Friday, July 15, 2022

REVIEW: 'RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars' - Wintergreen Surprises the Queens in 'The Kennedy Davenport Center Honors Hall of Shade'

Paramount+'s RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars - Episode 7.10 "The Kennedy Davenport Center Honors Hall of Shade"

The queens take the stage to roast each other at the first-ever Kennedy Davenport Center "Hall of Shade" Honors.

Kennedy Davenport is an absolute legend. She didn't win Drag Race. However, she captured the hearts of everyone watching. She does high-energy drag better than anyone else. Plus, the "Kennedy Davenport Center Honors" is such a clever pun. Sure, young viewers may not know about the annual Kennedy Center Honors. That doesn't really matter. This competition serves as a celebration of the queens who have won. It also spotlights the many challenges that make this an Emmy-winning show. That has been abundant in spades this season. It's been such a delight to watch. Production has been responsible for many of the twists along the way. However, the cast has been very game and more than capable of creating their own stories. In the third episode, Shea established a secret to the platinum plunger. She was lying to all of her competitors. And yet, it has been so rewarding to see each of them realize that and play along with the game. It's built to the moment where Raja is the last to discover. She's a witch scorned. That reaction is perfect based on everything that came before. And then, the show brings back the popping balloons on the pit crew bit that was such a success in Season 14. Once again, one queen struggles to pop the balloon. It's absolutely one of the more sexually suggestion scenarios this show has ever produced. It's all still playful and with purpose. Of course, the lineup doesn't seem too far off from what one of the queens would have actually produced. With a roast, they have to be strategic with where they place themselves in the lineup. Monet acknowledges that. She even expects to thrive immediately following Trinity - who has flopped in this challenge twice before.

Everyone has certain expectations heading into the roast. It's a challenge completely in Jinkx's wheelhouse. Everyone assumes she will do well. She's on the path to earning four Legendary Legend Stars. No one questions that. Sure, that sets high expectations for her. She still knocks it out of the park. Conversely, the bar is set so incredibly low for Trinity. This has been her worst challenge. It appears all she needed was confidence in order to impress the judges. She was lacking in it before because she told herself she wouldn't be good at it. And yes, writing jokes and delivering them is hard. It's even more challenging when it pertains to the roast format. Some of the queens approach this challenge eager to do it for the first time. It's a skillset they don't frequently flex in their normal gigs. This is the opportunity for them to do something new. The pressure is still on for them. That's especially true for Shea, who believes she has to win the final two challenges to make it to the finale. All hope seems lost for her. She came out of the gate so well. She has been consistent throughout the competition. Everyone else has simply lapped her in having multiple moments standing out and prevailing in front of the judges. That's such an uncomfortable situation to find Shea in. It may not be completely accurate or deserving either. Moreover, this isn't the challenge that will immediately change her fate. And so, she's left as the sole queen with one star. Everyone else continues to build on their momentum. Those patterns are already known. And so, it's incredibly difficult to break them now. Even the queens acknowledge that Jinkx and Jaida are more than likely going to be in the finale. It's still funny when the episode goes through the motions of the queens talking about strategy only for RuPaul to reveal later that no one will be blocked for the final challenge. That's production once more wanting to create an even playing field to ensure everyone has a chance to shine even though it may not offer the cutthroat drama some in the audience want.

Jinkx, Monet and the Vivienne are the most confident when it comes to delivering their roasts. That's not particularly surprising. Trinity's performance is the most unexpected. As such, it seems like she is rewarded for being the most improved. That justification may be a little wonky. It's enough of a celebration to see her finally nail this challenge. Likewise, it's great to witness Raja and Yvie having fun. That's a little more forced with Shea because the pressure is so high for her. It's still apparent and keeps her safe with every joke she delivers. Jaida is the only queen who struggles. That can't be hidden by editing either. Of course, Michelle seeks to uplift her by pointing out how well Jaida recovered from failing to deliver the jokes she wrote. When she was just herself and trusted her improv skills, it was funny. Again, every queen earned a laugh. Jinkx, Monet and Viv were the most consistent. It did seem like more of Trinity's routine was seen than Vivienne's. That also helps propel the narrative of her deserving a victory for this challenge. The runway theme allowed all of the queens to shine as bright as they ever have. "All Glown Up" is such a fun prompt because it offers new ways drag is continuing to innovate. Raja and Vivienne opened and closed the runway with the best looks. Jinkx's outfit told the most complete story. It was remarkable even though the proportions and colors could have been even bigger and more vibrant. That may just be my personal taste. With this theme, it was most exciting to see those with a complete look under the stage lights change into something equally beautiful when the lights went out. Shea, Yvie and Trinity illuminated the same silhouette. Vivienne did as well. However, the movement of the wings was so breathtaking that it created such a picturesque story. Meanwhile, Raja's design radiated off of her body. Lasers were utilized to create an effect that encompassed the entire room. Everyone was transported to Raja's world. Jaida also had a moment of stunning and gorgeous design that demanded attention under both settings. And finally, Monet opted for the more sublime. It was a solid idea of encapsulating the wonder of constellations and the galaxy. The execution simply made for so much negative space as she walked in the darkness.

Jinkx and Trinity are declared the winners. Jinkx absolutely deserved that spot. Based on the challenge, Monet and the Vivienne had a really strong chance to be alongside her. The Vivienne's runway should have put her over the top. However, Trinity's victory is still respectable. Again, this is the best she has ever done. Plus, a number of her jokes were genuinely funny. Monet had to suddenly adjust the top of her set because even she could recognize that. This is Jinkx's fifth challenge win this season. That's impressive. This is also Trinity's eleventh challenge win across the three seasons she's competed in. That's insane. It's even better to see Trinity have fun this season instead of focusing so intensely on the competition. She's had a more playful side. Plus, she can still deliver during the lip syncs. This is the second time Jinkx and Trinity have faced off. It's a major improvement over the previous time. In fact, Ava Max's "Kings & Queens" appears as the number Jinkx is the most confident in doing. She has a plan she sets out to execute flawlessly. It is still absolutely chaotic. No one would likely call Jinkx the lip sync assassin of the season. However, it was a blast seeing her play around with this song. It's meant to serve as a pop anthem. And so, it's fitting to see her embody a young girl jumping around with absolute joy. Trinity delivers the sex appeal one might expect from this number. Even she is thrown by what Jinkx is doing. It's absolutely close. RuPaul could have rewarded either of them. Jinkx's victory is deserving. That can never be said enough. This season may be titled in her favor at this point. One episode may be all it takes to completely shake things up though. No one can be counted out even if the odds seem long for someone like Shea right now. Anything can happen. It was a huge gag seeing Wintergreen again after all. Her reciting Kennedy's explanation for her "Death Becomes Her" runway was also absolutely perfect.