RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs The World, Episode 4: “Snatch Game” — 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.
They Came to Slay
Humor me for a moment and flash back just two weeks when we were watching the very first post-elimination conversation. The cast talked about Pangina Heals’ elimination of Lemon over Janey and whether or not Jimbo threw the lip sync. Yours truly speculated:
“It feels like this cast is prepared to fully embrace the All-Stars format, and if that’s the case, we’re in for a wild ride.”
We are on the ride, and it is wild.
In the wake of Jimbo’s elimination at the hands of Canadian-slayer Pangina, the conversation of choosing to eliminate based on the judges’ critiques versus strategy persisted. Baga Chipz proposed that Jimbo was eliminated based on threat level, but Pangina explained that her decision was based on the challenge. She felt Jujubee performed better.
Cut to Baga Chipz: “No…”
What was especially interesting about this chapter in the “challenge performance versus strategy” debate is that Janey Jacké, who has thus far been the strongest advocate of eliminating based on critiques, revealed that she’d have eliminated Jujubee. Notably, this means that every single elimination has been dependent on the winner of the lipsync. So far, no two top performers have agreed on who should go home. It also serves a more subliminal purpose: if the audience is being told that Jujubee is underperforming and that Janey is the primary representative of “fair play,” then Pangina’s decision, despite being attributed to critiques, was the strategic one. Then again, if Pagina’s been quietly eliminating based on threat level over challenge performance, what does it mean that she kept Janey?
As much as I’ve railed against—and will continue to rail against—the continued use of the All-Stars format, it’s certainly giving Shakespeare this season.
Baby, It’s A New Day
The next day, as the cast awaited news of their next challenge, Blu Hydrangea reminded everyone that in Drag Race, you can be on the top and go straight to the bottom, “so no one is safe,” which seemed innocent enough, right? After all, Jimbo was in the top two weeks in a row, then ended up in the bottom and eliminated. It couldn’t be about anyone else… right?
If only we knew, Blu. Imagine the glee on the editors’ faces as they put these pieces together.
They Came to Play… Snatch Game!
This time, the contestants were challenged to compete as teams in a Family Feud-inspired twist on Drag Race’s iconic celebrity impersonation challenge. RuPaul gave the task of deciding families to the previous week’s winner, and Pangina chose to compete as the Katie Price Family with Jujubee and Baga. This left Mo Heart, Blu, and Janey to compete as the Michelle Visage Family.
Presumably, because Pangina was the only competitor to never play Snatch Game and based on Ru’s description of “competing as two feuding families,” Pangina chose a family she thought would win as a team. But there’s never a guarantee you’ll be judged as a group. Considering this, Janey clearly laid out the flaw in Pangina’s choices: if you chose the two people you think will perform the best, you’ve positioned yourself to look worse performing alongside them.
Let’s talk Ru’s walkthrough:
- Pangina spoke with Ru about her nerves and shared concerns about making Mariah Carey funny. Given the track record of queens impersonating contemporary pop diva superstars (think Beyoncé and Lady Gaga), it was a founded concern.
- Janey got a Snatch Game walkthrough classic. She shared her primary choice of Tan Mom with Ru, and Ru convinced her to pivot to her second: James Charles, whom Janey admitted to being hesitant about due to controversy surrounding Charles.
- Jujubee’s chat with Ru was mostly a history of Jujubee’s previous Snatch Game performances and Ru losing her composure over every single thing Jujubee said, impersonation or not, which appears to have lost its affirming effect and leaves Jujubee confused.
- Mo Heart’s consultation was the moment that really grabbed me. I’m not a Drag Race historian, but I can’t recall the last time RuPaul successfully convinced a performer to take a completely unsolicited celebrity suggestion. Ru suggested Billy Porter, and Mo threw both their prepared impersonations (Gordon Ramsey and BeBe Zahara Benet) out the window.
- Blu had a serious heart-to-heart with Ru about being self-conscious and using both Snatch Game and blue humor as ways to push outside of their typical comfort zones to prove to she deserves self-confidence.
- And finally, Baga brought the walkthrough home by doing what she does best: effortlessly charming RuPaul and making Ru laugh.
