“Drag Race UK vs. the World” Season 2, Episode 2 Recap

February 17, 2024

BY Eric Rezsnyak

This week the “Vs. the World” gals competed in the Ball — in this case, the Happy Ending Ball, themed loosely around fairytales. The queens had to present three looks, one of which was made in the work room via “scrap” fabrics and leftovers. Overall I thought it was a fine episode that helped further establish this season’s frontrunners, while a few expected heavy hitters remain stuck in first gear. Let’s get into it.


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Much of the conversation this episode centered around the possibility of a UK queen alliance. This is understandable from a strategic standpoint. With the queens sending each other home, a UK-focused four-queen voting bloc — which we saw form up right out of the gate in Episode 1 — is, just from a numbers perspective, a big threat to everyone else competing. That’s especially true as of Episode 2, since every other franchise only has one representative left in the game. But from an actual historical perspective, it is significantly less of a problem. Of the four queens representing the UK this season, only one — Choriza May — won a single main challenge in their original season, and that was a group win. That is not in any way to dismiss these queens, as I think they all have tremendous potential. But while the UK girls have the numbers, there’s no question they are up against several queens which much stronger track records. I don’t see a UK alliance having a particularly big impact on this season, the way season-based alliances could potentially break “Espana All Stars.”

After a superlative-based mini challenge, the queens got to work making their final ball looks (the category was “From Drags to Riches” — basically a Cinderella-inspired princess look). With RuPaul still recovering from being very obviously sick in the prior episode, Michelle Visage handled the walkthrough on her own, and she did a good job with it.

Ru was back for the Ball itself. I’ll go through my opinions on each queen’s overall challenge performance, which do diverge significantly from the judges’ rankings.

Arantxa Castilla-La Mancha: I thought Arantxa got totally screwed here. I very much enjoyed both of her first two looks, giving me Bowie in the prince look and Regina George in the evil queen look. For a show that is absolutely obsessed with queens knowing their references, the judges were far too dismissive of these particular cultural touchpoints. Graham Norton not getting Regina George when Arantxa was wearing one of Regina’s signature garments — OK, Boomer. Arantxa’s handmade look absolutely had problems, there is no denying that. But I thought it at least had an interesting point of view compared to some of the other outfits, most of which were quite basic and lacked imagination. I personally would have put Arantxa as Safe, but she was Bottom 2.

Choriza May: Choriza was Bottom 2, and it pains me to say, but she deserved it. Choriza decided to continue the owl storyline from her Season 3 design challenge — I’m not sure who asked for that, but she did it — and included an owl in several of her garments. The prince look had fit and finish issues, even if I enjoyed the concept behind it. The evil queen look was not my favorite, and while the smoking owl prop was certainly dramatic, it did completely draw attention away from the gown, which was the actual challenge. I thought her final dress was at least decently constructed. I didn’t hate that prismatic fabric as much as the judges, but I do see the criticism that it lacked fashion. It was a perfectly functional dress that had more details than most on the stage, but it didn’t read “princess” nor “rich.”

Gothy Kendoll: OK. So, I am glad that Gothy got another shot after last week. I am rooting for Gothy, I genuinely am. But this should have been Gothy’s challenge. She is a FASHION QUEEN. And I have to say, I was not blown away here. The garments were all beautiful. They looked well made. They looked luxurious. But what I’m seeing from her fashion is a very restrained, bordering on minimalist approach — and that’s just not going to catch my attention on “Drag Race.” The prince look had a gorgeous fabric in a jacket and a corset underneath, but I felt it needed more. The evil queen was impeccably chic and I coveted that wig and its styling, but again, it was quite reserved compared to everything else on that stage. I appreciated Gothy stepping outside her normal aesthetic for a girly-girl princess fantasy, and I liked the attached shrug detail, but again: well constructed, not particularly exciting. Gothy was Safe and that’s probably right. She has to give us more than she’s giving, and I’m not sure she has it in her.

Hannah Conda: I love Hannah but I thought she was one of the weakest of the night. Her Lady Prince Charming wasn’t particularly flattering, the She-vil Queen look was a VERY obvious take on the prompt, and her handmade frock — violently green and covered with yarn mice — was crafty and garish. I genuinely don’t remember how Hannah did on the design challenges in “Down Under 2,” but I absolutely believe she is better than her output here.

Jonbers Blonde: I’ll confess that I have a very hard time remembering most of what Jonbers wore, and that’s not meant to be a read. The evil queen stood out as being an edgy flame-detailed look. The final look had a mullet skirt. But generally speaking, Jonbers is lacking impact this season. Jonbers was Safe and that’s exactly where she belonged.

Keta Minaj: Keta showed up for this challenge in a big way. The prince look took the knight concept that Scarlet Envy also went for, but I would argue Keta did it better. The evil queen came in riding some kind of wild mount, and Keta sold that puppeteering moment brilliantly on the runway. The princess look really gave more queen than princess, but it was striking and powerful. Keta was Top 2 and she deserved it.

