Remember when I first mentioned the premiere season of Canada’s Drag Race was going to primarily only be available stateside via the WOW+ Presents app? Then they announced, like Drag Race U.K., the series would air on Logo weeks behind the original run.
What I failed to realize — and, in my defense, was not mentioned in the press release — was that Logo was premiering the series with two back-to-back episodes. It didn’t seem strange to me that people were talking about multiple episodes at once, since many were already watching on WOW+ Presents, etc.
Turns out, I’ve been a week behind with these recaps. To keep my brain from going full Doctor Manhattan, I’m going to do my best to catch up in this one post, because, honestly, these were two of the weaker episodes of the season. A shame when you consider one was the beloved Snatch Game.
Let’s go back where we last left off, with a freshly Starzy-free top nine. The pressure is on for Tynomi, the Canadian drag and dance diva that’s struggled thus far in the competition. Barely escaping a showdown with Starzy, Tynomi promises not to let everyone down again.
(Plus, Starzy really got the last laugh with a now iconic decision to not leave a lipstick mirror message.)
The mini-challenge is a fantastic upgrade to the classic game “Whatcha Packin?” Canada’s Drag Race improves on the formula with cuter underwear, more body diversity and the perfect sound effect every time one of the Pit Crew’s elastic waistbands finished its slow descent down those maple logs. It was a small, but perfect touch to a satisfyingly silly segment.
Jimbo wins a trip to Toronto, but also, more importantly, an important influence in the main challenge. It’s another group challenge, but this time they’ll be split in teams of three for a sewing challenge using unconventional materials.
Jimbo gets to assign each fashion “house” a material theme. Scarlett, Rita and Kiara get plastic; Priyanka, Lemon and BOA are assigned metal; while Jimbo gives herself, Ilona and Tynomi paper.
Sewing challenges tend to be savage, but the unconventional materials leave a lot of room for cutting, pasting and getting creative with assembly.
The results are mixed, but the judging is all over the place. The plastic group gets high marks, but the outfits are more notable for the outrageous makeup, spray-paint and plastic fencing details rather than the main garments’ construction. Rita, a former club kid with an edgy, artsy side, seems to have steered this ship, and it earns her the win. (Her commitment to the lewk was also on full display when she shaved her head the evening prior to runway.)
The metal group had the least avant-garde ensembles, but don’t think that made them ready-to-wear. BOA turned trash into … well, other trash? It looks like she jammed her legs through a mylar balloon. On top, she affixed two metal steaming baskets to her chest. On the whole, it looks like something that required little more than the draping styles of a frathouse toga party.
The judges can’t resist being charmed by Priyanka, who, to her credit, sells the hell out of one mess of dress. Lemon has the best of the three metalheads — a stunning copper gown made from unraveled scouring pads — but her bargain shelf wig and styling drags down the whole presentation.
The judges save most of their vitriol for the paper team. Initially, Ilona and Tynomi had an idea for “sherbert showgirls” which sounds both delightful and maybe sticky. Their plan went off the rails when Jimbo went rogue. Jimbo had a vision as herself as a queen, and the other two blindly followed suit, redrafting their outfits in the style of fantastical knights.
The ends results are actually pretty good! Jimbo looks great, almost too great. The outfit stands out as a top against any team, but Jeffrey finds fault in the makeup. I’m personally tired of Jimbo’s costume makeup, but I still can’t understand why Jeffrey has to harp on Jimbo’s time management when it doesn’t seem like a genuine issue.
Ilona’s bubblegum pink knight is, OK, a little piñata-esque. But! She looks cute, and there were enough little touches that I think went under-appreciated here. Tynomi’s is basic, but not a blunder. For whatever reason, the judges see paper and just want to rip them to shreds.
As they deliberate, we get the first real juicy drama of the season. Ilona is having a tiny meltdown about being in the bottom and how it’s so unfair that she brought all this drag and gets eliminated wearing garbage. I get it. But Jimbo is not so forgiving. After Ilona snaps at Jimbo, I think everyone (including me) is surprised that Jimbo doesn’t rise above this. Instead, Jimbo puts Ilona in her place, breaks the tension and everyone gets a little laugh. (Props to Ilona for that “representing dumpster divers” line, as well.)
Back in front of the judges, it comes down to Tynomi and Ilona. The younger queen has another mini-meltdown, struggling to muster the fighting spirit to send her friend packing. After some encouragement, both queens turn it out to Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend.” It’s not a legendary lip sync, but they both have a lot of fun with a very dumb song.
Ilona gets the win, though that may have more to do with Tynomi’s frequent trips to the bottom than Ilona’s superior sync.
Now, let’s continue this Gays of Future Past adventure with the following episode, because, it’s Snatch Game, mes amis!
