‘Canada’s Drag Race’ Season 3, Episode 4 recap: Same, same, but different

In a twist fans have clamoured for for years, the queens must design with the same materials

We’ve seen so many riffs on the Drag Race fashion design challenge over the years that it can feel like there’s nowhere left to go. But what if I told you that Canada’s Drag Race this week taps into one that is not only original—never done before on RuPaul’s Drag Race—but is also one of the most frequently fan-requested challenges?

That’s right, this week the queens must all design garments with the exact same materials. We saw a version of this with the Who Wore It Best? challenge in Drag Race UK Season 2, but in that one, only two queens each had the same fabrics. (It actually caused some very wonky judging as a result, which led to the absurdly early elimination of Assttina Mandella. I’m still bitter!) This time around, all nine queens must use the same fabrics, and the judges will be critiquing them based on their own interpretations.

How the show introduces this is a fun twist: Jada Shada Hudson wins a “Tuck Talks” improv mini-challenge that’s quite a bit harder than you’d expect. Unlike other quick improv challenges, which often revolve on the host giving them prompts, the queens must talk at length on a subject they won’t be aware of ahead of time, and must use images that pop up on the screen as part of their presentation. It requires a cool head and the ability to think on one’s feet, and a lot of the queens just barely try to incorporate the visual prompts. Jada, on the other hand, takes each one as a new opportunity, and easily secures herself a $2,000 cash prize. (Plus $500 of “pleasure products” from sponsor Trojan!)

Jada’s in-game reward is supposedly to assign each of the queens a box of fabrics based on an adjective—think “crafty,” for instance—but this all turns out to be a red herring. Once they finally open the boxes and each pull out a purple boa, they realize they’ve been duped. The adjectives mean nothing at all, in fact; this challenge is all about just these fabrics and how the queens interpret them.

Jada Shada Hudson wins this week’s “Tuck Talks” mini-challenge

Credit: Courtesy Bell Media

This is yet again a major episode for Jada, who has been critiqued every week of the season so far. Things start off with a small feud between her and Miss Fiercalicious, Fierce says that in contrast to how much time they spend talking in Toronto, she feels Jaida is all but ignoring her here. Jada doesn’t really understand the issue, which leads to a perfect Gisèle Lullaby confessional: “Fierce always seems to have beef with people who don’t know they have beef with her.”

 

Then, after the mini-challenge win, Jada sets off on a trip across the galaxy. She designs a look she describes as “Jada Jetson,” and while there’s definitely some sci-fi inspiration to it … it’s also incredibly costumey. Like, shockingly so, considering what Jada put together in the premiere design task. Brooke Lynn Hytes fully laughs through Jada’s explanation of it. With all the love in the world to Jada, who has become one of my favourites this season, but this is far and away the worst look of the night.

Joining her in the danger zone are Irma Gerd and Kaos, both of whom have previously flirted with the bottom (but, unlike Jada, do not have a maxi-challenge win). Irma goes with a circus-inspired look that pales in comparison to previous takes on clown imagery that we’ve seen on this show. Kaos, meanwhile, produces a look primarily rendered in paper instead of fabric, and in a silhouette very similar to the one she produced for the first design challenge. The judges seem to find the latter more egregious; I understand the concerns about originality, but the bigger issue to me is how stiff it looks. Brooke Lynn questions why Kaos would opt for non-fabrics on a challenge in which the queens were given fabrics, and it’s a fair point! This isn’t an unconventional materials task—fabric is both fair game and actually encouraged.

Ultimately it’s Kaos who falls into the bottom two with Jada, and we’ll talk about the lip sync—whoo, what a lip sync—in a bit. But it is interesting, from a broad view, that Jada has landed in the bottom two twice in just four episodes. I’d say she’s one of three or maybe four queens who is receiving the bulk of the (positive) edit this season, and yet she’s spent half of her time on the show in danger. Imagine Icesis Couture landing in the bottom two again shortly after her first appearance last season, or Pythia underwhelming in two of her first four challenges. It’s an odd fit, and it makes me wonder what Jada’s arc is going to be this season.

Gisèle Lullaby wins her first challenge with an absolute stunner of a garment

Credit: Courtesy Bell Media

Faring better, but just qualifying as safe, are Miss Fiercalicious, Lady Boom Boom and Vivian Vanderpuss. I’d have put at least one of them—Boom Boom, to be exact—above at least one of our high scorers, as both Bombae and Kimmy Couture’s positive critiques are matched with some major caveats. Bombae’s jumpsuit look is highly praised, but the judges don’t like her reveal. Kimmy’s look is celebrated, but she’s knocked for creating something too similar to her sun goddess look from Episode 2.

