings Sedarai were on hand to lend some levity.
I don't know about her period, but Amy Sedaris has never missed a beat in her life.
"The Book Ball" Grade: A+