RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs The World, Episode 3: “West End Wendys” — Review
For the first time ever, Drag Race artists from around the world gather to compete for a single crown in RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs The World! And if you find yourself struggling to keep up—there’s a lot of Drag Race, we get it—stop by each week for the essentials.
Jimbo the Shady Clown?
With the elimination of Cheryl Hole at the hands of Janey Jacké in the previous week, the UK saw its first representative eliminated from UK vs The World. And for the second week in a row, Jimbo revealed that she would’ve eliminated the performer who ultimately stayed—first Janey and now Jujubee—which, in this competition, tends to raise eyebrows. On top of that, Jimbo came under fire for how she chose.
Though she initially said it like a joke, Jimbo admitted that she’d chosen Jujubee “at the last second,” because she was worried about being beaten by Jujubee in the end. Honestly? Smart gameplay. The wrinkle? Jujubee reveals to the rest of the cast that she and Jimbo had essentially made an alliance where neither would directly eliminate the other. There’s the problem. Sloppy gameplay.
And it got sloppier: Jimbo herself then admitted to having made the same agreement with Cheryl, marking her the season’s “shady one” by the whole cast.
This is where the All-Stars format gets me so mixed up, because in a game where the players are responsible for eliminating each other, you should eliminate your toughest competition. In many reality competitions, you’re expected to. But Drag Race still hasn’t come to terms with that, because it was originally built as a talent competition. As a result, the players who are given the opportunity to eliminate tend to act like a judging panel, not self-interested players.
If you’re going to eliminate your toughest competition in Drag Race, you either need to keep it locked down, produce another reason, and live with it or get comfortable taking the Naomi Smalls approach, keep it simple, and and own it entirely.
New Day, New Reads, New Rusical
In their morning chat, the cast celebrated Janey’s win, Pangina worried about Jujubee’s ability to clear her own bar, and Mo Heart explained shifting away from the name Monique to focus on being a genderless performer. Then the cast received exciting news: the library is about to be open! That’s right—the reading challenge arrived this week, and aside from one surprising letdown, the cast came ready to read each other down.
Unsurprisingly, Jujubee pulled off her third reading challenge win—the first in Drag Race herstory to do so—making her undefeated in the standard challenge format. No one stood a chance. Plus, her tulips read on Janey was one of my favorites in a long time. What came as a surprise was Mo Heart, the other half of the ostensibly “shady” American pair, landing zero reads. Everyone else got at least a good one in on someone though, so it’s unfortunate the segment was relegated to about two reads per competitor.
After the reading challenge, Ru announced the week’s maxi challenge: the lipsync Rusical reality show West End Wendys – The Comeback. In this season’s Rusical, a number of iconic “but faded” West End legends attempt to find fame again after losing their spotlight.
As the winner of the mini challenge, Jujubee was given the responsibility to assign roles. Determining roles for a Rusical always provides some degree of drama, and in this case, the drama revolved around Baga Chipz. Increasingly, Baga has been portrayed as blase, uninterested, and somewhat whiny. In this episode, she came across plainly as a brat. Much of the cast wanted to play Lally Bowelz, the Liza Minnelli-inspired role, so nearly everyone needed to offer a second or third choice. Baga refused to do so, so she ended up with the final role… and pouted about it.
West End Wendys
As far as Rusicals go, West End Wendys was one of the smoother ones in recent seasons, likely because it followed the showcase format often used to feature divas throughout history (think All-Stars Season 6’s Super Bowl Rusical) or to highlight specific eras of a performer (think Drag Race Season 10 and 12’s respective Cher- and Madonna-themed Rusicals). Giving each performer their own spotlight and closing with a group number means fewer moving parts between cast members, so each performer is forced to truly own their success or failure.
