‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 12, Episode 11 power ranking: The show must go on

(Editor’s Note: VH1 and World of Wonder have disqualified Sherry Pie over serious catfishing allegations involving five men. A spokesperson for VH1 and World of Wonder said the season will air as planned “out of respect for the hard work of the other queens.” In keeping with this decision, we will omit Sherry Pie from this season’s rankings.)

Welcome to Drag Race Power Rankings! Every Sunday, we’ll debrief the newest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race to determine which queens are riding high, and which need she-mergency care. One-woman shows gave the Season 12 queens a chance to show what they can do in five minutes—or, at least, some of them did. How do the remaining queens’ chances look walking into the final week of regular play?

5. Heidi N. Closet (last week: 5) — ELIMINATED

Heidi N Closet Drag Race 12

Credit: Courtesy VH1

You know, even in my loudest moments of stanning Heidi, I never really believed she could make it to the finale. Her one challenge win seemed too much like a consolation win, while her multiple appearances in the bottom two, almost all dubious (not the last week’s, though, that was deserved) struck me as production building a case for her when it came time for her ultimate elimination. She’s got charm out the wazoo, but as this week’s maxi-challenge demonstrated, that only takes her so far. Heidi was never truly capable of better than a Miss Congeniality win. (Which she richly deserves, to be clear.)

Still, for me and I know for others, Heidi was the highlight of this season. She is all but guaranteed an All Stars run, and will likely ascend to a similar position as queens like Monique Heart and Alyssa Edwards occupy in Drag Race lore. (Expect to see her in a second season of Secret Celebrity Drag Race, would be my bet.) I adore Heidi, and I want nothing but the absolute best for her, no matter what her name is. But I’d be a bad Drag Race herstorian if I denied that she deserved to go this week.

4. Jackie Cox (last week: 4)

Jackie Cox Drag Race 12

Credit: Courtesy VH1

Sure, Jackie did well this week, but she still couldn’t secure the win over Crystal Methyd. So now we’re left with a final five in which Jackie is not the underdog rising (that’s Crystal), is not the literal spoiled member of the final four (the since-disqualified Sherry Pie), is not the wünderkind with three wins (Gigi Goode), and is not the ultra-polished pageant queen who just showed she can smash a lip sync when it comes time to do so (Jaida Essence Hall). Where does that leave Jackie, a queen with no wins to her name and double bottom two appearances already?

Honestly, unless Sherry’s disqualification moves Jackie up a slot, I cannot imagine her being part of the final four in the finale. She just isn’t on the same level as the other girls, competitively or in her drag. I honestly think we’re marching towards an inevitable result next week.

3. Gigi Goode (last week: 3)

Gigi Goode Drag Race 12

Credit: Courtesy VH1

Gigi dominated the early part of this competition in a way we have literally never seen before, but she seems to have lost her touch in the last month. Her mini-challenge performance was one of the worst puppet shows this show has ever seen. Then, during the maxi-challenge, she actually had a good set—but didn’t trust herself enough to keep rolling with the improv and hampered her delivery with pauses to remember her outline. She knows she’s in trouble, too: She admitted to her failings during the mini-challenge and acknowledged something’s not connecting with the judges during Untucked. Her performance anxieties are getting the best of her, and it seems like Ru’s falling out of love. We’re not seeing the same preferential treatment for Gigi we saw early on (since some of those wins were a little dubious, after all).

There’s a chance Gigi could pull out aHail Mary next week, the last in-season week of the competition, but I’m dubious. More and more, she feels like a Brooke Lynn Hytes: someone who seemed invincible all season, but suddenly loses her rock-solid claim to the crown at the very end. She’s still got some win-worthy Aquaria qualities—clock her lamenting the double shantay just like Aquaria did—but Aquaria also won because two of her competitors (Eureka O’Hara and Kameron Michaels) had significant detractors among the fandom, and her one truly beloved competitor (Asia O’Hara) killed butterflies onstage. There are worthy alternatives to Gigi this season, and if I were Ru, I’d be investing in them at this point.

2. Jaida Essence Hall (last week: 1)

Jaida Essence Hall Drag Race 12

Credit: Courtesy VH1

I think there were a few factors working against Jaida this week, none of them really her fault. She bit the bullet going last, because Jackie wasn’t queen enough to make the decision herself as mini-challenge winner. Then, Sherry Pie went absurdly over time, leaving the only person left to go, Jaida, thrown off her game. Her one-woman show was not her finest hour (her actual jokes were iffy, despite a funny story) but I tend to think her poor performance was circumstantial, not a real knock against her abilities. That can still be a cause for a bottom two appearance—think Jujubee in the rocker challenge in Season 2—but it’s not like Jaida suddenly lost her mojo.

To her immense credit, Jaida immediately kicked ass in the lip sync, and proved why her off week was just a fluke. I’m ultimately not going to count this week much against her. She’s still got a strong edit, three challenge wins, and two lip sync wins under her belt. If anyone wants to discredit her game at this point, it’s in bad faith; she’s got the goods and the résumé to make it to the very end.

1. Crystal Methyd (last week: 2)

Crystal Methyd Drag Race 12

Credit: Courtesy VH1

True to my word, I think Crystal is officially A Contender with her first maxi-challenge win. She absolutely killed it as Phenomenal Phil, and slayed on the runway as well. Sure, she’s only got one win, but the same could be said for Yvie Oddly last season. And Yvie’s win came early! Crystal is coming on strong at the end of this competition. Moreover, the fandom seems to be really united behind her, even as the alumni seem torn between rooting for her and Jaida. I’ll be interested to see if viewers only grow more lock-step on Team Crystal after her win this week.

I’ll be frank and say my preference is still for Jaida—I think her level of polish is remarkable, and something we haven’t seen in the winners’ circle in a very long time. Crystal strikes me as someone who could absolutely slay an All Stars season, too, and I’d love to watch that happen. But I’d be thrilled with a Crystal win over anyone but Jaida at his point. And in terms of fan morale, a Crystal win may be the best possible result.

Kevin O’Keeffe is a writer, host, instructor, and RuPaul’s Drag Race herstorian living in Los Angeles, California. His favourite pastime is watching a perfect lip sync.

Keep Reading

Ayden Mayeri, Meg Stalter and Jojo T. Gibbs side by side on a yellow background with hearts and dotted lines. Stalter holds a small dog.

‘Cora Bora’ is a coming-of-age movie for people in their thirties

Meg Stalter, Jojo T. Gibbs and Ayden Mayeri talk about creating a endearing, messy, realistic Sapphic love triangle
Side by side images of author Lauren Cook and his book Sex Goblin. The book is on a yellow background.

Lauren Cook on naive narrators, ‘just chilling’ and loving love

The author’s new book, “Sex Goblin,” is a collection of short prose about violence, sexuality and trying to process life 

Can anyone dethrone Chappell Roan for queer song of the summer?

Is “Good Luck, Babe!” destined to be this year’s Pride anthem?

Zoe Whittall on writing sex scenes, capturing trauma and what people get wrong about queer femmes

In “Wild Failure,” the poet and novelist challenges queer femme erasure in fiction