‘Canada’s Drag Race’ Season 2, Episode 8 recap: Queerest prom ever

LGBTQ2S+ teenagers are the subject of the makeover challenge, and the results are nothing short of delightful

It isn’t until the queens are breaking down their track records at the start of this week’s Canada’s Drag Race that I realize just how interesting this final five is. I’ve enjoyed them all as people and as characters, but I’ve been so tunnel-visioned on Icesis Couture and Pythia that I haven’t considered the field at large. Not only does everyone have at least one win, their wins are all in different fields. Even Icesis, who is the only queen with two wins, earned them both for design challenges. We’ve got a really varied, distinct final five here.

Icesis is, of course, delighted to hear that this week’s makeover challenge is also a design task (Gia Metric, on the other hand, flatly says “Again?”). While the queens can wear something brought from home, they must whip up a look on the spot for their partners. Pythia is also pleased to have one more chance at design Rudemption—but will Icesis edge her out once again?

The queens’ competitiveness is on the back-burner this week, though, as the challenge is a joyful celebration of queerness. Five queer and trans teens walk into the workroom, and Brooke Lynn Hytes and Traci Melchor announce that for this season’s makeover, these kids will be put in queer prom style. Kendall Gender, as last week’s roast challenge winner, gets to assign the pairings, and she manages to give everyone a partner they seemed destined to meet (including a boy named Alex for herself who genuinely looks like he could be related to Kendall).

The results are impressive in terms of the challenge and also just plain delightful. Everyone is in great spirits, and the partnerships are beautiful to watch blossom. This episode is yet another feather in Canada’s Drag Race’s cap, as this season continues to be a surprise success. Amid so many different kinds of Drag Race seasons, including the just-announced Season 14 cast, this gem continues to shine amid the rough.

Kendall Gender and her teen makeover subject Alex on Canada's Drag Race
Kendall Gender and her teen makeover subject Alex talk to Traci Melchor in the workroom.

Credit: Courtesy of Bell Media

Coming out on top are Gia and Pythia, who both find kindred spirits in their drag children. Gia’s teen, Ethan, is cute and game, despite admitting he never expected he’d be able to do something like this. Gia’s gotten a reputation for being an attention hog, with her “Oscar speeches” on the runway being the butt of jokes (including from Pythia this week). But she wisely chooses to let Ethan, aka Electric Metric, be the star of their presentation.

 

A big criterion for the judges is to sell a mother-daughter storyline. Gia transforms into a tackily dressed but incredibly proud mom, encouraging her gorgeous daughter—with a mug that looks exactly like Gia’s—to shine on the main stage. She sticks to the back to start, but ultimately comes up and joins her daughter. It’s very cute and well-planned, and in another challenge, it’s very easy to imagine Gia winning.

But it’s Pythia who triumphs, in a feat of risk-taking that pays off. She and her partner, Clover (perfectly named “Apollo” in drag), bond over being non-binary. Clover admits some hesitancy about drag, and Pythia wisely finds a way to welcome Clover into her world. She goes with a deconstructed tuxedo look that’s super fashionable, and gives Clover a genderfuck hair and mug. It’s impressive on its own, but where Pythia really shines is in designing a brand new look for herself so they’ll match.

The whole presentation is really effective. And just for the joy and comfort it brings to Clover, it’s clearly a win for Pythia. She earns her second victory, tying her with Icesis, and heads towards the endgame in really strong shape. Plus, she notes in a confessional, now that she’s won a design challenge, “I can leave Icesis the fuck alone!” 

The teens meet the queens in the workroom on Canada's Drag Race
The teens meet the queens in the workroom for this season’s makeover challenge.

Credit: Courtesy of Bell Media

Icesis, unfortunately, does not fare as well in this design challenge as she has in the last two. Her look for teen Michaela, a striking red gown, is exactly what Michaela wants. As Ruby Couture, Michaela also models the hell out of it—if the challenge were just to make-over their partner, I could see Icesis winning. But this is a paired challenge, and Icesis completely misses the mark here. For some reason, she goes with an icy showgirl look that has no relation to Ruby’s red gown. There’s nothing mom-and-daughter about their presentation, either.

It’s a real misstep, and what’s interesting is that it’s the second time that she’s faltered because of a challenge criterion. Last week, during the roast of Brooke Lynn, she didn’t stick to her preassigned time limit, meaning she didn’t actually get to any jokes about the woman of the hour. There’s a trend developing of Icesis caring more about the work than staying within guidelines. Will she be praised at the season’s end for her artistry, or will she be knocked—or even eliminated—for failing to stick to the rules?

