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The RuView

The INTO RuView: UK Season 3 Episode 4 “Big Drag Energy”

Pick'n'Mix performing the power bottom mix of B.D.E.

Welcome back to the INTO RuView, where we recap “RuPaul’s Drag Race” week by week. The fourth episode of “Drag Race UK” Season 3 saw the queens performing in rival girl groups, leading to one of the worst individual performances in “Drag Race” herstory.

The episode kicked off after Veronica’s elimination, which clearly shook up the dynamic in the werkroom. The message is clear: no one is safe. Vanity seems strangely confident considering she’s been in the bottom twice in a row, usually a recipe for imminent elimination. But I guess overconfidence is better than giving up! She says Choriza and River should’ve been the bottom two, which, absolutely not. Choriza I could see — her first look was a travesty — but River was near the top, in my opinion!

The girls debriefing after Veronica's elimination.
The girls debrief after Veronica’s elimination. Via WOW Presents+.

The girls seem to have it out for River, for some reason. The next day, Scarlett makes it clear that her win has gone to her head, calling out River for not “wanting it” enough. Bitch, what? River may not always have the best looks, but she’s clearly giving it her all.

Ru comes in to tell the girls it’s time: this week is the girl groups challenge, meaning everybody has to write original verses and come up with choreo for a new track, “B.D.E.,” which stands for Big Drag Energy. They think they’re clever, don’t they.

The queens are excited, because they know how iconic this could be. Season 1, this challenge produced the Frock Destroyers, and Season 2, the United Kingdolls. Those are big heels to fill — “bing bang bong” is still on constant loop in my head.

Scarlett, last week’s winner, and Vanity, last week’s loser, get to be team captains and do a schoolyard pick. Scarlett chooses Kitty, Charity and Krystal, while Vanity picks Ella, River and Choriza. Immediately, this episode has the perfect storyline: all the underdogs are on Vanity’s team, while the “cool girls” are on Scarlett’s.

Team Scarlett and Team Vanity.
Team Scarlett (left) and Team Vanity (right). At first glance, it’s David versus Goliath. Via WOW Presents+.

They double down on this dynamic with a twist: there are two versions of “B.D.E.,” an upbeat “top pop” mix and a mid-tempo “power bottom” mix. Scarlett gets to assign the versions, and she unsurprisingly chooses the upbeat version for her own team. On paper, it makes perfect sense — an upbeat song will be higher energy, lend itself to more choreo and be more like previous songwriting challenges on “Drag Race.” Why mess with a winning formula, right?

That leaves Vanity’s team with the challenge of making a power ballad into an iconic moment. Not an easy feat, but as Choriza puts it, “Maybe [Scarlett] can’t work with a ballad, but we surely can.”

Both groups choose their names, following in the tradition of twisting an existing girl group with a draggy pun. Scarlett’s team decides to be the Slice Girls (I don’t really get it, but go off), while Vanity’s team chooses Pick‘n’Mix at Choriza’s suggestion. It represents how they’re all different, and you get “a little bit from everything.” Wholesome!

Suddenly, four members of British dance-pop group Steps enter the werkroom — sorry, step into the werkroom. They announce that two of them, Claire and “H,” will help the girls record their verses, while the other two, Lee and Faye, will help them with choreo (which is kind of a lie, but we’ll get to that).

Steps in the werkroom.
Steps on the steps. Via WOW Presents+.

The recording sessions have a few notable moments: Charity can’t help singing like a wicked witch, which is entertaining as hell, but might stand out a tad too much in the group. River’s verse celebrates her femininity, leading to a touching moment with “H.” River is the main character of this episode, and she absolutely deserves it. I don’t think she’s winning the season, but I do think she’s winning the hearts of the fans, which is ultimately way more important.

River recording her verse.
River recording her verse. Via WOW Presents+.

In the choreo sessions, it becomes clear that Steps’ Lee and Faye aren’t actually there to choreograph. They’re just there to watch the girls struggle and occasionally provide commentary. Kitty takes the lead for the Slice Girls, barrelling ahead even as the rest of the group flounders in the background. Pick‘n’Mix is far more collaborative, deciding on a signature chest popping move that, spoiler alert, is the true star of the show.

Pick'n'Mix devising choreo with
Pick’n’Mix devises choreo with “help” from Steps. Via WOW Presents+.

Before the performances, River opens up about losing her mother to COVID just before coming on the show, sharing how coming to “Drag Race” was motivated by her memory.

River and her mother.
River and her mother. Via WOW Presents+.

“I was talking to her, and I was like, ‘I’m gonna make you so proud,’” River says. “‘I’m gonna get on ‘Drag Race’ one day, and I’m gonna tell the whole world about you.’”

Mama Medway, wherever you are, we’re so glad to hear your story and to see your wonderful child. God, “Drag Race” is supposed to be campy fun! I’m not supposed to be crying right now! Yet here we are.

It’s time for the main challenge. First to the stage are the Slice Girls with their top pop mix. Krystal’s verse opens the number, and she kinda kills it. Her perfection is honestly getting to be a little much. Next is Charity, whose verse is actually really fun! But she does stand out for her look, which is the only blue in a sea of sparkly silver.

