‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 16, Episode 7 power ranking: A new frontrunner emerges

A surprising queen takes her second win of the season earlier than expected

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. A competitive Rusical leaves us with a tight final nine—and a new frontrunner.

10. Megami (last week: 5)—ELIMINATED

It felt like the show had to really reach to justify eliminating Megami here. Michelle Visage’s critiques about her facial expressions should’ve come up earlier if they were such a big deal—I was happy Ross Mathews largely dismissed that point. (Maybe my favourite bit of Ross judging in … three years? Four?) She was quite funny in the Rusical, with more laugh moments than at least two of the other queens. The critiques of her runway were much more fair, but not enough to justify a bottom two placement in my book. That said, once she landed in that lip sync, she unwisely misjudged her opponent’s capabilities. Based on the final performances, Megami deserved to go. I just don’t think she should’ve been fighting for her life in the first place.

9. Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige (last week: 10)

I give Mhi’ya major credit for proving she doesn’t need to rely on flips to be a compelling performer. Yes, she took her shoes off for the lip sync, but who cares? Rules are made to be broken when someone can perform even better by doing so. Kennedy Davenport technically wasn’t allowed to do the splits off the stage in her “Roar” lip sync, but would anyone in their right mind argue her performance was worse for doing so? Mhi’ya smashed “Flowers,” and justified her staying in the competition. Unfortunately, I do think her time is up. She’s won two lip syncs, but had to show off basically a full range of performance skills to do so. She would need to drastically improve her work in the challenges to stick around, and considering her output so far, I’m not optimistic.

8. Morphine Love Dion (last week: 7)

Alas, I think we’ve arrived at the point at which Morphine can no longer skate along in the safe group. If I were judging, I’d have placed her in the bottom two next to Mhi’ya this week. She wasn’t bad in the challenge—really no one was but Mhi’ya—but she was serviceable when everyone was pretty great. And her Flower Power hippie drag this week was cute, but she was up against some real stunners. Morphine is a killer in the confessional chair, but I’ve yet to see her really deliver as a Drag Race competitor. If she can’t turn the tides (and forgive me, but I doubt she will in Snatch Game), she won’t be long for this competition.

 

7. Dawn (last week: 2)

Dawn was giving us shades of a Bitter Betty this week, huh? Her confessionals were just a bit pricklier, her reads of the other queens just a bit sharper. I get that being one of the only queens left without a win must be frustrating (she’s just one of three, owing to the girl group win), but the more she lets it get to her, the more she may be distracted in the challenges. There’s a certain level to which Drag Race is about keeping your eyes on your own paper—or if you’re not, like Plane Jane or Nymphia Wind, still churning out great work despite paying attention to others’. Dawn wasn’t bad this week, especially considering her aversion to musical theatre, but she was far from in contention for a win. Perhaps she’ll do better in Snatch Game?

6. Xunami Muse (last week: 6)

Which will end first: Xunami’s safe streak in the competition, or her #6 placement streak on this power ranking? This was actually Miss Muse’s best week in the competition so far, with a really fun duo performance alongside Plane (aka her secret crush, according to Morphine!) and a unique “upside-down bouquet” runway look. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: after a rough start, Xunami has quietly done well basically every single week. She’s not shining as bright as some of her sisters, but she’s doing the work. The problem is that Drag Race is a show that ultimately rewards standing out, for good or for ill. Xunami is basically bound to get a critique about not knowing who she is soon—unless she can pull out a win. Perhaps Snatch Game will be her moment?

5. Nymphia Wind (last week: 4)

Nymphia’s hot streak has decidedly cooled; how much that matters is up to interpretation. I agree with the general sentiment I’ve seen online that Nymphia’s reliance on banana gags has run its course. (I’m not exactly thrilled about her Snatch Game character choice if she goes in a similar direction there.) But I’d extend that to my weariness of Nymphia as a quirky queen in general. My personal favourite moments of hers have been when she’s serving something either high-level gorgeous (her Faster, Pussycat! Wig! Wig! runway look) or much more serious than her usual output (her talent show). Going for the pinecone-obsessed character fit her brand, yes, but it also meant we didn’t get to see something new from Nymphia. She could use a smartly-timed pivot into something new—keep us guessing as we head into the back half of the season.

4. Plane Jane (last week: 3)

It’s remarkable how much the other queens have grown fond of Plane. Once Amanda Tori Meating left, everyone seemed to settle into at worst tolerating and at best enjoying her schtick. Xunami and Q got their lives joining in her little mean girl tour of the werk room this week! Ultimately, Plane was in a role that wasn’t going to give her the win this week—though she and Xunami were quite good—and she wore the simplest runway of the lot. But I barely thought about her just-safe performance, because the episode was still so much about her. She’s really morphed into one of the main characters of the season, and I have no doubt we’ll be seeing her for many, many weeks to come.

3. Sapphira Cristál (last week: 8)

Part of me thinks Sapphira should’ve won this week—she was that good in a small role. The Mother Superior part required a lot of precise comedic timing, and she handled it all with aplomb. And on the runway, her floral explosion look was a showstopper. Were I judging equally between runway and performance, Sapphira would take it for me. But I don’t think that’s how Ru and his panel judge. It’s been years since a queen won more for runway than for challenge performance. And someone else managed to do just as well, if not better, with a much larger part. So I get it, even if I might whisper “justice for Sapphira” into the winds.

2. Q (last week: 1)

I gotta say, things are looking pretty amazing for Q. Other than her one scrape with danger after the girl groups challenge, she’s been in the top-scoring group for every single challenge. And by excelling in the Rusical—working around her dancing issue by picking a choreo-light part—she’s shaken off the impression that performance challenges will be her downfall. And of course, she continues to stun on the runway with ornate, impressive looks. If she can do well in Snatch Game, I think this season may just be Q’s to lose. Of course, we’ve seen queens dominate early only to lose momentum; Angeria Paris VanMichaels, anyone? I don’t think we can call it for Q, but I do think we’re fooling ourselves if we don’t consider her a real threat.

1. Plasma (last week: 9)

Despite my love for Sapphira’s performance and runway, it would’ve been a robbery had Plasma not taken the win. This was a Rusical master class. She fought hard for the lead role, and didn’t back down from the challenge when she realized just how much there was. We’ve seen some pretty poor performances as Rusical leads (Cynthia Lee Fontaine in Season 9, Bosco in Season 14), so we know it’s not easy to keep up the energy and technical precision throughout. Plasma handled it all with aplomb—she really did deliver a professional performance. And on the runway, her floral take on Hello, Dolly! drag felt like a natural, effective evolution of her aesthetic. I’m surprised that Plasma is our first to two solo wins, but there’s no arguing with results. A star is born!

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Drag Race, Culture, Analysis, Drag

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