Welcome to my review and power rankings of the seventh episode of Canada’s Drag Race Season 3 – Squirrels Trip: The Rusical, a live one-act musical that required each queen to pre-record her vocals but act, dance, and lip sync live on stage.
Canada’s Drag Race has a reputation for bringing out the best versions of all the standard Drag Race challenges, and “Squirrels Trip: The Rusical” was no exception!
I think this Rusical even managed to top last year’s spectacular “Under the Big Top“ all-clown musical, because this year’s challenge had a narrative and played out like a real show rather than a series of single-character vignettes.
This was the sort of magical mid-season Drag Race episode where no queen truly did badly. This is a cast of six highly-capable queens who have the chops to entertain in almost any kind of challenge. There was an obvious bottom two, but both queens were fun to watch in the Rusical – and one of them delivered surprisingly great musical theatre vocals!
This week’s rankings got a solid shake-up from last week, with a new queen on the top of rank. Do you agree with my assessments heading into next week’s challenge, or would you rank them in a different order? Comment below to let me know your thoughts.
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Readers, start your engines! And, may the best Queen (of the North) win!
Reminders: I consistently refer to Drag Race artists with their drag names and with she/her pronouns even when they are not in drag, which is the convention of the show. Some performers may have different personal pronouns. Drag is inherently brave, political, and artistic, and all drag is valid. It’s also hard to do. I’m commenting on drag artistry in how it comes across on this specific television program, but the reason I’m commenting at all is because I celebrate all drag!
Canada’s Drag Race Season 3 Episode 7 – Squirrels Trip: The Rusical, Power Rankings
Now that our final five all have wins, the Power Ranking is tighter than ever! That means I’m starting to look not only at narrative momentum but also complete track record to figure out how to rank these queens as we inch closer to the finale.
Before we get into my super-close ranking and my comments on this week’s Dystopian Drag runway theme, let’s appreciate this incredibly romantic runway look from Brooke Lynn Hytes! I feel like many of the Drag Race hosts won’t take things quite this over-the-top, both in scale and in wearing a period-influenced look. Leave it to Brooke Lynn to take it all the way there.
1. Miss Fiercalicious – 1 win, 1 lip sync (avg. rank 4.29 – was #2, 3, 7, 9, 4, 4, pre-season #2)
Miss Fiercalicious (Facebook / Instagram / TikTok / Twitter) is on a roll through the back half of this competition and I’m not sure anyone can stop her. Part of that is pure luck that her weaker runways all happened to be early in the season, but it’s also down to her major change in attitude.
Miss Fiercalicious surprised me by going all the way on presenting a creature on the runway. I would not have assumed this kind of look was part of her repertoire based on what we’ve seen from her suitcases so far this season!
This is a skin-tight bodysuit done right – it’s completely snug to her body and airbrushed with plenty of contour to give her the illusion of shape. There are a few points with some wrinkles at her stomach and on her sleeves, but I had to look very closely to see that. Plus, they sort of blend in with the texture of the suit. Finally, she remembered to cover her shoes so the illusion would be seamless from head to toe.
The facial prosthetics are really good. The nose, gills, and head frills are seamless. If we can see a few seams around her mouth it’s likely because she couldn’t entirely avoid talking. This is even more impressive to me after watching the new season of Glow Up last weekend, where make-up artists struggled to place even one or two prosthetic pieces over the course of several hours! Fiercalicious did an entire prosthetic face and painted it all in the same amount of time queens get for typical beauty-drag looks.
Here’s the tough question: is this drag or is it simply very good special effects make-up?
I’m not sure how to answer. You will always hear me talking about Shea’s All Stars Season 5 nude illusion as the gold standard of giving nudity but covering it in bling to emphasize that it is drag. Yes, it has contouring, nails, and eye make-up. Maybe I expected the net to be more dotted with stones to give the effect of a glint of water, or for part of her face or gills to be encrusted with jewels acting as barnacles.
