‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 16, Episode 3 power ranking: Ball so hard

We’ve finally got our whole crop of 14 queens to rank—just in time for one to go home

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. Our 14 queens have finally united! But now, it’s time to say goodbye to our first eliminated competitor this season.

14. Hershii LiqCour-Jeté (last placement: 6)—ELIMINATED

Genuinely surprised to see Hershii go first. She was obviously ranked low by her fellow queens in the premiere, but her charisma and connection to the beloved Kornbread “The Snack” Jeté had me thinking she would stick around for longer. Her Call Me Mother/Father Eleganza look was unfortunately way too much Realness for the category, and her Significant Mother look read as too flimsy. I did love her Burnie Bee look for the Mother Goose category, but the tough thing about starting on your best garment is that it’s forgotten by the time the ball is over. A bummer to see Hershii depart, but I can’t argue against the decision.

13. Geneva Karr (last placement: 2)

A tough fall from Geneva after competing for the win in her premiere. All three of her looks had some kind of problem: her Miss Muffet was confusing and obscured her face, she picked a very strange Salma Hayek look to recreate for Significant Mother, and while she tried to offer up some “military boss” explanation for her final look, there was no excuse for what she put together. Not only did it use too much stretch fabric and not enough of the menswear, but it simply looked incomplete. Good for Geneva for fighting hard in the lip sync, but the swift drop still stings.

12. Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige (last placement: 4)

Mhi’ya is either unwilling to or uninterested in banter with Ru on the main stage, because this is the second week in a row now that Ru has tried to converse with her only for Mhi’ya to basically shut it down. Replying to Ru saying you seem timid with a simple “No” is absolutely wild! Like it or not, this kind of banter is a major part of the show; we’ve seen queens get very close to the crown (Gottmik) and even win (Willow Pill) despite less impressive track records, largely because they so thoroughly endeared themselves to Ru by keeping up with him. I actually didn’t mind any of Mhi’ya’s looks this week—I would’ve put Mirage in the bottom over her, frankly—but I can’t argue for her future success in the competition as long as she’s got this banter block with the host of the show.

11. Mirage (last placement: 5)

 

Mirage likely just got by this week, what with her far-too-simple “Glambo” look. She struggled with the construction, which means even if she excels in all other parts of this competition, she’s likely going to hit another speed bump when we get to the next design challenge. Luckily for her, that’s almost certainly a ways away. I didn’t love either of her other looks—the La Llorona was probably her best—but those alone wouldn’t have been enough to land her in the bottom. Overall, not a great week for Mirage, but it could’ve been worse.

10. Amanda Tori Meating (last placement: 6)

Plane Jane is targeting Amanda hard, both in her confessionals and in the Rate-a-Queen twist. If we saw the full results, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was actually lower than Mirage. That said, I actually mostly liked Amanda’s output this episode. While it was a bit tiring to see another cat-focused look from her after her talent show, her Michelle Visage look (complete with gray streak reveal!) was a lot of fun. And her eleganza category runway actually had some real style to it. I dunno, I could see us gearing up for a longer-than-expected run for Amanda—especially as she promises drama to come. Kudos to her for standing her ground in Untucked, too!

9. Megami (last placement: 7)

I wasn’t expecting Dawn to be the type to say someone’s reputation is that of the “Eeyore of drag” in a confessional. That’s quite a sharp cut at her fellow Brooklyn queen, and it remains to be seen whether Megami’s characterization will live up to it. So far, I’d say it’s a bit of a misnomer: Megami seems almost achingly earnest, not pessimistic. Regarding her drag this week, Megami’s deconstructed take on Little Bo-Peep was an odd direction, and while I didn’t hate her Significant Mother tribute to Mother Monster, we saw better takes on Lady Gaga way back in Season 9. Where she really came through was in her eleganza: her take on Rosie the Riveter was a great transformation of materials and a strong bit of characterization. Perhaps she could’ve pushed it further in the eleganza direction, but overall I think Megami did well there. Certainly her best look of the week, and in the category that really matters.

8. Morphine Love Dion (last placement: 4)

I continue to very much enjoy Morphine’s low-level bitchiness. What separates her from her drag sister Jane, in my eyes, is a cleverness on Morphine’s part. She’s not just tossing out insults, she’s more elegantly reading. She’s the confessional queen of the season so far in my eyes. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy Morphine’s runways as much as her talking heads this week. Her maid look for “A Man and a Maid” in the Mother Goose category felt like a stretch, and her take on Kris Jenner suffered from not being a full suit. The cut-out is something Kris herself wouldn’t wear. In terms of her eleganza: my girl is lucky she’s got a spectacular derriere, because it really sold what was otherwise an underwhelming garment. Not a disastrous week for Morphine, but she’s gotta step it up a bit to keep up with the pack.

