Before we dig into these last two episodes, let me start off by saying that it’s been an honor to watch this season with you, my dear readers. Titans has brought us some of the most wildly talented performers on Dragula at the absolute top of their game and it’s been incredible to see.
I’m just so sorry it had to end like this.
In fact, I’m going to go ahead and say that it was a pure case of prophetic intuition (and not me failing to put my life in order) that caused me to miss last week’s episode review. Somehow, I must have sensed that the finale was going to be trash and put off the penultimate episode until this week, thus giving me at least something positive to write about in my final review.
So, uh, without any further ado, let’s take a look at the episode that maybe should have been the finale.
The Good and The Bad: Episode 8
Previously on: My beloved queen Melissa BeFierce quit(?) after her GORGEOUS AND PERFECT floorshow look was UNFAIRLY MALIGNED.
In the boudoir, everyone (minus Koco) is trying to soothe their guilty consciences about what went down with Melissa. In doing so, Astrud makes her wildest statement to date:
It’s a range of emotions right now that feels like the death of a lover and with that comes all the five stages of grief.
Koco enters and takes a brief moment to read everyone for filth about their boudoir behavior. She makes some great points and some less great points, but her overall strategy of coming in at an 11 in terms of intensity in order to be heard is probably a good one. Her claim that HoSo is playing some sort of mind game with the other competitors seems like a little bit of an overshot to me (some people are young and dumb, Koco!) but her genuine concern for Melissa shines through and the other ghouls seem appropriately chagrined.
We get an early taste of the weird fake-out the Boulets do every episode and the competitors make their way to the main stage. Here they learn that this week’s challenge will be to reimagine a horror icon (with the definition of “icon” being appropriately broad here) in their own drag style and perform a signature moment from this character’s oeuvre. For their Fright Feat (which I did not realize would be their final Fright Feat), they’ll repeat the Season 2 lie-detector test. This time they’re upping the stakes a little: contestants will get an electric shock any time they answer untruthfully.
Tiddies Full of Secrets
The lie detector guy is waiting for our ghouls in the boudoir and I truly cannot tell if it’s the same dude from Season 2 or if all lie detector guys have kind of the same look going on. Anyways, the contestants get strapped in and the truth starts pouring out. Well, except for from Koco who decides to have fun lying as much as possible, shock collar be damned. Here are the highlights:
- Koco says she’s not attracted to anyone on the cast: lie.
- Astrud says she’s not in love with HoSo: lie.
- No one trusts anyone: truth.
- Everyone says they’re not sabotaging Koco: truth.
- Koco means to lie by saying she doesn’t think anyone’s sabotaging her, but her answer comes out as truthful.
- HoSo still loves Abhora: truth.
- No one thinks Astrud should be in the top 3: truth.
- Astrud doesn’t see herself in the top 3: truth.
Back in the boudoir, the contestants discuss the results of the lie detector test and Astrud has a moment. In discussing her own lack of confidence in her ability to make it to the final three, she seems to try and spin her insecurity as altruism, but the other ghouls aren’t buying it. They talk a little more about how they don’t trust each other and how Koco’s saboteur is probably a poltergeist and then everyone gets started on their floorshow looks.
I think it was a smart move for Astrud to go with the Predator, but it’s hard for me to get behind anything described as “cyberpunk.” What I can get behind, however, is HoSo’s take on Sadako from The Ring, which already looks f*cking sick. Koco tries to play coy about her character, but one look at the wig and that red vinyl tells me she’s going to be showing up as the elusive third Boulet (Medium Boulet, perhaps?)
Horror Icons Reimagined
Guest judges Harvey Gullien and The Last Drive-In’s Joe Bob Briggs are treated to a floorshow that truly shows off the best of what Dragula has to offer. While I don’t turn my nose up at boudoir drama or the Fright Feats or even those little sketches the Boulets do that run a bit too long, I’m ultimately here for the incredible artistry these performers have to offer and all five of them kill it this week.
