This was a tight episode in which the remaining queens were put through their semi-final paces with a challenge that’s always been among the show’s toughest and a fairly inarguable case was made for the Top Three.
Cracker’s been showing why she’s made it this far; not just in the challenges, but in the way she’s working that Werk Room. There was no real drama to be found in Alexis’ elimination, since it seemed on the surface to be unanimous, but she played that moment for all its worth, keeping all eyes on her.
When it came time to assigns spots on the set list, he completely dropped any pretense (which is, in itself, a kind of pretense in the setting of a reality show) and simply explained to each flabbergasted queen the ways in which he was hoping to fuck up their chances. It’s a risky move that could have backfired on him, but he could claim he was just keeping things real (even as he got into each queen’s head) so long as one thing happened – or rather three things.
But first, another shoutout to Mother, who really has been serving lately.
And it’s always fabulous when a guest judge is also a huge fan of Drag Race and a clear supporter of drag artistry. The queens didn’t react to her that way just because she’s a star and she’s fabulous, it was also a definite case of like seeing like.
— RuPaul’s Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) July 18, 2020
So anyway, here are the three things that needed to happen for Cracker’s gambit to pay off. First, Jujubee would have to open rough, just as Cracker predicted. Check.
Then, Blair would have to bomb after Jujubee rallied. Check.
And finally, Shea had to be competent enough to close, but not necessarily energetic enough to make people forget the best performance of the night. Check. All Cracker had to do was stick to what she’s best at.
And she clearly nailed it. She took command of the stage, she understood timing and rapport with the audience, and she delivered the goods when it came to the punchlines. Jujubee was funny at times, but weirdly harsh at others and it took her time to find her groove. Blair came into it overconfident, thinking a surplus of material was all she needed. She just came off mean and frightened through her set. Shea rallied and managed to pull off a fairly smooth set, but she’s still a bit diplomatic and self-focused in a way that feels like a trap going into the finale. Jujubee and Cracker understood how to dress for a standup set, giving the audience something interesting to look at, but not too glamorous our overwhelming. Blair came out pretty and suffered for it. And Shea’s absolute stunner of a look felt like a wall between her and the audience. We don’t know. We think there’s some storytelling mileage out of the whole “Sasha’s win sent me into a spiral” arc, but we really hope Shea doesn’t bring it to the finale.
— RuPaul’s Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) July 18, 2020
Shea came into the season as the clear frontrunner; the one every queen thought they needed to beat, the one everyone agreed had her season’s crown snatched from her at the last second. As that’s played out, Shea has stumbled a little while other queens managed to step up and give her a run for her money. With this challenge and runway, it really felt like Jujubee and Cracker were staking their claim.
We kinda think all of the efforts for a freaky drag-themed runway were a little basic or derivative, which is pretty disappointing from this lot. At the very least, we would have expected Blair and Shea to come out and cause our jaws to drop. Not so much.
Jujubee served her best look of the season and if there were wins based on runway alone, she would have been our choice.
Blair and Shea both served up fairly similar Club Kid looks. Just a total WTF choice from both of them.
We can’t say we were bowled over by Cracker’s Gothy Glam drag, but at least she didn’t look like she was going to a rave in 1994, like everyone else on that stage.
Always lovely to see Miss Davenport again, but boy, was that ever a low-energy lip sync.
We can’t really blame either of them, since “Fancy” just doesn’t lend itself to the kind of acrobatics and wig-snatching that Drag Race tends to reward in their lip sync performances. Basically, each of them was left to strut around the stage and mouth an encyclopedia’s worth of lyrics.
We can’t honestly say Cracker definitively won it, but we guess it fucks with Shea just a little more to beef up a competitor she may not have seen coming and it makes more sense to have one of the competing girls send the final girl home before the finale showdown.
As with Alexis’ elimination, it all played out with a feeling of inevitability. Blair’s a really good drag queen who’s come a long way since her first season on the show, but even if she’d aced this comedy challenge, we’d have found it hard to argue that she deserves to be a top three All-Star. What’s notable here is that Cracker made the choice based on standing and record instead of gamesmanship. She could have taken this moment to eliminate Shea, but we suspect all of the queens understand at this point that they risk serious fan backlash (and possible career disruption) if they get too shady or devious with their voting.
“Our book Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life is on sale now!
The Los Angeles Times called it “a nuanced exploration of the gender-bending figures, insider lingo and significant milestones in queer history to which the show owes its existence.” The Washington Post said it “arrives at just the right time … because the world needs authenticity in its stories. Fitzgerald and Marquez deliver that, giving readers an insight into the important but overlooked people who made our current moment possible.” Paper Magazine said to “think of it as the queer education you didn’t get in public school” and The Associated Press said it was “delightful and important” and “a history well told, one that is approachable and enjoyable for all.”
[Stills: VH! via Tom and Lorenzo]
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