Y’all know I have been bitching about this unending season for weeks now. But I have to tell you, not only did I really enjoy this Final 4 episode — especially impressive since F4 episodes are usually pointless — but it really helped to bring me around to this season overall. I do think this is a good Final 4, and 3/4 of it are especially strong.
As expected, the final challenge was a RuMix, this time to a completely new RuPaul song, “Lucky.” At first I did not care for the track overall. It’s just such a wildly different vibe from what I expect from Ru. But upon subsequent listens, I found I really enjoyed it. It’s cute, it’s super catchy, and it continues to normalize the phrase “pussy on fire,” which I have to stan. Here’s the video, which I think is absolutely adorable:
So how did each queen do?
GottMik: Mik slayed this, and put out easily one of the best verses here — arguably the BEST verse. This will be the last time I underestimate GottMik’s performance abilities. They have continually shown us that they’re able to act, do comedy, do impersonations, and in this video they laid down some great lyrics with a strong delivery. I had said going into this episode that I didn’t feel as though GottMik was being treated as a serious contender for the crown. But between this video and the incredibly charming interview they did with Ru and Michelle, plus the emotional conversation Ru and GottMik had on the runway, I absolutely think GottMik has a very real shot to win this. I would be thrilled. Not only would it be MASSIVE for the trans community to have that kind of representation in the Winner’s Circle, but GottMik has EARNED it. Their two wins were in two of the most important challenges, I would probably have given them the win for this challenge (there was no winner), and I thought they could have easily won one or two other episodes. They have had a very strong run. Their fashion — what they were known for entering the competition — is actually almost an afterthought for me at this point. (That said, I loved the runway look — check out Photo Finish below for more.)
Kandy Muse: I continue to find myself enjoying Kandy more and more. Kandy herself mentioned in her interview with Ru and Michelle that a turning point in the competition was after her explosive fight with Tamisha Iman, when she went outside, collected herself, and realized that she fought too hard to throw this opportunity away by being — and I paraphrase — a cunt. I think she was being sincere there, and her behavior shifted almost immediately. I do find her likable now, even endearing. I will not go so far as to say that I enjoy Kandy as a performer, but I respect that many people are drawn to her in a very powerful way. I don’t get it, but I’m not sure it’s for me to “get.” I think there’s a significant generational component here. I think younger people — the TikTok generation — resonates with Kandy. If I had to guess, it’s because they’ve just accepted that people who demand attention are deserving of attention. And that’s Kandy in a nutshell. She is unapologetically loud, she is brassy, she is impossible to ignore. I just wish there was something in there that I found charming or funny or unique. For me, I do not see it. But man, the producers/editors do. How many weeks has The Hilarious Ross Matthews (TM) had to tell us, “Kandy, you’re so FUNNY”? If you have to keep telling us that, something is wrong. But because production has pushed her so far — I think they’ve pushed her harder than any contestant since Pearl in Season 7 — with her generally failing to distinguish herself in the competition, tells me that we all need to accept that it is still a very real possibility that Kandy wins this. She really is very popular with certain chunks of the fandom. She is beloved by the actual Ru Girl community. Production clearly loves her. I think any true fan of this show needs to do themselves a favor and acclimate themselves to the idea that Kandy COULD win this if she pulls out Sasha Velour-level lipsynchs in the finale. Let me remind you: Trump 2016. Think about it.
Rose: Rose delivered the other super-strong verse and easily the strongest performance in the video. She is, as Ru said multiple times, the Total Package. She can sing, act, dance, she is reliable, she is a professional. While we have certainly had skilled stage performers as winners — Jinkx Monsoon obviously — I think Rose is different in that her magic is in her technical abilities. She hits the marks, she knows the lines, she DELIVERS. She also has the (largely manufactured) underdog story going for her, working her way up from the Pork Chop squad to being invisible for the first third of the season (incorrectly) to dominating the last stretch. That’s a trajectory the producers want…except tell that to Bimini Bon Boulash. My gut tells me that Rose ends up either runner-up or a lovely second alternate, because despite one of the best statistical runs in franchise history, a Rose crowning would not be as emotionally satisfying as honestly any of the other options. Yes, even Kandy. And I think producers want that emotional apex.
Symone: And nobody will give a more emotional payoff at crowning than Symone. Symone, who had her heel on the neck of this competition since she basically walked in the work room, is now being set up as a dark horse. That is quite the narrative feat. It is true that she has struggled the past three or four weeks, but all of that feels genuine to me — I don’t see any manipulation on behalf of the editors there. Her verse was among the weakest in “Lucky.” I give her the slight edge over Kandy in that I can actually understand most of Symone’s lyrics. But it was not strong. She looked incredible in the video, and that runway moment for her — my god. Just exceptional. But what really makes me think Symone is back to the likely winner was her emotional arc for this episode. I have said that I’m not sure what “new” Symone brings to the Winners Circle, but this week, I got it — she brings heart and soul and vulnerability in a way no other winner has. There is such a pure, lovely, open quality to Symone that is so, so special. She can also act, do comedy, and good lord is she the most ravishing beauty to ever grace that runway, with IMPECCABLE style. But she is relatable. She is so human. That is something I think is very attractive to producers, and I think they’re going to want that in the Winner’s Circle.
Of course, we don’t yet know the format for the finale. Will it be Lipsynch for the Crown? Will it be individual lipsynch exhibitions like last year? We’ll find out in two weeks. If we’re talking lipsynchs, I think our strongest performers here are Rose and Symone — both strong lipsynchers but in very different ways. If it’s based on creative solo projects like last season, I don’t think you can count out GottMik. And if it’s strictly a popularity contest, I think it goes Symone > GottMik > Rose > Kandy, although those last two flop depending on who you talk to. It’s anyone’s game this time, and for as long and frustrating as this season has been, I find myself surprisingly engaged in how it all turns out. So good on the Final 4 for really turning things around this episode.
Speaking of the Final 4, here’s this week’s Photo Finish fashion review with special guest Curtis Creekmore! Both of us not only review the looks, but give our takes on how we think the finalists stack up. Make sure to subscribe to the YouTube Channel if you haven’t yet, as we have lots more original content coming up:
And how are you doing in our Fan Pool? Score maven Michael Schwarz has already updated the scoreboard, which you can check out HERE. No more polls for the rest of the season! It’s going to be a nail biter to see who takes home the prize package (which I should really figure out in the next few days…) I will say this: both Kevin Dillon, who won LAST season, and Joey Armon, who won the UK2 pool, have graciously agreed to defer the prize package to the next-highest-scoring player, so don’t let those standings dissuade you too much.
Have you joined our Drag Race Down Under pool? We finally have a premiere date — Saturday, May 1 — and your picks for the season are due a week before. Make sure to sign up now! We’ll also be putting up a pool for Espana as soon as they officially announce that cast/premiere date. (I’m hearing it’ll also be in May.)
NEXT: The reunion! Mostly virtual! Music videos from the dolls! IT IS TWO AND A HALF HOURS LONG. Get your snacks ready now.