While I didn’t dislike Astrud’s look, it’s not quite on par with what the rest of the contestants are bringing (or with what Melissa brought earlier in the season), which is sort of a theme for her this season. Her take on the Predator was fun and her use of lighting was genuinely very clever, but there’s a cosplay flavor to her drag that I can never quite vibe with. Frankly, it might just not be for me! Regardless, her performance is a bit lackluster and the look overall starts to fall apart once you see it in the light.
Oh, Evah…Evah, out of all the ghouls, is probably the one who grew on me the most this season. She seemed to have let go of whatever chip was on her shoulder in Season 3, which has allowed her to showcase more of her truly fantastic performance skills. Not only can she lipsynch and sell a character, but she got a chance to show off her ability to create a jaw-dropping visual moment as well. I liked this week’s look a lot, but as soon as I saw it, I knew she was probably going home with Astrud. Both she and Victoria sometimes struggle with disappearing into their characters and both of them have shown a lot of growth in that area this season. Unfortunately, Evah falls back into this a bit with her Mars Attacks character. While there are shades of Evah in there, it doesn’t read as pure Evah Destruction, and that pesky prosthetic is the killing blow. Too bad because I think, out of everyone, she probably could’ve killed in the weird finale floorshow.
This was perfect. One of the biggest strengths of HoSo’s drag is how much enthusiasm and passion for her art and her drag character come through in her work. Sadako/Samara is a particular favorite character of mine and I absolutely adore what HoSo did with her. Just the dress itself was almost enough to secure her a win, but add to that the hair, the make-up, the performance, and the prop and set touches and we’ve got one of the best looks of the entire season. Fantastic, fantastic work.
I liked this but not quite as much as the judges did. Flattery will get you everywhere, I guess! That being said, Koco looked stunning and her performance was great. It just didn’t quite wow me. I think the edge it had over Evah’s floorshow this week was that it did come across as quintessentially Koco. One of the ways in which she’s really shone this season is her deep understanding of her drag character.
If HoSo hadn’t pulled out all the stops this week, Victoria’s Cryptkeeper would’ve easily stolen the show. What Victoria did this episode was sort of the opposite of what Evah did. That is, instead of disappearing into a character, she showed us one of the most clearly envisioned versions of Victoria we’ve seen to date. The look was technically remarkable, as nearly all her looks are, and it was spooky, but it also captured the ditzy, goofy, high-femme side of her character that was able to come out more this season. I loved this one.
The judges deliberate and, likely to no one’s surprise, HoSo wins and Astrud and Evah are sent packing. At this point, I can’t tell you how excited I was to see our final three show off their Filth, Horror, and Glamour looks. I had a whole viewing party situation planned and everything. But instead, I got…
The Bad and The Baffling: Episode 9/Finale
Uglies, I don’t know what to say. What in the low-rent Drag Race rip-off, 50-minute advertisement for nothing hell was this episode?
I’m agog. I’m aghast. I’m astonished.
We had three of the most exciting competitors to ever appear on Dragula all geared up to show us their best, and this was what we were given? Worse still, this is what they were given? I still love this show, but I’m personally offended for Koco, HoSo, and Victoria that this was their send-off. Yikes.
So, uh, I’m going to blow through this one as quickly as possible because I don’t want to make anyone relive the pain of watching it.
To start, there’s no Last Supper this season, which feels like a complete lost opportunity to me, but that’s far from the worst of it.
Instead, the ghouls have to…I don’t even want to say it…have to sit down for an interminable podcast interview for the Boulet Brothers’ Creatures of the Night. They have some cute moments, but it’s largely stilted questions and pat answers and neat little branding opportunities. It lasts for a million years.
Then, the competitors get ready for the floor show. But this won’t be the typical Dragula finale floorshow where each competitor gets a chance to show their take on the three Dragula tenets. No, instead they’ll do one floorshow that will best encapsulate drag, filth, horror, and glamour. At this point, while I thought it was stupid to mess with a good thing, I remained optimistic that the floorshow might still be great. After all, all three of these ghouls can turn it out no matter what, right?
