The queens came, they conquered, and now one has walked away with the crown!
Despite social-distancing across the country, the final three lipsynced virtually head-to-head on RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12 Episode 14. No live audience to cheer them on; only green screens and filters to support their performances.
This finale will go down in the record books as a first for reality TV.
Before the queens lipsynced for the crown, there was some hesitation about how RuPaul and the team would pull this together. I mean, it's a finale that involves lipsyncs!
This isn't a reunion show that could easily be cut together like RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12 Episode 13.
The grand finale involves lipsync battles and knocking each other out in stages. The format could potentially change, but there had to be some fairness to keep all the queens on the same playing field. Not all queens would have access to the same editing and technology.
Thankfully, "Grand Final" executed a format that was both fun and fair.
The three official lipsyncs gave each queen a chance to show their stuff and perform on the spot for their place in the competition. The close-up, the pre-recorded, and the final lipsync felt like they were lipsyncing for their lives, even if they didn't all record at the same time.
It's a shame that we didn't get the full experience of the entrance runway, but the queens made it work.
Each look stepped up to the plate and served up a winner, baby. Regardless of being miles apart, the queens of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12 put together jaw-dropping finale looks that were fun and fierce.
The best of the introductions were Dahlia Sin, Rock M. Sakura, Aiden Zhane, Brita, Jan, Widow Von'Du, Crystal Methyd, and Gigi Goode. Though, all the queens killed it with their looks.
RuPaul: Now, is it just me or do you also hear that song when I say your name?
Crystal Methyd: It follows me everywhere I go.
Crystal Methyd: People have been telling me that when you search “El DeBarge,” that I show it.
RuPaul: It is absolutely crazy!
Dahlia, Aiden, Brita, and Gigi served up couture glam that felt right at home during the finale. Widow, on the other hand, would've gotten the most amount of cheers if this were recorded on the main stage.
Just imagine those spider legs moving in front of everyone!
Rock and Jan had the campy references that warmed my geeky heart. And Crystal ... her look was both surprising and yet totally Crystal. Only she could pull that off and make it fashion.
The first lipsync of the night was the close-up performance to "Bring Back My Girls" by RuPaul.
I loved this number because it focused on the queens' talent to deliver a song with only their faces. No dance moves, no splits, no tricks. Everything rested on their ability to match the words.
Gigi Goode held the most attention for most of the music. She brought plenty of facial expressions and stared that camera down to pull the viewers in. And each expression was serving looks!
Though, Jaida Essence Hall and Crystal Methyd were on her heels with performances that built up as it went along.
It started slowly at first, but as the song went on, Jaida kicked up by taking the attention away from Gigi with her movements and facial expressions. Crystal utilized her campy ways to deliver some eye-catching moments throughout the singing.
Based on this performance, I think Gigi came in first, followed by Jaida and Crystal tied close behind.
The second lipsync is where the power balance shifted visibly.
Since the queens got to choose their songs and plan a pre-recorded number, the sky was the limit for what they could do. Some went over-the-top (Crystal Methyd) while others went for artistic (Gigi Goode) or showstopper (Jaida Essence Hall).
Crystal's performance was so very ... Crystal.
It was weird, off-beat, campy, and very funny in a performance that suited her drag aesthetic. The problem, however, is that the energy stayed monotone for much of the number. Once the novelty of the birds wore off, the excitement didn't continue to rise.
I never thought that regurgitation would make it into Drag Race, but somehow it did. And I feel better knowing that her baby bird was nourished. Creative. Kooky. Crystal.Michelle Visage
Gigi had a visually beautiful performance that matched the style of the song. Her outfit change and the nod to the music video helped to make her stand out from the trio. Still, she dealt with the same issue that Crystal faced.
The energy stayed pretty mellow and consistent with no build-up.
Here is where Jaida Essence Hall pulled ahead to tie Gigi for the top.
Jaida had the fire, the glam, and the essence of drag to wow in her number. While she didn't have all the creativity and props like her other finalists, she used what she had to create a music video-like performance. She embodied the fierce and flawless energy of Ciara!
Filming in her living room was a risk, but it paid off. Also, the added effects helped to make it a creative performance with no props.
If there had been an elimination, Gigi and Jaida would've made it to the finals. Though, based on the two performances, Crystal did a good job too, so her spot felt earned as well.
For the final lipsync of "Survivor" by Destiny's Child, the finale came down to a head-to-head between Gigi and Jaida. Crystal put up a good fight, but the other two queens brought more fire and tricks to the table to pull in the attention.
Plus, based on the entire season, Crystal wasn't going to take the crown unless the other two failed miserably in their lipsyncs. (They didn't, so it's a moot point.)
And in that moment when she jumps and her outfit changes, I don’t know how she did that! That’s the thing on the TikTok that the kids do. Can someone teach Uncle Ross how to do that?!Ross Mathews
Gigi's outfit reveal of her Dorothy costume would've killed on the main stage!
The outfit is small and fitted. You couldn't even tell that something was hiding within to change colors. (Seriously, Gigi's mother deserves an Emmy Award for the garments she made all season-long.)
Jaida, on the other hand, brought the fire and drive to snatch the crown. She was fighting for the victory and wasn't going to let it slip from her fingers. Plus, the reveal of the crown on her cape was a nice touch to end on a perfect visual note.
Jaida Essence Hall winning RuPaul's Drag Race is a great choice.
She won multiple challenges throughout the season, she showcased a multitude of skills from lipsyncing to acting to dance, and she brought it to the runway every week. Plus, she's a polished and seasoned queen who will live up to the legacy and responsibilities that the Drag Race title requires.
Michelle Visage: She used her couch. She used her floor. She used her hair. If anything was in Jaida’s way, she was gonna use it, and that she did. Amazing!
Ross Mathews: Oh my God, you guys. I think this quarantine is getting to me because I actually agree with Michelle.
[Carson Kressley is shocked]
RuPaul selected a spokesperson and winner who won over fans and has earned their place among the other champions. Gigi equally showcased these strengths, so if she had won instead, it would've also been a great victory too.
But out of the two finalists, Jaida was my winner pick.
Her journey was more consistent (despite one hiccup during RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12 Episode 11) and she was hitting it out of the park. Gigi never had to lipsync for her life, but she was in the bottom more times.
This was a tight race to the end.
Last Thoughts From The Werk Room:
Heidi N Closet winning Miss Congeniality was expected, but a happy moment regardless! She's amazing, kind-hearted, and a perfect winner for the title.
Heidi's quarantine segment brought plenty of laughs that the finale lacked in places.
So many filters. So many emojis. So many jump cuts.
Who else is happy they brought back the "talking to your younger self" segment? It's an emotional moment that suited the inspiring vibe of the finale.
The cast lipsyncs was a nice touch to round out the finale and fill airtime. The nod to the frontline workers was a sweet tribute, and please remember to vote!
- Yvie Oddly handing Jaida an emoji crown was a cheeky nod to end on a fun note. She got her crown somehow.
Now, over to you, Drag Race fans!
What did you think of "Grand Final"?
Did your favorite win the competition? What was your favorite moment of the night?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.