The next to last episode! I can’t believe it’s here already since this is only…episode seven.
Seasons usually are ten episodes long, at least, so this means a few things. The final – episodes eight and nine – will be a two part affair or the dreaded fake “live” finale. Another option: a twist with the dead queens will carry things on longer which, frankly, should absolutely happen. Episode ten will be the reunion because of course. There’s also the possibility that I am wrong, that the show will go short and run into the start of season ten.
All this is to say: over so soon? That was fast! Let’s dive into it because it was a good episode, by and large.
Spoilers, obviously. Proceed with caution.
4. All Stars Above Ru
Ben’s “leaving Geri style” pointed out something we all may have missed last episode, in our being so shocked: she rigged the system, revealing that the power is out of Ru’s hands in All Stars, that the individual power of a queen may squish the world of the show at this level, at this moment in time. Why? Ben didn’t need the money. She won $45K and already had a fan base which, by that point, had swollen. Why would she need to continue, without shaping her own narrative? She took the power from Ru and is living another day. And come on: Ru knew the twist was coming. She is the fucking EP of the show. She knew and was told what to expect. This narrative was overlooked and reshapes the game in a way that enabled Bebe to refuse to share who she picked to go home without any repercussion. How fucked up was that? Chaos, in a sense, because these queens are effectively above the law (Ru), existing in their own universes. Bebe also wouldn’t have shared who she picked because she didn’t pick Morgan to come back and probably didn’t pull a Ben, offering Aja relief. She probably would have tried to send home Shangela too. More on this later.
3. Kennedy, My Sweet
Kennedy seems to rarely get any love as she’s often cast as grumpy or old school but never a real person. This episode, she was given that time – Twice! – and it really broke my heart. First, in the pre-runway makeup chatter she explained that she’s tired of being thought of second, of fans and fellow queens thinking of others and then thinking of Kennedy. It was a very sad and vulnerable confession that heightened her stakes, that she has been misunderstood and misunderstood by all around her. (It also, in my opinion, revealed something we already know: the racism of Drag Race fans.) The second instance of heart swelling “Awwww, Ken Ken.” was when she tried to sweep into the conversation about Bebe and Ornacia by saying this will become a meme only to say it as “me me.” She was quickly roasted by Shangela and, accordingly, quickly deflated as her astute quip exposed a common mistake akin to “gif” versus “jif.” If you don’t like Kennedy, you are a moron. She is, by far, the most real in this competition. She won’t win but she deserves love and respect like woah.
2. What A Challenge, What A Runway, What A Lipsync
This episode really wowed me in a few ways: it was a fun challenge, a fun runway, and a fun lipsync. A bonafide triple threat which, seven episodes in, feels like a first for the season. The challenge was fun in that it was both a riff on popular culture (Albeit a week late, post-Oscars.) that saw people rise and fall to ultimately make a serviceable entertainment product where Trixie truly shined with Shangela at her heels (as Bebe, Morgan, and Kennedy floundered a bit). The runway was spectacular, the first where everyone looked fantastic: it was the best Bebe, Kennedy, and Trixie looked all season while Shangela actually delivered a legit wow (Albeit derivative.) and Morgan delivered supremely surprising glam. Finally, the lipsync. The lipsync. This, too, was Trixie’s best but she was deeply unprepared to battle Shangela. Shangela’s performance and “fat suit realness” felt like something you would actually see at a drag show instead of a staged televised production. It was hilarious and unexpected, a potato body that swept the stage. It was good and Shangela deserved the win. But her decision? Eh. Let’s dive in.
1. Bebe No Bye Bye?
To me, this was one of the season’s biggest shocks: Shangela saved Bebe. It exposed not alliances but a weird ecosystem of respect on this show that I really do not understand, which Bebe stood to violate by revealing which lipstick she would have pulled. Why wouldn’t you send home Bebe of the trio since she is, clearly, the strongest competition of the gang? Why wouldn’t you send home Bebe The Bougie, who outed herself this episode as someone who doesn’t watch the show, something she did after refusing to play the game by revealing which lipsticks drawn previously? That’s what made this so shocking: everyone was miffed by her but choose her talent over Morgan’s “Eh.” performance. Bebe didn’t do the worst, no, but she clearly is an outsider – and she already won a season, something they will play up in the finale since it hasn’t really been played up as much as it should have been this episode. The big opportunity, missed, was giving power to the returned queens: as noted by them, both Trixie and Shangela are comeback queens who both lost previously but are both at the top, seeking revenge. Why didn’t they give Morgan an in, clearly winning someone on their team? I was surprised Shangela didn’t do this, obviously opting to keep her Game Of Thrones alliances while, most notably, keeping in someone she respects. I do not get her strategy anymore and, as noted, the jury is going to snap at this. Get ready, fam.
I’m undecided if the way this episode unfolded is good or bad but I do think it’s setting up for an “explosive” finale. Some shit is going to hit some fan. Hopefully said shit won’t be hitting us, the fans viewing the show.
Here’s the adjusted ranking that I feel very ambivalent toward.
Ben De La Creme
Morgan McMichaels(Maintained – and out. Again. As expected, in a way. She did perform terribly, at her own doing.)
4. Bebe Zahara Benet (Down one. Eh. A challenger but her lack of investment in the show, as a decade long study in televised queerness, will be a problem. Otherwise, it would have been a throwaway joke instead of harped on by multiple queens.)
3. Kennedy Davenport (Up one/two. She doesn’t have a chance. But god love her for trying!)
2. & 1. Shangela & Trixie Mattel (Up one, down one. Truly, I do not care which one of them wins because either are deserving. Shangela might have an inch on Trixie but the length is so short that they will remain tied. Cop out, sure, but deal with it.)
Thoughts? I’m anxious to see what happens in the rest of the season.