‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 16, Episode 15 power ranking: Losing is the new winning for one queen

Who is the champion of this season’s LaLaPaRuZa tournament?

Welcome to RuPaul’s Drag Race Power Rankings! Every week, we’ve debriefed 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. But this week is something special, as we join back up with the eliminated queens to see who can triumph in a LaLaPaRuZa smackdown for $50,000.


Dawn (eliminated by Amanda Tori Meating)

There were some more questionable strategic decisions made later in the episode (although they mostly paid off), but I don’t think there was a stranger decision all episode than Dawn picking Amanda to face off against. At that point, there were several weaker lip syncers remaining, including Q and Plasma. Moreover, her justification that she wanted to perform Danity Kane’s “Damaged,” and she knew Amanda would pick it, is even stranger. Dawn needed something she could avoid dancing on altogether, and she needed an opponent she could outdance. Zero for two, I fear. 

I almost wonder if, considering her pessimism about her chances to win a LaLaPaRuZa, she didn’t just want to give her close friend an easy shot to Round 2. That’s the only explanation I can really get behind, because in no way did it seem like Dawn was working toward her own success here.

Q (eliminated by Megami)

Yeah, not gonna beat a dead horse here—even Q said she knew she wasn’t winning this thing as she was eliminated. She set up Megami nicely for a glide to the finals with an easy first round, but I also believe she was the best choice to go up against with the information we had at the time. Who knew Megami would surprise us the way she did? Anyway, a fine strategic choice from Q, but even with that in mind, her escaping the first round was a longshot.

Geneva Karr (eliminated by Morphine Love Dion)

Geneva put up a fight, but Morphine is just too damn good. We’ve seen Geneva lip sync several times on the show, and if I had one major note for her, it’s to learn how to better time her stunts. Dawn clocked that she pulled off her reveal too early, which was only highlighted when Morphine later did hers at a key moment. And because Geneva has a tendency to pull out big moves throughout her performances, they don’t feel like big moments—meanwhile, Morphine ramping up with the wig reveal and splits gives her performance a narrative. It was good to see Geneva again, and I’m glad she gave Morphine a run for her money, but it was over the second Morphine pulled off that wig reveal.


Hershii LiqCuor-Jeté (eliminated by Mirage)

I cackled when Hershii simply stepped in front of Mirage during her backbend. As Amanda said, that’s exactly what you have to do when someone’s pulling out all those stunts! Unfortunately, the rest of Hershii’s performance was marked by a lot of walking around the stage, and Mirage just had more to offer. I will say, I really love Hershii, in a way I can’t remember loving a first out in a long time. Had she lasted a bit longer in the competition, I have no doubt we’d be seeing her crowned Miss Congeniality next week. Alas, it seems like Drag Race just wasn’t quite the right venue for her talents—but she is clearly talented regardless.

Plasma (eliminated by Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige)

Okay, Plasma! I had her pegged as the easy beat in this tournament, but she put up a good fight against Mhi’ya, clearly motivated by wanting to avenge her own elimination. She did much better this go-around, but “Milkshake” by Kelis is just not going to be a song that favours her. Of any queen this season, Plasma strikes me as the most ready to return for an All Stars run. She’ll definitely have upped her game, but more than that, her journey ended before we got to see her at her full power. And that’s with two maxi-challenge wins under her belt! Pencil her in for the finale when she does return, I’d say.

Xunami Muse (eliminated by Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige)

God bless, Xunami was just happy to have a twirl and a model walk during that performance. She was a guest star in Mhi’ya and Plasma’s lip sync, and she knew it. I think she’s a talented performer, no doubt, but I can’t look at any of the songs and think she’d really have excelled on them, either. Maybe the Donna Summer song? Regardless, when she was not only put in the three-way lip sync, but on a song that did not benefit her, it was over before it started. Still, I stand by that Xunami was consistently solid this season, and her all-safe track record doesn’t really reflect how she did in the competition. Hope to see you on All Stars, queen!


Amanda Tori Meating (eliminated by Megami)

Amanda’s elimination was the first real “surprise” result of the night, but in retrospect, it was kind of an obvious result when Megami picked the Cher song. Amanda benefits from upbeat, dance-heavy songs, and her saying that she was going to do “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)” in her own style, with a Cher twist, it was clear that she didn’t really get the assignment. Megami, on the other hand, did, leaning into Cher-isms in a way that was destined to draw Ru’s interest. Still, I’m very glad Amada got to win the “Damaged” lip sync and show what she can do on the main stage. I do think Amanda will come back to Drag Race someday, and I think she has a lot of untapped potential. But her continued heightened sensitivity about Plane Jane, both on the show and online, is an indication she might need some time to grow before she returns. Drag Race is a pressure cooker, and until a queen is ready to handle all that that requires, it’s tough to imagine them going the distance.

