‘Canada’s Drag Race’ Season 3, Episode 5 recap: Snatched again

How does the third installment of Canada’s Snatch Game stack up to the first two?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen something on Drag Race quite like the intro we get to this week’s Canada’s Drag Race episode. I actually thought something was off while watching, considering how briskly the recap moves through the winner and eliminee of last week’s design challenge. We then get to see Brooke Lynn Hytes’s familiar call-and-response at the end of the episode … and then it happens. The camera zooms in on a very annoyed Miss Fiercalicious, who does not participate in the response as expected. And then the show presses the rewind button.

In a major break from the norm, the recap sets up a pattern of behaviour on Fierce’s part, from her tense interactions with Kimmy Couture in the Who-Knows Awards challenge to Gisèle Lullaby shutting down her petty actions toward Vivian Vanderpuss a couple of weeks ago. The storyline is set: Fierce is public enemy number one among the queens, and this episode—the exact halfway mark of this season—will see the cast reckoning with the villain amongst them.

At first, it does look like something is going to come of this, with Fierce moping about in the cold open. “Fierce, you ask for honesty. But when you get it, you spiral,” Bombae says to her, and she’s right. It’s one thing to be a bitchy, funny character, and self-produce your own drama. But you have to be willing to back it up. And that’s the kind of thing that’s proven to foil villains on Drag Race, most recently Eve 6000 on Canada’s Drag Race’s second season. Fierce needs to be able to dish it out and take it.

Unfortunately, this storyline mostly peters out. Fierce apologizes to the other queens for her actions, and makes a pledge to do better. They take it for what it is, and Fierce promptly fades mostly into the background this week. It’s on brand with this episode as a whole, which routinely seems to be ramping up to something great, only to lose steam quickly. The result is a decent episode, but doesn’t feel like the climax of the season so far in the way it should.

Brad Goreski and Traci Melchor get to play the Snatch Game this season

Credit: Courtesy Bell Media

Part of what makes this episode feel like a culmination of the season’s first half is the challenge: Snatch Game! At the midway point, with eight queens remaining, there’s nowhere to hide in a challenge like this one. We’ve seen many a frontrunner or former challenge winner thrown off their game by Snatch Game—think Morgan McMichaels, Detox, even host Brooke Lynn herself—and some bright characters have even been eliminated on this challenge. You’ve gotta deliver, or else you’ll quickly seem out of your depth.

 

That is indeed what happens this week, as a couple of queens flounder in a major way. However, one queen continues her hot streak, while two others continue their up-and-down trajectory. The field, once it’s over, is an interesting one: I think there’s one clear frontrunner of the lot, and six queens who, depending on how a challenge and lip sync go, could easily see themselves on their way out the door.

Let’s start with our top performers. We’ve got the comedy queen twins, Irma Gerd and Vivian Vanderpuss, who both have the right idea for Snatch Game. Irma goes with Marilyn Monroe, while Vivian picks Tammy Faye Messner. We’ve seen both done on the show—Marilyn by Ivy Winters in Season 5, Tammy Faye by Ginger Minj in All Stars 2—but neither was so notably great nor a bomb as to scare the queens off. More to the point, they’re both the kind of camp gay character that work well in Snatch Game, and both queens acquit themselves well. I wouldn’t say either is spectacular, but they’re both solid in a less-than-stellar crop.

The only stellar performance is Gisèle’s, and she’s almost talked out of a genius choice by Brooke Lynn. She’s deciding between pioneering physicist Marie Curie and Céline Dion, whom Brooke Lynn notably failed to impersonate on Snatch Game in Season 11. The latter choice seems right in Gisèle’s wheelhouse, but the former gives her a lot more room to improvise. And as she eventually proves in the game, Gisèle has also prepared for Marie Curie. She has costume modifications, props, ready-to-deploy jokes—and she still manages to be quick on her feet in the game. It’s a stellar Snatch Game, and Gisèle easily takes the win. 

Gisèle Lullaby earns her second straight maxi-challenge win with an inspired take on Marie Curie

Credit: Courtesy Bell Media

On the lesser side of the judges’ collective scorecard are Bombae as Aziz Ansari, Lady Boom Boom as Mado Lamotte and Kimmy as Ariana Grande. All three of these choices strike me as mistakes, for different reasons. Bombae’s Aziz is just way off base, but she saves herself with a stunning runway. And let’s take this time to talk about the runway! The category this week is the Periodic Table of Elements, with each queen representing a different element. Bombae gets helium, and comes out in a balloon look that’s to die for. It strikes such a cool silhouette, and she really elevates it beyond just balloons. Bombae delivers what Brooke Lynn calls the best runway of the week, and she’s thus saved from a misguided Snatch Game choice.

The other two, both of whom have a maxi-challenge win under their belt, aren’t so lucky as to avoid lip syncing. Kimmy actually campaigns to play Ariana Grande, whom Fierce also wants to do (she ultimately settles on Kourtney Kardashian). This proves to be a mistake on Kimmy’s part, and I gotta say, she should’ve known better. She specifically notes that she knows another queen did Ariana in the past and was sent home for it—Tatianna on All Stars 2—and yet she pushes ahead. She just misses all kinds of chances to rise to the occasion; the judges in particular knock her for turning down the chance to sing when prompted.