It’s not a stretch to say Snatch is the most beloved and anticipated challenge of any season. It can make or break a queen, and it’s an opportunity to etch your name in the annals (I said ANNALS) of Drag Race herstory with an unforgettable quip.
Here, though, something was lost in transit. Maybe it’s the absence of Ru. Mother is famously beguiled by games and wordplay. Ru’s enthusiasm during the challenge (and infectious cackle) define the experience. Brooke Lynn Hytes is no RuPaul.
It’s hard to say how much of this stinking Snatch is the fault of a Ru-less production and how much lays at the heels of the ill-prepared queens. No one fully spiraled, but plenty snoozed by with little to no jokes.
The reading mini-challenge was an early indicator of things to come. The reads were as sharp as a bag of milk. Lemon got the win with the closest approximations to actual jokes, and Rita snuck in a zing on Brooke, but by and large this felt like kids’ hour at the library.
After weeks of great reads in confessional interviews, you’d think this crew would be naturals. And yet? This may be the least I’ve laughed watching a Snatch Game in a very, very long time. Even the worst Snatch Games usually have at least one standout performance, but even the highs here were pretty low.
Some of this season’s funniest queens are some of the worst offenders. Take BOA. She’s going to do Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a sort of pop-culture tragic figure that’s already been turned into camp in both a Hulu series and as a subplot on Ryan Murphy’s The Politician. BOA blames her poor performance on holding back for fear of being too offensive, but it’s obvious that she just hasn’t thought through fresh angles or jokes here.
Priyanka disappoints as well. I’m well aware a funny personality doesn’t translate to a successful Snatch, but I never saw Priyanka’s dour, sulking Miss Cleo coming. It was more than just not funny; it was sad.
Kiara’s Mariah Carey is all costume and no joke. Did she even speak? I can’t recall. Certainly, it’s nothing memorable. She commits a cardinal Snatch sin: Fading in the background. Scarlett squeaks out the most basic Liza, from the obvious outfit to the repeated “I’m f***ing Liza!” Ilona’s Cock Destroyer (a character that’s got exactly one dimension) is lucky so many others fizzled out to escape the bottom three herself.
Now, onto the better performers. Lemon’s take on Jojo Siwa is wonderfully unhinged without being too cruel or crass. It’s all manic energy and rapidly aging adorkability. She never stops moving. Yes, it’s distracting, but you couldn’t help but notice Lemon whenever even a fraction of her body appeared in shot.
Rita is the first to attempt Edith Piaf on Snatch. The judges eat it up, but it just feels like Rita in rough drag. It’s really just a better version of Aiden Zhane’s Patricia Quinn. She’s tired, she’s on drugs, she’s confused why she’s here. I would’ve appreciated just any kind of cohesive narrative spin. It felt repetitious.
Jimbo is our ultimate winner, but I was still left longing with her Joan Rivers. The ashes gag was clever, but it felt like she went to that well too many times. Her barbs weren’t nearly as sharp as Rivers, but that’s a high bar for anyone to clear. The most memorable (a naughty reference to Judy Garland and Joan’s fingers) is the highlight, but even that never hit the heights of some Snatch greats.
The runway is — GASP! — Night of 1,000 Celines. We’ll parse out the runways in the rankings, but this week’s category weighed heavily on the judges’ tops and bottoms.
In fact, Lemon’s blasé Oscar gown homage and Rita’s odd ode to early-Celine likely cost them the win up against Jimbo’s high-fashion interpretation. Similarly, Priyanka’s runway stunner — a two-in-one combo of Celine’s wedding dress and awards show gown — probably helped her survive against Kiara in the bottom two.
Otherwise, the lip sync (set to Celine Dion’s “I Drove All Night”) was sort of a toss up. Kiara packed in enough choreo for three numbers in a frenetic performance that demonstrated her desperation to stay. Priyanka opted for an effective, emotional lip sync that brought the drama.
Although it was a fun showdown, I couldn’t help but wonder what Alyssa Edwards, Aja, Detox, Peppermint, Naomi Smalls, Monet X Change, etc. etc. could do with such a PERFECT lip sync song. By comparison this was … fine.
Priyanka got to stay, and Kiara, whose potential never felt fully reached, shantayed away.
Where does that leave our queens? Lets’ discuss in our newly up-to-date rankings.
- It’s been an odd few weeks, with Priyanka sinking and Jimbo surging, but Rita has been the most consistently strong. She is obviously a Pro with a capital-P, but her wins appear to be more the result of years of experience and not natural ease. That’s not a knock, of course, but it means when — not if — Drag Race throws something at Rita she isn’t prepared for, we’ll really see what this Quebecois queen is really made of. I think she’ll rise to the challenge, but I’m not convinced Rita is so good at everything as much as she’s real good at the things asked of her so far.
