And the queens are back for round 2!
On RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12 Episode 2, the second batch of queens entered the Werk Room to leave their mark on Drag Race herstory. Some shined, some flourished, and some brought out our inner Jasmine Masters to say, "And I oop..."
With a clear look at all 13 queens, RuPaul's Drag Race has set the bar for where the queens measured up. But, did the second batch live up to the queens who sashayed in on RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12 Episode 1?
"You Don't Know Me" brought the same glamorous flair and energy that we've come to love from Drag Race. However, the second part of the premiere felt mostly like a case of déjà vu.
The twists, challenges, and even conflicts seemed like they were copied from the events of the first premiere.
The difference, however, was the queens themselves, as well as the theme of the dance number. They injected their personality and style into their confessionals and outfits, so there was something new to judge and learn about the remaining six competitors.
I still love the split premiere twist because it gave the second batch of queens a chance to shine and showcase their personality to the judges, each other, and to the viewers. With six queens, that feeling heightened since there were fewer players.
It's nice to have an even playing field in the beginning. Though, a copy-and-paste premiere didn't bring the excitement since we knew what to expect.
The queens from Batch B also included talent from New York City. (Seriously, NYC comes to dominate each year!) But, there was a mix of talent from across the country.
We had comedy queens (Rock M. Sakura), performance queens (Jan, Sherry Pie), pageant queens (Jaida Essence Hall), sexy queens (Dahlia Sin), and spooky queens (Aiden Zhane).
It's a completely different vibe from Batch A. Whereas that group focused heavily on dancers/fashion/comedy, this group covered a wide range of skills and showcased queens that don't fit into the bigger box.
Arguably, Batch A had the stronger queens for the season premiere's challenges/runway.
The challenges focused heavily on outfits and choreographing a song/dance number. With mostly dancers and fashion queens, you could feel a sharp difference between both groups' performances.
Batch B might excel in other areas, but the result was a tad imbalanced here.
Based on the entrance looks/introductions alone, Rock M. Sakura, Sherry Pie, and Jaida Essence Hall stood out as dominant queens.
Their outfits had more attention to detail, and they went all out to make their mark for their entrance. Rock M. Sakura is a big ball of energy, so she'll give the producers what they need. Jaida Essence Hall is a fierce queen; I do not doubt that she'll slay the challenges with her focus. And Sherry Pie seemed to have that overall entertainer quality.
(Though, we can remove Sherry from our winner tally as she's been recently disqualified from winning RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12 due to her involvement with serious catfishing crimes pre-season.)
Ross Matthews: [About Jan] Even in your lyrics, you say, “push further into mainstream than any queen before.”
RuPaul: Hmmm, I have a little issue with that.
[They all laugh]
Jan's star quality and ambition was quite infectious. You gotta love a queen who wants to go for it and stand out!
Dahlia Sin stood out for her witty confessionals and general reality TV messiness. She will go there, and I can't wait until she calls someone out. Though, there's a strange vibe that she will become a "filler queen."
The same goes for Aiden Zhane.
Aiden's looks were nicely conceptual, but she didn't have the fire and electricity it takes to win Drag Race. And based on her conversation with the other queens in the Werk Room, she seemed outmatched by her competition.
Not all queens are the same archetype and need the same type of skills to dominate in the series. The problem, however, is that you have to specialize in something and have a bit of experience knowing how to perform. You can't underestimate the lessons learned when performing on stage to a crowd of patrons or drunken club-goers!
Beyond being a spooky queen, and I love spooky queens (Yvie Oddly! Sharon Needles!), Aiden didn't have much else.
I'm guessing she'll be one of the early boots.
The Mini Challenge returned to the Spring and Fall runways to showcase the queens' fashion game. As I said, it was déjà vu.
Jaida's outfits were hands-down the best of the runways!
Her spring number was fitted and infused a classy vibe while her fall high-fashion was breathtaking. It's no wonder she ultimately ended up in the Top 2! She brought the house down and gave the judges everything they needed on the runway.
Jan and Rock M. Sakura served high-fashion outfits that made them top competitors. This is where Jan rose from the group to prove that she shouldn't be ignored; she can serve a look. Dahlia also came to play with her fall number.
RuPaul: My queens! Remember, it’s not about who comes first, it’s about who comes hardest. So, put some Fosse in your posse and razzle dazzle me! Five, six, seven, eight! Oh, wait a minute … there’s only six of you. For now…
The Queens: Oh no!
[RuPaul laughs maniacally]
Sherry and Aiden had interesting outfits that showcased their charm and personality. Neither blew me away with what they brought to the tables in terms of their looks.
Their style carried them on the runway, but they need to bring if they want to stand out as the competition gets deeper with more elaborate outfits.
Overall, it was a decent runway that served looks with no iconic moment takeaway.