This is the thing about Snatch Game: you have to pick a character you’re going to be willing to do just about anything in. That doesn’t mean you have to come with the perfect thing prepared for every possible prompt; you don’t need to have Judy Garland-style covers of RuPaul songs ready, much as those may help. But you need to be able to go there and play around with what you’re given. That’s the heart of improv, and as many a queen, host, recapper and viewer has noted over the years, Snatch Game is ultimately an improv challenge.

Boom Boom also proves herself incapable of keeping up in character, and I think her issue is mostly of her choice in persona. I am admittedly unfamiliar with Mado Lamotte, but if Boom Boom’s answers are any indication, there just isn’t enough material to mine. She literally gives the same answer twice to two different questions, and despite Irma’s attempt to be generous in confessional, it is decidedly not a callback. This is a real miss for Boom Boom, particularly since she’s shown herself to be funny in other challenges—including this week’s reading mini-challenge! But one hopes that she’ll be able to save herself in the lip sync.

Kimmy Couture explains her choice of Ariana Grande as a Snatch Game character

Credit: Courtesy Bell Media

The Lip Sync for Your Life this week is to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Run Away with Me,” and the sound you just heard was a chorus of gay shrieking. Safe to say that “RAWM” has been heavily requested in the years since Carly’s seminal E•MO•TION album was released, and how fitting that the Canadian icon’s favoured song would find a place on her home country’s Drag Race franchise. (Speaking of: when is she gonna appear as a guest judge?)

Kimmy and Boom Boom both go for high-energy interpretations of the song, to the judges’ delight. I’m guessing fan reaction to this lip sync may come down to personal taste: do you like a lip sync with more dynamics and stunts, or do you prefer a more raw, emotional interpretation? What puts the win firmly in Kimmy’s corner is that, yes, she has the gags, including a perfectly placed dip heading into the final chorus. But she’s also passionate, and matches Boom Boom’s energy. She may be a bit more manic in movement, but I think that fits the song. And ultimately, the judges agree, handing the shantay to Kimmy.

The result of this, of course, is that Boom Boom is out, and I can’t believe I’m typing that! Lady Boom Boom has been a frontrunner this season! And now she’s just gone? I’m genuinely gagged, and I think this really opens up the back half of this season for the other queens. There are just three competitive episodes left before the finale, and only Gisèle is substantially ahead of the pack with two wins. Fierce has one bottom placement and no wins, while Kimmy has a win and a bottom placement. Irma and Vivian have yet to win a challenge, but neither has had to lip sync for her life. Jada Shada Hudson has a challenge win, but two bottom placements. And Bombae has never quite broken out, nearly avoiding the bottom a couple of times, but not winning more than the first mini-challenge.

If I had to take a guess at who’s in our final four, I’d say it’s probably Gisèle and one each of the Fierce/Kimmy and Irma/Vivian pairs. Then I guess it’s Jada in the fourth slot? Bombae doesn’t strike me as a potential finalist at this point. But the fact that it feels so up in the air beyond Gisèle is thrilling to me. This may not be the best season we’ve had of Canada’s Drag Race, but it’s an intriguing one. And after a couple of seasons that felt preordained this year, I’ll take a season that keeps me guessing!

Untucking our final thoughts

It’s so fun to see the queens being fans of the show they’re on. When RuPaul mentions “a Liza or a Carol” in his RuMail, you can hear the queens gasp. They know what that means!

Sarain Fox is back as our guest judge this week, with Brad rejoining the panel after a couple of episodes away. I really liked the longer guest judge stints on Season 13 with Nicole Byer, Loni Love and Ts Madison, and I like seeing Sarain back here. Giving a guest a couple of weeks to get to know the queens can lead to more informed, thoughtful critiques.

Reading Is Fundamental is the mini-challenge this week, and boy, does the edit give away who’s going to win! Five of the queens only get one read shown, while Fierce and Kimmy get two. Boom Boom gets four, and while they’re all pretty good, it’s hard to judge her against the others who only got 25 percent as much of their set shown. Based just on what we saw, I might have given it to Fierce. Her read for Vivian (“Two wrongs don’t make a right—for example, your parents”) is shockingly barbed, and it’s the only one I think will stick with me in the coming weeks.

There’s some talk of religion in the workroom, spurred (much more organically than in previous episodes) by Vivian telling Irma that she’s religious. Irma is surprised by this, and admits that she herself is not religious. But, she says, “You can’t always make assumptions”—a good policy in life and on Drag Race!

I sometimes stop myself from just gushing over Brooke Lynn’s looks in the final thoughts, because I don’t want it to sound like she can do no wrong. But oh my god, this wet hair look? Astounding. She really knows how to vary it up and still deliver the polish of a host.

Really glad that Kimmy gets to respond to the critiques that she did not sing as Ariana Grande during Mini-Untucked. She explains that after her transition, she experiences gender dysphoria when she sings, and thus it’s not something she can just easily do. I think she can still be critiqued for it—why pick a singer character if this is the case?—but there are shades of grey between the critique and Kimmy’s own experience. Good on Canada’s Drag Race for including her explanation in the edit, and kudos to Kimmy for opening up about it.

RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race starts tonight, and I’ll be honest: I’m not watching. I also did not watch Drag Race France (which I heard was good!) and am not watching RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under (which I will never believe is good!). I don’t like to complain about too much Drag Race in the culture—more platforms for queer and trans artists will never be a problem for me—but I’m just personally a bit burned out. And watching Drag Race-meets-The Masked Singer is especially not my cup of tea. If any of you watch it, comment down below and let us know how it is!

The next episode of Canada’s Drag Race will be available to stream Thursday, August 18, 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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