This is a recap of Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 13 Finale. Spoilers below.
Symone is here for the throne. From New Year’s Day to late April, we’ve watched thirteen queens across sixteen episodes plus a pandemic special. But season 13 is finally over and the rightful winner has been crowned.
But first Ru opens the show by reminding us that she may be 60, she may have a reality TV empire, she may frack on the side for extra cash, but she’s still RuPaul Charles. She performs her new song “Old Friends Silver, New Friends Gold” showing us her very best.
The finale is once again at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, but there is, of course, no audience. Instead there’s a drive-in screening hosted by season 12 winner, Fenty model, and all around stunner Jaida Essence Hall. But the editing is really sharp and gives the feel of an audience. The finale ended up feeling bigger, not smaller, than previous years — an impressive feat given the limitations.
The next act is a trio of runways with our wonderful top four. The first category is Black and White starting with the pinhead Pandora’s box look that got Gottmik to shave her head. Kandy is wearing a dress that says BLM from her hat down to the hem. Rosé is doing her best Audrey Hepburn and it is… so much. And Symone has her first of SEVERAL perfect looks with a bandana hair piece under giant hair and a giant dress with a giant bustle.
Category two is Red. Gottmik’s look is inspired by Keith Haring. Kandy is in a tight leather dress with headphones and a long ponytail. Rosé is a tree. And Symone is in a dress made entirely of red nails.
The final category is Drag Eleganza. Gottmik wears a dress that shows her now famous nipples and a visible red heart. Kandy is in a peacock gown. Rosé is dressed like the Queen of Scotland. And Symone is half goddess half warrior, her right side in gold armor and a white hair crown on her head.
Ru then speaks to the top four one-by-one, starting with Gottmik. The montage introducing her really highlights just how great she’s been all season. I love Gottmik, but not as much as Ru!! Paris Hilton shows up on video and joins in on the lovefest and Gottmik shares that Paris was her first celebrity client. Then Gottmik’s parents give a whatever message that results in Gottmik saying the very diplomatic: “I’m so happy to see they support me.”
The show moves in alphabetical order so Kandy Muse is up next. Kandy relates to Ru as a Scorpio and brushes off her feud with Tamisha. One of Kandy’s moms pops in with another video message and it’s very genuine and sweet. Kandy says her moms have always been her support system.
Rosé reveals that she got a sprained ankle but says that nothing would stop her from being there tonight. I do believe that as she is part robot. Look, I’ve liked Rosé from the beginning. But I think when things get really competitive she sinks into pageant mode and loses all her charm! That said, the video message from Rosé’s family feels so authentic and a supportive family seems like a pretty good consolation prize for not winning Drag Race.
Finally, Symone. She says that Rihanna is her icon while adding that she’s a mix of Lil’ Kim and Whitney Houston. They chat about Rihanna DMing her, which I would argue is even cooler than winning Drag Race. Ru asks Symone about her drag as activism and she says she always wants to say something and be herself. I really like the suggestion that to be political is simply to be honest about who you really are. She gets a sweet message from her mom and grandma and she says she just wants her mom to be proud of her. The finale family stuff always make me so hungry for more info about what’s going on in all these dynamics!
Ru says that 2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the first reported case of AIDS. To honor that history and the recent pandemic, the top four perform in a music video to Bette Middler’s “Friends” where they’re all out of drag watching themselves in drag fight to be the center diva on stage. Ru then introduces a tribute to Chi Chi DeVayne featuring Bob and Kennedy and so many others. The whole thing was really emotional and I especially loved Heidi talking about how Chi Chi inspired her by being so magnetic on the show even with fewer resources. God what a fucking rough year this has been!!
Finally, it’s time to begin the lip syncs. This year Ru says FREE BRITNEY with a trifecta of songs by the one and only pop icon. Then there’s a video message from Cory Booker for some reason. A real roller coaster of loving Ru and being annoyed with Ru in the span of 30 seconds.
The wheel is spun and lands on Kandy and then spun again and lands on Rosé. THIS SUCKS. Our rightful top two Gottmik and Symone can’t be our top two. Oh well. Kandy and Rosé lip sync to “Work Bitch” — Rosé wearing a glittery pink suit and Kandy in a white leotard. Rosé reveals to a velvet pink jumpsuit and Kandy reveals to a colorful body suit. They’re both great, but while Rosé is the better dancer, you just can’t take your eyes off Kandy. She really is a phenomenal performer and that’s why she is where she is. And she wins! Kandy Muse top two! She and Rosé kiss on the lips and then Rosé gives a robotic pageant farewell. More videos of you giggling with Gottmik, less emotional walls, thanks so much, see you around, babe.
