RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10 Episode 13 review: ReUnited


RuPaul holds court for an hour-and-a-half in a free-flowing, focused, very fun Drag Race reunion special.

RuPaul does a lot of things well — wear dresses, make puns, market his brand — but one of the things he does best is talk. Talking isn’t something we immediately think of as a skill. We all do it, but to talk and to talk well takes practice, and RuPaul has a lot of it. In this episode, he puts his experience hosting VH1’s The RuPaul Show to excellent use as he walks the queens of season 10 through their awkward moments, their questionable choices, and in several cases the most difficult times of their lives, and he does it all without letting the show veer off track.

Take what’s sure to be the buzziest moment of this episode: the Vixen walks out of the reunion after RuPaul brings up two of her several confrontations with other girls, including the clap-off between her and Eureka in “The Last Ball On Earth” (on Untucked). RuPaul tries to get the two of them to admit to some level of culpability for their argument. Eureka does, with coaxing (“I got a little defensive.” RuPaul: “That’s ‘a little defensive’ for you?” Eureka: “So I got really motherf***ing defensive.”) The Vixen doesn’t, a new argument breaks out with Eureka, the Vixen feels piled on, and leaves.

That kind of tense moment can spin out of control. Not only does RuPaul keep her calm, she spins it into the strongest moment of the episode. Asia O’Hara, the most motherly of the contestants, has sympathy for the Vixen. She argues convincingly that people — especially people in the queer community, who are so often ostracized by others — need to look out for one another. She adds that she and others should extend understanding and love even when they can’t expect it back. RuPaul argues, just as convincingly, that in some cases, if someone isn’t willing to be part of a conversation they have to be allowed to find their own path before they can learn how to meet people halfway.

"I have been discriminated against by white people for being black, by black people for being gay, by gay people for being too femme. Did I let that stop me from getting to this chair? No. I had to separate what I feel or what my impression of the situation is to put my focus on the goal."

RuPaul turns what could have been a televised disaster into an opportunity to spread her own philosophy of living; she can use her own life experience and speak to people who might be going through the same thing. She was made for this career… with plenty of credit to the editors, I’m sure.

RuPaul also talks the queens through several personal tragedies, including Dusty Ray Bottoms’ experience with gay conversion therapy, Monique Heart’s struggle to reconcile her roots in religion with her drag, and Blair St. Clair dealing with the traumatic aftermath of her rape. All of these moments work as drama — we’ve gotten to know these girls over the past several weeks and we sympathize when they pour out their hearts. But they also work as teaching moments. How does gay conversion therapy work, exactly? How can you practice your faith when your own deeply religious family keeps you at a distance for going against what they interpret to the be the word of God? RuPaul’s Drag Race is a show about tongue pops and wig snatching and all that, true. But it’s also one of the few shows on TV dedicated to really digging into the stories of queer people. There’s power in that, and RuPaul is at the center, making it look easy.

But RuPaul also knows how to mix laughs with tears, and the value of it. (After Monét X Change talks through her strained relationship with her mother, Ru goes right in on her pussycat wigs and sponge dress.) If there’s a weakness to this episode, it’s that it doesn’t vacillate between those two polls quite often enough. The sad stories go on for a while, and I wonder if VH1 couldn’t have compromised on the hour-and-a-half runtime for this one and highlighted the best bits.

Let’s wrap up by getting back to basics: who’s gonna win this thing? The final four don’t get much screentime this week, which makes sense; we still have a finale ahead of us. But at the end of the episode, RuPaul asks the girls to name who they’d like to win. No one names Kameron Michaels. Does that mean she’s doomed?

Not necessarily. Inspired by last season’s finale, it looks like we’re in for another series of lip syncs. No one expected Sasha Velour to win last year, but she pulled out the best performance of the season and pulled out the win. It’s still anyone’s game. See you in a week!

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Random Ruflections

  • “People even send me video of them intercoursing, and they say ‘I’m getting Vanjied.'” Vanessa Vanjie Mateo made up “intercoursing” on the spot. “Miss Vanjie” was only the beginning, people. I can only imagine how many catchphrases we missed because she went home early.
  • Another Vanjie gem, presented without context: “I was ducking and dodging the cookies, but I felt the love even though I felt they might be trying to attack me.” Miss Vanjie for All Stars 4 or Drag Race season 11 or Super Smash Bros. or whatever; just show us more of her.
  • I feel like they included a montage of season 10 lip syncs to again remind us how shabby they were in season 9. Thanks to the girls for stepping things up this year.
  • Miz Cracker: “Aquaria and I are like real sisters in that we resent each other.”
  • I’m going to give Eureka the best-dressed award of the night for her sky blue poofy-shouldered pageant number, complete with copious face bling. Blair St. Clair gets points for a meticulously styled red wig, and Yuhua Hamasaki stands out with her Samara-from-The-Ring getup. Yeah, it’s played out, but you noticed her.
  • Yuhua: “To this day, [my parents] ask me when are you going to bring back home a Chinese girlfriend, but don’t they know that I am the girlfriend already?”
  • In a moment on the main stage that didn’t make the cut of the original episode, Monét X Change mistakes Girls’ Andrew Rannells for Jonathan Groff right in front of Rannells, and it’s terrific. Has there ever been a Drag Race blooper reel?
  • Another great Vanjie moment: she doesn’t technically get in a read during the library portion of the evening, bet her comeback to Kalorie Karbdashian’s read on her was a highlight: “I’ve got a new catchphrase: Who are you again?”
  • “Wakanda fish is that?”
  • “Blair St. Clair, I know you like to claim you’re a professional actress, but being a decoy on To Catch a Predator is not a legit credit.”
  • “I may be the host of this show, but you — all of you — are my teachers.”