‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8’ Episode 10 recap: The ‘L’ Word

This season’s makeover challenge provides us our top two—but what comes next?

We are, somehow, still several episodes away from finding out who will win RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8. This season has really been a slog, huh? I’ll admit, it’s ending stronger than I would’ve expected, with last week’s roast challenge and this week’s makeover task prompting what I would call my two favourite episodes of the season. But overall, I’d say this season has proven that All Stars in its current format has run its course, and a refresh is necessary.

Rumours abound online about what All Stars 9 has in store for us, one of the most prominent being that the non-elimination format from All Stars 7 may be making a return. Not gonna lie, I’m pretty frustrated by this development if it comes to pass. While I understand that queens are increasingly unwilling to spend All Stars–level dollars on their drag, only for it to not be seen every week—and that voting each other off is becoming an increasingly untenable task in the face of unrelenting online hate—my opinion is that Drag Race should remain a competition. And the show has not figured out how to make that happen without eliminations.

As we saw in All Stars 7, the fabled all-winners season fell short of expectations because, despite a somewhat convoluted system of Legendary Legend Stars, a last-minute twist effectively rendered moot all the gaming throughout the season. It was all basically a drag variety show with an all-but-scripted ending, one that required some blunt editing to achieve in the end. The result was a finale that was pretty insulting to the viewers, even if the results (Jinkx Monsoon winning Queen of All Queens, Raja winning Queen of She Done Already Done Had Herses) were enjoyable.

I don’t know what the solution is, but I want Drag Race to put the requisite amount of thought into it before just barrelling into the next season. All Stars 8 has by and large been a failure, but changing everything on a whim to try and fix it likely isn’t a winning formula, either. I’ll say this, though: if this is the last time we ever see a Lip Sync Assassin, we’re ending on a truly great one.

Jessica Wild makes over her partner, Lisa, aka Kitty Wild

Credit: Courtesy Paramount+

Jimbo starts this episode riding high, calling her lip sync win in last week’s installment “four years in the making.” (Granted, her record is still 1–6, so let’s keep everything in perspective.) She’s got four wins, and everyone else left—just Kandy Muse and Jessica Wild at this point—each has only one. With only one challenge remaining, Jimbo is literally untouchable track-record-wise.

 

Meanwhile, Kandy is using some clever wordplay—the very same that Alexis Michelle has used to defend her choice to eliminate LaLa Ri—to defend eliminating Alexis. Technically, Kandy went against her deal with Alexis, but her defence is that Alexis was proving herself to be unreliable as a potential ally. This is all set up for us to think it might lead to some kind of crack in the Jimbo-Kandy alliance, but let’s be honest. They’ve gotten this far. Jimbo’s not going to suddenly go against Kandy now. The other way around, though … that’s an interesting question.

Meanwhile, Jessica’s preferred boot order is to eliminate Kandy here, then go to the end with Jimbo. This is unwise, to say the least! I think Jessica would beat Kandy in the finale, but I can’t imagine Jimbo losing to anyone. In fairness, Jessica has never claimed to be a strategic voter, repeatedly saying in the past that she votes based on her heart. Jimbo is her closest friend in the competition, so why wouldn’t she want to go to the end with her? (I can think of 200,000 reasons why, but I’m not Jessica.)

Who actually makes that choice is dependent on this week’s makeover challenge, though: making over three lesbians, Amanda-Faye, Angie and Lisa. They are all super game and incredibly fun, and the enjoyment of this episode is largely based on how great they are. The makeover partners do a lipstick draw to determine who they’ll be working with, with Amanda-Faye getting Jimbo, Angie getting Kandy and Lisa winding up with Jessica. Soon enough, they will become Sissy Delicious, Kookie Muse and Kitty Wild—but it’s a bit of a journey to get there!

Zooey Deschanel is this week’s guest judge—or, ast Ru puts it, “from New Girl to Ru Girl!”

Credit: Courtesy Paramount+

Kandy is most successful with Kookie, connecting with Angie as a butch the same as her own mother. As we see in most makeover challenges, it’s the queen who makes the most personal attachment to her partner who does the best. Angie embraces the femininity she has long eschewed, and opens up both to Kandy and in confessionals about what this experience means to her. The resulting makeover is perfect: colorful, ’60s-inspired looks just similar enough for clear family resemblance, but not exact replicas. Kandy and Kookie look amazing together, and she earns a clear win.

