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Monday, February 28, 2022


Right on time, RuPaul’s Drag Race season 14 is hitting that midseason slog. If last week was a breath of fresh air with unexpected twists and turns, this episode loses some gas.

It starts promisingly enough, kicking off with the fan-favorite Library reading mini-challenge. The gals don’t disappoint, firing barbs at Kerri’s frozen face, Angeria’s overlong surname and Bosco’s complexion. We even get a little drama when Jasmine accuses Daya of being two-faced. (It blows over like the Daytona Wind later when Jasmine confronts Daya about something Daya said mid-rant during Untucked a few weeks back.)

There are a lot of strong reads, but Bosco steals the show. She ends on a mic-dropping moment that ropes Mama Ru into the gag. The joke boils down to Ru requesting all the remaining queens serve as pallbearers at her funeral on the catwalk, that way they can let her down on the runway one last time. Brava! Ru rightly gives her the win.

It’s the high point for an otherwise disappointing episode. It’s another group challenge, this time writing lyrics, choreographing a routine and recording vocals for a Drag Race take on 1960s girl groups. Just to further chum the waters, Ru leaves the gals to cobble together their own teams and claw for their song choices. All that’s missing is Daya shouting ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? and a colosseum (sponsored by SweeTarts Sweet Ropes!).

The queens immediately start making bids for the tracks. Willow, Bosco, DeJa and especially Daya vie to be part of the trio performing “Bad Boy, Baby.” No stranger to being this season’s villain, Daya really digs in her heels. When one of the milder-mannered queens suggests Rock-Paper-Scissors to resolve the conflict, Daya flat out refuses. Is this squatters’ rights? Occupy Werk Room? Is Daya Betty the Mitch McConnell of Drag Race? But before Daya can go full filibuster, DeJa relents.

It turns out to be worth fighting for. Daya lands in the ShangRu-Las with Willow and Bosco. The trio worked together in The Daytona Wind, and they all have a similarly sharp (and twisted) sense of humor. They infuse the lyrics with a naughty little story about falling for a creepy stalker. Maybe it’s because the challenge wasn’t really structured for the verses to tell one cohesive narrative, but, for whatever reason, their lyrics don’t quite gel the way they hope.

Still, props for at least attempting to do SOMETHING. Couple that with Willow’s secret choreo talents, and the group shows out. Daya especially shines, never dropping character. After weeks of slowly simmering resentment, Ru finally gives her a win.

Despite surrendering a spot in the winning track, DeJa does OK for herself. As the clear lead of the Runettes, DeJa is serving full Ronnie Spector fantasy. She nails the hair and eye makeup, but she also looks the most comfortable with the choreo — as she should, since she choreographed the number. She even delivers a strong vocal for someone who claimed not to be a singer.

Then again, next to her partners Jasmine and Jorgeous, DeJa sounds like Adele. Watching Jorgeous record vocals is truly torturous. At one point, Michelle turns to the producer and simply squeaks, “Help.” Jorgeous knows it’s bad and repeatedly gives the camera a panicked look like this is a very special episode of The Office. It’s so bad, they eventually let her just talk the lines on the track and never speak of it again! She literally couldn’t complete one of the core aspects of the challenge, and she was still safe! I love Jorgeous, but that just doesn’t seem fair.

It strikes me as a particularly egregious act of favoritism when Jorgeous’s partner, Jasmine, isn’t afforded the same courtesy. She’s only a marginally better singer than Jorgeous, but she gets no get-out-of-singing-free card. Instead, her caterwauling makes the track, and she seems uncomfortable and distracted during the performance. It lands her in the bottom two this week.

The final group is tasked with honoring Ru’s favorite, The RuPremes. Angeria assumes the lead, having incorporated Diana Ross into her shows back home. She’s got the energy and a solid voice, even if dancing isn’t her strong suit. The bright and breezy performance snags Angie a top spot.

Last week’s winner Lady Camden isn’t as lucky. Her restrained choreo (designed to benefit her partners Angeria and Kerri) handicaps her strongest assets. It’s not very memorable, and the judges put her in the bottom for fading into the background. I’m surprised they don’t clock her makeup for the performance, because I think she looks terrible. It was as if they replaced one of the Supremes with an old crone. Or Madame. Or an extremely dehydrated Miss Richfield 1981.

