‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 16, Episode 8 power ranking: Comic Ru-lief

An episode full of comedy challenges twists up the power rankings

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’ve got another entrant into the two-win club this week— \who is the latest to rack up another victory?

9. Xunami Muse (last week: 6)—ELIMINATED

If you turn the #6 I’ve been giving Xunami all season upside-down, it becomes #9—and sadly, that is where she lands this week as she is eliminated. I have a soft spot for Xunami, and I really do hope we see her again someday. I don’t think she was the worst this week, but I do think she had a bad idea and couldn’t do much to make it better. Her salsa presentation during the Dancing Queen runway prompt was a lot of fun, and she looked gorgeous. But considering Nymphia Wind’s stunning main stage presentation, Xunami and Morphine Love Dion were likely doomed to battle it out. And in the resulting Lip Sync for Your Life, Morphine just demonstrated she wanted it a bit more.

8. Morphine Love Dion (last week: 8)

While she may want it more than Xunami did, I’m worried about Morphine’s longevity in this competition. She’s yet to make a really positive impression outside of the confessional booth, and with more and more bottom-dwelling queens either going home (Megami, Geneva Karr) or rising above expectations (Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige), there’s just no room left for Morphine to be anything but great. With another design challenge on the way, I fear we may be reaching the end of the line for Morphine.

7. Nymphia Wind (last week: 5)

Lots of love to Nymphia, but even with the strong Japanese Butoh runway presentation, I’d still have made her lip sync. Her Dr. Jane Goodall was entirely wrong, lacking punchlines or any real idea of her character. She obviously picked her because of primates’ connection to bananas, but even that didn’t give her much material to work with! I really want Nymphia to find the balance between quirk and jaw-dropping drag again. I feel like she had a better sense of it early on, but has drifted far more into the banana brand and her quirky side as things have gone on. The Butoh performance was a good step forward—can she find more opportunities like this to stand out without relying on that banana?

6. Dawn (last week: 7)

Dawn’s issue is that she completely lacks momentum in this competition. I thought she’d put herself on a good track with the doll design challenge, but she’s failed to stand out in the two weeks since. It seems like she struggles to shine in anything that isn’t a design challenge—but she’s solid enough not to land anywhere near the bottom. Considering next week is a design task, she may be able to pull out another high placement, or even a win! But if she can’t convert that into an underdog run, I fear we’re just marking time until it’s her time to go.

 

5. Plasma (last week: 1)

I have a theory that, if there was less competition to be the worst of the week, Plasma might’ve scored a warning shot low placement to stop relying on theatre references in this competition. Dawn got a confessional calling out her reliance on them, but her Patti LuPone mostly came and went without comment from Ru. The fact that she followed it up with a tap routine runway, however, shows she’s really starting to press her luck. Plasma has succeeded in a way other theatre queens have not, but Ru’s natural instinct is always skepticism of this archetype. She needs to vary things up to have a real chance of making a deep run—especially as other queens gain on her two-win lead.

4. Q (last week: 2)

We need to start keeping a closer eye on Q. I get the sense, both anecdotally in conversations with friends and from looking at online discourse, that she’s not the fan favourite of the season. Conversations about Plane Jane and Nymphia Wind, and even support of Sapphira Cristál and Dawn, has dwarfed any major rallying around the Kansas City queen. And even on the show, Plasma seems to be excelling where Q is just missing out (she was a runner-up for both of Plasma’s wins). But this week, she turned out a completely fine Amelia Earhart, a decent robot look, and leaned into her dancing limitations on the runway—and she just sailed on through. Even when she’s not on top, she’s not in any real danger; the girl groups task was her only major stumble. And she’s got another design challenge to nail coming up next week. I really think she might be a dark horse candidate to win it all.

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

I unfortunately do not think Mhi’ya can win it all, but I think it’s going to be fun watching her along the way! Ru seems invested in Mhi’ya, and she probably got a bit overpraised this week as a result. (Though there wasn’t anyone I’d feel inclined to rank high in her place, to be fair.) As I said in the recap, I don’t love the trend toward fictional characters, but I do think playing Shaquida was her best way through what otherwise might be an insurmountable challenge for Mhi’ya. On the runway, her ’90s hip-hop dance and look were very cute and very her. This was a big episode for Mhi’ya—I just wish I had faith in her ability to survive another design challenge next week.

2. Sapphira Cristál (last week: 3)

Another week, another runner-up placement for Sapphira. It looks like my fears of her immunity potion deployment coming back to haunt her were unfounded, as she’s turned out two of her best performances in the competition since. Her portrayal of James Brown was great, but I do think it revealed a flaw in the appeal-to-Ru strategy that queens have come to love: if you do something or someone he loves, and you don’t do it well enough, he’ll be likely to be harsher than he ordinarily would be. Speaking of appealing to Ru: I personally loved the Drag U majorette look and performance, although I think skeptics (fueled by Dawn’s shady confessional) will read this as Sapphira just being a kiss-ass. God forbid a queen pull out an old Drag Race reference for a cute runway look! Anyway, overall good week for Sapphira, but I can’t argue for her being robbed of the win.

1. Plane Jane (last week: 4)

That’s because, shock of shocks, I really loved Plane this week! Jelena Karleuša was a risk of a character, since Ru had no frame of reference on her, but Plane knew her inside-and-out. She had such a natural handle on how the character would talk and respond, and used her accent to great comedic effect. My only quibble with Plane is that, gorgeous as she looked in the Latin ballroom gown, her serious face was a strange choice on the runway. Still, I’ll take a too-serious, focused Plane over her relying on stupid antics any day. This was a terrific win for Plane, and I’m excited to see where she goes from here!

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Culture, Drag Race, Analysis, Drag

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