Saturday, December 10, 2022

REVIEW: 'Canada's Drag Race: Canada vs. the World' - A Shocking Exit Leaves Everyone Even More Emotional in 'Comedy Queens'

Crave's Canada's Drag Race: Canada vs. the World - Episode 1.04 "Comedy Queens"

The queen's comedy skills are tested as they perform a stand-up comedy routine. Guest judge is Gary Janetti.

Icesis Couture had nothing to prove upon returning to this competition. She won the second season of Canada's Drag Race. That remains an incredible accomplishment. She also felt like she couldn't say no to this amazing opportunity. The producers wanted a ringer and offered her a spot here. It turns out the only queen who could eliminate Icesis was herself. It's always a struggle whenever a queen returns for All Stars shortly after their original season wrapped. They may not have had enough time to reflect on their season and grow in their craft. Sometimes it provides the opportunity to show off their skills in ways they couldn't reveal before. It also offers so much pressure to take this moment and make the most of it. Icesis assumed her reign in drag culture would occur off the show. She had her moment. She didn't have to come back for redemption because she won the first time around. And yet, she accepted this offer. She has done phenomenally well too. She is bitter about her and Ra'Jah being declared safe during the ball. They understood why Victoria and Silky were the winners. They simply felt they also deserved critiques for the hard work they also put into the challenge. That was the more deserving outcome. Instead, being called safe was a kick that only intensify the internal pressure further. They had something to prove. That lit a fire within Ra'Jah that propelled her to win the mini challenge. Icesis laid out the foundation for her comedy routine. The morning of the challenge though her mind just wasn't in it. She was in her feelings. She hit a wall and the queens showered her with love. These bonds extend far beyond the competition. These queens care about each other. They champion each other's work and artistry. It's difficult to express that within the confines of a competition. People won't understand Icesis' decision to leave. She had to put her mental health first. She couldn't perform at the standard she knows people expect from her. She recognizes her limits. That's very healthy. It's still devastating because she's an amazing performer. But she doesn't owe the audience anything. She took this moment to shine. She conquered. When she couldn't do anymore, she had the security to walk away. That's empowering in its own way too. That's a powerful lesson for everyone regardless of what one does in this life.

Of course, Icesis' exit immediately makes the stakes of the rest of the competition even higher. Suddenly, only five queens are left. Rita Baga is the only Canadian still competing. Everyone takes such pride in representing their countries. That's an extra burden placed on them in this specific format. The overall trajectory of the narrative doesn't suggest a Canadian will win. Some other corner of the world will be crowned. That sounds incredibly dismissive of Rita's talents. She is a solid performer. She commits to a bit completely. That's no small feat. She has the skills to listen to notes that help hone her craft. She has a solid concept for her comedy routine. She contrasts the two languages she speaks. This competition requires her English to dominate. French comes much more naturally to her. That informs her drag persona as well. That disconnect is present. But it's also funny watching her ridicule the harsh demands of navigating this world. It's funny even though it could have been much tighter. It's a performance that absolutely screams safe. Similarly, Ra'Jah and Vanity were obviously going to be in the bottom. They both entered this challenge with doubts. Vanity went home on this precise challenge. Meanwhile, Ra'Jah was doubting her abilities and told herself everyone else was funnier. All five of these queens are hilarious. That doesn't always translate well to writing and delivering jokes. The reading challenge was awful. Snatch Game was a massive miss. That means some in the audience were probably dreading this challenge. It does offer some bright spots though. Victoria and Silky are genuinely solid. They aren't perfect. Silky has made that chicken joke in two episodes now. They are the best of the competition. They both know how to improvise and build on the audience reactions. That too is a skill that can't be taught. They have a blast. Because they are confident, that translates to how the audience feels. The performers can then feed on that energy. It's a cycle of excitement that builds on each other. Some of the jokes may be familiar. And yet, it's ultimately the delivery that counts. That leads to Victoria and Silky winning for the second week in a row.

On the runway, the theme is plaid. Ra'Jah and Victoria nailed it because they went for atypical ideas and silhouettes. With Vanity, the homage to Clueless was fine. Brad commented on how it also embraced current fashion trends. It simply didn't stand out in a week when she needed a stellar runway. Of course, that didn't exactly help Ra'Jah. The color blocking of the plaid mixed with the yellow was great. It could have been broken up even further by incorporate thin stripes of the plaid in the hat and the purse as well. However, it was still solid overall. Meanwhile, Rita attempted to look younger in drag. Her makeup skills have definitely improved from her original season. She still skews older with her persona though. It doesn't come across as intentional. She can certainly sell any runway. The viewer can still be confused as to what she's trying to achieve. The bow around her neck also cut off the top part of her body in a way that wasn't all that flattering. Those little details are distracting at a point where everything matters in the competition. It just takes the right stylistic eye though to improve things. That isn't an insurmountable task. That's in contrast with what Victoria offers. That design couldn't be altered in the moments leading up to the runway. That was how it was purposefully designed. Sure, it's later revealed to be separate pieces. It's a quick transition to Victoria's lip sync outfit. But the power from the runway presentation comes from its shape. She takes those risks and showcases a new way to be fashionable. Silky has typically brought that quality all season as well. However, her runway look was a letdown. Brooke Lynn was probably too harsh in saying it was a meet-and-greet look. The sentiment was still right about it not being as strong as what she's delivered so far.

It's completely devastating for Victoria and Silky to have to sit through the deliberations. They have to decide who to send home between Ra'Jah and Vanity. That is the correct bottom two. Normally, this would have been the time when everyone not in the top would be up for elimination. Rita didn't really deserve that. In fact, her presence in the bottom could have made this decision easier for Victoria and Silky. They ultimately don't have to do that though. That is somewhat expected given Icesis' departure. It would have been shocking to have two queens go home in the same episode. Choices were still made. It will be fascinating to see if Victoria and Silky reveal their lip sticks at the start of the next episode. Ra'Jah and Vanity made their arguments for why they should stay. They were both strong as well. They centered the conversation around representation and the importance of them remaining in the competition. This episode was excellent for centering such dramatic conversations about serious topics while never losing sight of the fun along the way. Plus, it still leads to another amazing lip sync between Victoria and Silky. This time the result is different. Victoria prevails. A week ago, Silky had complete command over the stage. She channeled the energy of the song and delivered every single emotion. The roles are reversed here. Victoria provides exactly what is needed from Toronto's "Your Daddy Don't Know." Silky is still fabulous. But the result was absolutely clear right away. Of course, Victoria didn't want to make a decision about the elimination. Brooke Lynn said she didn't have to. And yet, that will inevitably change. The queens won't receive this lucky blessing again. The competition will only get more brutal and emotional until the finale.