She makes it through this week, in large part thanks to a great lip sync to Mitsou’s “Everybody Say Love” (written by RuPaul?!). Instead, it’s Adriana who must sashay away. It’s hard to argue with this one: Adriana makes Friday, aka Bella Donna, look gorgeous, but their outfits have nothing to do with each other. It’s a bummer to see the Colombian-Québécois queen sent home, but considering her repeated near-saves from the bottom two, it did seem that she wouldn’t make it to the end.

Kendall’s makeover of Alex is not the best—there’s some poor construction—but she gets major credit for their runway presentation, and is thus declared safe. There might also be a pass given because Kendall did so well at pairing the queens with their teens. Still, another low placement and only one win means Kendall’s track record is in rough shape going into this top four. Will she be able to survive another elimination?

Pythia and Gia Metric with Apollo and Electric Metric on Canada's Drag Race
Pythia and Gia Metric stand on the runway with their partners, Apollo and Electric Metric.

Credit: Courtesy of Bell Media

I’m still inclined to think that Icesis or Pythia is going to win this season, but it’s hard to focus on the competition when this episode is so purely a team effort of producing joy. This whole season has been a triumph in large part because of a likable, engaging, diverse cast. The judging has gotten much better, too, as Brooke Lynn, Brad Goreski and Amanda Brugel have settled into their chemistry. (Traci remains a good bit behind them, but this episode was the most I’ve enjoyed of her all series.)

Most of all, Canada’s Drag Race seems to have reflected on how negative last season got at times and made a concerted effort to change. This episode is the latest in a line of really positive, uplifting installments that don’t sacrifice drama (hello, Eve 6000) or comedy (Pythia’s horse butt!) in the process. This is both good TV and good for the world. I leave every episode feeling engaged and energized, and I cannot believe we have just two hours of programming left with these dolls. It’ll be a delight to see everyone back for the reunion—they can all take pride in having helped produce one of the best seasons of Drag Race to air this year.

Untucking our final thoughts

In lieu of a mini-challenge this week, the queens get to have video chats with their loved ones, including Gia and Icesis who talk with their super supportive mothers. It’s a tear-jerker segment in all the best ways, and you can tell how much adoration there is between these queens and their supporters. Kendall gets a great joke in about not being prepared: “Of all the days, why did I wear mascara? I thought we were doing fucking puppets today!”

Adriana’s (incredibly cute!) partner tells her to “Slay those—I don’t know who those bitches are, but slay them!” All the partners were adorable. I loved getting to see Kendall talk to her partner, Patch, and share their story. And major props to Pythia’s partner for still showing up despite eye surgery! That’s love right there.

I do think it’s strange that the queens don’t talk about last week’s lip sync during the cold open. They obviously respect Kimora Amour, so maybe they chose as a group to not mention it. But I still can’t believe there wasn’t some “what the fuck?” in the room, even for a second.

French-Canadian singer and actress Mitsou is the guest judge, and she is as delightful as the rest of the episode. She doesn’t seem much interested in offering negative critique, but that makes her a great fit for a challenge as positive as this one. She even turns the judges’ knocks on Adriana’s outfit into a compliment: “Adriana, you represented really well! You’re a Quebec mom, and you still have a sex life!”

It’s a small moment as the workroom segment ends, but Alex’s genuine joy and shock upon seeing his face in makeup for the first time is the best makeover reaction we’ve gotten since Chester See’s in the Season 10 makeover episode.

Brooke Lynn’s coaching session with the baby queens on the runway is a really good use of her talents. She was always so polished during Season 11. All of her feedback is specific, but positive, and she even gets a jab at the other queens while coaching about walking the main stage: “Don’t cut the corners. Ladies, looking at you.” The drag!

One more round of applause for Kendall for perhaps the greatest matching of makeover subjects to queens that we’ve ever seen. It really feels like every single queen is meant to be with the teenager they work with, and I’m inspired enough to believe that they’ll genuinely stay in touch after the show.

So we’re having a reunion next week… one that was filmed during the season? And there’s an elimination component? I’m intrigued. I imagine Kendall’s next to go, but depending on the format, it could be a curve ball.

The next episode of Canada’s Drag Race will be available to stream Thursday, Dec. 9, at 9 p.m. EST on WOW Presents Plus in the U.S. and on Crave in Canada.

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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