Last week on Drag Race, Katya crushed Pearl and Kennedy and went home anyway, ending the show. This week’s episode is just an overlong epilogue, like in Return of the King.
After the Elimination
All four girls are clearly crushed about Katya’s exit, and Kennedy is maybe limping from her energetic lip sync? Ginger cries about it in her interview, while Kennedy takes all of half a second to congratulate Violet on her win before “NEXTing” her. Bold move coming from someone on the precipice of dismissal about two minutes prior. Pearl defends Violet, “Kennedy Davenport, your Hello Kitty was a Hell No, Kitty,” to which Kennedy responds, “This is not a sewing competition.”
Any time any of the girls utter the phrase, “this is not an XYZ competition,” you know they are high on their own fumes and headed for dismissal. It’s an everything competition – sewing, dancing, acting, being funny, being beautiful. It is clearly labelled as all of those things. The only time I have seen something on the show where it was straight up not that kind of competition is when the girls had to play basketball in All Stars, and they all thought that was hilarious.
Violet, appropriately, comes for Kennedy and Ginger and their hesitance to sew, and Ginger says, “I’m not a seamstress, I don’t know how to sew, but no other bitch on this show has been able to sing like me or act like me.”
Did she miss the season with Jinx? Or the one with Courtney and Adore? Or the one with Latrice and Willam? The past three seasons have been lousy with amazing singers and actors. Did she see Darienne’s spectacular meltdown in the acting finale? Hell, even Sharon and Phi Phi turned out to be good singers when they were paired against each other. I can concede that Ginger ranks in the top group of actors on the show of all time alongside Jinx, but it’s not like she’s the obvious theatrical all-time champion. It’s just more huffing her own fumes.
A New Day
The top four are ambushed by Michelle Visage before they can even get settled in the room. Ms. Visage is at peak beauty here, slim with button-popping bosoms bursting from her blouse with an asymmetrical print of red flower on black. She’s in nude make-up with angled cheek shading. She reveals the now-routine news that the girls will be starring in a music video and acting in their own short scenes, plus enjoying a meal of tic tacs with Ru.
The real drama? Whoever is eliminated will be edited out of the final video!
Choreographer Candis Cayne arrives to school the girls in a hideous pink pantsuit with neon accents and a terrible belt, plus badly matched heels. The ladies line up behind her in their own pumps. The 80s-inspired girl power steps are pretty basic, but the struggle gets realer as we look down the line – Kennedy is nailing it, Ginger does okay, Violet is having issues, and Pearl could be doing the robot.
Ginger tries to psyche the younger girls out by psyching herself up about enjoying the choreography, but Violet has got her number and she psyches up right back. Ginger does not know how to compute this positive, results-focused Violet, and immediately goes back to being negative – clocking Violet’s dancing and acting.
Both in the room and in the interview, Violet’s face is all, “Really, bitch?” And then she says that in the interview, but in the room she responds, “I’ve obviously pushed through it every single time … like I’ve been doing the entire season. Keep’em coming girl.”
Truth. Ginger tries to make the case that pushing just isn’t enough, and there’s no smoke and no fire with Violet. She doesn’t get nervous, defensive, or angry. Weirdly, Ginger plays it as if Violet is the one being crazy or inconsistent. Again with the huffing of ones own fumes.
Violet debates with Pearl the qualities of another gorgeous gown for the final runway versus showing off something a bit different. She should lend a gown to Pearl so she looks good a single time on the runway other than as a conjoined twin. They raid each other’s closets and stage a silly fashion show, having fun on the final day.
All the while, Ginger and Violet whisper viciously about them while teasing up their wigs as big as they possibly can. Ginger interviews, “While Kennedy and I appreciate what these kidsare trying to do with their modern [as in, actually stylish] take on drag, old school is the only school, honey!”
Please allow me to translate that into sense-making language.
“While Kennedy and I actively despise despite being really impressed by what these kids who are a mere 7yrs younger than me are trying to do with their modern, stylish, and not stilted and pageant-y take on drag, old school – and I say this as someone who is 29yrs old and did not start performing in drag until the 00s – is the only school I wish Ru and fans would appreciate so I could be the next drag superstar of the world, honey gators flood my basement I need an adult!”
