'RuPaul's Drag Race' recap: Drag mamas, Cloris Leachman, and the season's most controversial elimination!

rupaul-dragraceImage Credit: Rolling BlackoutsWhen just five contestants remain in any reality competition that you care about remotely, every single elimination stings. Well, mostly — and yes, I’m gazing in your direction, Tatianna. But last night’s elimination on RuPaul’s Drag Race stung more than just a usual top-five send-off. You see, my favorite constant on the show — that’d be Ms. Pandora Boxx — was forced to “sashay away,” after the judges and RuPaul agreed that her “drag mother” had out-shined the sweet, hilarious Pandora. And at the same time, a lesser contestant — yes, we’re back to you, Ms. Tatianna — was allowed to remain on the show. I’m in no position to tell the judges when they’ve made a mistake, but doesn’t that go without saying in this case? Yup.

Now, truly, I have no ill will toward Tatianna. She’s a smashing queen for the most part, despite the near-constant whining. What I do like about her is her willingness to roll with the punches. During this week’s challenge, for instance, which found the five queens vamping up aging men as their “drag mothers,” Tatianna ended up with a silver daddy who had a gimpy leg. (And that was even after she got first pick of the dudes, surprisingly.) Here, she found a way to make it work, rolling the guy out on a walker during the main stage portion of the show and made the most of the situation. Great! She employed comedy, yes! Which is what seemed to pull her through.

But what I don’t get about the aforementioned comedic defense for Tatianna this week is that the master of comedy on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race has, without question, been Pandora Boxx, with her hilarious facial expressions, quippy self-deprecating nature, and always-sunny demeanor. Where was that defense for Pandora? Remember her as Carol Channing during The Snatch Game episode? Or in the commercial challenge when she played a chain-smoking white-trash lady? This week in particular, however, the judges chastised Pandora for being shown-up in the funny department by her drag mother, but did they consider that Pandora could have orchestrated all the hilarity that ensued between her and the older queen? Did they think about the fact that Pandora has been a great contestant for all episode episodes thus far? Did they consider that she’d be a great ambassador as “America’s Next Drag Superstar” come the finale? Sigh. I suppose I’m getting too dramatic about her exit, but Pandora’s Sunshine will be sorely missed in a Drag Race landscape that now includes Dark, Mean, and Surly (Raven); Bitchy (Tyra Sanchez); and Whiny (the aforementioned Tatianna); and then just the one other Ray of Light (Jujubee).

I suppose, again, you have to judge on what happened on this particular challenge, so there’s that. And I had another thought as I watched the ladies on the main stage last night, mostly when Jujubee and Pandora were facing off by lip-syncing for their lives to “Shake Your Love” by Debbie Gibson: Pandora is not glam-glam like the other ladies. That’s never been her thing. She’s always worn crazy prints and looked sort of crack-whore-ish. (Hmm, what does it say about me that this is who I preferred on the show?) So maybe her exit is for the best, since the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race should probably be some sort of glam-obsessed queen. Fittingly, Juju, during the lip-syncing, was glamorous and beautiful. And actually, Pandora said it best at the end of the episode last night. “What I brought here wasn’t what they were looking for,” she said, with a big grin. “F— ‘em.” Again, there’s that humor that made Pandora such a delight to watch. At least Ru nodded to the fact that seeing Pandora go was difficult: “At this point, it’s not about who’s the worst,” Ru said. “It’s about who’s the best of the best. The next Drag Superstar.” She continued: “You shared your talents and opened your box for the world to see. There’s no stopping you.” Hopefully, that’s true for Pandora!

With all that said, I think I’m rooting for Jujubee now. I mean, I’m 99 percent sure that she won’t win — it’s just something I feel in my bones! — but I like to root for the underdog. It seems like this competition will probably come down to Raven (who won last night’s and last week’s challenges) or Tyra (who won a couple challenges earlier on). Tatianna, if she wins, I mean… Actually, let’s not go there right now. Again, love her, but no. That sort of just can’t happen.

Now that I’ve rattled on for hundreds of words about the virtues of Pandora Boxx, I suppose I should at least talk mention some other things from the episode. Here’s some of what I loved: the drag mama names the gals gave their silver daddies, including Golda Lamé, Litter Boxx, and Contessa Tooshay; the silver daddies in general (they were generally dolls!); the geniuses that were extra special guest judges Cloris Leachman and Debbie Reynolds (pictured with RuPaul, above) and the fact that they literally referenced both Ginger Rogers and Dancing with the Stars during their sorely limited commentary; and this encouraging little bon mot from Jujubee, when she was practicing her choreography with her drag mama: “Without confidence, we’re Tatianna.” Snap! And Juju even claims to be friends with Tatianna! You see, even Tatianna’s friends can see the cracks.

But, what of you, Drag Race fans? Are you as disappointed about Pandora Boxx’s exit as I am? Who are you rooting for to win the season? Who are your picks for top three? Did you die laughing at Mystique’s baby “photo” like I did? Are you planning your finale (April 26!) viewing party already?

