Welcome, RuPaul’s Drag Race fans to the penultimate episode of a very long season 13. This week, our final four queens take the ultimate test of their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent as they write, record and perform their own verse for Ru’s new song “Lucky” as well as showcase their most excellent drag looks on the runway.
As the episode opens, our remaining queens discuss their wins and losses. Gottmik has won two challenges, Rosé has three wins under her belt, Symone has an impressive four victories and Kandy has one win….and has been in the bottom three times. They all don’t know what the future holds for them, but if Rosé, Gottmik or Symone win, they are reinvesting their winnings into their drag while Kandy wants to buy a boat because, as she states, “I want a boat because…I just want a boat.” Well put.
Ru enters the werk room with this week’s challenge assignment. Rosé (who informs us she comes up with on-the-spot rap verses for her fans) is excited to once again show off her singing and dancing skills, Symone announces she is not going to sing her lyrics, Kandy will do whatever it takes not to be in the bottom again and Gottmik is just excited to work with choreographer Jamal Sims again.
The queens wrote their verses and learned their moves while, one-by-one, they join Michelle Visage and RuPaul for the traditional pre-finale Tic-Tac chat. The main challenge performance of “Lucky,” while still not on par with the iconic “Kitty Girl” from AS3 (never forget), was still lots of fun The song is poppy and the slickly produced video shows all four queens at their best, with our song and dance superstar Rosé excelling, followed closely behind by Gottmik.
On the runway, the category was “Drag Excellence” and there was lots of t to be seen. Gottmik came out in a full-length black and white polka dot gown. She added black spots to her signature white makeup and even some spaces for her own flesh poke through. Her wig could have been stolen from Trixie Mattel’s closet and the overall look was, to quote Gottmik, “artistry.” Kandy opted to go with a mini dress instead of the traditional gown, with a mesh tailored dress over a corseted bodysuit. Her long red wig contributed to her flirty and chic look. Rosé served up a tartan fantasy, with a gorgeous plaid gown and long, Scottish orange ginger curls. Lastly, Symone once again was the epitome of black excellence in a purple gown with larger than life, billowing sleeves. She also interspersed sparkly stones with her blonde cornrow braids and was just stunning.
After the judges’ critiques (which were basically all raves), the queens all delivered touching messages to their younger selves and Ru got incredibly emotional talking to Gottmik about how supportive her parents have been on her transition journey.
This week, the lip sync for your life was a four-way competition, with each queen taking the spotlight to perform Whitney Huston’s “I Learned from the Best.” Symone knocked this one out of the park and the other queens turned in solid performances. Before Ru’s decision, I had my top three as Symone, Rosé and Gottmik, but, since Ru likes to throw a curve ball, she decided that all four queens were going to compete in the grand finale.
Here is where I usually pick out an MVP for the episode, but all four queens were so great that I want to spotlight them all, with some of their highlights from this episode.
This history making queen has been serving looks all season long and has taken us along for the ride as she discovered that she’s more than just a pretty face. In her chat with Ru and Michelle, she talks about her less-than-stylish youth. She said going to Catholic school left her “uniformed out” (same, girl.) She said she began her transition three years ago and had top surgery just last year and made up her stage name by mixing around her former first name and last name. She chose Kade as her new name after a porn star (fun fact?) She old Ru that she surprised herself during her time on the show, emerging as more than a visual artist and showcasing talents she didn’t now she possessed, like humor and even singing and dancing and feels she now can trust herself. She later said that she felt the best way to represent the trans community is to “just be you.” As for “Lucky”, she looked gorge in her blue corset and lingerie with a Bettie Page wig, nailed her verse and impressed the judges. Her runway look was also spot-on (pardon the pun) just one of the runway fashions that Carson said were “the best looks in Drag Race her-story.” When she was asked what she’d tell her younger self, she said to “realize your truth and trust that you know who you are for your life to change.” I love that she has proven to be such an inspiration for so many and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
This Scottish flower/newly minted “self-employed social media rap star” told Ru she was bitten by the theater bug at the age of six, when she made her debut at her Christmas pageant, taking on the “Deck the Halls” solo. She’s accomplished so much as a drag performer, it’s a surprise that she’s only been doing it for three years. She says that when she was auditioning for shows in NYC she didn’t feel inspired because she didn’t feel like there were any boxes she fit into and that she found freedom in drag. This perfectionist also managed to loosen up during her time on the show and was able to showcase how truly talented she is. Her showbiz dream is to do a Broadway show as Rosé and hear her group Stephanie’s Child (with Jan and future Drag Race contestant Lagoona Blu – mark my words) on the radio. Her performance in the “Lucky “ video was stellar and she pulled off her speedy rap without a hitch. Her runway look was giving us Disney’s Merida as a true princess and her lip sync gave us the feels. As for advice to her younger self, she told baby Rosé she was blessed to have parents who taught you how to love and one day, you’ll find this thing called drag, understand yourself and teach others that love.
She may be the most polarizing queen of the season, but she’s brought a lot to the show and is the epitome of a queen who made it “from the ‘hood to Hollywood.” She told Michelle and Ru she got her drag name from Warhol muse Candy Darling but changed her first name to “Kandy” too match with her birth name of Kevin. She attempted to defend last week’s pocket look, telling Ru that “the other queens said I looked fabulous.” Pockets aside, she details how she went from being a fighter to a Care Bear” (the fighter in her got her to the final four) and overcame bullying about her lisp mand her weight to be celebrated on the show and, throughout her Drag Race journey she tried to apply the feedback from the judges to help her evolve as a performer. She looked probably her best of the season in the “Lucky” video and served her signature sass and attitude. Her runway look was uniquely Kandy and, when asked to advise baby Kandy, said that “people are not going to get you” and not to blame herself on things she can’t change, so live life to the fullest.
A shining representation of drag excellence, this fashion forward queen has been serving unforgettable looks and moving moments from the day she strutted into the werk room. She shared with Ru that she achieves her flawless skin with baby oil and talks about how she was recruited by the House of Avalon and left Arkansas to pursue drag fame in LA. She cites her shyness as her inner saboteur, but credits drag for waking her up , stating, “you gotta act lie a star to be a star.” She needs to tap into Symone to give herself power when she’s out of drag and, over the course of the series, we’ve watched her finally get out of her own way and admit that “I love me…I can say that now.” She was fire in “Lucky” and her purple gown was the stunning pre-finale look we knew she was going to pull off – and that lip sync had Whitney smiling down from heaven. She told her younger self to “love yourself and live your dream.” Here’s hoping all of your dreams come true, Symone.
Whew! Well, in two weeks, we will have a 13th Drag Race champion. Are you #TeamGottmik, #TeamRose, #TeamKAndy or #TeamSymone? The wait will soon be over…so, until then, just remember that if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an “Amen”?
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