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. Which queen had the top doll of the day this week—and whose doll has been discontinued?
11. Geneva Karr (last week: 4 —ELIMINATED)
Miss Karr said last week she might run us over, but in the end, she just ran out of gas. We have never seen a trajectory quite like Geneva’s on the show before: starting in the top two of her premiere, then falling into the bottom two twice, then winning the challenge, before once again having to lip sync and this time getting sent home. She had to lip sync for either her life or the win in four of her five episodes, and in the fifth, she won for a lip-syncing girl group challenge. Wild! Sadly, much as I love Geneva, I can’t disagree with the judgment here. Not only did she use the cursed blue fabric the worst, her doll’s proportions were far better than hers were, leading Law Roach to determine that her doll ate her up. At least Geneva went out making herstory with her track record!
10. Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige (last week: 3)
You know what? For all the hype for these flips, they really delivered. She has such flexibility and agility, but never forgets to emote and actually perform the song she’s lip syncing to as she flips all over the stage. Her dominant performance on “Control” promptly made me forget about her underwhelming runway look (and even more underwhelming doll), and I’m guessing by Ru’s reaction that he’s forgotten too. Still, while I know she’s not an expert at sewing or design, there really isn’t a reason to leave a hem unfinished. I really want to believe in Mhi’ya’s capabilities, because she is such a compelling performer. But Drag Race tests a whole range of skills—including, yes, design. She’s going to need to step it up in other areas now that she has the momentum from her win last week and this lip sync victory.
9. Plasma (last week: 7)
This was a misstep for Plasma as she was building momentum in the competition. I get that making this kind of garment was what she was most familiar with, but it still represented a lapse into her mid-century mode that Ru was just praising her for getting out of last week. Yes, it’s her brand, but there were ways to do it in a modern fashion that would’ve both respected her core aesthetic and kept pushing things forward. Moreover, even if this was the first time she was wearing a garment like this, the garment itself still wouldn’t pass muster. The head scarf flying off her head was a messy moment, and when you take away the scarf, it really just is a simple blue dress—in that same blue fabric. Not Plasma’s week, sorry to say, but I don’t think she was in any real danger of lip syncing.
8. Sapphira Cristál (last week: 8)
Boy, I think this immunity potion play was a pretty egregious miscalculation on Sapphira’s part. First of all, as the judges’ reactions showed, she absolutely did not need it. More than that, it showed a lack of faith in her own abilities that Ru is really going to drill down on her for. Expect lots of talk of inner saboteurs next week. I think Sapphira’s got an opportunity to pivot that into an underdog edit—which would be hilarious considering how dominant she is, but hey, Jinkx Monsoon and Symone did it once upon a time—but it’s going to take some finessing. I think she’s good enough that she may never need the immunity, so it’s not a huge loss in terms of the actual potion. But while Sapphira’s garment wasn’t close to the worst this week, this decision (and the fact that she immediately regretted it) was enough to put her this far down the ranking once again.
7. Morphine Love Dion (last week: 10)
Well, the dwindling number of queens plus Sapphira’s mistake puts Morphine a little higher this week! Still not enough to rank in the top half, much to my dismay. If you asked me to describe what Morphine would design for this challenge before she ever did it, I would’ve gotten pretty close to this garment. I will grant you that, on a branding challenge, it makes sense to lean into what you’re known for. But like Morphine was told last week to stop relying on that BBL, so was Dawn told to switch up the elf ears—and Dawn figured out how to do that while staying remarkably Dawn in her branding. Morphine just kinda kept the train going. I hope she pivots next week, because the chaff is starting to clear at the bottom of the rankings, and she may soon find herself having to fight for her life in lip syncs.
6. Xunami Muse (last week: 6)
It’s turning into a bit of a running joke for me to rank Xunami sixth—but I really believe that’s where she deserves to place once again! Her doll was super cute, and I loved her narration (“Her unique qualities are: wearing pants!”). On her actual garment, the pants were a wonder, while the top did feel a bit like a throwaway. But I think if Xunami missed big anywhere, it was in the branding: what about this said “Fashion Week Edition”? Had she branded it differently, and come up with a more polished top, she might have been in contention for the win this week. As it stands, Xunami continues to hang out in her familiar position.
5. Megami (last week: 2)
I’m increasingly feeling good about Megami in this competition. She’s shaken off her rough start, has a very deserved win under her belt and managed something stylish and distinctly her in this design challenge. Admittedly, it ran a bit costume-y, what with the little crown hat. You could argue it was too literal for a New Yorker look. But I actually disagree: the colour scheme and shaping of the Statue of Liberty elements was different enough to set it apart. And plain and simple, she looked good and distinctive in a lineup of looks that trended mediocre. If Megami can keep improving, I could see her making a deep run this season.
4. Nymphia Wind (last week: 1)
This week was a bit underwhelming from Nymphia, but I don’t think it poses a real issue for her moving forward. If anything, I think it gets the threat level off of her a bit to not absolutely stomp a design challenge the way she did the last one. I’m perplexed as to why she didn’t render the bow on her doll in the same colour fabric that she did on herself—it was such a distinctive element to not match that I think it alone was likely enough to keep her out of contention for the win. On another note: I wonder if Nymphia will try and keep up her antics in the werk room now that the other queens fully don’t believe her. It would be fun to watch her totally drop the act and just start dominating the way we know she can.
3. Plane Jane (last week: 9)
This was the week when Plane’s edit seemingly turned a corner. Not only did we get to understand her backstory better, especially with regard to her strict Russian father, but we also got to see her soften up a bit with the other queens. Megami really got her number when she asked who Plane would be picking on now that Amanda Tori Meating is gone, and Plane smartly decided to pivot away from her previous habits, crediting Sapphira for helping her along the way. It was all quite savvy in a way that, were I a cynical man, I might read as a bit calculated. But for now, I’m going to give Plane the benefit of the doubt and say I hope this is the start of a new era for her in the competition. She did the best of anyone with that blue fabric this week—as Law noted, the structuring and stitching really took it to a new level. Not enough to really contend for the win, but enough to get some deserved plaudits.
2. Dawn (last week: 5)
A solid, if distant, second place effort from Dawn this week. I think she did exactly what she needed to in order to push herself into the big leagues: take Michelle Visage’s note to vary up her look, stay true to her makeup aesthetic even without the elf ears and turn out a fashion-forward, unique garment that would stand tall among the rest. I’ll admit, it’s not my favourite look of the week—I don’t love how the two fabrics interact, nor how the colours look together. But Law considered it good enough to go straight to a Paris runway, and who am I to doubt Law Roach? Whatever my thoughts on the garment, Dawn clearly boosted herself in the competition this week, and that should pay dividends in the coming weeks.
1. Q (last week: 11)
She finally won one! And holy hell, did she deserve it. Q has had quite the trajectory in the competition so far, coming close to winning three times only to experience a hard fall into the bottom two last week. But she came roaring back with a vengeance, armed with copper fabric, ideas for a gorgeous headpiece and garment, and a dream of finally hearing: “Condragulations, you are the winner of this week’s challenge.” What she came up with was nothing short of breathtaking, and the fact that she modeled it so well on her doll is pretty incredible. I loved seeing how excited the other queens were for Q’s win—it shows that, quibbles about her grumbling about runner-up placements aside, there’s a ton of love for her in that room. Congratulations to Q on a hard-earned victory!