I’ve been gushing over this franchise for a few weeks now, but this episode made me realize specifically what makes me enjoy it so much. It’s not the challenges, or the performances, or the runways — although there have been highlights in all of those areas (especially runways). But what’s really special about this season is the interactions between the queens, and the interactions between the queens and judges. I cannot think of another cast that has been this open and caring about one another, or judges ever seeming this universally invested in all of the queens in the competition. Ru certainly has her favorites, and you can tell. But Supremme DeLuxe seems to be Going Through It every elimination, and the regular judges as a whole are almost willing these queens to reach their fullest potential. I love it. None of these queens feel disposable, at least not since Inti quit the show. Every elimination since then has been difficult for both the judges and the other queens. There’s a real heart to Espana that is lacking in some of the other franchises, and I hope that never changes.
This week, we had two key challenges: the Everybody Loves Puppets reading challenge, and the Roast. I will be a contrarian and say that I actually do not care for the puppet challenge. Almost every time it’s deployed most of the queens suck, and we only get one or two genuinely funny bits. That was especially true here, as Sagittaria and Dovima Nurmi BOMBED. Hard. Sagittaria, I think, got in her head — a recurring theme this episode, as she is obviously uncomfortable with comedy. Dovima came in with plenty of material, especially about former roommate Sagi, but ultimately stopped rather than risk seriously upsetting her. “I’m a bitch, but I’m not an evil person,” she said in a talking head (or something to that effect).
I’ve seen speculation that Dovima’s behavior this episode was highly calculated. She knew she would get hate from the fandom for being a bitch — and she is, there’s a solid chunk of viewers ganging up on her for her treatment of Hugaceo Crujiente — and her balking in the mini-challenge and that iconic moment later in the episode were just stunts meant to take the heat off of her. I suppose that’s true. But we’ve seen Dovima pull back before. After Episode 1, when she narrowly avoided elimination and was cheered on by her fellow competitors, she conceded that she was putting on a bitch front and playing a character, and she very quickly set that aside in favor of making genuine friendships. (Except with Hugaceo, whom she legitimately did not seem to like or respect.) Her behavior overall this episode seemed much along the same lines for me. She came in deliberately playing the evil bitch character, probably because she knew it made for good TV, but ultimately she couldn’t deny that she actually liked and cared about almost all those queens. It’s like the ending of every Care Bears episode. Love and friendship saved the day (or the Dovima). So, from my perspective, if Dovima was putting on any charade, it wasn’t the nicey-nicey stuff she did in this episode with Carmen Farala and Sagittaria. It was amping up her bitchier qualities to get camera time.
I also want to take a moment to address something I’ve seen in the broader Drag Race community on social media. There are a lot of nasty comments out there regarding Dovima, dismissing her talent and saying some pretty shitty things about her as a person. I do not understand how you can dislike someone for being a bully, and then turn around and bully that person online. If it is the behavior you have issues with, look at your life, look at your choices. If it’s the person you take issues with, how is berating them on social media going to have any positive impact? All fandoms have toxic elements, but this one in particular is getting out of hand. (Fun fact: one of the big Drag Race subs on Reddit is literally shutting down for several days in the next few weeks because the community has become so vitriolic that the mods have to set up an elaborate new set of guidelines and protections. That’s fucking sad.)
Anyway, Carmen won the puppet challenge and was given the ability to order the queens for the main challenge, a roast of the judges. Carmen initially intended to go first, but after a poor reception in her check-in with Supremme and the comedian guest mentor (I’m sorry I didn’t catch his name), she opted to put Killer Queen in the first slot, herself in second, Sagittaria and Dovima in third and fourth (both were terrified of this challenge), and Pupi Poisson in last, as everyone knew this was her challenge to crush.
Except she didn’t. Pupi choked. The jokes weren’t very funny, and skewed a little mean, especially when it came to Supremme’s ears, which are apparently a sore subject for her. It wasn’t a full-on flop, but I thought she was among the weakest. Sagittaria came out and was doing a great job, but froze on one particular joke and completely unraveled after that (this may be me speculating, but the joke she was delivering was very similar to a joke Carmen had already made, and I wonder if she had a moment of panic). Dovima had a clever conceit, that she was nearly blind and writing in her diary about the judges, who she was trying to identify over the preceding weeks. Her issue was that the wig she was wearing was constantly in her face, throwing her off. Other than that, I thought her set was pretty funny. Carmen and Killer easily did the best, both playing characters — Carmen as a ditzy model and Killer as a lawyer pleading her case.
It was a toss up between Carmen and Killer for the win, I think. But what happened on the runway likely swung it in Carmen’s favor. The theme was Night of 1,000 Rosalias. I know of Spanish music artist Rosalia, and I have heard a few of her songs. I could not begin to tell you if the looks on the runway were authentically Rosalia or not, so I’m just going to say — a lot of red, and then whatever the fuck Pupi was wearing, which I guess was a direct reference to one of Rosalia’s videos. (I still thought it was awful, I’m sorry. I love Pupi but her style is, frankly, more cringe than camp.) Dovima was the most basic on the stage in a black skintight outfit that was apparently a reference to a VMA outfit worn by Roslia. But she told the judges that it was in fact Carmen’s outfit. She and Carmen brought basically the same look, and when Carmen realized that she set about creating an entirely new outfit in the work room in mere hours. When Dovima was having issues making the garment she brought work, Carmen told her to just wear the one she brought originally, and gave her the VMA prop she brought. It was an emotional and lovely moment, and I personally don’t think any of that was manufactured. I don’t think Dovima had any illusions she was going to survive that episode, and that story didn’t make her look any better — it just made Carmen look incredible. Even more incredible than the garment that Carmen whipped up in basically no time. (*All the Season 8 queens involved in KimonoGate left the chat.*) In my opinion, this episode set Carmen up for the season win brilliantly.
It should also be said that Killer Queen stripped down her make-up and her outfit and has never looked more lovely. The judges lavished her with praise. Killer is getting a great edit right now as well, but I don’t know if she can match the competitive heat that Carmen is bringing.
Pupi narrowly avoided the bottom, leaving Dovima and Sagittaria lipsynching to Rosalia’s “Aute Cuture.” Or rather, Sagittaria lipsynching, because Dovima refused. She stood there as Sagittaria lipsynched the house down boots, giving everything she had. Carmen was sobbing in the background, the judges implored Dovima to fight, but she would not. At one point Sagi came up and started to dance up on her, and Dovima cracked a smile, and it was a really lovely moment. The music stopped and Dovima explained that she never expected to win the competition, she came in to play the bitch, and that she ended up making friends like she never imagined. Sagittaria deserved to advance more than she did, and she wasn’t going to stand in front of her even a little. I understand why some people think this was a stunt on Dovima’s part but I buy it. Maybe I’m naive. But the emotion that was being poured out all over that runway felt real to me. And I found the whole thing quite moving. So did Supremme, who was visibly crying, and choking up as she bid Dovima adieu.
That leaves us with what I think is a very strong F4 — Carmen, Killer, Pupi, Sagi. We have one more elimination left, and I believe it’s an acting challenge. Who will take the final win? Who will be cut right before the finale? And is that Drag Race Holland Winner Envy Peru joining the judging panel next episode? Well girls, I love to see it.
What do you think of this season? Who do you think will make the finale, and take the crown? Let us here it in the comments!