RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE S14E14 “Catwalk”: Willow Squeaks Into A First-Time Grand Finale Top Five

We’re now firmly in the Top Five queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 14 and with it comes some big surprises that not even I saw coming; my oh my season 14 has really turned it around. It took a while to find its stride, especially after the ridiculous two-part opener episodes, the Kornbread and Jasmine drama, and Kornbread’s tragic exit from the show due to an injury. I really did not see this season turning it around or turning it out as hard as it has. There are a lot of factors that brought out such great episodes that can only be appreciated when viewed as a whole and not individually analyzed each week (wow, self-drag, that’s rare), like the slow but steady ascension of Lady Camden, the redemption of Bosco, and the soul-enriching drama and tenacity of Daya Betty.

Daya Betty gets a lot of special moments this episode, especially at the top of “Catwalk” after she reflects on beating not only DeJa Skye – the queen who had previously sent her home – but also Jorgeous, the undeniable Lip Sync Assassin of season 14. Nobody was expecting Daya to turn it out the way she did, not even RuPaul; it’s really incredible to see such a determined queen be completely eliminated, given a second chance, and then make it all the way to the end of the competition. Wait, is Daya Betty the Clay Aiken of Drag? Not really, but it’s a funny thing to say.

Daya’s narrative throughout the show alongside the other queens has really breathed some fresh air into this season – it really doesn’t feel like we’ve had a Top Five quite like this since at least season 6, which makes it feel like new. Every queen – Angeria, Bosco, Camden, Daya, and Willow – brings such unique energy and perspectives on drag and it’s honestly amazing how this episode shakes out considering the powerhouses in this Top Five.

An Ode To The Supermodel

Once upon a time, RuPaul released the song “Supermodel (You Better Work)” and it launched her into the mainstream and paving the way for RuPaul’s Drag Race. For this season’s Top Five maxi challenge, the queens must write their own lyrics for RuPaul‘s song “Catwalk” and perform choreography together in a music video for the song. The queens will also design garments for the video that will be professionally made and get the infamous TicTac Lunch sitdown with RuPaul and Michelle Visage. As far as the TicTac lunches go, we learn a bit about how Daya handles her diabetes while being on the show (she keeps her insulin pump tucked into her outfits when she walks the runway), we learn that Angeria has 8 drag children, and then there’s an uncomfortable spotlight on Willow’s chronic illness.

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE S14E14 "Catwalk": Willow Squeaks Into A First-Time Grand Finale Top Five
source: VH1

It’s no secret that RuPaul adored Willow Pill from the moment the Denver queen pretended to drop a toaster into a bathtub way back in episode one. However, Ru really shows his age and his misunderstanding of what it means to live with a life-threatening illness like cystinosis as Willow talks about how cystinosis affects her daily. Willow says that cystinosis atrophies the muscles in her hands, explaining to Ru and Michelle that, when you have a disability, you try to make do and “find shortcuts” and what starts out being a great conversation about what it’s like for people living with illnesses and disabilities quickly turns sour as soon as Ru decides to give us his “GuRu” persona.

Without a shred of awareness, RuPaul says, “most people will succumb to their illness and think of themselves as a victim” and then tells Willow, “I don’t think you’re a victim at all.” While Willow’s take on drag has been irreverent and informed by the darkness that comes from her chronic illness, that doesn’t mean it’s okay for Ru to paint with a broad, ableist brush or for Michelle to, later on, say that Willow “never used her illness as an excuse”. It’s really outrageous to see Ru and Michelle say things that essentially chalk up to “you make it so that I don’t see how difficult your life can be and I thank you for that”.  It’s myopic, damaging, and ableist as hell to say these sorts of things, especially when it reinforces the idea that people with illnesses or people with disabilities are best seen and not heard. It’s wildly disappointing but not unexpected for RuPaul, who has been known to say the wrong thing from time to time. To make matters worse, Ru is back at it again towards the end of the episode when she basically tells Angeria to just try not to be anxious when she feels anxious. It’s so, so disappointing.