Next up is the most anticipated lip sync of the night! Symone vs. Gottmik! Symone is in a Lakers-inspired warm up tracksuit and Gottmik is in a red flowy baby doll dress. They are performing “Gimme More” and when that was announced I shrieked. Gottmik opens her dress to reveal that her top says “Crash the Cistem.” And Symone removes the tracksuit to reveal a bikini made of Timberlands. They’re both so good!!!!!!! Symone wins the lip sync. Gottmik wins All Stars 7.
Before the final lip sync, all of the season 13 queens are introduced on video and we do not have time to discuss all of their outfits but Denali is dressed like a cactus that left me dehydrated and Olivia looks STUNNING. Heidi walks out to her song “GAP” dressed like a rose to announce Miss Congeniality. And the award goes to…. LaLa Ri! This is so deserved!! Last week’s episode really showed what LaLa can do and I’m so excited for her future. Also all the queens get $2k which is nice.
Jaida then comes on stage once again looking beautiful. It’s finally the moment. Symone and Kandy both look futuristic — Symone in a Matrix-looking black leather coat and Kandy in a white full body suit and sunglasses. They are appropriately performing “Til the World Ends.” Symone takes off the coat to reveal she’s in a very revealing sparkly yellow fringe dress. (Symone showed a lot of body this episode and I am not complaining!) In lieu of an outfit change, Kandy’s reveal was taking out the Dominican flag. Symone has one more trick up her sleeve and by up her sleeve I mean in her hair which opens up with confetti out of her braids to reveal a spinner with more fringe attached. Even without this moment, Symone would’ve won. With it there’s no question. But no one would’ve expected Kandy to make it to the top two and I’m so glad we got so much time with her talent and her heart.
Symone was my favorite before the season began because she’s a Capricorn. Now she’s my favorite — and the winner — for so much more. This has been such a difficult year and I had doubts about whether Drag Race should have even happened. But Symone approached this moment, this opportunity, this platform with such precision. As she said, she was just being true to herself. But within that platitude hides endless challenges that she overcame. And I’m just so grateful we had the opportunity to witness her talents and vulnerabilities this year. Congratulations to Symone, the winner of season 13 and one of the best queens — and people — to ever appear on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Teleport Us to Mars!! Here Are Some Random Thoughts:
+ Thank you so much for reading my first season of recaps! One of my primary objectives here at Autostraddle is to break down the divisions within our community. What unites us as queers is not the genders we were assigned at birth or even who we fuck, but our shared values, interests, and experiences. And I would like to specifically thank Carmen for working with me before the season began to introduce this coverage in the clearest way possible and for waking up every Saturday morning and being my editor. It’s a gift to work for someone like Carmen who is not merely open to new ideas, but who will genuinely match your enthusiasm and give those ideas the support they need.
+ All Stars 6 is coming soon, but it will only be on Paramount Plus so I will not be doing full recaps. Maybe I’ll do mini recaps for BOYT? I don’t know! We haven’t discussed it! To be continued!
+ A reminder to the parents of all faggots, dykes, and transsexuals: You have to love and support your child before they’re on TV. Otherwise it does not count.
+ Ru’s insistence on BRINGING FAMILIES TOGETHER used to really annoy me, but now I just feel sad for her. Forcing reconciliation for other people feels like projection!!
+ Give. Me. Symone. Fenty. Show. Now.
+ Queen I’m rooting for: Forever and always, beyond this show, in all that is next… Symone
+ Queen I have the biggest crush on: Symone (winning is hot)
+ Queen I have weird sexual feelings for that I need to unpack: All of them. Throughout this very long season I started identifying as bisexual and then went back to just identifying as a lesbian and maybe by next season I will identify as something totally different. Maybe men in drag are really just men in drag. Or maybe each of those men has their own complicated gender. Maybe being a lesbian turned on by drag queens is like being a lesbian turned on by straight actresses making out. Or maybe it’s more nuanced than that. What I do know is I love being queer. I love asking these questions. I love constantly exploring. Here’s to being gay, horny, and confused. Here’s to drag in all its many forms.