Last week’s episode saw the exit of one of Drag Race’s most memorable contestants ever, Heidi Aphrodite (nee Hydrates, nee Ho, nee N Closet). She’s one of those contestants where winning doesn’t really matter, she was always going to do well out of this. Coming to a post-lockdown drag brunch near you! “Smashed avocado?! I’m just smashed!”
This week, the end is nigh. We’re down to the final five. According to our intel, there’s a reunion episode next week, then the finale IS happening the week after. Apparently it’s already been filmed, and involves “boundary-pushing technology” (Zoom) as well as a lip-sync for the crown. This sounds like it has the potential to be either disastrous or groundbreaking, which is fitting because that’s how Drag Race series one was probably pitched.
What happens in Vegas …
We’re back in the workroom and Jaida is crying one perfect viscous column of mascara as she laments Heidi’s elimination. The power goes out, cutting Jaida off mid-sentence and we’re expecting it to be some sort of twist, but no, it really is just … a power cut. That the editors decided to keep in. OK!
This week’s main theme/challenge/aesthetic/shameless promotional tool is VEGAS! As the most Vegas-y queen in her look and training, Jaida has a distinct advantage. Perhaps the showrunners took this into account when planning the theme for the episode. Perhaps not. Now, this is an aspect of US drag that’s somewhat lost in translation over here. Yes, we’ve seen Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, and yes, we’ve watched grainy YouTube shots of Jennifer Lopez throwing herself around at Planet Hollywood, but largely, that glitzy, rhinestone, tassled, show pony drag is something we’re not particular familiar with and don’t particularly enjoy. It’s all just a bit … vulgar. Perhaps there ARE lots of UK Vegas fans and you disagree: please feel free to vent in the comments below.
For the mini-challenge, the girls are given 30 minutes to create a headdress and get into drag. All the girls look amazing and are all being hilarious and just beautiful. As Ru said last week, this really is the best crop of girls in a long time. Gigi deservingly wins, for a look that would’ve made Leonardo DiCaprio spill his champagne goblet in The Great Gatsby. She wins tickets to see the Drag Race Vegas show. And for the maxichallenge, the girls will be performing a medley of songs from the Drag Race Vegas show. Sigh.
It’s clear that RuPaul is using this episode as an hour-long advert to sell tickets for his Vegas show. We get that. Drag Race has always had shameless promo, but this is gross. It’s one of the final episodes of the season – this is when the girls should be given the chance to shine in their own right, not be used as dancing ponies to sell tickets. RuPaul … sashay away.
Eat, sleep, drag, repeat
“Ugh, god … emotions suck!” We hear you, Gigi! The ladies are understandably having crises of confidence as they plan out how they’re going to perform their free commercials for RuPaul and the judges. They head to the stage to record the vocal section, with two people called Leland and Freddie. Leland says the Vegas show has “power ballads, showstopping moments and a big finale”. Groundbreaking. Most of the girls grapple with their vocals and lyrics. They’re given advice. They nod. This whole thing is dull. The girls trying to sing is dull. Leland and Freddie are dull. Next!
It’s the choreo session, with wonderful Jamal Sims, who we certainly have a crush on. But again, it feels forced and laborious. It’s because we’ve seen all this before. We’ve seen the girls struggling with choreography, and we’re also familiar with their different abilities. It would’ve been great if they’d been given something different that showcased their abilities in a way that hasn’t been done yet. But shout-out to Jackie’s little blue 5am shorts.
The girls head back to the workroom and have mirror chats as they get ready for the main stage. They all give each other supportive advice, compliment each other on their various approaches to the artform of drag, and generally just lift each other up with great energy and positive vibes. THIS should be the new face of drag, reality TV and hopefully, as we move into a new, loving, post-pandemic age, the new face of everything. You love to see it.
Take it to the runway!
Ru stalks in looking the most stunning she’s looked this whole season (we say that every week) in an exhaustingly beautiful black gown. Michelle is serving gorgeous air stewardess realness, makeup flawless, hair flawless. Carson Kressley is giving hectic gay at an afterparty, which is why we love him. Ross Mathews is back in pastel, and Jamal is holding his own VERY well, with his gorgeous smile. Hi Jamal. God, this has been a long lockdown.
As the girls lipsync, high-kick, pout, preen and prance through their numbers, it’s clear that they’re all consummate, well-practised performers. But the one who shines, is Jaida Essence Hall. She’s going to win the finale – we’re calling it now.
When the Vegas show (finally!) draws to a close, the runway category is – Eleganza Extravaganza! Crystal is surreal and gorgeous in blue velvet; Gigi comes out in a gawky teen prom dress look, mouth brace and all. “This is the molar opposite of what she’s worn before,” says Michelle. VERY GOOD! Very Katy Perry TGIF. Jackie Cox’s look is … a lot. Sherry Pie looks incredible, like she’s fallen out of Steel Magnolias – an homage to Mae West and quintessential camp. Jaida is, as usual, breathtaking in a louche metallic gown.
Lipsync for your LIFE
Gigi Goode wins this week’s challenge. Jackie Cox and Crystal Methyd are in the bottom two and they lipsync to On The Floor by Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull! What a SONG. Add it to your drinking, running and working playlists immediately if you haven’t already. Crystal and Jackie are both having a blast. This is a great lipsync. Jackie goes home. Aaw, bye Jackie. One of the most likeable and genuine Drag Race contestants ever.
Notes and observations
Shadiest moment The lights going out, plunging the queens into literal shade.
Catchphrase watch “Emotions suck!”
Animal print hunt A timid tiger, with Crystal’s two interview pieces as always! This category was much more interesting when there were more girls/looks.
Just between us squirrelfriends This should have been one of the most nail-biting, high-stakes, colourful and emotive episodes of the season but because of Ru’s decision to turn it into a moneymaking scheme, it felt flat and forced. Zero points to Slytherin.
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