The Slice Girls performing the top pop mix of B.D.E.
The Slice Girls performing the top pop mix of “B.D.E.” Via WOW Presents+.

Next is Scarlett, and, hoo boy. This is one of the worst individual challenge showings in the history of the show. Scarlett starts, and she nearly immediately forgets her words. Now, that’s not good, but it’s her onstage acknowledgement of the mistake that sinks her. She rolls her eyes, barely moves to the music and is visibly shaken for the rest of the number. Yikes.

Kitty is last, and she’s the best of the group. Makes sense, considering her experience in drag girl groups like Gals Aloud with Season 1 icon Cheryl Hole. But her showing isn’t enough to save the number, which Scarlett buttons with a downcast look and a whispered, “Fuck.”

Scarlett looking defeated.
Don’t worry, Scarlett, we’ve all been there. Via WOW Presents+.

Pick‘n’Mix takes the stage and is immediately superior. They’re leaning into the cheesiness all the way, making the power ballad into a camp classic. Once again, River stands out in a great way, with heartfelt lyrics like, “Missing my mama but I know she up in heaven.” And Choriza proves once again that she’s a national treasure: “Yes, my accent is thick. But much more is my B.D.E!” And all four girls shine on the choruses, where synchronized chest pops send the whole judging panel into hysterics.

Pick'n'Mix performing the power bottom mix of B.D.E.
Pick’n’Mix performing the power bottom mix of “B.D.E.” Via WOW Presents+.

At the end of the number, it cuts to the other group, where Charity remarks, “It’s gonna be close!” Oh, baby. No it’s not.

Category is … Night of a Thousand Spice Girls

Best Look: Ella Vaday

Ella Vaday's Spice Girl look.
Ella Vaday’s Spice Girl look. Via WOW Presents+.

Ella was the only queen to attempt Sporty Spice, and my god, did she nail it. It’s simple, clean and takes full advantage of Ella’s physique. Her runway presentation left me … confused. In a good way.

Runner-Up: Krystal Versace

Krystal Versace's Spice Girl look.
Krystal Versace’s Spice Girl look. Via WOW Presents+.

Baby Spice said it herself: this look is higher quality than the one it’s recreating. Krystal is one of the most polished queens ever to be on “Drag Race,” which is CRAZY considering she’s 19. Seriously, though, there are no flaws in this look, apart from a lack of selling it on the runway, which is why Ella edged ahead.

Worst Look: Scarlett Harlett

Scarlett Harlett's Spice Girl look.
Scarlett Harlett’s Spice Girl look. Via WOW Presents+.

This is just … not impressive. It’s a pretty good recreation, apart from the hair, which, yes, could use some much bigger buns. But the way Scarlett presented it was also confusing — she was clearly still shaken up by her performance, and she kept doing high kicks for some reason? The makeup also seems very light. Just a really rough night for Scarlett overall.

Runner-Up: River Medway

River Medway's Spice Girl look.
River Medway’s Spice Girl look. Via WOW Presents+.

River’s face looks gorge, and it’s a great recreation of the original Ginger Spice look. The issue is that the look was ugly to begin with. I’ll just never find this cut of shorts flattering, sorry. But I love River too much to rag on it any further.

Ru announces that Pick‘n’Mix is the winning team! Duh. That means Ella, Choriza, River and Vanity each get a RuPeter badge, and just like that, it’s anyone’s game. The season should be much more interesting from here on.

Meanwhile, Charity was read for her (admittedly fabulous) look not fitting the category, and Scarlett was read for her … everything. Backstage, she apologizes to Choriza for not picking her, to which Choriza naturally replies, “Don’t be silly, I’m quite happy you didn’t.” Imagine being that witty in your second language?? I take five minutes to crack a joke in English.

It’s time for the lip sync, and it’s Charity and Scarlett in the bottom two, performing to “Who Do You Think You Are” by the Spice Girls. No shade to Scarlett, but Charity absolutely WASHES her. No contest. So I wasn’t shocked when Ru called Charity’s name first.

I was shocked when she followed it up with Scarlett’s. A double shantay?? For that??? It wasn’t bad, but there was a clear winner. They should’ve used the double save last week for Veronica, who turned out a much better performance than Scarlett did here. It would’ve made more sense, too, considering Victoria was disqualified in that episode.

But no, both Scarlett and Charity live on to fight another day. I’m not mad at it — I like both of them — but the lip sync didn’t warrant it. Scarlett really needs to redeem herself next week, or this will feel even less deserved. I believe in her! Mostly.

Next week is a branding challenge, where the queens will give their take on the Drag-lexa. Expect some high highs and some low lows here — Kitty and Choriza should kill it! But some less charismatic queens like Krystal and Charity may struggle. Much to think about.

(By the way, quick plug for Season 2 of Canada’s Drag Race, which just premiered! It’s off to a strong start, so if you’re a diehard “Drag Race” fan, it’s worth checking out. Also, for any horror fans like myself, Season 4 of “The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula” premieres on Oct. 18! Honestly, I’m more excited for that than any of this year’s “Drag Race” seasons. But be warned — shit gets gory.)

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