RuPaul’s Drag Race UK – Season 2, Episode 3
This week’s episode was a rollercoaster — strap in.
Following some quite catty conversation between Tia and Tayce — a close friend to last week’s eliminated queen, Asttina Mandela — we started with another strange and bemusing mini-challenge, with another punny name, The Great British Fake Off. It seems they came up with the pun before they decided on the challenge. What the were meant to do felt unclear and they didn’t even have to get in quick drag, which would have added a certain something.
Each queen selected a cake and presented it to the others, with a sprinkling of added humour and innuendo. It was chaos. Some of the queens fell flat — Ellie, Veronica — and many relied on double entendre and filth — Lawrence, Tia — but the winner, Bimini, took a different tack and pursued a satirical, Brexit-themed stance, which Ru nonetheless found hilarious.
There was a wonderful moment of tension in the werk room as Ru toured the girls: she always makes the point of pronouncing Lawrence Chaney with a strong Scottish accent, but never does the same for Ellie Diamond. Ellie asked why, quite directly, and Ru seemed taken aback — I had to watch her answer twice and still it made no sense. Something about a storyline and to shine like a diamond… I’m guessing she just hasn’t mastered how to say Ellie in a convincing Scottish accent.
The maxi challenge was to present a new morning show, Morning Glory, with the help of the queen of daytime television, Lorraine Kelly, who appeared on season 1 of Drag Race UK and deserves to be a regular on the show. Mixing acting, autocue presenting, and ad-libbed comedy, it played straight into the hands of a few of the queens — Ginny, Lawrence — but presented a big challenge to some of the others, particularly Veronica, who took it as a chance to challenge herself.
Again, the result was structured chaos. Tayce and Bimini were great as the presenters, particularly Bimini, who never broke character and paid great attention to the details, which impressed Lorraine. The Scottish queens teamed up again and did a great job as the agony aunts: Lawrence was particularly strong, such acting clearly comes naturally, and she overshadowed Ellie somewhat, who was timid and seemed reliant on her cue cards. The goth party planners — the wonderfully mismatched Veronica and Sister — was awkward and flat, with too few laughs for the time they took up.
The big surprise was A’Whora, who, along with Tia, played the TOWIE-inspired money-saving experts: she was completely unhinged, but committed to the character and the bit so well that it was utterly hilarious, made funnier by its unexpectedness. Tia wasn’t as strong in comparison, but if they both went as far, it would have fallen apart — sometimes, you’ve got to play it with a straight bat for the sake of structure. The big disappointment was Ginny, who immediately chose the role of the hippy weather presenter. It was a tougher part in many ways, something I don’t think the judges took into consideration, as she had to react to a variety of weather being thrown at her — literally, there was a man with a bucket of water — but had no one else to bounce off. She was funny, but it was unstructured and lacking in punchlines.
The runway theme was Monster Mashup — quite perplexing, until you realise that the episode was initially planned, pre-covid, to air around Halloween. In February, though, the creepy crossovers felt strange. Many of the looks were underwhelming, trying to do too much and not quite pulling it off. This was, in large part, due to the theme: interesting and creative takes on single monsters might have been better, instead of shoehorning in a second idea. I was disappointed that we’d lost our two gothic queens who regularly work with this aesthetic — Mr Joe Black and Cherry Valentine — before this week; eliminated queens tend to post their planned looks on Instagram after the episode and I recommend you check them out, as both had innovative and polished interpretations of the theme.
Veronica came out first and more than made up for her dismal improvisational skills with a creepy, polished crossover between a pig and a gorgon: her snake nest wig was a sculptural marvel. Tia looked probably the best she has on the runway, with a strong silhouette and a gorgeous Egyptian gown, which worked well with the voodoo touches added, although the makeup was a bit basic. Ellie, for once, didn’t impress, combining a goblin with a werewolf: the colours clashed, the outfit itself was something we’d seen before, but her makeup was, as ever, stunning.
A’Whora and Lawrence were clearly the tops overall — Bimini fell short from a lack of refinement in her runway look, a devil-cum-bimbo bunny. Lawrence had the most visually impressive outfit, referencing specific horror movies, namely The Bride of Frankenstein and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with a touch of Sweeny Todd for good gay measure. The judges loved it and the dress was wonderfully grotesque, but the details — the tights, the shoes, the gloves — felt wanting for me. Nonetheless, she won again this week.
I thought A’Whora deserved the win — something I definitely didn’t expect going into this week. Her performance in the maxi challenge was fresh, funny, and clearly took her out of her comfort zone, where Lawrence did as expected. And her runway look combined elegance — a kind of slutty bride of Frankenstein or Morticia Addams — with a surprising and gruesome note, as she pulled off her wig to reveal her oozing brain. She showed some real vulnerability in her confessionals this week, and in the werk room, where she made amends with Tia for some previous, unfair comments. She’s shown growth and, I’d say, is becoming a frontrunner in the competition now.
Sister and Ginny both underperformed in the challenge and underwhelmed on the runway. Sister gave us a mummy, with touches of werewolf poking through — blue, for some reason — and it was polished but unimaginative. Ginny’s look felt very simple, I couldn’t tell what the mashup was meant to be: it read as radioactive- or mutant-themed and little else. A neon yellow dress with matching wig, makeup and cardigan, I think it was unsurprising she ended up in the bottom two.
The real surprise came next: instead of lip-syncing against Sister, she merely walked off the stage. It was a Drag Race first and a bold statement — she quit on her own terms, which is fair enough, and given that she was against her closest friend in the competition, it felt honest, rather than a tantrum. I’d rather that than her to give a half-hearted performance on the stage with the intent of losing. Sister, meanwhile, continued undeterred, apparently unaware that Ginny had left until halfway through the song, You Keep Me Hangin’ On by Kim Wilde. It was a phenomenal performance, she definitely would have won anyway, and somehow the contrast between the creepy costumes and high pop song made it more captivating.
The other big twist came soon after: in the preview for next week, we see the queens alerted to the fact that filming will be postponed due to Covid. I’ve read that we’re going to get a special episode following all the queens, including the eliminated ones, as they cope with the delays and the pandemic more generally — whether this will replace or supplement the next episode proper is unclear at this stage. I guess we’ll wait and see…
Images from Veronica Green, A’Whora & Lawrence Chaney