‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ 13 episode 12 recap: To be mean or not to be mean, that is the question in ‘Nice Girls Roast’

Last week on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” the last seven standing were asked to sell themselves to the audience with a brand messaging challenge in which Utica Queen and Tina Burner just did not pop. Utica defeated Tina in her second lip sync of the season, convincing her that she might be the new lip sync assassin. Meanwhile, Rosé and Symone each collected another win, cementing their status as the frontrunners of the season. Tonight the final six return to the stage with the singular goal of pointing out the worst in each other in a comedy roast.

Below, check out our minute-by-minute “RuPaul’s Drag Race” recap of episode 12 to see the return of Miss Congeniality winners Heidi N Closet, Valentina, and Nina West as guests of honor in “Nice Girls Roast.” After following along with our live updating blog,  be sure to sound off in the comments section with your reactions to VH1’s reality TV show and then resume discussing who you think will ultimately join the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winners list.

8:01 p.m. – After winning her second lip sync and sending the legend Burner home, Utica was feeling mixed with the sadness of thinking Tina deserved to stay and the confidence boost of having been the one to send her home. Gottmik was confused by the two emotions Utica was putting on display, suggesting once again that the other girls question how genuine Utica’s polite personality actually is. With Tina’s elimination, Kandy Muse was the only queen left in the competition without a maxi challenge win and so this week was an especially important one for her to head into in order to establish herself as a contender.

8:05 p.m. – For the next mini challenge, RuPaul Charles had the girls pair off as arms and face for a live makeup tutorial. On set for the challenge was Norvina, president of cosmetics company Anastasia Beverly Hills. Rosé and Kandy teamed up with Rosé as the face for Kandy, as arms, to apply makeup to. Rosé left Ru cackling in her ability to quickly respond to Kandy’s arms smearing makeup across her face as if the mess was intentional. Gottmik as the face to Utica’s arms was also a riot, but them and the less funny pair of the Symone and Olivia Lux lost out.

8:10 p.m. – And for the maxi challenge, the time came for the queens to participate in the annual comedy roast. This season they’d help roast guests Nina, Valentina, and Heidi in a “Nice Girls Roast” of past Miss Congeniality winners. As the mini challenge winners, Rosé and Kandy got to decide the order in which everyone would compete, giving them an opportunity to put themselves in good positions and throw everyone else under the bus.

8:17 p.m. – Confident in their own ability to succeed in this challenge, Kandy and Rosé contemplated putting themselves in the hardest positions in the line-up: first and last. They both wanted to go first, but Kandy insisted that she wanted first and eventually Rosé realized that going last was the more difficult position and she should take the risk for a high reward. After deciding their own placements, they put Symone second, Utica third, Gottmik fourth, and Olivia fifth. The other girls were surprised that they put themselves in the most challenging spots, but were happy to let them.

8:20 p.m. – As the queens prepared their material, Olivia had to confront her own sweetness and find a way to combat that image by being a little bit mean for once. Symone and Gottmik were both worried about the challenge, noting that it was the one they were most dreading having to experience this season. Rosé, Kandy and Utica were all much more confident about how they’d execute their sets.

8:25 p.m. – Ahead of the actual roast, the queens got to rehearse and get advice from Michelle Visage and guest judge Loni Love. In the sessions each queen got some very valuable advice from them: Kandy needed to cut the profanity so that her whole set wouldn’t be bleeped out and focus on enunciating her words for clarity, Gottmik got a boost of confidence after landing some of her jokes despite being very nervous, Olivia was cautioned to drop the nice girl act and let herself surprise everyone by being more cutting in her digs, Rosé was asked to shorten jokes so that her punches hit harder, and Symone needed guidance on how to make jokes less convoluted. When it came to Utica’s content, it was clear immediately that her jokes were teetering toward the mean end of the scale rather than funny. When Loni and Michelle were offering her critiques, Utica responded to them by taking digs at both their weight. Loni pointed out that it was harsh and that, yes, it can be mean but it also has to be funny. Still, Utica was determined to let her jokes have truth to them and so seemed like she might not be taking the advice to heart. Gottmik pointed out that Utica is overconfident about her own art form and it prevents her from listening to the judges’ critiques and course-correcting.

8:39 p.m. – This week there would be no runway walk so instead the queens readied a look specific to the comedy roast presentation. While they dragged up, they took some time to discuss the ways in which they use comedy to cover up the harder aspects of life. Olivia pointed out that especially this year and for queens of color, comedy is definitely a way to lighten the load of the painful experiences. As has been mostly true of this season’s cast, the banter between all of them in this moment showed how close they all are to each other — Kandy and Rosé and Olivia were all able to take digs at each other without shade and you can just tell that they all genuinely love the differences they bring to the table.

