Last week on “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” the top 5 queens had their toughest challenge yet — standing up in front of a live audience of blow up dolls to deliver laugh-out-loud comedy sets. After winning the week’s mini challenge, badgeless Ellie Diamond was given the opportunity to se the order for the night and strategically put everyone at a disadvantage. The move set Lawrence Chaney and A’Whora off their games, but only A’Whora succumbed to the pressure. She found herself lip syncing for her life against best friend Tayce who managed to win her third head-to-head, sending A’Whora packing and making herself an bonafide assassin.
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 9 to find out what happens when the queens get a little melodramatic in soap opera spoof “BeastEnders”:
The standup comedy night was not a proud moment for any of the girls, but Bimini Bon-Boulash managed to squeeze out a third challenge win for herself and Tayce notched her own third lip sync win. Good on them, but Lawrence was still pressed about Ellie’s strategic playing that put her in a position where she could have gone home. As friends and the two Scottish queens in the competition, this was a personal affront to Lawrence and she was unwilling to let Ellie off the hook. Lawrence made the very harsh point that “it still didn’t get [her] a badge” and asked her if it was worth it. Ouch.
Even the next morning Lawrence hadn’t moved on, but the other girls were ready to move on, content to let Lawrence remain in her head and remain in a negative headspace. Ru’s arrival in the werk room lightened the mood a little bit with the promise of the group therapy that is the “Everybody Loves Puppets” mini challenge. Each queen drew the puppet of one of their competitors and dragged the doll up for a short puppet show making fun of them. Ellie drew Tayce, Lawrence drew Ellie, Bimini drew Lawrence, and Tayce drew Bimini. Just as was apparent last week, Ellie and Tayce’s comedic timing was not top of the class while Lawrence and Bimini continued to prove their funny bones weren’t one trick ponies. Ultimately, Ru thought Bimini’s take on Lawrence’s over-the-top confidence and Snatch Game flop was the best.
As the winner of the mini challenge, Bimini was given the advantage of choosing roles for the girls in their maxi challenge, acting in a spoof of British soap operas called “BeastEnders.” Unlike Ellie, Bimini took an amenable approach and gave each girl a character they wanted without any attempt to put them at a disadvantage. This meant that all four of them would head into the challenge on their best foot and they’d live or die by their own performance.
During rehearsal time, Lawrence and Ellie took some time aside to understand each other. Luckily Lawrence was finally ready to put it behind them, telling Ellie that she gets why she made the decision she did but that at the end of the day it’s just hard to take that in the moment. On the other side of the room, Bimini was lending Tayce a breastplate to use for her character and hilariously Tayce decided that the glaring difference in skin tones was something she’d let be.
Later in the day British soap actress Natalie Cassidy of “EastEnders” popped up on screen via video chat to provide the girls an acting masterclass. She led the queens in vocal exercises, having them say “Rickkkaaay,” and then an exercise in turning the same line (“Bubbly’s in the fridge”) into something new based solely on changing the emotion you say it in. What Lawrence took away from the masterclass was that managing a role’s highs and lows is a delicate balance and one she’d need to pay attention to with her own character in this challenge.
When the queens arrived on set to shoot their scenes they found themselves in the studio with Michelle who was serving as director of the scenes. Tayce started off a little rough, not quite finding anything new to bring to her character and relying on her sexuality in a way that was uninteresting. Eventually her struggle was overshadowed by both Lawrence and Ellie who had trouble remembering their lines. In a scene with the two of them they both snowballed each other, though Ellie was putting a lot of the blame for her own struggles on Lawrence. By the end of the filming session, Lawrence had gotten so deeply in her head that Michelle had to stop everyone to speak to Lawrence directly and tell her that if she doesn’t get out of her own way then it could spell big trouble for her.
On elimination day as the girls got ready for the runway, Bimini discovered four letters from home that they all sat down to read. It was a first glimpse of home since they all returned to the show and the flood gates were naturally opened to an excess of emotion. All four had the opportunity to open up about their relationships to their mothers and the amount of love and support they each felt from family was beautiful to see. It also served as a reminder to each of them why they were there to compete and provided the energy they needed for the last push through to the finale.
Ru was joined on the main stage by Michelle and Graham, as well as the mannequin Mickayyy who had appeared in “BeastEnders” with the girls. Tonight the runway category was “Panto Dames,” celebrating a specific branch of pantomiming known in Britain. Lawrence started the show as a human pin cushion in purple and mint green, Tayce followed as a blue fairy with stars, feathers and wings, Bimini was next as a pantomime baby doll in pink and yellow, and Ellie closed the show in royal blue and red as a pantomime queen.
After the runway presentation we were treated to a screening of their episode of “BeastEnders” which proved much more successful than the filming would have had us believe. In the final product, Lawrence was actually very strong in her performance and fully realized her aggressive character. Bimini and Tayce were excellent in their scene together, leaning heavily into their natural strengths, and Ellie created an older character so outside the norm for her that it was surprisingly refreshing.
In the critiques with the judges, Michelle explained that Lawrence had really struggled in the filming, but they all agreed that she pulled it together because ultimately the finished product was excellent. They also enjoyed that Lawrence “crushed” the runway challenge, as they expected. On the flip side, Tayce strayed way too far from the “panto” theme on the runway and it bothered Ru quite a bit. Graham also felt like she didn’t take her sexy character in the show to an interesting place and so it was ultimately a let down. Bimini earned high marks from Michelle for committing to the physical comedy in her acting and Graham felt like she “didn’t miss anything,” finding ways to make every moment of hers matter. On the runway, they loved her look and her fearlessness in looking unattractive when the category calls for it. Michelle told Ellie that in terms of acting, Ellie was the best actress in what they all thought was one of the best acting challenges the series (UK or US) has ever seen. Michelle also loved Ellie’s runway makeup, but Graham was disappointed that she didn’t go bigger in the dress and hair than she did because she certainly could have.
While the judges deliberated, the girls discussed their critiques backstage and Ellie was quick to blame all of her negative comments on Lawrence. Ellie explained that she had a tough time remembering her own lines because of how badly Lawrence was struggling, but this just set Lawrence off once again, refusing to accept that she had any responsibility for things like Ellie not being able to remember Lawrence’s character name. Back on stage, Ru announced Bimini as the challenge winner, giving her a fourth badge and making her the frontrunner going into the finale. Next, Lawrence was declared safe, which meant that once again Tayce would fall to the bottom (a fourth time) and Ellie would have to lip sync for her first time.
In their lip sync to “Last Thing on My Mind” by Steps, Ellie had the advantage of being in front of the judges in this capacity for the first time. In that regard every move she made felt new and surprising while Tayce’s glamorous approach to performing (grazing the face, strutting across the stage so effortlessly) that had worked so well for her in the past now seemed a bit repetitive. In the uptempo moments of the song the girls both turned out physical tricks — splits, jumps, cartwheels — and gave us such a solid lip sync that there truly was only one decision for Ru to make: “shantay you both stay.” That’s right, we have a final four on our hands!
NEXT WEEK: The newly minted final four head to the grand finale with their chance of becoming the UK’s new drag superstar.
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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