Following Marcia’s elimination, the top six appear on edge about their own placements in the competition. Anetra is hungry for a second win, Sasha is slightly shaken from a bottom three placement, Loosey and Luxx feel great after a shared victory, Salina without any wins is convincing herself that she can still win, and Mistress is oddly unbothered with all the swirling emotions in the werkroom. The heightened anxiety of RuPaul’s Drag Race mixed with interpersonal conflicts, shared trauma, a threatening political environment for drag queens, and musical numbers make for one of the season’s best episodes.
Barely able to sit down the next day, RuPaul’s video message beckons the queens to their feet. A vague message emphasizing the words “bacon,” “foot,” and “loose,” lead the queens to conclude that they are taking part in a musical. RuPaul enters to confirm that they will star in Wigloose: The Rusical. Taking place in a small town where drag is outlawed, this week’s challenge is like a ripped-from-the-headlines episode of Law & Order. Anticipating the recent anti-drag legislation passed in Tennessee, Drag Race tackles the bigotry and dangers of a reenergized anti-Queer movement through song and dance.
After running down the characters, RuPaul leaves the queens to assign their roles. As with past seasons, this casting couch causes drama. Mistress, Anetra, and Sasha claim their parts without conflict. Luxx and Loosey are another story. The former teammates battle over the starring role of Heaven Bacon. Salina, who also expresses interest in the role, learning from Metal-gate, opts for her second choice and exits the skirmish. Luxx and Loosey are unrelenting. They both put forth unpersuasive arguments talking about “resonating” with the character, sharing the character’s “energy,” and “seeing” themselves as the character. It becomes an awkward stalemate when Mistress escalates the argument. The fight suddenly morphs into something deeply personal with accusations that Loosey is being inauthentic about her motivations. As the discussion reaches an emotional pitch Loosey acquiesces only for Luxx to reverse course and give the part to Loosey. Somehow in the melee, Luxx also manages to strip Salina of the role she wanted.
RuPaul enters the werkroom for a walkthrough. She shares personal moments with Sasha and Anetra about their connections to their characters and how they can translate that into their performances. RuPaul also calms Salina’s nerves with an encouraging pep talk. At the same time, there is a sense that RuPaul might be exhausted by Salina’s emotional moments. Strangely, the cameras cut from Sasha’s walkthrough to a confessional moment between Loosey and Salina. The two queens discuss the drama surrounding the part of Heaven Bacon and how the charge of inauthenticity connects to Loosey’s past childhood traumas. The tension between Loosey, Mistress, and Luxx is growing and seems to have an effect on how Loosey is doing in the competition. The cloud extends over rehearsals, getting ready on eliminations day, the judging, and even the lip sync.
Snuggly wrapped in a structural neon bandage minidress, RuPaul greets judges Michelle Visage, Ross Matthews, and special guest Orville Peck for the opening night of Wigloose. A staple since Season 6, this is one of the franchise’s greatest rusicals in recent memory, if not since the original Shade: The Rusical. Colorful, feel-good, and high energy, Wigloose also conveys an important message. Modeled after Footloose with touches of Spring Awakening, it is a cautionary tale about the dangers of repressive regimes and the power of self-expression through the art of drag. From the staging to the editing, choreography, and costuming, the technical production is perfection. Each musical number entertains while also moving the larger story along. While deeply indebted to its inspirational sources, Wigloose excels because of its solid and emotional narrative. Each part and performance, no matter the size, feels essential to the story and has a moment to shine. Every queen absolutely nails their parts and no one hits a false note. Judging from the smiles on the judges’ faces this episode should end with a lip sync for the win, rather than a lip sync for your life.
After a spectacular main challenge, the runaway becomes the determining factor on who will be on top and bottom this week. As the “Everybody Say Glove” category suggests, the garment covering the queens’ fickle fingers of fate is the focal point of each look. Loosey and Luxx took the approach of character from the directive. In a continuation of last week, Loosey finds inspiration from the Creature from the Black Lagoon with contrasting green retro swimwear and webbed gloves. Proving to be a fashion historian, Luxx channels a 90s emo skater girl playfully reinterpreting gloves as full-arm casts. Anetra’s rave-inspired dance costume incorporated blue leather gloves equipped with lasers. Mistress oozes opulence in an all-yellow gloved evening gown. In both cases, each queen showcases their personal style but their gloves feel incidental to the looks. It feels like Anetra and Mistress are recycling something they already had in their closet for the runway. In contrast, Salina and Sasha spotlight gloves with exaggerated and campy interpretations. Salina’s engorged red vinyl gloves, despite what Ross says, are impossible to miss. In the most ingenious looks of the night, Sasha is not actually wearing gloves as gloves, instead, her look is made entirely out of baseball gloves.
From the start, the judges admit that each queen did exceptionally well in the challenge. They praise Loosey’s professionalism as the lead, Anetra for turning a small character into the heart of the show, Sasha for taking a risky and unexpected part, and Mistress for relishing the villainess role. Salina has an emotional breakthrough concerning the separation of her drag persona and her real life and the judges fawn over Luxx’s natural charisma and authenticity. There seems to be little to no negative critiques for any of the queens.