Mirage (eliminated by Morphine Love Dion)

Mirage was clearly so happy with her chance to redeem herself, as she should be. She was terrific on “Alone 2.0,” both in command during Kim Petras’ parts and on point enough during Nicki Minaj’s verse to perform it well. (You could tell she was still missing some words, but she did a much better job covering than she did on “Dark Lady.”) She clocked that Morphine picked strategically when it came to facing off on Donna Summer’s “This Time I Know It’s For Real,” and while she did her best on a song outside her comfort zone, Morphine’s performance was a better match for the tone of the song. Still, they both performed well, and it was fun to see how their styles worked together. Mirage is another queen I would consider a lock for All Stars, and if she can figure out a way through comedy challenges, I could see her being a real contender.


Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige (eliminated by Megami)

Hoo boy, Mhi’ya did not take her elimination well in this LaLaPaRuZa! I think she assumed she had this in the bag. But honestly, I don’t think either of her performances held a candle to what she did during lip syncs like “Flowers” and “Control.” She was able to simply out-stunt on “Milkshake,” but her reliance on being at the back of the stage for them risked letting Plasma outshine her. (Honestly, that lip sync was so much closer than it should have been considering the song.) Then on “We Got the Beat,” a song Morphine wisely kept for Mhi’ya knowing she didn’t want to perform it, she picked a performance style that faded in comparison to Megami’s. She moved well, but one look at her face in the performance showed that she was struggling to embody the song.

Look, Mhi’ya is an amazing lip-syncer, and I’m glad she made the top three of the tournament. I also think that she came into this episode at a disadvantage, having shown so many of her skills during the season. But the same could be said of Morphine, and she found new ways to stun throughout all her performances. In the end, I’m not sure it mattered if Mhi’ya was cut in third or runner-up—I don’t think there was any changing the outcome of who would win it all.


Megami (eliminated by Morphine Love Dion)

Not since Silky Nutmeg Ganache have we seen such a surprising run of lip syncs from an underdog! During the competition, we only saw Megami actually lip sync to “Flowers,” which I thought she pretty clearly missed the mark on. But her excellent performance in the girl group challenge hinted that there was more to her as a lip sync artist than met the eye, and I’m glad she got a chance to show that off this time. In a season of queens who had plenty of stunts to offer, Megami stood out by doing something different, often leaning into comedy and offering sharp, precise movements. I was impressed by just how on the beat she was throughout all her performances.

Her Cher performance was my favourite of hers during the tournament, but I also admired just how much she put into the “We Got the Beat” performance. As Dawn noted, she and Mhi’ya were clearly coming into it with something to prove, but Megami was the one who really threw it all against the wall to prove her mettle. In the final performance, I actually agree with Mhi’ya: the sock puppet was gaggy and fun, but it really was a way for Megami to not have to worry about the rap portion. And as the performance went on, Megami just couldn’t keep up with our champion. Getting this far is Megami’s win, and I’m happy she gets to end her season on a high note.

Morphine Love Dion (winner)

Morphine is our second-ever Queen of She Done Already Done Had Herses! She inherits the title from Raja—great company—and she fought hard for the $50,000 prize. This was a terrific ending to this episode, considering what a joy Morphine has been to watch all season long. It was tough to see her go home empty-handed despite lasting so long, but getting to watch her shine doing what she does best was an amazing turnaround. The level of body control Morphine has demonstrated in all her lip syncs is nothing short of spectacular; she was transfixing to watch in every single performance. I screamed the loudest I have at Drag Race in a while watching her wig-reveal-into-a-split trick in the Ava Max lip sync.
Morphine really stole my heart this season, and while I’m not sure she’d do much better on a future season of Drag Race (I just don’t think she has the right skill set for it), I need her back on TV as soon as possible. Use this prize well, Morphine, and show up and gag us once again as soon as possible. You’re a legend, and now you’ve got the money and title to show it. Congratulations to her on taking it home for Miami!

Read More About:
Drag Race, Culture, Analysis, Drag

Keep Reading

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 9’ Episode 2 recap: We’re on each other’s team

As the competition moulds into place, the queens are playing doubles
A collage of AI generated gay male couples. The men are muscular and all look similar. There are four pairs.

Who does queer AI ‘art’ actually represent?

ANALYSIS: Accounts dedicated to queer AI art have popped off, but is there hope for anything beyond “boyfriend twins”?

‘Bird Suit’ is a surreal, lush and devastating portrait of small-town life

Sydney Hegele’s new novel is a queer take on the the genre of southern Ontario gothic literature

‘Stress Positions’ captures the uncomfortable hilarity of millennial loserdom

Writer-director Theda Hammel weighs in on her debut film, modern-day slapstick and the difference between being evil and being a loser