In approaching this episode, I have some PTSD (Previously Tricked Stress Drag-order). Yes, this is supposed to be the finale, and I can only hope there are viewing parties where people drink every time Chad makes a Hunger Games reference or Ru breaks out a new pun. Still, no volume of tweets from @RuPaulsDragRace was going to convince me that this would be the actual finale until a crown was placed on some queen’s wig. I refused to be duped again.
And I wasn’t. There was no live show (all that tweeting was for… fun?). There was a winner, and she was crowned after conquering a grueling comedy triathlon.
RuPaul wastes no time breaking down the challenge for our girls: an interview, a red-carpet speech, and a stand-up routine. It’s a departure from the choreography-heavy, “dance in front of this green screen for my music video” finales we’ve seen, but a much better judge of a queen’s charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent.
Each girl has some time to run initial material by guest judge Cheri Oteri. The SNL alumna gives honest critiques, mostly that everyone has to start over: Chad is caught reusing jokes (the “Forever 41” pun was made several times during season 4). And by saying she’s a white man living in a black woman’s body, Shannel comes across as offensive.
I’m more bothered by the fact that she didn’t think that allusion through—it’d be a black woman living in a white man’s body. Though with all that foundation, who can tell.
After working out the kinks in their act, our girls hop into Dragmobiles, (really just an unmarked van with a star decal and shimmery pink curtains inside). It’s similar to the go-sees from Top Model, but instead dealing with foreign maps and tut-tuts, the queens have drivers Delta Work and the easily-distracted Ongina (who nearly u-turns at the sight of a hot jogger).
Their first stop is a group interview conducted by E! correspondent Marc Malkin, who tosses some pretty boilerplate questions, like “Why did you come back?” The real challenge was who could speak the loudest and longest. Jujubee struggles to stand out against the white noise that is Shannel talking about herself.
For the second round, our girls head to West Hollywood eatery Hamburger Mary’s, to announce a new burger named in their honor. Each queen lists ingredients like it’s part of foreplay (ooooh, pesto sauce!) and then chows down on said burger while the audience cheers. Raven looks a little too shiny, Chad gets emotional about West Hollywood, and I’ve officially decided to copy how Jujubee pronounces “succulent.”
Burgers and bowties aside, the main event is the standup routine. Jujubee goes first and spends most of her time wearing oversized glasses and impersonating her grandmother. The judges, especially Cheri, like the bit. Chad Michaels makes predictable jokes about budget plastic surgeries and being a drag cougar, but the judges’ only nitpick was she went over time.
Raven really won this one—sharing a story about finding love behind bars with “Anferny.” When she and her man were relocated into a new cell, Raven recalls, all she could think about was “We’re moving in together!”
Shannel doesn’t even bother to correct her “white man living in a black woman’s body” joke and gets appropriately clocked for it. Even super-sweet guest judge Beth Ditto went off on her act. Well, I think she did—Beth’s southern drawl was so strong she sounded like a cockney housemaid.
Back on the main stage for the runway challenge, Chad Michaels serves us Katniss realness; it’s like she’s come full circle form her entrance line, “Happy Hunger Games, bitches!” The look is flawless, but the judges completely miss the literary reference. Or maybe the Logo legal department finally put the kibosh on referencing someone else’s intellectual property? Whatever. It’s a missed opportunity for Panem double entendres: “My district’s uprising.” “Where does she put those poisonous berries?” “She kills with arrows—and ass!”
Jujubee wears a pretty blue dress and ordinary shoes. She’s done so many stunning looks, it’s a shame she didn’t pull out all the stops in the finale. But hey, at least it isn’t what Shannel wore.
For some reason Santino did not hate that she came out looking like a parade float that drove through a discount furniture store. The judges classified this Cirque du Soleil-inspired lobster as “pageantry.” I’m just shaking my damn head.
The judging is quick, decisive: Ru eliminates Jujubee and Shannel in a blink. And while the Shannel move is obvious, it still stings to see Jujubee eliminated. Based on the number of retweets and reblogs, she is clearly a fan favorite.
So it’s down to Raven and Chad Micahels to lip synch for their lives to RuPaul’s “Responsitrannity.” Raven definitely pulls the most focus, but that’s because she busts out more moves—including the robot! Chad stays consistent, solid, and—yes, I’ll say it—safe. When the performance is over, there isn’t one word of commentary about it. Usually, we at least have a queen off to the side giving her opinion on who is winning, but not a peep is peeped.
There was just the decision to crown… Chad Michaels.
Hooray! I guess?
This is a fair decision: Chad is a rock-solid queen who has delivered all season and, despite having an anchor for a partner, won three of the five challenges. But when the hall of fame exploded with sparkles and her picture (oh, that terrible press photo) appeared in the frame, I was just overwhelmed with a resounding… meh.
Perhaps I’m still just holing out for Pandora Boxx.
On Untucked: Ru visited the Interior Illusions lounge for the first time ever to have an Oprah moment with the finalists, asking them about their deepest fears and regrets. Also, we learn orange TicTacs are the main food group in the Drag Food Pyramid.
Jason Sweeten is a contributing writer for Queerty. If there is a second season of All Stars and if there are pairs again… God help us.