The Beat Goes On (And On... And On)

Illustration for article titled The Beat Goes On (And On... And On)
Screenshot: Amazon

It’s TicTac and talk to a baby picture time, and that means the carefully crafted narrative of each Drag Race competitor is wrapping up. After just one reunion special I never watch and what always feels like several years of a meandering finale, we will know which queen gets the crown now and which queens are moving on to All Stars. But this season, instead of wondering who is going home each week, most of us have been begging for anyone to leave in a season that seems to be having some herd-thinning issues. So no one, not even the competitors seemed surprised to learn that the four still standing in Episode 13 are all moving on to a needlessly crowded conclusion.

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“We were gagged in the beginning, so they might gag us in the end,” Symone said in the episode opener, not really even seeming to believe her own speculation that in a season where no one went home until Episode Four, anyone was going home now that there are just four left. Which begs the question: If nothing is at stake, then what, exactly, is the point of having all the queens go through the paces of a challenge?

That being said, the challenge, to create an original verse to RuPaul’s latest single “Lucky,” went fine for everyone, in my opinion resulting in a three-way tie between the real final three, Rosé, Gottmik, and Symone. And though my opinion means less than nothing in most situations and especially nothing in this one, I will say that I liked Gottmik’s verse and performance most of all. Looking like the peppy goth daughter of Violet Chachki and reunion special 2013 Detox, Gottmik’s verse, which began “Wake up, girls, it’s now time to listen/Hand on your hip and assume the position,” reminded me a bit in cadence of Bimini’s iconic “Gender bender cis-dom offender” opener from Drag Race UK surprise late-pandemic hit “UK Hun?And for that, coupled with the fact that Gottmik just is very charming, I was charmed.

Technically, Rosé’s contribution was likely the most musically valid. I would not know because I know nothing of music. What I do know is that Rosé is always technically correct, even if her TicTac chit chat revealed a theory my beloved Joan has been pushing ever since she watched me get a little day drunk from a single margarita two weeks ago: that Rosé is cheating on theater with drag but only because she needs attention. Unlike Joan, this fact doesn’t really mess around with my affection. Meanwhile, Symone’s sparse but effective contribution sounded closer to Ru’s “Lucky” vibe than any other queen’s—which makes sense because, though my theory that Symone is Ru’s biological child come to battle in a prophecied Oedipal/Electran war that will end in bloodshed, rebirth, and usher in a new era of drag has not been officially proven, I believe the official silence on the matter speaks volumes. For her part, Kandy both opened her verse by declaring herself “back” in the first line, but seemingly forgot that announcement by the third when she insisted she was about to “bring it back” at some undisclosed point in the future.

On the runway, Symone somehow managed to suture together three of my iridescent purple prom dresses from 2001 and come out with a lovely homage to Cicely Tyson, who died, I’m assuming, after the season wrapped shooting, making the look even more wistfully special. In a season where it’s been difficult to beat what Symone has rightfully labeled her tributes to Black excellence on the runway, Gottmik has consistently given her a thrilling run for her money. This last official runway before the finale was no exception. As the judges correctly noted, Gottmik somehow manages to make couture really witty. Her hole-punched labrador/poodle ensemble was, if not a show-stopper, definitely a show pauser. Somewhere the costume designers for the upcoming Cruella de Ville prequel are almost certainly questioning the limits of their own paltry imaginations. Rosé is Scottish—I’m not sure if you missed that the first 30 times it was mentioned—and her tartan number was completely passable though unfortunately belted, unless a cincher from the Banana Republic men’s section is ancient tradition and I’m too much of a Yank to know. Kandy was... sorry, there are no new ways to say it. Kandy was.

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The episode came down to a final, inspired lip-sync to Whitney Houston’s “I Learned From the Best” which Symone, with that genius addition and use of the white terry cloth hand towel, won easily and also beautifully. But it didn’t matter because no one won and no one lost. See you all in two weeks to do this blog again.

DISCUSSION

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Veit

I got to the end of the episode truly not knowing why it happened. Nothing moved forward at all, nothing was gained, no one was lost. We all knew the only possible queen who COULD go home at this point is Kandy, and we also know that Kandy will never be sent home for reasons unknown—no matter how bad she does week after week. It was funny to watch the queens count up their wins and compare their losses while Kandy squirmed having one pity win and too many lip-syncs, but also weird. She has to know she doesn’t belong, right? I would be embarrassed in this situation. I don’t think she IS embarrassed, but I’m embarrassed for her.

But seriously, what the hell was this episode for? It was a two hour waste of my time. And they spent so long on drawn-out and kinda hokey conversations about how much they love each other and also how they all want the crown (and wouldn’t it be weird if Ru had a surprise in store like all of them moving on) that we didn’t have time to even see much of the challenge. It felt so truncated, while also being an hour too long. It was very strange and very pointless.

It is at least somewhat gratifying that the #TeamKandy tweet from the official Drag Race Twitter account has around 25,000 fewer likes than anyone else’s—almost 30,000 fewer than Symone. Which feels correct.