(recapped while listening to Beyoncé’s Lemonade)
This has been, hands-down, my favorite episode so far of this season. The drama was high, the outfits were incredible, and the emotion was intoxicating.
The episode starts with the final five walking in after the elimination of Thorgy Thor. I’ll admit, I was upset that Thorgy was eliminated. I felt that she was never given a fair shot, at least against Bob, but after watching her get a little salty, I was kind of…not glad, but not as sad, I suppose. So we have the final five: Naomi Shambles, Big Ole Bottom, Cheech N. Chong, Devil Barry, and Kimmy Chi.
The main challenge this week is the annual ball, giving us Literary Couture in the form of Baby Drag, That’s My Mama, and Autobiographical Eleganza Extravaganza. But first, the queens read each other 2 filth with puppets. I’ll be honest, I was a little surprised that they did so well. Last week’s smear campaign left a lot to be desired, but the queens really dug into each other.
Bob had Kim, Kim had Chi Chi, Chi Chi had Bob, and Naomi and Derrick had each other. Naomi and Derrick really ripped into each other, and it was less of a read and more of a long overdue kill session. Chi Chi was the winner, and she honestly deserved it. After the puppet session, tacking on two months to my therapy, I realized what’s struck me about this season. The queens feel a lot closer than previous seasons, where there were some serious divides (Bitter Ole Lady Brigade vs. Beauty Kweens; or Jinkx Monsoon vs. Roxxy, Alaska and Detox). But that made the reading feel a lot more intimate and personal, like sisters fighting.
After the puppets, Naomi and Derrick tear into each other some more, without the comforting—albeit frail—barrier of a cardboard puppet theater between them. Naomi is frustrated because Derrick literally can’t understand what the judges are saying to her in critiques. Naomi is saying, “Dude it’s very simple—do drag.”
What struck me like a fat lightning bolt during this tiff was that Derrick doesn’t actually do drag. She’s a female impersonator, which is a subtle—but important—distinction. Derrick has never learned to carve her face, or be anyone except Britney. In a lot of important ways, she has never undergone the strenuous task of doing drag. And that’s what’s been missing for her—and what clicked for me. The reason she’s struggling in a drag competition is because she’s not a drag queen.
RuPaul slinks around the WERK room while the queens are working, trying to get everyone to join in on some sort of mass sadness circle jerk. “What are your problems with your mother?” she asks each queen, salivating when the queens drop their sob stories. Talking to any queer person about their mother is a great way to juice up television, so I can only imagine that RuPaul was so excited for today’s filming that she didn’t sleep a wink the night before.
Side bar: I imagine that RuPaul sleeps in one of those elevated hospital beds, in full drag.
Just as she’s leaving, RuPaul informs the queens that in addition to their three looks, they’re going to do a Jerri Blank-inspired dance from Strangers with Candy, as Amy Sedaris and David Sedaris are the judges.
The queens literally drop dead from exhaustion, and the rest of the hour-and-a-half long episode is just black screen.
Just kidding! Chi Chi leads the choreography, but tbh I’m gonna skip this part because it’s boring and all you really need to know is that they wore essentially Party City mouthpieces for teeth and Derrick made me very uncomfortable. Also does Chi Chi look like a Muppet? Lmk.
Kim Chi: Kim won the challenge with her continuous “blossoming plant” storyline, incorporating a truly beautiful, no other words, Mama Drag look, inspired by her mother. Her emotion entranced David Sedaris and won her a rightful victory. Kim Chi excels at design challenges, and her Autobiographical Eleganza look was floaty and springy and haute couture, and made entirely out of paper. Kim was the only queen to entirely incorporate a cohesive storyline into her outfits, much like Roxxy Andrews and her Sugar Ball outfits.
Naomi Smalls: I think what I like most about Naomi is that she incorporates her drag persona into every outfit she does. You can always tell it’s her. Her baby drag look was a little disappointing—haute couture diaper, making Lisa Rinna and her Depends adult diaper fortune ejaculate into flames—and a little derivative, her Mama look was entrancing and very Little Hunty on the Prairie. And finally her Eleganza was sickening, a ballerina-meets-Inkheart fantasy. I figured she would do more of a traditional tutu—to show off her legs—but her carefully constructed black-and-white dress, complete with platinum hair, excellent eyes and a bold red lip were better than I could’ve imagined. Love her.
Bob the Drag Queen: I was honestly disappointed with Bob tonight. Thank god, because her winning was getting exhausting. Her baby drag was very Flintstones meets Real Housewives of New Jersey. Her mama look was sweet, and cemented that she is the drag Viola Davis, if she ever wants to join Derrick in the ranks of female impersonation. Her eleganza was a flop, as she completely didn’t even include paper and stuck with cardboard.
Derrick Barry: I’m gonna start with the positive; I’m glad that Derrick tries hard, and that she’s willing to try new things. That being said, her looks sucked. Her baby drag was Ariel from The Little Mermaid, her mama look made me have to think about her parents having sex, and her ELEGANZA WAS A FUCKING CORSET LIKE ALWAYS. But yes, Derrick, congratulations on blocking out your eyebrows and painting on two caterpillar dicks.
Chi Chi DeVayne: Tbh, Chi Chi was a little bit cheated out of a win this week. Her looks were fully realized and absolutely beautiful. She’s absolutely the best dark horse in the race, and I’m not even mad. I used to hate her, but over the last few episodes, I’ve warmed to her. Even though she sent home Thorgy, her emotive and evocative lip sync last week cemented her place in the top four. Her mama drag was beautiful and she actually looks just like her mom. And her eleganza was a frosty, Swan Princess confection of paper. She also had the best accessories hands down. Loved it, Cheech.
Bob and Derrick are in the bottom two, and Bob—obviously—wins. But for a minute, I was afraid—RuPaul has so blatantly kept Derrick in the competition for no reason that I worried that maybe she would keep it going. But Derrick leaves, and dammit, the emotion he showed in this episode made me not hate him.
Overall, this episode was sick. The storylines made a nice circle, and the girls all like each other, and almost—ahem, Derrick—everyone’s outfits were some of the best Drag Race has ever seen. We need more unconventional material challenges. They made the best runways. Also I’m in love with our final four!
- KIM CHI IS A G0DDESS.
- I think Naomi Smalls in drag is turning me straight. I’m in love with her.
- Seriously, does Chi Chi look like a Muppet?
- Bai Derrick!!