‘Canada’s Drag Race’ Season 3, Episode 6 recap: Palette cleanser

This season’s branding challenge takes on makeup, and one queen makes good

If I was missing something from this season of Canada’s Drag Race, especially relative to Season 2, it was a moment of the queens really demonstrating their chops in the competition itself. No question that they’ve been a great group for TV, with just enough dramatics to keep things lively. But the focus had drifted from the competition, with queens seemingly just going home in an expected order.

Lady Boom Boom’s elimination after Snatch Game shook the table, though. As the cast notes at the start of this episode, she was a major frontrunner for the crown. Had the queens not seized that opportunity and delivered in this episode, it would’ve been bad for the show. Gisèle Lullaby likely would have continued her dominant streak, and we’d be in for a snoozy back half of the season.

Credit to these queens, then, that this episode is a major level-up for nearly all of them—and for the season as a whole. This season’s iteration of the branding challenge is a remarkably complex one, asking the queens to not just shoot a commercial for their product, but having them conceptualize a whole makeup palette that works with their own brand. Additionally, they have to shoot a photo that shows off the makeup as well. There’s a lot to this one, and thankfully, the queens as a whole really step up to the plate.

Tha challenge performances are nothing compared to the entries on the Paint runway, though. When I tell you this is easily the strongest runway category we’ve ever seen on Canada’s Drag Race, and potentially one of the strongest of all time, it’s not hyperbole. Nearly everyone comes through with something innovative, interesting and fitting for their own aesthetic. Even the queen who eventually goes home serves us an all-timer of a runway look. It’s clear that the competition is fully on after this week, and it makes me incredibly excited to see the last act of this season play out.

It’s a big win this week for Miss Fiercalicious in the seasonal branding challenge

Credit: Courtesy Bell Media

Though she ultimately doesn’t win this week, I’d say it’s Jada Shada Hudson who gains the most from the edit of this episode. When talking with the other girls, she questions the perception that Boom Boom was a frontrunner, noting in a talking head that she sees some potential upside to the other queens not viewing Jada herself as one. A common thread of this season has been Jada surprising herself with her talent and beauty, and I think it keeps her from feeling like an unstoppable force in this competition. (Well, that and her two bottom two appearances.)

 

The benefit is that she can still surprise, despite doing well in other challenges. She pulls that off here by leaning into a clear brand with “Turn Up by Jada Shada Hudson.” She makes her makeup palette the one for the party girls, and commits to the bit in her commercial. By contrast, she looks positively stunning in her photo, showing the judges the versatility that they love.

But what really makes Jada’s week is her runway, which is a tribute to dark-skinned Black women that just stuns on the main stage. It’s such a visceral, impressive look, and she styles it perfectly with her hair and makeup. Traci Melchor, who continues to make great strides as a judge, takes the opportunity to thank Jada for bringing a conversation about colourism to the main stage. “And I thank you for my daughter, and I thank you for my son and I thank you for this community,” she says. It’s a beautiful moment, and it really touches Jada.

As I said, however, Jada doesn’t actually win this week. That honour goes to Miss Fiercalicious, and what a win it is! After weeks of mostly taking up the spotlight with her dramatics, Fierce takes this reset in the game to approach the competition from a fresh, focused perspective. She’s the one of the queens whose commercial feels most like an actual commercial, and choosing to brand her makeup as “Fierce by Fiercalicious” is exactly the right call. Combined with a photo that expertly shows off her contour, and a gorgeous runway modelled after Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s “The Swing,” this is easily Fierce’s best week yet. She joins the winners’ circle, putting her in a great position in the competition.

Bombae unfortunately heads home this week, placing seventh after losing the challenge and Lip Sync for Your Life

Credit: Courtesy Bell Media

Vivian Vanderpuss also scores high this week, for a “Cat Mom” makeup palette and commercial that plays into her comedic side. There’s an interesting conversation that happens in the workroom about whether it’s best to go comedic or lean into the branding here, and I do think too much of the former is what keeps Vivian in what seems like third place. She also can’t quite match what Fierce and Jada do on the runway, although her reveal in her canvas look is very cute.

Kimmy Couture is our true safe this week, landing squarely in the middle. The judges all like her “Transcending” makeup palette concept, and both her commercial and photo are praised. But as Brooke Lynn Hytes notes, Kimmy picked the wrong week to not serve a strong garment on the runway. Her look is a mess of colours and fabric, and it just can’t stand up to a lot of the other garments. Had her runway been better, I think she might’ve been able to place in the top instead of Vivian, but her commercial at least saves her from being in the bottom three.

