There were at least two occasions this season when I would have appreciated a double shantay. This episode was not one of them.
I get ahead of myself. The episode started with the Final 4 — Bimini Bon Boulash, Ellie Diamond, Lawrence Chaney, and Tayce — engaging in the puppet challenge. The puppets were all adorable, and there was some charming moments. Ultimately Bimini won, which seems to be something of a trend at this point. I am fine with that.
Her prize: assigning the roles in the main challenge, soap-opera acting in “BeastEnders.” Bimini is destroying this competition, so she had no reason to deliberately sabotage her competition, unlike some other queens I might mention. Each queen got the part they desired. Bimini herself took the busted, desperate pub owner. Ellie got the elderly secret slut. Lawrence got the aggressive butch. Tayce was her wannabe sister.
The result was probably the most overall satisfying acting challenge we’ve seen on Drag Race in a long while. Everyone performed well, and there was a LOT of script here. I don’t know if they normally cut these challenges to shreds in the editing room, or if they just had more time to work with since there are no commercials on this series. But I felt like the overall “BeastEnders” segment went on for a solid 10 minutes, with each of the queens getting moments to shine. And it was also funny! I actually laughed out loud. When was the last time an acting challenge on this show made you do that? I mean, laugh WITH the challenge, not laugh AT it?
The runway theme was Panto-Dames, a nod to the British pantomime scene, something I think most American viewers are probably unaware of. It’s a fascinating cultural relic and I urge you to look into it. I thought all of the queens looked beautiful, although none really blew me away (second week in a row for that), and Tayce kind of sidestepped the challenge by going for a panto fairy. For a full rundown, check out this week’s Bird Watch, featuring guest judge Bob Erlenback!
The judges — including Mickaaaaay, the mannequin who played a supporting role in “BeastEnders” and an instant Drag Race icon — overall were impressed with the challenge. But they critiqued Lawrence for getting into his head during the challenge (another recurring theme), Ellie for playing her character way too straight, and Tayce for not really doing the runway challenge. That left Bimini our winner once again. If you’re keeping track at home (and you should be), Bimini has won FOUR of the past FIVE challenges. We have never had any queen dominate the back half of a season as decisively as Bimini has done. To call it remarkable is a dramatic understatement.
But I do think it’s fair to point out that at this point, her competition isn’t exactly stiff. Lawrence was a contender early in the season, winning two of the first four challenges, and placing high in another. But since the queens returned from COVID lockdown, Lawrence has been almost a completely different person/performer. Even the challenges that Lawrence should have mastered, like stand-up, were a struggle. In this challenge Lawrence ended up Safe/High, but even then, it was not a great look. Lawrence came off as flustered, lacking in confidence, and still combative with Ellie. Not endearing.
That left Tayce and Ellie in the Bottom 2, lipsynching to “Last Thing On My Mind” by Steps, which is…definitely a song that exists in this world! The lipsynch was solid. Overall it must be noted that the lipsynchs in Season 2 have been far stronger than the lipsynchs in Season 1. But was it GREAT? No, it was not. Both queens acquitted themselves well. They gave energy and attitude and both gave us some tricks. They were fighting, to be sure. But I was…whelmed. That’s as much as I can say. And yet, Ru decide to spare both of them, keeping the Final 4 intact going into the finale. I’m really not sure why.
My assumption is that they wanted four verses in the final RuMix challenge. Because there is absolutely no way either Tayce or Ellie is winning this season. There is a 0 percent chance of it. There is a better chance that I will wake up tomorrow morning and renounce my sinful nature, and give up carbs, dairy, trash reality TV, and dick. These are things that will not happen. Ellie has zero wins, and I would argue has had the same number of iconic moments on the mainstage. Tayce has one win — shared with three other queens — and has lipsyched FOUR TIMES, three of them in the past three episodes. And she has not exactly been laying down Coco Montrese level performances. So why bother dragging them both to the finale?
Because they need to pad out what is, in my opinion, the most forgone conclusion to a finale since at least Bob’s coronation in Season 8. In my mind, Bimini has already won this. Their post-COVID track record is stupendous, they have received a terrific edit, the fandom loves them, and they have a storyline we have never seen in this franchise: from worst in the first episode to juggernaut by the finale. Super compelling.
Bimini’s only real obstacle is Lawrence, and I just don’t see that happening. Lawrence has struggled intensely in the past five weeks, and the edit has not been kind. If Bimini has had zero flaws examined, every foible by Lawrence has been magnified and amplified. I’m not saying that is a distortion of Lawrence’s performance — it all seems consistent to what we saw in rehearsals and on stage — but the editors are doing her no favors. If Lawrence had a shot at the crown, they would be painting her in a much softer light. It’s possible that Lawrence could come into the final challenge, obliterate it, and get a last-minute redemption arc. But it’s a singing and dancing challenge. *cue sad bagpipes*
Tayce is a fashion queen who has been giving the runways flesh wounds instead of murdering them. Charismatic in talking heads, great narrator. I would even go so far as to say she’s clearly a star. But Tayce is a great queen who is just not great at Drag Race. Ellie is probably the least-deserving member of a Final 4 in franchise history. At least Scarlett Bobo, Pearl, and Rebecca Glasscock won challenges. Not Ellie. Nice kid, obviously talented, puts out a generally pleasing level of drag. Final 4 in a season this stacked? I don’t think.
Next week: all the queens are back for the crowning (yes, including Ginny and Veronica)! Who do YOU think will win? And if the answer isn’t Bimini, what is the number of your drug dealer? Does he/she do contact-free drop-offs?
And how are you doing in our little pool? CLICK HERE for the updated scoreboard! No more polls. The only way to gain points in the finale is via your winner/bench picks, and the Bird Watch fashion review. Who will be taking home a UK Prize Package? The suspense is killing me. I hope it will last.
Also, don’t forget that we are launching a Drag Race Down Under Fan Pool! No premiere date yet, but I expect the show to debut at some point in April. Please join today, and tell all your Drag Race-loving friends to join as well!