The inner saboteur is the greatest enemy on any reality TV show. Even if you're competing against huge threats, the biggest damage to your place in the game is caused by your lack of confidence.
On RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12 Episode 9, Widow Von'Du kept digging herself deeper into the hole that she couldn't escape from.
A comedy challenge like "Choices 2020" should've been the perfect stage for her. However, when the mind works against you, there's not much that can pull you from the tailspin.
Widow's downfall storyline was an extension from the previous week on RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12 Episode 8.
Everyone reminded her that she only won one challenge and that she stayed "safe" throughout the competition. In addition to that, she had a terrible week with her infomercial and had to lipsync for her life against Jan. Her mindset stayed in the same low negative place with barely any moments of taking charge.
You could see it during her confessionals, the couch debrief after the elimination, the conversation at the table the next morning, the runway, the challenge, and the post-lipsync farewell.
Widow had a rough week, and her inner saboteur kept bringing her down to feel any kind of validation from the judges.
It's almost as if Widow knew her time on Drag Race was coming to an end.
The political Maxi Challenge of "Choices 2020" had all the elements to make a queen shine. Improvisation, playing dramatic political characters and injecting lots of zingers into witty one-liners.
RuPaul is impressed by a queen who can make him laugh. It's like why the Snatch Game on RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12 Episode 6 is an important milestone; the challenge is iconic, but it's a make-or-break moment for the competitors.
The return to this hilarious challenge from RuPaul's Drag Race Season 4 Episode 9 is welcomed and a needed surprise!
Plus, with acting heavyweights like Jeff Goldblum and Rachel Bloom moderating the challenge, the laughs were guaranteed to come. The queens would need to step their comedy up.
Who else loved the return of RuPaul's Drag Race legend, Raven?
Even though Raven never competed on a political challenge, she does have two seasons-worth of experience to share with the queens. (Let's not forget she made it to the finals twice.) Plus, she's a superfan and works on-set as RuPaul's makeup artist, so she's seen plenty of seasons up close.
You’re trying to become America’s Next Drag Superstar. Now, I don’t know what’s that like.Raven
[RuPaul bursts into loud laughing]
Just like Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, Raven brought so much fun and humor to the Werk Room during her walkthrough with RuPaul. The queens were laughing, Raven was laughing, and RuPaul could barely contain their laughter at every table.
RuPaul hasn't laughed that hard in a long time!
However, Raven's tips are what truly shined during the walkthrough. Both she and RuPaul had sound advice for all the queens on how to take on the political challenge.
Many of the queens, like Widow Von'Du, Gigi Goode, and Crystal Methyd, were stuck in their heads about what they wanted to say. Within seconds, Raven and RuPaul had the right advice the queens needed to listen to if they wanted to succeed in the game.
Raven: “F*** the GOP, get in the G-A-P.”
[RuPaul and Heidi N Closet burst out into laughter]
Heidi N Closet: Now can that be stolen is the question.
Raven: You can have it.
Heidi N Closet: Okay, here we go!
Heidi N Closet played it right by always listening and adapting to what RuPaul said. The tooth gap joke is now the second line she's taken directly from a walkthrough and shaped into her challenge performance.
RuPaul loves that type of move! If someone succeeds with their advice, it shows the queen is listening and adapting to what the judges are saying.
If a queen doesn't take advantage of the subtle warnings given to them, that's a disaster waiting to happen. (Many past eliminated contestants have experienced this firsthand.)
During the political debate, the line was set in the sand about which queens dominated the challenge and which ones didn't. Jaida Essence Hall, Heidi N Closet, and Crystal Methyd were the tops.
I worried for Jaida at first when she kept using the "look over there!" distraction move, but that gag morphed into a running bit that made everyone laugh. She added more to the confusion and chaos of the debate that helped the political character she was playing.
Jaida Essence Hall: Look over there!
Jeff Goldblum: Where?!
[Heidi N Closet laughs]
Jeff Goldblum: She keeps fooling me with that “Look over there!” business.
Rachel Bloom: I know. I got a controversial question coming up.
Jeff Goldblum: Ohhhh … controversial question!
Rachel Bloom: Jeff, look over there!
Jeff Goldblum: Hey, where?!
[They all laugh]
Jeff Goldblum: I fall for it every time too.
Crystal Methyd played off her mullet, which worked in her favor since it did so well for her during the infomercial.
Sometimes your personality is your strongest feature. Crystal playing "Crystal" allowed her to utilize a brand that she was comfortable using and strong enough to get jokes.
In Heidi's case, the shocked expressions were giving us life!
Regarding the other contestants, they weren't landing enough jokes to make them stand out in a comedy challenge.
