RuPaul’s Drag Race
I went into this week’s episode with a few overarching assumptions. The first was that after Jasmine’s elimination, there would be left a Daya Betty–shaped hole in the fabric of this season’s story where a villain was supposed to be. The second is that some of the sky-high tensions following this season’s abysmal Snatch Game would start to dissipate, and the Werkroom would once again become a (relatively) drama-free nation of besties. And the third is that Jasmine Kennedie would spell DeJa Skye’s name right. However, I’m quite thrilled to report that I’m wrong on all three counts.
For this week’s challenge, the queens star in Moulin Ru, which turns out to be less Moulin Rouge parody and more long-form advertisement for the stage iteration of the musical now on Broadway. But before they make their Rusical debuts, the queens must settle on a cast list. And therein lies the drama. Some choices are obvious: DeJa (Daesha?) demands to play “Nerve,” Willow wants to play a little forest fairy, and Daya wants to play the gold-digging “Charisma.” We’re treated to our first spat, an amuse-bouche of drama between Jorgeous and Angeria, who both insist they would be the perfect choice to play “Talent.” However, the ever-congenial Angeria seems wholly disinterested in a drawn-out casting fight and quickly relents to Jorgeous, leaving plenty of space for the entrée: Lady Camden versus Bosco.
Bosco and Lady Camden both have their hearts set on the lead of Moulin Ru, “Saltine.” Saltine is a young, sexy ingenue caught in a love triangle between Leland and Leslie Jordan, who’s onstage for the vast majority of the show. It’s the star track, and neither queen will give it up without a fight. But while both queens demonstrate an unyielding determination to get their way, only Bosco commits to going full villain mode. “Saltine has loads of lines, and I feel like I’m gonna have no problem with that—” Camden begins. “You sure aren’t, because you’re not gonna have them,” Bosco fires back with a smile. Neither queen seems to be budging, so finally Lady Camden suggests a coin toss. But that won’t do for Bosco, who, in a Succession-like twist, forces the issue to a vote. Daya, with her Ph.D. in shit-stirring, even volunteers to “tally the votes” (five people are voting). It’s close, but it quickly becomes clear that most of the girls are more scared of incurring Bosco’s wrath than Lady Camden’s, leaving Bosco with a slim majority and the role of Saltine. Lady Camden is in her feelings, but one little pep talk from Angeria later, she’s back to her cheery self. But Bosco, in all her scheming and forced votes of no confidence, hasn’t properly considered the scrutiny she’s put herself under. Her performance can’t just be good; it must be excellent. An untouchable paragon of Rusical theater excellence that blows whatever Lady Camden had planned of the water.
But she can’t quite pull it off. It’s immediately obvious to me not two minutes into Moulin Ru that Camden and Bosco should have switched parts. Saltine is a comedy-light, dance-heavy ingenue role whose biggest scene involves waltzing while acting hopelessly torn between the two male romantic leads — obviously, Camden. Mama Z is a gender-bending, emcee-type role that primarily functions as a way to narrate the show, pace the plot, and provides some comic relief — obviously, Bosco. It puzzles me to no end that Bosco would fight so hard for a role that simply doesn’t suit her. Even her signature eyebrow (which feels utterly out-of-place as Saltine, as Michelle notes) would perfectly complement the emcee’s brand of goblin-esque physicality and comedy. While ultimately successful, Bosco’s gambit to win the role completely backfires. She goes from Logan Roy to Kendall Roy in 40 minutes flat.
Not helping matters is the fact that Camden is, well … pretty great! While the role isn’t her first choice (and wouldn’t have been mine for her, either), she handles it with aplomb, rising to the occasion and proving yet again that she’s a more than capable performer. Then comes the kicker. As she does every season, RuPaul asks the girls, “Who should go home tonight, and why?” The consensus: Bosco. The symmetry is so perfect, it’s almost Shakespearean. At the top of the episode, Bosco demanded a vote, willing each queen to say her name. Now, in the end, that moment comes full circle as each of the queens votes for her once again, this time sealing her fate in the bottom two.
Joining her is Jorgeous, who couldn’t manage to stand out among the crowd. While technically proficient, she’s outshined by the likes of Daya and DeJa in their respective solo verses. She’s not going down without a fight, though. After some choice words for Bosco — “And as for track record, you were in the bottom three times in one episode” — Jorgeous turns it out in her fifth competitive lip sync and counting to “Heartbreak Hotel” (Hex Hector remix, of course). However, I find my eyes more drawn to Bosco as she lip-syncs with precision in her Sorayama, metallic two-piece set. I’m surprised to see Ru give the win to Jorgeous yet again, but it all makes sense mere seconds later as Bosco unwraps her chocolate bar to reveal … the gold. Finally! It’s implausible Ru wasn’t aware that Bosco has had the gold tucked away all this time, and this lip sync provides the perfect opportunity to finally reveal this Chekov’s Chocolate Bar. On the one hand, yet another non-elimination. On the other hand … uh … well, hopefully the final non-elimination. While this gimmick may not be successful from a storytelling perspective, it’s quite successful in scaring the bra and panties off Bosco, who falls to her knees in gratitude. She lives to see another day.
While this nebulous middle section of season 14 seems to be proceeding at a snail’s pace, it’s been successful at one thing: shaking up the front-runners. Angeria hasn’t had a top placement in weeks, Bosco has been in the bottom twice, and DeJa and Daya are becoming more competitive by the day. Four episodes ago, I would’ve called the top four a lock, but these days I’m not so sure.
Until next time!
A weekly segment where I discuss stray thoughts that won’t leave my head.
• “Villainsco”: Bosco seems to have fully embraced her villain era online, claiming the display name “Villainsco” on Twitter. However, as much as she embraces villainy, it doesn’t seem to suit her. She kinda got her ass kicked this week!
• “It’s so annoying to me.” — Jorgeous, on the concept of musical theater: She’s right, and she should say it.
• Lady Camden vs. Bosco: This was a fun fight, but anyone who thinks this was genuinely heated has never done a sixth-grade production of Les Misérables School Edition where six mini Rachel Berrys want to play Eponine. (And yes, I was one of them.)