Major spoilers ahead for the third episode of Drag Race UK vs the World.

Ahh, we were on such a winning streak with the second season of Drag Race UK vs the World. The first two episodes boasted some pretty accurate judging (a concept we love), fun challenges (samey-samey, but they worked) and tremendous runways (La Grande Dame’s Alien-inspired She-Vil look… still thinking about her). And compared to season one, the eliminations have been fair. Hard, because we want to see more of these legendary queens (and their runway package), but fair. Take it this way: we haven’t had a Pangina Heals shrieking from her soul while RuPaul ‘lets the music play!’ moment (yet). Then this week’s challenge came along…

For their third maxi-challenge, the nine remaining contestants worked in teams of three to sell their individual brands in an “immersive experience” called “Drag Race World”. First of all, huh? An immersive experience that is a group project *and* a branding challenge? Again: huh? (Judging from the online reaction, I’m not alone in my confusion.) The teams were as follows: Keta Minaj, Marina Summers and Tia Kofi; Hannah Conda, Jonbers Blonde and La Grande Dame; Choriza May, Gothy Kendoll and Scarlet Envy. (A very random mixture of queens, which is why we love this show.)

Admittedly, there were a few moments when the queens filmed the challenge where my funny bone was highly tickled, from Keta Minaj splattering a member of the Brit Crew in paint before tossing him around on the ground (give! him! a! raise!) to La Grande Dame speaking Simlish as she transformed into John Paul Gaultier. Hannah Conda also cackled into the ears of a sheep ornament, which is important for the LGBTQIA+ rights movement. But, after watching the queens film and then seeing the final product on the main stage, I don’t have a bloody clue what the intention behind this challenge was. It was convoluted as hell and, if anything, it should’ve been an individual branding challenge. Let the queens shine on their own.

“The werkroom interactions are such a joy to watch” is a sentence I’ve said in my last two recaps, and it still stands. Jonbers’ smug expression as she told her teammates “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”, as if she concocted this well-known inspirational phrase herself, made me chuckle, as did Hannah telling RuPaul her hubby is a Brit, therefore she too is a Brit – “because you are what you eat”. It wasn’t just comedic moments, however. Before the queens took the runway, La Grande Dame confided in her UK vs the World sisters about a past assault that left her hospitalised. After Keta shared that Holland is still rife with gay-bashing, the France alum revealed that she left Nice after being “fully attacked”: “I went to the police and stated what happened, and there was no investigation. ‘Oh, you know it happens every weekend.’ That’s basically the response.” Following in the footsteps of past Drag Race alum such as The Vivienne, Envy Peru, Pixie Polite and Elektra Fence, who have all been recently attacked or threatened, La Grande Dame’s assault is a stark reminder for viewers at home who might not be immersed in queer issues that LGBTQIA+ people continue to face violence around the world.

While I usually have my opinions on the tops and bottoms of the week, I, again, didn’t have the foggiest as to who would be praised or criticised because I’m not entirely sure what ‘success’ looked like for this “immersive experience”. If it was to be funny, then La Grande Dame actually won for me (that bottom three placement was trash). If it was to be their authentic selves, then Jonbers Blonde fulfilled the brief with her Northern Irish hijinks. If it was to sell the Drag Race experience, then Tia Kofi and Scarlet Envy’s wins were deserved. Even if her “immersive experience” was entertaining to watch, I understand the decision to put Keta in the bottom because her “Ketamorphosis” moment and paint-assisted tumble on the floor with the Brit Crew was [insert description about how confused I am, because I simply don’t know how to put out into words].

Ultimately, Jonbers and Keta bottomed for the first time (on the show), with Scarlet winning the lip-sync to electropop banger ‘Future Starts Now’ from guest judge Kim Petras. Although the self-described “drama” of the franchise admitted in last week’s episode that she would eliminate the strongest competition – a very silly thing to admit, remember Morgan McMichaels? – she revealed Jonbers’ lipstick. From a statistics perspective, Keta won three challenges on Drag Race Holland and a fourth with UK vs the World’s ball, so she is – again, this is from a statistics perspective! – the most successful Drag Race player alongside Hannah. So, it seems as if Scarlet has gone back on her word and is playing the game more like La Grande Dame, who has proven that she will eliminate based on track record. Is it RuPaul’s Best Friend’s Race after all, or is the controversial Jimbo/Pangina-esque elimination looming?

Whether you’re a Jonbers stan or not, it doesn’t feel right for this challenge to be her downfall. It shouldn’t have been the downfall for any of the queens, because it needed to be… Well, it needed to not be. It shouldn’t have existed, or it should’ve been rejigged to, y’know, make sense. Following her exit, she told GAY TIMES that “most” of the cast “did not know what was going on,” and even claimed that RuPaul herself “did not know what was going on with this challenge”. Even after the queens received a “booklet” detailing what it required, Jonbers was forced to have a call “with the challenge team” to clear up some confusion. “It’s a super subjective challenge,” she explained. “I think that’s where I was hurt because I wish it wasn’t that challenge I went out on.”

Next week’s challenge – the Snatch Game! – will hopefully prove that this week was just a fluke. This cast, as we’ve said time and time again, is absolutely incredible and feels like a true amalgamation of the Drag Race franchise so far. They just deserved better than this challenge. While we wait to see the queens flex their best celebrity impersonations, read our exit interview with Jonbers here, where she takes us behind-the-scenes of the “immersive experience” that sent her home and reveals her two unhinged Snatch Game choices.

You can also watch the interview in full here or below.