Darlings, to borrow a little bit of Ru’s phrasing, in the grand tradition of Drag Race recapping…
What bullshit. Or bollocks, if you prefer. We’re once again in the position of calling out a bullshit judgment while also defending Ru’s right to serve bullshit judgments.
Things started off well enough. This season has been a pleasure to watch unfold, with a stable of highly talented (in different ways), utterly distinct queens. Coming into the finale, it felt like the right choices had been made to get a final four like this. You not only have four different drag styles, but four different routes to the finale. Lawrence came on strong from the jump and never lost the judges’ love for him despite some late-season stumbles, Bimini rallied after a rough start and only got stronger with each challenge, Tayce had a bumpy ride that gave him the opportunity to show off his lip sync assassin skills repeatedly, and Ellie walked a middle road, occasionally wowing and charming the judges just enough that they never wanted to send her home.
Lawrence is still talking about Ellie’s standup order from weeks ago, making him seem just a bit less charming each time. It’s softened to a “I’m just joking” light teasing, but the fact that he’s still bringing it up belies that. It’s to Ellie’s credit that she just lets it roll off her, but it is kind of hilarious how she initially used her verse to read all the other queens. That little bitch just can’t help herself.
The question or issue that hangs over this whole episode and how it ended centers on the idea of whether you judge a queen based on their entire performance over the course of the season or whether you judge them based on how they did in the last set of challenges. From where we’re sitting, for instance, Bimini was the most charming, poised, and interesting in their exit interview. This would, in our opinion, be a strong deciding factor in the final.
And look, maybe there’s a discussion to be had about how the finales might unfairly tend to focus on things like singing and dancing, which favor a certain kind of queen. Maybe there’s something to be said for Ru not putting too much weight on the final song-and-dance number and taking a more wholistic view.
Lawrence is charming, funny and always gives it his all (three things Ru values highly), but he was literally out of step through the whole number and his look was the least fabulous of the four. All of the other queens did noticeably better than him on that stage. We don’t think Bimini quite nailed it. Some of her movements were a little awkward or visibly effortful for her, but she had the hottest look.
Ellie, as always, seemed to be somewhere in the middle; a cute if not exactly eye-popping look, fun lyrics and a competent dance performance. She was never going to be the winner, but she went out on a high.
To our eyes, Tayce clearly nailed the number harder than any queen on it, with a fierce, focus-pulling look, to boot. Would that have been enough to hand the crown to him? Maybe?
Overall, the number was really fun and entertaining. The talent and polish levels were high (even Lawrence) and it was fun to see all of the queens back on the stage in their best drag.
Next question: How much should the runway look figure into the final decision? Because again, while the overall results were exceptional across the board, some queens clearly did better than others on this one.
Bimini absolutely aced this one. It had the highest eleganza factor (something Ru values in a finale look) and when you recall her first runway look (which they did), the improvement is astounding. Her face never looked that gorgeous.
Ellie’s face, as always, was gorgeous. And her wig, as always, was beautifully styled. But we’ve felt for some time now that her costumes were questionable. The dress was merely big. Other than that, the design was basic and the work looked a little cheap. A good, solid, safe effort. As always.
Lawrence was a close second to Bimini on the runway. Hair, face, bodywork and dress design were all on point and perfectly rendered. The RuPeter badge earrings were a hilarious touch.
Tayce followed up her front-runner dance performance with a total bottom of a look. This was underwhelming at best, but we agreed with Graham that it looked like she was carrying a bunch of wigs. You’ve got to bring more to the finale runway than this.
We knew the outcome of the episode long before we got a chance to watch it and we have to say, it’s kind of painful to watch this lip sync knowing who won.
Again: no tea no shade against Lawrence, who’s been the rightful frontrunner through most of the season and has had a great run through most of it. But he was clearly not serving up the kind of kinetic, tear-up-the-stage, break-your-back style of lip sync that the show has always rewarded. Tayce and Bimini owned this one from the first note.
So Bimini has been steadily improving to a level of near perfect, with the most badges, a fabulous exit interview, good-but-not-great dance performance, flawless runway look. Lawrence has been judges’ pet from the beginning, has been faltering more toward the end, gave a perfectly fine exit interview, rough-as-hell dance performance, fabulous runway and terrible lip sync. Tayce also gave a fine interview, fierce-as-shit dance performance, bad runway, and absolute slayage of a lip sync assassin performance. Who wins here?
Yeah, that wouldn’t have been our choice. Having said that, Ru and the producers are fairly open about how arbitrary the judging can be, what with the “the final decision is my own” phrasing every week. It’s not RuPaul’s Best Friend’s Race, no. But it is RuPaul Presents a Television Drag Revue with a Prize Handed Out To Her Favorite at the End. This isn’t The Voice. It’s not even Project Runway. There are no score cards and the criteria for winning can be ephemeral and fickle. That’s what it’s always been.
Lawrence won by the only criterion the show has ever claimed to apply: Whatever Ru (and the other producers) like best. Good for him and if you’re a fan of the show please don’t engage in hateful or divisive behavior toward him. He earned it, even if we don’t agree.
Because obviously it was Bimini.
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[Photo Credit: WOW via Tom and Lorenzo]