‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK’ 2 episode 2 recap: Which queen becomes leader of the pack in ‘Rats: The Rusical’?

Last week on the season 2 premiere of “RuPaul’s Drag Race UKRuPaul Charles welcomed 12 new queens into the family: Scottish queens Ellie Diamond and Lawrence Chaney, Welsh star Tayce, and nine girls all hailing from different parts of England: A’Whora, Asttina MandellaBimini Bon BoulashCherry ValentineGinny LemonJoe BlackSister SisterTia Kofi, and Veronica Green. After a two-look runway, Asttina was named the challenge winner while veteran cabaret queen Joe was sent home.

RuPaul is back again to host the series alongside her longtime friend and collaborator Michelle Visage. They’re joined on the panel by U.K. entertainment legends Alan Carr and Graham Norton, as well as a collection of guest judges throughout the season. Read below for our recap of episode 2:

Following Joe’s elimination, the queens returned to the werk room to say their goodbyes and express their shock that a legend left the competition so early. Bimini was on a high knowing that she got to show everyone her strength as a performer and Asttina felt honored that Ru had chosen her as the winner of the season’s first challenge. When asked what kind of conversation the safe girls got up to during their time apart, A’Whora wasn’t shy to point out that all of the queens (save Ginny) thought Asttina would fall in the bottom three of the week. Asttina didn’t take it badly and instead owned that she wore an ASOS jacket on the runway and still looked sickening enough to beat them all.

While everyone entered the werk room the next day in good spirits, there was a glimpse of tension in the friendly banter between Ginny and Lawrence. After Lawrence disclosed that Joe left behind some nails for her to use, Ginny cracked a joke about Lawrence using her fabric in the previous challenge. Tia also got a bit of a heat, mostly from A’Whora, for her subpar fashion in the previous episode, but she declared that they were her worst three looks anyway and they should be prepared for what she has to show in the future.

Ru arrived shortly into the morning to run the girls through another mini challenge: a hidden election to determine among them who is the Secretary of Shade, Trade Minister, Leader of Lording It Up, and Baroness Basic. After the ballots were cast, A’Whora was named the shadiest, Tayce was deemed the trade of the season, Lawrence was cockiest, and Tia the most basic. When presenting the week’s maxi challenge, Ru gave Tia the job of assigning the roles each would assume in a live singing and acting challenge in “Rats: The Rusical.”

In sitting down to decide roles, Tia made it clear that she wasn’t going to screw anyone over and wanted them all the create the best show she could. She asked for a show of hands of who can sing so that the best singers could hold the larger roles. The only conflict that arose in the process was Veronica and Cherry battling to get one of the biggest singing roles. Cherry is known as a performer which some of the other queens vouched for, but Veronica had experience in musical theater prior to starting drag so she also felt qualified. In the end, Tia felt like she’d be doing Cherry a favor by giving the role to Veronica instead of Cherry taking on the pressure of singing. For herself, Tia happily took one of the most challenging singing roles that also had the least stage time.

For part of their rehearsal time, the queens got to work with Michelle and her own personal vocal coach, Dane Chalfin. For Sister, Cherry and Lawrence’s session, Michelle advised them to have more confidence in order for them to pull off the fun jazzy number. Michelle could tell that Lawrence wasn’t performing in full voice due to his fear of not being good enough. A’Whora was also told she was holding back compared to her scene partner Bimini. Asttina was clearly out of her league next to Veronica who proved once and for all that she did have the strongest singing voice of the bunch. That added pressure to Tia who Michelle warned must make her presence felt in the short time she’s allotted. In Tayce and Ellie’s sessions, Tayce was asked to focus on enunciation.

Later in the day the girls returned to the stage for a choreo rehearsal with Jay Revell and Kieran Daley Ward. In these bits, A’Whora, Lawrence and Ginny stood out as the ones struggling the most. A’Whora couldn’t find the right energy for a rough character she didn’t identify with, while Lawrence and Ginny each simply had a tough time remembering their words and steps. At one point, Lawrence had an emotional moment over being so out of her element, battling off was a strong bit of nerves.