A Meal with a Ru
Kennedy is the first lady to dine on juiced tic tacs with RuPaul. This is the realest Kennedy has ever been on the show, sharing the story of her deceased father who urged her to go on the show and a lifetime taking care of her handicapped sibling. She has always been a caretaker. Drag is work for her, and there’s a workmanlike attitude that she plans to wring as much success out of this as she does anything else, because she has no other choice. It’s a humanizing look at a queen who frequently plays it cool, but even with the deep confession there’s a sense that this may just be another pageant for her.
Ginger visits RuPaul and talks up her mother being her personal hero. Her father walked out on their family for his high school sweetheart when Ginger was 14. There are some tears, and Ginger confesses her using humor as a defense was shaped by his departure. Ultimately, we learn nothing surprising.
Violet visits RuPaul and we get to see a likeable side of her confidence. How far did she think she’d go? “Oh, the winner! The crown. Girl!” Her confidence doesn’t come from a big sob story (or, at least, she doesn’t frame it that way), but that she was the only person around to be her fan so she just ran with it. Ru is really impressed with that trait existing in such a young queen, which many people never learn in their lifetime.
Pearl visits RuPaul, and it turns out the biggest surprise for her was actually retreating into her shell! She never felt like that before. Pearl talks about her childhood vaguely, and it’s clear she endured a history of abuse. Ru is drawn to people who survive that undercurrent, which explains her fascination with Pearl.
The Video Shoot
Th girls are all in basic black. We don’t get to see anything that looks like the choreography they learned in the room. Kennedy goes first and she has her dance moves on blast, and is hitting every step-change hard. Ginger serves some subtle booty-shaking and at one point tosses away a second wig, Roxxy-style.
Pearl delivers her commanding long arms and stationary body as she has in both her lip syncs and nothing else – Kennedy calls it “The Pearl Smash,” and even Violet makes some fun. Meanwhile, all the smashing has also loosened Pearl’s wig in the front, and she cannot seem to get it back down onto her forehead. She excuses herself into the workroom while Kennedy has a field day in her interview. “Unprofessional. Unacceptable.” Can a girl who can’t get her wig to stay on be America’s next drag superstar?
Violet steps up while Pearl is out, and while her wig doesn’t fly away, it’s also a terrible march for her forehead – this is the most busted and manly we’ve seen her all season. She looks like a better queen as a boy in her interview segment! Then, her earring falls off. Candis and Kennedy are in disbelief of the messiness of these other queens.
The Acting Challenge
The girls are taking turns playing each of the roles of moody teen queen-to-be, little pink princess, and wino mommy at a dinner table with old-man-Ru as the head of the family.
The first trio is teen Pearl, little Ginger, and drunk Violet. Violet is serving 60s housewife realness, Ginger is a lisping caricature, and Pearl tries to conjure some teen surliness. Ru gets her to channel the anger that almost saw her quit the show, and suddenly Pearl is throwing glassware across the room – always the sign of good acting, when it comes to Drag Race.
The second trio is teen Kennedy, little Violet, and drunk Pearl. Pearl is sloshy fun as the pill-popping mommy and teensy Violet is adorable in a brief moment. Teen Kennedy is a flatline, which could be teen realness if it was intentional, but it doesn’t seem to be. She cannot even hype Ru’s CD even when that’s her only job!
The third trio is teen Violet, little Kennedy, and drunk Ginger. Ginger interviews that Violet is flatlining while she’s sitting next to Kennedy, who is as flat as a basketball court. Violet wasn’t great, but she wasn’t terrible, either.
We never get to see the Ginger, Pearl, Kennedy combo.
We get brief glimpses of the final acting edits later, but they’re no longer than what we saw here and confirm that Kennedy was flat, Violet has grown to differentiate her characters, Ginger was predictably good (especially as the surly teen), and Pearl is both steely and broadly funny.
The makeup mirrors split down the middle with the “Pretty Girls” versus the “Bitter Old Lady Brigade,” and the bitterness is brewed strong with the latter crew. Violet and Pearl throw funny reads back and forth while they get made up . Kennedy tells Violet she feels, “you are too young to take on this responsibility.” Seeing her Ru luncheon lends some context to this slag. Kennedy doesn’t feel like Violet has gone through the adversity or struggle she’s been through, and she doesn’t see a champion in that.
