“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 16, Episode 13 Recap

March 30, 2024

BY Eric Rezsnyak

Actual footage of the producers, deciding to book the hunks from “RuPaul’s Drag Race Live” in Vegas for this season’s makeover episode:

This week, our Final 5 — Morphine Love Dion, Nymphia Wind, Plane Jane, Q, Sapphira Cristal — were faced with the Makeover Challenge, AKA the Producer Stopgap where they will use whatever rationale they need to get rid of whoever they do not want making it to the finale. Happily, there were no actual shenanigans this time around. The queens in danger absolutely deserved to be in danger, and the queens in the top all did a great job (although I do take issue with the winning team). And we got to do it all while watching some hot menzeses.

Let’s get into it.

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Ru wasted little time getting to the meat of the episode — and I do mean meat. Specifically, beef. For this season’s makeover, five of the male dancers from the “RuPaul’s Drag Race Live” show at the Flamingo in Las Vegas were brought in to become honorary drag queens. This is a terrific makeover idea, and great vertical integration for the show. And also: these guys are so hot.

How hot? Check out this critically important dossier from Out magazine on the makeover partners, Sebastian Gonzalez Martinez (Q’s partner, Luna); Nick Lemmer (Plane Jane’s makeover partner, Lazy Susan); Miguel Rivera Laureano (Morphine’s makeover partner, LaTina); Mark Romain (Sapphira’s makeover partner, Shakira Cristal); and Jonathan Claudio (Nymphia’s partner, Juanita Wind). All of these guys were wonderful sports, and seemed to embrace the experience fully. Even Nymphia’s partner, Jonathan, who was — ESCANDALO! — heterosexual! The doors that Miss Madelyne Morphosis has opened!

In addition to being put into drag for the first time, the dancers were also tasked with putting together a dance routine to do on the mainstage with their queens. This was a smart move on the part of the show. First, just having the queens put people into drag they brought from home — which is what makeovers have become for seasons now — is not super compelling or exciting for viewers. Secondly, given how good the “Drag Race Live” dancers are, it would have been a waste to not show off their skills.

And I have to say, as someone who has seen “Drag Race Live,” they ARE great. I was able to see the show about a year ago; I even paid top dollar for the very front row of the theater. From that show, I actually recognized a few of these dancers — Nick especially — and was impressed by all of them, not to mention the queens. My cast was Jorgeous (amazing), Derrick Barry (a pro), Coco Montrese (ditto), Aquaria (incredible), special guest Dejah Skye (my appreciation of her grew tremendously), and emcee Asia O’Hara, who was EXCEPTIONAL. If you have any interest in “Drag Race” (which, you’re reading this, so…presumably) and are in or near Vegas, I highly recommend seeing the show. It’s a great time.

Here are a few of the videos I took:

I swear “Drag Race Live” is not sponsoring me (but I will absolutely take your money, RuPaul Industrial Complex!). With that said, let’s get into the results of the makeovers.

I’ll list each queen in the order of my enjoyment of their makeover, from most to least.

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Q, with Luna: This was polarizing for the people in my viewing party, but I loved it. Q went with a monster-inspired concept, with out-there makeup and costumes that were clearly connected but not identical copies. Q did a great job transforming Luna from a stud into a drag queen. I thought it was well conceived and perfectly executed. I liked the “Thriller”-inspired dance routine and thought they both executed it well. I thought Q was a strong contender for the win here.

Nymphia Wind, with Juanita Wind: I loved this and I thought most of the criticism was bullshit. They wore feather outfits that were very flattering, fun, and dramatic, with beak masks they quickly abandoned. I thought the transformation was solid and they were obviously “related.” Were they perfectly in synch in their dance number? Not at all. But they were having fun and it was charming. Rotating judge TS Madison came in with the now-tired critique that “Nymphia only wears yellow,” and asked why Nymphia didn’t wear the purple look she brought for her partner. 1) Nymphia has given us plenty of range in colors over the season; 2) what a stupid critique. “You wear this color too much.” OK? And? Does the bitch still look good? Then who cares? I was glad to see Nymphia directly address the anxiety and internal struggles she has been wrestling with this season. I have assumed that was what was going on with her for the past several weeks, but actually having it acknowledged on screen was helpful to the audience. I hate that Nymphia has been struggling, and I think her being dismissed by the judges for what I thought was a successful makeover tells you everything you need to know about Nymphia’s chances in this competition.

