Have we been duped?
Up until this point, I always assumed that all bets are off during the climactic "lip sync for your life" at the end of Rupaul's Drag Race. This final battle is where queens get to duke it out in the most basic skill of drag performance--lip syncing. During this moment, a queen's triumphs and failures are put aside, and they are judged purely on the quality of their performance. Ru always says "This is your last chance to impress me and save yourself from elimination," but I'm not sure how true this statement actually is.
One of the consistent problems of Rupaul's Drag Race is that it can feel a bit pre-planned at times (ie: Willam's surprise departure, the Carmen Carrera/Yara Sofia tie, Chad Michael's win on All Stars...), and the "reality" comes off as fake. Maybe everything that happens on RPDR is natural and surprises folks on set, but oftentimes it feels like the queens are puppets for the producers. The latest case of this happening is Pearl sending Trixie Mattel home in the fourth episode of the current season. The song "Dreaming" by Blondie seemed a sure bet for Trixie--she moved energetically, gave life to the lyrics, and brought forth tons of Debbie Harry energy in her lip synch. Pearl's lip sync to "Dreaming" looked mostly asleep--languid, uninspired, and lucid.
When Rupaul told Trixie to "sashay away," I was in complete shock. It was like the referree wasn't even watching the same game; Trixie clearly did a much better job than the bored-looking Pearl. The whole episode felt canned; it was as if the producers had chosen Trixie's destiny before she ever set foot on stage.
There have been lots of rumors that a queen returns from elimination during season 7 of RPDR. Based on the preview of next week's episode, it appears like they are setting Trixie up to come back. While I certainly think Trixie was wrongfully kicked off, I'm not sure how I would feel about her coming back. It would be a predictable surprise that falls flat in my book; I want to feel like the contestants are in control of their destiny, and not by some unseen story planned mocked-up by Rupaul and her team.
Maybe we were "Dreaming" along with Trixie and Pearl during that lip synch, and what we saw wasn't real. In real life, Rupaul certainly would have rewarded Trixie for her energetic, creative lip synch, and Pearl would have gone home for her bland, slithery moves. Maybe we're all going to wake up next week and realize it was just a dream--Trixie's back, and the newly awake Pearl is gone.