RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE S13E11 “Pop! Goes the Queens”: The Queens Sell Themselves As We Inch Towards The Finale

Incredibly, it took over halfway through the season for Tina Burner’s brand of red, orange, and yellow to become an issue with the judges, and right at the end of her run, too. Tina’s sudden rise, plateau, trip, and then swift fall to the bottom two is one for the ages, comparable only to Jan from season 12. The biggest difference, however, is the fact that just about every negative comment on Tina from the judges was thrown at her, and the audience, all at once in her final episode, and not peppered throughout the season the way other queens’ cons have been been in the past.

It feels like (figurative) whiplash for Tina to just coast, coast, coast, and – BAM! – everyone’s talking about her bad aesthetic, her bad makeup, oh, and they’re going to make her pour her heart out over her mother’s video message. Maybe the only real storyline Tina had was her non-rivalry with Rosé, and when that was put to rest last week, it was just her time to go. Yes, Tina Burner was the queen to sashay away this week, but she wasn’t the only one worth talking about. This was a fantastic episode of Drag Race as it centers around the most important thing a winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race can do – market herself.

“Try To Find My Brand” – Madonna: The Unauthorized Rusical

It’s a new day in the workroom and Kandy has no idea how to do math – it’s a hilarious little palette cleanser to see her think that $2,500 is $25,000 and for the rest of the queens explain to her how commas work. It’s a fantastic little setup for the episode that only gets better when RuPaul arrives, bringing the Pit Crew with him to help in a little mini-challenge trivia game. Not only do the queens have to answer questions about the infamous Drag Race alumna Alyssa Edwards, but also random knowledge of RuPaul’s Drag Race itself. This is the first mini-challenge the entire season that didn’t make my eyes completely glaze over and search up the Zero Waste hashtag on Tiktok, waiting for the segment to end/my death. Kandy ends up winning the mini-challenge, whilst poking fun at herself, further proving that despite having no wins, she needs to stay on the TV screen.

RuPaul finally gets to the maxi challenge and the queens must market their brands by creating their own soda, complete with a jingle and a commercial. Many queens take the route of learning what their brand has become during the run of the season and running with it – Utica’s incorporates a cow which is an obvious homage to the “ghost” of “her” “cow” from childhood that the “psychic” brought up last week; Gottmik goes with using her stupid-yet-charming personality traits that have emerged in each episode; Rosé decides to poke fun at herself and her perfectionism by creating a hangover cure that helps you fake perfection.

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE S13E11 "Pop! Goes the Queens": The Queens Sell Themselves As We Inch Towards The Finale
source: VH1

For Olivia, there’s a lot of trying to take the judges’ critiques from last week (where her failure at branding cost us Denali) and applying them to the challenge; Symone follows this same strategy too, as she says that she needs to learn to let loose, especially since taking Utica’s kookiness helped her win the challenge last week. Unfortunately for Tina, she’s not listening to the critique of elevating her branding and, during the filming for her commercial, we see her mess up a line over and over again… which is not a good sign.

The editors are really allowing the high queens and low queens obvious in the commercial filming in this episode, whereas past seasons have always been extremely misleading (maybe they’ve read my season 12 reviews? Hmmm…) Not only is it obvious that Tina and Utica are in trouble, but also that Symone and Rosé are the ones to beat this week. Viewers have become wise to the production tricks, but it says a lot about how good they are at making a fun episode when this transparency hardly bothers (at least to this writer).

As the queens prepare for the runway, the comradery is palpable in the room as Kandy shares the story of how she was assaulted when she was in school by a group of boys who ended up breaking her arm so bad that it required surgery and Rosé talks about how much she’s come to adore Kandy while they’ve all been filming. I cannot tell you how lifesaving it is for the whole “Winner Circle vs Pork Chop Queens” storyline to be dead and buried – it only took over 9 weeks! Man, I tell you, this season has been going on for a long time. And there are only 5 episodes left. Yay Drag Race!