Ginger opines, “It’s a level of maturity I don’t think you have reached yet,” which is rich coming from her. While she’s right that “Next Drag Superstar” is a job title, her behavior on the show doesn’t really peg her as drag’s best ambassador (her own word) any more so than Violet’s does, and Kennedy sure wouldn’t be great for the job.
Violet takes this all with a smile and says, “I understand more of what you’re saying,” and Ginger cannot help but dig in for more abuse when she sees her target hasn’t cracked. “You don’t want to be known as being a bitch.”
Pearl interviews how impressed she is with Violet, who would have snapped back at Ginger just a few short weeks ago.
The theme is your best drag, but no one delivers on it. In fact, this is one of the worst runways of the season.
Kennedy Davenport is in a rainbow striped carapace. Seriously, it might be the same as Sasha’s weird lobster dress from the first episode, only in horizontal rainbow bands rather than yellow underbelly. Make no mistake, it’s a very well-made dress, but it is not fashion forward like what she wore in the week one challenge. Her massive hair is weirdly flat in the front, her earrings are tacky, overlarge chandeliers, and her make-up is all off – the heavy line of her cheek shading paired with the frame of her eyebrows makes her look like she is a cartoon raccoon.
Violet Chachki takes a big risk by going very understated, dressed to emcee a Cabaret in high-waisted tuxedo pants cinched impossibly tight at the waist with a barely-there fringed showgirl bikini top. It creates a striking silhouette thanks to the baggy pants and short pin-curled red hair (a page out of Ms. Fame’s book). She’s wearing a glittering black cowl around her neck and with a matching glittering black top hat. Yet, there are some problems – she’s nude between the end of her half-corset and the bikini, and she is serving some Alyssa Edwards back roll realness. It’s happening in the front too, looking like she has some weird flesh-colored rim on her bikini until you realize IT’S HER SKIN. It feels a little plain, especially with the lack of accessories – she’s just wearing spiky snowflake earings and one large ring. With some bangles or long gloves this could have felt more complete.
Ginger Minj is in a white long-sleeved dress with glittering rhinestone cuffs and fringe from the waist down. A multi-point necklace ties in with the cuffs of the dress. The dress is inconsistently detailed – despite the lovely cuffs and skirt, the top is just a white lycra bodysuit. Her hair and makeup are weak. A glossy pink lip is too pastel for such a statement-making single-color look. Her big hair just looks like a helmet and takes away from the beauty of her silhouette. Also, the fringe is just a little bit tacky. She looked better in her tiny black dress in the video.
Pearl is in – shock! – a bustier and garters wrapped in a gauzy peach cloak and dress. The bra cups are weird metallic discs that are too close together to suggest breasts.Actually, she might be wearing Violet’s costume from the promo shoot with a bunch of crap wrapped around it? Never has a queen failed so hard to reimagine herself for an entire season – even BenDeLaCreme didn’t actually wear a showgirl outfit to every runway. She’s also wearing her giant frizz-puff hair, which we’ve seen before, but at least it manages to dwarf Ginger and Kennedy’s.
Childhood Photos and Final Speeches
The queens are faced with photos of their younger selves and are asked to explain why they are America’s next drag superstar.
Kennedy would tell little Ruben that it’s okay to be different and that she’ll be respected. She should be America’s next drag superstar because she has been in the business for 17 years, and she condones [sic] herself with professionalism. She thinks Ginger is ready, but not the other girls, who don’t know how to condone [sic] themselves. (Other viewers think she meant to say “conduct,” but I think she was confusing the slightly rarer “comport.”)
Violet would tell little Jason that he needs more patience and he should find strength in weakness. She should be America’s next drag superstar because she already feels like she is America’s next drag superstar. The only validation she has ever wanted from anyone else is from this show. She knows how to represent the past, present, and – especially – the future of drag.