My final verdict: this look is amazing, and it has enough aspects of gender-play in it that it reads as drag to me, but it’s not the “full drag” version I would’ve loved to see.
Speaking of things I love to see: Fiercalicious in this Rusical challenge! I could not have guessed she would be such a powerful singer and effective actress. She didn’t present a single false note throughout the entire performance. I was just as impressed with her acting in the live portions of the Rusical as I was with her pre-recorded singing. She knew how to hang back and blend in when necessary, just as she knew how to immediately pop out of the crowd when it was time to deliver one of her lines.
Seeing Fiercalicious dominate the competition the past two weeks (plus doing well in Snatch Game the week prior) gives so much more context for her bratty drag character. Her act never made any sense in the early episodes of the show because she wasn’t particularly good at anything other than being cruel to other contestants. It made her come off as delusional.
Seeing her succeed gives context to a moment like the beginning of this episode – where she was being comedically insufferable about being a winner to the point that no other queen would help her de-drag. It’s clearly a put-on character, as we’ve seen her deliberately ease off of using it to disrupt the other queens in the workroom the past few weeks, but she immediately turned it back on after her challenge win.
I don’t mean to say that being good at drag forgives bad behavior. There are still cruel things that Miss F did and said as a part of her character at the start of the season that I cannot reconcile. However, now it’s clear to me that it’s all an act. If other queens have forgiven her that’s all that’s matters to me. Now that it’s obvious that’s Miss F playing a bratty character intentionally and not being personally bratty, it makes her a lot funnier and easier-to-swallow for me.
Through a combination of focusing on herself and lucking into a beneficial sequence of challenges, Miss Fiercalicious has become the queen with the most momentum. She is blossoming at the perfect time in the competition. Next week is a third design challenge, which has been one of her major weak spots so far. Will she fall into the Bottom Two, perhaps against Kimmy Couture, for an epic lip sync faceoff? Or, will her winning narrative heading into the semi-finals be strengthened even more with a design challenge win to redeem her Episode 1 flop?
2. Gisèle Lullaby – 2 wins, 1 lip sync (avg. rank 3.29 – was #1, 1, 1, 4, 7, 7, pre-season #7)
Gisèle Lullaby (Facebook / Instagram / TikTok / Twitter) finally revealed her one area of weakness – singing! Giséle was almost undone by this Rusical, which was her second low placement in a row. Has her narrative as the obvious front-runner been completely derailed?
Gisèle Lullaby nailed the dystopian runway brief with a look that felt like the high fashion of a barren wasteland.
We’ve seen several of these post-apocalyptic (“post apopalopic”) runways on Drag Race, and queens always struggle with the idea of how to present future fashions of the dystopian world. They tend to either be too clean, too much of a random hodgepodge of trash, or rely too much on a backstory that isn’t evident from the garment.
Giséle understood the prompt perfectly. To give dystopian drag you have to meld low sci-fi with found materials in a way that tells a story of survival.
I’m getting that story from Giséle’s runway. The skintight silver suit would keep her warm in Canada’s barren wastes, but it’s not just a flat silver. The patterned vertical lines on the suit created shape and gave texture, and suggested it might be constructed from found materials. Also, I appreciated the attention to details – the pouches as kneepads, the silver high heels with a heavy rubber tread, and the high turtleneck to ensure a good seal for her suit
Add to that the absolutely chic parachute robe with it’s poofed sleeves and dangling ripcords and you have a complete head-to-toe look that reads as a drag but also tells a cinematic story. It really looks like Giséle stepped right out of a film like Dune.
Giséle was not awful in the Rusical by any measure. For a non-singer, she delivered a solid and spirited performance on the vocal recording. She had a well-developed character and I thought her duet with Irma was actually quite charming. If there were a few more queens padding out the cast at this point, Giséle would have been firmly safe.
