'RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 2' recap: We need to talk about Alaska's meltdown
Let's all take a moment before we dive into this recap. Grab the hand of a friend nearby. Take a breath — a deep one. Let out a sob if you need to. First, the bad news: Beloved star Alyssa Edwards has been eliminated, and not in very fair fashion. Ordinarily, her departure would be the top story of this episode, and indeed, it's a sad loss. We will pay tribute to her later.
But before all that: Holy Thunderfuck 5000, we need to talk about Alaska's meltdown.
The top five get their challenge with a little something extra this week: a visit from their beloved family members. The task is to make over their mothers, sisters and grandmother so they look like drag family in addition to biological relatives. Introducing loved ones into the mix is a recipe for waterworks, and indeed, several of the queens get emotional. (Alyssa in particular has a powerful story, but again, we'll come back to her.)
The makeovers are so uniformly good it's hard to pick favorites. Katya and her mom go for a "Russian trophy wife and her mom" that is both hysterical and well-executed, as has become Katya's signature. Detox does the best job with the makeup, making her and her sister look like identical twins. Roxxxy Andrews' and Alyssa's makeovers are a skosh less impressive, but still strong.
And then there's Alaska's.
Like in season five's makeover challenge, Alaska basically replicates her own generic look on her makeover subject (her mom), albeit with the color of the dress and boa switched. It does not please the judges, especially head judge Michelle Visage. Alaska is the only queen of the five to get major criticisms.
Upon returning to the workroom for deliberations, where challenge winners Detox and Katya must choose which of the other three queens they will send home if they win the lip sync, Alaska immediately turns cranky. She removes her heels, earrings and wig, complaining, "Drag fucking hurts."
Katya talks with her one-on-one, and Alaska's reaction to her first time in the bottom two is nothing short of deeply unpleasant. She attempts to make her case for staying, but it's not really so much a conversation as it is a demand. "I need to go to the end of this competition," Alaska insists. "I need to."
"Party," Katya says, referencing departed queen Adore Delano's catchphrase. It seems like an attempt at levity — Katya looks like she's going to laugh after she says it. But Alaska doesn't react, and she walks away sour. It's a bizarre moment, very un-Alaska. Maybe her reaction was edited out? Or maybe not.
It quickly becomes obvious that Alaska is both pissed and terrified. She realizes that her eliminations of queens based on their critiques in one episode — Tatianna the first time, Alyssa the first time — may come back to haunt her. Another queen could do the same to her; based on the criteria Alaska helped establish for eliminations in the first episode, she should go home this week.
Then comes Alaska's hissy fit:
I fucked up this week, man. I fucked up. And it really sucks. It fucking really fucking sucks a lot. And I need to be in the final four. Now I'm potentially looking at not — I'm not going to be. It really fucking sucks.
Detox confesses she's "really shocked at Alaska's behavior. She's acting like a brat." But Alaska's not done. She then bribes Detox — jokingly, perhaps, although it's not edited like a joke and Detox isn't shown laughing — to not send her home.
"I'll give you $10,000 if you let me stay, before taxes," Alaska says. "I'll transfer it to you via PayPal. Because I need to stay in this competition. I need to be in the final four."
It's pretty appalling to watch. Alaska has been professional and focused all season — to a fault, frankly. She garnered a great deal of backlash for playing competitively and sending Tatianna home last episode. To see her lose all composure during her first trip to the bottom is jarring.
Detox wins the lip sync, and it's dubious choice by RuPaul. Her performance is gimmicky, while Katya is embodying the song's attitude. Perhaps Katya is planning on sending Alaska home and so, to avoid losing the competition's frontrunner, Ru chooses Detox as the winner instead? Indeed, Detox doesn't send Alaska home, following her heart and eliminating Alyssa.
Yet the damage to Alaska is done. Quite frankly, after her meltdown, which comes on the heels of her unpopular decision last week, it's tough to imagine Alaska winning next week. RuPaul infamously shoots all three possible endings for each season, choosing a winner afterward. She's done so since season four, and she's said she takes fan opinion into account while deliberating.
So Alaska may lose the crown if Ru decides she doesn't want an unpopular winner. That'd be a shame, if only because Alyssa was the last real threat to Alaska's record. Katya and Detox don't feel like winners, frankly, as evidenced by their decent-at-best lip-sync performances this episode.
One queen who absolutely cannot win is Roxxxy. She makes it through to top four despite a fifth appearance in the bottom. Roxxxy already broke the series record for greatest number of bottom placements last week with four — this week, she just extends her dubious record. Yes, she did fine this challenge, but it's unpleasant to see Alyssa (who has won two lip syncs) sashay away instead of Roxxxy. But Detox is Roxxxy's best friend, so the writing was on the wall.
So it's a sad farewell to Alyssa, who truly made All Stars 2 worth watching even in its most frustrating moments. Her connection this week with her sister on the one-year anniversary of their mother's death is just heartbreaking. Alyssa confesses to throwing herself into her work after her mother's death instead of properly grieving, avoiding family entirely (not even seeing her sister for a year prior to this episode). She seems glad to be able to have her sister by her side as she finally comes to terms with the sad reality of her mom's passing.
Alyssa is a star, and she departs Drag Race with a whole new group of fans who love her for all the quirky, hilarious, heartwarming things about her. It's a bummer that she's sent home over a consistently poor performer and a queen who turns into a whiny child at the first sign of trouble, but them's the breaks.
So who will take the crown next week? We can probably rule Detox out. She's grown since her season, no doubt, but not in the same way Alaska has. Katya is the underdog, with no lip-sync wins, but she's definitely got a great story, what with triumphing over the anxiety that hamstrung her in season seven. Of course, Ru could decide she doesn't give a rat's ass about popularity and still crown Alaska, who has been the best performer all season.
It's a bummer that Alyssa is sent home over a consistently poor performer and a queen who turns into a whiny child at the first sign of trouble, but them's the breaks.
But think about this: Ru and her story editors chose to show Alaska trying to bribe Detox to save her, and they chose to not edit it as a joke or funny moment. If the show's producers want a winner free of the stench of controversy, one who fans can rally behind, why would they include that footage? Why would they choose to do that?
If the answer to that question is, "They wouldn't," we should expect to see a surprising winner next episode — airing at 8 p.m. Eastern on Thursday on Logo and VH1.