Does Brooke Lynn Hytes have a magic power that inspires incredible lip sync performances from queens who flop Snatch Game? After this episode of Canada’s Drag Race, I think she might. The hostess and judge notably failed during RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11’s Snatch Game at Sea (remember that sponsorship?), but subsequently turned out one of the most iconic lip syncs in Drag Race herstory with Demi Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry,” versus eventual season winner Yvie Oddly. RuPaul saved them both from elimination, and for good reason; even though they bombed the maxi-challenge, they worked their asses off to stay.
This week, Kiara and Priyanka similarly fail in Canada’s first-ever Snatch Game. Unlike Brooke Lynn, though, they’re two of only three real bombs. That makes their failures all the more pronounced, and gives them added pressure going into the lip sync. Decked out in their best Céline Dion drag—after a fun Night of 1000 Célines runway—the two battle it out to the Canadian songstress’ “I Drove All Night.” Look, let’s set realistic expectations here: The lip syncs on Canada’s Drag Race have been largely good all season, while “Sorry Not Sorry” was easily the best of its crop. Kiara and Priyanka were likely to do well, but perhaps not at that level.
Well, reader, it may not be “Sorry Not Sorry,” but it’s pretty damn amazing all on its own. Kiara and Priyanka absolutely turn it out to “I Drove All Night,” executing a similar strategy of gags-upon-gags. It feels like the two über-talented dancers are both one-upping each other and working closely together throughout the song, giving us some absolutely amazing moments. Priyanka using her wedding dress as a cape! Kiara crawling across the stage! Pri’s cartwheel! Kiki’s kick into a reverse death drop! Stacey McKenzie rightfully gagging throughout the performance like she’s Carson Kressley watching “Shut Up and Drive”! The two queens both lip-syncing “Is that all right?” while right next to each other, like they’re directly asking us!
And that’s not even getting into their double stunt, with Priyanka back-bending as Kiara tumbles, or all the amazing moments of actual, emotive lip syncing. Pri blows me back with a belt, while Kiara storms to the back of the stage with hands raised, like she’s performing to a giant crowd. Honestly, on a technical level, it may not be among the all-time greats of Drag Race—there are definitely sloppy moments—but on an emotional level? It’s an absolute barn-burner.
So surely, after such a performance, both of these queens will stay, right? Surely a performance that has Stacey on her feet giving the queens a standing ovation will earn them both the right to stay?
Look, I’m not someone who tends to argue for double shantays. I thought the talk about Jan deserving to stay after her lip sync against Widow Von’Du was silly, and I think a lot of the modern double shantays (Heidi N. Closet vs. Jackie Cox, Eureka vs. Kameron Michaels, BenDeLaCreme vs. Shangela) were undeserved. Sometimes both queens perform well, but one has to go. Remember Dida Ritz vs. Latrice Royale on “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” in Season 4? Talk about an incredible lip sync, and yet it was totally right based on the competition as a whole that Dida went home.
You could say that a similar thing happens here, since Priyanka has a win and has been performing so well. But Kiara’s been no slouch. She’s had several high placements, and a lot of fans would’ve had her in the top (or even winning!) in the premiere. Her one bottom placement felt incredibly arbitrary. She absolutely has potential, and after a performance as good as this one, it would be fair to give her the chance to stay on in the Race.
You could argue that Kiara is by far the worst in Snatch Game, and thus deserves to go home over Priyanka. While Kiara’s Mariah Carey is a snooze, I’m not sure she’s worse than Priyanka is as psychic Miss Cleo. Kiara doesn’t have enough jokes, but she does do her best to interact with the other queens. Priyanka, on the other hand, just seems on her own planet. She lacks punchlines, but at least she gets closer to an imitation of Miss Cleo’s voice than Kiara does with Mariah. I’d ultimately call it a draw, with BOA at the bottom with them. She does an ill-advised Gypsy Rose Blanchard and is far too slow on the uptake to keep up with the fast-flying jokes of the rest of the room.
I guess you could make the case that Kiara’s runway is worse than Priyanka’s, and thus she deserves to go. On this point, I agree: Priyanka’s is one of my favorite entrants in the Night of 1000 Céline’s category on the main stage. She starts in a replica of Céline’s wedding dress, then takes it off to reveal an awards show look. Then she launches into a perfect imitation of the diva’s quirky movements and facial expressions. She really sells the whole package in a way that Kiara, who looks great in a relatively simple Céline outfit, can’t quite match.
