Shocked and dismayed after the elimination of DeJa and Jorgeous, the queens return to the workroom as a newly minted top five. Willow notes the historic nature of this double elimination: it is only the third time in Drag Race herstory after Honey Mahogany and Vivienne Pinay in season five and Dax ExclamationPoint and Laila McQueen in season eight. Daya, for one, is less flabbergasted. She anticipated a double elimination considering that there were still seven contestants so close to the finale. While not surprised, Daya does confess to being terrified about a second, and possibly definitive, elimination after lip syncing against the person who sent her home the first time and the season’s lip sync assassin. After the surprise of losing both Jorgeous and DeJa, the top five immediately start to size each other, trying to predict the final four.
RuPaul enters the workroom with the final challenge; suddenly sweet and sentimental, which is slightly unnerving, but signals the shift in tone of the season when they start reminiscing about their journey to the crown. The final challenge is complex as RuPaul reveals they will be a part of his music video for Catwalk, inspired by George Michael’s “Too Funky.” The queens must write and record their own original verse, learn a choreographed dance routine, design a performance look, and try to make RuPaul and Michelle laugh and cry during a Tic Tac chit chat. Daya summarizes it best when she says this week’s challenge is about “expressing ourselves in our truest forms.”
The queens start to write and design. Willow plays things close to her chest refusing to share lyrics. Bosco muses abstractly about channeling Linda Evangelista through her devilish persona. Despite Angeria’s natural singing ability, she decides to rap. She seems excited but hesitant about the prospect. Lady Camden designs a rave inspired look, which she argues is her “signature” look. Daya, well, Daya remains as delightfully competitive as always. The energy in the workroom is that any of them could be in the top four, but that one of them will have to end their dream.
While they all agree it could be any combination of top four queens, Angeria is particularly focused on making it to the top with Willow. This episode is peculiarly invested in exploring the friendship between the two, and while it has been mentioned before, it seems like their friendship developed more off-camera than on, making for an odd pivot. Planting the seed on this narrative thread pays off by the end of the episode though, at least offering a sense of drama and reward, but it’s still a strange addition. If there was any particular set of best friends forever in season 14, it would be Angeria and Lady Camden or Willow and Kornbread.
The Tic Tac chit chats are really designed for the queens to show humor, heart, and humility in the presence of RuPaul and Michelle. Like an interview portion of a pageant, each queen must present themselves authentically, reveal their motivation and obstacles, and reflect on their performance in the competition. After an excellent Basic Instinct reference, they discuss Bosco’s trajectory. Nearly cast away a few episodes ago, they note Bosco’s ability to snap back into the competition. She’s also surprised herself by excelling in comedic challenges. RuPaul starts with some direct honesty when he proclaims he didn’t foresee Daya in the top four. Daya, however, knew it would happen. Her overall narrative has been about laser-focused competition and this drive has served her well. Daya also shows a softer side, discussing her diabetes diagnosis, and through this softness she showed her particular strength as a competitor. Perhaps the best at an assignment like this, Angeria uses her natural charm to win over the judges while discussing how she wants to make her parents and her drag kids proud. Willow, like Daya, spends time expanding on her illness and challenges. Like Daya, Willow has gained strength from the ordeals and shares that her drag comes out or a dark place and her desire to conquer death. The conversation continues to get deep when Lady Camden discusses the loss of her brother and the reasons she left England.
On shoot day, each queen discovers their designed look waiting for them at their work stations. After getting into drag, they arrive on set to find Michelle and their choreographer. Even before the rehearsal starts, Angeria seems nervous. As they get deeper into the routine, Angeria continues to struggle, which worries Willow. Doing the group number, Angeria misses most moves but manages to hold it together with her presence. The queens film their solo segments. Willow and Bosco trade jabs discussing their performances. Willow is hopeful that Bosco’s performance look will negatively distract from the lyrics. Bosco, on the other hand, notes that Willow is disconnected in the face (which one wonders is just her natural resting face, and which can be used to great effect, as in “Bad Boy Baby Baby” and against her, as it was here). Angeria struggles again when she misses a note from Michelle that Daya quickly capitalizes on. Overall, there was very little time spent on the making of the music video, which felt like a disservice to the episode.
