‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 16, Episode 10 power ranking: Lucky seven

A top two Lip Sync for the Win makes for interesting power rankings

Welcome to RuPaul’s Drag Race Power Rankings! Every week, we’re debriefing the week’s new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 16 to determine which queens are riding high, and which need she-mergency care. No one goes home this week, and most of the queens do well—which makes for very interesting reading at the bottom of the power rankings.

7. Plane Jane (last week: 5)

No, I know, I’m shook too. I thought Plane had basically demonstrated a facility with every skill Drag Race asks of its contestants at this point. But the Bostonian queen seemed strangely in her head all episode, first falling short of her usual nervy best in recording and rehearsal, and later fumbling around when deciding what to do with her immunity potion. While I haven’t always enjoyed Plane as a character, I could never argue that she seemed unsure of herself—until this episode, in which she seemed a bit at sea.

Her verse was better than Nymphia Wind’s, but the judges weren’t wrong when they said the banana queen outclassed her performance-wise. Plane looked several steps behind the choreography in her own segment, and then it was all over when she and Nymphia were dancing together. I’ve no clue why Plane ultimately chose to use the potion on Nymphia, but considering hers was one of the two worst performances this week, she’d have been much better off using it on herself. Granted, it didn’t ultimately matter, but still. An uncharacteristically off week for Plane, and she’s very lucky it wasn’t worse.

6. Q (last week: 1)

Q got some generous critiques on the main stage, I’ll say that! Ross Mathews chose to focus on her performance outfit, even admitting it distracted him from looking at how she was struggling. But I’d go further and say that Q looked actively terrified during the performance at times—especially when she was being lifted. Her runway look was also not her best; the hat was a stunner, but Kandy Muse presented a similar piece back in Season 13 that I’d argue was executed better. And I’m with Michelle Visage: the fabric treatment on her chest was unflattering. Overall, not Q’s best week, and like Plane, she should thank her lucky stars it didn’t end up worse for her. Because in that lip sync matchup, my money’s on Plane.

5. Nymphia Wind (last week: 3)

Because Plane used the immunity option on Nymphia, we actually don’t know how well Nymphia would have been done in critiques. I’m inclined to think she would’ve been safe in an elimination week scenario, though maybe scoring low because her verse was so lyrically simple. (Repeating “vote yellow” at the end, exactly like she did in her “A.S.M.R. Lover” verse, was a bizarre choice.) Without Megami to help her with the verse, she couldn’t pull off as similarly impressive a performance as she did in the girl groups challenge, although she did dance well both solo and alongside a struggling Plane. Regarding her runway: I enjoyed her lampshading how “difficult” her decision was in terms of colour choice, but now that she’s given us the full banana experience in this (excellent!) look, I hope we see more of her range in these last few episodes.

 

4. Dawn (last week: 2)

I really wonder if Dawn’s ever going to win one of these. She consistently does well, but she never feels like a real contender despite that. We’ve seen queens pull out very late-season first wins before: Miz Cracker in Season 10, Crystal Methyd in Season 12, Kandy Muse in Season 13 and DeJa Skye in Season 14 are all modern examples from the main series. But of course, the thing that connects all those queens is that, ahem, none of them won. So even if Dawn can pull out a makeover or roast challenge win—neither incredibly likely in my book—she’s still got an uphill climb to the crown. At this point, I just don’t see it for her. Maybe one of the Miami girls will go home before her, but I could also see her going home as soon as next week.

3. Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige (last week: 7)

It remains a gospel truth: Mhi’ya can perform. That’s true of the lip syncs, of course, but she also thrived in both verse-writing challenges. I do think she was better in the girl groups task, but she put in a strong effort here. However, none of this changes my feelings about Mhi’ya’s long-term sustainability in the competition. Just like Dawn, Nymphia and Q are consistently in the top for design challenges, Mhi’ya is effectively guaranteed a high-scoring placement if performance is on the menu. But until I see her thrive in another challenge type (one less specialized than Snatch Game), I’m still thinking she’s on her way out the second someone finally outclasses her in a lip sync.

2. Morphine Love Dion (last week: 6)

I was so happy for Morphine this week! She’s struggled to find her footing in this competition outside of the confessional booth, and the judges seemed to be unusually harsh on her. (I was pleased to see so many online agree that her low placement last week was unfair.) But she found her confidence onstage this week, and looked like a goddamn pop star in the “Power” performance. On the runway, I was impressed by how very Morphine her look was, while still representing a major style and polish evolution. It’s rare to see a queen able to step it up this dramatically late in the competition, which begs the question: is this top-two finish the kick-start her run needs to end the season strong? Or is this a blip on the radar?

1. Sapphira Cristál (last week: 4)

Grand slam. Sapphira demolished both the challenge and the runway this week, and though she probably deserved an outright win for so effortlessly dominating the episode, she went ahead and scored another lip sync win, to boot. This was Sapphira’s biggest week since her premiere, and establishes her as a major force heading into the endgame. What’s most impressive to me is just how commanding she was, both in her confidence as a performer and in her regality on the runway. She really gave me winner energy in a new way. I’ve increasingly been coming around to wanting Sapphira to win this whole thing, and this week solidified it. I’m Team Sapphira until the very end!

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