Well, at least one of the pre-season spoilers turned out to be true: we really did have an ABCD Final 4. That would be Adore Delano, Bianca Del Rio, Courtney Act, and Darienne Lake. The four of them jumped through the now-predictable finale hoops, which included shooting a video for RuPaul’s latest single (although we’ve all been hearing the song for months on the mainstage), a related acting challenge, and the tic-tac luncheon with Ru. Breaking with tradition, however, we DID get an elimination at episode’s end, leaving us with just an F3. So it wasn’t totally pointless even though it kindasorta felt that way at times. (Seriously, this show HAS to find a new format for the final challenge.)
Adore Delano is really getting pushed hard at this point, but I can’t hate on it. Adore’s trajectory on this season has been pretty astonishing. When you think about how messy she was in the first few challenges, it’s amazing she lasted this long. And truly, she’s still borderline bedraggled on that mainstage (I was not at all a fan of her look this episode; sorry ‘bout it, Adore). But you cannot deny that she really does sparkle when given the right material. I thought she looked terrific in the video, and she works the camera like a true star. She also did fine in the acting challenge, even if it bordered on affected at times -- I was picking up notes of her Anna Nicole delivery from Snatch Game. In “Untucked” Adore continued to press her case that while everyone in the F4 is a star, she is the only true superstar in the group. I frankly lost a bit of respect for her there. Because I do think Adore has what it takes to be a major crossover success. She is already beloved by the younger fans of this show. But she still needs a few more years to marinate, to season. As Noted Rochester Gay Michael Gamilla put it, she commits sins against drag almost every week. Enormous potential, and there are moments of brilliance there. But she’s just not ready yet.
Bianca Del Rio did not wow me with her performance in the video, but I thought her plea to the judges was quite savvy. The judges, RuPaul especially, love when queens show vulnerability. So Bianca’s narrative tonight was, “Everyone knows me as a bad bitch, but through this competition I’ve discovered the softer side of Bianca, and it was inspiring/transformative.” (I’m paraphrasing.) I maintain that Bianca has had one of the best edits of any contestant on this show, ever. But I actually think her chances at the crown are hurt by the fact that we’ve never really seen her in danger -- and I thought she should have been given more crap for her performance tonight. It wasn’t bad. None of them were bad. But I thought she was among the weakest in the video, and the lipsynch was not great. Like Ben DeLaCreme, I don’t think lipsynch is really in Bianca’s wheelhouse. That’s probably why she was never in the Bottom 2. I love Bianca, I want her to win this, and I think she will. But the last two episodes have seen her ending with a whimper instead of a bang. Still, the overall body of work is SO strong.
Courtney Act continued to be portrayed overwhelmingly poorly this episode. As far as the video performance, she alternated between looking amazing and looking manic. I get why she did what she did -- she had to push herself, given her recent critiques. But the clips they showed were fairly mixed. In the acting challenges Courtney also overdid it, although part of me wondered if perhaps part of that wasn’t cultural differences. Just as British humor is different from American humor, I wonder if Australian humor isn’t broader and less subtle. Regardless, along with Bianca, I found Courtney’s performances the least successful this episode (but again, nobody as “bad.”) Courtney looked beautiful on the runway, but her plea to the judges failed to really connect with me. Which is strange, because I do find Courtney likable and relatable. So I’m not really sure what went on there. I think her candid, emotionally balanced interviews have been deployed unkindly by the editors, making it look like she always has a critical statement about someone else. I respect someone who gives honest feedback when asked, and Courtney has done that consistently. I don’t see any malice in her responses to the other queens, but I do see a lot of self-awareness for when she doesn’t nail something. I continue to be surprised by how poorly this show is making her look, even going into the fan vote. They didn’t even attempt a redemption arc. I’ve seen people refer to her as the “villain” of the season, but that’s not true -- there hasn’t really been one, not since Gia left (even Laganja was more a victim than a villain). I don’t think Courtney has any actual shot at the tiara at this point, which is amazing considering what a frontrunner she was before Episode 1 even aired.
Darienne Lake got a clear fourth-place edit -- even her lunch with RuPaul came across as, “Good on you for getting this far,” not, “Hey, you could really win this!” Darienne took a little while to warm up in the acting challenges, but ended up with some really astonishing moments. RuPaul was clearly shocked by how committed Darienne was in the Gold Bar scene, and even came back in and changed the ending of the scene! That was pretty awesome to behold. I felt like she had a plan for her final speech, but it seemed to go off topic a bit (at least that’s what the show suggested), and I think it was a mistake to be critical of the other three queens. That was a specific direction in last year’s finale, and only one queen did it. No idea what the directive was this time. Although Courtney Act said in “Untucked” that she felt Darienne won this week’s challenge (to me it was either Darienne or Adore), it was Darienne who was sent home after the four-way lipsynch. She was obviously disappointed to get so close and yet finish outside of contention, but Darienne had a VERY good run. Fourth is nothing to be ashamed of, especially in a field this competitive. It’s no secret that Darienne was portrayed quite negatively about halfway through the season (as soon as Gia left; nature abhors a bitch vacuum), and she received a LOT of grief on social media after sending DeLa home last episode (as if that was Darienne’s fault -- she had a job to do with the lipsynch, and she did it). I will be very curious to see how she responds to the criticisms at the reunion, which I believe is taping next week. But the bottom line is that our local queen made it to Final 4, and that is pretty astonishing.
Next week: the recap episode, but I will be posting my “Lessons Learned from Season 6” blog -- and believe me, I have PLENTY of thoughts. The week after that: we crown either Adore, Bianca, or Courtney. I like them all, but in my opinion, only one of them really should be winning this sucker. (Pssst, it’s Bianca.) What do you think?