My goodness, this cast is so talented. I was already impressed by the personality and fashions in Episode 1, but this episode — with one of the most demanding challenges I’ve seen on any of the English-speaking Drag Race seasons (Thailand notoriously gave its queens absurdly difficult challenges, and more often than not the contestants rose to the challenge) — proved that this crop of queens are gifted live performers as well. The casting directors were not fucking around for Season 2!
After a silly but pot-stirring mini-challenge in which the queens had to vote for cast superlatives like shadiest queen (A’Whora, naturally), trade of the season (Tayce), most full of themselves (Lawrence Chaney) and Baroness von Basic (Tia Kofi), Tia assigned the roles in the main challenge, “RATS: The Rusical.” The spoof of not only “CATS” but several other Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals (“Evita,” “Phantom of the Opera”) required the queens to act, dance, and sing LIVE. I think perhaps the Rusical in Season 6 also required live singing, but generally speaking, most of the musical challenges in the US seasons have pre-taped vocals. Not so with our British queens! As Charlie Hides famously taught us back in Season 9, many British queens don’t lipsynch at shows — they sing live. (This also explains why most of the UK lipsynchs have been…adequate.) So it’s smart of the show to lean into this cultural difference, and give these queens a chance to really show their chops. And boy, did they.
Quick aside: I was very impressed by Tia’s leadership skills in making those role assignments. A weaker personality would have been torn to pieces by all of the intense opinions. Tia was levelheaded and took input, but not shit. Tia didn’t make a huge impact on me in Episode 1, but I really came to appreciate her this episode.
As for the challenge itself, honestly, they all did great. Nobody fully bombed, and even the weaker performers (I would say it was Lawrence and Tayce, who were both impacted by nerves; Asttina, who lacked the vocal chops; and Cherry and Sister, who didn’t push through the crowd) acquitted themselves well. But the problem was, they ALL did so well that even “decent” resulted in bottom placements. A’Whora and Bimini were great in their roles, and they were SAFE. Ginny was hysterical as the Judi Dench character, and she was SAFE. That’s how stacked this cast is. There are queens who have won the US version of this show who I don’t think would have done half as well as even the person who went home.
Speaking of, let’s talk about our eliminated queen, Cherry Valentine. The problem with a cast filled with major threats is that even really solid queens end up as early eliminations. (The same was true of US S12. I…do not think it is true of US S13.) I hope that Cherry understands that being the second out was in no way a referendum on her drag. She served us numerous sickening looks between the promos and the first episode, and did a really solid job in the challenge. The lipsynch was not great for either party, in my opinion (although some people found Tayce’s interpretation quite moving, I found the energy too sullen). I think Cherry is a terrific queen, and I wish we got more time to explore her perspective and to learn more about her Traveler heritage (Travelers are a fascinating UK community — basically gypsies). Every elimination is going to hurt.
On that note, without giving anything away, the next three episodes are going to be a wild ride. Buckle up, kids. Shit is a bout to get GAGGY.
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What did you all think of the episode? Who is emerging as your favorite?