Not another non-elimination episode! No, actually RuPaul brings the entire cast back for the penultimate episode of this marathon season. Anticipation for Reunited was slightly muted. On one hand, the pure exhaustion of one of the longest seasons yet means it’s difficult to even remember what happened in some of the earlier episodes. On the other hand, producers seemed to play out and resolve most of the drama within the season. Even Untucked, by past precedent, felt quite tame. However, high production values, a varied format, and a focus on earlier eliminated queens made for an enjoyable reunion and welcome refresher on the highlights of the season.
Setting things at the Flamingo Resort in Las Vegas, home to Drag Race Live, brought a new level of grandeur and synergy to the festivities. Producers also featured Las Vegas-based queens like Derrik Barry, Kahanna Montrese, and Alexis Mateo, stars of the Vegas revue, to ask audience questions. The synergy didn’t stop there. RuPaul managed to place a product placement within a product placement by launching a new World of Wonder beverage line, featuring cock and mocktails, House of Love. The Bubly marketing team must be fuming.
Reversing the conventional format of an episode, the runway started the proceedings. A promenade of eliminated queens, followed by the remaining top five, showcased looks for the reunion. June Jambalya, the first officially and definitively eliminated queen, entered in a regal orange gown encrusted with crystals that redeemed some underwhelming looks from the regular season. After showcasing a polished package during the season, and after her elimination on Instagram, Alyssa Hunter continued to impress with a purple and blue anime and video game-inspired fantasy ensemble. The most referential, and hilarious, look came from Kornbread, who took inspiration from Willow Pill’s entrance look upping the drag factor with a blond bouffant wig, rhinestoned “Angle” tank top and mini skirt, and bedazzled heeled crocs in place of platform flip flops. Continuing a 60/70s inspired aesthetic, Orion Story arrived in a salmon pantsuit that didn’t leave a lasting impression. It was a missed opportunity to reinsert themselves into the cultural imagination of the audience. Maddy Morphosis, who was eliminated on a design challenge, presented redneck couture (I can say it because I’m from South Carolina), with a distressed black denim gown and mullet wig. Kerri Colby, who sometimes struggled to present out of the box looks, went back to her comfort zone as an absolute bombshell in a glittery bronze form-fitting gown. Jasmine Kennedie, who would become the focal point for a majority of the episode, played the part well in an elevated gown that recalled her Glamazon Prime design. After struggling on numerous runways, DeJa Skye delivered on her Pastel Princess brand in an intricate caged and tulle gown. Also on brand was Jorgeous, who paid homage to her Texas roots and new hometown in Nashville, in a cowgirl meets video vixen ensemble.
The eliminated queens were followed by the remaining top five who will compete for the crown in the finale. A vision in a purple gown, Angeria might have avoided the bottom two last week if she had swapped this look for her black dress. It was the high drag Angeria exudes. Bosco was on brand with an impressively constructed look composed of punk accoutrements like spikes, satanic earrings, chains, and a bone. It was an ambitious, if not disjointed, look, complete with a spiked mohawk red wig. Daya abandoned her brand of pop-punk for a glam gold gown-jumpsuit hybrid that was unexpected. Lady Camden offered dark glamour, a far cry from her rave aesthetic, but was a little underwhelming. Perhaps it was the head piece that recalled her “You’re a Winner Baby” runway, and this latest look pales in comparison. Finally, Willow Pill enters in a maximalist minimal look that harkens to her love of 90s fashion. While somewhat simple, it looks like it could have been pulled off the runway of a Todd Oldham show. The top five looked terrific, but it feels like they might be saving their best for the finale, which makes sense.
The reunion opened up with a joke about the lack of eliminations, with RuPaul quipping that she found this cast “so lovable that [she] didn’t want to send anyone home.” It’s always interesting to see how the producers react and adjust to fan reactions once the regular season comes to an end. The reunion and finale give them the opportunity to address issues and recalibrate if needed. For example, they played around with the “it’s chocolate” moments by playing all the queens’ reactions in split screen followed by six simultaneous feigned shocked reactions by RuPaul. On the more perfunctory end of the spectrum, the queens discussed becoming public figures, newfound professional opportunities, and the dark side of the Drag Race fandom.
Other side notes in a rather long reunion special included a few awarded titles (before the finale). Alyssa Hunter was hailed as the trade of the season, followed by a discussion of her relationship status and her preference as a top or bottom (the show still can’t seem to acknowledge the existence of vers people). She rightfully asks if there is some kind of check or trophy—alas, maybe in season 15. Kerri Colby earns the title of narrator of the season, sans check or trophy. However, she does seem like a contender for Miss Congeniality next week. Finally, during the toot or boot section, Maddy won the second annual Golden Boot, presented by LaLa Ri, for her Glamazon Prime design. Maddy also shined in the reading challenge, which gave those eliminated before the library opened a chance to read their fellow contestants. Alyssa, June, and Orion made valiant efforts, but the best reads came from Maddy and Kornbread.
The bulk of the reunion was divided between “Clash of the Queens” and more heartwarming sojourns. The latter started with the early elimination of Kornbread and how her relationship with her family has improved culminating in their attending one of her performances in South Carolina. She also discussed her coming out as trans, which was a highlight of the reunion and season. After a checkered past in relation to trans contestants, this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race shattered a lot of barriers with the inclusion of Kerri Colby and the subsequent announcements of Kornbread, Jasmine, Bosco, and Willow as identifying as trans.