Gigi Goode and Sherry Pie were resting on characters that had given them success in the past (i.e. Sherry as the old woman and Gigi as a robotic model). While it helped them previously, the return to form here was stiff, dull, and boring.
Seriously, where were the jokes?!
Jackie Cox had a developed character in mind, but the Canada jokes felt repetitive. The first few times were cute; however, she relied on them too much and didn't change her approach.
If Jeff Goldblum is telling you to make a joke that doesn't involve Canada, you need to follow the advice. Even Rachel Bloom looked surprised that Jackie didn't heed the warning.
In Widow's case, she stuck to a character type that didn't give her much room to have laughs.
Villains can be a great source of humor, especially when they're love-to-hate characters who are outlandish and dramatic. Widow, on the other hand, chose to play it more realistic like a stern and mean conservative politician. So in turn, her responses were stern and her energy was mean.
This isn't a case of Sharon Needles who also played a conservative type. Her role was more poised, but she did add some jokes in the midst of her rebuttals and dialogue.
Widow had political one-liners in the beginning before doubling-down on the stern character. The acting for the role was great, but she forgot the comedy aspect of it.
The mirror moments during RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12 have been the most emotional and deepest in a long time.
The discussion about politics and how it has affected their lives offered an insightful look at how it's approached across the country. The travel ban that impacted Jackie's family, Crystal's family who are Trump supporters, and how old policies/discriminations still plague parts of the country showcased the need to take voting seriously.
It's great that the queens are opening up and having these discussions. Every conversation can spark change, and with this being an election year, it's important to know what's going on and how people are feeling.
The runway of "Stars and Stripes Forever" was a very patriotic round. In addition to the promo looks for the season, this is now the second political ensemble the queens had to bring.
The favorites of the round included Jaida Essence Hall, Gigi Goode, Jackie Cox, Widow Von'Du, and Heidi N Closet.
Each look was tailored, well-designed, and brought out the stylish side of the queen. Gigi had the most elaborate look thanks to their costume designer mother; the outfit perfected the tone of the soldier, right down to the small details on the jacket.
Jackie and Widow had great political pieces that touched on important moments of history. They thought outside the box instead of slapping stars and stripes on their outfits and calling it day.
Finally, Heidi's and Jaida's outfits were so glamorous. Their makeup was on point, their hair was well-done, and they created ensembles that extenuated their features.
Great runway all around!
Widow Von'Du and Jackie Cox ending up in the bottom two wasn't surprising. Both had issues during the political debate, and while their runway outfits were great, RuPaul put more value into the jokes for their judging criteria.
Plus, Widow dug herself a huge hole with her defeatist attitude during the judging panel!
The constant jump-cutting back to Widow made it clear that she was heading into the bottom. And when RuPaul tells you to stop digging yourself a hole, that sums up your fate.
RuPaul: Can I get a “Amen” up in here?
Michelle Visage: Amen! Jeff Goldblum, call me!
On the other hand, Gigi being at the bottom again was surprising. RuPaul loves Gigi Goode, so there was a good chance she wasn't going to be so low after her runway outfit.
Could this be a sign that Gigi will have to lipsync soon?
I still don't think so. Gigi will either do well enough to be safe or carried a bit to ensure a spot in the finals.
The lipsync of "Firework" by Katy Perry was a good and energetic number.
Jackie played the number with comedy while Widow channeled emotion. Both styles worked with the song, but Jackie infused emotion into her performance too, and it utilized her outfit to create beautiful movements.
Nothing was overt "wow" about the lipsync. It's a beautiful lipsync that's near the top-middle of the season so far. However, compared to the lipsyncs of Drag Race herstory, it's not that memorable.
Widow and Jackie did a great job, and the expected queen went home. Overall, it's a pretty standard result that wasn't shocking.
Last Thoughts From The Werk Room:
The Kitty Girl 2.0 Mini Challenge is the kind of pointless fun for just laughs and silliness. This challenge was a sponsored tie-in to a product while also poking fun at the musical CATS. All the queens did a great job acting like cats.
Heidi threw some not-so-subtle shade at Gigi being cocky!
Jeff Goldblum and Rachel Bloom were amazing guest judges! They had so much fun with the contestants and they appreciated being in this crazy world of Drag Race. Both should return again to judge.
Dahlia Sin should thank her group for being the broccoli. She is collecting those appearance fees.
- I'm still laughing at "Look over there!"
Now, over to you, Drag Race fans!
What did you think of "Choices 2020"?
Will Gigi or Jackie Cox end up in the bottom again? Is this Heidi's rise to the top? Are you happy that Jaida Essence Hall won another challenge?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.