It almost feels appropriate that the most lackadaisically paced season of RuPaul’s Drag Race should end with such an insignificant finale. That’s no reflection on this season’s deserving winner, nor is it a comment on the caliber of their performances. After spending seven weeks in which Ru couldn’t bear to part with these queens, three of the most beloved performers the audience were most invested in were unceremoniously chopped! I guess even she was ready to get Ru-thless.
But first, Michelle gives Mama Ru the key to the city, we get a preview performance of the RuPaul’s Drag Race Live! Vegas show, which you may recognize from 1.7 million unskippable commercials on WOW Presents+. Lala Ri returns looking fresh as hell and presents this year’s Miss Congeniality to … Kornbread! Of all the previously eliminated queens, Kornbread looks the best in a lewk that’s both Beauty and Beast. (Kerri Colby also stopped the show serving a Marvel- (and meme)-inspired “Tranos” look.)
The majority of the evening is dedicated to each of the final five’s finale performances. These were uniformly mediocre original tracks to which the ladies lip synced. (None even approached Kim Chi’s banger, “Fat Fem and Asian.”) Each queen gets a little A/V (audio visual) support from the large screens and a little A/V (ass and VPL) support from the sexy dancers they keep chained up in Carson’s basement between Rusicals. (I’ll get into my thoughts on each performance in the rankings below.)
There’s an adorable little package before each performance that showcases the queen’s personality and journey to this point. After the song, they chat with Ru, their parents/drag mothers in the audience, their boyfriends, etc. There’s just not a lot of meat on this bone.
That’s why it’s so jarring to see Ru suddenly eliminate more than half this year’s finalists, keeping only Camden and Willow. Was this based on their entire run on the show, or this one performance? It all seems very arbitrary. If it’s based on tonight’s performance, how much direct input and artistic vision were they able to even contribute? If it’s based on their season-long arc, and basically the decision was made regardless of anything we saw in this episode … why bring five to the finale in the first place?
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At least Ru’s choice isn’t that controversial. Willow and Camden deserve to be top 2. The final gauntlet is a lip-sync battle to Cher’s version of “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” from Mama Mia 2 Here We Go Again. It’s basically an EMP of Big Gay Energy.
Of course, both queens do an admirable job, but it’s hard for it not to feel like the Willow show. By now, everyone knows you don’t come to the finale to lip sync without a reveal or stunt of some kind. I’m not saying I like it that way, but that is the world we are living in now, Ru-gardless.
Willow has the audience’s interest piqued right from the start, wearing a pink, striped, oversized suit with comically long arms that’s part Beetlejuice, part twisted Teddy Bear creature she crafted earlier in the season. Immediately, it’s clear something is up. She works the awkward jacket for the beginning of the song, only to doff it and reveal a comically oversized pair of pants pulled up nearly to her chin. Brilliant! Eventually, she loses that as well, until she’s in a bodysuit that allows her to really bust a move. She ends the whole thing by somersaulting down the runway, landing physically just ahead of Camden. 10/10.
Camden, of course, is no slouch up there. We know she’s a dahncer, dahling, and dahnce she does. It’s obviously very skilled, but it’s not particularly thrilling. She also packs a reveal, but it’s such a direct callback to her Freddie Mercury runway fall, it feels too much like retread. The eventual reveal into a fiery bodysuit with red wig is … fine, but doesn’t feel like it’s telling as strong of a story.
At the end of the day, Ru awards the crown to Willow, a queen she’s openly adored from the beginning. I don’t think a lot of folks will have any problem with this season’s outcome, but it’s how we got here that’s left a lot of room for improvement.
Before we wrap another season (and just a few short weeks before another season of All Stars kicks off), let’s rank our final five based on last night’s performances.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on last night’s finale and the final performances in the comments below.
- If Ru judged based on last night’s individual performances, Willow would still come out on top. Her original track, “I Hate People,” at least had a fun little twist. I enjoyed how she paid homage to her drag inspo, Yvie Oddly, whose finale headdress gave her the illusion of three heads. Willow took it one step further, and then added another head over her down-there. How’s her head? Much like Willow’s entire showing last night, NO COMPLAINTS. Willow’s weirdness is so exciting, and her approach to life is inspiring. She’s a great winner.
- Ru got it right putting Camden in the top with Willow. The late-surging queen took some time to showcase her considerable skills. Yes, she’s a talented dancer, but she’s an even better actor. Camden single-handedly elevated the creative output this season, making The Daytona Wind and Moulin Ru! way better than they had any business being. She brought the same polish to her track last night, even though it felt like it was by New Jersey’s second-favorite Queen cover band.
- Daya was betrayed by her track last night. Her insect-inspired outfit was creepy, cool couture, and the way the antennae on the back raised and swayed was mesmerizing. There were lots of details to dig, and it felt very Daya, not Crystal, which is probably the highest praise I can give her. Unfortunately, the song, “Fighter,” is deeply uninspired, and, worse, it’s a pale imitation of any of the punk-edge that sets Daya apart.
- Bosco combined her love for the dark and spooky along with her burlesque background, and it mostly worked! Instead of plucking petals, this time, Bosco got her angelic, feathered wings torn away to reveal a glamorously grotesque corset fit for a Guillermo del Toro film. She looks incredible, but, again, the song is just so flaccid, it saps all the sexy and scary out. Bosco had a very bizarre trajectory this season, but when she was riding high, she seemed untouchable. I’d like to see what she could do on a season of All Stars in the future.
- Angeria had nothing to be ashamed of last night. She looked amazing in every outfit of the evening, and her performance of “Track Record” was pure, energetic joy from start to finish. It may have lacked the ambition or artistic vision of the others, but it still felt genuine. By now, she’s done everything she’s needed to keep herself booked and blessed well into the foreseeable future.
What are your final thoughts on this season?