‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ 13 episode 13 recap: It’s go small or go home for the final five in ‘Henny, I Shrunk the Drag Queens’

Last week on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” more than a couple bombs went off when the remaining six queens took the stage for a “Nice Girls Roast.” In an effort to throw deep shade at one another, including a collection of former Miss Congeniality winners, Utica Queen and Symone both fell flat, landing themselves in the bottom two. Symone, a four time challenge winner, was able to fend off Utica to remain in the competition. Tonight, she joins Gottmik, Olivia Lux, Kandy Muse and Rosé in one of the strongest groups of final five in series history.

Below, check out our minute-by-minute “RuPaul’s Drag Race” recap of episode 13 to watch the queens cut each other down to size in “Henny, I Shrunk the Drag Queens.” 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. – Coming back from the bottom for the second time, Symone knew that it was time she had to “change something in her head” in order to make it to the finale. She realized that she got in her head in the challenge and it prevented her from performing at her usual high level. Instead, Kandy upped her game high enough to get her first challenge win, the last of the final five to get one. With all challenge winners left in the competition, everyone was aware that getting to the finale would be a fight to the finish and that it’s anyone’s game for the taking.

8:05 p.m. – The next day, RuPaul Charles wasted no time in delivering the brief for the upcoming maxi challenge. This week the girls would star in “Henny, I Shrunk the Drag Queens,” a special effects focused acting challenge where they’d act in front of a green screen in order to portray thumb-sized drag queens running around the werk room. Without any other directive, the queens were left to themselves to determine who would play what role. For Rosé, Gottmik and Olivia the decision was easy, but Symone and Kandy both wanted the “star” role of the villainous Dominique. Symone was convinced she needed to take the biggest role and play something outside of her comfort zone, but Kandy felt closest to that character and so it was only right that she be it. Eventually Symone caved, giving the role to Kandy and accepting the role of Margarita for herself.

8:17 p.m. – As the queens looked in their closets for costumes to create their character, Symone was already spiraling into her head. She hated all of the choices she had left to choose from and couldn’t stop thinking about the pressure of living up to the name of her drag family that includes last season’s finalist Gigi Goode. Luckily she was saved from her own mind by the siren announcing the arrival of a guest video conference with Scarlett Johansson! ScarJo was on hand to give the group some acting advice, stressing that there are no small parts on screen and that it is up to you to make the most of your script by developing more context for the character than exists on the page.

8:25 p.m. – Later, the queens went to the set for filming with directors Michelle Visage and Carson Kressley. From the very beginning Symone was struggling, not giving enough energy in the delivery of her lines and falling back into the comfort zone of the voice and characterization that she had used in previous acting challenges. Olivia was also resting comfortably in what she knows with her sweet and dumb character that added yet another mindlessly optimistic character to her resume. Michelle and Carson were both impressed with the professionalism of Rosé and how effortlessly technical she is on set. Gottmik was the one with the big physical comedy scene, giving her a chance to really break out from the others in a scene where she’s attacked (and tickled) by a cat.

8:37 p.m. – The next day all the queens felt like they had done well during filming and that it was still an even playing field as they prepared for the runway and to hear from the judges. Symone opened up to the other queens about the pressure she felt on her shoulder, and privately in her confessional broke down emotionally under the weight of it. The disappointment that each of them fears if they don’t perform to the level that people back home hope for them can be crumbling at times, but as Rosé pointed out: fear prevents you from “doing the things that make you you” and letting go is the only way to be genuine.

8:46 p.m. – Ru was joined on the main stage by Michelle, Carson and this week’s special guest judge Cynthia Erivo. Prior to the unveiling of their film, the queens walked in a “Haute Pockets” category. Symone opened in an oversized denim zipper moment and a flaming orange rock star wig, exuding all the confidence we’ve come to know from her. Olivia strutted in a lavender mini poof dress with oversized pockets, Rosé turned the corner in a mod black and white circle mini and a muted white wig, and Kandy arrived in a brightly colored dress assembled by mini pockets stitched together. Gottmik was last to walk in a trench coat that opened up to flash a watch salesman.

8:54 p.m. – As their film “Henny, I Shrunk the Drag Queens” played it became immediately clear that they had indeed each claimed roles that matched their own personalities as drag queens: Olivia in a baby voice, Gottmik in her Paris Hilton voice, Symone in her “fact’ry” voice, Rosé as the voice of reason, and Kandy as the loud villain. The script played out like an episode of “Untucked” would with the queens returning to the werk room from the stage. Kandy’s character, upset at the critiques from the other queens, flipped a switch that with overhead lighting shrunk the other four down to miniature size. Overall, the script fell flat with very few moments to find funny, which is not a dig at any of the performances. It was a tough concept to work with and the physical bit that Gottmik got to explore was a clear highlight.

9:08 p.m. – During critiques, Michelle pointed out to Symone that directing her was fairly difficult, but that in the playback she surprisingly ended up popping out on screen among the rest. Cynthia called her comedy subtle and nuanced and Carson found her runway the great kind of drag they’re used to seeing her in. Carson brought Olivia down for a gorgeous, but boring runway look and Michelle suggested that she should have gone outside the box in the challenge and taken a role that isn’t what they’ve already seen from her. Rosé was once again lauded for her professionalism and for bringing something fun and body-showing to the runway. Michelle explained to Kandy that she was funny in the challenge, but only because Kandy herself is funny not because she had created anything unexpected. She also called her outfit on the runway sloppy and not elevated for her place in the competition. Ru opened Gottmik’s critique with a gag to her outfit and Carson went on to say it has a cultural reference and sense of humor he really liked which when paired with her physical comedy made her one of the strongest this week. Then, Ru dropped the dreaded question, asking each of them to name the queen that should go home. Olivia said she was conflicted and held her tongue from saying herself or anyone else, and only when pressed by Ru finally named Kandy. Symone, Gottmik, Rosé and Kandy all named Olivia.

9:23 p.m. – After further deliberation, Rosé rose to the top as this week’s winner, a third for herself. With Gottmik and Symone declared safe, we were left with Kandy and Olivia as this week’s bottom two. For Olivia it was a fifth straight time in the bottom half of the results, but for Kandy it was a plummet from last week’s winner to being vulnerable to elimination. To stay, they lip synched to Cher‘s “Strong Enough.” Both queens tapped into the passion of the song and all of its disco elements, but Kandy took the lyric to another level by directing a lot of her energy toward Olivia in lines like “you gotta go” and then stole all the energy on stage when she threw glitter into the air at the song’s peak. With such a strong pair in front of her, Ru’s decision could not have been easy, but one had to be made and for Olivia it was a “sashay away.”

NEXT WEEK: It’s not the finals yet! The last four queens take Ru’s song “Lucky” and inject their own verses and personality into it.

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