Canada’s Drag Race: Family Ties

S1/ Ep 8

Lemon and Rebal; photo from Bell Media

We knew it was coming — the makeover challenge, a Drag Race mainstay. With Ilona Verley out of the competition, the race is getting tighter and tighter; this is exactly the sort of challenge needed to weed out the last queen before we get to the top four.

Jeffrey comes in and announces the Everybody Loves Puppets Mini Challenge, which sees Rita Baga hilariously reenact last week’s explosive mini-Untucked with her Jimbo puppet.

Scarlett secures her first win, meaning she gets to pair up the queens with their soon-to-be drag sisters. For this season’s makeover challenge, Jeffrey announces that the queens will be working with five LGBTQ+ refugees who have only just recently arrived in Canada.

He introduces Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian charity that helps LGBTQ+ asylum seekers in foreign countries get to safety. Instantly, this challenge takes on a greater relevance; it’s not just a fight for another win, but a chance to connect with people who have been through hardships to live a life many LGBTQ+ Canadians take for granted.

Scarlett pairs herself with Dennis, gives Rebal to Lemon, Elton to Priyanka, while husbands Eka and Rainer are paired with Jimbo and Rita, respectively. The Maxi Challenge is self-explanatory — Jeffrey, Stacey, and Brooke Lynn want to see a sisterly family resemblance.

Conflict on reality television tends to get resolved quickly and wrapped up in a neat little bow because audiences like closure. Drag Race does viewers a service when it brings the struggles LGBTQ+ people face to the forefront, but complex, intersectional issues get smoothed over in favour of season-long (or even episode-long) storylines for the contestants. We don't feel as bad seeing queens go home if we, the audience, watch while they share their struggles as part of their growth on the show — again, it’s that neat little bow.

Canada’s Drag Race wisely avoids this pitfall. Instead of generalizing, the episode focuses on the phenomenal work Rainbow Railroad does, and on the stories of the five guest stars. Whether it’s Dennis, who volunteered for the charity back in Uganda, Rebal, who fled Syria, or Eka and Rainer, who had to live in constant fear as wedded husbands in Indonesia, the episode gives each guest the chance to share their experience.

Priyanka and Elektra on the runway; photo from Bell Media

Priyanka and Elton’s chemistry is the most obvious of the bunch, and translates in both their looks and runway presentation — it definitely helps that Elton’s been a fan of Priyanka from before the show. After being in the bottom two twice, Priyanka needs a strong showing to re-establish herself as we head into the final four — with the help of her sister Elton (Elektra), she’s back in the judges' good graces, winning this week’s challenge.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Jimbo goes the slutty route and creates matching red dominatrix outfits for her drag sister. I have to respect Eka for going all out, but even the judges called their runway “uncomfortable”. Eka’s husband Rainer, sadly, gets caught up in Rita Baga’s bizarre mommy-daughter clown duo that probably made a lot more sense in theory.

Lemon does what she has to do and names her sister Lime, but sadly, that’s the only good choice she makes with Rebal; Lemon absolutely butchers his makeup, making him look ten years older. It’s clear that she’s going to be lipsyncing, but in the mini-Untucked, Lemon points out how Jeffrey warned Scarlett against using a bodysuit for the runway, even though the judges praised Scarlett and Dennis’ coordinated looks and makeup on the runway.

Three-time Maxi Challenge winner Rita Baga finds herself lipsyncing against Lemon to Alanis Morrisette’s “You Oughta Know”. There are two very different performances for us to see here, as Lemon goes all-in with the dancing while Rita channels the emotion of the song. In a shocking elimination, Lemon, easily one of the show’s strongest, gets the chop.

And with that, there’s our top four.

Just between us squirrel friends…

Rita is a savage for the stunt she pulled in the Mini Challenge.

Guest judge Amanda Brugel (The Handmaid’s Tale) looks amazing! Our girl is clearly having a blast on the panel.

“Blessed be the fruits” I cackled when I heard that. If you don’t get it, I recommend you go watch The Handmaid’s Tale right this second.

Canada’s Drag Race airs Thursday nights at 9 PM EST on CraveTV

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