The mild praise all around might make this week feel underwhelming, but it turns out the judges are saving the most breathless hosannas for the winner. And every bit of praise Gisèle gets is well deserved. This garment is one of the most impressive we’ve seen in a design challenge in years. The way Gisèle drapes the silver fabric across herself is immaculate. The base dress, rendered in a gorgeous purple and stoned perfectly, is beautiful. She matches it with slicked-back blonde hair and a beat that makes her look like a goddess. 

I mean this as the highest compliment: she looks rich, but not like a parody. So often, wealthy-woman looks on Drag Race lean too far into becoming caricatures. Gisèle just looks fucking expensive. The fact that she produces this on the spot is an enormous testament to her design skills. It’s a home run of a look, and I’m just so happy she wins this week. She more than deserves it.

Kaos signs her goodbye message in lipstick on the mirror after her elimination

Credit: Courtesy Bell Media

So as mentioned, Jada and Kaos fall into the bottom two, and must lip sync to a Thunderpuss remix of Tamia’s “Stranger in My House.” And if there’s one thing a Thunderpuss remix is going to do on Drag Race, it’s produce a barnburner of a lip sync. Jada and Kaos are both amazing in this, ramping up their energy as the song progresses and pulling out all kinds of fun stunts. More to the point, they’re both just fighting. It feels like a real battle to stay, and it’s the best Canada’s Drag Race lip sync we’ve seen since Season 1.

Alas, someone must still go home; unlike Canada’s neighbours to the south, there are no non-eliminations on CDR. And so Kaos, who does well in the lip sync, but hasn’t shown the same fire in the competition as Jada, is sent home. It sucks to lose two Indigenous queens back to back; I appreciate how both Kaos and Chelazon Leroux brought in their own experiences this season, and I’m sad we won’t be able to hear them talk more about them. But in terms of the competition, I’m far more interested to see how Jada can recover from these early bottom two appearances.

Next week is Snatch Game, which should be a major gauntlet thrown down for these queens. I’d put good money on the comedy gals—particularly Irma and Vivian—to do well, but as we’ve seen countless times before, it’s sometimes an unexpected queen who surprises you in this challenge. Who will be our next Joan Rivers or Rachel Zoe? See you next week to find out!

Untucking our final thoughts

We once again get two guest judges this week, as Brad Goreski is out. (Losing Amanda Brugel and only getting Brad part-time for the first half of this season is rough, to say the least.) Filmmaker Sarain Fox takes over Brad’s spot, and she’s very fun and game. Canada’s Drag Race Season 1 and UK vs. The World queen Jimbo takes the guest spot, following in Vanjie’s footsteps. Her critiques are pretty good, although there’s a lot of self-reference in them (saying Kimmy’s look is very UK vs. The World promo, calling out the similarities to some Season 1 looks in Irma’s outfit).

In one funny interaction, Brooke Lynn tells Jimbo that she was a star before UK vs. The World. “Can you say that again?” Jimbo replies. Brooke Lynn’s response? “No.”

While Traci Melchor continues to improve as a judge—the read of Kaos’s runway look as too similar to her first design challenge entry is a smart one—she gets the bulk of the workroom hosting duties this week, and reveals why Brooke Lynn really should just take this over. Like Brad, her reading of scripted dialogue is too wooden, and in an odd choice, she’s the one assigned to dole out design advice to the queens. I really think the show should just embrace Brooke Lynn as host and have her do all the workroom conversations at this point.

We get a fresh (and early!) round of Who Should Go Home Tonight And Why? this week, and while there’s no big drama—honestly, that question rarely produces the fireworks it should—Jada does get hurt by four of her fellow queens saying her name. She’s especially upset in Mini-Untucked about Kimmy calling her out. Meanwhile, Jada and Bombae say Kaos’s name, and Fierce comes for Bombae over saying one thing to queens’ faces and another in a different situation. Honestly a very tense Mini-Untucked, all told.

The mirror chat is the best we’ve seen so far this season, largely because it comes from such an organic place: Kimmy’s frustrations with criticisms of her as a trans woman in drag. I found what she had to say about being an “educator” particularly affecting: “Why the fuck do I have to wake up every day and educate people? … I wasn’t born in this world to educate people, I’m here to enjoy my fucking cocktail, bitch!”

Gisèle throws a swath of fabric on top of her dress form. “Amazing,” she says. “Groundbreaking.”

BROOKE LYNN: “This look is pretty incredible.”

GISÈLE: “I know!”

The next episode of Canada’s Drag Race will be available to stream Thursday, August 11, at 9 p.m. EDT on WOW Presents Plus in the U.S. and on Crave in Canada. You can subscribe to our drag newsletter, Wig!, for exclusive Drag Race content delivered straight to your inbox every Tuesday afternoon.

Kevin O’Keeffe is a writer, host, instructor, and RuPaul’s Drag Race herstorian living in Los Angeles, California. His favourite pastime is watching a perfect lip sync.

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