‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ S13E7 Recap: Depression, Anal Beads And Kelly Clarkson, Together At Last
Rosé and Denali are tired of the show playing favourites, and it's beginning to get on our nerves a little too.
I don’t think anyone thought LaLa Ri would be sent home by Elliott With Two Ts: and even though it pains me to say bye to two favourites back-to-back, it’s hard to deny that Elliott danced circles around her.
All season, Elliott’s reminded me a little of S12’s Aiden Zhane, if only for how their reserved personalities have, ironically, caused them to clash with a few queens and feel isolated.
But where Aiden struggled to engage with Drag Race as a television show, this week Elliott has a ‘breakthrough’ moment with Tina, dropping the Shuga Cain honey yes girl-isms to talk about her life-long depression. It was really refreshing.
We started off with her de-dragging from last week alone, saying that she feels like the ‘sad little kid with no friends’ in the competition, and there’s a few reasons why. Kandy has since said her comments to Elliott in Untucked about reading the room was a way to call Elliott out for racist microaggressions without turning it into a plot-point. It’s unclear whether Elliott picked up on it, though, and seems to feel unliked for no reason.
So she’s trying hard, over-compensating with ‘honeys’ and ‘girls’ to make up for that growing discomfort and internal chilliness: as someone who has depression, I immediately got where Elliott’s ~vibe~ and energy throughout the competition are coming from. And Tina gets it too, revealing her mother would have depressive episodes throughout her childhood.
The active listening and support Tina gave Elliott — the way she adjusted her previous view of Elliott with compassion and understanding for how Elliott’s illness affects her — was incredibly sweet, a textbook example of how to treat mental health issues and listen to people talk about it.
Sorry to start this recap without a single ‘I Hardly Even Know Her’ joke or Vox Lux reference, but the moment really struck me: reality TV loves to discuss traumas and mental health issues, but depression is never really portrayed as the life-long affliction and chemical imbalance it is for so many.
Elliott isn’t my favorite queen of the season and nothing excuses the microaggressions, and truthfully, I don’t think Drag Race has been a great platform for her so far, though we have now seen that she’s a great lip-syncer. But I really appreciate the moment and what it would have meant to talk so candidly about her mental health.
The Library Is Closed (Due To COVID-19 Restrictions)
This week, we get the reading challenge, and a ru-boot of S10’s Bossy Rossy talk show.
And the reads were mostly good! My favourites were Symone asking Tina how much tina she’s actually burnt, only for Tina to show off her impeccable teeth; Tina calling Utica the “Dorian Corey of drag race”; and Olivia calling out ‘Kandy Ho’, a name that, even as a S7 apologist, I haven’t heard in years.
There’s nothing better though than a bad read, and Elliott had plenty — she stuttered over her lines, had a weird, elaborate joke involving throwing a red cape at Kandy that fell as fast as the cape did to the floor. She tried too hard: the best reads fly off the tongue and feel improvisational, even though a lot are clearly pre-written.
After giving Mik the win, Ru then divides the queens into four groups for the improv challenge, which is a Maury Povich-esque show.
Let’s start with the worst group, Tina and Elliott. To be fair, they had the worst scenario: play best friends and NASA colleagues whose friendship falls apart when Tina gets ass implants, but also they secretly love each other? It’s all very tired, and while Tina is safe for being loud, there was nothing clever in it: Tina avoids the bottom by nature of other people being a lot worse.
The rest of the groups are pretty strong: Rosé and Denali play friends pregnant to the same invisible man, and it’s the loosest we’ve seen both of them. They’re really strong queens and easily could’ve been the top two this week, but the show seemingly wants to break them down: they’re both boiling during Untucked.
LaLa’s also in the scene, but fades into the background. It’s that classic Ru critique, where she hasn’t learnt how to use her natural charm we see in the confessionals and ‘apply’ it to the challenges.