La Grand Dame: LGD is absolutely devouring this season. Her prince look was her least successful for me. It was fashionable, it was interesting, the weird French noises were entertaining. But I was getting train conductor not “prince.” The evil queen look was absolutely insane, with LGD deploying those hand stilts that are seemingly everywhere on “Drag Race” right now and presenting her version of a Queen Xenomorph from “Alien” (although it actually read like a Xenomorph crossed with the X-Men’s Brood to me). The look itself was astonishing — and totally unsettling — and then LGD further sold it by making these horrible chittering noises on the runway. Instantly iconic look, you will be seeing it on social media for the rest of the week. The third look was quite chic, and fit the brief. I do think LGD can do a lot better than that look, but given the time and constraints that they had, it was good. LGD was Top 2 this week and she absolutely deserved it.

Marina Summers: Please know that I consider myself a Marina Summers stan, but I thought she was off her game here. The first look was beautiful, and Marina sold it like a dream — but was it prince? That was the assignment. The second look was impactful, it was cultural, it had an interesting story — but was it fashion? I don’t think it was. The third look, which Marina made herself, her first-ever dress, I thought swallowed her completely. The proportions just seemed off to me. Marina was Top 3, but I would have put her as Safe at best, possibly Bottom 3. I just don’t feel like she followed the assignment for 2/3 of the looks.

Scarlet Envy: You can tell that Scarlet was again irritated to not be doing enough to make the Top. I don’t blame her, given her overall “Drag Race” track record. But I also think that was never in the cards for her tonight. Her first look was her worst. I liked the concept of a knight who has vanquished a dragon, and has emerged half burnt, clothes in tatters. I even thought the execution was solid. But if she didn’t explain the concept I’m not sure I would have known what I was looking at. I thought her evil queen look was gorgeous and regal, and captured that Disney villain energy. Her handmade look, basically a replica of Cinderella’s iconic gown, was massive and impressive for the limited time they had. You could see where there were some issues here and there, and that fabric — which, admittedly, they gave to her — also read community-theater costume. But points for ambition. You can’t argue that she didn’t take a big swing with that look. Scarlet was Safe, and I think that is probably right overall, but it was a solid effort.

Tia Kofi: Tia had a lot to prove on the fashion end this season, and additionally, she chose this ball to pay homage to her late Season 2 sister, Cherry Valentine. I thought Tia’s first two looks were successful — a modernized Robin Hood look for the prince, and a really beautiful translation of Cherry’s promo look for her evil queen dress. This is definitely an upgraded Tia on the runway, and I love to see the looks living up to the personality. I thought her final look was acceptable — I wish I could have gotten a better sense of what was going on with the top — but the most important thing is that Tia acknowledged that she felt a lot of pressure to deliver in this challenge and didn’t let it get to her (something I felt might have happened a bit in the Talent Show), AND Ru and Michelle both fully bought into the Dossier gag from Episode 1, which now seems to be a Thing with them and Tia. I wasn’t sure last week if that landed, but clearly it did, and I’m glad to see the judges so invested in Tia here. Tia was Safe, which I agree with. But she should be very proud of not only what she wore on that runway, but also in paying tribute to her friend. That was truly a lovely moment.

After LGD and Keta were named the Top 2, and Arantxa and Choriza the Bottom 2, the queen deliberations began. I absolutely hate hate hated seeing these two queens in the Bottom 2. Every elimination this season is going to hurt, because they’re all so endearing. But THESE TWO. Gah! I love them both so much, and the fact that they are actual friends made it SO much more painful to watch. Both Arantxa and Choriza pled their cases respectfully, and the most interesting element came when LGD asked Choriza point blank if she would decline to eliminate a UK girl who deserved to go home if she had the power to do so. Choriza promised that she would commit to playing fairly. Meanwhile, Scarlet flat out told the other queens that she thinks going by track record is boring; she would eliminate her biggest competition, because that’s what makes the game interesting. You know who agrees with that? The producers of this show. (That’s not even a read; I’ve read actual interviews where they explain they have no intention of changing course on that elimination structure, because that’s where the drama comes in.)

LGD and Keta lipsynched to “Everytime We Touch” by Cascada and it was…weird. At first LGD seemed to be doing a DJ mime thing, but about midway through she seemed to snap out of it and go into runway model mode. Keta started out at a 10 and never really gave us any other levels. All in all, it was not my favorite lipsynch, and I could see either or neither of them winning. But LGD was named the victor, and in a heartbreaking moment, she eliminated Arantxa.

I was truly so sad to see Arantxa go. What a LIGHT. She just exudes an aura of positivity, and is so naturally, effortlessly charming. I am so happy that she got this opportunity to make her mark on a global stage, and I’m especially happy to see her so happy and THRIVING as her most authentic self. I would absolutely love to see Arantxa back again. We stan our Spanish Hannah Montana!

NEXT: the queens create original “Drag World” pitches. I have absolutely no idea what any of that means. Also, was that Kim Petras?

Did you miss our previous recap? Find it here:

Episode 1

We’re also recapping U.S. Season 16 and “Espana All Stars.” You can find those recaps by clicking here!

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