A surprise British icon mentors the contestants for the semi-final of the immensely popular reality-competition. #DragRaceUK
If you have missed any of DYCAL’s previous recaps, you can click the links below!
Drag Race UK Season 2: Episode 1
Drag Race UK Season 2: Episode 2
Drag Race UK Season 2: Episode 3
Drag Race UK Season 2: Episode 4
Drag Race UK Season 2: Episode 5
Drag Race UK Season 2: Episode 6
Drag Race UK Season 2: Episode 7
Drag Race UK Season 2: Episode 8
Last week the queens performed a stand-up comedy routine to a non-existent audience, so I have high hopes for this week’s ‘Eastenders’ inspired challenge. The high-fashion A’Whora was semi-shockingly sent home with two badge wins, and tensions still remain high after Ellie Diamond chose the running order for last week’s challenge, much to A’Whora and Lawrence Chaney’s chagrin. It’s ultimately not that surprising to see that Ellie is still facing resentment from this seasons early favourite Lawrence, as her insecurities have really caused her downfall in recent weeks.
In spite of Lawrence’s declining popularity and Ellie’s consistent but underwhelming performances, a case can be made for any of these queens to make the final; that’s what is making this season so exciting! I am absolutely on #TeamLondon with Bimini and Tayce by association. But I do feel Lawrence could take the crown depending on how well she does this week.
Before the queens face the main challenge, their mini-challenge is a return of an old favourite. It has been done pretty much every season, and because of that it is a tad saturated. However, it’s more likely to generate funny moments than not; I’m talking of course about the Puppet challenge. I’m glad that in the first few seasons of the UK edition that RuPaul is keeping things relatively simple.
First, the producers hand each queen a puppet of one of their fellow competitors (‘at random’ my arse). Then the queens ‘drag it up’ before completely taking the piss out of the poor soul they got. At this point in the competition, the queens should definitely know enough about each other to make it funny. On the whole the accents are well off, but the mannerisms are there! Ellie’s impersonation of Tayce reminds me of me trying to do a Welsh accent. I can’t do a Welsh accent. Bimini Bon Boulash’s impression of Lawrence is the best though, mainly because of her comic timing combined with Lawrence already being a puppet OOP.
We quickly learn that Bimini Bon Boulash wins, and as a result she gets the power to
send A’Whora home assign the roles of the acting challenge: ‘Beastenders’ – A parody of a very famous long-running soap-opera. To help them with their material, the queens are coached by a national treasure…
Natalie Cassidy of Eastenders fame appears via Zoom to give tips regarding their acting abilities. I was more interested in Miss Cassidy’s humble abode; after years of being a British icon her kitchen looked incredibly modest! A true queen of the people. Natalie explains to the contestant that an over the top scene like this needs peaks and troughs. Unfortunately, I don’t think that happened with this particular acting challenge.
I thought the main challenge was good but very erm… loud? I will admit that I am not a soap-opera fan in any way, so I know I definitely missed a lot of fun references (other than the truly iconic lines). I’m not sure I’ll be rewatching it again like I would with say the Snatch Game or the musical challenges. At the end of the day, when all’s said and done, you know what I mean?
I am being very harsh though. Bimini definitely sounded eerily like her character of Kat Slater at certain points, and I also think Tayce did a very good job with dragging up the already ridiculous source material (despite her sort of Australian accent). As much as Ellie didn’t do poorly at all, I just can not agree with Michelle Visage saying she was the best actress… come off it love. Dot is the hardest character in my opinion, so I am sympathetic. Lawrence did what Lawrence does very well, but not without some problems…
Which brings us on to our main question, should Lawrence be penalised for forgetting lines? It did seem to happen a lot, so much so that Ellie blames Lawrence for her own lines! I do believe in the domino effect and I do believe Lawrence contributed somewhat to that, but I also don’t think Ellie was in the best position to blame Lawrence when she didn’t do so hot herself.
Tayce however, is frustrated that Lawrence seems to have been given a pass for forgetting. This I can get behind; Tayce’s critiques did seem unfair in comparison. Whilst it is true that Lawrence was a much more imposing presence in the final edit, but is that what really matters? Maybe so, but maybe not. This challenge is supposed to be what Lawrence does better than anyone, and she didn’t. Tayce is more of a model, but still remembers all her lines and delivers them well enough. As with this whole episode, I’m not sure how I feel, there’s just a lot of questions. Let me know @DYCALmag if you have any answers.
Usually at this late stage of the competition, RuPaul tries to inject some emotional porn into the episode. Since Season 7 (US) he has been showing the queens a picture of themselves from their younger years; essentially asking them tell the world about their, often traumatic, upbringing. Thank Madonna that they seem to have replaced that cringe-worth section with the far superior ‘letters from home’ trope.