For the Maxi Challenge, I'm glad that the song and dance number highlighted a different genre. As much as pop and hip hop are the top tier standard, the jazzier vibe kept the queens on their toes to think outside of the box.
We can't fault them for not knowing about a Fosse aesthetic. Unless you're well-versed into that world or know musical genres, it's not a common reference.
Dahlia Sin: Our first challenge is a Fosse-esque musical number. I’m super excited about this because I love Fosse and I’m like, girl, we’re gonna kill it.
Producer: Who’s Fosse?
Dahlia Sin: She … he … she? He? Girl, Fosse is the main character on Chicago? Is it? I don’t know. I’m bad with this. Don’t judge me.
Even with that confusion, why can't the queens ever get it together with choreographing a routine?!
Seriously, this group spiraled into chaos and bickering quicker than Batch A. They needed to work together and let someone steer the group. They choose Rock M. Sakura to choreograph the number; they should've listened to her.
Their performance could've turned into a hot mess had they not pulled it back into a very simplified routine.
Jaida's work habits are not going to win her favors with her fellow queens and the fans.
At every point during the challenge, she seemed to complain and argue about every little detail. If she wanted to lead, she could've volunteered.
Sure, her point about making the dance routine simple was a valid point; there's no reason to make it overly complicated. However, her delivery came off as harsh and she clashed with many of her fellow queens when she made it known that she was mad.
This could be the early signs of her having animosity with a few queens. The edit itself started as a villain edit, so the producers might have the narrative in mind for her.
Jaida has so much potential and talent to win the season, so hopefully, she pulls it back at some point or this could be the reason why she doesn't win.
The performance of "You Don't Know Me" and the tulle runway was pretty average enough.
The queens showcased their personalities during the routine, but the song wasn't a bop like "I'm That Bitch." Out of all the challenge songs in Drag Race herstory, it's somewhere in the middle.
Jan, Jaida, and Sherry shined with their combination flair.
They killed it during the routine to make RuPaul and the judges either laugh or stand back blown away. I would've put Jan and Jaida in the Top 2 due to all of the reasoning mentioned above, but it makes sense why RuPaul placed Sherry at the top. Jan brought her A-game too.
[Robyn starts speaking Swedish]
RuPaul: Wait, squeeze me? What does that mean?
Robyn: Ru, it’s just “Don’t f*** it up!”
[All the judges laugh]
Rock M. Sakura is a quirky comedy queen who will give plenty of laughs. I agree with Michelle about her lyrics; the fart jokes, while sometimes campy, wasn't the best topic to bring up for her introduction on the main stage. RuPaul likes to crown mature and elevated queens, so this wasn't a good first step.
Though, I disagree with Ross Matthews about her outfit. Rock M. Sakura's tulle outfit was so high-fashion and captivating!
One of the best of the premiere episodes.
Dahlia and Aiden, on the other hand, cemented why they'll become filler queens.
Firstly, Michelle picked out specific reasons why Dahlia isn't at the same level as her competitors. Talking about "not knowing herself" is a worrisome thing to bring up. Once that narrative starts, it grows into a bigger issue that Michelle will bring up always.
Dahlia has to shake that off in her next round or else it will lead to her elimination.
Aiden Zhane, on the other hand, kept it simple on the runway. While her Maxi Challenge performance was great and it captivated the judges, it didn't change my mind of the earlier assessment.
She'll either have to blow everyone away in her challenges/runways or else she'll get outmatched at every time. Unfortunately, the latter seems to be the outcome based on the other talented and competitive queens.
Jaida Essence Hall and Sherry Pie served two different styles of lipsyncs. Sherry went for a more subtle and comedic approach while Jaida poured her heart and utilized her acrobatic skills.
From the outside, "Call Your Girlfriend" by Robyn works best with emotional and heartwrenching lip syncs. Sherry Pie was giving that energy at first to set up the song; her lipsync matched it beat for beat.
However, it paled in comparison to the power of Jaida's lipsync. Jaida brought it and threw it all on the main stage!
You need to go all out and show the judges why you're here to stay. Jaida did all that and more. Sherry did her best to match, and while it was a great performance, Jaida would've sent her packing had this been an elimination round.
Jaida could become another lipsync assassin if she ever finds herself in the bottom.
Last Thoughts From The Werk Room:
Loved Thandie Newton and Robyn! They need to come back and join the panel again in the future.
Rock M. Sakura's heartbreaking "mirror moment" was a real and raw look into her mindset. Hopefully, she always remembers that she is treasured and loved.
Did you catch all the Drag Race returnees as the fake celebrities on the runway?
- Dahlia needs to stay just for her confessionals alone!
Now, over to you, Drag Race fans!
What did you think of "You Don't Know Me"?
Will Jaida's personality translate into the villain edit? Are Dahlia's days numbered? Why can't the queens ever get along during a choreography challenge?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.