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Let's Talk 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Season 10, Episode 2: "PharmaRusical"

By Kristy Puchko | TV | March 30, 2018 |

By Kristy Puchko | TV | March 30, 2018 |


Last week, the tenth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race started out fierce, introducing a cavalcade of incredible queens, and ferocious fashion and shade with abandon. But despite some Vixen-sparked drama and a cameo from Drag Race royalty Alyssa Edwards, episode two underwhelmed with a clunky main challenge and some shockingly disappointing runway.


Vanessa Vanjie Mateo is gone, but not forgotten. The sassy queen who was slayed by the Drag-on-a-Dime challenge in ep one became instantly iconic with her haunting exit, that had Gay Twitter stewing all week, and even Ru giggling.

Often it’s the first queen eliminated who is fast forgotten by the fans. But between this weird exit and her talent for (talking) head, I doubt this will be the last we see Miss Vanjie.

As for the remaining queens, the Aquaria and Miz Cracker rivalry heated up, in that Miz is now aware of Aquaria’s face-snatching accusations. And sure, the Brooklyn queen tried to veer away from the villain edit she could feel coming on, but The Vixen wasn’t having it.

Let’s mosey over to the mini-challenge, where Andy Cohen popped by in cowboy gear to ask the queens to do some quick, country-fried drag. Asia O’Hara and The Vixen kept their wigs on and won the challenge, scoring them spots as team captains for PharmaRusical. Episode two is a solid place for the big, showy musical challenge, because we have some idea of the contestants’ personalities, and plenty of them to make for a big splashy spectacle. And yet, this drug-fueled showcase was less just what the doctor ordered, and more OD-ous.

Let’s move past the fact that Mayhem Miller won the first challenge, and then was chosen second to last for the team challenge. I say let’s move past it because the show didn’t even attempt to stir drama there, focusing instead on Eureka’s implosion. Having hurt herself on the team dance challenge in season nine, this returning queen was understandably anxious. And her self-doubt proved her greatest obstacle.

Despite some fun moments, I felt both teams delivered uninspired performances as a whole. But the clunky multi-part structure of the PharmaRusical might be to blame. And costumes that relied on body suits and lab coats didn’t help. (Bless Alyssa, who coached every queen to be extra, and demanded dancing, no walking! They failed her.) Nonetheless, The Vixen’s team came out on top, and snagged this Chicago brawler the big win for the night.

Let’s talk runway. Queens were asked to bust out their best drag. And rather than taking risks and going big, they were SO MANY bodysuits. Obviously, no one wanted their show-stopping looks dropped so early. But I suspect the point of this theme was to be sure most of the queens had a chance to shine and establish their brand before being sent packing. What a wasted opportunity. Asia and Yuhua Hamasaki and Monet X. Change and Kalorie Karbdashian Williams and Eureka ALL wore bodysuits, a look that can get you read any week from Michelle Visage, but especially when you’re asked to bring your A-game. And most of them got slammed for it.

I’m especially disappointed in Kalorie. Last week, she nearly went home for delivering a subpar runway look. This was her chance at Rudemption, and this was the outfit she chose!

After awing us last week with her playing card Queen of Hearts look, Monique Hearts faltered in the challenge. But her tearaway Cookie Monster look saved her from being in the bottom two. And that pitted season ten’s two plus-size queens against each other, right as they’d bonded over their jaunty theme song about gobbling up the competition. I can’t fault the judges’ choices here. Kalorie should have known better than to rely on that booty, especially after getting read to filth last week. And Eureka’s lack of confidence killed her in the PharmaRusical, where she DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THE WORDS to her lip sync. Inexcusable.

Though earnest, their lipsync lacked verve. And I suspect Eureka won less because she’s a “lip sync assassin,” and more because her redemption arc is more interesting than Kalorie’s. Maybe we’ll see Eureka regain her confidence and rise to the top, like Trixie Mattel did in All Stars 3. But I suspect this quaking queen came back too soon to the pressures of this competition and will burn out halfway through. Even for wildly talented and seasoned queens, Drag Race is a hell of a challenge. And there’s no shame in struggling. It’s just vexing when a contender’s greatest enemy is herself.

In other turnabouts, Dusty Ray Bottoms went from Michelle’s shit list to hit list, thanks to her Carrie Bradshaw meets Beetlejuice look.

Kameron Michaels went from Bridge and Tunnel to beauty queen with her butterfly extravaganza.

And Aquaria proved she’s more than just a trash talker. In the team challenge, she was an undeniable standout. And while her looks remind me too much of fellow Brooklyn queen Pearl’s racy/androgynous aesthetic, it left the judges gagging.

Next week it looks like a comedy queen challenge, which could be good news for Eureka. And it seems Aquaria’s only just begun to war with The Vixen.

What’d you think of “PharmaRusical,” the episode and the challenge?

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Kristy Puchko is the managing editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.