‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK’ Season 2, Episode 7 recap: Be your own shero

A design challenge and a visit from Raven provides a major boost for one queen

Of all seasons, this week’s RuPaul’s Drag Race UK challenge borrows from All Stars 1. Remember All Stars 1? It’s okay if you don’t; the notoriously too-short, teams-based season has yet to receive the kind of fan reconsideration given to Season 7 in recent years. That’s because, for any temporary pleasures it offers—including a terrific finale format that the show has never replicated—the problems with AS1 are too baked into the season to ignore. It’s a shame, too: That cast, featuring winner Chad Michaels, fan-favourites Manila Luzon and Jujubee and forever-second-place queen Raven, was the best Drag Race has ever assembled.

Raven, appropriately enough, makes an appearance in the workroom this week to advise on a challenge she competed in once upon a time during All Stars 1: Come up with a superhero look and a backstory to present on the runway. There’s a lockdown twist to this version—instead of secret drag identities, the queens present as themselves during quarantine and they must use unconventional materials to make their garments. But a lot of the challenge remains the same, including the little spin transformation into their superhero looks.

While I might have preferred a proper ball for a design task this late in the season, the superhero challenge presents an interesting hurdle for these dolls. They can’t just make a great outfit, they have to make it really read as “superhero.” Some queens produce good looks, but they don’t look very heroic. Conversely, some of the looks are rough, but definitely read as superhero. Only the winner manages to fully thread the needle—and, in the process, produces what may be one of the best design challenge looks we’ve ever seen on Drag Race.

A’Whora in her reading glasses during Reading Is Fundamental.

Credit: Courtesy of World of Wonder

Before that challenge can begin, though, we have the Reading Is Fundamental mini-challenge to get through first. This is a particularly aggressive edition of the iconic task, with queens really coming for each other. (Tayce is told to jump in the Thames River!) But for me, the best reads come from comedy queen Lawrence Chaney, who manages to be mean in a clever way. Her two top reads: “Ellie Diamond, you are so stupid, you studied for your COVID test,” and: “A’Whora, I know you’ve been doing some soul-searching recently. I hope you find one.”

Not the best reads in the world, but funny, and delivered well. However, it’s Sister Sister who wins, a result that surprises me. I have not been Sister’s biggest fan, but I did think her often-razor sharp tongue would serve her in this challenge. Instead, her reads are kind of clunky in the execution. She and Ellie Diamond are the only queens yet to win anything, so this gives Sister a nice boost. (Ellie definitely isn’t winning this, what with her ‘I’m so nice, okay let’s go’ fake-out that is just the latest iteration of the same Alaska bit from Season 5.)

 

For her win, Sister Sister gets 15 seconds to snatch as many of the unconventional materials from the shared pile as she wants. And boy howdy, does she! Sister really leans into this advantage, even grabbing items she has no plans to use. This defensive play is theoretically smart, but in the many seasons of Drag Race, we’ve seen more queens punished than rewarded for this sort of strategy. If Sister turns out a great look, it will be great regardless. If she fails to do so, depriving the others of materials won’t save her from lip-syncing.

Sister Sister in her runway look.

Credit: Courtesy of World of Wonder

In the “superhero but not stunning” camp this week is Lawrence, who works with tough materials to put together a very fun bodysuit. Even noted bodysuit-hater Michelle Visage likes it for how much is going on in the look. And Lawrence takes some great advice from Raven about the space she leaves between her brows. (When Raven says it looks mopey, Lawrence responds, “Oh, so I’m painting the depression on?”) But despite pretty positive critiques on the runway, Lawrence actually gets teased with a potential bottom two appearance. 

Instead, the middle-scorer is Bimini Bon Boulash, who saves a bad runway look by using entirely new materials after Ru and Raven’s workroom visit. Her look is a clear Vivienne Westwood reference, as guest judge Maya Jama notes, but doesn’t read as very superhero. Nor does Ellie Diamond’s top-scoring look, which is more of a children’s book character. Still, Ellie deserves high marks for being so resourceful, using scores of different materials to put it together.

By comparison, at least in the materials used, A’Whora’s is fairly simple. But what she lacks in diverse materials, she makes up for in immaculate construction. Her blue gown has a sleeve effect that allows her to puff it out, creating the illusion of big shoulders on the garment. She styles the look perfectly with a great blonde wig, and a pair of blue pumps that perfectly match the shade of the dress. It’s an absolute stunner of a runway, and it earns A’Whora her second RuPeter Badge.

RuPaul and Raven in the workroom.

Credit: Courtesy of World of Wonder

In the bottom this week are Tayce and Sister, for entirely different problems. Tayce’s look made out of scrubbers is way too simple, deeply non heroic, and lacks any kind of design on the bottom half. Sister, on the other hand, does way too much, with a look that positively drowns her. She looks more villainous—very Poison Ivy goes to Mardi Gras—than heroic, too. Neither queen thinks her critiques are fair, but from where I’m sitting, they’re the clear and obvious bottom two.

Honestly, I don’t think the lip sync this week matters much. Tayce has a win and has been a strong narrator all season long. Sister Sister has been scraping by, and placed ahead of several queens who made more of an impression. Tayce shantays to safety, and Sister sashays away. I can’t say I’ll miss her too much, but she did give us some of the best drama of the season with Chipgate in Week 5. We’ll always have those dueling bags of chips.

Next week, the queens take on stand-up comedy! How will our final five fare? Who is likely next to go? And either A’Whora or Bimini be able to tie Lawrence’s record for RuPeter Badges? We’ll find out soon enough.

Untucking our final thoughts

✨Up and Down: Unless Ellie can pull out the win in next week’s stand-up challenge, I think she’s gone. All the others have at least one RuPeter Badge, and most have more. Tayce only has one, shared for the RuRuVision challenge, and has also lip-synced twice. She could go home? But I dearly hope not. Although A’Whora’s win does tie her with Bimini for second-most badges, I ultimately think Bimini getting a safe edit this week means she’s still our frontrunner.

Tayce needs a medic to clean up a wound while working with the brass scrubbers. An omen that she should’ve put them down!

I find it very strange and low-key kind of cruel that the other queens don’t comment in agreement when Lawrence says she misses Veronica Green. At this point, all the queens know is that Veronica couldn’t return to the competition because she tested positive for COVID-19. Maybe not the time for giving the mention of her name the cold shoulder?

A’Whora tries to charm Sister Sister to get some materials from her. Unfortunately, telling Sister her bag-of-chips look was a strong second to hers (“a close run!”) isn’t enough to win her competitor over.

It’s always so funny when Raven appears and it’s treated as a surprise. She’s always on set as Ru’s makeup artist. At least they lean on this a bit this time, with Tayce acknowledging Raven does Ru’s makeup, and Ru noting that being on set, Raven has seen Ellie’s makeup before.

A terrific Michelle Visage look this week. She’s really stepped up her game in the fashion department since she embraced the gray streak.

“Super Queen” returns as the runway theme from All Stars 4 thanks to this week’s superhero-themed runway. It’s not my favourite tune, but I prefer this version of it a million times over to the slowed-down Rumix version from that season’s finale.

3D glasses for the reading challenge! This… ultimately means nothing. But it’s cute!

Every Friday at 4 p.m. EST, join Xtra’s Kiki with Kevin live on Facebook, where he’ll be talking  about RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13 and RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 2. And hold on to your crumpets, because Kevin will be spilling the tea!

The next episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK will be available to stream Thursday, March 4, at 2 p.m. EST on WOW Presents Plus in the U.S. and OUTtv in Canada, as well as on BBC Three and the BBC’s iPlayer in the United Kingdom. Additionally, episodes are available the same day on Crave in Canada, and Fridays the week following at 8 p.m. EST on Logo in the U.S. For other countries, check World of Wonder’s streaming guide.

Kevin O’Keeffe is a writer, host, instructor, and RuPaul’s Drag Race herstorian living in Los Angeles, California. His favourite pastime is watching a perfect lip sync.

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