Going To The End Of This Competition

It’s all family this episode as Ross Mathews and Carson Kressley join Ru and Michelle on the judging panel and the runway category is “You’re A Winner, Baby”. As far as the best runway looks go, Bosco and Angeria’s aren’t as exciting or groundbreaking as they could be while Daya, Camden, and Willow absolutely destroy in their amazing looks: Daya’s is unique and fashionable with a burnt bustle placed on her hip; Camden’s is unbelievably gorgeous and expensive-looking; while Willow comes out as Tanya Mousekowitz from American Tale: Fievel Goes West and it is honestly one of the cutest and best runway looks of the season.

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE S14E14 "Catwalk": Willow Squeaks Into A First-Time Grand Finale Top Five
source: VH1

As for the “Catwalk” music video, the styling is reminiscent of season 7’s “Born Naked” Top Three music video and All Stars 3‘s “Kitty Girl” Top Four live performance with backstage backdrops, runway walks, and posing of the queens’ best runway looks from the season. In terms of performing the lyrics, Willow, Daya, and Camden stand out while Bosco, Daya, and Camden dominate the choreography. The judges soon launch into their critiques, which include a summary of each queen’s journey and then basic positives and negatives of their performances in this episode. Everyone gets a mixed bag of critiques, except for Daya and Camden who receive overwhelming good critiques from all of the judges – something I don’t think anyone would expect in this episode when Angeria, Bosco, and Willow have been the standouts from the very beginning.

Ultimately, Daya is told that she is safe and will go through to the season finale and Camden is declared the winner of this week’s maxi challenge, which gets her third win, making Camden and Bosco the official queens with the most wins this season. It’s honestly incredible to see such a dark horse like Camden come through at the end and blow literally everyone else out of the water. Bravo, love. The high of Camden’s win is quickly snuffed out by a very scary realization: there’s a chance that Angeria, Bosco, or Willow can go home and… I just cannot abide by that. Because we need a gut-wrenching moment and because we were constantly reminded this episode that Angeria and Willow have become extremely close during the competition, RuPaul has decided to pit them against each other as the Bottom Two.

This cannot be!

The song is “Telephone” by Lady Gaga featuring Beyoncé and it honestly is hard to tell which way the lip sync will go; both queens have their really strong moments but also their kind of awkward moves that make me wince in pain because, eek! no! what if this sends you home! It’s the most stressed out I’ve ever been in a Drag Race lip sync because I can seriously not imagine either of these queens being eliminated at this point. And when the music ends and two queens take their place on the stage, RuPaul passes down her judgment telling Angeria, “shantay you stay” and that she will continue on to the grand finale.

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE S14E14 "Catwalk": Willow Squeaks Into A First-Time Grand Finale Top Five
source: VH1

There’s a pause as everyone reacts strongly (including myself, I just about burst into tears at the notion of Willow being sent home). But then, Willow is told that she will also get to go on to the finale as both of them survived the Lip Sync For Your Life. On the one hand, another week where nobody goes home?! But on the other hand, Angeria and Willow get to stay!! Season 14’s Top Four suddenly becomes a Finale Top Five (a first in Drag Race herstory) and I’m honestly so grateful because each of these queens deserves a shot at the crown and if it weren’t for this episode ending in a Top Five, it would have been an awful episode but because Angeria and Willow both get to stay, it is a gag-worthy, iconic episode with a lot of emotion to offer. Damn, this is really turning out to be a great season.

Conclusion: Catwalk

We’re now two episodes away from the Grand Finale (next episode will be the reunion episode) and it’s time to evaluate just who has a real chance at the crown. Bosco and Camden have three wins, Angeria has two wins, and Daya and Willow have one win each. While the queen with the most wins doesn’t automatically mean that they’re the winner (seasons 11 and 12 actually had runners-up with more wins than their respective crowned winner) especially when the season has so many queens with so many wins. However, there has never EVER been a season where the winner hasn’t won her first maxi challenge within the first five episodes of the season. This statistic alone means that Camden and Daya aren’t likely to win the crown as they didn’t get their first wins until episodes 7 and 8, which honestly leaves me sad. Why not Camden and Daya? God, wouldn’t that make this the best season in years if it ended up being a showdown between these two late-bloomers? This season already has so many firsts and so many groundbreaking moments, why not one more? That would be so punk rock. that would be drag!

Who’s your winner for season 14? Let us know in the comments!

 A new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 14 can be seen every Friday at 8/7c on VH1.

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