7. Plasma (last placement: 5)

I have basically the same note for all of Plasma’s looks this week: good, but not my favourite. The Tweedledeeand Tweedledum look was cute, but just this side of costumey. Her Anne Boleyn look was solid—the best part about it was her mug. And while her dress for the final category was well-made, I questioned why she decided to go with such a simple silhouette in gray and black materials. It made the whole thing muted, when there was actually quite a bit of interesting design in there. Overall, a pretty good week for Plasma—except for challenging Sapphira Cristál about her vocal range in the cold open. Girl, you just heard she won, why are you calling her out? Plasma’s not getting that immunity potion from her any time soon!

6. Xunami Muse (last placement: 7)

A drastic improvement from Xunami from her premiere. The Humpty Dumpty egg reveal was pretty great—I loved how she actually played up the egg’s instability before cracking open. It’s a small bit of runway presentation that goes a long way. I adored her replicating drag mom Kandy Muse’s entrance look for the Significant Mother category, too. What more significant mother could there be to Xunami’s drag than Kandy? And while her eleganza look lacked some oomph, the nerd characterization was super cute. She almost certainly placed on the high end of the safe girls in the ratings, and deservedly so.

5. Plane Jane (last placement: 1)

Man, Jane was kinda shaking in her boots at the idea of her ratings being revealed, huh? My whole evaluation of Jane as a villain is predicated on her standing behind her dish. That nervousness, plus her backing down on her strategic ratings this week, is a sign that she may not be able to stand behind her more blatant machinations. In the ball, her Pussycat by the Fire look was giving CATS in a way I actually loved, while I hated her doing Octomom for the Significant Mother category. What an odd, dated reference to do—and why not walk pregnant if you’re going to do a baby reveal? A real missed opportunity. For her eleganza look, she certainly styled it well, but the design itself was just too simple. To quote Nymphia Wind: “Room for improvement.”

4. Dawn (last placement: 3)

Dawn’s gotta be the surprise exclusion from the top three considering her expertise with sewing, no? I think I’d have put her in the top three over Q for the final look alone: Dawn’s construction was as impressive as Q’s, but I actually liked the design more. Additionally, Dawn’s Cushy Cow was super cute—loved the hooves! But where she really stood apart was with her take on Audrey Hepburn. It was stunningly simple, distinctly drag, and showed off Dawn’s sensibility in a whole new way. One of the best looks of the night, and I’m a little surprised that it alone didn’t land her in the top three.

3. Q (last placement: 2)

If I were just judging this on Q’s first two looks, she might be my winner of the night. Her Man in the Moon look was a marvel, looking ready to hit a Broadway stage immediately. And her take on Judy Garland was actually kind of eerie in its accuracy—she nailed the look she was recreating. There was a real spirit of drag to it. I missed that inspiration in her last look, which was undoubtedly impressively constructed. But I don’t know, I ultimately agreed with Nymphia shifting her out of top position based on the last look. Still a great showing from Q, but I’m glad the win went to another queen in this case.

2. Sapphira Cristál (last placement: 1)

Sapphira hit two home runs in the first and third categories, which made her simple double in the Significant Mother slot less noticeable. There was nothing wrong, necessarily, with her take on Eve, but a bodysuit—even a heavily embellished one—is just never going to make the biggest impression. But her Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater was a jaw-dropper, both for the shape of the skirt and for transforming her top and hair into the stalk. To quote Project Runway’s Nina García, Sapphira really thought about it. And as “Roberta the Builder” in the final category, Sapphira once again played with proportions to great effect. It was pretty incredible that she made it in this short timeframe. Already, Sapphira is demonstrating real range in her skill set. She’s a real threat to take it all.

1. Nymphia Wind (last placement: 3)

The more I think about it, the more I believe Nymphia’s is one of the strongest ball packages we’ve ever seen on Drag Race. Her take on Little Boy Blue was a smash, impressively designed and immediately making you think of the character. I completely disagreed with Michelle saying her Significant Mother look wasn’t Angelina Jolie enough: I got the inspiration of her wedding dress immediately, and her changing up her mug gave the whole presentation an entirely different feel. And then, of course, there’s her frankly incredible Call Me Mother/Father Eleganza runway. To me, she nailed the balance between masculinity and femininity best, creating a striking silhouette in striking colours (Isaac Mizrahi was right, she really made neutrals look rich). And then topping it off with the ties? Gorgeous. A well-deserved win for Nymphia, and if Jane hadn’t sunk her last week, she’d likely be 2-for-2 right now. A frankly incredible start for the banana queen—let’s see if she can keep it up!

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Culture, Drag Race, Analysis, Drag

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