Cherry had a moment of her own the next day as the queens got ready for the challenge. She opened up to Sister about her background in a “traveller” family. In that community there’s a lot of public shame, as well as standard gender expectations that prevent her from being “fully proud” of her sexuality and career. In fact, she hasn’t ever spoke to her family about these things and so the show would be in meaning ways a coming out for her, including coming out of her shell.

On the main stage, this week’s panel consisted of Michelle, Alan and special guest judge Sheridan Smith. They had front row seats for the performance of “Rats: The Musical” and a follow-up catwalk in a “Surprise! Surprise!” category. During the performance, Bimini and A’Whora’s number garnered the most joy from the judges, while Veronica and Tia also seemed to impress. On the flip side, Lawrence, Tayce, Ellie, Cherry and Sister’s two parts seemed to be the worst received.

On the runway, A’Whora opened in a slick black and white tux that transformed into a bride dress, Lawrence followed in a blue suit that dropped down into a plaid red dress, and Ginny came after in a mid century tea lady dress that when torn away revealed the same dress underneath, but with a surprise butt shot when she walked away. Cherry entered in an oversized yellow puff dress that tore away to show a yellow mini and pregnant belly, Tia started in a body suit to look like a hairy man in leather panties and ended in a simple red milk maid’s dress, and Ellie went in a Scarecrow look that changed into a silver Tinman dress that then changed into a simple lion fur dress. Asttina returned to the runway in a sleek pink cosplay bodysuit and face mask that when pulled down showed gnarly horror makeup teeth on her mouth. Sister walked out in a demure suburban English rose look that tore away to reveal a tatted up red dominatrix suit, Veronica also came in a 1950s housewife look that changed into a golden android, Tayce brought the drama in an all red coat gown that revealed a catsuit underneath while she spat up blood, and Bimini closed the show in canvas corset with balloons on it that when popped should have exploded paint, but instead had nothing.

After deliberation, Ru selected Lawrence, Cherry, Tia, Ellie, Veronica and Tayce to stick around as the tops and bottoms of the week. Lawrence received what seemed like middle of the pack reviews, with strong marks for sticking it in a performance she was clearly uncomfortable in, but was also told her runway look was a bit expected. Cherry took a hit for looking the most frozen on stage with a facial expression that showed her inner saboteur and failed to impress on the runway. Tayce was the third queen in the bottom because of her failure to enunciate in the singing and for a runway look that appeared to be store bought and cheap. Among the tops, Tia was called basic by Michelle for her runway look, but Sheridan defended the camp appeal of it. Ellie had more enthusiastic praise for her surprising runway looks inspired by “The Wizard of Oz” and for keeping Sheridan’s eyes glued to her during the rusical. And then there was Veronica who clearly impressed with her great singing voice and Ru told was making it obvious she came to compete.

Backstage afterward, Sister took issue with Lawrence’s constantly defending herself for her shortcomings in this challenge, saying that Lawrence struggling negatively affected her own performance. Meanwhile, Cherry was feeling left out of the conversation as the queens moved to ask Tayce how she feels. Cherry let herself down this week, joining the chorus of girls that knew they got in their own way this week.

Ultimately, the judges agreed that Veronica would be named the week’s winner with Tia, Ellie and Lawrence declared safe. That left Cherry and Tayce on stage to fight to stay in a lip sync for your life to “Memories” by Elaine Paige. Because of the song’s ballad nature, both queens took a calculated risk in performing it dramatically as an actor would. The result was a stiff showing from Cherry and a face-focused serve from Tayce. Ru called it a “beautiful” performance as Sheridan wiped away tears just before naming Tayce the winner. That means the sashay away went to a tearful Cherry this time.

NEXT WEEK: The girls pick up needle and threads in their first sewing challenge of the season.

You can catch RPDR UK each Thursday at 11am PT / 2pm ET on WOW Presents Plus in the US and select territories worldwide, day-and-date with its airing on BBCiPlayer in the UK. This season is paired with the 13th season of the US version which unveils a new episode each Friday night at 8 pm ET on VH1.

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