On the other side of the inclusion spectrum, the cast discussed the presence of Maddy in the competition. The first heterosexual cis male to enter the workroom, Maddy was a flashpoint of debate before the season even began. Surprised by the deep polarization of her participation, Maddy was pleased by a percentage of the fandom and a whole of the cast. She also used her platform to denounce toxic masculinity, homophobia and transphobia. Maddy also bravely called out RuPaul for her own rampant heterophobia by placing two design challenges close together and eliminating Maddy, a straight queen from Arkansas, before a southern soap opera challenge punctuated by incessant fart jokes.
Just when the reunion might have become too heterosexual, it quickly focused on queer love connections of the season. The first and obvious one being between Angeria and Lady Camden, who radiated an intense chemistry from the first episode. While expressing attraction and admiration for one another, they were relatively coy about the future but seemed open to exploring where it might lead. The other romance, relatively hidden from the camera, between Jorgeous and Orion was slightly more awkward. While the other queens were aware, it was hard to discern if it was anything more than companionship brought on by the scarcity of confinement. One thing that was certain: Jorgeous doesn’t answer text messages promptly. Finally, Kornbread and Willow illustrated the possibility of soulmates in platonic relationships. The only unanswered question was where does this leave the friendship between Angeria and Willow that was hammered so hard in the last episode. Overall, it proves that this cast holds each other in high admiration and for the most part seemed to get along and formed lasting friendships.
That said. A large part of the reunion was devoted to a segment called “Clash of the Queens,” divided into four parts. Three of the four managed to feature Jasmine, who, besides Kornbread’s reactions throughout, proved to be the star of the episode. The first clash was between Kornbread and Jasmine. Early in the episode it was established that Jasmine likes to talk more than listen and it was Kornbread who finally vocalized the cast’s palpable frustrations. This fight was fairly resolved during the season with Jasmine commending Kornbread for bringing the issue to her attention. On her end, Jasmine made a good faith effort to correct the behavior and win over the majority of the cast.
The second round lacked resolution. The clash between Daya Betty and Jasmine (and a little Jorgeous) ran all season long. While proclaiming to have no regrets, Daya eventually broke down into tears as the tensions escalated. Jasmine, who fully stood up out of her seat, took issue with Daya’s words throughout the season. It seems that the feud was exacerbated by the airing of the season and the fact, despite saying many things to their faces, Daya also complained about Jasmine and Jorgeous in confessionals, which would have been new information to them. Jorgeous acutely surmised that the issue stemmed from what felt like a lack of respect. As other queens weighed in, the focus turned toward how each contestant handles themselves differently with the stress of competition, and while Daya’s words were hurtful it was not an excuse for fans to attack anyone. The tension between Jasmine and Daya remained despite an end of episode mea culpa from Daya. It was left with the familiar idea that even family fights.
Jasmine’s final appearance in “Clash of the Queens” revolved around a fight with Maddy in Untucked. It was amusing to have them rehash a fight that quickly escalated, but that neither was exactly certain of the reasoning. While both felt it had to do with being disrespectful and dismissive of the other, they ultimately came to an agreement that it was fueled by miscommunication and neither held an ill will toward the other. It also prompted a hilarious interjection by Willow Pill, who said this was the moment she really knew she had made it onto RuPaul’s Drag Race. The final clash featured Bosco and Lady Camden in a fight that was fully resolved during the regular season. However, they truly made peace by having a fight about how much they love and respect one another on stage.
While the episode rightly featured earlier eliminated queens, it concluded by refocusing on the relatively quiet top five. Each were asked about their lowest and highest points of the season. For her low, Angeria referenced the infamous Snatch Game, and for her high, basically every other moment in which she managed to truly impress RuPaul. Bosco took solace that her low point, being selected by the entire cast to go home, was tempered by her ability to read her fellow contestants. Daya cited early elimination as both her low and high point, as she took that rock bottom moment and transformed it into the fuel that propelled her to the top five. Lady Camden revealed that her appearance in the girl group challenge will continue to haunt her, but that her ability to go from perceived underdog to winner of three challenges was her greatest moment. Willow, who was perhaps the quietest of the episode, lamented that her lowest moment was Kornbread’s early exit and her high moment was her Spaghetti bath talent show performance, which also happened to be when the world fell in love with her. RuPaul closed by Reunited highlighting the stakes of the finale and providing insight into the format. From the very same stage in Las Vegas, the top five queens will perform solo numbers before the top two are selected to compete in a lip sync smack down for the crown and a freshly increased cash prize of $150,000.
- It was impressive how many storylines Jasmine managed appear in. Is she the drama of season 14? Is she the star of season 14?
- Kornbread’s reactions were the best part of Reunited.
- Using the stage of Drag Race Live was a smart decision. The production value was excellent and everyone looked terrific.
- Do you think Bubly should get some money back after they decided to launch a new beverage during Reunited?
- A highlight was Jorgeous feigning confusion about Daya’s science test analogy, after already joking that she can’t read because she’s a didn’t finish high school. Everyone loves a deprecating, self-aware queen.
- I think the clash between Daya and Jasmine lands somewhere in the middle of the scale of Farrah-Valentina to Farrah-Gia Gunn.
- The real race may be for Miss Congeniality: Deja or Kerri?
- Can’t decide which was the funniest interaction between June and Maddy: June saying Maddy can’t bring up February because it’s Black History Month or Maddy saying June’s outfit was an OSHA violation.
- There should have been more about Bad Boy Baby. I really want that trio to tour or release an album like the Frock Destroyers.
- The loser of season 14 is Symone (who was the last queen to earn $100,000 in stead of $150,000).