RuPaul’s Drag Race – Season 6 Episode 12: “Sissy That Walk!”

Well, it’s better than Ada-ing that walk, I suppose.

While half the world recovered from the shocking elimination of Ben Delacreme and the subsequent TOTAL RUINATION of the competition as we know it (while the rest of us continued to consider that a mediocre showqueen who was only ever going to be a runner-up at best had pretty much run out of steam and been justly sent packing), the competition continued nonetheless. Well, sort of. It’s hard to know what to say about this round of the contest, because in many ways lots of things happened, and in other ways, nothing at all happened. It ended up feeling like an uneasy halfway house between those days when the finale was recorded at the same time as the rest of the show, bringing it to a logical conclusion (albeit without giving Ru the get out of jail free card of waiting to see how popular the top three were with viewers before crowning anyone in particular), and the more recent way of doing things where everything gets put on hold until the reunion show, and they film multiple endings and basically cheat us out of seeing anyone’s authentic reaction to winning.

Essentially, all four remaining queens were genre-savvy enough to assume it was the final, judging on the tasks they’d been doing recently and on the fact that it was Michelle who came to brief them in the workroom rather than Ru. (Michelle entered the room saying “it’s me, Ben Delacreme, I’m back!”, and honestly it’s really no surprise that the rest of the episode went downhill from there, because how could you possibly top that? I know that people have their issues with Michelle, and I’m sure at least some of them are justified, but one reason that I will always cherish her on this show is that she has a very healthy sense of her own ridiculousness, and this show needs that like Mystique needs to get home to check whether her mother had been kidnapped by Mexican gangsters.) Michelle informed the queens that they would be having a one-to-one chat with Ru, shooting a video for ‘Sissy That Walk’ and taking part in an improvised acting challenge. So far, so finale. And then she dropped the bomb: at the end of all this, one queen would be going home. So this is both the finale and not the finale at the same time. Let’s just call it Schrödinger’s Finale for now.

With so much to get through, there was no time for a mini-challenge this week (not that that’s any great loss), though there was of course time for Courtney to throw some workmanlike shade in Adore’s direction, mostly because Adore had the audacity to win last week’s challenge despite not meeting Courtney’s level of expectation for what a winner should be like. And for good measure, Courtney had some criticism for Bianca as well, mentioning that she never tries anything new on the runway. These are valid criticisms, or at least they will be as soon as Courtney tries something new like not being a basic bitch.

First of all, the queens had to learn the choreography for ‘Sissy That Walk’, and despite the show’s best efforts at misdirection in hinting that Bianca was a supermess during rehearsals, it was Adore and Darienne who ended up lagging behind during the filming, while Bianca and Courtney were perfectly in sync with each other. Then they had to do a solo section on a treadmill which was a lot harder, and everyone seemed to struggle with this apart from natural born strutter Courtney, and there was some minor drama when Adore spotted Darienne ripping off one of her moves. Honestly, I’ve not been so tense since somebody maybe did or didn’t steal Bre’s granola bar during cycle five of America’s Next Top Model.

In the middle of all of this, each queen got a chance for a kiki with Ru, which was also a chance to reinforce their narrative in the competition up to this point and give them an opportunity to paint themselves as a potential winner. Darienne showed some vulnerability by talking about her mother “inviting” her to leave because she didn’t approve of her lifestyle. Bianca talked about opening up and having a chance to be someone other than just that bitter catty queen. Adore talked about her love for her mother and the fact that she doesn’t really know her father, and Courtney talked about how everyone loves her in Australia. Oh, Courtney. Ru warned Courtney that there’s a tendency for the things she says to sound canned and pageanty, which Courtney was horrified about – but she also didn’t really know what to do about it, because it’s kind of true.

When it came to the ham-acting scene, the queens were tasked with portraying an ingenue model being photographed by RuPaul (who was wearing an eyepatch because reasons), who made them do increasingly degrading things in a rather Cardinal Burns sort of way, and in the end they had to snap and slap him. Everyone actually fared pretty well with this, by my reckoning – Bianca’s was the funniest overall scene (duh), while Darienne made a virtue of the depravity, Adore gave the most physically interesting performance, and while Courtney was probably the weakest of the four, she went overboard with the slapping and made a whole Sideshow-Bob-stepping-on-rakes moment out of it, which Ru seemed to really like.

For their second scene, they had to come across as more of a Norma Desmond figure. Adore took a little longer to get into character for this part (which makes sense; she’s a natural fit for an ingenue but not so much for the weathered victim of showbusiness), Bianca nailed her scene, Darienne took it all in a new direction by sinking to the floor and wailing from the depths of her soul, and Courtney mistook “covering yourself with accessories” for “creating a character” and ended up getting a bit lost in the middle of it all, although it was worth it for the opportunity to hear Ru’s Australian accent.

With all that out of the way, it was time for the final runway. Adore gave us another iteration of “glittery mermaid”, Bianca wowed in azure blue, Courtney did some classic Courtney, and Darienne had a lot of fringing going on. Nobody got much criticism at all, but Adore probably got the least, which bodes well for her going into the final. Then Ru announced that she simply couldn’t decide which of them to send packing, so they all had to lip sync to ‘Sissy That Walk’, after which Darienne was eliminated even though she did pretty well on every aspect of this challenge, simply because Darienne was never intended to be a finalist. It’s fine, and I can completely understand this top three from a storytelling point of view and from an actual-performance-in-this-competition-overall point of view, but it does contribute a fair bit to the feeling of general needlessness that surrounds this episode. I sincerely doubt that anything that happened tonight really made any difference to Ru in terms of crowning the winner, in much the same way that clearly nothing that happened tonight played any great role in Darienne being the one to go home. Darienne takes her dismissal gracefully, and she must have known it was coming, but I’m just not really sure we necessarily needed these 42 minutes to get there.

Even Untucked was kind of lacklustre this week, since most of the queens get on by this point and the editors were really clutching at straws to manufacture drama. I mean, when the most tense moment is “Darienne’s quite sick of Bianca making jokes about how old she is”, it’s never going to be on the same level as “bitch, I am from Chicago”, is it?

Next: not the finale, but a clip show and the premiere of the ‘Sissy That Walk’ video. Yeah, I’m not gonna recap that. We’ll just skip straight to the reunion show.

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