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Drag Race ends with epic lip sync battle, and a format it should stick with

Peppermint, RuPaul, and Sasha Velour in an awkward photo, the only one VH1 provided of the finale. SHADE. (Photo by VH1)

RuPaul’s Drag Race has finally found a live finale format that works: a three-part bracketed lip sync competition between the final four. These particular performances were epic and wonderful because of the performers—eventual winner Sasha Velour, runner-up Peppermint, Shea Couleé, and Trinity Taylor—but it’s a format the show should keep.

The previous episode ended with a lip sync battle and RuPaul announcing that no one would go home, which would have been a gimmicky twist had it not given way to the finale battle: two preliminary rounds, followed by one final performance for the crown.

The lip sync battle made for a much stronger finale than the show’s often dreary, paint-by-numbers live finales, which can often be the weakest episode in the season. It was also a joyful contrast from last week’s frequently ugly, Real Housewives-ish reunion. That included RuPaul emulating Andy Cohen by attributing criticism (of Alexis, primarily) to questions from viewers.

The epic Drag Race season 9 lip sync performances

First, RuPaul randomly selected Trinity Taylor, who decided to lip sync against Peppermint to Britney Spears’ “Stronger.” Peppermint absolutely destroyed it, and moved on to the finals.

Then came Sasha Velour vs. Shea Couleé singing “So Emotional”:

The final lip sync for the crown featured Peppermint versus Sasha Velour, lip syncing to “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” by Whitney Houston.

Update: The YouTube videos I embedded here were removed by Viacom, and neither VH1 nor Logo have decided to share these moments via YouTube or other videos, because why let people watch (and re-watch) something amazing?