Friday, December 23, 2022

REVIEW: 'Canada's Drag Race: Canada vs. the World' - A Crowning and a Proposal Close Out the Season in 'Grand Finale

Crave's Canada's Drag Race: Canada vs. the World - Episode 1.06 "Grand Finale"

The queens battle for the crown in a lip sync extravaganza. Guest judge is Monet X Change.

Early on, Ra'Jah says it would be like Serena versus Venus if she had to lip sync against her Season 11 sister Silky. That served as a key bit of foreshadowing of what was to come in this finale. During that initial conversation, that dynamic was formed mostly out of Victoria wanting a rematch with Rita right away. Victoria has done so well in the competition the last three weeks. She was never up for elimination. That's a huge achievement. She now has the freedom of feeling competitive without also believing she has to prove her worth. Part of that comes from the sisterhood that has formed amongst this cast. They are supportive of each other completely. When the reunion happens, everyone immediately checks in with Icesis to see how she is doing. On the runway, she once again proved that no one can beat her looks. Drag is about so much more than that. The camaraderie has nourished these identities and allowed them to strengthen their bonds. With the final critiques, the top four all talk about their journeys with Drag Race. This competition reveals who they truly are. That's true in the moment when they are actually competing. It's true when they see it all play back as a television show. That provides them with clarity of what the arc of the season was truly like. Capturing all of this on film provides them with a perspective they hadn't seen before. A lot of great personal growth can come from that. Sure, some of the behind-the-scenes tea levels a fair bit of criticism at production for how this season came to be. That's fair in a lot of ways. And yet, the heart of what Drag Race does so well can still be found in the formula. This finale sells that fantasy. It serves as a perfect punctuation for the journeys the top four have been on. It's not the end either. Every fan of a particular queen can walk away knowing they will have an illustrious career after all of this is over. One simply has to schedule a lot more dates in Canada to show her appreciation for receiving the crown.

The Canadian seasons love producing this moment to reflect. It's usually offered through the reigning queen coming in to talk with the finalists and engage in a photoshoot. It's exciting to see Monet X Change fulfill that role here. It's also a little random. It basically comes across as whichever winner the producers could get. Of course, both Monet and former guest judge Priyanka are qualified to offer their opinions while uplifting their sisters. This moment also offers a bit of repetition. The talk Monet has with the finalists is ultimately similar to their final runways where Brooke Lynn engages in the same conversations. Moreover, the results of the photoshoot showcase three of the final queens in similar positions. In that sense, Victoria captured the best image. She evoked a different sense of power altogether. Silky, Ra'Jah and Rita were completely fine and gorgeous. However, even Monet found herself offering the same direction to help the queens best capture their ideas on camera. Their journeys are different and unique. However, a lot of it still ultimately has to play according to the same formula. That's not all that beneficial for queens who want to break out because they don't believe they conform to that structure. In fact, it seems like such a waste for Rita to talk about her journey of better understanding her gender identity only for a brief moment in the end. That's a missed opportunity. And yet, the show still produces some sensational, powerhouse moments. That's what fans typically want. That results in an exciting and close finish here.

All nine queens from the season get to showcase their coronation looks. Everyone looks beautiful and stunning. However, some critiques can still be found here and there. Kendall walks in a silhouette that was previously seen this season. It didn't particularly work on Rita. Kendall also has trouble walking in it. Anita and Vanity offered complete beauty even though their looks don't have much story to them. That's perfectly fine. It also confirms how their placements in the competition were ultimately correct. Stephanie has never failed on the runway. It's empowering to see every article of her drag celebrating her Filipino culture. It's marvelous with so many unique references to pull from that haven't been done to death on this franchise. Similarly, Icesis' perspective draws the viewer in to examine every single detail. She embraces the darkness. That's challenging to some. That's especially weighty given her exit this season. But her beauty shines through no matter what. Moving on to the final four, Silky comes out wearing a marvelous gown and a spectacular wig that almost touches the ceiling. That must have been a struggle to navigate throughout the stage. The final result is amazing. The same applies to Victoria. She wanted to speak something into existence. She wanted people to see her wearing a crown. She's hardly the first to think of that idea. It's original to see her actually embrace that silhouette to ensure no one could ignore what she wants and the campy way she hopes to achieve it. Meanwhile, this is the best Ra'Jah has looked all season. Her designs can sometimes blend together. However, this look served as the ultimate elevation of what she does best while strutting in the color that she knows how to work better than everyone else. Rita was beautiful as well. Walking the runway is always a little too cumbersome with her. However, her personality allows everyone to love her regardless.

The competition all truly comes down to the lip sync smackdown for the crown. It actually seems like the clear winner in the lip sync actually prevails too. Some questionable decisions have been made in that regard on other iterations of the franchise. It's been more about rewarding whomever the judges want to see more from. Here, Ra'Jah and Victoria are pitted against each other followed by Silky and Rita. None of these pairings have actually competed together before. That's refreshing. Of course, it would have been great to have the third matchup of Victoria and Silky. They both won one previously. They both are phenomenal. In fact, everyone in the final four has proven themselves to be a strong lip sync performer. Rita can be a little inconsistent. She has the potential to pull it out with the right song. However, the first round produces songs that suite one of the competitors more than the other. Part of that may just come from the viewer's rooting interest of who should continue. But it's fairly obvious who has the edge too. Ra'Jah has the advantage over Victoria with "Do It" by Nelly Furtado featuring Missy Elliott. It's a close match overall but Ra'Jah was the clear winner. Victoria gets a wonderful consolation prize though in making history by proposing to her girlfriend on the final runway. That's a fantastic moment that genuinely produces tears in everyone's eyes. Moving on, Silky also had an advantage over Rita with Love Inc.'s "Broken Bones." She went so hard with it too. Pulling glasses out may be a simple move. It's still effective in bringing the energy to a different level at a point when the performance needs it.

That sets everything up for the final battle between Silky and Ra'Jah. This is their third season of Drag Race competing together. This is their first lip sync opposite each other though. It's immediately iconic. The best lip sync of every season of Canada's Drag Race has been to a Celine Dion performance. That speaks to the caliber of her catalogue as well as the skill of the drag artists evoking the spirit of every single beat. It's phenomenal watching Silky and Ra'Jah go at it to Celine Dion's cover of "River Deep, Mountain High." Personally, Silky looked better by a hair. However, Ra'Jah was captivating too even though her reveal was a bit more obvious than Silky's. Ra'Jah being declared the winner cements a powerful trajectory for her Drag Race journey. It's something she recognizes in the moment. That's moving too as it suggests true awareness of the world beyond one's self. Drag can be taken so seriously as an art form. However, it's necessary to have this perspective to make it to such incredible heights. The finalists all had it. They were all deserving of the crown. It's still joyous to see Ra'Jah walk away with the title and the cash prize that comes with it. As she would say, "Oh my god!"