RuPaul’s Drag Race UK – Season 2, Episode 3

Another week in lockdown, another episode of Drag Race UK to keep us going. 

 

The mini-challenge, chaotic as ever, saw the ten remaining queens demonstrate their flexibility in a Notting Hill Carnival themed “Limbo For Your Life”. East London’s bendiest bitch, Bimini, was pipped to the top spot(s) by Tayce and Veronica. 

The maxi challenge was the season’s first design challenge — but with a twist never before seen on Drag Race. The queens paired up with their “best Judy” or closest ally within the competition — Tayce and A’Whora, Veronica and Tia, Ginny and Sister, East London’s Asttina and Bimini, and the two Scots, Lawrence and Ellie — then they were given identical boxes of monochrome fabrics. Veronica and Tayce got to choose and assign the five colours: blue, green, black, pink, and gold. 

They would then be judged directly against one another, with the judges deciding who wore each colour best, and the bottom five queens all put up for elimination. (I briefly expected a five-way lip-sync, which wouldn’t be unheard of, but this didn’t materialise.) It was a great twist, cheeky in that it pitted the queens against their closest competitor, but also lowered the stakes somewhat, as suddenly they only had to bear one other outfit. 

 All of the queens, apart from Tia, confessed to a degree of sewing — or, at least, costuming — ability. A’Whora was, quite rightly, rather cocky, having graduated from Central Saint Martins with a degree in fashion just a couple of years ago. Many of the queens make most, if not all of their outfits, though, and it must’ve been one of the most technically competent groups of contestants in recent years.

Lawrence identified to Ru a “wee bit of sexual tension between A’Whora and Tayce” — they definitely have a personal history and are probably the closest of the remaining queens. But RuPaul talking to them about it had the same awkwardness as your parents talking to you about condoms. They denied anything, yet last week seemed to confess to having hooked up. Either way, what of it? They’re good friends now, and it’s hardly surprising that they might have once hooked up. I wouldn’t say the tension was overtly sexual in the Werk Room, but it’s a storyline that Drag Race hasn’t seen before, so unsurprising that the producers might want to pick up on it. 

The conversation between Ginny and Bimini — with their matching lemon mullets — about non-binary identity was really touching. Ginny’s story was both heartbreaking and heartwarming and Bimini, particularly in her to-camera moments, was warm and eloquent about identity and gender. In just a couple of minutes, it felt like we were watching a lifelong friendship being forged. 

Ru challenged Ginny to try and be “beautiful” on the runway — questionably phrased advice, as Ru clearly thinks drag should be and do certain things — but after talking about their struggles with self-image, Ginny picked up the gauntlet. She borrowed hip pads, a corset and a chest piece and really sold it on the runway in a florid, rhubarb-and-custard coloured look. She definitely needs to polish her approach, but she demonstrated that she’s versatile, open to trying new things, and a very competent queen. Ru seemed impressed by how she rose to the challenge — and rightly so!

Lawrence won, surprising herself and the rest of us. Ellie Diamond looked particularly pissed at the result, but her garment erred slightly on the side of costume, instead of high fashion, and she was certainly safe. In the pairs, I agreed with all the winners and losers, each was pretty clear. 

I thought Sister gave us the best look, although perhaps her runway presentation was to her detriment, as she opted for a bold blue face against her rouched pink ensemble. A’Whora was technically impressive but visually underwhelming, I hoped for more wow. I felt sorry for her, though, as she clearly wanted to win this challenge.

The bottom two was pretty obvious: Tia served a disappointing green dress and Asttina gave us a simple top and skirt combo. The lip sync itself, to Dua Lipa’s Don’t Start Now, was fairly even — Tia brought humour, where Asttina was slick — so I think the decision was questionable overall, and clearly, many of the queens in the room agreed. Given that Asttina won the first week, and her look was a bit basic where Tia’s was quite poor, I was surprised that Tia stayed. 

I’m always wary about being overly judgemental about reality tv judging: they see far more than we do, obviously, and sometimes decisions are made for drama. If in doubt, criticism should be levelled at the judges, where all too often the contestants themselves receive unwarranted and excessive abuse on social media. And, ultimately, someone has to go every week and I don’t really want to see any of these queens go.

I have to admit, I was more excited to see what else Asttina had to offer in the coming weeks, especially given how cocky she was, but I’m hoping Tia proves me wrong and stuns on the runway sometime soon. 

Next week? The legendary Lorraine Kelly returns to Drag Race UK to help judge the queens’ daytime show hosting skills on the set of Morning Glory. It will be the last episode filmed before the unprecedented seven-month break in filming due to the pandemic. 

 

Images from Lawrence Cheney, Sister Sister & A’Whora