Plane Jane, with Lazy Susan: There was a lot to like here, don’t get me wrong. Lazy Susan was absolutely fabulous on stage. They had a great dance bit and they were perfectly in synch. You want a family resemblance? They gave you twins. Literally, they looked like Sugar & Spice from Season 15. And ultimately that was my issue here. This was the exact same outfit bought twice. It was a basic bodysuit with a complementary arm shrug and long tight boots. Did they both look good? Sure! (Although I do think there were some issues with Susan’s make-up.) But it was the least-creative approach of the top performers, and so I was shocked when this was named the winning makeover, giving Plane her FOURTH main challenge win. Wow! Congratulations to Plane, who has easily become one of my favorite queens this season. But it concerns me that future queens are going to watch this and think, “Just bring two of the exact same outfit and put someone in it; got it.” I will add that Susan was feeling her oats and I would not be surprised if we see her audition for the show in the future. Also also, our entire couch was screaming in horror as they shaved off off Nick’s body hair. Why do we always hurt the ones we love?

Sapphira Cristal, with Shakira Cristal: This was a bummer. Sapphira had a really cool concept for her makeover, elaborate geode outfits with these outrageous matching wigs. I think we were robbed of something truly spectacular on the stage. But it was impossible for Sapphira to move, much less dance, in her dress — you know you’re fucked when a dress can STAND UP BY ITSELF after you take it off — and instead she had to pivot to a concept that can best be described us, “Hey lets both just wear orange.” They both looked good — Shakira actually looked like Kahanna Montrese to me — but there was very little family resemblance. Sapphira did the best she could in a difficult situation, but it was obvious she was in the Bottom 2.

Morphine Love Dion, with LaTina: The mug on LaTina was right — no surprise there, given that Morphine is one of the best glam make-up artists this show has seen — but aside from that, as soon as LaTina rounded the corner, this was my response:

Morphine did very little, if anything, to address her partner’s He-Man-like physique. Nothing to disguise the shoulders, no giant wig to minimize everything underneath, no padding. That was a big hanging man with a gorgeous woman face. Honestly, the wardrobe malfunction with the removable skirt during the dance portion didn’t even matter. It was clear from the start this was a Bottom 2 makeover.

That left a Bottom 2 of Sapphira and Morphine lipsynching to “Miss Me More” by Kelsea Ballerini. Between Beyonce’s Cowboy Carter album and this lipsynch, the gays were really coming for country music this week. Maybe I’m a stupid bitch, but I thought Morphine won this lipsynch, and it wasn’t close. She was engaged from the start and her tricks fit with the energy of the song. I don’t know what Sapphira thought she was doing with barely moving during the first chunk of the song, and then throwing down some — frankly — ungainly stunts later on. None of it was great. If it was just based on the lipsynch itself, Morphine won it (in my opinion). But which of these queens deserved the spot in the Final 4? Obviously Sapphira. Obviously. It would have been wild if the clear frontrunner this season went home to a queen without a single challenge win. But if we’re being honest, Morphine won that lipsynch.

Of course, that’s not the way it played out, and Morphine was told to sashay away. I was not a Morphine fan in the early episodes, but I really came to enjoy her as the season progressed. I think there’s a lot of talent there, and I actually admire her drive. You could tell she REALLY wanted a win, and she was pushing herself quite hard to get one. In addition to her peerless make-up skills, I think she gave us some solid looks, was a great dancer and lipsyncher, and she crushed that political song challenge. She’s a well-rounded queen and deserved her Top 5 placement. I would like to see her come back for an “All Stars” run, and I hope she stops reducing herself to that BBL. She’s so much more than that.

Next: The final challenge. Will there be a Top 4? A Final 3? Who is YOUR pick to win the season after this week’s episode?

Miss Our Previous S16 Recaps? Here They Are:

Episode 12

Episode 11

Episode 10

Episode 9

Episode 8

Episode 7

Episode 6

Episode 5

Episode 4

Episode 3

Episode 2

Episode 1

We’re Also Recapping “UK vs. the World” S2. Find Those Recaps Here!

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Brandon
Brandon
22 days ago

I wasn’t as bothered by the Plane Jane win. Where the recapper clocked Plane for going the easy route with the body suit, I thought was smart. I wonder if the girls are told what proportions are needed for their second outfits because I’m always amazed they have garments that fit their makeover partners.

Having said all that, I could’ve seen any of the top 3 winning. I think the finale format works best with four, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next episode.

Enjoyed the recap!