The Top Queens On RuPaul's Drag Race Are Batting 1.000
A quartet of sheroes is better than a bucket of zeroes.
This episode is a smidge too "up with queens" for me, what with everyone fronting like these ladies are flawless. But since this season's final four are indeed very strong, I GUESS I can forgive the show for erring on the side of praise. Let's see who deserves all the accolades, and who's just lucky it's feel-good week!
Wipe That Mirror, Gurl
The ladies are talking about who's going to snatch that crown, and the pressure of being SO CLOSE is creating nerves and swerves. The energy is fun to watch, as these competitors who clearly like each other also try to subdue their desire to cut a bitch and step over her bleeding body toward victory.
Are you wondering if Peppermint has the perfect facial expression to capture this mixture of love and ambition, like a Drag Race Lady Macbeth?
OF COURSE SHE DOES.
Spitting Rhymes, Dropping Beats
To kick this week off for real, Michelle (and not Ru) strolls into the workroom to announce that the queens must write and perform a verse to be inserted into a special remix of RuPaul's song "Category Is." Which may not actually be a song, as such.
It's more of a collection of catchphrases dropped over a generic house beat. But then again, half of the songs booming in gay clubs right now are exactly like this, so what do I know?
After they record their verses, the queens will sit down with Ru and Michelle on their podcast "What's The Tee," and I'll just tell you right now that each of the girls gets a special Squatty Potty as a thank-you gift. BLESS.
Then the girls will perform a dance routine in which they lip sync to their recordings of their verses, and finally they will stomp the runway in "eleganaza extravaganza" looks. Whew! I need a cool drink, and I was just writing about it!
Since Lucian Piane went crazy, he is decidedly NOT on hand to produce the tracks this year. Instead, Todrick Hall is repping in the studio, along with Vjuan (pronounced "vonn") Allure, who produced "Category Is" when it was on one of RuPaul's numerous albums.
Shea comes in first, and slams her verse down like it's an empty stein at Oktoberfest.
Todrick says her energy, rapid-fire rhymes, and smart lyrics give him chills. Next we visit Peppermint on the podcast, where she talks about the value of being out as a trans woman. She's lovely as always, and if she doesn't win Miss Congeniality, then I don't know what.
Then, at the mic, it's Trinity, who...bless her heart. She tries. But you know your rap verse is going poorly when Todrick says, "You're talking about the talent you've got in that line, so maybe you'd better show some talent." OOPS.
We then travel to the podcast with Sasha, who just looks like she's having a blast.
She talks about her tough relationship with her mother, who recently died, and how she wishes she'd gotten to know her better. I get the impression that Sasha feels weird about being this nakedly personal in a public setting, and it's cool that she plows ahead and does what she needs to do.
When Pep goes to the recording studio, Todrick is immediately feeling it, and on the podcast, Shea talks about speaking in tongues at her childhood church. Ru and Michelle are impressed that she recognizes a Squatty Potty on sight. (As would I, since multiple people I love keep them in their homes.)
Last in the studio is Sasha, who tries to tell Todrick that she's not the kind of queen who can succeed as a rapper. Happily, Todrick isn't having it. Instead, he works with Sasha to help her find her way into something like this. Which basically means giving the freakiest, Mommie Dearest-est style of sprechstimme you can imagine. It's amazing.
We wrap this segment with Trinity's lovely podcast interview, in which she talks about losing her family members to death and disease and learning how to overcome her grief. It's very moving. Trinity has become one of my all-time favorites. Bitch has seen all the mess, but she takes NONE OF IT.
Rehearse That Body
The dance rehearsals break down like this: the black girls are Janet Jackson, and the white girls are Janet Reno. While Peppermint is popping her arms for the gods and Shea is doing a goddamned triple pirouette, Sasha is insisting that she can "rise to the challenge" of simple choreography, and Trinity is trying to remember the difference between up and left.
But the awkwardness at least gives Todrick the opportunity to say this: "The problem with Trinity is that her rhythm game is a little delayed. I feel like I'm always watching her on Skype." HAHAHAHAHA.
As is customary, the top four judging panel is "all family," with Ru and Michelle joined by Carson and Ross and no guest judges. And lucky them, because they get to see the girls slay this thing.
Peppermint nails the choreography in her section...
...and her verse has a funny bit where she spells her name: "P-E-P-P-E-R-Bitch you know the rest!"
Meanwhile, Sasha absolutely sends me by climbing onto the stage like a swamp creature...
...and in the final accounting, her spoken word verse is glorious and weird and very, very Sasha, which is great. However, I must read her for wearing the same Dorothy Hamill wig that she wore for last week's rhythmic gymnastics challenge and ALSO for the Teets And Assky scene. Like I mentioned before, no one on the judging panel is sending anything but valentines, so somebody's got to deliver the mail.
Case in point: I have a package for Trinity from Oops-PS. Her look is sensational, and she makes her choreo work by turning on her humor...
...but that verse? GURL. Never, ever start a rap with the lines, "My name is ___, and I'm here to say." Just don't.
Meanwhile, Shea is outstanding as she dances with a baseball bat...
...and delivers such a convincing amount of arena-sized attitude that I'd like to see her on a Jumbotron. However, her rap verse is so fast and mushmouthed that it's hard to understand her. And while she cites Twista as an influence, I would note that, if you listen, you can always cop what Twista's saying.
Still, these are are all minor reads. This was a fantastic performance, with every queen demonstrating why she deserves to be here.
Stomp The Runway
The hits just keep coming on the runway. We get Peppermint in this Russian aristocracy realness..
...Sasha revisiting the crown look from the season premiere, but with a different dress and color scheme.
...Shea delivering high fashion...
...and Trinity proving why she's a pageant winner with this astonishing gown and hair combo.
And look: I realize it's become quite popular to slam this season of the show, but come on! This is an exceptional top four. All these queens are talented, likable, and distinct. As much as I love top three finishers like Naomi Smalls or Alexis Mateo, they suffer from an indistinctive quality that doesn't touch any of these girls. And there are no horrible bitches, either -- no Phi Phis or Roxxxys. Don't sleep on this quartet is what I'm saying. In a few years, we'll be realizing they were classics.
Judging And Feeling
The judges basically reiterate my sentiments with their friendly feedback, and then we get the standard top four "realness moments." The girls talk to pictures of their childhood selves about what the future holds, and then they explain why they should win. As forced moments go, I prefer the former, because it always seems more honest and lets us see pictures like this:
I hope Trinity still has that jacket!
Lip Sync For Your Life
As is also custom, all four girls lip sync to a RuPaul song. This time, it's a ditty called "U Wear It Well," and because it's not really about much, it doesn't provoke a very interesting lip sync. But it doesn't matter: these ladies have proven what they need to prove.
...Which is why it's not surprising that all four of them go to the finale. This has never happened on the show before, but I support the decision. It also explains why the comments were all so nice; they must've edited out the negative critiques to further justify this result to us viewers. Still, there's no truly weak link, and I'll be VERY interested to see what happens next. Will one girl get cut midway through the last episode? I kind of hope so!
Most Watchable Moment
Put that lip sync performance on repeat, and take special note of Shea's bat.