You have to give it to this season of Canada’s Drag Race: What it may lack in comedy it makes up for in sincerity. This season’s queens are bad at acting and even worse at lying, but the flipside of that is that they’re a veritable library challenge full of open books. And that sincerity hit some sweet notes during the final five’s makeover challenge. The episode begins with the queens wiping away Kimora’s mirror message. “I’m going to miss her grandmotherly energy,” says Pythia in that Pythia way of hers, before the camera cuts to reveal she’s still in that centaur getup, giddy-upping all over the werkroom and kicking the shoes off her hooves.
I guess the mini challenge budget for the season was all spent on that fake “fashion police” set from last week, so in lieu of that, each queen gets a video call from a loved one. Emotional video messages from the homefront happen all too sporadically on Drag Race Original Flavor; usually they’ll spring one on a single queen during Untucked to get their mascara all fucked up before they have to lip sync. This time, the queens each get a turn to Zoom with a loved one. Gia is confused when her mom appears on screen, asking, “is this live? What?” Adriana gets to show off her hot Quebecois doctor boyfriend, Yannick. Power couple. Kendall Zooming with her partner Patch is so romantic and they’re both so hot it’s overwhelming. Patch tells Kendall that while they’ve been away filming, “I put your perfume on my pillow,” like she’s a character in a historical novel waiting for her husband to return from war. Icesis has a very sweet conversation with her mom. Best of all is Pythia’s partner Jeffrey, who pops on screen with an eye patch because he’s recovering from surgery and hits us with a “long time no see!” How on Earth can Pythia say she doesn’t understand comedy as an art form when she’s dating the famed clown Pagliacci himself?
Brooke introduces the maxi challenge with a high school motif, saying something about, “no matter which clique you belong to,” sparking a teachable Canadian moment for this column. DID YOU KNOW Canadians, even the not-French ones, pronounce “clique” so that it rhymes with “chic” instead of rhyming with “schtick?” The way in which we out-class y’all at every turn…
The queens learn that they will be making over five queer teens and will “play chaperone and escort them to the draggiest prom ever.” They’ll be given unlimited makeup from Shoppers Drug Mart, which is cute and on theme because that’s where teens shoplift makeup from. They’ll also have to make their teens’ prom outfits from scratch. Surprise bitch! It’s another design challenge. Kendall Gender, who has been given far more power than any one dimpled millennial is equipped to handle (remember she set the roast order last week), is tasked with assigning teens to queens. These babygays are adorable, like Bambi on ice, and instead of trying to sabotage anyone she chooses pairings that she thinks will make everyone happy and make for a good runway.
The prom/drag kings/queens and their chaperones pair up, and the contestants, good drag mothers that they are, are set on making their teens have the best fake televised competitive prom ever. Icesis’s teen, Mikayla, says she dreams of wearing a red gown. Icesis says this won’t match the outfit she had planned for makeover week, but of course she’ll make it anyway. In a challenge that historically values look coherence above all, this could be a ticket to the bottom for Icesis, but she’ll do it if it makes Mikayla happy. It’s the best cinematic maternal self-sacrifice since Stella Dallas.
The teens, as is the standard for their generation, are smart, over-prepared, and excelling. Gia’s baby gay is quite literally a model; Mikayla is a drag enthusiast; Pythia’s is basically reciting gender theory. They get shuttled off to attend on-set tutoring … in the form of catwalk lessons from Brooke Lynn Hytes. This might be the best Brooke has been all season, giving each of these kids good advice, specific to their unique walks and energies.
This week’s Very Serious Mirror Talks™ are heartbreaking; Mikayla, who is Black and trans, cries as she tells Icesis how her locker was lit on fire in grade six. Your heart simply snaps in two for this resilient, beautiful kid. Icesis opens up about a suicide attempt and overcoming dark periods in her own life. And just before the cut to the mainstage, that first shot of Kendall’s Mini Me gasping at herself in drag in the mirror had me choked up for real.
The guest judge is French Canadian pop singer “Mitsou” (Adriana looks excited) and the runway category is Cool Mom. Icesis and daughter Ruby Couture don’t match as was predicted, but holy hell does Ruby stun in that gown, serving Jessica McClintock capital-P PROM fantasy. Kendall Gender is dressed like she stepped out of a Flintstones Meet Fran Fine crossover episode, while daughter Stormi really does look just like a Jenner. Adriana’s daughter Bella Donna shimmies down the runway in a very difficult body-tight lamé dress, while Adriana escorts her dressed in latex fetishwear housewife fantasy. “I’m a cool Quebec mom,” she says, turning around to reveal an ass cutout with a ball-gagged teddy bear strapped across her crack. Pythia is goth-punk mom to genderfuck kid Apollo, draped in a tuxedo-ish look with a little Dali mustache drawn on. Apollo really works the stage. The last pair at the prom are Gia and Electric Metric, who mime out a winning little skit. Electric looks beautiful while Gia also went for the campy beehived Flintstone-core thing.
The judging is boilerplate makeover stuff: Icesis and Adriana are dinged for not telling a clear enough story to sell the family resemblance, while all the baby queens are praised for their beauty and bravery. The music the producers lay on this portion — particularly Adriana’s negative judgments — is far more intrusive and over-the-top dramatic than usual, but at least she gets a super-Quebby “benjob” from Mitsou.
In Untucked, Kendall says “I might be lip-syncing tonight,” which, as if. It’s the most delusional thing someone on TV named Kendall has said since.. Well, since any given episode of Succession. Truth is, everyone did a good job this week. No one did their kid dirty. Pythia wins, Gia and Kendall can toddle back to Bedrock together because they’re safe, and Icesis and Adriana have landed themselves in the bottom. It’s been clear for weeks now that Icesis Couture is being positioned to win this whole thing, so it feels like a given when the two assume the positions for a lip-sync to Mitsou’s “Everybody Say Love as-written-by-RuPaul.” It doesn’t help that Icesis is in a perfect dancing outfit, all shimmery fringe primed for movement, while poor Adriana is vacuum-packed in latex. The editing is haphazard to the point that I can’t really see what’s going on, but boy is it high energy!
Adriana sashays away, but not before delivering the exit line of the century: “Now I’m gonna go have some fun by myself,” she says, pulling anal beads out of who-knows-where. Dr. Yannick must be thrilled.
• “I’m the nice one. I’m congenial, babe.” —Kendall after assigning nicely
• Gia: “Oh my god, she’s a model!”
Ethan/Electric: “I am, actually.”
• “I am the old dusty show girl and she is the prom girl” —Icesis coming up with the least-coherent narrative for why she and Ruby don’t match
• “Finally I don’t have to speak English, calisse!” —Adriana approaching the lipstick mirror. That last French Canadian swear didn’t make it into the subtitles, but don’t think we didn’t hear exactly what she said