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“RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 16 continued on January 26 with the fourth episode in RuPaul’s quest to find “America’s next drag superstar.” Following two non-elimination premiere episodes Part 1 and Part 2, the girls walked in the “The Mother of All Balls” in episode 3 where Hershii LiqCour-Jeté served the three looks that wowed her peers and the judges the least. Hershii lost the Lip Sync for Your Life to a surprised-to-be-ranked-at-the-bottom Geneva Karr. The winner of the week was Nymphia Wind who created a look from scratch that was declared as one of the best in series herstory.
This week, Geneva, Nymphia and the remaining 11 queens get in their comedy gigs for a live, one-take acting challenge. Seated at the judges’ dais for episode 4 titled “RDR Live!” was Emmy winning host RuPaul Charles, longtime bestie Michelle Visage, recurring judge Ross Matthews, and the original “Slayer” Sarah Michelle Gellar as the extra special guest.
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The queens still vying for the crown are: Amanda Tori Meating, Dawn, Geneva Karr, Megami, Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige, Mirage, Morphine Love Dion, Nymphia Wind, Plane Jane, Plasma, Q, Sapphira Cristál, and Xunami Muse.
Check out our full recap of episode 4 below:
Following Hershii’s elimination, Geneva was still perturbed that her sisters had ranked her in the bottom of the pack and thought that Mirage should have been in the bottom instead. Nymphia was proud of her first win, but Q was “a little bummed by the results” because, as she pointed out, she got “perfect critiques” and had an outfit completely made of unconventional materials when Nymphia did not. It was a particularly sour sting for Q who is a seamstress and expected to win the first design challenge.
The other matter to settle was the “fight” that Jane and Amanda had during “Untucked.” While many of the girls assessed that Jane came for Amanda “out of nowhere,” Jane did “take responsibility” for the digs at Amanda, but insisted that it was “unsolicited feedback” that was meant to help her. The girls that were with Amanda in the split premiere explained that they have said similar things to Amanda, but because they’ve had more time to get to know her they knew how to deliver the “feedback” better.
The next morning, set on “putting drama behind” them, the girls learned of their next maxi challenge, a return of the “SNL” spoof sketch comedy show “RDR Live!” In the challenge, they’d have to choose their parts and then deliver their performances live, in one-take in front of the judges.
In the process of selecting roles among themselves, Dawn and Plasma went head-to-head over the spot for “News Anchor #2” — Dawn’s argument was that if Amanda was going to be #1 then they make sense as a pair because they’ve developed a friendship while Plasma wanted to show her versatility. Dawn and many others in the group thought Plasma would be better suited to be in the Barbra Streisand singing trio. Eventually Plasma gave in and accepted the singing role. Sapphira and Mirage both wanted to be the host, but Sapphira made a quick decision to pivot to another role instead and let Mirage take the host spot. Though Morphine never wanted to be opposite Jane, there was also a moment where Jane insinuated that she didn’t want to be paired with Morphine because Morphine would be better suited in a different role. Morphine wasn’t buying it, instead assuming that Jane wanted a “clear road to excel.”
During the planning stage, Mirage quickly realized that she was the only girl in the room working solo and that she was missing out on the benefit of bouncing ideas off of someone else. Surprisingly, Jane and Megami were working really well together in the brainstorming of their “deck services” sketch, despite Jane not understanding why Megami thought she was perfectly fit for playing an oversexed floozy character. In another group, Geneva was worried that choosing the character of a southern man was out of her wheelhouse and she wouldn’t be able to remember her lines.
Later, Ru and Ross stopped by the Werk Room to check in on the girls’ progress. The question of Mhi’ya’s shyness came up again, Geneva managed to confuse everyone with her experience as a fruits and veggies cashier speaking to this challenge, Sapphira declared that she let Mirage have the host role because she preferred to work in a team rather than alone, and Ross had to give Plasma a reality check about being happy to take on Barbra because she knows it’s something she can do really well – just accept it!
While the queens put on their faces the next afternoon, Mirage told Dawn about hosting the first Indigenous Pride in Vegas and how important it was for her to bring two aspects of her culture together in one event. Geneva and Xunami also shared their status as DACA residents in the United States and how grateful they are to be representing for their community on this season. Randomly on a different topic, Amanda shared that she works as a ghost writer for OnlyFans creators by getting paid to respond to subscriber messages through the OF stars’ inboxes. Okay… werk!
