12th Nov2021

‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK 3×08’ Review

by Rhys Payne

I have to admit that I personally did not enjoy last weeks episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK! The queens competed in the first-ever FUGLY (friend you got to love yourself) ball but for the first time ever the series took a much more game show approach to the episode which had the queens racing against the clock. On Fashion Photo Review series on YouTube, where two drag race queens from previous seasons review the outfits the queens wear in each episode, drag race season 1 queen Cheryl Hole and season thirteen US queen Denali (who I recently saw perform in a local bar with the review of that event available here) talked about how difficult this category is to judge. They discussed how the queens had to simultaneously look good and ugly and so deciding who was at the top or bottom of the challenge was insanely difficult. However, objectively this episode is one of the most successful episodes in the season from the general reaction of the audience. Don’t get me wrong I am very glad that the drag race is trying to come up with new and exciting challenges to stop the viewers from getting bored but I thought that the structure came across as very chaotic and did not showcase the queens as much as is should have! Anyway, we saw Kitty get her first-ever (and long overdue) challenge win and Ru Peter badge whereas on the other end of the competition we sadly had to say goodbye to Scarlett Hartlett. It did seem that the competition really got to her before she left but it is great to see in post-exit interviews that Scarlett is not in that mental place anymore! Despite the meltdown, Scarlett is clearly a very fun and talented queen who I imagine puts on live shows that exactly that. The queen who sent Scarlett home in the lip-sync was Vanity Milan who has to chosen the perfect time to spike in the completion and has solidified herself as a lip-sync assassin! With Scarlett gone we are now down to the top four queens in this season and I have to admit that I am really enjoying all four queens for very different reasons which is a sign of a strong final four.

The eighth and latest episode of Drag Race UK had to queens competing in an acting challenge that was mostly inspired by Star Wars. Considering the fact that the last acting challenge that we saw from this group of queens (the infamous draglexia episode) was a bit disappointing, I did not know what to expect from this second acting challenge in this season but I was very impressed! I would not recommend this episode to die-hard fans of Star Wars or Doctor Who for that matter as there are a few moments that intense followers may find potentially triggering. The episode is a clear parody of Star Wars but contains appearances by the Drag-leks (Daleks from Doctor Who) and I know that the two fans can be very protective over the two franchises being confused for one another. I personally am puzzled by the fact that we have yet to have a full doctor who inspired acting challenge as this is classic British television and so if world of wonder are looking for a writer for a Doctor Who challenges then you know where to find me! However, if you are a fun of general popular culture and pure camp then this challenge will have you laughing throughout. It is somewhat similar to the space-inspired challenge “Queens In Space” that was done all the way back in Drag Race US season three but this one contained a lot more modern references and comedy throughout. I think that the presentation of Krystal that the audience for at the very beginning of the season was not accurate to who she really is. In the last couple of episodes, Krystal has talked about her challenges and discussed how her dyslexia makes reading/learning lines very difficult. Every time she struggled with her dialogue we as the audience had sympathy for the young queen, which is a sharp contrast to the shady queen we saw in the earlier episodes. As an audience, we have been taken on a journey with the character development of Krysta,l which is fantastic and helps to keep the audience engaged with the season!

I thought that it was great that Russel Tovey (who is an English actor) was the guest judge on this weeks episode as his acting experience makes his critics much more accurate and constructive which I know if I was competing in the race I would want! I think that when people watch these acting challenges that people keep in mind that these are not actual episodes of the parodied shows but instead a challenge on Drag Race. This show is intended to be a parody that is self-aware of how low budget it looks which was referenced a few times within the script itself. This also means that even though the episode was inspired by Star Wars there were also references to Doctor Who, Gavin and Stacey and even previous seasons of Drag Race UK. The challenge was built up as the two theatre queens Ella Vedey and Kitty Scott Clause versus the two non-acting queens (Krystal and Vanity) which usually means that either the two theatre queens will do extremely well or will be going home. Luckily this was not the case with every queen doing very well in their performance in this episode! I thought that Kitty Scott Clause really shone in this episode – she had me laughing throughout with many of her pop culture references being delivered perfectly including a classic “Oh My Christ” from the welsh classic Gavin and Stacey! Kitty was clearly having a a fun time with her enjoyment radiating through the screens and into the viewer’s hearts, which I imagine is the same feeling you get when you see Kitty perform live. When Kitty eventually comes to Cardiff then I can say without any doubt you will see me there! I thought that Ella did exactly what she needed to and was extremely professional both on and off camera which in is always a great thing to be and means that in the real world she is more likely to be booked for acting gigs. It did take Krystal a while to warm up to this challenge due to her difficulties already discussed, but once she got there I really enjoyed her performance. Her character was based in the iconic C3PO with Krystal capturing the over-the-top, camp, British persona excellently! I think that I personally was most impressed by Vanity as she made it very clear that this not something that she is comfortable with usually and she spent the majority of the challenge inside a box with only her head being visible to the audience. Her character was based on Star Wars’ Yoda and managed to have the audience laughing with her throughout which was amazing to witness!

At first, I was a little confused with this weeks runway category of “Scene Stealers” but simply it was looks inspired by classic movies. There was no doubt that Krystal would look stunning regardless of what she decided to wear on the runway but her Cruella, black and white look, was amazing. I have recently bought a Cruella outfit and if I look even an eighth of how good Krystal looked then I will be extremely happy! I thought that Ella cleverly decided to showcase something that we would not expect from her. She walked the runway in a very fun Oompa Lompa look which was so incredibly camp and the idea to do something new so late in this season was such a great choice. I believe that Vanity Milan is really on an upwards trajectory in the later parts of this season with her BAP (Black American princess) inspired look being great but yet again it was another orange outfit. I was totally gagged when it was announced that both Vanity and Krystal were safe as this usually means that the other two queens are in the bottom. However, Momma Ru pulled out yet another gag this season where she announced that rather than having the bottom two queens lip-sync to see who would go home we would instead be having a top two lip-sync for an overall winner which was great full-circle moment as this also happened right at the beginning of the season. The lip-sync between Kitty and Ella (two queens who had never been in the bottom this season) was one of the best lip-syncs I have seen in a very long time! They both captured the distinctive sections of the number perfectly, with Ella showing over her splits and Kitty showcasing her death drop abilities. I personally could not decide who did better in this battle which makes perfect sense as Ru announced that both queens were declared as the winners which does kind of make the lip-sync meaninglessly but I was glad to see such an incredible performance so I didn’t particularly mind!

Overall, this was an extremely camp and entertaining episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK that allowed each queen to shine which is exactly what these acting challenges should do! The episode ended with one of the best lip-syncs this season which showed how close the race for the crown really is. For me, this episode created a wonderful sense of excitement for next weeks episode as I genuinely have no idea who will be the next to leave the race!

**** 4/5


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