In such a tight field of capable performers, “solid” isn’t always good enough. It was evident that Giséle was having problems lip syncing to some of her recorded vocals, which may be a sign that she made some random, un-replicable choices in her recorded vocal delivery. Also, I could feel the weight of her thoughts in the choreography. Maybe that was all down to trying to match Irma Gerd while she struggled with dancing while also struggling with her own lip sync, but it was obvious to me even if it was a minor problem.
I don’t believe that every potential winner needs to have a lip sync moment to show their vulnerability, but I do appreciate when the show avoids protecting potential finalists in their weakest moments. While the judges could’ve made a different choice to join Irma in the Bottom Two, the combination of minor factors that put Giséle in the bottom felt entirely fair and reasonable.
Is this our front-runner’s fall from grace? Or, will she be back with a third win next week in another design challenge? At this point, I can’t imagine the show is ready to discard Giséle, who still feels like a legitimate winner. However, she’ll need to make her own luck (literally) next week in the design challenge to push through to the semi-finals.
3. Vivian Vanderpuss – 1 win (avg. rank 4.43 – was #4, 2, 3, 5, 9, 5, pre-season 6)
Vivian Vanderpuss (Facebook / Instagram / TikTok / Twitter) dominated in the Rusical by pushing herself to do something she hasn’t done before and doing it very well. Can she stay safe next week in this slim field of queens, or will it finally be her turn to lip sync?
Vivian Vanderpuss’s runway was the perfect balance of fashion and storytelling to present a chic hybrid creature of the dystopian future.
I know that a lot of commentary on Drag Race runways – mine including – involves saying, “I wish she had stoned it.” Well, here is an example where I would never say that. Everything about Viv’s human/Jackalope hybrid outfit feels high fashion without needing a single glittering element. A lot of that is down to the bone-white palette, the range of textures, and the judicious distressing. I think if she had dressed this up with a lot of color it wouldn’t read as high-fashion as it does.
Viv played with the idea of where the shape of her body stopped and the outfit began. Like, the boots are obviously boots, but from a distance and due to their distressing they almost look like a mutated pair of cloven hooves. And, what is going on at her hips? At first I thought it was chaps (which… NO), but on closer inspection there is an odd expansion panel that connects her waist to the pants. Why?! Is that her creepy crepe-papery skin showing from beneath? Is it meant to leave room in her garment for mutated haunches that allow her Jackalope to quickly bound across the dystopian landscape?
I love that Viv’s look has all of these questions inherent in it before we even get up to her creepy makeup and mask, which is both horrific and high drag. Her antler crown was gorgeous. Every single detail of this outfit tells a story. I’m obsessed with it.
I’m equally obsessed with Vivian Vanderpuss’s musical performance. Even if the sex-crazed divorcée was the obvious character for her, it was seeded with the possibility of failure with the complicated 2:1 tango choreography.
Viv is not a trained dancer, and we saw her struggle slightly in the paired Ruets challenge with Giséle. She had much harder choreography here, although much of it was partnered. Even if we chalk up some of her success to being able to rely on a partner to lead her, Viv did a lot of impressive things with her body – giving beautiful extensions and able footwork throughout her tango.
Plus, her singing and acting were terrific! Viv has been waiting all season to deploy this highly-developed stage prowess and comedy timing in a main challenge instead of in a mini, and she survived long enough to see it pay off!
Vivian broke through with a win at the perfect time in the competition to give her a realistic chance of making it to the finale. In a wild twist, in a way Viv has now become the front-runner of the entire competition! She has a win with no lip sync, and she has been high for several challenges running.
I’d go so far as to say she is already the most successful Drag Race queen to ever present a slightly-older character, because she has found a way to apply that character to every challenge and runway without it ever feeling restrictive or repetitive.
