‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars’: Dueling Divas

RuPaul entered the workroom to stand far away from the queens and announce the week’s challenge: a drag revamp of “VH1’s Divas Live.” “Classic TV,” RuPaul said, and I don’t disagree. The queens were assigned divas to impersonate — Trixie Mattel got Dolly Parton; Aja, Amy Winehouse; Thorgy Thor, Stevie Nicks — pairings that felt surprisingly considerate of each queen’s strengths.

Thorgy, who admitted Ms. Nicks was one of her biggest inspirations, nevertheless bristled. “I’m not trying to be a conspiracy theorist, because that’s what I was in Season 8,” she said, before launching into a conspiracy theory: “I feel like I’m being set up to fail. Next to Diana Ross and Janet Jackson, she is not like, ‘Werk!’ It just doesn’t feel fair.”

First off, Stevie Nicks said on “Oprah’s Master Class” that she carried a gram of cocaine in her boot for years, like a Laurel Canyon Mary Poppins; that’s drama. Second, the whole point of “All Stars” is to exhibit growth where you once fell short, so for the love of God, wait a little longer than Episode 2 before putting on the tinfoil hat.

Assigned Celine Dion, Milk revealed she’d impersonated her once before, to great acclaim from Ms. Dion’s wedding planner, who happened to be in the audience. “He was like, ‘Oh my god, that was the best Celine,’” Milk boasted, adding that, for this challenge, she’d decided to replicate a Versace dress and black spiky hair Ms. Dion wore to the most recent Met Gala.

“Do you think anybody’s going to recognize that?” BenDeLaCreme asked. Milk shrugged this off. (Girl, that was your lifeboat and you didn’t get on it.)

The “Divas Live” show, choreographed by the peddler of prolonged eye contact Todrick Hall, was a mixed bag. The queens lip-synced to cloyingly impersonated covers of RuPaul’s greatest hits — you know VH1 can afford 40 seconds of “Nasty,” so this move felt particularly cynical — followed by a “Rudemption” runway, where they spruced up disastrous looks from their previous stints on the show.

In the top were BenDeLaCreme, who rapped cheekily as Julie Andrews; BeBe Zahara Benet, who nailed Diana Ross; and Shangela, who hammed up Mariah Carey and strutted the runway in a giant, rolling bubble. In the bottom: Kennedy Davenport, who lip-synced messily; Thorgy, who, surprise, didn’t quite commit; and, for reasons unclear to me, Chi Chi, who put across a great Patti LaBelle and wore a shapely runway outfit, after repeated criticism from the Season 8 judges for not wearing padding. (“I just loved you in ‘Eraser,’” Chi Chi gushed to guest judge Vanessa Williams. “‘Eraser,’ baby, ‘Eraser.””)

Did Thorgy deserve a bottom spot as well? Not really, but the producers were clearly carving a narrative. Milk, on the other hand, was safe somehow, despite a snoozy-glam runway outing and, in the Divas Live challenge, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to Celine Dion. Backstage, she behaved ru-diculously, crying and cursing, while the others rubbernecked in bemused shock. “I was in character the entire time and to not be commended for it, it’s stupid,” Milk said. “I hate this.” (I mean, they know this is going to be on television, right?)

BenDeLaCreme and Shangela were named top two and faced off in a lip-sync to The Pointer Sisters’ “Jump (For My Love).” BenDeLaCreme unzipped to a second look mid-song, but Shangela whipped out a jump rope and victory was hers, as was the task of eliminating either Kennedy or Thorgy, who’d continued to grouse backstage and angle for alliances. No dice: Shangela axed her.

“Gross,” Thorgy said. “Have a good time without me,” she added in the workroom, packing up. “Bye, it’s going to be boring TV.”

Truly, get out. Also, you know, I hate to be a broken record, but there’s this show with amateur British bakers, and if their meringues curdle it’s no one’s fault but theirs, for not watching them more closely. They acknowledge and internalize this in their confessionals, which are filmed in the nearby meadow. It is not boring TV.

RuPaul popped on the workroom television to, yet again, coo ominous reassurances to Thorgy, while previous winners (and RuPaul handmaids) Chad Michaels and Alaska stalked up behind her.

When Thorgy inevitably returns, will she be chastened? Will Milk continue to sour? Was that actually Celine Dion’s wedding planner? Until next week.

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