Let's Talk 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Season 10, Episode 12: American
The Final Four faced off in a showstopping main challenge that demanded they write, sing, dance, and slay. Then, there was a four-way Lipsync For Your Life to determine who would make it to the finale. Plenty of recipe for drama and thrills. Why was this episode so damn dull?
Todrick Hall returned to run the queens through the ringer on a challenge in which they had to add a verse to RuPaul’s new track “American.” (Now available on iTunes!) Here was a chance to write lyrics that displayed their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. But that’s not all that Ms. Hall demanded. Each queen was then given difficult choreography and a string of backup dancers. And hanging over the whole affair was the wise words of Mama Ru: Don’t Fuck It Up!
Episode 12 managed to find some drama. Asia O’Hara and Eureka had an early screaming match over the latter being overbearing. It seems Eureka is maybe getting a late villain edit, as her aggressive encouraging of Kameron quickly spun into a dismissive “fuck all these hoes” in the interview room. As much as the judges love this season 9 alum and her big bold return, the show seems to be turning on her, pointing out Eureka’s need to be heard, in charge, and cajoled. (Somewhere The Vixen is grinding her teeth.)
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Aquaria gets the idiot edit. Blind confidence has been her greatest ally this season. It’s helped her win three challenges (the most of the contenders) and make it to the top four. But when her “sketchy vocals” spur Hall to cringe like someone’s running nails down a chalkboard, Aquaria chirps that it all went great and he was really impressed. Look. Maybe she pulled it together and we just weren’t shown that. (The final track sounded fine.) But in amping up the drama, the edit of this ep leaned hard on Aquaria being a deluded twink.
But none of this mattered in the end. The big “American” number was spectacular. But it wasn’t really a challenge in the sense of a competition. No one won. Everyone performed in Lipsync For Your Life, yet no one went home. Confined by their stunning and presumably very expensive evening wear, the lipsync was a tame affair, involving lots of strutting, but little dancing and no stunts, risks, or gag-worthy bits. It really was just glossy b-roll to play behind the “Why I should win” interviews.
Basically, this was a very expensive and glitzy recap ep intended to establish each finalists strengths and weaknesses going into the finale. So, here they are.
The only New York queen left standing is the clear frontrunner, boasting the most challenge wins, never being in the bottom two, and some high praise from Ru. Before the show, Aquaria was an Instagram look queen. On the show, she rolled out so many eleganza looks that RuPaul has dubbed her one of the top 5 fashion queens the show has ever seen, comparing her to Violet Chachki, Detox, Raja, and Chad Michaels. And notably, three of those queens took home the crown.
Not discussed by the judges but made clear in the edit is that Aquaria is a bit of a ditz. She’s confident. Knows her fashion. But being America’s Next Drag Superstar is also about persona. And what does this girl have to give beyond looks?
This Texas pageant queen has been more than pretty on the stage and in the challenges. She’s brought surprise and wit with her Tweetie Bird gown and had the judges cackling when she brought the butterface. In this ep, the judges called her a “seasoned” queen, praising her work, her affability, and essentially saying she’s earned her way to a big moment. But something Asia has that the others don’t is her mother vibe. Ru notes that Asia is a strong, inspiring member of the LGBTQA community, and how she brought that strength to the competition. I almost wish they’d cut back to her exchange with The Vixen about Eureka, because for me that will go down as one of the best moments this show’s ever had.
Using her win as a platform, Asia would be a fantastic spokesperson for the queer community. She’s not as consistently fashion-forward as Aquaria. But she’s delivered a slew of looks that slayed and she’s been thisclose to the win again and again. This ep sets up that one good day could see Asia stride past Aquaria to snatch that crown.
The judges love this comeback queen. Injured in a challenge in season 9, this Tennessee contender came back ready and maybe overeager to make friends and thrive. She brought glamor and humor that’s consistently wowed the judges. Eureka’s drag is vibrant and accessible, like a commercial Divine slathered in Southern charm like gravy on a biscuit. That’s not a read. That means she’s a very marketable winner, especially as RuPaul’s Drag Race faces its widest audience ever, being on VH1. And the judges recounting of her tale sets the stage for a phoenix arc. She rose from the ashes of an injury that could have ended her career. Now might she be the first plus-size queen to win the crown?
The trouble is Eureka’s big personality might be best in small doses. All season long other queens have complained about her loquaciousness and volume. In the workroom, she seems far more interested in being heard than hearing others, which has caused heated fights on the show and in Untucked, rubbing some fans the wrong way. But you don’t need to win Miss Congeniality to win the crown.
This body-building queen started off safe and silent. She’s struggled in challenges, winding up in the bottom two thrice. But this reserved and studly contender proved a lipsync assassin, surviving to chantay another day. The judges are often enchanted by Kameron’s runway and the booming charisma onstage that speaks louder than she would ever dare. But this Tennesse hottie’s checkered past on the show isn’t what concerns the judges. Its her meekness.
The winner needs to be a star who can shoulder the attention that comes with it, and be a positive representative and inspiration for the drag community. But in the podcast part of the challenge, Michelle Visage told Kameron point blank that her silence has kept us from getting to know her, and by extension, being able to love her. That was how she failed in last week’s Evil Twins challenge. But in her tender lyrics for “American,” it seems Kameron finally managed to open up. Her story of feeling lost in a little town spoke to judge Ross Matthews, and likely many viewers at home. But will it be enough to impress Ru?
👏 CALL 👏 ME 👏 MOTHA 👏 @aquariaofficial @asiaoharaland @eurekaohara @kameronmichaels @rupaul @michellevisage @carsonkressley @helloross @todrick @rupaulsdragrace #DragRace #DragRaceFYC pic.twitter.com/RBPlyF3ZXa— World of Wonder (@WorldOfWonder) June 15, 2018
Next will be the reunion episode. In that, each of the remaining queens will have a brief chance to course correct and cement their brand ahead of the big finale. For Aquaria that means showing she’s got something going on behind that beat to filth face. For Asia, it means shining flawlessly and not getting caught up in the inevitable squabbling. For Eureka, it means showing some self-awareness and maybe offering a few apologies. And Kameron needs to let that reserved mask drop and trust us with the real her. But real talk? Much of that ep will be about Vanjie, the queen long gone but not forgotten.
Who are you rooting for? Are you #TeamAquaria #TeamAsia #TeamEureka or #TeamKameron?
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