RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Recap: Circle Loses the Square

Imagine for a moment that you are Trixie Mattel. You are one the most bankable stars the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise, but not because you won or because you were even particularly favored by an edit. By your own gumption and pluck, you are one the only contestants to move on to a television show your own, The Trixie & Katya Show on Viceland. You also have insanely huge tits. For a post–Drag Race career, you can’t really ask for much better, even if your performance on the show itself is universally considered to be bush-league. But then, on a marmalade-sky day filled with network meetings and Brazil booking fers, you get the call to come back and compete on All Stars 3, and the opportunity for RuDemption is so enticing that you breathlessly agree to appear on the show. Because now? You’re unstoppable. You’re a superstar. You’ve been the front-runner before the show was even confirmed. You have 900,000 Instagram followers, for Carly Rae’s sake.

Is that not fucking terrifying?!

It bears repeating what Ben touched on in the beginning the season: When you come back to this show with a sterling reputation, you’ve got a much tougher hill to climb. Someone like Aja is gagging us all the doo-dah day, not just because how well she’s performing week in and week out, but because, to be honest, she’s got a low bar to clear. With Trixie on the other hand, not only are we keenly aware what she can achieve, but we see her achieve it constantly in the outer world. There’s a reliability there. You will never turn on The Trixie & Katya Show and not laugh, and by no means does Katya carry the whole thing. Trixie is a special breed queen, and a comedian in the realest sense.

So what exactly happened during the Snatch Game on All Stars 3? We blame a mixture pressure points surrounded by systems even higher pressure, creating a perfect storm that would make Trixie Mattel — Trixie Mattel! — not funny.

Pressure Point No. 1 is Shangela, but out drag. Trixie is a big personality, and we have a workroom full those. But there’s one queen who naturally drifts toward the proverbial center stage, and it’s Shangela. Her discovery a Thorgy-penned note with “Fuck this shady bitch Shangela” (classy) scrawled and addressed to Trixie was the exact fodder our Drag Mother Dragons needed to spit the fires conflict in her biggest competition’s direction. And it apparently worked. Trixie is unfocused from the moment she’s confronted until she’s able to get (some) closure with Shangela later, explaining in a talking head that she simply cannot perform in Snatch Game with Shangela mad at her. Whether Shangela was actually ever that upset is up for debate, since her shrewdness in talking heads suggests a holistic view how this game is played and won. She senses a moment weakness in Trixie and manipulates it, leaving Trixie cracked, to use Shangela-speak. This results in a perturbed Trixie’s preoccupation with issues un