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

More on RuPaul and ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ on EW.com:
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ recap: The queens throw shade and shill books
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ recap: Is Pandora Boxx the ‘Susan Lucci of this competition’?
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ recap: It’s either Team Tyra or Team Tatianna
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ recap: The queens drag out smashing versions of Carol Channing and Britney Spears
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ recap: See who did her last splits

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ recap: Talent wins over charisma this week
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race': Werq it out with the Dragulator!

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ premiere recap: Should Mystique Summers Madison have sashayed away instead?

‘Workin’ It’ with RuPaul: Eight essential bon mots from the drag legend’s new book
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Exclusive: Meet the season 2 cast and watch them werq!
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race': LOGO greenlights season 2
RuPaul on ‘Drag Race': Five rules for a killer comeback
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ on the Must List
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race': Winner Bebe Zahara Benet gets the documentary treatment!
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Exclusive: Meet season 2’s first queen, Jessica Wild
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race': Nine suggestions for staying fresh in season 2
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ casting begins: What’s your audition song?

Comments (122 total) Add your comment
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  • db

    Nooo not Pandora! She was far and away the most entertaining and original and funny Queen. She’s the only one I’d like to see after this show ends. Sigh.

    • JS

      Same here. I just deleted Drag Race from my Tivo box. Nothing can save this season for me now. I could care less who wins now.

  • Micah

    There’s no rhyme or reason to this show’s eliminations. Not last year, not this year. It seems to fall to RuPaul’s whimsy as to who should sashay away.
    I think it’s fairly obvious that RuPaul plays favorites. How else to explain why Tyra or Tatiana are still around but Pandora is not?

    • Em

      Yes. This is almost as infuriating as Nina not winning last year.

      • ms kitty

        Oh I know! I was so frustrated when they gave the crown to Bebe. Nina Flowers deserved to win. She was by far the best in last year’s competition…at least in my opinion.

  • donnadonna

    This show truly is the best hour on television – and that’s coming from a straight L.I. lawyer in her mid-fifties! I am so sad to see the lovely and charming Pandora go and I sure hope that you’re not right – it’s GOTTA be Juju for the win … doesn’t it? Come on, neither Raven nor Tyra have the personality or temperment for the title and Tatianna’s just too young. Maybe I just love me that Juju!

    • Blame Leno

      You know Raven has grown on me and as much as I dislike Tyra’s attitude she shows up and shows out when it’s time to perform. I love Juju and Pandora but unfortunately I can’t just base stuff on personality. I think Raven is not as mean since her “girls” have gone. She’s blunt and honest and often whether we like it or not….right.

  • hobokendave

    Pandora was robbed!!! and yes it’s clear, the judges (that means you Ru) seem only to favor glam drag. I guess that means RuPaul’s old buddy, one of the most twisted and funny drag queens, Lady Bunny, wouldn’t last on this show.

    JuJuBee for the win. Raven’s a bitch, Tyra’s all attitude and no brains, and Tatiannia is just too into being fishy instead of draggy.

  • kozmikg

    I enjoy RuPaul, but I think she will only have a winner that has the glam look. The campy, dancing or androgynous girls will never win. She wants someone like her. I point to Nina and Ongina last season and Jessica and Pandora this season. That said, I am very entertained by this show. It’s one of the shows I look forward to most every week.

  • Winston

    I want either JuJu or Raven. Tyra is so childish and well Tatianna is to wishy washy. I am hoping for Raven, but I know JuJu can bring the goods home also. Either girl is fine with me. I really enjoyed Pandora and wanted her in the top 3. I think she got a bum deal and should have won the week she was on snatch game.

  • Kel

    I agree with kozmikg. Better than Top Model for sure. Pandora wasn’t my favorite, but he was hilarious. Jujubee is my favorite by far. I hope she wins!

    I have a love/hate thing with Tyra, but I admit she’s fun to watch. Tatiana….*sigh*. She’s just too whiny. Another case of a person who just skated by on nothing.

  • Tina

    I liked that Pandora was different. Not over the top glam, but funny and sexy! She brought something different like Nina and Ongina last year. Santino needs to go. It seems that if he doesn’t like someone early on, he picks at them the whole competition no matter what. Same with Chanel last year. They should have last years queens as judges.

    • Em

      Last year’s queens as judges – LOVE THAT!

  • jimmy peterson

    I couldn’t have agreed with this article more if I wrote it myself… I LOVED PANDORA!!!

    However, I predict Raven will take the crown. I’ve grown to like the bitch… then again, I’ve grown to love them all… except Tatianna… send that bitch home!!!

    • Team Jon

      Agree! I wanted Pandora to win, and now I’m all about my #2 lady JuJu, but it’s been pretty clear that Raven’s going to win, AND pretty much deserve it. When she’s in trouble, she steps it up and pulls out something good. Don’t like her much, but I’ve come to terms with it.