Put simply and colorfully, Baga Chipz and Blu Hydrangea pissed all over Snatch Game. It truly belonged to them. Their similar decisions to portray famous characters—Kathy Bates’ Annie Wilkes and Mike Myers’ Austin Powers/Dr. Evil, respectively—instead of simply the actors who play them paid off in spades. They’re over-the-top characters with highly concentrated source material, they play incredibly well with the camera, and Baga and Blu came deeply prepared with a trove of jokes, props, and gags between ‘em.
Of the other four, the Americans certainly put up a fight but never gained ground on Baga and Blu. Jujubee made Ru laugh, because she’s Jujubee and because her Cher impression wasn’t very good, and Mo managed to find moments through Billy Porter that allowed them to simply be Mo Heart dialed up to eleven.
The clear bottoms were Pangina’s Mariah Carey and Janey’s James Charles. Pangina started strong but quickly fizzled, and Janey… just never found her footing. Let’s face it: allowing Ru to convince her to choose James Charles was an enormous mistake (both in the game and out).
This Mirror Chat, Oy Vey
I don’t want to ignore this segment, but I’m not going to dedicate too many words to the mirror chat about “cancel culture”, because a few quick paragraphs isn’t dedicating the appropriate time or consideration into what should be treated as a complex and nuanced conversation.
What I will say is this: thank the gay universe for Mo Heart.
The segment really had me in the first half. It was prompted by Janey using her decision to portray James Charles—a celebrity mired in controversy and since accused of grooming underage fans—as a way to ask the room about “cancel culture”. And the segment’s takeaway was fully on track to be that people are “too sensitive” nowadays, that art and comedy are being suffocated by “cancellation”, and that people who are “cancelled” are victims of a “trend.”
Luckily, Mo stepped in to remind the room and the audience at home that there are patterns of harm and oppression carried out against marginalized populations that are frequently brushed off or justified and perpetuated in the name of art or comedy, and conversations like these can’t be simplified to “is cancel culture bad? Y/N?”
Bring It to the Runway, Runway
The clear highlights of this week’s “Luck Be A Lady” runway were Blu Hydrangea’s high-fashion leprechaun and Mo Heart’s illuminated flamingo-inspired showgirl. Blu’s been delivering elevated and high-concept fashion all season long. This was no exception. Meanwhile, Mo managed to convince production to turn the studio lights down to show off their outfit, and we should all be glad they did.
I also really enjoyed Pangina’s runway. She wore a massive slot machine with multiple moving parts and dropped a jackpot’s worth of gold coins from between her legs. This is exactly what I was expecting when I first heard she was competing.
Worst runway? Would you be shocked to learn it was Jujubee once again? No? No one?
The other two outfits that didn’t do it for me were Baga’s more straight-forward leprechaun and Janey’s roulette-inspired look. Baga’s didn’t feel like it was meant to serve fashion, which is perfectly fine, but it also wasn’t serving that much in the realm of camp. Janey’s, while initially impressive for the scale of her back piece, really fell apart in the details. She’s always beautiful, but I’m surprised she wasn’t critiqued more harshly for the base outfit and the lack of a clean color story.
Wait, Who? No Way…
Ultimately Baga and Blu were rightfully declared the week’s winners for their dominating Snatch Game performances, and everyone else was declared up for elimination. The deliberation focused heavily on Baga’s determination to avenge Jimbo and on Blu’s struggle over performance versus strategy. Baga promised both Mo and Jujubee that they’d be safe with her while Blu made a deal with Mo and openly admitted to considering threat level.
After a forgettable lip sync battle to Alexandra Burke’s ‘Let It Go’, Blu Hydrangea was granted the RuPeter badge and the power to choose one competitor to eliminate.
And in a moment that will absolutely go down in Drag Race herstory as one of the most emotional, Blu eliminated Pangina Heals, the clear front runner, from the competition.
The eliminations of Jimbo and Pangina are exactly what I was imagining when I speculated this cast would embrace the format. It’s not what I ordered, but UK vs The World is certainly delivering.
With the field wide open, anything could happen when the remaining five competitors write and record verses for a RuPaul track. As members of the Frock Destroyers, I’d expect Blu and Baga to feel at home, and the Americans are no strangers to this environment. As the only remaining competitor to not participate in a singing challenge previously, Janey could have a reason to worry.
But… with the way this season’s gone so far, maybe it’s Blu who should be concerned.
‘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.