“Canada’s Drag Race” Season 4, Episode 5 Recap

December 15, 2023

BY Eric Rezsnyak

The action picked up right after the ultra-spicy Untucked and non-elimination from last episode, and the girls were still girling. Nearah Nuff, bless her, took a moment to acknowledge that she was overly harsh on Aimee Yonce Shennel last episode — I’m glad, because Aimee has been getting dogpiled this season and it’s hard to watch — but then it was off to the races as multiple girls started firing shots. Denim told Kiki Coe she saved the wrong girl. Aimee came for Luna Dubois’s outfit, and Melinda Verga came for Venus’s. Kitten Caboodle accused Kiki and Melinda of having a secret alliance. And then the big one, Venus versus Melinda, which resulted in Melinda losing her shit and walking off set again, and Venus giving it right back, fully screaming at her. It was an intense situation and probably would have kept going in circles had Nearah not prompted them all to get out of drag.

Tempers cooled significantly for the next day in the work room. Melinda owned up to spiraling and apologized to the other queens, and Venus reciprocated. And then it was time for the mini-challenge, the annual Reading Challenge. Overall I thought there were some decent insults here, although some of them verged on brutal. Even Brooke Lynn Hytes got into the action, throwing some shade at Melinda for her thirsty shake-and-go wigs. (I’m glad this was at least finally acknowledged by a judge, as we’ve yet to see Melinda get a critique for her hair or make-up on the main stage, and it is noticeably a problem.) Ultimately, Denim came in with a string of stinging barbs and was rightfully declared the winner.

Which led us to the main challenge of the week, the much-anticipated/dreaded Snatch Game. I’m going to go through each queen’s performance on Snatch Game and the underwhelming Steampunk runway, in order of how impressed I was, from most impressed to least.

Melinda Verga: This top position goes to Melinda entirely for her Snatch Game, because I thought her runway was incredibly boring and missed the brief. There was nothing Steampunk there. It was Victorian widow costume from a community theater — where was the punk element, where was the technological component? Regardless, Melinda was the clear winner in Snatch Game, where she portrayed Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao. Melinda was so hilarious. She looked and sounded exactly like Manny, but she was also quick and volleyed with the judges and the other queens. Melinda should be very proud of herself for this performance. Good for her! And I appreciated that she showed self awareness and contrition for her delusional meltdowns, but at the same time: thank you for feeding us with the drama the past two weeks.

Kitten Kaboodle: Kitten had a good Snatch Game performance as Jennifer Coolidge and a visually pleasing Steampunk outfit that was, at least, very clearly Steampunk. Where I will ding Kitten on the runway is that she tends to give us the same silhouette over and over — thigh-high boots, corset with tons of detail, and usually some kind of jacket or cape element. That describes almost every one of her runway looks thus far. But it was another good week for Kitten, who has done very well in this competition and has won over the hearts of many viewers. She had some good zingers as Jennifer Coolidge and the judges and panelists were eating her up.

Venus: I would count Venus as adequate on both the runway and Snatch Game. Neither really excited me. We have seen very good Joe Exotic’s on Snatch Game — ChelseaBoy on “Holland” Season 1 was incredible — and this was just…ok. The gas mask on the runway was at least something, the rest was barely anything. Venus came on strong the first few episodes and is flatlining for me. I need more. The fact that this was a Top 3 performance is indicative of the largely uninspiring Snatch Game.

Aimee Yonce Shennel: Aimee picked Jesus for Snatch Game, which I think is now the third time we’ve had Jesus in just a year. I thought it was very interesting that Brooke specifically warned Aimee about just coming out yelling, because that has been my criticism of her since the jump. I could tell that Aimee was trying to be reserved here, although she still got shouty at times. I did laugh at a few of her bits, especially playing off Mary M. Cosby’s DOA performance. Aimee’s outfit did not read Steampunk at all. Giant goggles over her tits, and clockwork pieces on along the hairline (which I only even noticed in Untucked)? If you had told me she was Esmerelda from “Hunchback” I would have believed you.

Nearah Nuff: For the first time in Snatch Game herstory, two queens chose the same character, as Nearah refused to pivot from doing Jennifer Coolidge. Bad idea on Nearah’s part, because Kitten outclassed her by every metric in the Snatch Game. Brooke even warned her this was a bad idea, when Nearah’s justification for sticking with Coolidge was that she’s young — Jennifer Coolidge’s fame didn’t come until she was much later in her career, it made no sense. Nearah wasn’t bad, she just didn’t do much. At this point I humbly submit to the Federation of Homosexuals that we should pause on Jennifer Coolidge Snatch Game impersonations, as it feels like we’re hitting diminishing returns.