But if the lip sync performances are both excellent, if they’ve both been doing well in the competition, if both their Snatch Games were similarly bad and neither queen looked bad on the runway, why wouldn’t you just make it a double shantay? You might have to do a double elimination later, but hey, that happened twice before on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
I don’t mean to fixate on this decision, because this is otherwise a great episode. It starts with a strong edition of the Reading Is Fundamental mini-challenge, which Lemon wins. No one has multiple great reads, but most everyone gets at least one good one in. Ilona Verley burns BOA with “BOA: Bitch on Arrival. When are you gonna show up, girl?” BOA cuts Lemon in kind: “Can you hold my drink? I always love putting it on a coaster.” Lemon’s read of the perpetually horny Priyanka is my favorite, though: “Priyanka, you talk about having sex a lot. But the only thing you’re fucking is stupid.”
After Lemon’s win, Brooke Lynn announces Snatch Game, and the queens’ excitement is refreshing. You can tell they’ve all eagerly awaited their chance to take it on. Snatch Game has gotten the (somewhat unfair) reputation of being more bad than good these days, so it’s fun to see a group wholeheartedly embrace it.
Ilona and Scarlett Bobo take the safe spots this time around, as Cock Destroyer Rebecca More and Cabaret legend Liza Minnelli, respectively. Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman almost talks Scarlett into doing the riskier choice of Fran Drescher instead, despite doing a pretty off-base Fran voice in the workroom. Jeffrey talks about the importance of taking risks, and Liza’s a character Scarlett’s done plenty. Luckily, she sticks to her guns and turns out a good performance.
Rita Baga and Lemon hit the top three for their impersonations, the Québécoise queen taking on French singer Edith Piaf and the New Yorker doing internet sensation Jojo Siwa. If you ever imagined you’d see Edith Piaf and Jojo Siwa in the same sentence, congratulations—you should go buy a lottery ticket, because you are clearly psychic. The two totally commit to their characters vocally and physically. You can tell the judges are bowled over by them both, although their Night of 1000 Célines runways hold them back a bit.
That clears the stage for Jimbo to take her first win, and it’s an absolute delight. She dominates Snatch Game as Joan Rivers, taking every opportunity to tell a joke. Combined with a stunner of a Céline runway look and a positive, funny attitude, it’s clear that this is the return of the Jimbo we met in the premiere.
Only the lip sync remains, and, well, I spoiled that at the top of the recap. After a terrific battle, Priyanka heads to safety, and Kiara sashays away. It’s the only real bum note of the episode, but in truth—based on her edit so far—Kiara wasn’t going to win this show. I think she’s terrific, personally, but the edit just never invested in her or her journey.
I really can’t complain about this episode. It features a great Snatch Game, a terrific lip sync, some strong runway looks and some generally good judging that’s been missing from the season so far. (I still have quibbles, but this is the panel’s best performance yet.) But it’s an A- that could’ve so easily been kicked up to an A with a double save. Kiara deserved it, and we should’ve seen it. I’ll miss her mightily in the competition, but she can go knowing she’s left on an incredible high.
✨I’m pretty over filler jokes in Reading Is Fundamental. Jujubee’s “Mayhem Filler!” was the logical end-point of them. We have evolved past the need!
✨The little red carpet moment at the start of Snatch Game is cute. It’s a small touch that adds something to a classic challenge. This is a much better deployment of Traci Melchior as Canada’s Squirrel Friend, too. If she’s going to stick around, she needs a clear and separate role from the judges. This is a nice start.
✨A subtle joke from Snatch Game: Lemon-as-Jojo spelling hair “HAIW” on her card. She can’t pronounce her Rs and she can’t write them, either!
✨Speaking of Lemon, she summarizes the problem with most queens who come overly prepared for Snatch Game and flop: “You need a punchline, you can’t just say a bunch of sentences.” She’s talking about Kiara’s Mariah Carey, but I’d say this applies to Miz Cracker’s Lady Gaga from All Stars 5, too.
✨“I’m very excited to win $100,000. It’s gonna be very cool.” Priyanka cracks me up, but she also might have cursed herself…
✨As guest host, comedian and actor Mary Walsh is excellent. She’s so excited to be there, even thanking the girls repeatedly for their performances. She offers smart, helpful critiques, and brings her own personal flair instead of trying to imitate Ru. She even changes up the main catchphrase: “Good luck, and don’t fuck it up, for fuck’s sake.” I would strongly recommend future guest hosts look to her performance. She and Deborah Cox have been a cut above the rest, in my opinion.
✨I love the other queens walking in on Ilona and Scarlett sleeping in Mini-Untucked. Hey, if I had only one other person to talk to for all of the judges’ critiques, I’d use the time for a nap, too!
✨“Finally, a Canadian can win Drag Race.” Rita wins the prize for first queen to read the host on Canada’s Drag Race. It do take nerve!
The next episode of Canada’s Drag Race premieres Thursday, August 6, at 9 p.m. EST on Crave in Canada and on WOW Presents Plus in the U.S. If you’re watching Canada’s Drag Race on Logo, you can catch Episode 3 on Monday, August 3, at 8 p.m. EST, then read our recap and power ranking of that episode.