You know how our every earthly moment is just another step in a slow march toward death and so we distract our minds and bodies with empty joys to stave off thoughts of our inevitable demise? If you didn’t, then the finale of this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race can serve as an excellent primer in existential dread. Because Bob the Drag Queen has been the winner for a while now and we all know it, but we’ve still got 90 minutes to get through here, so we’d better make the best of it. Instead of filling the void with Seamless and Netflix (or whatever not-as-overtly-sad things you interesting people kill your time with), Ru carts out a collection of familiar faces decked out in the best fashions this show has ever seen, some original songs to lip sync to, and a few tautly-muscled gentlemen to ogle. There are also interview segments, which have not magically become more interesting than in previous years; in our current analogy, they serve as the mind-numbing job you have to go to so you can afford your Netflix, Seamless, and/or non-sad pastimes.
The show opens with a reminder of Ru’s legacy: a pantheon of fan favorites (and Tyra Sanchez) recreating their iconic photo shoot from the premiere. It’s a welcome reminder of what greatness this competition can give us, but also a completely unnecessary reminder because this season started like two days ago. Seriously, how is it already over? One day you turn around and you’re 90 and it’s like, “I guess we’re in the home stretch,” and you start randomly giving your belongings away to your younger relatives and it makes them uncomfortable. (If you were hoping for a recap that doesn’t employ an extended end-of-life metaphor, then you might want to close this browser tab now, because I feel pretty committed to this analogy.) Whatever, there’s a clown here! Ru brought a clown! Laugh at the clown and forget that your cells are decaying as I type this!
After the credits roll, each of the season’s contestants get one last chance to wow us. I wish I could call it an across-the-board success, but Robbie apparently didn’t know this was happening today. Everyone else hired a make-up artist and a stylist, but Ms. Turner goes for a gown that is neither modern enough to be fashionable nor old enough to deliver the vintage glamour she aspires to, and her eyebrows still look like upside-down Verizon logos. Even Derrick turned it up a couple notches for our last hurrah, and she can barely work the dial! Sure, Thorgy came dressed as a hallucinogenic flashback that would terrify Pennywise himself, but that’s her thing. She is the human embodiment of a dreadlock wrapped in a Twizzlers Pull ‘n’ Peel, and you can’t take that away from her.
Oh, and since you asked for glamour: Bob gives GLAMOUR. Ratchets are for carburetors, Michelle. (Is that what ratchets are for? I have literally never used one. I’m only 75 percent sure I could accurately identify one out of a lineup of metal objects. Are ratchets made of metal?) Speaking of indefinite materials, Ru’s second gown is stitched out of angel voices or the dreams of puppies or something: it’s woven yet also floor-length fringe, metallic yet also rainbow, hard and soft and opaque and transparent, and if you didn’t have dementia before (and be honest: you did), then you for sure have it now. Gaze into her dress, for it is the all-knowing abyss. Contemplate infinity as you decipher its criss-crossing complexity. This, students, is the search for meaning in a meaningless world.
To keep the pageant lively, our supreme leader kicks things off with performances. Hilariously, while Naomi’s song talks about her legs and Kim’s is about how she’s fat and can’t dance, Bob’s is literally a description of how good she is at everything. Gosh, I wonder who they’ll crown at the end of the night. It’s really anyone’s game. (Side note: even though our favorite fermented side dish did almost no actual dancing, she still wasn’t wearing heels under her gown and I’m kind of not OK with that. Don’t be the girl in a t-shirt at the funeral. You know the rules here.)
Each of the final three gets interviewed and it goes pretty much how you’d expect so I won’t take up your time by re-confirming that yes, that happened. The only welcome surprises come in the form of video messages. Bob gets two: one from her mom (because RuPaul will live for a thousand more years if she can continue to suckle from the tear ducts of the young) and one from Carol Channing because the world is occasionally wonderful. Kim pointedly does not get a message from her mother, which is great because maybe the kind of interpersonal complications they’re dealing with can’t be resolved with a reality TV moment. They get Margaret Cho to share some words of encouragement instead, because… Korea? Look, sometimes you’ve got to stretch the logic a little. Case in point: Lena Headey cameos to talk to Naomi, and not even Melisandre could tell us why. These are the times when you say “the universe is random and there is no higher purpose” or “the Lord works in mysterious ways,” so take your pick and move on, I guess.
More interviews ensue. It doesn’t matter. Let’s cut to the chase! You’re already old, your spouse has perished, your ailments are piling up; it’s time and you’ve made peace with it. Cynthia Lee Fontaine, who has never looked good and never will and I don’t even care because she is a perfect angel from heaven and I love her with a force that could split atoms and power cities, is crowned Miss Congeniality. It is the most important thing. We should stop crowning Miss Congeniality after this season because there will never be a more deserving recipient than this vision of loveliness with the fashion sense of an overstimulated toddler, the voice of a clogged garbage disposal, and the heart of all of history’s Nobel Peace Prize recipients combined into a single clarified essence. Luxuriate in her abhorrent gown and shitstack hairdon’t, for she is the best of us.
For the crowning, all of the previous Drag Superstars re-emerge in even more spectacular presentations, but time comes to a halt when Violet Chachki graces us with the most glorious creation that has ever been worn anywhere on the planet. Words cannot do it justice, but the fact that her crown is growing biologically out of her head is apt because a presentation this impeccable proves that she is deserving of her title on a fundamental, cellular level. It’s the ultimate power play, really: if you’re forced to acknowledge someone as your successor, then do it while broadcasting that you’re a tough fucking act to follow.
And then Ru is all, “I might crown anyone” and the audience is like “you will crown Bob though” and Ru is like “but what if I didn’t?” and everyone’s just “but you WILL” and she’s all “I haven’t made up my mind” and we’re like “death comes for us all” and Ru goes “TRUTH” and Bob gets the crown and it gives us life but also we have finally succumbed to eternity’s sweet embrace; it is over and we can rest peacefully in our graves, having learned and loved and lost and gotten our winged eyeliner exactly right at least once, I hope.
Chris J. Kelly performs under the drag name Ariel Italic and can be seen at her regular show every Monday night at Eastlands in Brooklyn, NY.