Instead of her, we have Gisèle—who leaves too many jokes in her commercial for “Was That French?” and not enough about her product—as well as our bottom two dwellers, Irma Gerd and Bombae. Irma returns to my least favourite mode of hers: mucus jokes. We got this in her entrance look way back in the premiere, and this week she tries to sell us “Snot Rocket” as her makeup. I’m not sure why Irma thinks this needs to be part of her brand, considering she’s been most successful when leaning away from it. That includes her runway this week, which is a paint-by-numbers number (pardon the pun) rendered in pretty breathtaking detail. Had Gisèle’s Picasso-inspired runway not also been strong, I almost wonder if the look might’ve saved Irma from lip syncing.

But alas, lip sync she does, and she must face off against Bombae. As I noted last week, Bombae’s spot in the competition was in the most danger heading into the back half of the competition. Jada and Gisèle have taken up the lion’s share of the challenge wins so far, while Fierce and Kimmy consistently make themselves the stars of the show. And Irma and Vivian, owing to their similar styles, feel like they’re competing for one spot. That leaves Bombae feeling very much on the outskirts of the competition, despite some of the best runways of the season (including and especially her Holi look this week!).

Irma Gerd and Bombae lip sync for their lives in the competition, both for the first time

Credit: Courtesy Bell Media

Unfortunately, it feels like the state of the competition has gotten in Bombae’s head as well. She spends most of this week doubting herself, reworking her whole commercial and palette idea after one bit of negative feedback from Irma. The resulting product, “Butter Chicken by Bombae,” just has too many ideas and not enough understanding of what the judges want from her.

If you had asked me back in the premiere who I saw making it to the very end, Bombae and Boom Boom would’ve been top of my list. But while Boom Boom’s elimination was shocking, seemingly coming from out of nowhere, Bombae’s demise has been a slower roll. She’s the typical contestant who doesn’t get the critiques she expects from the judges, and can’t manage to pull herself out of her tailspin.

The lip sync is set to “Table Dancer” by Keisha Chanté, and Bombae loses the second she reveals into a black bodysuit that won’t stay up. She makes the cardinal mistake of spending more time adjusting it than focusing on her performance, while Irma surprises by actually slaying the song. Irma stays, and Bombae sashays away.

Next week, we’ve got a Rusical with just six queens, which means there is going to be little room for error. Hollywood Jade is also back as choreographer, which is going to be a test for these queens. To their credit, they showed this week that they can step it up when they need to. If they can keep the momentum going, then I think we’re in for quite a treat in these final three episodes.

Untucking our final thoughts

One of Bombae’s head balloons deflating during the cold open … sadly a prescient bit of foreshadowing for this episode.

Jada gives us a nursery rhyme-themed confessional to kick-start the episode: “I’m not falling like Humpty Dumpty! I am the Mother Goose of the season!” she says. “And that’s on Mary Had a Little Lamb! Period!”

Thrilled that makeup artist and influencer Mei Pang is the guest judge this week, because she is able to give incisive, smart critiques that the other judges cannot. A guest judge with skills that fit the challenge! Imagine that!

The mini-challenge this week is, as Fierce puts it, “CHAOS!” In groups, the queens must take alternative family portraits with their “department store photographer,” aka Traci. Jada wins after she fully gives birth in a bit with Gisèle, and who could argue with that?

Haven’t mentioned in a while how much I like Brooke Lynn’s little asides during the “Racers, start your engines” hosting on the runway. This week she says “And may the best drag queen—like, comment, subscribe—win!” She also looks absolutely gorgeous on the runway while doing so: pretty in pink, indeed.

Listen, I know it’s a tired joke, but I will never be over someone throwing a leg like Aviva Drescher in The Real Housewives of New York’s Season 6 finale. So thank you, Fierce, for giving us that moment in Mini-Untucked.

In what’s become basically our weekly update on new Drag Race franchises: Drag Race Philippines premiered this week! I have not yet had a chance to watch—I’m writing this recap from vacation in Provincetown—but a friend raved to me that it is “perfect television.” Plus, it’s got Season 4 and All Stars 6 fave Jiggly Caliente on the judging panel! I’ll be checking it out soon; of the many, many Drag Race franchises launching around the world, this has been one of my most anticipated.

The next episode of Canada’s Drag Race will be available to stream Thursday, August 25, 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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