In a twist, the judges opt to turn last week’s “rip her to shreds” runway into reality by posing the dreaded question “who should go home and why” to the queens. No contestant likes answering this question, but it is part of the deal of going on a reality competition show. Over the years, the sisterhood of Drag Race has crafted two acceptable ways to answer the question. You answer with the queen with the worst track record or the queen you consider your stiffest competition. The former is simply empirical statistics and the latter is more a compliment than an insult. Loosey and Anetra opt for the first path and name Salina as the queen with the weakest track record. Mistress and Sasha side with the second path. Mistress names Sasha as the clear frontrunner and Sasha names Luxx and Loosey as the two queens closest to matching her challenge wins. Luxx and Salina select a third path of chaos. After complimenting each queen individually, Luxx ends a lengthy monologue with a particularly brutal descriptor for Loosey: “generic.” The word causes Loosey to let out an audible scoff. Salina echos Luxx and names Loosey. Amplified by hurt feelings, because Loosey named Salina after their emotional connection earlier in the episode, Salina asserts that Loosey is “not the future of drag.” This perennial question, as always, makes for a fascinating Untucked.
Earlier in the episode, Salina wonders if Loosey is going to break. It nearly feels like a conspiracy with production to see if Loosey will crumble. Loosey’s vocal competitiveness episode after episode is partly to blame, but it is starting to feel like the edit is out to get Loosey. It’s the high demand of Drag Race. They want all your charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. They want professionalism, perfection, and vulnerability. They want you to want to win. They want you to work hard and never quit. But, they also want it to all seem effortless. The episode felt like a pile-on from all directions. First, she is insincere or inauthentic then it is that her dancing is “rigid” and “studied.” Her performance is terrific, but is she “having fun” or just a “workaholic.” Even RuPaul brings up the tussle between Luxx and Loosey over the starring role. She rarely brings up backstage moments like that and it’s clear that producers put it in her ear. It feels like beyond a villain edit, Loosey is getting the Laganja Estranja treatment.
The judges’ deliberations make the bottom two clear. Salina’s fate is sealed when RuPaul says her aesthetic “needs a lot of work.” Similar to commenting on Marcia’s theater training, RuPaul’s statement confirms that Salina is never going to make it into the finale. Anetra, Mistress, Sasha, and Luxx receive stellar marks from each judge. Loosey is left and gets subtly eviscerated. As if influenced by Luxx’s “generic” comment, Michelle remarks that Loosey faded into the background when she appeared in drag during the musical. As if mimicking Salina’s “future of drag” comment, Ross suddenly does not think Loosey is having enough “special moments” like the other queens. The nail in the coffin comes when Michelle says “She’s all business. She’s not having fun.” Despite the pressure cooker that is RuPaul’s Drag Race, the cardinal sin for any queen is not to appear like you are having fun at every moment.
Mistress, Luxx, Sasha are safe. With only three queens left on stage, a testament to how close the competition is this week, RuPaul announces the winner at the last possible moment when Anetra snatches her second win. Loosey and Salina make up the bottom two. It is Loosey’s first time lip syncing for her life and Salina’s fourth.
The lip sync
The timely nature of the main challenge does not extend to the lip sync. After Stranger Things, millions of TikToks and Reels, and a smattering of poor covers, Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” needs to be retired for the foreseeable future. It is a spectacular song, but Drag Race is using it months too late. An alt-pop masterpiece, it simply does not lend itself to a lip sync battle. In an episode built around the idea of authenticity, Loosey and Salina’s attempts at profound emotion with intense thousand-yard stares and outreached gloved hands feel slightly manufactured.
In fact, the most remarkable moment of the lip sync comes from behind the performers when Mistress yells out “C’mon Salina! Eat her up, bitch!” The edit suggests that the exclamation is loud enough for Ross to hear, so it is more than likely that Loosey can hear it as well. While yelling things out during a lip sync is not forbidden, this outburst feels faintly mean-spirited. At the very least, it undercuts Mistress’s claims to just be joking when it comes to Loosey. There is little doubt that this moment will not carry over into next week.
The internet argued that last week should have been a double shantay, and there may be an argument for a double sashay this week. The victory goes to Loosey for two main reasons. The first is that Salina simply has the worst track record with no wins. The second is that the brewing drama between Loosey and Mistress/Luxx is too strong to be resolved by her exit this week.
- Loosey is in a really good mood after winning. She’s super kind of Salina and makes the great joke about Let Loose the Rusical.
- I’m in my over it era of all these eras.
- Again, having a rusical after Marica’s elimination is so mean. Also, will they ever return to live singing?
- Are parts really written for specific queens? It suggests the writers know who remain in the competition before it starts. Also, if parts are written for queens why all the drama around picking parts.
- It feels like Loosey is meant for Heaven Bacon and Luxx is meant to be Christian. If anyone feels like they switched intended roles it might be Sasha and Anetra.
- It feels like Loosey can both want to be the lead and also connect to the Heaven Bacon character.
- I’m not sure the lesson for Loosey was to think more about herself. The moment where she goes into that she led Luxx to a win last week felt like a wrong note.
- RuPaul most love that sincere DragCon plug from Anetra.
- Luxx and Mistress dominating the choreographer was hilarious.
- Sasha’s comment about Mistress doing a slide split was excellent.
- After numerous tales of rejection from family, the rusical felt like a cathartic release from all that past trauma.
- It was great to hear the queens discuss the anti-Drag laws and how they are being used to target marginalized people and deflect from real issues.
- Boy Drag! The road paved by Alaska’s Buffalo Bill in Season 5.
- Michelle has never look as happy as she did watching the Rusical.
- I’m not sure anyone can beat this glove look by Violet Chachki.
- Michelle calling Loosey’s look “cute” feels very cutting.
- Asia O’Hara and Scarlett Envy ran so Loosey could walk with this Creature of the Black Lagoon look.
- Orville’s “kelp” line was my favorite of the night.
- In defense of “Running Up That Hill,” I would pay good money to watch someone like Sasha Velour or Untitled Queen lip sync it. It’s just that it is a very niche song that requires a very specific kind of performer.
- It’s a shame that Salina gets eliminated when she was finally finding her stride.