Symone and Kandy are paired up to play two former reality show BFFLs brought together to patch things up, and they avoid the standard Drag Race route of broad and loud. Kandy plays against type as per the judges’ critiques, and is fine: she’s a little forgettable, especially when Symone is such a natural.
Then there’s Gottmik, Olivia and Utica. The star role of this group — and the challenge, really — is the rehabilitated mime who goes on TV to speak her first words, and there’s a momentary standoff between Olivia and Utica for the role, before Utica concedes.
It’s a shame, because I think Utica would have done a lot more with it: Olivia proves herself as a physical comedian, but the real laughs come from Mik’s psychologist character who translates the miming for Ross. Olivia ends up nabbing a win, and while I’m not mad at it, I don’t think it’s that deserved. Rosé, Denali, Symone and Mik were much more clever in their comedy.
Utica, meanwhile, doesn’t get a chance. Ross instantly shuts down Utica’s improvising about Starbucks — which is clearly characterisation to show how talkative the mime’s mum is — and she’s never really given any breathing room to do anything in the scene. The show’s tucked her into a ‘too wacky’ box, but I don’t think that’s actually true from what she’s actually presented each week. I think she’ll be leaving in the next few episodes, which is a shame.
Bead It Like Beckham (For This To Work, Imagine That David Beckham Became Famous For Inventing A New Type Of Bead)
This week’s runway is an ode to Paramatta Road’s gigantic bead store, ‘I Love You Bead’. T.S. Madison is the guest judge, and I would love if her and Nicole Byer became permanent additions. Nicole is crass, loves the queens so much and provides genuine feedback, and T.S. Madsion can pull off telling the queens to ‘water their coochie’. Could Carson ever?
Denali mishears the theme as ‘I Love You, Blank’, as she narrates her chandelier look by saying she’s “always been obsessed with lamps” and always wanted to walk down the Drag Race runway as a chandelier. Where Utica gets called out for making too many faces, I think Denali has the opposite problem: you’re dressed as a chandelier! Make it fun!
Rosé’s Tinkerbell moment doesn’t capture well on TV, but in Untucked, you can see the beading detail up close — it’s a technically impressive garment, but it’s a bit underwhelming. I see why she’s merely safe, but I think Denali should’ve been in the top alongside Symone and Mik, the latter of who is constantly surprising me with her wit.
But this isn’t ‘Imaginary Boyfriend Jared’s Drag Race‘, and the actual top three are Symone, Olivia and Kandy, with LaLa, Elliott and Utica in the bottom. Rigga morris!
It’s pretty clear that LaLa is lip-syncing: Michelle clocks a rip in her bodysuit, and while it’s an ornate dance outfit, it’s not as fleshed out as the other looks. Utica’s demon-bride look is jaw-dropping, and assumedly that saves her; the judges love Elliott’s flapper fit, but as someone who attended a lot of Gatsby themed 18ths and 21sts post the Baz Luhrman adaptation, I’m well and truly flapped out.
It’s hard to be mad at Olivia’s win, even if I don’t completely agree. And like I said last week, she’s Symone’s only contender for the crown at the moment — and this win pushes that hard.
Before LaLa sashays, we get a hell of a lip-sync, which easily could’ve been a double shantée for that synchronised body roll. But in Untucked, it’s clear that LaLa is a little defeated, and she loses a little steam at the end. I think it’s pretty clear to her and everyone else who the show’s favourites are (Kandy, Mik, Tina, Symone, Olivia), which is why Rosé and Denali are so pressed: can they do anything about it?
Next week’s a Ruscial about… social media…. sure to be filled with lots of astute commentary on the hellscape that’s rotted our brains and attention spans.
RuPaul’s Drag Race S13 is available on Stan, with episodes dropping 3PM AEDT each Saturday, and UK episodes 8am AEDT Friday.
Jared Richards is Junkee’s Drag Race recapper and freelancer who has written for The Guardian, The Big Issue and more. He’s on Twitter. UK, hun?