In rehearsal, Pangina, Blu, and Jujubee seemed comfortable and confident, and Mo submitted herself for Most Improved, calling up her own disaster flashback from her original season. Meanwhile, Baga’s attitude was still in full force and appeared to be an obstacle, and Jimbo claimed a neck injury that the rest of the cast seemed to doubt. The big surprise was Janey, a former Rusical winner, who seemed to struggle with being too married to the choreography, something she chalked up to being a trained dancer.
Ultimately, West End Wendys – The Comeback went off without much of a hitch. In the opening number, Pangina’s commitment to the Widdle Orphan Fannie character absolutely killed, and Janey’s struggles nailing Meryl Streep’s choreography in rehearsal turned out to be a misdirect. She was great! Blu’s vulgar Mariah Gon Trappy was also a hit, which follows in the footsteps of many good-girl-gone-bad Rusical numbers. Baga and Jujubee did… fine. Neither one of them appeared to struggle, but Baga’s clear disdain for her Tracy Fatberg role shone through, and Jujubee’s Lally performance never matched the energy of the role’s inspiration.
That leaves Mo Heart and Jimbo. Mo’s performance as Dr. Spank-n-Spurter was actually a lot of fun, but she was tasked with performing a couple stunts, and she stumbled. As for Jimbo’s Dodo the Dog number? Well, the first two Lip Sync for the World performances of the season showed us how Jimbo fares at dancing in drag. It was ruff.
The Winner Is, Dot Dot Dot
This episode’s runway theme was spots and polka dots, and all but two of the cast delivered. Blu and Pangina continued to bring art to the runway with unexpected and whimsical interpretations of the prompt. Jimbo, Janey, and Mo also came prepared with well-executed looks inspired by alien housewives, Thierry Mugler, and Pixar’s Monsters, Inc., respectively. And Baga and Jujubee underwhelmed again.
Like her performance in the Rusical, Baga’s pink and white runway—which I was shocked to learn was made by the same person who created Blu’s look from this very same episode—was forgettable. At least in Jujubee’s case, her runway was so bad it’ll go down in the Drag Race herstory books. Jujubee herself couldn’t even convincingly explain what she was wearing.
In the end, Janey Jacké and Pangina Heals were both declared for the second time to be top performers of the week. Alongside Jimbo’s consecutive top two placements in Weeks 1 and 2, this means only three competitors have snagged top spots. Conversely, Jujubee found herself in the bottom for a second consecutive week. The gag? Instead of being joined by Baga Chipz, who I fully believe earned a bottom two spot, Jujubee was joined by Jimbo for a lackluster Rusical performance.
I guess one bad Rusical performance + one great runway = bottom two, whereas one boring Rusical performance + one boring runway = safe?
Whatever, I was never good at math. I am good at watching reality television though, and I have to imagine Jimbo’s antics at the start of this episode played a role here. Pardon my tin-foil hat, but Janey’s been preaching the gospel of “playing fair,” and Jimbo admitted to playing strategically, so if Janey’s anywhere close to a top performer this week and Jimbo’s not, well… it is a television show after all, and a story needs stakes.
The Mighty Fall
After a deliberation that surrounded Jimbo’s broken promises and Jujubee’s struggle to “show up” in the competition, Janey and Pangina battled it out in a lipsync to “We Like to Party! (The Vengabus)” by the Vengaboys. Pangina secured her spot as the frontrunner of UK vs The World by earning a second win, and she also became the Slayer of Canadians after sending Jimbo home, single-handedly knocking Canada out of the running after sending the country’s only other representative home in the premiere.
With only six competitors left, it’s time for… Snatch Game! There’s a lot to track with Snatch Game, because among these remaining six are previous winners (Baga, Jujubee) and previous losers (Mo Heart). That said, the performer I’m most curious about is Pangina, because she’s the only one left who’s never participated in Snatch Game as a competitor. And while I suspect she’ll do just fine—she hasn’t shown a weakness yet—having specific Snatch Game experience could certainly give her competitors an edge.
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs The World’ airs on BBC Three in the UK and Crave in Canada, and it streams on WOW Presents Plus in the US and everywhere else.