If there’s one thing this easy, breezy season of RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K. has been missing, it’s a little drama. Luckily last night’s ep ratcheted up the tension between remaining queens while increasing the pressure on the middle-of-the-pack performers.
It was perfect timing to inject a little adrenaline. It’s around this episode each season that Drag Race starts to, well, drag. With a smaller starting cast (truly, ten is the optimal amount of queens to begin with), the finish line comes into focus much sooner. Another bonus is it feels like we’ve spent more extended, quality time with each of the queens remaining.
Things boil over pretty quickly this week, immediately following Crystal’s elimination. Vivienne is still shaken when the girls ask if she would have chosen the same team in hindsight. She sticks with Cheryl, but would have picked Divina and Baga instead of the dearly departed Crystal.
Not being Viv’s first pick sends Divina over the edge. She feels she’s being wildly underestimated, which, while true, is still no grounds for the full-out diva fit she throws in the workroom. It’s mostly focused at Vivienne, but she rattles off her C.V. all indignantly until Vivienne gets exasperated. She spits back a killer backhanded compliment about how much more she respects Divina now, because out in the real world she’s only ever seen her in a red wig and silver dress.
YIKES. That was like sniper shade.
By the next day, they allegedly squashed their beef, but there’s clearly still tension. Ru arrives for this week’s silly little mini-game, BBC. The Brit Crew is out in very snug shorts, and the gals have to guess if they are wearing boxers, briefs or “commando.” (Tuck it behind your belt, fellas. The commandos are just wearing camo briefs.) Like Ru, I also couldn’t tell you exactly what happened here, because in all the ensuing excitement, I think I went c*ckblind and couldn’t process details.
This week’s main challenge is to create and market their own brand of bottled water. They’ll need to design the product, write the script and plan their commercial. Divina and Vivienne have a strong vision, but the other three queens are struggling. Baga can’t sell Ru on her concept. Blu wants to lean on the dirty jokes that shined in Snatch, but Ru pushes her to bring more. Then there’s poor Cheryl, who burned her season-high performance on the losing team last week. Cheryl is the only queen remaining with no RuPeter Badges, and she’s feeling the pressure.
The ladies shoot with Graham, and it’s a mixed bag. Blu throws a lot of things at the wall, none of which seem to stick. Cheryl executes her vision, but the vision isn’t particularly entertaining or clever. Vivienne confidently delivers a dowdy housewife character.
But there are some strange surprises. Divina, whose artistic talents have been the focal point of the last two episodes, seems to be out of sorts. She has a lot of script, props and ideas. Nothing seems to hit super hard while filming, but she assures us it will come together in the edit. Conversely, Baga is racking in the laughs, but I couldn’t explain the concept very easily.
Viv and Divina seem to officially put the squabble behind them (even though it came up again earlier at Ru’s prodding). More importantly, the makeup mirror moment opens up a really interesting conversation about drug use in the gay community, and in the nightlife community more specifically. Vivienne breaks down in interview, revealing her own struggles with drug addiction. It’s raw, it’s powerful, it’s emotional. It’s the kind of honest conversation between queer people that you so rarely see on a platform like this. As the RuPaul empire grows and becomes more mainstream, I’m still thankful for these small moments.
The queens walk their fiercest rainy day lewks down the runway for the judges, including Cheryl
Cole. Yes, the same Cheryl after whom our own Cheryl Hole chose her name. (We’ll remark on the outfits in our rankings below.)
Divina proves she was right all along. Her commercial is the most ambitious, cohesive and successful of the bunch. The judges love her forethought, and she made the most of her time filming. Cheryl was a little flat, but they like her outfit. Baga made nearly no sense, but you can’t help but laugh at her stuffing her face with sausages. Vivenne kept her concept very straight-forward, but on the runway, her witchy La Llorna-esque ensemble is anything but ordinary. Blu got a little political dig in her video, but it’s mostly a miss.
As the ladies untuck, it seems as if Baga is about to throw in the towel. She’s not even going to bother learning the lip sync. Toodle loo, it’s been real! Her defeatist attitude rubs the other competitors the wrong way, but her worries are for naught.
Ru puts Cheryl and Blu in the bottom, giving Cheryl the opportunity to dance for her idol to one of Cheryl
Cole‘s songs. At one point, Cheryl does a death-drop that really does seem deadly, as she appears to fling her body and head down at full force. As a pro-wrestling fan (there’s a lot more in common with drag than you think!), we’d call that a “bad bump.”
Cheryl’s all-out performance edges out Blu, and she gets to stay. Blu shantays away, and we are left with our final four.
Let’s discuss where the rest of the girls stand in our rankings below.
- It’s really neck-and-neck between Vivienne and Divina, so it makes sense there’s tension. If I had to choose, I’d put my tuppence on Divina. I could see Viv conquering challenges, but Divina ultimately walking away with the crown. Her runway this week was built around a reveal, but it sidled her with this ugly yellow raincoat much too long. The outfit underneath was interesting, but not necessarily a gag.
- Seeing the softer side of Vivienne helped add a little tenderness to the top queen. Hearing her speak about her relationship with drugs was heartbreaking and also inspiring. It was brave of her to share, and it was presented in a way that felt authentic, not exploitative. I adored her runway, which is why I think she edged out Divina.
- I almost hate to put Baga this high on the list after this week’s paltry showing. It’s not even what she presented; it’s about her attitude. It just doesn’t seem like she wants to push herself, which is a shame, because she’s already so great when she’s only giving us 60 percent.
- Cheryl earned her spot in the top four this week, but just barely. Since she doesn’t seem destined to ever get a RuPeter badge, getting to save herself on stage in front of her idol is a pretty good memory to take home.
- Oh, Blu. I really grew to love your sweet face and shady comments. I so wish we could have had Blu on season four or five of Drag Race U.K., when she’s had a few more years of experience under her belt. As it were, I always felt like I saw the gears turning as she worked. The advert felt particularly forced, mixing blu(e) humor, political messages and an earnest “love yourself” theme. I’m certainly a fan, but I think top five feels like a proper finish for our Northern Irish queen.
How would you rank the queens?
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