Viv has shown herself to be proficient in past design challenges, so can she escape next week without a lip sync? I think it’s entirely possible, especially with Jada and Kimmy really struggling (in different ways). Even if Viv has to lip sync against either of them, it feels like it would be the right time to send them home. What Viv has to fear is lip syncing against Miss Fiercalicious, because Miss F has slightly more narrative momentum than Viv.
If I’m being honest, Viv rounding out the Top Three I really want to see at this point in the competition (since we’re sadly without Lady Boom Boom). I think Viv has proven week after week that she is incredibly good at Drag Race, and she’s just as much of a reality TV character as the big personalities remaining in this cast. I hope she manages to stay out of the bottom next week so we can avoid any production fuckery in sending her home.
4. Jada Shada Hudson – 1 win, 2 lip syncs (avg. rank 3.57 – was #3, 4, 6, 2, 5, 1, pre-season #1)
Jada Shada Hudson (Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / YouTube) brought terrific singing to this Rusical, but was too low-energy in the live performance to sell her vocals. And, the judges and I seriously disagreed on her “final girl” runway.
Get ready for some drama, y’all: I think the judges were entirely wrong in their critiques of Jada Shada Hudson’s runway look!
When Jada walked out on the runway, I said out loud, “Yes, finally someone GETS IT.” This look feels like it is ripped right out of a comic book. If you are going to go with the “final girl surviving the apocalypse,” this is how you do it. It’s about a combination of found objects, bright colors, and slightly cartoonish styling. Jada is giving us a super-femme girl-next-door drafted into being humanity’s defender.
I loved the huge shorts with their harness. I loved the oversize belt. I loved the candy-colored ammo.
I am willing to concede that this trends slightly away from drag and toward cosplay. It was giving “realness” category more than eleganza. Elements of the look could’ve been slightly draggier. Maybe the brightly-colored ammo could’ve been covered in glitter. Maybe the edges of her harness and suspender straps could’ve been rhinestoned.
Also, Jada looked slightly squashed at her head and neck because of how the criss-cross of her ammo belts intersected with her hair. I think if her ponytails had been suspended an inch or two up from her scalp they would’ve fallen farther away from her face so we could appreciate her make-up more.
Even without those tweaks, I think Jada landed squarely in the middle of the runway tonight. The judges were unnecessarily harsh. She wasn’t quite as good as Giséle or Viv, she had similar problems to Fiercalicious, and she was better than Kimmy and Irma.
I’d say the same is true for Jada’s Rusical performance, only amongst a different distribution of queens. Jada’s singing was terrific and a perfect fit for a silly gay musical. She carefully tread the line of Broadway sincerity while also slightly mocking that sincerity. The break between her mixed voice and falsetto is absolutely lovely.
In the performance of the Rusical, I agree with the judges that Jada could’ve pushed things farther. She felt like more of a fairy godmother narrator that wasn’t meant to be in the same time-and-place as the rest of the cast rather than a character interacting with them. Even as she nailed all of her lines and steps, I never really understood who she was in connection to the other women. I think if Jada had made more specific decisions about her physical characterization, that would’ve read more clearly. Also, it was obvious she missed several chunks of her lip sync.
Despite Jada being my #1 pick heading into the season and high in my early rankings, I’m truly unsure if she has a narrative that can carry her to the finale. At this point, it feels like we’ve seen Jada fail at several things where she was supposed to Turn Up. She whiffed on hosting, she tanked a design challenge, she was awful in Snatch Game, and she was strong-but-imperfect on Branding. And, her runways have been uneven the entire time. At this point, we haven’t seen her do anything particularly memorable other than styling herself on Episode 1 and dancing on Episode 3.
Jada Shada Hudson needs to pull out a major surprise to utterly crush next week’s design challenge. Not only will that be necessary to avoid a third lip sync, but I think if she doesn’t prove herself in this last challenge before the semi-finals then there is no credible way to give her the crown – even if she makes the final three.