On the Main Stage, the presentation of “RDR Live!” played out much as we are used to an “SNL” episode progressing. Morphine and Xunami led the cold open sketch as spoofs of Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper during a NYE gig with Mhi’ya appearing hilariously as a satellite reporter experiencing the effects of climate change and Geneva flopping an impersonation of a queer version of Senator Lindsey Graham. Mirage then stumbled through a clunky host monologue, followed by Megami and Jane appearing as bimbos trying to sell decks via dick puns, a musical guest performance from Ru of her new country song, Amanda and Dawn leading the Weekend Update spoof with Q appearing in costume as the brick at Stonewall, and a closing sketch of Nymphia, Sapphira and Plasma singing through “Jingle Bells” as a Barbra trio.
For this week’s runway, the girls walked in the “Everything Every-Cher All at Once” category, also known as “Night of 1,000 Chers.” The standout Cher looks were Morphine in Cher’s Academy Award dress, Mirage in a lavender look from Cher’s 1979 tour, Megami in a 2009 “Turn Back Time” look, Jane in her 1974 Met Gala gown, Q in the black and white Bob Mackie gown from the “Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour,” and Nymphia in the Egyptian look from 1979.
Based on the runway presentations and their performances in the skits, the judges had decided on the tops and bottoms of the week, marking an end to the “Rate-A-Queen” twist that began the season. With both Sapphira and Jane opting out of using their immunity potions, Ru asked that Mhi’ya, Geneva and Mirage remain on stage as the bottoms and Jane, Q, and Plasma stick around as the tops. While the judges liked that Mhi’ya was “committed” in her skit, Ru said that she wanted “more levels.” Michelle took specific issue with how Mhi’ya’s Cher wig was not drag enough, prompting Ru to ask Mhi’ya if she could do her best Cher impression. What came out of Mhi’ya’s mouth is nothing short of a Muppet sound which obviously meant Ru needed to hear it again, cackling her way through telling Mhi’ya that the memes of her impression will never escape her for the rest of her career (she’s right).
For Geneva, it was clear to the panel that she had no idea who Lindsey Graham is and Ross explained that if she had done a bit of research it would have been easy for her to “hit the nail on the head” and make it great. As the host, Sarah Michelle was disappointed that Mirage “telegraphed” her jokes because it cut off her comedy from having the right timing. Ru also took big issue with Mirage’s runway look being from the late 70s, but her wearing a clear 60s styled wig. With Jane, they thought she played her comedy perfectly and had a “slam dunk” look on the runway. They were equally impressed with Q’s ability to “take an object and give it a personality” in her character as a brick. Sarah Michelle called her performance “comedian level funny” and and everyone agreed that her gown was absolutely gorgeous. Ross reminded Plasma of the conversation they had in the Werk Room about how important it was for Plasma to lean into her strengths as a Barbra fan and how it worked out so well for her. Ross called it “perfection” that only she could pull off by bringing the whole skit together for her group.
After further deliberation among themselves, Ru was prepared to announce the results of the week. On the very top was Plasma while both Q and Jane were safe. Among the bottom three, Ru gave safety to Mhi’ya, leaving Geneva in the bottom for a second straight week and set to face off against Mirage in the LSFYL. For the head-to-head, Geneva and Mirage performed to Cher’s “Dark Lady.” Right away, Mirage began moving across the stage with the grace and fluidity of a seasoned performer, but any edge she had in the performance aspect fell away as soon as it became apparent to the room that she did not know any of the words to the song. Geneva was doing a good enough job to not bring any negative attention her own way, leaving the judges’ jaws to drop at how lost Mirage’s lips were. When the song finally came to a close, Michelle could be heard mouthing to herself “not one word.” Despite delivering a stellar physical performance, Mirage’s fumbling of the words to the song left Ru with only one decision to make. Geneva was given the “shantay you stay” and Mirage had to “sashay away.” When asked to leave the stage, Mirage had what looked like a panic attack and broke down emotionally on stage. Her peers cheered her on as she picked herself up and exited the Main Stage in devastation, mad at only herself.
NEXT TIME: The tension between Amanda and Jane continues to grow as the girls prepare their performances in a girl group challenge to three of Ru’s own new songs.
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