Sashay, Shantay, Beast! On The Runway

This week on the judging panel, there are no guest judges, as both Carson Kressley and Ross Matthews are gracing the stage together alongside Michelle Visage and RuPaul. The runway category is “BEAST! Couture” and the queens’ interpretations of this are truly astounding: Utica takes inspiration from Maleficent (mostly just the mini-horns) while Kandy goes for a fun 90s-inspired alien theme, complete with a little extraterrestrial friend thrown over her shoulder. Tina towers in a patchwork teddy bear look with extra-wide hips added on as she gives a real Five Nights At Freddy’s vibe; it’s a fun and clever look but it PALES in comparison to Symone’s foxy look, which is quite literally a (low quality) Furry suit, minus the triangle snout since she’s gotta show off her gorgeous mug. The look is (Nick) Wild(e) and truly a first in the show’s her-story.

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE S13E11 "Pop! Goes the Queens": The Queens Sell Themselves As We Inch Towards The Finale
source: VH1

Gottmik is wearing a monster getup reminiscent of season 10’s Monique Heart’s signature look, and Olivia wears a cute blue fursuit that looks like a knock-off of Sully from Monsters Inc., while Rosé stuns in an all-red woodland beast-meets-Tim Curry from the iconic 1985 dark fantasy film Legend. Most of the runway looks are incredible, with only a few clunkers – notably Kandy’s.

Queens and judges alike watch the complete commercials together and there are funny moments in just about all of them, but the critiques bring some real shady editing. After Tina is told that she keeps doing the same thing by the judges, the camera cuts to her looking sour every time someone else is praised for surprising the judges each week. There’s even a cut to Gottmik during Rosé’s “RoseAid” soda after Gottmik’s critique that her soda name was completely forgettable while Rosé’s was perfect. There’s even a cut to Tina and quick, sinister music when another queen is complimented on their makeup! Anyone else dying to know if Tina is gonna be in the bottom? (sarcasm)

You’re A Winner, Babies!

As the judges deliberate, it looks like Gottmik is at least in the bottom three but, let’s be honest, they’re never going to allow Gottmik to get to Lip Sync For Your Life after she BARELY beat Utica way back in episode one. So, Gottmik is safe. And as they continue on, the inevitability of Utica vs Tina in the bottom is as plain as the lack of snout on Symone’s furry suit – but who will be the winner? All of the critiques point towards Rosé but, after declaring Kandy safe, RuPaul names Symone the winner of this week’s challenge, thus earning her fourth win. Yay! But wait, what?! What about Rosé? It was Rigga Morris, girl. Or is it? Because RuPaul immediately names Rosé as the winner as well – it’s a double win! What a joy, especially after Rosé’s adorable reaction and the skillful cameraperson’s focus work as we get to see Rosé and Symone’s reactions in that exact moment. It’s a highly satisfying moment and I’m seriously so pleased that Rosé is pulling towards the front of the competition, even though it’s a little later than I would have liked.

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE S13E11 "Pop! Goes the Queens": The Queens Sell Themselves As We Inch Towards The Finale
source: VH1

Olivia and Gottmik are declared safe (duh) and the lip-sync is between Utica and Tina as they show two very, very different takes on “My Humps” by The Black-Eyed Peas; Tina goes full comedy and camp, trying to make the judges laugh as she tries to do sexy dance moves in her absurdly large costume. It’s so clear that Utica is the one winning this lip sync though. Not only is she bringing her own unique flair to Fergie’s insane lyrics, but she’s also playing it up with some fun spookiness, thanks to her dagger nails and white-out eyes. Ru really seems to love the way that Utica performs and she thus declares her safe, causing the queens in the back to react in shock – what is the fallout going to be from this?


Last week’s review foresaw the end of Tina Burner’s run on RuPaul’s Drag Race (no brag, just fact), and now that we have a Top 6, we can read the cards laid out before us: Kandy is now the only queen with absolutely zero wins, which immediately puts her in danger. However, Utica (even with her one win) has lip-synced a number of times and it would be a miracle to survive another one and Olivia seems to be floundering as she tries to find her brand. Symone and Gottmik are still solidly in the finale but now that Rosé has two wins and has one of the best track records this season, she is almost certainly in the Top 3 as well. Can Rosé win? Statistically, no, but then again, we all thought that Tina Burner would be read in the fourth episode for her signature red, orange, and yellow looks. It turns out that, this season, miracles can happen.

What did you think of this week’s lip sync? Who will win the crown next month? 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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