RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE S13E6 “Disco-Mentary”: At The End Of The Day, Tamisha Iman Is A Blessing

Coming down from the high that was last week’s explosive Untucked episode, where Tamisha Iman and Kandy Muse entertained the masses with their bickering and fighting, this week’s episode is a bit of a breather. But man, what it lacks in bombastic drama, it more than makes up for with some of the most blatant editing and foreshadowing in recent RuPaul’s Drag Race memory. The episode picked right up where it was last week, with a final crescendo of the Tamisha-Kandy fight, with Tamisha saying that her problem with Kandy is that she feels Kandy discredits the “B-Team” (the “Pork Chop Queens” from episode one).

Kandy takes a shot at Tamisha and the “B-Team” girls by pointing out that, so far in the competition, they have been the only queens to go home. While technically this is true, Kandy saying it out loud is only proving Tamisha’s point: that Kandy is arrogant. This scene is the very first bit of foreshadowing this episode has set up for us, and the trend continues into the next day in the workroom.

“Kandy’s cockiness is gonna bite her in the ass”

RuPaul enters the workroom and introduces himself as “Rupaul Charles Nelson Reilly” and plays the character of famed Match Game game panelist and comedian Charles Nelson Reillyto the robust laughter of the queens… even though none of them know who he is, and Ru calls them out on it. One thing that every single viewer and future contestant of Drag Race MUST know is a Brittanica-sized knowledge of queer and camp stars from the 1940s all the way to the mid-2000s, or else you won’t know what the hell RuPaul is referencing. Just a note that could keep you from embarrassing yourself on national television.

This week’s mini-challenge is tied into the maxi-challenge since queens must partner up for a quick-design challenge involving wallpaper; whoever they pair up with will be their partner for the rest of the episode. Since there’s an odd number of queens and since Gottmik won last week’s challenge, she gets to join whichever pairing she wants for a dynamic dance throuple, as the maxi-challenge is all about choreography.

Symone is paired with LaLa, Olivia is with Utica, Tamisha is with Elliott, Rosé is with Denali, and Gottmik chooses Kandy and Tina, forming the self-proclaimed clique “the Mean Girls.” The wallpaper couture they create and model are cute and creative, but most importantly, the scene sets up some clues for later on. Not only are cliques traditionally frowned upon in the show (like season 3’s Heathers, season 5’s Rolaskatox, and season 11’s Dream Girls) but naming one’s group after Regina George & co. isn’t a good look.

RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE S13E6 "Disco-Mentary": At The End Of The Day, Tamisha Iman Is A Blessing
source: VH1

While Olivia and Utica have the most fashionable dress when Utica models it for Ru, she goes way off-book and does a kooky little walk where she can’t see where she’s going; this spells out distant storm clouds for Utica, especially when considering the only reason she didn’t win last week’s challenge was Ru‘s critique that Utica’s tendency to camp up her runway presentation distracted from the absolutely stunning garments. Tamisha and Elliott are declared the winners of the mini-challenge and there’s a cut to the Mean Girls looking sour over being passed over, particularly Kandy. These editors really love to leave bread crumbs, don’t they…

“Disco never died!”

After the mini-challenge, RuPaul explains the choreography challenge: the contestants will create a live dance “documentary” that tells the history of one of the best musical genres ever – disco! Each group is assigned a different aspect of the history and culture of disco: the Mean Girls are opening the number with “The Birth of Disco”, Tamisha and Elliott have “Disco & Sex”, Olivia and Utica have “Studio 54”, Denali and Rosé have “Disco Fashion” and then Symone and LaLa get “Disco Sucks”.

As the queens prepare for the challenge and their looks, Ru talks to each group about their specific dance number for the “Disco-Mentary” and drops little history facts about disco as we learn a little bit more about the queens; Denali used to do ice skating on a cruise ship and Rosé is trying too hard to be perfect which Ru reminds her that people fall in love with vulnerability, not perfection. Symone and LaLa learn what exactly the “Disco Sucks” movement was, which was basically just a record-smashing publicity stunt that was, at its core,  anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-black.

Ru then talks to the Mean Girls about disco’s roots and how inclusive it was before grilling them on their favorite disco songs, where each of the queens flounder in a semi-funny way that Ru finds hilarious enough to become the Face with Tears of Joy emoji. I guess this is the season 13 strategy for getting more the show more Emmys – showing RuPaul‘s hysterically over-laughing in every other episode.

The queens are then taking a quick break to talk about how the dance challenge will be judged – will it be based on individuals or will it be based on pairs? And if it’s based on pairs, will the bottom pairings have to lip-sync against each other? Kandy doesn’t like this notion at all because, in her words, Tina and Gottmik have two left feet and she DOES NOT want to be in the bottom this week. Hmm, curious.

Soon, everyone is out on the mainstage to learn their choreography, and we learn something a little shocking about Tamisha – due to her cancer treatment, she had only been able to re-learn how to walk within six months of shooting season 13 and she also has had an ostomy bag attached to her stomach throughout the last six episodes.

So, as she’s learning her and Elliott’s choreography, she’s going a lot slower due to the ostomy bag limiting her movements and she says that she hasn’t disclosed it to the other contestants and that she doesn’t want any special treatment from anyone. It’s incredibly moving to look back on previous episodes and see exactly why some of Tamisha’s movements have been so held back, especially when considering what a powerhouse performer Tamisha was when she was in her prime. The fact that we’re learning of the bag in this episode seems suspicious, and most likely means that, at the end of the day, Tamisha could be in the bottom three.

RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE S13E6 "Disco-Mentary": At The End Of The Day, Tamisha Iman Is A Blessing
source: VH1

There are some other revelations from the other queens, too. The choreographer has to keep reminding Utica to not try and make her movements and facial expressions goofy in the dance (another reminder that Utica’s kookiness could hinder her) and we learn that Olivia used to be almost 300 pounds and how it was a lot to deal with, especially when she was struggling with being in the closet. We also dive a little bit into Kandy’s background and how her childhood was tough so she had to also be tough, giving some tiny insight into why she got so defensive last week. As the queens put on their makeup, Tamisha then tells Denali about a woman from her youth who helped develop and encourage Tamisha’s talents. I don’t even need to see the actual maxi challenge and runway to know that all of the feature queens of this episode are either in this week’s top or bottom, the foreshadowing is that evident.

“It do take a village, people”

Loni Love (Soul Plane) is back, back, back again on the judging panel alongside RuPaulMichelle Visage, and Carson Kressley as the “Disco-Mentary” begins. With documentary-style footage and a RuPaul voiceover cut between each live dance number, the Mean Girls kick things off and the camera cannot take its eye off of Tina, who is doing surprisingly well with the movements. Gottmik and Kandy are barely featured, except when there’s a cut to Michelle reacting neutrally to Kandy. Hmmmm…

When it gets to Elliott and Tamisha, they both do well, but it’s obvious that Tamisha is just a step slower than her younger counterpart. As it transitions into the “Studio 54” segment, Olivia looks absolutely incredible and, unfortunately, Utica cannot stop herself from making these obnoxious facial expressions. Oh no, poor Utica! With Rosé and Denali, it becomes obvious that the two of them have the strongest grasp of the more advanced choreography and they completely kill it together. Closing out the number are Symone and LaLa who give decent but not necessarily memorable performances, which is honestly really surprising. When everyone comes together for the big finale, it’s a big party number and the joy radiating from the queens – especially Olivia – is completely infectious; I gotta admit that I was dancing along in my chair, wishing my hair was up in big curls.

The runway category is “Little Black Dress” and most of the runways are pretty good, save for Tina Burner’s SIXTH red/orange/yellow colored garment and Kandy Muse’s messy Comme des Garçons-inspired dress that was first introduced on the show back in season 9 by Kandy’s drag mother, Aja. RuPaul declares LaLa, Symone, Gottmik, Rosé, and Denali safe, and from the judge’s critiques, the bottom three are Utica, Kandy, and Tamisha while Tina, Olivia, and Elliott are in the top three. As soon as Olivia wasn’t declared safe, I absolutely knew that she was going to be the winner of the challenge because of the emphasis on her backstory in the episode – that foreshadowing was so blunt, so transparent, that the only other alternative was her going home. And with that hair she modeled, there was no way that that was happening.

As for the bottom three, there’s little to go off of from the judge’s critiques, in terms of who’s lip-syncing. The judges didn’t initially get Utica’s runway look and they clocked her performance; Kandy’s look wasn’t polished, she didn’t capture disco, and her dance jumpsuit was too plain; Tamisha had a great look but her performance was timid. RuPaul comments on how just how much lee-way should be made for Tamisha when they do the final judging – should she get special treatment or not? The only thing that tipped the scales towards Utica being declared safe is that production is NOT going to pass up a Tamisha vs Kandy lip-sync one week after a Tamisha vs Kandy Untucked fight. And that’s how it goes.

RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE S13E6 "Disco-Mentary": At The End Of The Day, Tamisha Iman Is A Blessing
source: VH1

Not only does Olivia earn her first win, plus a $5,000 tip, but the Lip Sync For Your Life is Tamisha vs Kandy. The song is “Hit ‘Em up Style (Oops!)” by Blu Cantrell and it really looks like it could go to either queen, though Kandy is the one getting the most reactions from Ru and the judges. In the end, Kandy bursts into tears when she’s declared the winner, and Tamisha is asked to shantay away, but not before she gives Kandy a hug, Kandy tells Tamisha she’s sorry, and Tamisha leaves the stage with such good-natured grace that, out of all of the eliminations so far, hers is the hardest to take. Tamisha’s a fighter, a performer, and we’re truly blessed to have had her showcase her wisdom, grit, and legacy.

Conclusion: “Not the end and just till we meet again.” – Tamisha Iman

While this week’s episode was pretty average, it had a joyful, educational maxi-challenge and a sad departure from an amazing queen – it was overall such a good time. We’re now six weeks into season 13, with ten more episodes to go, it’s time for queens to get serious because here’s the thing about Drag Race: in every single season that has ever aired, including All Stars and even the international versions of the show like Drag Race: Thailand, Canada, U.K., and Holland, the crowned queen of the season had won their first challenge within the first five episodes of their season. Statistically, it is impossible to win the show if your first win was later in the season and for season 13, that basically guarantees that our winner will be one of four queens: Symone, Denali, Gottmik, or Olivia Lux. Will this be the season that breaks the 12-year-long trend or will it be one of these four queens? In a season where the premiere almost kicked off half of the cast, anything is possible.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Who do you believe will be the winner of the season?  Let us know in the comments below!

A new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13 can be seen every Friday at 8/7c on VH1.

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