Denim: Denim could have been in the bottom, but was likely saved by easily the best Steampunk look of the night. I might quibble that the wings were a bit low on the back, but that is really a minor nitpick — this is what I had in mind when I think Steampunk. Visually arresting. Weird. Wonderful. Fantastic. Steampunk by its nature verges on sci-fi, and so many of these queens missed that mark; the runways this season overall have been disappointing. But not Denim. They bring it to us every ball. But not every Snatch Game, because i was fully cringing at their Julia Fox. First, the average viewer probably does not know who Julia Fox even is. Minor celebrity at best. And relying on possibly the most annoying vocal fry I’ve ever heard for comedy? Not a terrific strategy. On the plus side, I admired Denim for sharing their autism diagnosis, and it helped me to reframe my experience with them so far. Not a good Snatch Game, but still weirdly a good episode for Denim overall.

Aurora Matrix: Aurora could have been safe and I would have been fine with it. Both her Snatch Game and her runway exemplified the issue I have been having with Aurora all competition: terrific ideas, flawed execution. Let’s start with the Steampunk look, which featured a gigantic mechanical spider wrapped around her. Great idea! But what was with the neon green in the hair and the nails? I’m assuming it was some kind of spider substance? It was distracting and took me out of the Steampunk fantasy. Those kinds of “off” details have been an issue for almost all of Aurora’s runways for me. For Snatch Game, she had the smart idea of ancient Chinese Emperor Zhao Bing, who reigned for less than a year at age 6. Super interesting concept, lots of potential, loved the bit at Brooke’s walkthrough. And then in Snatch Game, it just didn’t go anywhere. It felt so shallow and monotonous. I want to like Aurora. I think there’s potential there. But time after time I feel like she’s just not harnessing it fully.

Kiki Coe: Kiki received the Golden Beaver — the first girl to receive it twice, and it’s only been around 4 episodes! — and boy did she need it, because this was a terrible week for her. Kiki picked Elizabeth Taylor for Snatch Game. This may be our first ever Liz — I can’t think of any others — and it was dreadful. Nothing about this read as Liz Taylor. The gravely voice. The reliance on booze as a joke. It was truly dreadful, and I knew we were in trouble when Brooke asked how Kiki would make it funny and she was talking about just wearing big diamond rings. How are we like 50 seasons into Snatch Game and we STILL have queens who do not understand it cannot just be about having a costume and accessories? Where is the thought process here? It’s not even like Kiki even LOOKED like Liz Taylor. The whole thing was just so fucking weird, and dull. And Liz CAN be a great Snatch Game character. Then on the runway, Kiki came out stomping down like she was pulling an ice wagon in a black-on-black number that did not show any of the detail that I’m confident was in the look. The judges still praised her for it but I thought it was a total whiff, especially given how strong she typically is aesthetically. A terrible week for Kiki.

Luna Dubois: Poor Luna. I like her, I really do. I like her playfully shady, over-it-all sense of humor. She reminds me of Mariah Paris Balenciaga, whom I adore. And just like Mariah, Luna went home on Snatch Game, and rightfully so. Kiss of Death 1: Luna picked a Real Housewife, specifically Mary M. Cosby from Salt Lake City. I’d have to crunch some numbers, but the number of successful Real Housewife Snatch Games compared to the number of flop Real Housewife Snatch Games — it’s not good. Luna was bad. The answers weren’t funny. There was nothing Mary Cosby in her impression. And even after Brooke begged her to work on it, Luna was still a flatline in the energy department. Kiss of Death 2: A “Steampunk” look that had very little look. Luna is a fashion queen. She is very polished, very precise. This was sleek and minimal to the point of nonentity, and a hat and a clockwork Phantom of the Opera mask is just not enough to check the Steampunk box.

Ultimately it was Aurora and Luna lipsynching to some song by Tate McRae, and my god, this song. Let’s just say there’s room for everybody in the Canadian pop landscape, I guess. A soul-dead voice over a surging pop-rock track made for an uncomfortable lipsynch. The queens were both giving 9s in energy, while the vocal never topped a 3. Such a weird vibe. Ultimately Aurora was spared, and Luna was eliminated. She seemed to take it well. I do think she’s lovely, and I suspect she had no idea how flat she was coming across. I bet it’s been quite educational watching her own performance on TV.

And then, at the end: dramatic twist! Brooke told the girls next week is “Canada”‘s first lipsynch smackdown extravaganza, and TWO queens will be eliminated. I have two questions: 1) I wonder if it would only have been one queen had they not blown the double save on Nearah/Aimee, and 2) by Episode 7 we’re only going to have 6 queens left? How short is this season?!

Did you miss our other “Drag Race” Recaps? You can click right here!

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