5. Kimmy Couture – 1 win, 1 lip sync (avg. rank 4.57 – was #5, 7, 4, 3, 2, 6, pre-season #5)
Kimmy Couture (Instagram / TikTok / Twitter) gave a strong Rusical performance, but defeated herself with yet another bra and panty outfit on the runway. Next week is a design challenge, and if Kimmy is smart she will design a full-on ballgown! But, can even her most eleganza design launch her into the semi-finals?
What can I say about this runway look other than that we’ve seen it before? The split-screen of Kimmy’s several warrior bra-and-panty looks walking identically side-by-side really said everything there is to say about her runway package this season.
Also: What is dystopian about all this silver?! Silver stuff festooned across your body does not always equal sci-fi or futuristic or apocalyptic. We can make all the “C-3-P Hoe” jokes we want on the runway, but I think it’s time for Drag Race queens to let go of this particular trend alert. Unlike Giséle’s silver, which read as a found material constructed with a specific in-universe use in mind, this was simply a shiny costume.
Kimmy was enjoyable in the Rusical. There’s no denying that her dancing was spot on, but as a physical presence in the full-cast scenes she impressed me the least. I never understood her character or perspective.
I think Kimmy is stuck in a similar situation to Jada, which gives me the sense they will be facing off in a lip sync one of the next two weeks. Kimmy has been strong in several challenges, but her only win was ages ago and she hasn’t done anything exciting on the runway. I’m not sure how that could possibly merit a spot in the semi-finals, let alone a shot at the crown.
I think Kimmy’s one hope to stay in the competition is to design a full-on haute couture look worthy of her name next week to snatch a win. At that point, it will feel like she’s on a level playing field with the other remaining queens. Even if she manages to stay safe next week, if she doesn’t notch a win I think that will be a good excuse to cut her before the final three.
Eliminated: Irma Gerd (avg. rank 7.5 – was #6, 6, 8, 7, 10, 8, pre-season #10)
Irma Gerd (Facebook / Instagram / TikTok / Twitch / Twitter) was a lovable queen from her entrance right to her exit. She came to the show with plenty of good-natured humor and several strong runways. I think she simply had the misfortune to be cast against several other queens who could execute in her campy comedy lane with slightly more self-confidence than she brought to the show.
Irma far outstripped my pre-season expectations of her and managed to out-place her average weekly rank, which impressed the hell out of me. Honestly, I love when I am totally wrong about my rankings for positive reasons. Also, it didn’t hurt that Irma departed on a CLUE reference, cementing her amongst my personal favorites!
My pre-season concern about Irma Gerd was that she might not have the stage experience to confidently navigate a season of Drag Race challenges, and I don’t think I was too far off in my assessment.
Irma had multiple shots of standing out this season, but at points a certain tentativeness got in her way. The one time she wasn’t tentative at all, in Snatch Game as Marilyn Monroe, she was simply outplayed by Giséle and Viv despite delivering a commanding performance of her own.
Irma seemed to shine the brightest when she was excited to be paired with other queens, whether that was Viv in the hosting challenge or Jada in the Ruets. In this challenge, Irma stumbled into a doomed partnership with Giséle. Instead of being able to draw energy from her team-up as she has in the past, she discovered that it was Giséle who needed her energy to support her singing. I think that if Irma had been paired with a stronger singer, she would’ve been less distracted and absorbed more of the dance steps.
It’s a pity that Irma’s dancing distracted from her performance, because her singing was legitimately great. She joked about being someone who ought to watch musical theatre rather than perform it, but to my ears her vocals were entirely stage-ready.
I find Irma Gerd to be massively charming in the same way I felt about Katya by the end of Season 7. I don’t think they’re similar in any way other than their CLUE obsession, but I am desperate to hear and see more of her!
I think out of everyone in this cast that Irma could wind up with the strongest post-show social media game, especially if she leans hard into her nerdiness to do things like Twitch streams, geeky media reactions, or Snot Rocket style ultra-neon, borderline-obnoxious make-up looks.