‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 16, Episode 11 power ranking: Power(Point) rankings

The choice in winner this week—and the editing of another queen’s reaction—tells us a lot about the state of the competition

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. We get a long-expected elimination this week, while in something of a surprise, a queen reaches her third victory.

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

Alas, dear Mhi’ya. She was such a fun surprise this season, coming out of her shell and demolishing the performance challenges and lip syncs. But she’s made it far further than her skills in most Drag Race challenges should indicate she would, which was clearly demonstrated in her performance this week. Hosting, comedic timing, creating a character; these are expected skills of a contestant on this show. The fact that she so thoroughly bombed, to the point where even Ross Mathews couldn’t muster up a positive word to say, sealed her fate. I honestly think Ru saved Dawn from lip syncing (despite them performing poorly as a team) just to guarantee someone with enough firepower would be able to take Mhi’ya on. It worked, of course, and the Lip Sync Assassin of the season is finally on her way home. We’ll always have the flips, Mhi’ya.

6. Morphine Love Dion (last week: 2)

Honestly, Morphine was fine this week. Especially considering she was on the team with the top two queens, I think she should’ve just been waved to safety. But the story of the season had clearly been angling toward a Miami girl showdown, and Morphine was one of arguably two queens left who would be able to take Mhi’ya out. Plus, Morphine’s runway for the DragCon 1980 category was pretty terrible. It’s not the most deserved bottom two placement we’ve seen on this show, but I get it. She displayed incredible body control during the lip sync, and expertly dealt with Mhi’ya’s attempt to throw her off by tossing her cape at her. Once she made it through that without issue, Morphine had effectively sealed Mhi’ya’s fate. But unless she can pull out a surprise next week, I’m concerned Morphine is the likeliest to follow her Miami sister out the door.

5. Dawn (last week: 4)

I thought it was interesting to hear Dawn game out what would happen if she hit the bottom two even before she landed there. She seemed to know she was in trouble, and had prepared the best she could, but also knew that even with three prior lip syncs, Mhi’ya would be hard to take down. (Now knowing what the song was, and having seen Mhi’ya’s performance to it, I do think Dawn would’ve likely lost.) I respect that Dawn is taking the game seriously in this way, but I also think if she’s going into a challenge with the mindset of preparing for a loss, it’s hard to pull out a surprise win. I’m with the judges: she probably should’ve just charged on and made sure she did as well as possible, no matter what Mhi’ya was doing. Still, she ended up safe, so no big sweat—but she seems farther from a challenge win than ever now.

 

4. Plane Jane (last week: 7)

Plane is correct that her report card remains “squeaky clean” despite a couple of less impressive weeks because of how the judging went. However, I think it’s pretty clear that the panel is getting bored of her. Both last week and this week, a judge made a point in deliberations of talking about how she’s falling short of her own expectations. And while I agreed with them last week about it, I thought Plane was pretty good this week! Moreover, the fact that Dawn could so easily get under her skin indicates she’s not going to roll with the punches if she does start scoring low. I’d still pencil Plane in for the finale, but I don’t know if her case for the win is as strong as it was around Snatch Game.

3. Q (last week: 6)

For the first time this season, I think Q has reason to claim she was robbed. While I don’t mind the winner we got, I do believe that, joke for joke, line for line, Q and Plane’s act was the most consistently good this week. They had the best concept, and Q understood her character and delivered her well. She looked great on the runway in a meaningful look related to her own HIV status. It was such an obvious package for a Q win that I have no idea how we arrived at her being dismissed alongside Plane as just being safe this week. It was all very strange, and if I had to guess why it happened, it’s that Q is not in the show’s finale plans. But if not, then who? Maybe Dawn pulls out a last-second win a la Crystal Methyd? Whatever the case, if Q doesn’t make the finale, she’ll be sent home with one of the strongest track records we’ve ever seen. That’s why I can’t quite believe it—but we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.

2. Nymphia Wind (last week: 5)

The debate over whether exaggerated accent work is appropriate for comedy challenges on Drag Race goes way back, with perhaps the most notable instance being when Manila Luzon won the QNN episode of Season 3. Back then, the conversation actually happened on the show, with Shangela questioning whether Manila was right to do it. Years later, it doesn’t seem like the show has figured out its take on it at all, mostly talking around the subject. Joel Kim Booster was the only person willing to point out that Nymphia’s choice would be seen as “controversial.” His fellow judges mostly just wanted to move on. I thus have no idea how she landed in the top two, other than just as a side effect of the panel talking themselves out of liking Plane and Q. She did deliver on the runway, so there’s that—but I don’t think that was enough to put her in the top. Again, strange judging this week.

1. Sapphira Cristál (last week: 1)

Look, I’m not gonna complain about a Sapphira win. Do I think the judging we saw justified it? Not really. But in a challenge all about how one presents themselves, it does make sense to me that the queen who oozes charisma would take the prize. And she clearly won over the judges with her runway look, although I have no idea why RuPaul called it “stupid.” It wasn’t stupid at all—it fit the brief, looked beautiful and is a piece with her already impressive runway package. One red flag: if the show ultimately takes Q’s side that she should have won this challenge, I think it’ll be a tell that it’s looking to downplay Sapphira’s chances at the crown. But I think Q being painted as bitter or unjustified is more likely based on the show giving Sapphira the final confessional about the issue. If that happens, then things will still look good for a Sapphira crowning.

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Culture, Drag Race, Analysis, Drag

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