This is not the most exciting episode of Drag Race. There is no action and no drama. The most surprising thing that happens is that Kim Chi falls off a box, something so predictable that if you asked a Magic 8 Ball if it would happen, it would respond, “Bitch, I got better things to do than answer your dumb-ass questions.” Nevertheless, this episode is one of the all-time best.
I laughed out loud when RuPaul said, “Bring back my girls,” with a sibilant S as long as Naomi Smalls’s weave and then quickly twisted her face up in a campy mug. I cried my eyes out when Chi Chi and Kim Chi talked about finding acceptance through drag. And I wet myself just a little bit when Kim Chi walked out in her avant-garde lewk for the music video like a neon-green parakeet from the cartoon movie Rio but in the best possible way.
The one problem with this episode? I keep singing, “The realness … The realness. The realness … The realness,” over and over in my head, and I can’t shut it off. It’s either going to drive me insane or give me a seizure like Mary Hart’s voice.
I don’t think I have ever been as satisfied with a final four in Drag Race history. Usually there was a Phi Phi O’Hara or a Roxxxy Andrews or a Courtney Act just sort of dangling around like a booger in a mustache. When these four girls were standing on the runway, I didn’t want one of them to go home. I could think of reasons to keep all of them — Bob’s humor, Chi Chi’s dusty glamor, Kim Chi’s innovation, and Naomi Smalls’s every last damn thing — and would be genuinely sad to see a finale without any of them.
They all like each other, too! Their hug on the runway was so heartwarming that it made even this snarky queen want to put away her daggers and just luxuriate in the warm fuzzy feeling of becoming who you are on (semi-) national television in order to make the corporate overlords at Viacom just a little bit richer.
The episode starts with all of the queens entering the workroom in bathrobes and without Purse First. What the hell is going on here? Has my favorite co-star been kicked off of the show when we weren’t looking? Is this the final indignity that the long national nightmare of Derrick Barry heaped upon us?
The queens are going to star in a music video directed by some leather queen named Jayson Whitmore, who I once blew in a bathroom at the Eagle. (Okay, that is a lie that I made up, but he looks exactly like every guy I’ve ever blown at the Eagle, so it might be true and I don’t even know it.)
We all know that Kim Chi is going to suck at this challenge because she can’t dance or walk in heels. Asking her to be in a music video is sort of like asking Charlie Sheen to be your AA sponsor. All of the queens look great in their flowing robes for the “floatography” portion of the music-video shoot, in which they have to look like they’re falling through a black hole. There is a joke to be made here about what a voracious bottom Carson Kressley is, but I will spare him from that indignity. It’s already bad enough that he wore that blazer.
Their next lewk for the video is avant-garde. Chi Chi says she doesn’t know what avant-garde is, and her lewk is more Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome than high fashion. Oh, Chi Chi. Never change. Bob doesn’t quite know the meaning either, because she is giving me 1994 Deee-Lite something fierce. Kim Chi looks fantastic as some sort of crazy bird and Naomi Smalls looks like an extra from Guardians of the Galaxy in a blue leotard with a hood and huge white boots.
Naomi Smalls just shatters this challenge. She is so gorgeous and her glamour lewk with the red wig and the gladiator boots is something out of an “Express Yourself”–era Madonna video. I want to have a photo of it framed from the bathroom of the beach house that I will never be able to afford. Kim Chi also looks amazing and very much like herself as Sailor Moon dressed up for a prom in the Andromeda Galaxy. Chi Chi gives us a heavy dose of ’80s Dynasty, but Bob couldn’t get out of the ’90s mindset, looking like another C in C&C Music Factory.
Then the queens arrive in the workroom to get ready for the first time and they’re all clutching Purse First together like Dorothy and her Three Wise Men. There are only four lewks on the runway this week, each of which is supposed to give their ideal drag persona.
Bob TheDragQueen: She looks like pre-hip-surgery Liza Minelli on her way to officiate a gay wedding on Fire Island in 1994.
Chi Chi DeVayne: Diana Ross in the rainbow fashion show in Mahogany.
Kim Chi: Imagine a sorceress who is taking over a shadowy wood after she just transformed back to her real body from the shape of a beetle, but she’s still kind of a beetle.
Naomi Smalls: This is how Naomi Campbell imagines herself when she looks in the mirror at night after sacrificing seven interns for their blood.
Bob and Chi Chi don’t look that amazing, but Chi Chi looks so much better than she usually does, and Bob, whose face looked like a tangram puzzle from when you were in second grade, isn’t really known for her looks or makeup. I did love what RuPaul says about each of them by way of complimenting them: “They’re taking those cues from the universe and applying them without losing who you are.” That is basically the key to success on this show.
Of course, Chi Chi DeVayne had to be the one who goes home. I’m sorry to see her and her Justin Timberlake ramen-noodle haircut go, but the judges are right: She isn’t as funny as Bob, as experimental as Kim Chi, or as polished as Naomi. She’s great at what she does, but what she does is a little bit more run-of-the-mill than the rest of the girls.
I’ll see you all in two weeks as we go Purse First into crowning a winner. I have to say that I’m #TeamKimChi, because I’ve loved her since day one and I haven’t seen amazing lewks like hers anywhere else in the world. (Also, I think it will make it easier on her mom if she can tell her she actually won.) Naomi would be a good winner, but she’s way too similar to fashion queen Violet Chachki, who won last year. Similarly, Bob is like a reheated Bianca Del Rio, but without the mushy heart at the center. Kim Chi is a true original, so she better not fuck it up.