A warning if you’re reading this before you actually watch this week’s episode of Canada’s Drag Race: You’re going to want to turn that volume way, waaaay down. They go with a Halloween theme for this episode, and that mainly means lots of shrieking. Lots. Like “you’re going to want to make sure you’re drinking out of a plastic cup because the glass will shatter” shrieking. Like “it will attract neighborhood dogs to wherever you’re streaming this” shrieking.
Before that, the group must contend with wiping Océane Aqua-Black’s departing message off the mirror, and it’s all hands on deck because, as Kimora puts it, “This bitch wrote a whole book! Trilogy!” Eve 6000 cries about Océane going home because Eve 6000 cries about everything. Then she apologizes, saying she is usually “closed off” with her emotions. Ha! A comedy queen!
The next day, the queens learn they’ll be subjecting us to an acting challenge, and of course this reveal is the scariest moment of the episode. Drag Race has many strong suits, but scripted acting challenges have rarely been one of them. Unless there’s some wit backing up their camp, these skits usually turn out pretty hack. The material underserves the queens, it slows the episode’s pacing, and it’s actually funny only when a queen is transcendently good (Symone redefining how to pronounce factory) or comically incompetent (Kahmora Hall as a tree). They’re doomed from the jump.
With Pythia’s decapitated head overlooking them, the queens decide on roles for their slasher flick, called Screech. Eve takes the narrator role. Icesis Couture goes for the jock. Synthia Kiss is nervous because she wants to be the jock. “I’m a little bit of a Stressica Simpson right now,” she says, which is funnier than anything in the script. Stephanie Prince ends up with an anxious character. “It’s not far from who I am because I’m definitely so anxious and very suspicious all the time because there’s fucking ghosts everywhere around me,” she says. “I get sleep paralysis and I see them.” Jinkx Monsoon’s narcolepsy plot found bodied by Stephanie reveals she’s some kind of sleep-ghost whisperer.
The director and guest judge for the week is Fefe Dobson, and this is the one time in this whole episode when the queens’ shrieks are entirely justified. Dobson is Canadian pop-punk royalty, and she turns out to be a super-fun and engaging guest. This is one of those Drag Race sketches that take place entirely in the Werkroom instead of on a green screen or set, which sometimes can feel like a cop-out. They begin filming. Suki nails her delivery of “It’s a new day in the Werkroom, and I’m feeling hoooooorrrrrnnny,” while Stephanie needs to tone down her act a little. Gia Metric is worried about blocking, Synthia is in her head, and judge Amanda Brugel keeps correcting Kendall Gender on her lines. The Brat Pack is on their toes. It’s annoying to watch Amanda critique the queens on every little slightly altered line reading — they’re not exactly reciting Ibsen over here; they should be allowed to get a preposition out of place as long as they get the point across.
The Makeup-Mirror Heartfelt Big-Issues Conversation Sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart™ topic of the week is “bad dads.” Eve and Kimora Amour talk about fathers who don’t approve. Gia’s dad sounds like a Canadian saint, acting like a hockey parent at drag shows and yelling “Go, buddy!” from the back. Adriana reveals her dad enacted some truly evil catfishing scheme to break up her first queer relationship, but she says her mother is wonderful and supportive — Adriana is literally her mom’s actual name. Now I feel bad that all I got my mom for Mother’s Day this year was chocolate; Adriana gave hers an entire drag persona.
The category on the runway is “Good Girl Gone Bad,” an open-ended theme that four separate queens choose to interpret as “slutty-nun reveal.” The best of these is Pythia, under whose robes is a costume made of red hands groping her nude illusion: “You see hell reaching out for me, tempting me, through a life of glitter and sin and glamour.” Okay, clever concept and artistic execution! Stephanie and Synthia, meanwhile, look like models in pre-bagged Spirit Halloween costumes. Extremely disappointing. Gia has one of the best runways of the week by turning the theme into a visual pun: a simple, elegant look covered in mold. The other best look is Adriana’s; she elevates the well-trod territory of a Marie Antoinette runway by serving her whole head on a platter. The attention to detail here — from the costume to the makeup to the petit fours dotting the dessert tray — makes this an unexpected all-timer.
Then it’s time to show the judges the filmed acting challenge, meaning we all have to watch some of this for a second time. Lines like “There is no ointment … for murder” are funny enough on first viewing, but by the fifth, their power diminishes. The plot of the sketch is that the queens are auditioning for a maxi challenge called “Screech” … within a maxi challenge called “Screech,” so it’s all very meta (copyright Facebook 2021). The twist is that there’s a murderer in the Werkroom killing off these scream queens in funny, draggy ways (stabbed with a high heel, given a poisoned cocktail, consumed by a sewing machine). Stephanie plays the “final girl” and has to lip-sync for her life against the masked killer. The ultimate reveal — the killer was Jimbo! — is genuinely a treat. Jimbo’s weird energy is just what this episode needed for a bit of a pick-me-up.
The judges give their reactions, and Pythia is gagooned that she’s only safe. They praise Gia, which she takes as an opportunity to give an acceptance speech for a lifetime-achievement award. They tell Stephanie her overacting was one-note; then, talking among themselves, they say Synthia’s runway was “frumpy and dumpy.” Calling the queens back from an uneventful mini-Untucked, they tell Adriana she’s the winner of this week’s challenge, and she definitely deserves it, having given a fun Cabaret Emcee–style performance in the sketch and really wiping the floor on the main stage. The bottoms are Stephanie and Synthia, which hurts my heart. Stephanie has been one of the most entertaining queens of this season, and Synthia is one of the hottest boys. It would be a tragedy for either to leave so soon.
The Lip Sync for Your Life is to Dobson’s perfectly Halloweeny “Ghost,” and Synthia tears it. Stephanie spends too much time at the back of the stage setting up, and you can see the nerves on her face. Synthia embodies the song, her black lipstick outlining each word in bold. And once she starts a-twirlin’, her “frumpy and dumpy” runway suddenly serves her well. She should have had points deducted for almost killing Stephanie when she whipped her mace around, though. Synthia wins but not before Dobson tearfully tells them they were both wonderful, and Stephanie gets sent home far too soon. I can’t imagine this is the last we’ll see of this prairie queen, though. Her talking head is just that good.
Goodnight, sweet Prince.
• “I have a question. What does cunt — C-O-N-T …” “‘Continued.’ You don’t read that part.” — Adriana reading the script directions real dirty
• “I feel so confident. Sex? It’s oozing from all the orifices of my bo-dy.” — Suki Doll getting deliciously in character
• “They have so many tales, those handmaids.” — Synthia serving her last-minute book report
• “She went to the Emerald City, and she, like, seen … shit … And then bitch got bad.” — Stephanie’s runway narration almost sold the garment