- I can’t get enough Jimbo. Every single time Jimbo has gotten in drag, she has given no less than 100 percent. Every detail is considered. (Eff Jeff and his misunderstanding of that Marie Antoinette reference.) Everything tells a story. Everything has a vision. She’s never trying to be “pretty” or “fishy” or “campy” in big, broad strokes. I worry about Jimbo’s attitude in those few moments where she’s struggled this far — think complex choreo and Jeffrey’s relentless nit-picking. Working outside your comfort zone is the crux of the competition, but when you’re as good as Jimbo (and Rita), it’s even harder to push yourself out of such a (roomy, well-appointed) box. For now, though, I’m most excited to see what Jimbo does week to week.
- What happened, Priyanka? I’m not giving up on you yet, girl, but yikes. It felt like once she introduced herself with “Call me now!” she reached the end of her jokes. That was it! She said it with utter confidence and then shut down the rest of the game. Brooke was practically handing her punchlines and Priyanka refused to play. I was utterly disappointed. P’s been one of my faves thus far, and I hope she can bounce back from this. She killed it with Celine, so perhaps that will float her confidence through a rough Snatch.
- Are we all going to keep pretending Scarlett’s Liza wasn’t terrible? It was bad! It was a decent vocal approximation, but not much else. Nothing felt specific. It felt like she knew the absolute bare minimum about Liza. I also wasn’t wild about Scarlett on this week’s runway. Still, she looked gorgeous, and I’m more and more intrigued by Scarlett’s style every passing week. It’s not that I want to see Scarlett in the bottom two, but I DO want to see her lip sync, which is probably a good indicator she’s doing a good job selling her schtick.
- I’m strangely compelled to keep rooting for Lemon. She was my favorite in Snatch, fully committing to her character, having a handful of mannerisms/reference points and integrating her jokes into the game. Would it stand up against some of Snatch’s greatest? Probably not. But on this stage, Lemon was like a cool glass of lemonade. What I need to know is: Where is Lemon getting her wigs, Ville de Fête? I know not all queens have the loonies to bankroll a new wardrobe for the show, but there are straight men in Halloween drag out there with better styled hair.
- The bloom is coming off the BOA. Personality can only take you so far, and I think we’re approaching the end of the road. The looks lack sophistication, the performances are a mixed bag. I love BOA’s attitude, but something’s not clicking. Maybe she’s still struggling to shake her worries about her old rep. There just seems to be something holding her back. Her trash dress looked better pre-assembly, and her Gypsy Rose was a huge wasted opportunity. There is a lot you can do with this character, and she did none of it. Even Brooke merely asking how she’s doing could’ve been an opener for a long litany of increasingly ridiculous ailments. Yes, it easily skirts bad taste, but navigating those difficult turns is what earns the win.
- Ilona, your entitlement is showing. I get why she was frustrated to be in the bottom for that paper look, but this is the game. Chances are you’re going home at some point, and it’s going to sting regardless. No use bellyaching. I found nothing funny in her Rebecca Moore impression; no joke, no point of view, no real “choices.” It was a dumbing down of an already dumb cultural moment (not a judgment on Moore). How much funnier would it have been if Ilona showed up dressed up like that and was low-key a Gloria Steinem scholar? Fine, simpler: A scientist. (Ooh! Maybe a badly-written scientist character from a porno … ok, ok this is becoming fan-fic.) As it was, the performance felt like someone describing a TikTok. I did, however, love Ilona’s Celine runway. That’s how you do these diva tributes: Get inspired, don’t merely copy.
- Kiara’s lip sync felt like one of those social media videos where you have to pause the subject perfectly inside a frame. It was a Tommy Gun of dance moves. It did feel a bit more like an exhibition rather than a lip sync performance of the song (think a gymnastics floor routine), but it was very watchable. That’s much higher praise than I would give her Snatch Game. Um, what was that? Have you not seen this show before? What was this Mariah’s deal? She has big boobs and loves Christmas? That’s not character, those are facts. Couple that with the fact the seams were showing (sometimes literally) on her runways, it was time for Kiara to go.
- It feels like Tynomi’s been gone for months, given the original airdate for these on WOW+ Presents, but I’d be remiss not to at least touch down on the surprise early exit. (Well, it wasn’t so surprising after the first few episodes, but I digress.) Tynomi was just one of those queens that’s not made for a show like this. It’s not a knock on her obvious talent, but it happens to even the best. I’m glad she went out on the lip sync she did. It was a fun send-off to a queen that had a sadness about her the last few weeks.
How would you rank the queens?