The lord giveth and the lord taketh away. And by the lord, I, of course, mean RuPaul Charles. After a double save rescuing one of my faves followed by the elimination of my enemy, Ru has left me devastated. And confused.
But first we begin with Elliott’s farewell. Utica says it fuels her soul to lip sync and she is positively energized! A queen has never been so happy to be in the bottom. Symone talks about her runway look and says that her drag is activism. Denali is feeling confident after being in the top two weeks in a row and Olivia is worried she was in the bottom. To be continued.
It’s a new day in the work room and we are… seeing a psychic? Char Margolis talks to the queens and I must say — despite being someone who loves the metaphysical — this kind of pop psychic really bothers me. Saying Tina’s dead dad is there feels super fucked up to me? But I did enjoy when she called out Denali and Rosé for having crushes on each other.
The Covid edition of makeover week is here and the queens are becoming each other. Char has supposedly paired the queens with their destiny and the challenge is to make your partner into yourself. The pairs are: Tina and Rosé, Denali and Olivia, Utica and Symone, and Kandy and Gottmik. Tina complains about being paired with a Scottish caveman as if she couldn’t just dress Rosé like a fireman, tell her to stomp on the runway, and call it a day.
The horniest season of Drag Race continues with a short-lived but palpable flirtation between teammates Denali and Olivia. Clearly forgetting the RPDR makeover principle that the tougher the makeover, the more likely the win, Denali and Olivia seem thrilled to be with another cutie who can fit in their clothes. Their banter is great. I have been in quarantine for over a year now, I have only had sex twice, and I am FEELING IT.
The other pairs are not as delighted. Rosé is confronting the reality that to win she has to look like Tina. Gottmik and Kandy are concerned about their very different bodies. Symone is getting anxious as Utica excitedly explains her high concept — as in, is-she-high concept. And Utica is worried that the B.A.P.S.-inspired look Symone has for her is appropriative. Considering this girl was worried about appropriating Bob Ross, I guess this was to be expected.
The queens chat with Ru and we learn that Gottmik is adopted and has a little sister that isn’t adopted. Gottmik describes her sister as a perfect little country singer girl. Ru asks if Gottmik is interested in learning more about her biological family and she says that chosen family is all she needs. The more time we spend with Gottmik the more I love her. And the way she described her sister and her family dynamic endeared me to her even more. I’m so happy she’s found her community.
Symone asks Ru for her thoughts on Utica wearing her B.A.P.S. look. Ru says, “If you’re coming from a place of love, you don’t have to worry about what people say.”
This response is what I’d expect from Ru, but that doesn’t make it less frustrating. Between the discussion — or lack of discussion — around Utica’s squirrel wig last week and this, I’m really disappointed with the show’s failure to meaningfully engage with cultural appropriation. I understand that Utica means well, but cultural appropriation and blackface shouldn’t be treated as these unpredictable dangers of cancelation. These are things with real histories that cause real harm. People will have different opinions about what’s okay and what’s not okay, but there’s an obvious difference between Utica letting Symone dress her in a look inspired by B.A.P.S. and say… Elliott crediting her taxi look to The Wiz after being accused of racism. It’s maddening to witness Utica’s timidity around wearing hair like white man Bob Ross in the same episode where Raven’s much too dark makeup is left unaddressed. These topics deserve to be talked about with the depth the show approaches other complicated discussions, not waved away with a platitude about love. Clearly, Utica needs the education. I’m sure others do too.
The next step in our transformation is the runway! The pairs practice their walks and it makes for some very good comedy. Denali tries to get Olivia to add a skate to her walk — not literally. And Rosé tries to not be graceful with the commitment of a true performer. “This is not Halloween. This is Broadway,” she says. (Really showing off that BFA!) But the best is watching Symone get Utica to do a serious walk and Utica describing her walk to Symone as “the Da Vinci man” — think arms.
The queens are extremely hyper on elimination day. Between the pairs and the fewer queens, there’s lots of opportunities for workroom discussions. Rosé and Tina talk about learning to be brassier and less brassy respectively. This ends with Tina jokingly getting in Rosé’s face all flirty and saying, “Watch out Denali I’m coming for your man.” Meanwhile, Denali is talking about how she’s inspired by her sixth degree black belt mom?? Olivia is also inspired by her mom, as well as her grandma and aunts, all of whom raised her on old movies. (Add watching old movies with Olivia Lux to our Autostraddle dream dates.) Denali does Olivia’s eyebrows and says, “I live!” Denali is in such a good mood this episode and it makes what happens even more devastating.
There’s another great convo with Gottmik as she explains how her signature mask look started as a way of hiding. The extreme dragness felt like it prevented people from thinking she was a bio queen. She talks about feeling out of place when she was first transitioning because she wasn’t strong and masculine like other trans guys she knew. But observing the femininity in cis men allowed her to accept her own femininity as a man. Shoutout to the faggy trans guys and the dykey trans girls of the world and our beautifully complicated genders.
