‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Recap: 12 Queens And Masked Man Make History With First-Ever Good Zoom Call
If we go off screen-time alone, Rock M. Sakura's more likely to win S12 than Jaida.
Season 12 keeps pulling it off: no matter what they’re thrown, these queens shine. Since March, we’ve all wondered how Drag Race would film its reunion and lip-sync finale, and while the latter’s a TBD (five Zoom lipsyncs for three queens?), the reunion signposts that the show knows what it’s doing.
The socially distant format worked fairly well for this crop of queens, partially because there’s (seemingly) little animosity between them. Sure, there was some rehashing of non-existent drama — Gigi vs. Heidi, Nicky vs. everyone who said she should go home — but nothing like last year’s #wiggate. In keeping with its slumber party theme, it was mostly a cozy love-in.
And where previous years have filmed the reunion after the finale, this probably wasn’t — or, if it was, none of the top three betrayed a disappointment or resentment this episode, as per Asia and A’Keria in past years. This time last year, it became obvious that Yvie would take the crown, both from the top four’s attitudes and the edit, but there were no real hints this episode.
Crystal arguably got the most screen time, but only because it was impossible to not watch Miss Rip Van Winkle. Then it was Gigi, with Jaida at a third: it probably means nothing (and, to be honest, I think both Gigi and Jaida will probably out lip-sync Crystal).
Having said that, there’s something about Gigi’s quips about her braces and little jokes about missing Crystal. It’s this blend of pop-culture savvy that Ru loves with a kind of hyper internet-culture literacy as well — something old and new, dressed in blue.
Hell, if we were using screen-time to guess who’s winning, you’d probably put Rock M. Sakura ahead of Jaida. As the second out this season, Rock knew she had to make an impression this episode — it’s her last direct chance with the show’s audience, and she came out strong, packing as many jokes into the hour as possible.
It was hard seeing her go so early, but she was also super emotionally fragile on her short time on the show, bringing a lot of baggage from home.
But it seems that Rock’s relationship with her mother has shifted, and that the Drag Race fanbase has been supportive of her raw moments (including, as Jackie Cox alluded to, one incredibly raw NSFW moment at San Fran’s BDSM Folsom fair, which you can Google at your own risk/pleasure). If she’s interested, I’d love to see her on S13, akin to Shangela, Vanjie or Cucu: she has a lot more to show than we saw.
As an aside, it was also lovely to hear Jackie Cox’s mother is supportive of her drag career, though the show is obsessed with an idea of acceptance that feels very anglo-centric, and we wonder how Ru would’ve acted if she hadn’t told her mum. The pushing of Kim Chi to come out to her family comes to mind.
Others didn’t fare so well. Things ran a little bit slower, which meant that all the queens didn’t get to answer questions directed to the whole group — but they were probably left on the cutting floor for a reason.
Still, there was a little bit of fluff, and energy lulled whenever some queens were on screen. We spent a lot of time with Nicky Doll for some reason, who didn’t really have much to say — same with Dahlia. It’s an awkward format, to be sure, and it’s difficult when these two didn’t necessarily have much in the way of a plot line to reflect on.
It’s clear Ru quite likes Nicky Doll, having enlisted her to do Pete Davidson’s make-up on SNL. And, to quote Scarlett Envy, the feeling’s mutual, as Nicky gushed about the life advice Ru gave her on-set. For all of Ru’s faults, what we wouldn’t give for her to analyse our flaws and frack away at our schemas…
Speaking of flaws, a lot of people seem a little upset with Ru’s look this episode, where she wore a bizarre facekini and purple Justin Bieber hoodie. Putting aside that Ru doesn’t tend to drag up for the reunion, she’s not with her makeup team at the moment — and we all know, from that Project Runway pic, what it looks like when Ru does her own face.
Still, it’s odd when she could’ve done the face mask look we’ve seen before on the show. If I’d hazard a guess, I reckon there was some sort of joke about how she was wearing an ‘experimental Korean face mask’ or something that they cut. Anyway, I loved how non-sensical it was, even if it’ll haunt my dreams.
Everybody Say Love!
Meanwhile, Brita, Widow and Aiden all ran with their ‘redemption’ moments, which the show offers as some minor form of duty of care. Widow explained losing steam during filming due to a lot of internal walls, Aiden joked about being a ‘bedroom queen’, and Brita addressed the way she treated Aiden, apologising without distancing herself from her behaviour.
Considering Brita received death threats this season, it’s nice the reunion took the time to remind the audience she is a person who was a little mean, but not a villain. Her attitude to Aiden was shitty, but people act shitty when they’re stressed or insecure — if Aiden can move on, so can Drag Race‘s audience, right?
We also finally had a reading challenge (though this does happen most reunions) — and most of the queens were very funny. It’s a shame we didn’t get one in the actual show, but at least we’ll always have Brita’s all-time read of Dahlia coming 13th in a 12 queen season.
Which brings us to the absence of Sherry, which was alluded to but never talked directly about. It’s unclear what, exactly, there is to say: it was probably smart to leave it out. Once the queen’s NDAs end, I’m sure we’ll hear more about the behind-the-scenes mechanics.
And while we’re on mechanics, next week’s grand finale will feature five lip-syncs. We’re more confused than Jeff Goldblum about Jackie’s cultural identity: maybe it means each queen will lip-sync once alone, then in a top 3, then a top 2? Or each queen will vs each other (J v G, G v C, J v C), then two three-way lip-syncs with a point system???
It’s exciting to have both no idea how it’ll work and who will come out on top, for once: who knows, it could even be a three-way tie. Anus-thing is possible, especially in S12’s love-in. Maybe Crystal and Gigi will open up their (very fake) relationship to Jaida, and become the show’s first drag queen throuple?
Derrick Barry and Nebraska Thunderfuck will not be pleased (but I, uh, have a feeling that they’ll already be pretty disappointed by All Stars 5).
While we’ll take it, it’s a bit of a shame All Stars starts immediately after this season. These queens have had a rough crack at fame, to say the least, and haven’t been able to book the gigs that will pay for the outfits they bought for S12. Hopefully, we haven’t moved on in a few months — they’ll be competing for attention with the Canadian queens too. When it rains, it pours: thanks Gaga.
Still, the S12 queens are out here creating history — right off the back of creating the first-ever good Zoom call, they went and hosted the second when the superfans from the makeover challenge and the top five had a reunion. My heart.
I absolutely adore each of them!! S12 is the best season and no one can tell me otherwise!! pic.twitter.com/4xrGAYfJK4
— Shea Smelser (@sheasmelser) May 23, 2020
RuPaul’s Drag Race is streaming on Stan, with new episodes dropping each Saturday 1pm. All Stars 5 and Canada will also be on Stan as they air, starting June 5 and July 3, respectively.
Jared Richards is Junkee’s Night Editor, and a freelance writer. He’s on Twitter.