Tuesday, February 22, 2022

REVIEW: 'RuPaul's Drag Race: UK vs. the World' - The Competition Features the Saddest Elimination Yet in 'Snatch Game'

BBC Three's RuPaul's Drag Race: UK vs. the World - Episode 1.04 "Snatch Game"

It's the legendary Drag Race challenge: the Snatch Game... but with a twist! With iconic team captains, Katie Price and Michelle Visage at the helm, the queens showcase their best celebrity impressions and improv skills in an attempt to make Mama Ru laugh.

This competition promised the best of the best competing against each other to be crowned a Drag Superstar of the World. In the episodes so far, just a small handful of queens have stood out in doing something incredibly spectacular on the stage. And now, both Jimbo and Pangina have been eliminated. It's insane that they aren't in the finale vying to be one who gets to record a song with RuPaul. And yet, that's their fates as determined by the other queens. The power is given to them. They are the ones eliminating each other. They can do so for whatever reasons they want - or no reason at all. They simply have to stand with the repercussions of those actions. Pangina eliminated Jimbo over Jujubee. It wasn't the decision Janey would have made. That means the top two queens each week have never agreed on who should have been eliminated. That's a startling fact. One that shows these queens are all playing their own unique games. They've evolved as a result. They fear that someone is playing it more cutthroat. As a result, they have to embrace those tactics as well. Pangina needs to be targeted because she is the fiercest competition. It can all potentially be rationalized because Jimbo was the worst in the Rusical and Pangina would definitely be in the Bottom Two for her Snatch Game performance. However, that just makes it more appalling to see someone like Jujubee coasting instead of competing as fiercely as the audiences knows she can. She is aware that she doesn't have to work so hard. She can easily be dragged to the end as everyone is fighting to get their biggest competition before they are eliminated. It creates an unpredictable season. One where so much is ultimately said behind-the-scenes.

Who is more upset about Jimbo's elimination? Jimbo or Baga Chipz? Baga doesn't believe a word coming out of Pangina's mouth about why she chose Jimbo's lipstick. She has determined that Jimbo was eliminated because she was strong competition. And yes, that argument can absolutely be made. Pangina doesn't offer a great defense for her actions either. She claims that she saved her sister, Jujubee, instead of eliminating Jimbo. And yes, Pangina and Jujubee understandably have a bond over being Thai and Laotian queens competing. That's a connection that hasn't exactly been depicted onscreen. It appears as if the producers are more engaged by the queens being aware of what Jujubee can do instead of judging her for what she has done in this specific competition. That's a fine distinction. One that has allowed her to remain safe. However, it's clear that All Stars 5 was peak Jujubee. In that competition, she had something to prove. She needed to show good Juju after her radical personal transformation. Here, she is competing simply because she was invited. A fire isn't exactly lit within her to prove herself as capable of carrying the crown. It's a competition she does well in. It has firmly placed her in a box as a performer though. It would honestly be more entertaining to see her elsewhere instead of just expecting her to do this show again. This time it just happens to be in London. That makes her presence mostly just disappointing overall. Others are more thrilled to be here. They are present while offering smart, innovative takes on drag that haven't been seen on this platform before.

This episode should be a celebration of Blu Hydrangea. She too has been called safe throughout the competition. That hasn't always been a fair judgment. She has been doing very well. The judges were simply more interested in talking to the other queens over her. That can't be denied here. She dominates Snatch Game. This challenge is synonymous with Drag Race. Sure, the format can evolve over time - particularly doing All Stars. However, it's the challenge that states who the frontrunners are and who can expect placements in the middle. Of course, the game itself produces similar outcomes all the time. Only two or three queens ever truly do well. Then, a collection of muddled but forgettable queens crowd the middle. That leaves one or two to flame out spectacularly. It's the same result all the time. Here, it's obvious the Top 2 are going to be Blu and Baga. It's more rewarding to see Blu be recognized. Throughout this competition, Baga has complained during every challenge that wasn't Snatch Game. She moaned and groaned throughout the Ball and the Rusical. They weren't challenges she was excited to do. She was still declared safe. That was questionable. It may even show bias in her favor. The judges are certainly capable of critiquing her. Her runways are all terrible. She presents a formula of how she thinks she is suppose to behave on the runway. She thinks she knows what the judges want. It's rare for her to produce anything that is truly smart and deserving of praise. But she does shine with Snatch Game. Both Blu and Baga made smart, creative picks of characters. Plus, they had journeys for what they planned on doing. Others simply seemed lost and unsure of themselves. Blu and Baga were confident throughout. When something started to wane and become less funny, they could tell and switch things up accordingly. That's a powerful skill. One that should be praised.

Snatch Game provided Blu with a realization during her first season. And now, it is the take off point for her journey this season as well. That's symmetry the show notes and the audience can appreciate. It's a full circle moment. Blu may still be figuring out her identity both in and out of drag. But she can confidently be praised as a performer and for being a genuine human being. She starts thoughtful conversations. She doesn't have all the answers. Drag is suppose to be irreverent. She takes risks. They pay off for her here. It may be the start of a beautiful future for her. She ultimately chooses to eliminate Pangina though. It's a move that may help cement her spot in the Top 4. It's an unexpected result because Blu is the one making the decision. All of Baga's confessionals this week present her as an arrogant and entitled monster who wants to get justice for Jimbo by eliminating Pangina. Again, it's her playing the show for someone else instead of being confident in her own abilities. She certainly has those skills. They come out during the challenge. She still has lackluster runways. That lip sync outfit is absolutely the most hideous thing worn on the main stage so far this season. Those insecurities and projections of conflict may only hold her back and prevent her from being a true, genuine sister. She considers herself a mad performer, with Jimbo as a kindred spirit. However, she is her own unique person too. Blu is making that personal discovery. As a result, she makes a stunning choice. One that produces the most heartbreaking elimination of the season. Pangina's dreams are shattered. Her reaction reveals the pressure she has put on herself to represent for Thailand. She didn't disappoint or shame her country. She never made a mistake in this competition. Sure, her Mariah Carey wasn't great. Janey failed with James Charles too. Jujubee has had enough lucky breaks. Meanwhile, Mo is still waiting for that moment to pop outside of the runways. Pangina can be proud of what she accomplished. Blu will have to handle the repercussions of this decision. The fans won't be happy. But again, this is the power given to Blu. She has to deal with it responsibly. Her success doesn't have to come at the expense of others. Fans shouldn't pit these queens against each other. It's just a competition after all. Drag shouldn't be taken so seriously. It's a disappointing result that continues the feeling of this season going for shock value above all else. A queen has to be lucky to win All Stars. That too has been said over and over again.