[Review] "Dragula" S3E1: The Lesser Of Two Evils

After going an entire 2018 without the filth, horror, and glamour of "Dragula", the small screen has once again been graced by Dracmorda and Swanthula, the Boulet Brothers, and their over the top "Dragula", the counterculture to a certain drag race where the competitors do way more than lip sync for their lives. Now that the show has a track record, OutTV airs the series on their network in Canada, while Amazon Prime is making available the season on their Prime Video streaming service. Will the third time ‘round be the charm? How will the Boulets ever outdo the madness of the previous two pageants?

The cold open is a classic prisoner transport at midnight, with the Boulets playing the part of the madwomen that they truly are. The production of these scenes keeps getting better, right down to the SFX makeup and editing. Once we cut back to reality, each performer gets their own introduction from the hostesses.

  • Maddelynn Hatter is a twelve year veteran of the medium, and is at the forefront of the New York scene, but will that translate to victory?

  • Landon Cider is the first drag king in a mainstream drag competition series, but will he be able to make room for a king among the winners’ circle of "Dragula"?

  • Violencia Exclamation Point brings a level of camp to her act, but will the Boston-based clown be a Pennywise or a Killjoy?

  • Priscilla Chambers is a Southern belle of 23 years, but will youth overshadow experience?

  • Yovska is the first Canadian competitor on "Dragula". Will she be singing "Immigrant Song" or rather "Ich Bin Ein Ausländer?"

  • Dollya Black is the first legacy in the show's history, as the daughter of season two finalist Victoria Elizabeth Black. Will she live up to the family name?

  • St. Lucia is a relative unknown, but will she leave the competition a household name?

  • Hollow Eve is one of two AFAB (assigned female at birth) performers in this running. Will the post-binary drag socialist show that drag has evolved beyond "a man in a dress?"

  • Evah Destruction is a fabulous and ruthless Texan. Everything is bigger there, so they say, but will her monstrosity be an exception?

  • Maxi Glamour is a walking piece of art, but will she be able to live up to (and beyond) her moniker?

  • Louisianna Purchase is the elder stateswoman of the season, at 42 years young. Will her status as a seasoned performer translate to the crown?

The first challenge of the season is a mini extermination challenge. Of the 11 compacts, nine of them are blank, one has a star, and one has a spider. The monster who grabs the star compact wins a seven-day cruise, while the spider compact could spell doom for its holder. Maddelynn manages to grab the star, while Landon ends up with the spider. As punishment, Landon is presented with a chalice full of spiders, which he must consume or face an early demise. He not only completes his task, but does so with a smile, to the contestants’ reactions of shock, nervous laughter, and a little bit of gagging to boot.

For the main challenge and the inaugural floor show, the contestants must transform themselves into supervillains. Once they hit the dressing room, the girls introduce themselves to one another. Priscilla calls herself the Tonya Harding of drag, implying she is ready to win at all costs. Louisianna uses the term "femme fatale" for her character. Priscilla launches a shot across the bow and calls Yovska Dobby, albeit in good fun. We then get the first major twist of the season: Maddelynn is the drag mother to season two finalist Victoria Elizabeth Black, so Dollya Black is actually Maddelynn’s drag granddaughter. This marks the first time that two members of a drag family have ever competed on a season against one another, as well as the first legacy competitor in series history.

Hollow Eve wastes no time showing off her monstrosity, as she has staples in her face, which she then asks the competitors nearest to her. The lack of fearlessness of the trend breakers in Eve and Landon is promising for their statuses in the competition. As if that wasn’t enough, Eve then verbally eviscerates Priscilla over her use of the term "fishy." To make a long story short for the uninitiated in drag culture, "fishy" is a term used to describe a queen who could arguably pass as a cis woman out and about. It is derived from the supposed… let’s say, scent of a woman. Eve takes Priscilla to task over it, and thus the house rules for the season are set, it would seem.

A few of the monsters talk about the looks they are crafting for the supervillain runway. Violencia is going for a commentary on the meat industry, with a meat corset that admittedly had me scratching my head. Maddelynn is going for big hair, as only she can. Yovska talks about her immigrant status, and how the intersection of her background and her queerness has made her feel inhuman and monstrous many times. As such, she intends to incorporate that into her presentation.

Day two of preparation only has so much going on, as Priscilla has the hots for St. Lucia. As the contestants add the finishing touches, an alarm goes off to get them nervous and scattered. The guest judges for this episode are revered comic book artist Phil Jimenez (X-Men, Wonder Woman, et al) and cosplay artist Phi Phi O’Hara ("RuPaul’s Drag Race" season four, "RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars" season two). The winner of the challenge will take home $1,000 worth of heels from Fierce Queen. I can’t leave this section behind without talking about the looks that the Boulets themselves are sporting. Just… if you haven’t seen it, Google it. You will not be disappointed.

Highlights for me for this floor show are as follows:

  • Yovska seems to have been inspired by The Babadook in her look.

  • Maddelynn looks less like a villain and more like Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy. And I really can’t tell if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

  • Louisianna is giving us strong Catwoman vibes.

  • Landon looks like a genderbent Ursula, and I could not be more here for it.

  • Hollow Eve looks like a wrestler, like she was cut from GLOW, and the cords through her face are a welcome shocker.

Hollow Eve, Landon Cider, Yovska, St. Lucia, and Maddelynn Hatter are declared safe for the week, whereas the remaining six performers are the upper and lower tiers this go-round. Louisianna receives judgment first, and while she is praised for her Catwoman moment, it is deemed a little plain and lackluster. While Violencia looks super polished, she does not look super villain enough for the parameters of the challenge. Priscilla’s commentary on America definitely earned her points on badassery, but the finer details like her very visible socks is bound to cost her. Dollya serves sex on a stick, and looks the most put together of the cast. Maxi’s anime inspired mech was good from the neck up, but the outfit as a whole was not coherent. Evah’s headpiece reads Maleficent, and said headpiece is immediately praised by the comic book expert Phil.

Dollya Black takes the first win of the season, with Evah and Priscilla rounding out the top three. While Louisianna, Maxi, and Violencia are the bottom three, Louisianna is excused from the extermination. In the tradition of a batshit wild first extermination, the bottom competitors will be jumping out of a plane at about 18,000 feet above sea level. If it were me in the bottom here… nope.

Violencia gets worked up into a panic at the thought of jumping out a plane, and although Louisianna tries encouraging her, it almost seems like it’s to no avail. When push comes to shove the next day, Violencia bows out, marking the first time that a performer has voluntarily withdrawn from an extermination. Therefore, as long as Maxi completes the jump, she will be safe by default. Sure enough, she does, and secures her safety to slay another day. In a bloody kill scene, Violencia pays for the meat dress by getting tenderized and thrown in lye, putting an exclamation point on her end.

The first challenge of the season was, in so many words, fucking wild. The competition has had a glow-up like no other, and I cannot wait to see what comes next.


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