Jimbo, for some reason, relies on previously seen drag in this episode. I’m not sure if she was just in a play-the-hits mood after her lip sync win in her UK vs The World talent show look, but it’s a shock to see her try and fit Amanda-Faye in her entrance look from Canada’s Drag Race Season 1. Even her eventual makeover look draws easy comparison to her performance look from her “Not Sorry Aboot It” performance from that season, though it’s not the exact same. Amanda-Faye feels much better in the sexier look than the clown fantasy, and I give Jimbo props for listening to her partner. But I gotta admit, this is reminiscent of Alaska’s makeover look from All Stars 2 for me. It’s strange to see a frontrunner turn out a makeover that feels this simple.

Jessica fares better with Kitty Wild, but she’s still pretty far behind Kandy. Kitty looks good, but as a package, it’s all a bit underwhelming. The judges zero in on the shoes as a problem, and while I don’t disagree, I think it’s a symptom rather than the actual root issue. Lisa, bless her, gets more confident as she walks more, but she looks a bit scared when she first hits the runway. It just isn’t as impactful a makeover as you’d expect from someone as terrific at Drag Race as Jessica is.

So it comes down to this: Kandy must choose who will join her in the final two. Owing to there being only two queens voting in the group, as Jessica and Jimbo both pick each other’s lipstick, Kandy must make the decision this week. Even if she loses the lip sync, power will return to her after the tie is revealed (as we last saw on All Stars 6 with the Jan and Pandora Boxx tie). What will Kandy do? Will she honour her alliance with Jimbo and take Jessica out? Or will she give herself a fighting chance in the finale, even if it proves Heidi N Closet’s claim from episodes ago right?

What’s her name? It’s Priyanka, Canada’s Drag Race Season 1 winner and this week’s Lip Sync Assassin!

Credit: Courtesy Paramount+

Everybody shut up right now, because it’s time to reveal the Lip Sync Assassin, and it’s … what’s her name? PRIYANKA! This reveal has me absolutely giddy. A huge part of that is for Priyanka herself, who makes her RuPaul’s Drag Race main stage debut doing what she does best: tearing up the floor in a lip sync. She also makes Ru cackle immediately upon taking her position (“Wow, so this is what America’s like?”), and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that Ru takes a shine to her. All Winners 2 lock, please!

But more than just being excited for Priyanka, I’m eager to dissect what this means for the show. Who else from international franchises could make their way onto All Stars, either as a guest or a competitor? Previously, only queens who had appeared on a Ru-hosted season once could be here (think The Vivienne, Jimbo and Pangina Heals), but now the door is open for Ru to meet queens for the very first time on this stage. I’m so hopeful to see some other major names Ruveal themselves, ideally with as strong a first impression as Priyanka makes here.

The lip sync is to “Jumpin’ Jumpin’” by Destiny’s Child, and Pri does not let this opportunity go to waste. She brings the same dynamic performance skills we’ve seen on “I Drove All Night” and “Hello” to this round, and while Kandy sexes it up, she can’t keep up with the Canadian champion. Priyanka wins, extending her career record to 4–0 and introducing herself to a whole new audience.

The vote, of course, ties, which means Kandy must make her choice. She chooses to eliminate Jessica. A hearty congratulations to Jimbo on her victory in two weeks’ time (after next week’s Fame Games interlude), which Kandy has just secured with this decision. Is this the fair choice? Sure. But as Naomi Smalls once so memorably said, life’s not fair. Kandy effectively threw away $200,000 on this decision—though at this point, considering Jessica’s fan support, maybe she would’ve lost it either way. Regardless, losing Jessica here is a blow, after she’s been such a joy all season long. It’s a bummer ending to what was otherwise a terrific episode—and now, it’s time to spend an episode with the queens we’ve seen go home along the way to this point.

