As a run-up to next week’s two-and-a-half-hour finale extravaganza — that’s one hour of the actual show, one hour of reunion, and a half-hour of spin-off Untucked — last night’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race wasn’t just a regular installment of main stage action, of course. Rather, it was “The Main Event Clip Show,” a sprite look back at the highs and lows of the season. In that vein, rather than just a straight-up recap here on PopWatch, let’s take a look at the highs of last night’s episode. Because, honestly, can you truly recap what was essentially a recap show itself? Here goes:
• That dramatic opening! Talk about, as RuPaul would say, an “eleganza extravaganza”! J’adore the ridiculous heightened-ness of it all — RuPaul amongst balloons, belting diva anthem “Main Event” from her latest album. It was the perfect launch, dripping with silly decadence. But honestly, RuPaul is always werquing in some product placement, what with it being her own song, right? A gurl’s gotta eat, but more on that in just a second…
• Pandora’s casting tape! Of course, the episode featured clips from the audition tapes of the nine eliminated queens, but whose am I going to single out as the most entertaining? C’mon, that’s not even a question if you’ve been following my coverage of the show this season! Pandora Boxx’s, of course! Which was drop-dead hilarious. As if the fact that Pandora began interviewing herself weren’t funny enough, I died when she smeared the screen with Vaseline, playing off the long-running joke that RuPaul has her camera lenses doused in the stuff so she always looks amazing. That joke — it’s true! — will never get old. And neither will you, Pandora.
• The return of Ongina, Chanel, and Bebe Zahara Benet! RuPaul enlisted three of her favorite queens from the inaugural season to help her count down the season’s “Top 10 Unforgettable Fits and Fashions.” I was living for the spotlight on Mystique’s split-tastic run on the show; Tyra’s delightful three-in-one country outfit; and the bit on Tyra vs. Tatianna, the season’s infamous take-down on the main stage. But I thought it was most hilarious, and fitting, that the number one spot on this Top 10 list was RuPaul herself! The three returning queens slotted her in the top spot for her runway fashions, which were truly to die for. (That rocker-chick look from a few episodes back — OMG!)
• The discovery of Bebe Zahara Benet’s single! During the Top 10 portion of the show, Bebe Zahara Benet — prompted by RuPaul, of course — mentioned her own single, “I’m the S—.” I must have missed it when it was released late last year, but goodness, it’s quite a dooooooozy.
• The catchphrases! Of course, no recap show of Drag Race would ever be complete without at least a quick spotlight on the show’s genius catchphrases. They hit on all the long-running faves — “Don’t f— it up!” and “The time has come for you to… lipsync for your life!” — but I’ve become more obsessed with a new one that has seemed to emerge this season: “Are you going through some psychological changes in your life?!” I can’t even begin to try to get the intonation of of the phrase right with words, but if you saw the show, you get it.
• Jujubee, Tyra, and Raven’s backstories! Now, I’m not sure if an exclamation mark was appropriate there because in the show’s focus on the three finale-bound queens, we delved into their rather sobering backstories, including the death of Jujubee’s father and Tyra’s childhood in the Orlando projects. But, I think what made this part of the show fascinating is how, despite adversity, Jujubee, Tyra, and Raven (pictured above during next week’s reunion special) have so managed to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and fab themselves off. Kudos to them all. That does, indeed, deserve an exclamation mark!
• RuPaul’s final pimping of her products! I said I’d circle back around to this, but again, RuPaul is the most masterful when it comes to shilling her own products. I don’t know why, but it tickles me so. Maybe because she’s so upfront about it? Like, it’s not some veiled attempt to work her book and music into the show that fails — she just straight-up told the viewers that they should buy her stuff, ending the show with a tweak on her usual denouement catchphrase: “If you can’t love yourself,” she said deeply, “then how in the hell you gonna buy my album and my book?” Well played, sista!
What’d you think of the clip show, Drag Racers? Living for RuPaul, as always? Loving the deep-dive into the season? Or, are you just going through some “psychological changes in your life“?!?
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky
More on RuPaul and ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ on EW.com: