Although this isn’t the top four I envisioned at the start of RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K.‘s inaugural season, I find myself charmed by our remaining queens. Cheryl is the closest we’ve had to a “villain” and reaches the top four without any badges, but I’m enjoying her energy still.
The final four’s likability elevated the season’s makeover challenge, which featured important women in the queens’ lives. What the penultimate episode lacked in big, gaggy moments, it made up for with breezy, heartwarming fun.
But first, a bit of unresolved business. After a poor performance last week, Baga spent her Untucked time blowing off learning the lip sync. It was a small Nina Bo’nina sort of moment of despair, but now safely in the workroom, Baga tries to rewrite the narrative. She’s claiming now that she did know the song, she was just saying there was maybe a lyrics or two she wasn’t sure of.
Our mini-challenge this week is the puppet roast. Why? Because e’erybody loves puppets! I gotta be honest, that most of these roasts flew right over my head, and the puppets themselves weren’t particularly brilliant. If anything, I thought the Vivienne did the most interesting bits with her Divina puppet. First she revealed a fiery red bush below the DDC puppet’s gown to match her signature wigs. She also read Divina for her dusty makeup using a mid-scene powder break.
Unfortunately, Ru’s the boss, not me. She picks DDC for the win for her death-dropping Cheryl puppetry. Not like it makes much difference, since there’s really no advantage to this win.
This week, the queens will be making over important women in their lives. Divina and Cheryl will be making over their sisters, while Viv and Baga will turn their mothers into their drag daughters. (Quick aside: Cheryl’s sister’s name is Gina, and I will never forgive them for not making her drag name ‘Gina [rhymes with China] Hole.
Cheryl still claims to have a big advantage. She and her sister are apparently very similar looking. I … don’t see it, personally. The bigger advantage they have is Gina’s can-do attitude. She is so game, she’s got more drive to be here than Baga. She’s even spry enough to pick up some of Cheryl’s signature moves. They hit a snag when a bodysuit pops, so they’re going to have to hit the runway in plan B.
Divina and her sister are also off to a good start. Two of the three youngest children out of their seven siblings, you can tell they are extremely close. They joke and interact with such ease, it’s impossible not to enjoy spending time with them. On top of that, she’s pregnant! That makes Divina’s nibling the youngest contestant to walk the runway.
Viv and her mother also have chemistry. She definitely plays the straight man between them (someone has to), so you can see Viv relish in taking the piss out of her mum.
Baga and her mother don’t have the same sort of rapport. It’s framed as her mother’s “shyness,” but I can’t seem to shake the sense there are other issues at play here. I won’t speculate exactly what it is, but their interactions are uncomfortable. At one point, the camera catches Baga obviously trying to engineer a moment for her mother to overcome her shyness and discover confidence in drag.
To be completely honest, the entire challenge feels a bit simple. They are making over (presumably) cis women, so dragging them is going to require going beyond just “illusion.” They just have to do one runway walk. Not a complex ribbon or baton number. No additional lip sync group performance.
Still, the queens manage to make the most of their time on screen. Cheryl puts her sister through her paces, challenging her with choreography that would be pleasing on an amateur, but a cakewalk for any queen worth their weight in sequins. What’s lacking is the fashion. The judges eviscerate the simplistic bodysuits, and knock Cheryl for the mismatched outfits.
I struggle with discerning Vivienne’s actual age (is she 24? 48? 100?), so there’s something almost jarring about seeing her alongside her mother. On the runway, they look more like sisters than mother and daughter, but they look gorgeous, regardless. They present a regality the judges just eat up.
Divina and her pregnant sister rule the runway in matching white, transparent, bejeweled ensembles. They look amazing, and they are having a ball. Divina wears a fake baby bump, and who doesn’t love a pregnant drag queen? They give tons of energy, and it’s clear they’re mopping the floor with the rest.
Baga had the idea to give her and her mum a Kris Jenner and Kim Kardashian motif, but it’s more like a young Liza Minnelli and Morticia Addams. When confronted by the judges, Baga heaves her mother under the bus. Ru tries to blow by it and get Baga’s mother to agree that drag has given her confidence and taught her to love herself, but it’s clearly not the case. Plus, Baga won’t let her get a word in edgewise. It’s rough.
The [Baga] chips fall where one might expect. Divina rightfully takes the win, and Cheryl and Baga are left to lip sync.
They tear it up to Amy Winehouse’s “Tears Dry On Their Own.” Cheryl is definitely attempting more complex choreo, but Baga sells the song with face and attitude.
Cheryl gets the boot, and Baga heads to the finale with Viv and Divina, all three with three badges.
Let’s review our rankings below. Leave yours in the comments, but let’s keep it cute and spoiler free for those of us watching on Logo!
- Brava, Vivienne. I can’t say for sure she’ll edge out Divina (nor do I think she’s necessarily more worthy), but it’s undeniable that Viv has played this game extremely well. She dominated the challenges, but had the obligatory one-week stumble. She revealed an incredibly powerful story about overcoming addiction. She has been consistently funny, beautiful and surprising. It’s low-key one of the strongest showings in the series ever, period. She is clearly the frontrunner, but everyone loves an underdog …
- … Which brings us to Divina. Again, here’s a queen whose talent is indisputable. She can dance, act, sing, crack jokes and, in general, execute a design vision. The makeup note has been consistent, but it does feel a bit put upon to give Divina a chink in her armor. Divina has earned this crown just as much as Viv, and I think the case can be made that either would be a worthy champion.
- Yikes, Baga, way to fizzle out at the worst time in the competition. She’s been limping along the last few weeks, and tonight may have been her worst showing yet. No amount of ill-fitting sequins will ever look worse than savaging your own mother in front of RuPaul. Even Michelle thought she was too harsh. When Michelle Visage thinks you’re being savage, it’s time to pull back. I can’t wait for Baga to have a podcast or Logo aftershow or whatever happens next, but it doesn’t feel like Baga has the 360-degree skills of Viv or Divina.
- I loved watching Cheryl have a blast with her sister. It was the most likable she’s ever been, then topped it when she reacted to her elimination by saying “the writing was on the wall.” Self-awareness looks great on everyone. She really fought to hold on week after week, and that’s admirable. Like Alyssa Edwards or Trinity “The Tuck” Taylor, it feels like Cheryl is still learning just how much she has to offer. Hopefully this experience will give her the confidence to continue her growth.
How would you rank the queens?