Well, on the plus side, anyone who still misses the old Untucked format has now had their edges officially snatched, and has also finally landed on their favorite episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race season nine. In a twist from virtually any prior seasons, the season’s queens are all invited back prior to the show finale for a reunion special the likes of which the show hasn’t really done since season three, when the Heathers and the Boogers sort of called a truce. Of course, when Ru used to close out with audience-free reunion episodes, it happened after the winner had already been crowned. This time around, all of the season’s contestants are dragged into a holding place before one of four queens find out next week which one of them gets named, for the 11th time, America’s next drag superstar. Does that stop them from reading the house down? You’d think so, but that’s not the way this counter-intuitively scheduled cookie crumbles. As it quickly becomes evident that Ru intends to flit from controversy to controversy without any real structure, here’s a match-by-match rundown of all the beef.
The Cast vs. Alexis Michelle’s Gut. Alexis went from the potential top three queen after turning in a flawless Liza Minnelli in the “Snatch Game” challenge to the queen most likely to work every viewer’s last good nerve when she declared her girth off limits in the roast challenge. Like a child who, when they’re about to get caught in tag, immediately yells “time out,” Alexis seemed unable to understand that, yes, maybe Shea Coulée is just as self-conscious about her crooked teeth as Alexis is about her width. Has she learned to let her belly shake like a bowl full of jelly in the face of quips? An impromptu opening of the library leaves some doubt. WINNER: The Cast.
Trinity Taylor vs. Eureka O’Hara. Almost a sidebar, but the reading challenge does give Trinity and Eureka the opportunity to reopen their bitchfest. Eureka tells Trinity she ain’t serving fish, but Fisher Price. Trinity says Eureka is serving fish: whale. Eureka: “I thought I was the big girl, ’til your nose walked in, bitch.” WINNER: A tie for these forever frenemies.
Charlie Hides vs. Britney Spears. Until Valentina vomited everything but actual lyrics on the runway later in the season, Charlie Hides energy-zapped rendition of Brit-Brit’s “I Wanna Go” was among the worst Lip Sync For Your Life efforts in Drag Race history. In her farewell, she pointedly said she sang live in her act, and never lip synced. Now, she’s retconning, blaming a rib she cracked launching Shea in the cheerleader challenge. That could still be the truth, but it still smacks of realizing what the more acceptable explanation is only after it’s too late. Plus, Eureka already snatched that storyline, Charlie. Shea has none of it, telling Charlie what really happened: that she gave up. Ru reminds Charlie that she apparently also had diarrhea. Sasha Velour: “It was a rough day for Charlie.” WINNER: Duct tape, Kaopectate, and Britney. Three great tastes that taste great together.
RuPaul vs. Valentina’s Mask. The most shook moment of the season, and the reunion focuses far less on what actually happened during filming than what happened after the episode aired. Shea and Sasha, who it’s increasingly clear are coming for these girls, roll their eyes at Valentina’s inability to learn a seven-word chorus, but everyone rolls their eyes when Valentina doesn’t immediately denounce the viciousness of her fan base against, in particular, Nina Bo’nina Joan of Arc Brown. “I’m bad with social media,” Valentina offers. Shea, for the sixth or seventh time already this episode, calls bullshit, saying Valentina directly spoke to her when shooting promos for the show, assuring her that she would address her fans about Nina when the episode aired. Which didn’t happen. Eureka interjects that it would be hard for anyone to suddenly have to deal with 500,000 new Instagram followers, to which Shea and Sasha react like they’re in one of the extra good seats in a screening of William Castle’s The Tingler. Jealousy and resentment are thick in the air, RuPaul gets on his soapbox about “everyone gets a trophy” culture, and Valentina accepts that she got a telenovela ending in a great episode. WINNER: Everyone suddenly feeling buyers remorse about voting Valentina “Miss Congeniality” a dozen times.
Princess Disastah vs. Linda Evangelista. With little doubt, the greatest single outburst of the year came from perpetually rough-around-the-edges Aja, who during the Untucked episode of the princess challenge came after Valentina’s Linda Evangelista looks with piping hot sarcasm. “I don’t want to say I read her, I just aggressively complimented her.” Take a note, all other queens: That’s how you play defense. Charlie informs that everyone else in the room at the time were sharing a silent “Amen” about Aja’s digs, and Valentina’s reputation suffers yet another blow. WINNER: George Michael’s “Too Funky” video, which damned well better be a runway challenge next season.
Nina vs. The World. You know what? We’ve been down this road too many times. WINNER: The World, and Shea checking the timestamps on Nina’s social media posts. Call her Sherlock Homo.
Miss Congeniality vs. The Real T. In assessing the “Linda Evangelista” moment, Aja said she loves Valentina now for being beautiful. But apparently calling Valentina “Miss Congeniality” represents one more bridge to far for Brooklyn’s most pugnacious and foundation-avoidant queen. Aja flips out with “Are you kidding me?!” brio at the coronation, and it isn’t long before that dazzling strip of wallpaper Farrah Moan joins in, accusing Valentina of only being friendly when it benefits her. The queens decide the award is actually “Fan Favorite,” not “Miss Congeniality,” and Valentina deserves a second award for managing to maintain a pretty face, because inside her soul must be melting like Nazi heads at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. WINNER: Lashauwn Beyond, because this truly is not RuPaul’s Best Friend Race.
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