  • Josh

    What bothered me was Tatianna’s drag mother showed her up as well, but they didn’t even mention that during her critique. How Tatianna or Tyra made it longer than Pandora is beyond me. But I also thought last year’s winner was RuPaul lite, so it doesn’t surprise me that the different ones are thrown out. Just in quality, the top four should have been Pandora, Jessica Wild, Juju and Raven.

    • Tim (@rural_juror)

      Word. Agree 100%.

      • Tony

        That was my Top 4 as well!!!

      • 666

        Tim! You are a fellow 30 Rock fan. Rock On!

  • Scott

    Alrighty, folks….I hail from Pandora’s hometown and actually know her personally. And I can say this, while last night’s elimination definitely seemed unwarranted, this is not the end of the road for Ms. Boxx. She’s already back out in LA filming another show with the producers of Drag Race. Just like before, she can’t really say what exactly, but she’ll be back on TV soon enough for us all to watch! So Tanner – go do some digging…what’s the upcoming spinoff??? The rumor mill is that it’s some sort of Real World/Road Rules Challenge endeavor with favorite contestants from last year AND this year! Fun!

    • Lee from NC

      That’s good to hear. I was disgusted when Ru sent Pandora packing. The reasons for it didn’t even make sense. Juju got the blame for her Drag Mother not being up to snuff on the stage, but Pandora didn’t get credit for making her Drag Mother hilarious. Nope, instead Pandora got blamed because her Drag Mother did too good and “outshone” Pandora. Stupid decision. Stupid stupid stupid.

      I pretty much have decided that Ru and Santino know pretty early on which contestants fit the mold they want and then engineer the win they using any old excuse they can come up with, logic be damned.

      Oh, and btw, Raven’s attitude now sucks worse than Tyra’s. I honestly did not believe her for a second with that BS about respecting our elders. To me, that was an obvious ploy to win points from the judges. Gag.

      • Rudy

        WORD!

      • Rudy

        WORD! And that look I think has to be of color, piercings, or tattoos.

    • Lara

      To add some more fun to the rumors, there’s a picture circulating around of our lovely Ms. Boxx with competitors Raven and Juju as well as DR1 girls Ongina and Shannel. That combination can only end well!

  • milehibat

    It seems that Rupaul does not like the white girls, Ethnicity of some sort or nothing. I mean lets face it Tyra, REALLY? AYFKM? What a JOKE. I have not seen anything from Tyra to warrant being on this show…she is just as tired as BEYONCE herself. Tatianna while I do not hate her is also LESS than. Dunno while the show is a guilty pleasure it is getting old. What is sad is we are not even done with season 2. They lost a class act when they lost Pandora Boxx.

    • Mia

      Oh please give me a break. It has NOTHING to do with color! Please please lets keep this off this blog. I think they keep Tyra on for the “drama” effect aka Good Television. That being said, even though Pandora wasn’t my favorite to win, I still thought she was adorable and would have loved to see her in the top 2. Tyra & Tatianna should be in the bottom 2 next week. Would love them see them fight to the finish just for the catfight thing.

      • milehibat

        dunno I think it is either a racial thing or it is Rupaul choosing who she is most attracted to. Cause genuine talent obviously has very little to do with it.

      • Delta Dawn Davenport

        RuPaul is clearly playing favorites. It seems the youngest, prettiest black drag queen is a shoe-in. Why else would Bebe win over Nina Flowers? This season Tyra should’ve been sent packing when we found out she got violent with Tatianna. That is never acceptable.

    • Rudy

      Well I’d like to believe that Ru isn’t color blind, but she hasn’t done anything to demonstrate otherwise!

      • thorswitch

        I adored Pandora so I’m really sorry to see her go. The best way Ru and company can make that up to me is to get rid of Tyra Sanchez ASAP. I have had SUCH a hate-on for Tyra for several weeks now. She just irritates the daylights out of me! As for winning, given the cast that’s left, I’d probably put Tati first – just because I seem to enjoy her more than the others, but Raven would be a close 2nd and then JuJu. If Tyra wins, well, lets just say the reaction would make anything seen on Untucked pale in comparison…

  • JurryL

    I was very sad to see Pandora go last night. She brought a lot of humor and a splash of orginality to the competition. Santino does need to go. He offers nothing to the table and I agree with Tina. When he doesn’t like someone early on he just change his mind. That and he looks greasy and oily. Talk about not being glamourous! He’s just filthy! I find nothing about Raven redeeming. She’s cold, nasty, bitchy and just flat out mean. She’s so insanely jealous of Tatiana’s beauty and body it’s disgusting. I’m not the biggest Tatiana fan, but she at least seems like a nice person. A whiny person, but a nice person nonetheless.

  • Ruben

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Pandora Boxx!!! By far my favorite queen! I was so angry to see her go considering she had never even been in the bottom before! My only hope is that she visits my hometown so I can stuff her bra with dollars and adoration.

  • taylorschultz

    While I love the show, I do think RuPaul is stuck on strictly glam queens. That’s getting pretty old to me. We need something new and refreshing and I thought Pandora filled the bill. Other than Jujube, the other contestants take themselves way too seriously and that’s not fun. So I’m cheering for JuJu now.

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