Friday, February 4, 2022

REVIEW: 'RuPaul's Drag Race' - A Shocking Exit Leaves Everyone Desperate to Take Over the Spotlight in 'Save a Queen'

VH1's RuPaul's Drag Race - Episode 14.05 "Save a Queen"

The queens must make parody PSAs for a new charity supporting first-eliminated Drag Race queens. Pop star Ava Max guest judges.

Week after week, Angeria Paris VanMichaels and Willow Pill have been so strong in every challenge that either of them could win. It's been an insane start for both queens. They each do solid in this week's challenge as well - though they don't steamroll the competition like they have in the past. More importantly, the season loses one of its biggest voices due to the latest on-set injury. Each season has essentially had to up its game in order to impress Drag Race fans from around the world. The stakes have gotten so high that injuries have become more and more common. It's a serious issue. One that production needs to monitor because of what these queens put their bodies through in order to compete. Kornbread is taken out of the competition due to a twisted ankle. This season's premiere was carried by her personality. She made it a phenomenal episode. She hasn't had the run that Angeria and Willow have had subsequently. And yet, everyone could see her as deserving of ending up in the finale. Instead, she isn't given the ability to have her transformational moment onscreen after her breakdown while being critiqued from the last challenge. Her journey has had highs and lows. The most consistent she has been was complaining about Willow's flip-flops. Kornbread brought so much joyous energy to the season. And now, a void has been left in her place. Some of the queens recognize that and use this moment to step into the spotlight. Of course, the show had to focus on more of them in order to replace what was gone. Bosco and Lady Camden are seen as the biggest beneficiaries of this move. They start the episode hungry for a win after being safe so far. And then, they deliver in the challenge. That's a simple and clean narrative this episode follows.

Kornbread may be gone but this episode does bring back some familiar faces from Drag Race's past. Tempest DuJour, Jaymes Mansfield and Kahmora Hall were the first queens eliminated in their respective seasons. And now, they play a role in the challenge as the remaining queens have to film PSAs about their fallen sisters. Before getting to the challenge though, we have to talk about the way in which the queens were separated into teams. They had to pop balloons held up against the Pit Crew. Seeing Jorgeous struggle as a top is going to be one of the hilarious moments from the season. It was the true highlight of this episode. Even without Kornbread, the show produced a genuine and outrageous moment. That energy isn't really present in the challenge though. Willow states it best when she says this is a challenge where RuPaul has a specific idea of what the queens are suppose to deliver. Not everyone understands that reference. As a result, Sarah McLachlan comes in at the end of the video and steals the show. It's a great play on the concept. It's a funny cameo. But it does speak poorly of what the queens ultimately deliver. All three videos are connected as one too. That means they play one right after the other. No break is in between to let everything breathe as the audience digests what has just been put on display. That means the teams basically just blend together. That makes it reasonable that the queens aren't judged as teams. That's not really the concept being delivered. It does ensure that Bosco stands out in the end. She leaves everyone wanting more and is the most deserving winner. She gets her first victory. Lady Camden and Angeria are also in the top. They were fine. More queens had to be up onstage with Bosco to receive some positive comments. It was just clear that she was going to win while Orion, Jorgeous and Jasmine were in the bottom. Those lines were clear which ultimately made so much of this challenge fall flat. That's disappointing after the season was coming off the high of the Super-Teasers challenge.

Similarly, the runaway theme "Spring Has Sprung" is a category the show has delivered before. Sure, it must be challenging for the series to think of new and creative categories for the queens to walk each year. That too extends from the pressure of having to up the stakes to feed an audience hungry for the best of the best. But "Spring" was a runway theme on Tempest's season. So many queens walking in outfits with literal flowers was also reminiscent of All Stars 3. Willow and Camden stand out for offering pure camp. Those concepts were amazing. Maddy looked stunning in her storm concept as well. However, it's becoming a pattern for her - and DeJa too - that she covers her body with lots of fabric. Her runway walks aren't great. A shape is still present and the concept is clear. It's original but can grow repetitive. Bosco followed a similar idea but with a reveal into the sun coming out after the storm. The reveal was a little cumbersome as most have become on the runway. In fact, Kahmora destroyed everyone with the gown she brought. She stole the competition out from under all of them. She has actually set a new standard for girls who call themselves look queens. If they don't measure up to Kahmora's standards, then they don't quite deserve that title. Again, that makes it hard for everyone to compete afterwards. The franchise may be getting too out of control. But that also makes it refreshing when Jorgeous breaks out some different and compelling dance moves during the final lip sync. Everyone knew that she was the one to watch against Orion Story. There was really no reason to look at the Michigan queen. That was true before she took off her shoes. Jorgeous is so flawless to watch on the stage. She just needs to project that confidence into the challenges. Then, she has the potential to make it far. She is a performer. That creates wonderful moments. She still struggles when offering more depth than that. She has to be more than a pretty face and a fierce dancer. Meanwhile, Orion needed to bring more expressions. That got her eliminated in the premiere. She was brought back even though that first decision basically seemed like the right one. And so, she is the latest queen to sashay away without the golden candy bar saving her either.