RuPaul’s Drag Race 07:12

Oof! That was a rough one!

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It didn’t help that now, at the end of the season, the claws really come out in full force and everyone’s ugly sides came to the surface and long-simmering tensions (between the contestants and those engineered by the producers) are coming to a boil.

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But this is the final four, which means that it’s time for Michelle to sashay into the work room and reveal the final challenge: the girls will have to perform in the video of Ru’s song “Born Naked.”

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Which involved learning choreography with Candis Cayne…

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…a quick (tear-inducing) lunch with Mother Ru…

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…and filming the choreography (which featured wigs falling apart and earrings falling off) the dramatic scene with director Mathu Anderson, in which they have to play the mother, baby drag boy, and his little sister against Ru playing the father (in the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen him wear). And in a shocking twist, unlike this time last year, the eliminated queen will be edited out of the final video!

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(No seriously, that shit is going to give me nightmares for awhile!)

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On the runway, in one last attempt to milk the emotions, Ru asks each queen what they would say to their younger self and also asks them why they should win the crown and the other queens should not, which causes some tears and bitchy responses.

Let’s look at the queens…

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Kennedy might have seemed bitter in the episode, but the fact of the matter is that she nailed the challenge. While the acting was okay, she nailed the choreography (in fact, she was the only one to really take the choreography someplace awesome). The runway look was pure pageant queen but it was a touch tacky (and not in the Shanel way – “something very over the top. Very CAHH-stumed” to quote Season 1 .) All of this makes her elimination this week (oops! spoilers!) all the more shocking. In a way, she’s in the exact same position that Darienne Lake was in last season; after eliminating a fan favorite competitor, she rallied and delivered in the challenge better than her competitors, and all she gets to show for it is an elimination. Even her lunch with Ru (when she revealed that her struggles of having to deal with her dying father and her severely mentally retarded sister are vey real) framed her in a positive light, which was undercut by her nastiness to Violet. That said, I would have been okay if she had stayed, bitterness and all…

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… if Ginger was eliminated instead. The internet has already debunked her claims about not being able to dance or sew, but then she had to cry out “I am the best actor in RuPaul’s Drag Race history.” To which I say, “Bitch please!” Additionally, as a part of the Bitter Old Lady Brigade, she embraced that first word of the title wholeheartedly and went after Pearl and Violet. Ginger’s ego is painting her into a black corner (just like the black hairspray she uses on her forehead) which is a shame. Not only is Ginger’s bitterness shading everything on the show (such as her tear-stained lunch with Ru), but the fact of the matter is that if she wasn’t so bitter and so defennsive, I would have no problems cheering for her to win this whole damn thing. At this point, I can’t with her, which is a damn shame: Ginger is one of the few queens of size that has everything on her own to win this show, and while I can not wait for the day when a full-figured queen wins this damn thing, I can’t see this particular one winning it.

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Pearl keeps impressing me. The thing is that she has this cool air about her (and make no mistake, Pearl is the cool kid of this group), but that coolness (which is clearly a defense mechanism to some sort of abuse she received – like her namesake Pearl can be maddeningly opaque at times) can distance her as a performer and a personality. That said, if you engage her she can be a quick study; in the acting challenge, Ru gave her one quick note and her performance went from zero to one hundred at the turn. She’s smart and funny and she’s got a lot going for her.

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Violet didn’t break down during the episode and in a way, I find that damn refreshing. If anything, my opinion is that at this point Violet is the one to beat. She threw it down performance wise in the challenge, and while her look was a little underwhelming, it was still pulling tons of fashion references (Marlene Dietrich, Madonna in her Blonde Ambition phase, etc.). Add to that her somewhat nice personality (she’s not a bitch per se, she’s just extremely self confident) and she’s emerging as the head of this pack.

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Once again, all four queens had to lip sync at the same time to “Born Naked,” and I frankly hate it. If anything this section is too muddy for us to see who is killing the lip sync and who is phoning it in. Worse, the editing doesn’t clarify who is and is not delivering, so when Kennedy was told to “Sashay Away,” I was dumbfounded by the lack of evidence that she was not succeeding in the challenge. But then again, the show is trying to tell a story – the same one from last season in fact! – where a popular queen is eliminated by a dour if immensely talented one, and then her punishment is that she is eliminated the next week. It’s a sad state of producer manipulated affairs, but that’s what it is.

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So which team are you on now, henny?

Random Thoughts

– I’m really starting to hate the overt manipulation of this show. Yes, it’s always been there, but Ru and her producers have historically been better at hiding the puppet strings. This is especially true with how they’re handling Pearl. It’s clear that she’s suffered some sort of trauma, and it’s very clear that she hasn’t completely dealt with it or is still in the early stages of dealing with it. For the show to try and manipulate it out of her, when she’s not in a place to deal with it, is just wrong.

– I never thought I would say this but Ross Matthews has grown leaps and bounds as a judge this season. Not only does he have some of the best critiques, he often is the sane voice of reason against others (i.e. Michelle).

– As we get ready for the finale, The Gay 90s has announced its legendary finale viewing party. Starting at 6pm on Monday, May 25, the night will kick off with a drag show and then the screening of the episode at 8pm.

– Speaking of parties, you’re going to want to clear your calendar for June 26 as Grown and Sexy Productions (the event producing collective of Nadine DuBois, Sweetpea, and DJ Shannon Blowtorch) are throwing their annual Pride party at First Avenue featuring none other than… Latrice Royale! Tickets are on-sale now!

And finally we return to…

Art by Chad Sell

Art by Chad Sell

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The numbers don’t lie. This is between Ginger (three wins, one time in the bottom two) and Violet (two wins and no appearances in the bottom two). What’s interesting is that the way this shook out reminds me of Season 2. If you were to apply the points to that season as I have here, Pandora Box (who came in fifth that season) would have been third. The same holds true for our favorite Russian bisexual hooker, who clearly out pointed Pearl and Kennedy. Pearl’s fifth place finish in the points only edged out Max by one point and that’s because this system rewards longevity for surviving another week.

NEXT WEEK: It’s the recap episode, so check back here for a little surprise.

Photo Credits: Logo TV / World Of Wonder, Chad Sell

Originally Published on 19 May 2015 as part of “The Idiot Box,” my television column for l’étoile.

 

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