Untucking our final thoughts

The Other Half of the Story, Deliberations Edition: There’s not a lot of room for campaigning this week, owing to the obvious result of the group vote and the amount of time spent with the makeover partners during Untucked. When Jimbo and Jessica do finally get to campaigning to Kandy, it’s Jimbo giving Kandy a foot rub, while Jessica earnestly makes her case as an older queen deserving her second chance. Ultimately, there’s no real sign as to why Kandy votes one way or the other, which is both par for the course this season 

The Other Half of the Story, Fame Games Edition: Obviously none this week, with the makeover challenge, but we’ve got a full showcase next week!

The Other Half of the Story, What’s Her Name? Edition: Priyanka is an absolute delight in Untucked, getting basically a full package to introduce herself to the U.S. audience. She (rightfully!) boasts about being the Lip Sync Assassin of Canada’s Drag Race Season 1, and jokes about Ru looking at a photo of her before bed. She also boasts performing the longest lip sync in Drag Race herstory, which is true! “I Drove All Night” was long, and it was sublime.

This is actually Jessica’s first time opening the box of lipsticks! On her only previous appearance in the bottom two, Kahanna Montrese also survived, and she opened the box instead. (One of her many times doing so.) That means the only queen in the final six to never open the box is Jimbo—we’ll see if she does it next week to round out the set.

Jimbo and Jessica matching in the werk room! How cute. A final two we won’t have, but I kinda wish we would.

We actually get a mini-challenge this week! It’s a tie-in with the Jean Paul Gaultier brand, and they’re basically designing themselves in bodysuits as bottles of perfume. It’s a little weird, but the important thing is that Jessica wins it! She adds another $2,500 to her existing prize pot of $35,000—not a bad haul, to say the least.

Kandy makes an interesting point in the werk room about the makeover challenge at this late stage of the game, saying she doesn’t want her position in the finale to be dependent on someone else’s contributions. I’m sympathetic to this, and it’s actually something I’ve never thought of before. Other seasons with makeover challenges right before the finale include All Stars 2, UK Season 1, Down Under Season 2, every season of España and Italia Season 1. (In Season 15, Loosey LaDuca was the last queen eliminated of the season in the makeover challenge, but the Rumix episode came between that and the finale. Additionally, France’s first season had a top four makeover challenge, but they introduced a Lip Sync for the Finale element that actually decided who would reach the end.) I actually would encourage Drag Race producers to not do this again—to Kandy’s point, it just leaves a bit too much out of the queens’ hands at a critical juncture.

A werk room walkthrough with Ru is basically inevitable this week, what with the amount of time we have to fill in the episode (and no, say, deliberations to pad it out). However, Ru stays pretty surface-level with the makeover subjects—he seems to almost be going through the motions. The connections we see between the women and the queens are much stronger.

There’s a lip sync element to the makeover challenge, as usual—these never really count for anything, but they’re cute to see. The queens perform with their partners (including some fun choreo!) to a mashup of Ru’s songs “Charisma Uniqueness Nerve Talent,” “Peanut Butter” and “I’m That Bitch.” Enjoyable!

Petition to have the reveal moment where the makeover subjects see themselves made up for the first time become a staple of every one of these challenges. They’re always so fun.

“From New Girl to a Ru Girl,” as Ru puts it, Zooey Deschanel is our guest judge this week! She doesn’t make a huge impression, honestly, but she’s one of the bigger names we’ve seen this season. And isn’t it kind of surprising she’s never guest-judged before?

The makeover subjects all get trips to Puerto Vallarta for their participation! (“Airfare included,” Ru says, in a strangely strict tone.)

So the $10,000 gets added to the Fame Games prize total! Which means we’ve got $60,000 on the line for our winner. Who should that be? My vote goes to Jessica—but I’ll get further into that in the power ranking.

The next episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars will stream Friday, July 14, at 3 a.m. EDT on Paramount+ in the U.S. and on Crave in Canada. Check back every weekend after new episodes for our recaps and power rankings, and subscribe to our drag newsletter Wig! for exclusive Drag Race content delivered straight to your inbox every Tuesday afternoon.

Kevin O’Keeffe is a writer, host, instructor, and RuPaul’s Drag Race herstorian living in Los Angeles, California. His favourite pastime is watching a perfect lip sync.

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