Wrong. Well, no, not completely wrong. And I mean no disrespect to the competitors at all. They do put on an amazing show. There’s no doubt about that. But the way it’s filmed and edited makes it nearly impossible to appreciate their efforts. The three floorshows are all spliced together, which is fine in a normal episode but absolutely does not work in this instance since each floorshow is a fully-conceived narrative. There’s no time to appreciate anyone’s look and it’s very difficult to get a sense of anyone’s performance. I’ll give a run-down of each one like usual, but the main thing to know is: they all do a great job and everything about the way it’s shown to the audience sucks ass.
This was my favorite look of the finale. I loved the concept and the execution and I’m excited by HoSo’s seemingly increasing interest in entomological costuming. Great lipsynch (from the little we saw of it) and an overall effective and interesting performance.
This was my favorite performance of the finale. Koco was 100% KOCO and it was beautiful to see. The black widow look was perfect for her and it moved beautifully. Very exciting work from Koco tonight.
This was my favorite concept of the night. I love it when Victoria allows us insight into her process. She’s an endlessly fascinating artist and it’s clear that her drag is a culmination of a lifetime of work and vision. I really liked how she used this opportunity to tell a complete story and show off multiple facets of her drag.
After the Boulets deliberate, the winner is unceremoniously crowned. Or, not even crowned. Her image is displayed with a voice-over from the Boulets telling us that she won. This felt like the most insulting part of the whole finale, to the point that I started to wonder if something had gone wrong in the making of the episode. Victoria deserved more. All three of them did.
If it wasn’t a mistake, perhaps the reason the “crowning” was underwhelming is that the Boulets painted themselves into a bit of a corner with this final three. All three are absolutely remarkable artists and true peers on that level. However, both HoSo and Koco are still in the process of becoming the most fully realized versions of themselves. They’re rapidly evolving (both have grown so much in just a year) and part of what makes them so exciting to watch is seeing where they’ll go. Victoria Elizabeth Black, on the other hand, is a fully mature creation at the apex of her career. Within the context of an all-stars season, she’s almost too obvious as the winner but also the most natural choice, which takes some of the tension out of the proceedings.
Regardless, Victoria Elizabeth Black is absolutely the deserving winner of this season and of the title of monster of all monsters. It’s been an absolute pleasure and an honor to get to see the beautiful, terrifying creation she’s become. Other than this weird-ass finale, I’ve loved every second of it. The most sincere and enthusiastic congratulations to our queen of monsters: Mother Black!
The winner we got: Victoria Elizabeth Black.
The winner we deserved: Victoria Elizabeth Black.
Worst episode of the season: This wretched finale.
Best episode of the season: For me, it’s a three-way tie between the sci-fi episode, the wrestling episode, and the sea monsters episode.
Season narrator: Koco (honorary mentions: Kendra and Melissa).
Embodiment of Filth: This one’s hard because this season was very filth-light, but I’d actually give this one to Victoria this season.
Embodiment of Horror: I’d go with Abhora for this one, particularly given her unaired sea monster look.
Embodiment of Glamour: If you thought I was going to say anyone but Melissa BeFierce, you thought wrong.
Most improved: Evah and Koco.
Best looks: HoSo’s Sadako, Victoria and Yovska’s Pumpkinheads, Evah’s she-devil, Koco and Victoria’s sci-fi, Abhora’s witch, Victoria’s zombie, and Evah and Melissa’s (sue me) sea monsters.
That’s all, folks! I’ve loved watching this season with you all and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a new season soon (and if they don’t go back to the Filth/Horror/Glamour finale format, please join me in writing a strongly-worded letter). In the meantime, if you’re looking for a new weekly queer horror fix, I’ll be reviewing Season 2 of Yellowjackets when it returns this spring. If you haven’t watched Season 1 yet, jump on that right this instant and invite some beautiful culty gay cannibal survivalists into your life.
As always, sound off in the comments if you think I’m a genius or an idiot. Just remember: entertainment journalism is art and art is subjective.
Bye for now, Uglies…