Ginger would tell little Josha (who looks exactly as she does today) that she has a friend in herself and she should be the grand marshall of life’s parade of bigoted assholes. Uh.. that sounds about right. She should be America’s next drag superstar because Violet has a short temper (which she shares) and Pearl wanted to quit (which she nearly did on Conjoined week). She wants to be the conjoined winner with Kennedy. But, if they have to pick one, pick a supersize superstar to match our obese nation.
Pearl would tell little Matthew that he’s about to enter the toughest years of his life. It’s heartbreaking. There’s no upside for this little boy. “People are going to be looking at you from across the room for so many years and you’re not going to understand why?” Ru puts down the photo. “Do you understand why now? You’re a star, baby.” She should be America’s next drag superstar because she has busted her ass for every possession and success in her life. She comes off tired because she really is exhausted from life! She broke down but she came back, and she doesn’t limit herself to a box.
Ranking The Queens
Dancing Bests: Kennedy clearly mopped this up, followed by Violet, Ginger, and Pearl.
Acting Bests: Ginger is predictably strong, but I think both Violet and Pearl share the win on growth and character differentiation. Kennedy is awful.
Runway Bests: No one was best. Let’s try this again…
Runway Least-Worsts: Ginger delivered the most complete package despite detailing issues. Violet also had trouble with the details and could have crushed the others if she wore a more glamorous look, like her bearded-lady dress. Kennedy’s dress and makeup were high-pagaent but not necessarily best-drag. Pearl was Pearl.
Speech Bests: Violet’s undying confidence gets the win here, followed by Pearl’s overcoming adversity, Ginger’s admission she leads a hate parade, and Kennedy’s condoning her own behavior.
Ranking To Date: Last week I had Violet and Ginger neck and neck, followed by Kennedy, then Pearl at a great distance.
Who should go home? I was worried about Violet based on her edit and her simple runway look, but when you break it down as seen above, she ran away with the episode, edging Ginger both with and without the full-season rankings factored in. Similarly, I was ready to say Pearl should walk away, but looking at this episode only she’s only a hair behind Kennedy, who is coming off of one of her weakest weeks. Kennedy really hasn’t grown in the competition so much as saved some of her best for last.
Ru is in an all red-sequins version of her chrome flowers dress from earlier in the season. Her breast-shading is a wide miss, but her leaning tower of a blonde up-do is cute. Michelle looks old and heavy with a massive mane of hair framing her face and covering her shoulders. Ross is as twinkling as ever in a tux jacket with a polk-dot tie. Carson is in a silver jacket on a white shirt and white tie and I would buy it right now.
Carson thought Kennedy’s acting was a flatline but shows progress. Michelle thinks she looks beautiful. Michelle thought Violet’s dancing was good, and Carson loved her acting due to the separation between the characters. Yet, Michelle wonders if she ran out of clothes – though Ross thinks he gets what she’s doing. Michelle enjoyed Ginger’s characters and her ability to roll with her wig problem, and Carson thought it was her best look. Ross calls Pearl a weirdo (in a loving way), and Michelle really loved her acting while trashing her robotic dancing.
In private, Michelle loves Kennedy’s rhythm, Ross thinks she is glamorous drag, and Carson thinks she’s the hardworking professional of the group – but Michelle clocks her nonsensical speech and Ru nods in agreement. Michelle loved Violet’s non-dancer dancing and the lip sync to match, and she was very proud of her acting. Ross saw a story in her looks and thinks she planned this low key outfit all along (Michelle is still angry about it). Carson thought Ginger’s dancing was fine, but Michelle thinks she’s a quadruple thread (comedy, glamour, acting, and singing). Ross thinks she offers something different as a larger queen. Ross had checked out on Pearl, but fell in love with her again. Carson says she has boozy charm, and Ru speaks up to call it “star quality.”
The girls come back for a gang lip sync to Ru’s “Born Naked”, and it’s a hot mess both in performance and editing. There’s nothing to recap, but it’s fun to finally see Violet lip sync – she’s charming.
Ru sends Kennedy home, to Ginger’s shock and disgust! It’s a surprise, because Pearl is the most terrible top-three contestant in Drag Race herstory, but Kennedy was also not deserving at the top spot after a lackluster sprint to the finish line. Also, this means there won’t be any good dancing in the video!