8:47 p.m. – Joining Ru on stage this week on the judges’ panel was Michelle, Loni and Ross Mathews. They’d be the only audience for the “Nice Girls Roast” for guests of honor season 11 Miss Congeniality Nina, season 9 fan favorite Valentina, and the reigning Miss Congeniality Heidi. Opening the roast was Kandy who entered with a “hey y’all” and setting a really warm tone for the night that was quite professional. In her set, Kandy was able to use her personality as a major aspect of her jokes and she even managed to take digs are herself. That she went ahead of Symone was bad news for Symone who was an unexplainable bomb despite looking like a gorgeous stick of dynamite. Whether it was editing or not, there wasn’t a single laugh from the judges during Symone’s entire set.

8:53 p.m. – But if Symone bombed, then Utica was a complete disaster. She entered with an excellent dig at Symone’s bombing, but then went into her Lion King joke rhyming Symone with Timon in order to call Ross Pumbaa, a joke Michelle and Loni told her straight up in rehearsal wasn’t funny. She also included a whale joke about Nina and a bull semen joke about Heidi that made no sense. When Utica tried to take a dig at Loni’s comedy career, Loni retorted by cackling and saying “you’re the one bombing.” Then Utica, in the biggest cringe moment of the episode, asked Ru to “stand up” to which Ru obviously refused and then gave her a double flip off. Both comebacks from the judges caused an uproar of laughter among everyone, underscoring that Utica’s genuinely mean digs were not coming across as funny and that the only thing that could release the tension would be the judges turning the digs back on Utica herself.

9:00 p.m. – One other funny thing that came from Utica’s set was Gottmik’s entrance joke, which was to compare Utica’s name to a UTI which she said is equally uncomfortable and you need pills to forget about. That was a huge moment for Gottmik who surprised herself by continuing to move through her set with ease and getting a positive reception. Next was Olivia, who amped up her polite queen persona by being even more bubbly than usual, but she relied too heavily on reading cards and smiling her way through being mean. Her one good joke was saying that Ru is so old that she signed the Declaration of Independence as a parent/guardian. Valentina did not take kindly to Olivia’s joke about her Valentina, leading to her clocking Olivia for her own awfully painted brows. Thankfully we had Rosé to close the show with her confidence, composure and professionalism. She was the only queen to stand on stage without cards to read from and delivered her jokes in a sharp way that emphasized the punchlines in the right places.

9:10 p.m. – Without a runway moment, the judges got straight into critiques. They told Kandy she was hilarious from start to finish and looked gorgeous with her cinched waist look tonight. They thought Symone was equally gorgeous in her golden glamour, but said that she overthought all her jokes and wound up spiraling after her first jokes bombed. Ross told Utica that he was excited to see how she’d handle the roast, but was clearly disappointed by what he called “harsh observations” rather than jokes and Ru said that she resorted to being mean when she realized her jokes weren’t landing. Somehow, once again Utica managed to respond to Ru’s critique of her look by taking another dig at Ru. The judges loved Gottmik and Ru even told her that she could have a future in stand up. After hearing the judges tell her that most of her jokes didn’t land, Olivia defended her set and said she thought she executed her vision as a sweet character well. As expected, the judges also loved Rosé for her flawless execution and closing the show perfectly, but Loni scaled back a little by saying that she thought she was funnier during rehearsal.

8:23 p.m. – After further deliberation, Ru announced this week’s results. The challenge winner was Kandy, for the first time. With the announcement, every other queen cheered for Kandy, excited that now all of them had one under their belt. The safe queens were Rosé, Gottmik, and Olivia which left Symone and Utica in the bottom to save themselves from elimination. In a lip sync to “No Tears Left to Cry” by Ariana Grande, Utica did her best to dramatically wiggle to the top with arm waves and spins, but Symone cleverly turned the pop ballad into a performance by using the entire stage and highlighting the lyrics of the song with expressive face and arms gestures. Symone hit every beat of the song perfectly and managed to get laughs out of the judges with her decisions, leaving Ru with only one decision to make: Symone would shantay, sending the self-anointed lip sync assassin Utica home. After saying goodbye, somehow Utica still believed she is destined for a career in comedy roasting which was probably the funniest things she presented the entire episode! Now, sashay away.

NEXT WEEK: The final five get in front of the green screen for another acting challenge, but this time as their shrunken selves.

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