Last week on “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” the competition was rocked by two surprising turns of events. First, Ginny Lemon BenDeLaCreme’d herself by refusing to lip sync against her friend Sister Sister, eliminating herself in a graceless prance off stage and shocking the other queens. Then, in the previews for this week, we learned that the competition was promptly shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions that began to roll out while filming was still underway. How did the girls react to the news and adapt to the abrupt change? Let’s find out!
RuPaul Charles is back again to host the second season of the UK series alongside her longtime friend and collaborator Michelle Visage. They’re joined on the panel by 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 5 to find out what happens when the girls return from a 7 month hiatus in “The RuRuvision Song Contest”:
When the girls returned to the werk room after Ginny walked off stage they were all rightfully shellshocked by her decision to quit. Lawrence Chaney and a few others were “pissed off” and found it disrespectful of the competition, while Sister was dismayed that she’d never know whether or not she deserved to stay for her lip sync or if she was saved by default. Veronica Green was also in the bottom and had to fend off digs by a few of the other girls that told her they thought she should have been in the bottom, not Ginny. When she defended herself, they called her cocky for believing that she was better and saying that obviously the judges didn’t think she was the worst.
But just as tensions began to rise, Ru sounded the alarm and informed the group that filming would cease immediately due to the “rapidly changing” coronavirus pandemic. She promised that they’d be “back together soon,” but as it turns out filming was halted for an entire 7 months.
After the hiatus, the queens re-entered the werk room one by one to greet each other with the excitement of the reunion and rejuvenated by a lengthy amount of time to prepare for the rest of the competition. For the girls that left for the hiatus on the high of some challenge wins there was a fear that they might not live up to how well they were performing, but the ones that had been struggling returned with more confidence and feeling better positioned to take on the next challenges. The two biggest gags of the reunion was the revelation that Tayce and A’Whora had moved in together and Sister had completed some adjustments to her look, including new teeth. Lucky for us, Tia Kofi had kept her hair the same “for continuity purposes” so we didn’t have trouble recognizing her.
With the first seven already back in the werk room, Ru joined them to announce yet another surprise: Veronica tested positive for coronavirus and would not be returning to the competition. Tia was hit especially hard by the news that she’d lost her bestie in the competition, but Ru made it clear that she’d have an open invitation to return for a future series when she’s ready and that softened the blow some.
In the interest of moving things right along, Ru brought in the Brit Crew for the latest mini challenge. Sadly, the guys weren’t in their undies and instead hidden underneath full body animal costumes. But Ru had another surprise: the guys took off their masks and revealed themselves to be Joe Black, Cherry Valentine and Asttina Mandella! The three eliminated queens were back for a second chance to compete, but would have to pitch themselves to the other girls who would vote only one of them in.
In the live vote, Bimini Bon-Boulash and A’Whora picked Asttina to return based on their heart and a sense of loyalty to a friend, but each of the other girls voted for Joe who they all agreed deserved more time to prove themselves. Cherry received no votes. That meant we said a final goodbye to both Cherry and Asttina and the first eliminated queen was suddenly back in the race!
As the returning queen and the most recent challenge winner, Joe and Lawrence got to lead two teams in the next maxi challenge: a Eurovision challenge requiring them to work together as girl group’s to write, sing and dance to their own recordings of a new song “UK Hun?” Joe selected Tia, Sister and Ellie Diamond for her team “Bananadrama” and Lawrence chose Bimini, Tayce and A’Whora for her team “United Kingdolls.”
Once the groups settled in and began planning a bit of a rivalry between them evolved. Joe’s team believed they were the better squad because of their quirkiness that would lend itself better to the spirit of Eurovision while Lawrence’s team was more impressed by the variety each of them would bring to the table. In check-ins with the groups, Ru agreed that both were advantages for the teams.
The first step in the long process of preparation was recording their original tracks with this week’s special guest (and judge) MNEK. Bananadrama met with him and musician Ian Masterson first. In this group, Joe struggled hard with the pacing of her lyrics, unable to say “Glenn Close but no ci-gar” in an effective way. Sister and Tia both impressed MNEK with their decent rapping skills, managing to lay down their verses quickly.