That leaves poor Kerri. She discusses her tough Christian upbringing in the Werk Room, which barred her from most secular music and popular culture. It’s impossible for that not to be a hindrance in a competition where having a wealth of references is the most valuable currency. Even younger viewers who couldn’t tell their Chiffons from their Shirelles have still had a lifetime of references to draw from. That’s got to be a driving reason behind Kerri’s struggles here. She just can’t quite muster the effervescence needed, and instead she infuses the number with a manic, gospel energy. Considering her upbringing, it’s just what she knows, and, sadly, it lands her in the bottom two.

When the lipsync against Jasmine begins, it’s not clear if Kerri picked up her dance moves at church or RuPaul’s School of Dance, because she is sleepily step-touching like a true Super Model of the World, mawmaw! Even when Jasmine loses a shoe and her garment barely clings to her torso, Ru has to declare her the winner.

It’s sad to see Jasmine send Kerri home after they bonded over their experience with gender on last week’s powerful episode of Untucked. Kerri’s departure wasn’t unexpected (nor unwarranted), but she will be missed nonetheless.

The playing field gets tighter and tighter each week. How is your personal top four shaking out? Check out our rankings below, and leave yours in the comments!

1.      Even when safe, Willow remains my top pick. She revealed this week she’s been hiding a secret talent: she’s a choreographer. We know she’s smart, funny and creative. We know she can sew. And she can move? Willow may be unstoppable. What I love most about this unique young queen is how she always has a delightful surprise up her sleeve. This week’s panty-dropping Heart-On runway was so fun.

2.      It’s neck-and-neck with Angeria, especially after Angie did such a strong job emulating Ru’s idol, Diana Ross. I’ve been humming her catchy little “My baby, he’s the one for me” lick ever since I first saw the episode. I wasn’t nearly as taken by Angeria’s look on tonight’s runway. It was … bizarre. Part Sia, part Cruella, part Meredith Marks, it was a lot! I wish the wig had a cleaner blunt cut. The choppy ends just looked sloppy.

3.      Bosco seems primed to breakout any week now. She slays every assignment and, perhaps more than any other queen in herstory, she has an ability to sniff out all the unspoken references in the material. I can easily see her slide right into the top three under the radar without facing a lip sync.

4.      You can’t deny Daya‘s dominance this week. She was unquestionably the strongest of any group, and her neon futuristic punk runway was this week’s most memorable. It’s nice to see her doggedness finally pay off, but with still so much race left, can she maintain this intensity to the end?

5.      I mean, yes, Jorgeous was a flop in this week’s challenge, but does it even matter? When she’s good, she’s so very, very good, Ru seems content to change the rules to keep Jorgie around. She was excused from the singing portion of this week’s challenge. Why not just let her sit-out choreo? Walk the runway in flats? Ultimately, we know the final challenge always includes a verse on a Ru track, and I’m not sure Ru loves Jorgeous enough to share a Spotify credit with the Bobcat Goldthwait of Drag Race chanteuses.

6.      This may be a harsh ranking for Lady Camden, but when I went to list the queens in my notes, I honestly forgot her. It’s the exact criticism the judges levied at Camden this week, and it’s a bad sign. Camden needs more big, bold swings. That’s what won her so much praise last week.

7.      Deja was a top performer this week, but I still struggle to see her make it to the end. It just never feels like she’s mixing it up with the likes of Willow, Bosco, Angeria and Daya.

8.      Where was the Jasmine that ripped Maddy limb from limb on that runway a few weeks ago? This lip sync was limp. Maybe she just never recovered from losing her heel, but I found the whole thing deeply disappointing. She was never going to be able to sing, but she could’ve done what she did with her Southern accent previously and leaned into the absurdity for the recording. There is something special in Jasmine, and I still think she could bounce back from a few rocky weeks, maybe with a strong Snatch Game.

9.      Kerri has been barely holding on for a few weeks, but once she turned the corner with the waistband of her stockings showing, it was all over. The runway looked unfinished, incomplete. It’s actually a testament to Kerri’s beauty, charm and star power that she made it this far despite what seems like a fairly limited skillset. She’s still left quite the impression and can leave the Race with her head held high.

What did you think of the episode?


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