It’s hard to describe the feeling of watching this week’s finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under. In a way, it was like watching the final 20 minutes of a rom-com, where all the obstacles and confusions of the rest of the film melt away in favor of a neat and totally perfect finale: If, halfway during the episode, RuPaul had broken down and yelled: “It’s you, Spankie Jackzon, it’s always been you!” I wouldn’t have been surprised.
Watching this finale, it was clear that there was no other option: From the beginning to the end of this season, Spankie Jackzon has steamrolled the competition. She is, without a doubt, one of the messiest, least “polished,” least Instagram-ready queens to ever have won any franchise of this show. But she’s also one of the funniest, sweetest, and savviest, and it’s so refreshing to have a winner for whom the usual Drag Race platitudes don’t apply. She didn’t find herself halfway through; she didn’t step her pussy up; she barely bothered to fix her makeup. I don’t think I’ve been more thrilled to see someone crowned on Drag Race.
As I said last week, this week’s finale is, for the most part, a formality. I don’t think there was any universe in which Spankie wouldn’t have taken home this crown — excepting, say, a scenario in which someone dug up some seriously egregious old content or something. That’s part of what makes the episode such a joy to watch: We all kind of know who’s going to win, so we just get to see three queens flail around as they record new verses to Ru’s new single, “Who Is She?,” and learn associated choreography. “I’m gonna give you Megan Thee Stallion meets Savage,” says Kween, offering a distinct counterpoint to Spankie: “I’m just gonna give you white chick!”
The queens get some songwriting help from Australian icon Delta Goodrem, which is helpful if any of them are somehow planning to shoehorn a teen trauma ballad somewhere into this 135 bpm RuPaul EDM cut or if any of them are looking to rip off a 2010s indie song. Delta seems exhilarated by the queens’ verses, but only because it’s the first time she’s ever heard anyone rap before.
During the requisite Tic Tac lunch — rebranded in Down Under as a Jaffa lunch — Spankie reveals that she’s a child-care worker and this is still not her full-time job. It’s a reality that’s true to the experience of many queens from small towns, where drag scenes are small or nonexistent, and it makes it all the more incredible that Spankie made it this far.
When the queens go to learn choreography for “Who Is She?,” they’re greeted by a surprise choreographer: last year’s lip-sync assassin-slash-perpetual faildaughter Elektra Shock, who, as it happens, was beaten by Spankie in House of Drag, a New Zealand drag reality competition show. (The “Kia ora, biiiiiiitch” she greets the queens with is laden with subtext.) Of all the choreographers we’ve seen on this show, Elektra is one of the most ruthless, and it makes for some amazing drama: The sheer passive aggression of Elektra saying things like “Spankie, have you got it?” or “One more time for Hanna!” over and over provides the tension this episode was sorely in need of.
Altogether, the queens’ performance of “Who Is She?” is slightly lackluster — perhaps owing to the original song not being particularly inspiring — with the exception of Kween Kong’s jaw-dropping mid-air barrel roll, a move that truly has to be seen to be believed. In this performance, Spankie is quintessentially Spankie: You can see her undergarments, and she looks kind of insane, but it’s perfect all the same. Kween stuns in gold, and it’s only Hanna who looks a little off: Her jumpsuit sags in a way that reminds me of the outfits my parents’ friends would wear in the mid-2000s.
Category on the runway is best drag, and, as has been the case this season, everyone looks absolutely incredible. Hanna and Kween look totally regal in opulent, ornate jewel-tone looks, while Spankie … looks like a sluttier, low-rent version of Marilyn Monroe, which is Spankie’s version of going for broke. (And we love her for it!) “We’ve gone from street lady to owner of the brothel,” she says, “It’s a full circle moment tonight on the runway.”
The gag, though, is that it isn’t really: Ultimately, Spankie wins this competition by staying true to herself and basically refusing to bend to the conventions of a Drag Race winner narrative, and Ru says as much, describing her outfits as “leaving something to be desired” but still saying she’s “it.” It feels so predetermined in a wonderful way. When the queens lip-sync to Kylie’s iconic 2007 French Touch–inspired cut “Wow,” it just feels like a fun way to end the season rather than a challenge. Spankie wins — snagged dress, sloppy tits, and all — and it couldn’t be more perfect.