As expected, A’Whora’s recording session was a tad messy, but she at least committed to her vision of being hyper sexual and over the top. Tayce brought the energy to the mic, but Lawrence was out of her element and completely lost in her own head.
Later, the groups took the stage for choreo practice. Ellie and Tia became frustrated with each other in their efforts to find a balance between interesting moves and keeping it basic enough for Joe to keep up. On the other side of things, Tayce was not going to push Lawrence as hard as possible in order for them to present something advanced that they could be proud of.
The next day, the queens got to commiserate with one another over their experiences during lockdown. Bimini and Lawrence expressed the difficulty in being in an industry that was entirely dismantled by the closure of bars and performance spaces. That being said, as Lawrence pointed out, returning to the show meant that they each had a chance to find the “light at the end of the tunnel” and kickstart their careers again. For Tayce, Bimini and A’Whora, the stress of returning to the show was heightened by the pressure of having had so much time to re-prepare for the second half.
On the main stage, Ru was joined by Michelle, Graham and MNEK to watch the live RuRuVision song contest and a “Day at the Seaside” runway. United Kingdolls hit the stage first in what was quickly noticeable as an effervescent production. Their choreography was clean and, as if inspired by the Spice Girls, they were bopping around the stage, each with their own unique personas, as if there was no place more exciting to be. The contrast was real once Bananadrama walked out in uninteresting outfits and performing dated and simple choreo. The energy of the judges during the two performances couldn’t have been more starkly different–from raucous cackling to uneasy boredom.
Bimini was first to walk in a pastel blue lace dress and parasol. Tayce followed in a starfish and shell-inspired body-hugging dress and A’Whora strutted in a creative take on a bag of fish and chips. Lawrence was the last Kingdoll to walk in a campy orange lifesaver gown. Then came Ellie in a yellow bikini look, dressed as a pure white seagull including full feathered face. Tia walked in a soft-serve ice cream dress and cherry on her head, Sister brought a similar look to A’Whora’s as a bag of fish and chips being attacked by a seagull, and Joe closed in a creative look inspired by the windy seasides with pieces of her garment and makeup fashioned to look like they’re blowing away.
This week Ru decided to judge the queens as a group, declaring the United Kingdolls as a collective set of winners. That left all four members of Bananadrama on stage to hear critiques from the judges. As far as Ellie’s look went, the judges thought it was one of the most creative, but in the performance Michelle thought she didn’t take enough risks and Ru noticed that she was thinking each of her moves out. Michelle is still disappointed by Tia’s runway looks, but Graham defended her for being so fun to watch. Ru made the point that she needs to take it to the next level and stop presenting herself as a “local” queen performing at pubs back home. With Sister, everyone was in agreement that she was the best in the group performance, but she did herself a disservice by having the same idea as A’Whora and not doing it as well. Joe took hits for her performance being so off from the other girls, both in energy and movement, but gained some points for having what Michelle called a “magical” outfit. Overall, Ru was not having it with the group, taking them to task for basic looks and especially Joe for admitting to just buying something from H&M and wearing it off the rack.
When the losing team met the winning team backstage, A’Whora quickly took Sister to task, alleging that she’d seen A’Whora’s bag of chips during the original production schedule and then over the break deciding to copy her by ditching her idea of a Pamela Anderson Baywatch look and doing her own take on what she knew A’Whora was doing.
After deliberation, Ru gave Ellie and Sister safety, leaving Tia and Joe in the bottom two to lip sync for their lives to “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by The Communards. Remaining true to her aesthetic, Joe delivered a controlled and theatrical performance, using a lot of armography and overexaggerations to tell the story of the song. On the other side of the stage, Tia dug deep to perform with passion and in a way the judges seemed to engage with more. With a last second comedic death drop, Tia clinched the win and sent Joe home for the second time. With that it was a short second stint for Joe, leaving the competition again as quickly as she did the first time.
NEXT WEEK: It’s time for “Snatch Game” and A’Whora gets emotional in front of Ru.
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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