Determined to keep this season of RuPaul’s Best Friend Race as cordial as possible, the girls return from Alexis’ elimination full of praise for her performance and remorse that she is gone. Sasha laments how badly her fallen sister wanted to make the Top 3, as if there were contestants this season being like “I really hope I get booted sixth.” (Then again, we’ve had three lip syncs where someone just gave the fuck up, so I guess some of the girls really didn’t want to make it to the end.) On the other end of that spectrum, we have Shea, whose substantial four-win track record means that she could sit on the mainstage doing a crossword in a RuPaul Sucks t-shirt and still make it to the next round. (Not that I think she’d ever do that. This is Slay Coulee we’re talking about! It’d be a RuPaul Sucks bathing suit.)
The ladies begin the next morning the same way I begin every morning: with a primal howl to the heavens expressing an indefinable, uncontainable mix of complex emotions. Little do they know that by calling the queer corners, they have performed unintentional bitchcraft and summoned the spiritual essence of every woman who went to her high school prom with a closeted gay friend, Michelle Visage. This grim spectre does not take lightly to being pulled from the interdimensional strip mall in which she resides, and thus punishes the poor souls before her with a series of rites that they must perform. Corroborating the translations of the ancient texts, she states that the blood pact they now share can only be undone by performing the Three Gay Humiliations: writing a verse to a lesser RuPaul single, learning choreography from an insufferable YouTube star, and discussing painful memories on the “What’s the T?” podcast. Satisfied that she has struck fear into the hearts of her new minions, the demon queen vanishes in a puff of Bath and Body Works Cucumber Melon fragrance mist.
As the only competitor to have released an album before the race got started, Peppermint has no problem writing snappy lyrics or laying down a killer track. Beyond skill and charm, she brings a great deal of professionalism to her recording session, managing not to laugh at the preposterous image of Todrick Hall surrounded by gold records. (I’m giggling just typing it!) Her interview about keeping her gender identity separate from her drag career hits exactly the sad but ultimately uplifting and empowering tone that the hosts hoped for, but Ru does not give her a congratulatory Squatty Potty because all discussions of bathrooms are inherently transphobic. The podcast and recording also run smoothly for Shea, even if her pen was writing checks that her mouth couldn’t quite cash with that rapid-fire rap. Part of me wishes that she had gone all the way and just started speaking in tongues right into the mic.
Resident weirdo Sasha goes for smart spoken word art, which confuses resident basic bitch Todrick. He’s all, “what if this was a Disney parody instead?” and she’s all “I would have to turn off three quarters of my brain to even be able to explain this to you.” On the podcast, RuPaul has the good taste not to reduce Sasha’s complex drag to a single exploitative origin story about her mother’s untimely death… JUST KIDDING that’s totally what she does. Full disclosure: my mother died of cancer over a decade ago, and it remains the only reason I do anything. I’m writing these recaps in her honor. Cast me on Season 10! Trinity is the only contestant who really struggles with the recording session, though she avoids a full “I’m here to make it clear” debacle. And her interview more than makes up for it, as it gives our Nightmare Empress, the Devourer of Sorrow the chance to impersonate a dead relative that she has never met. The bad taste is so powerful that I almost physically taste it. What a shame that this happened after her verse had been finalized, because “Bitch, you don’t know my grandma!” is a catchphrase that Ms. Taylor could really sell. She does not receive a Squatty Potty because no one is sure where her post-surgery anus ended up.
And Trinity’s trials aren’t over yet: her rocky dance rehearsal reminds us that Barbies have a limited range of posing options. She and Sasha both assure Todrick that they will learn their steps later, partially because they need more time to practice and partially because they’d prefer to stop talking to him right now. “I’m gonna go run through this over there… could someone else deal with him for a sec?” Peppermint is no stranger to production numbers: she came out of her mother’s uterus by descending a lit staircase flanked by backup studs. And Shea has actual dance training to support her. Like, she can do a triple pirouette, so let’s shoehorn one of those into the choreography even though it blatantly doesn’t fit.
But any implication that someone might struggle with this number is abandoned during the actual performance, which shines with the white-hot light of a thousand Anderson Coopers having passionate carnal relations with a thousand Dwayne “The Rock” Johnsons. The slayage is so intense that it banishes the sorrow on which the Tear-Eating Wraithmother feasts. “Silence!” she bellows. “Gaze upon your past and weep for me, chattel.” Each contestant dutifully obeys, crumbling under her ravenous gaze. Still, she is unsatisfied. “The people have enjoyed your pageantry too greatly. WE MUST UNDERWHELM THEM.” At her ominous command, one of her own mediocre singles plays, and the captive contestants are forced to shuffle their way around an overcrowded stage in a vain attempt at weaving straw into gold.
Her hunger for others’ discomfort finally sated, Ru rewards us all: there will be no elimination this week. All four queens will have a chance at the crown. And if the Reddit spoilers are any indication, this finale is gonna be so good it leaves me hospitalized. I’ll be starting a GoFundMe page soon to offset the medical bills.
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