Loni Love is back as a judge and the runway is a blast! These queens have been together for so many weeks and know each other so well. Each of them gives a loving tribute to their partner and there aren’t really any super obvious losers as far as I’m concerned. But I am a bit confused why Rosé is dressed in a white and green dress instead of Tina’s usual red and orange. And I do agree with the judges that Denali isn’t an obvious stand-in for Olivia. Kandy looks incredible as Gottmik. And Utica finally lets herself be hot as she tries to embody the famously hot Symone.
Ru asks the queens who should go home and they all say Olivia except Olivia who says Utica and Denali who says Kandy. Oh, and I guess Kandy says Olivia and Denali out of spite. The judges are mostly pleased with the runway except for those few critiques. Symone and Utica win. Denali and Olivia are in the bottom. I think it’s really telling that Symone wasn’t even in the top for her look last week, but wins this week when the discussion around race is how Symone and Utica could embody each other despite skin tone, because it’s what’s on the inside that counts. They were great and deserved their win — though I might’ve given it to Gottmik and Kandy — but it’s still telling.
Denali and Olivia lip sync to “Shackles (Praise You)” by Mary Mary. Potential lip sync assassin Denali feels confined by her Olivia dress and wig. They both do a fine job but there’s no clear winner. And since Denali was in the top the last two weeks and Olivia was in the bottom last week, and because Olivia received way harsher critiques this week, it would seem like Olivia would go home? But nope! Denali is inexplicably sent away.
Here’s the thing. Ru did not need to have them lip sync in pairs. The obvious bottom two this week were Olivia and Tina, and when looking at the scope of their work this season it was clearly Tina’s time. Isn’t it a bit concerning that Tina had never looked better than as Rosé and that Rosé looked like Tina because she looked bad?
It’s true that I’m bitter. But it’s one thing to say goodbye to a fave when it’s their time to go. It’s another level of frustration when the choice seems completely out of nowhere. Alas, this is RuPaul’s world and the rest of us are just living in it.
Love you, Denali. If you want to go bi for a non-binary woman confused about her sexuality, DM me.
Teleport Us to Mars!! Here Are Some Random Thoughts:
+ For those of you watching UK, I was equally baffled by A’whora’s fate.
+ Denali is so nice in Untucked. She apologizes to Kandy and just generally does not have the bite we saw early on. It’s like we watched an Aries evolve in real time. Even after her elimination she just seems so at peace. Holding up the notes from the other queens, she says, “This is the real prize.” Her cutthroat competitiveness is what made me fall in love with her, but I’m happy that for her it really did turn into RuPaul’s Best Friend Race. And at the same time she went into total professional mode ensuring people saw the scope of her talents by releasing so much extra content each week — culminating in this video. She’s going to kill it on All Stars.
+ Kandy’s mom has a video message in Untucked! I love when it’s clear a parent’s enthusiasm is genuine. And I love that her main concern when Kandy started doing drag was if drag was profitable.
+ Speaking of Kandy, the judges loved that Kandy defended herself on the runway. And I did too. Love to see that double Scorpio come out.
+ Olivia choosing Utica to go home felt… random. Their romance must be over? I guess all the queens forgot Tina Burner exists. Which, like, fair.
+ Queen I’m rooting for: Symone to win, Gottmik for second
+ Queen I have the biggest crush on: for the last time… Denali
+ Queen I have weird sexual feelings for that I need to unpack: Olivia as Denali destroying Denali
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Olivia and Utica the behind the music what the fuck happened
OK. I fully agree that the bottom should have been Olivia and Tina. I didn’t get Olivia-vibes at all from Denali’s outfit – more Bianca Del Rio. And I am also annoyed with how the show handled Uttica this week. I wish that there had been more discussion that centred Symone rather than Uttica, and I was uncomfortable watching Uttica’s feelings become more central than Symone’s in the limited discussions they showed.
I was also SO GLAD that Kandy brought up to everyone the fact that she and Gottmik had the most SEWING work to do. Kandy is fast becoming one of my favourites. They did a LOT of tailoring on the fly and on a bodysuit that is no JOKE; same for Gottmik just essentially TAKING APART her outfit and rebuilding it for Kandy.
Don’t even get me started on Awhora, I am so upset.
I also think Tina was extremely lucky to escape the lip sync this week.
I love Denali, and this was not her week to go! She has been so gracious about her elimination, both in Untucked and on Twitter since the episode aired. *sigh* I hope she’s back for All Stars 7, and I’ll be so excited to see her perform in Chicago post-pandemic.
The middle of this episode was really great, perhaps the most engaged I’ve felt all season – it was lovely seeing all the queens interact with each other and generally have a fun time. The start and end of the episode can go straight in the bin though!
It is also baffling how Olivia didn’t give Denali a tiny purse… Surely that would have been the very first choice of accessory?
This was my first time being shocked at the bottom 2. I don’t think Denali belonged there because she’s been consistent throughout. (Also, neither did very well with the lip sync!) That said, I don’t think she would have made it to the top 4, and here’s why: Denali’s drag is fun, playful, and cohesive…but that’s it. Her innovations don’t stand up to Symone’s aesthetic or Gottmik and Utica’s artistry. She is an awesome queen but the field is so talented this year and I think that’s why she’s struggled to make an impression.
I hope she and Roze actually do hookup because I loved their flirty friendship!
Loving this recap. I have nothing to add. I always enjoy your articles ♥