This time, each queen has letters from their mothers to show that the queens have lots of love in their life, not that they didn’t when they were younger. The highlight for me was seeing the emotional depth of someone as punk and professional as Bimini, we’re all human at the end of the day. Knowing Ellie’s story from previous episodes makes her letter resonate even further too. Please keep this section RuPaul!
I do not envy the judges this week, as the judging becomes even more confusing when everybody performs well on the runway. The theme for this semi-final is ‘Panto-Dame’. To explain the meaning of this to Americans is difficult; it’s a very traditional form of drag costume reserved for British ‘pantomimes’. The outfits are high-camp, with exaggerated makeup taking inspiration from clowns, puppets, and other child-oriented performers. The best description is to watch all of the runway!
First up is Lawrence, who looks amazing in that mint hair! The costume is well put together, and how is she balancing that sewing machine on her wig so well? The sewing machine is self-referential but also gives me a modern day Cinderella, and her over-acting on the runway actually fits the category (for once) so well done.
Next up we have Tayce giving us a modern day Tinkerbell with a direct reference to Kylie Minogue; it’s really pretty. I do agree with the judges that the wings looked a bit… wobbly. I don’t however agree with them saying that it doesn’t fit the category. This immediately says pantomime, from the hair to the makeup to the accessories. It isn’t the ‘traditional’ huuuuge silhouette, but if Tayce were in a pantomime I’m almost certain the costume designer wouldn’t hide her slim figure. They could have said her dress was a refreshing take, but clearly production wanted her to lip-sync again.
I actually don’t like this. It’s obviously a detailed garment but I wouldn’t say ‘pantomime’ as much as I would say ‘creepy doll’; I’m probably biased due to my absolute disdain for Melanie Martinez. Bimini sold it with the runway walk though, she stomped like I imagine Punch and Judy would if they didn’t have a fist up their arse. It’s also not bad enough to distract from her commanding acting challenge so the win feels justified, and we are still absolutely #TeamBimini.
Last but certainly youngest, Ellie’s look is my favourite. This is the first and last time I will ever say this so hear me out. To me, it just looks exactly like what you would see at a pantomime, and the UK colours with a royalty theme add further add to the ‘britishness’ of it all. The makeup is the best on the runway, and her runway walk sold the theme perfectly. Unfortunately, more than anyone, I think Ellie is most likely to star in a real pantomime; and yes that is a read.
Even before the critiques I felt that it was very apparent that Bimini was going to win again and that Ellie would be in the bottom, the tension lay with who production would decide to save, and it’s Lawrence Chaney, again. Maybe if Lawrence had lip-synced again the race for the crown wouldn’t be as tight, but currently I don’t see it being close at all anyway!
Instead it’s Tayce who takes another bullet, which is confusing because with that hair Tayce looks like a young RuPaul; a fact that usually ends up being a massive benefit for every queen to grace the main stage. For some reason something about Tayce is not resonating with the judges, but I wouldn’t be worried if I were Tayce because the fans are well behind her, us included! With Ellie in the bottom for the first time, I thought it will all come down to the lip-sync song. And it did!
I can’t stress enough how perfect it feels to choose a Steps song for 1. Ellie Diamond and 2. a Pantomime runway. I said to my Mum, if there’s any song I could stand a chance beating Tayce in a lip-sync song it would be one like this. Why on earth did they make Tayce lip-sync to it when Lawrence was standing right there? The two camp Scots would have brought the perfect energy for the song and finished their beef storyline, with Ellie rightfully going home.
Instead we get Tayce doing her fierce performance style, which is still so entertaining, but I don’t feel it matches the song as well as Ellie. My controversial opinion is that Ellie won that lip-sync fair and square, so when Tayce won I was confused. That being said, this lip-sync has everything: energy, heartbreak, vogueing, jazz-splits, cartwheels, sexy laying on the floor, it’s fantastic. Justifiably it’s a double-save, which seems fair, except I think Ellie won anyway. To summarise, I was just left a bit surprised at the dubious production choices. Did they want four in the top anyway? Perhaps so.
As it stands, the only queen with a real chance of beating the unstoppable Bimini Bon Boulash seems to be Lawrence, and if you have been reading DYCAL we have not wanted that to happen since episode two. This leaves me in a turmoil. As much as I like surprises and unpredictability, it would also feel incorrect for anyone but Bimini to win. It’s sad but inevitable that the excitement for the season is dying down, so lets just enjoy the crowing next week. #TeamBimini
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