RuPaul’s Drag Race
We did it!! We’ve officially made it through the longest season of Drag Race herstory and crowned a VERY deserving queen.
Any other year, I would probably be furiously typing this recap into my iPhone from the back corner booth of Pieces, screaming homophobic slurs at the tipsy NYU twinks spilling vodka sodas into my lap. God, I miss it! But this year, it’s just me and my lil’ quarantine pod. And so with a dryer lap, but no less manic a personality, I present to you my final thoughts on season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race and our newly crowned queen:
Let’s start with the filler bits. The theme of tonight’s finale is apparently
drive-in drag #FreeBritney friendship! To that end, we begin the episode with Ru herself blessing us with some lovely, contractually obligated 8-counts, as she step-touches to her single “New Friends Silver, Old Friends Gold” (which has some distinct melodic similarities to Britney’s “Lucky”… foreshadowing!) We also have our current reigning Jaida Essence Hall popping up periodically to read the hell out of some ad copy for Bubly Bounce, a very sweet top four number to Bette Midler’s “Friends,” and light of my life LaLa Ri is crowned Miss Congeniality! As far as time-filling gimmicks go, this year’s finale picked some good ones.
But let’s talk about what might be the crown jewel of this episode: the top four ball. This sequence was not teased in any promotional materials, so it comes as quite the surprise when the queens return for not one, not two, but three looks each. And that’s not even including the lip syncs! The runway is, in a word, expensive. I can only imagine that this episode has plunged us into a global Swarovski crystal shortage. I call on Congress to act NOW! In the interest of time, word count limits, and bitchiness, let’s toot and boot these twelve (!) looks:
Predictably, Gottmik earns TOOTS across the board in this finale. Her black-and-white gown calls to mind images of James St. James starring in a revival of Kiss of the Spider Woman set entirely in the Jupiter Ascending cinematic universe. Which is to say, a total toot. Her Keith Haring-inspired jumpsuit feels incredibly original, and her finale eleganza is jaw-dropping. Like the queen of Mars came to Earth to end gender and slap Elon Musk. Gottmik may not have left it all on the stage in her lip sync, but when it comes to the ball, she more than leaves her mark.
Kandy starts the episode on a high note looking the most glamorous she’s ever been in her black-and-white dress. The #BLM lettering is a powerful touch, and it blends seamlessly into the asymmetrical design. TOOT, ma’am! I also quite enjoy her red runway, a fun reboot of her denim entrance look. However, she loses me a little in her eleganza gown. While I love the idea of reclaiming and embracing her arrogance through the peacock, the shape and execution of the gown is my least favorite of the three looks. A reluctant boot.
As a PSA going forward, entering in a My Fair Lady-inspired gown is the way to my heart. It’s not just a movie that I still own on DVD, it’s also an iconic reference, and, baby? It’s draaag. TOOT. Rosé’s red runway is lovely as well. It’s giving me Thierry Mugler meets an Ent from Lord of the Rings (another movie I have on DVD). Rosé’s eleganza look is… not my favorite. But it wouldn’t be the Rosé we know and love without some haphazardly placed ruffles! (Boot.)
Finally, Symone. Out of 16 episodes, I think I’ve used the word “breathtaking” to describe Symone’s looks approximately 75 times. Well, what the hell, make it 76. Symone enters in a breathtakingly beautiful gown with physics-defying hair; it’s easily my favorite look of the night. She continues her streak with a fun, campy take on “red” in a mini-dress seemingly made entirely of nail extensions. Finally, she closes out the show with a piece that’s half Joan of Arc, half Greek goddess, seamlessly integrated to amazing effect. It’s official: when it comes to fashion Symone has not missed once this whole season.
After the runway, we get cute little interviews with each of the top four. There’s nothing revelatory in these chats, but at the very least it’s a crucial reminder that Rihanna once DM’d Symone to call her a “nasty lil bitch.” (In a good way!) Finally, we’re shown a deeply moving tribute to Chi Chi DeVayne, season 8 sweetheart and Drag Race royalty, who passed away suddenly earlier this year. She will be deeply missed.
Now, it’s time for what we’ve all been waiting for: the lip sync bracket. With a message from Cory Booker (?) and a spin of the wheel, we’re off. This year’s lip sync selections are all by the legendary Miss Britney Spears, starting with Rosé and Kandy, who face off to “Work Bitch.” My deepest apologies to any remaining tasteless Kandy Muse haters out there, but Kandy kills this lip sync, and it’s really not close. The reveals in this particular lip sync are a wash — neither tearaway adds or subtracts from either queen’s overall performance. But Kandy is incredibly charismatic and just plain fun, making for a stark contrast next to Rosé’s buttoned-up, precise style of lip syncing. Kandy is correctly declared the victor, and moves on to face the winner of the highly anticipated Symone vs. Gottmik.
This lip sync was, once again, no contest. Symone yet again establishes herself as the sexiest being to walk this planet, serving two lip sync performances in one. For the first half of the number, she oozes swag as she saunters around stage embodying this drag king Lakers player persona. Then, midway through, she rips off the sweat suit (and wig!) to reveal a two piece bodysuit made of Timbs. Gottmik looks beautiful, and her garment emblazoned with her catchphrase is a fun touch, but when it comes to charisma and star quality present on that stage, there’s simply no comparison. So, that means our top two of the season are officially Symone and Kandy Muse.
I think we all knew how this was going to go, right? I mean, we collectively called it from episode one. Symone didn’t lie when she said she was going to give us “something a little different” tonight. Over the course of her three lip syncs, we saw three completely new and unique styles of performing that we’d yet to see from Symone on the show. Kandy is certainly not bad, but, like everyone else who’s competed against her, Kandy’s presence is subsumed by Symone’s as they strut about the stage to Briney’s “Till the World Ends.” And the winner is…
SYMONE! I don’t think I’ve made any secret of the fact that I’ve been rooting for Symone from the beginning. She’s one of my favorite performers to ever appear on the show, and I’m constantly in awe of her eye for fashion and style. I think what most excites me about a Symone win is that it doesn’t even feel like we’ve seen all Symone is capable of yet. I think we’re witnessing the rise of a truly special young artist, who’s only just begun to show us all that she can do. Condragulations to our newly crowned queen, long may she reign.
Once again, it’s been a privilege and an honor to recap this season for you all. I can’t thank you all enough for reading and sharing these recaps each week, it really means the world to me. We’re overdue for a little Drag Race break, so in the meantime get vaccinated, tip your local queens, and I’ll see you for All Stars — and soon!