This post contains spoilers for episode 8 of season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Also a ton of gifs.
This week’s episode was the ball episode, a standard for the second to last challenge of the season. The ball episodes always have a theme and require the queens to put together three looks, one of which must be made from scratch (and often from unconventional materials). Past seasons have had to make couture looks from wigs, money, and candy. This season, the queens attended the Book Ball, and were challenged to make looks from books.
But first, the mini challenge was also a standard for the ball episodes – puppets! The queens were randomly assigned another queen’s puppet version. They were tasked with putting the puppets into drag and then putting on a funny puppet routine (often reading the puppet queen to filth). This episode, Chi Chi DeVayne did an amazing job parodying Bob the Drag Queen and won the mini-challenge.
The main challenge was the Book Ball. The queens had to create three looks: baby drag realness, that’s my mamma realness, and autobiographical eleganza extravaganza. The first two looks they could put together from clothes they brought or provided by Plato’s Closet. The last look they had to construct from scratch using materials from provided books. Sibling authors Amy and David Sedaris guest judge this week, so in addition to the three looks, the queens were tasked with choreographing a group number to a Jerri Blank inspired musical number (Jerri Blank is the star of Amy Sedaris’s 1999 Strangers with Candy).
The runway begins with the musical number, and Bob embodies Jerri Blank in her performance. This part of the challenge typically doesn’t matter than much in the end and this episode was no different. The queens quickly move to their baby drag realness.
It’s top five so there are no big fails in terms of looks, though Derrick’s eyebrows are something else. Last week she was challenged by the judges to paint her face with drag make up (instead of female impersonator make up she’s been painting so far this season). Derrick decides to fixate on her eyebrows, painting them higher than her natural brows. She’s obviously never done this before, though, and the result is rough.
The real task for this challenge was the autobiographical eleganza extravaganza look. Chi Chi, Naomi, and Kim Chi all deliver, giving flawless looks. In the end, Kim Chi takes home the win for her consistent narrative across all three looks.
Derrick comes out in a swimsuit with a book pasted on it, a look she’s given many times before, and is criticized for it. Bob is criticized for only including card board in her look and not embracing the materials. This lands both in the bottom two, lip syncing for their lives. The lip sync song is You Make Me Feel (Might Real) by Sylvester James, a choice that seems like an easy win for Bob and a challenge for Derrick to match the tone. Bob delivers, performing her character while lip syncing and stealing the spot light. Derrick treats it like another Britney song, with choreographed moves that don’t perform well with the song. In the end, Derrick must sashay away, Vegas style.
So how did the algorithms do? Last week they predicted Naomi to be going home, which didn’t happen. Of the queens remaining at the beginning of this episode, Derrick was predicted to come in second, but instead she went home to take 5th place. Throwing the results of this episode into the data and recalculating the predicted places yields the table below. I’ve added a second measure of “correctness” which is calculated by first, adding up the squared differences of the actual and predicted places, dividing this by the maximum possible sum of squared differences, multiplying this by 2 and subtracting this score from 1. This yields a score that, like Kendall’s Tau, ranges from -1 (the predicted are in the exact opposite order as the actual) to +1 (predicted is equal to actual). Since Kendall’s Tau is calculated based on concordinate and discordinate pairs based on the ordering, ties can artificially inflate the Tau. The rank score is not inflated by predicted ties and so gives a better measure of “correctness” in the presence of ties.
Bob’s lip sync this week had her slip in the predicted placement for Neural Network and Random Forest Regressor, two of the highest performers in terms of their season 7 predictions, and so Bob has fallen out of the top spot overall. Kim Chi takes her place, though their weighted scores are very close. Ignoring the queens who have already gone home, Chi Chi is expected to join them in the top three, and Naomi is expected to go home next week.
In terms of my own predictions, this is a strong top four. Naomi has proven herself on the runway the last few episodes, giving strong looks. Chi Chi is this year’s Adore Delano (though Chi Chi’s story is, so far, less satisfying than Adore’s), so her growth this season might earn her a spot in the top three. Kim Chi and Bob are both highly likely to be top three, though Kim Chi’s lack of rhythm might send her home in next week’s music video challenge. At this point, it seems pretty clear Bob will be taking home the crown (I feel about Bob the similar to the way I did about Bianca in season 6). In past seasons it has been pretty easy to predict the top three by now, but this one’s a little tougher. We’ll have to wait and see what happens Monday.
|Actual||Support Vector Machines||Gaussian Naive Bayes||Random Forest Classifier||Random Forest Regressor||Neural Network||Average Predicted Score|
|Bob the Drag Queen||1||1||1||3||2||1.648|
|Chi Chi DeVayne||5||10||4||5||4||5.334|
|Cynthia Lee Fontaine||10||10||8||12||12||8||10.139|