Season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race comes to a close Friday. The four-month-long season had countless twists and turns, so I thought it would be best to recap — or “Rucap” — the many highlights before the finale.
The season started off with what fans called “RuPaul’s Stanford Prison Experiment.” The queens entered the Werk Room and were brought to the stage where they were forced to lip-sync to avoid “the Pork Chop.” Normally called “the chop,” which indicates elimination, “the Pork Chop” meant the group of queens who lost wouldn’t actually be sent home.
Out of the thirteen queens, seven got “the Pork Chop,” splitting up the winners and losers.
Personally, I love a reality competition twist, but this season felt like RuPaul woke up and decided to psychologically abuse the contestants. The queens were already nervous enough due to the pandemic — as the season filmed last summer — so crushing their dreams five minutes into the season was pretty cruel.
The winning queens assumed they had cut the season’s competition in half, but the losers were sent to the “Pork Chop Loading Dock.” Here, they eliminated one from their group by a vote, choosing Elliott with 2 Ts, who left promptly — or so they thought.
Episodes two and three featured queens serving iconic looks and writing original verses to some of RuPaul’s songs.
Each episode focused on a different team, with episode two featuring the winning team from episode one, and episode three focusing on the losing team. Elliott with 2 Ts joined the group of winners in the second episode, and no queens were eliminated on either night.
When watching the challenges, I immediately took a liking to “Phenomenon,” a RuPaul original. I now stream it on the daily because the queens’ verses on the show were so catchy. I find myself muttering lyrics, singing, “Tamisha Iman is coming for you,” or “pretty, witty, vocals down.”
After three weeks without elimination, the groups reunited. The losing queens were confronted not only with those who had originally been eliminated, but also with Elliott with 2 Ts, who they thought they had sent home after episode one.
A lackluster acting challenge followed, parodying Hallmark holiday films. The episode ended with a fantastic lip-sync between Denali and Kahmora Hall to Crystal Waters’ “100% Pure Love.”
The race continued with RuPaul conducting the “Ball Challenge.” The season’s category was “The Bag Ball.” The queens served three looks and tensions were high. I mean, Tamisha Iman’s fight with Kandy Muse was so dramatic, it picked up a nomination for “Best Fight” at the MTV movie and TV awards.
Utica’s look in this challenge should go in the Drag Race Hall of Fame — it even got Vogue’s attention. Conversely, LaLa Ri’s outfit was one of the biggest flops I’ve seen. She was given the golden boot, a reunion award for the worst look of the season.
It soon became time for the Rusical challenge. This season, the queens sang in a musical about social media.
When the challenge was first teased, I thought the theme would be corny. I was right. I appreciated the musical theatre references, but when adults try to poke fun at social media, it comes off poorly.
Rosé snagged her first win. Front-runner Symone and fan favorite Kandy Muse landed in the bottom two. But, in a high energy lip-sync to Fifth Harmony’s “BO$$,” neither queen sashayed away, keeping elimination at bay for the week. Evoking the double-save was unnecessary. I love them both, but Kandy was the rightful winner.
Next was the most quintessential competition in Drag Race herstory: Snatch Game. The queens brought their best celebrity impersonation for a match game parody. Gottmik snagged her second win for her Paris Hilton impression. And for the third and final time, Elliott with 2 Ts was told to sashay away.
The following week featured the makeover challenge, where queens were paired together by psychic Char Margolis and switched drag styles. Utica and Symone came out on top after swapping their polar-opposite looks.
I loved seeing how each queen’s aesthetic was translated onto each other. This task was unique because it really emphasized to viewers the individual identity of each of the queens, making them more distinct and special.
In episode 12, Kandy Muse scored her first win at the Nice Girl’s Roast, where the queens were challenged in roasting the Miss Congenialities of past seasons. While Kandy Muse scored her first win of the season, Utica bombed the roast, sending her home.
Utica’s roast will go down in history as the most iconic performance ever, but for all the wrong reasons. She called everyone fat and even joked about RuPaul wearing sweatpants instead of a dress behind the judges panel — to which RuPaul gave Utica the middle finger.
Many queens sashayed away over the episodes. Four remained last week: Kandy Muse, Symone, Rosé and Gottmilk. They wrote verses to RuPaul’s song “Lucky,” which they performed and served on the runway. No queen failed miserably, and the song is pretty catchy.
None were eliminated before the finale, but it still remains to be seen who will snag the crown.