On elimination day, the queens reminisce about their first impressions of one another. On the main stage, RuPaul walks the runway in one of the season’s most potentially polarizing looks. The garish colorblocking and quilting recalled Maddy Morphosis, but it’s also kind of amazing.
Fittingly for the episode where they decide the final four, the four permanent judges, RuPaul, Michelle, Carson, and Ross, preside over the critiques having seen the development of each queen. It feels like an almost ceremonial moment signaling the ending of a very long season.
“You’re a Winner Baby” runway theme is a showcase for each contestant’s best signature drag. Channeling a 1950s burlesque star, Bosco presented a beautiful and on-brand look. While the bust didn’t exactly fit, it was a nearly pitch-perfect look. Angeria’s asymmetrical tiered black look felt disappointing. It felt trapped between pageant drama and stark simplicity, and in the end, it was neither. The judges seemed taken with it, though likely due to the typical end-of-season sentimentality blinders being put on. Daya, on the other hand, nailed the assignment offering her unique take on a crowning gown. It was a strange juxtaposition of southern debutant and singed punk. It was a look only she would wear, as was her marvelous performance outfit, presumably inspired by Bettie Page. In perhaps the best look of the night, Lady Camden was a stunning ice queen. This and the tutu look make me wonder why she bothers with the rave aesthetic, when this is Lady Camden’s ultimate form. Willow, per usual, gave the category a shocking and inventive spin, appearing as a beautiful pageant mouse.
After the debut of the music video, I was wondering why so much of the production was left out. In an episode filled with so much rehashing of past trauma, sad stories, and the producers’ pathological desire to see contestants cry, it would be more dynamic to see the queens compete. All the work it took to create that video was lost in favor of the queens talking to pictures of themselves.
The judging revolved around three parts: the actual challenge, the queens’ season trajectory, and their final runway look. In the latter category the judges are pleased, but found Willow’s performance in the challenge tentative and lacking in presence. They continue to focus on the idea of Bosco rising from the ashes of defeat after revealing the golden bar. Angeria also didn’t excel in the challenge, confirmed when RuPaul asks, “Did you have fun?” They compliment her final look, but it doesn’t feel authentic. One thing that is agreed on is that Angeria exudes poise and charm. Daya is praised for putting her own spin on the look and the performance. Likewise, Lady Camden’s way with movement earned her a top spot this week. The judges praise her kooky creativity throughout the competition and in her current look, but found her disconnected in the performance. In a tight race between Lady Camden and Daya, Lady Camden is declared the winner. Bosco is safe. In perhaps the most dramatic bottom two of the season, we have none other than Angeria and Willow.
This is a frustrating bottom two. It is probably accurate, but these are two of the best competitors. They won early challenges, but have consistently remained in the top (perhaps except for Snatch Game). The friendship they discussed earlier in the episode is really shown during the lip sync. They both wink at each other as they start performing to the Lady Gaga and Beyoncé duet “Telephone.” They both have an uncanny ability to combine choreographed moves with comedic flare. It’s difficult to determine an actually winner, as it seems equally matched, and they both deserve the top four so much. Angeria is declared the winner before Willow is also declared a winner with RuPaul saying “gold bars for everyone.” The second double save of the season. I don’t know how many non-elimination episodes I have complained about, but the show proved me wrong: this is a necessary double save. A final four, or, correction, final five, just doesn’t make sense without Angeria or Willow… and Bosco and Daya… and Lady Camden for that matter. Thus, for the first time in Drag Race herstory, there will a final five competing of the crown.
- How on earth does Willow only have one win?
- No Make-Over challenge?
- I would gladly trade in the talking to a picture of your younger self for the return of the puppet challenge.
- One take away from this season is that the real star might be the camera work. The music video made it clearer, but this season has a lot of experimentation with camera placement and movement.
- It is strange that Daya didn’t do that well in the reading challenge, but her calling Lady Camden the “female gremlin” was the best read of the season.
- Do you think one of the producers is named “fate,” because that’s the only way the Bosco golden bar makes sense.
- The finale should just be Snatch Game – Round 2
- My top four remain: Angeria, Bosco, Daya, and Willow. I’m equally happy about Lady Camden being there too.