“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 16, Episode 15 Recap

April 13, 2024

BY Eric Rezsnyak

It’s one week until the finale, and instead of the reunion, this season we got a LaLaPaRuZa lipsync smackdown in which the 11 eliminated queens competed for the title of Queen of She Done Already Had Herses — and a cool $50,000.

This episode was an absolute blast. I couldn’t believe when it ended — the 90 minutes just flew by, and my greedy ass just wanted more more more (#typicalfridaynight). Not only were the lipsyncs all pretty great (if often imbalanced), but so many of the eliminated queens got moments to shine. We’ve had lipsync smackdowns on every regular season of “Drag Race” since 13, and I thought this was one of the better ones.

Read on for my takes on the lipsyncs!


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The Season 16 Top 3 — Nymphia Wind, Plane Jane, and Sapphira Cristal — got the night off, as the remaining 11 queens were put through their paces in a knockout-style elimination tournament. If you love a good bracket, make sure you check out our podcast episodes. That’s our whole format!

Anyway, the match-ups were decided by Pit Crew member Bruno selecting a randomized ball with a queen’s name on it. She got to pick her competitor, and then the competitor got to pick the lipsync song. Fairly straightforward, except that with 11 queens, that left a three-person match-up, which necessitated a bye in later rounds. That got complicated, and arguably unfair. But I don’t know how they could have done it better with an odd number of queens.

Match-Up 1: Dawn vs. Amanda Tori Meating to “Damaged” by Danity Kane

Credit goes to Dawn, who knew damned well she had no real shot at winning this challenge. She’s a serviceable performer, but it’s not her strength. So she decided to just have fun and picked the queen she knew would select the song she most wanted to do: “Damaged,” the lone bright spot in the cursed Danity Kane catalogue. Her competitor was Amanda, who did a fine job with the song. Nothing mindblowing, but a good lipsync, and Amanda looked gorgeous. It was nice to see Amanda have a moment of victory in this competition, given her pretty consistent drubbing in her first several episodes. She rightly advanced to Round 2.

Match-Up 2: Q vs. Megami to “What About” by Janet Jackson

Like Dawn, Q knew she was at a disadvantage in this tournament. I think she picked who she thought would be the weakest competition by going for Megami, and I think that resulted in Q getting another harsh wake-up call. Because Megami ate this fucking lipsync UP. I had a hard time fully vibing with Megami during her initial run this season, but my god was she outstanding tonight. She showed serious performance chops, giving not just a dead-on lipsync, but also in matching the attitude of the song in a way Q could not hope to achieve. This was one of the more lopsided matches of the night, and Megami went right on through to Round 2.

Match-Up 3: Morphine Love Dion vs. Geneva Karr to “Million Dollar Baby” by Ava Max

Speaking of lopsided match-ups, this was a drubbing. Geneva was our early-season lipsync assassin, but you wouldn’t know it from this performance. After an obvious, too-soon reveal, Geneva pulled out every predictable bar queen in the book. High kick! Windmill arm! At first Morphine kind of hung back, but about halfway through started to blatantly mock Geneva’s moves, whipped off a wig reveal, and then laid down what may have been the most pussy lipsync of the night. This wasn’t a lipsync battle, it was an annihilation. Morphine moved int Round 2.

Match-Up 4: Mirage vs. Hershii Liqcour-Jete to “Alone 2.0” by Nicki Minaj & Kim Petras

This was an interesting one, because it actually served to reenforce each queen’s arc from earlier in the season. Hershii came out swinging and really seemed to have the momentum for a moment, and then she just…lost it. And faded completely into the background. Meanwhile, Mirage started out tentatively, and — much like her infamous “Dark Lady” lipsynch earlier in the season — didn’t seem to fully know the words. But she definitely knew more of them this time around! And once she loosened up, we were reminded of what a TREAT it is to be able to watch Mirage dance. She is captivating when she moves; there’s a fluidity to her body that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in this show. Mirage advanced to Round 2.

Match-Up 5: Mhi’ya Iman LePaige vs. Plasma vs. Xunami Muse to ” Milkshake” by Kelis

The threeway lipsync was frankly a letdown. First, I understand why Mhi’ya was left to the very end; going into this, The Queen of Flips was the queen to beat. She would tell you that herself. She actually did. But Plasma? Not the strongest lipsyncher. Same with Xunami. It’s bonkers that none of the other competitors picked either of them, but whatever. Mhi’ya picked “Milkshake,” which was not at all a surprise. I fully expected slayage from her, while the other two did their best to keep up. That’s not what happened. Mhi’ya was not great in this lipsync, I’m sorry. It was the same tricks we had already seen from her numerous times, including that handstand move that is — while physically impressive — an ungainly spectacle to watch. She even copied and pasted Anetra’s “Free Willy” move from Season 15’s “Boss Bitch” lipsynch. Like…ma’am. We done already had ourses. There was absolutely ZERO musicality or any attempt to actually interpret or perform the song from Mhi’ya. It was like an iPod Shuffle on Random, just pulling out one trick after another. If we had not seen literally every one of those moves already, maybe I would be more impressed. But we had. And Mhi’ya was better then. Plasma was giving every fucking thing she had in that lipsync, even though the cards were stacked against her. I can’t support that wig-under-the-wig, but I thought her performance of the song was actually better than Mhi’ya’s. Xunami seemed happy to be there, and was a total nonfactor. Ultimately, the judges gave it to Mhi’ya, which I think was the wrong call. I would have given it to Plasma. And because it was the three-way lipsynch, Mhi’ya auto-advanced to Round 3.

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Match-Up 6: Amanda Tori Meating vs. Megami to “The Shoop Shoop Song” by Cher

Again, I think Amanda picked Megami because she thought she was the easiest of the remaining queens to beat. Once again, Megami proved them all wrong. Megami shifted gears here, leaning into stupid. That’s smart, because if there’s one thing RuPaul loves, it is STUPID. While Amanda gave us a perfectly respectable, but not exactly riveting lipsync, Megami engaged in a vigorous rim job on her own hand, up to and including some spit play. Will any gay man ever get rimmed again without thinking, “It’s in his kiss”? Did we witness a cultural reset? I think we may have. And just like that, Megami secured her spot in the semifinals — and probably a lot of eager bottoms hitting her up on Scruff — and Amanda was out of the tournament.

Match-Up 7: Mirage vs. Morphine Love Dion to “This Time I Know It’s for Real” by Donna Summer

Probably the most competitive lipsync of the night. This is a GREAT lipsync song — I have seen it performed by seasoned queens for years — and Morphine keyed into exactly what makes this song soar. The twirling. The rapturous joy. The sultriness and longing. She sold every bit of it. Mirage danced beautifully, and was no slouch in the emoting. As the song shifted into its last phase, Mirage realized that Morphine was pulling out all the stops, and she said she was going to go for it too — but never seemed to take off. I would love to know what happened there. I do find it fascinating that Mirage’s clacking in the E1 talent show instantly won the hearts of millions of viewers, and yet she did very little of that during this tournament. I don’t know if it would have made a difference, because Morphine was excellent here. So Morphine advanced to the final match-up. I’m glad Mirage got another chance to remind the audience just how incredible she is at what she does, and I remain convinced she is going to be booked and blessed for a long time to come.

Match-Up 8: Mhi’ya Iman LePaige vs. Megami to “We Got the Beat” by the Go-Go’s

I thought it was interesting that other queens commented that they KNEW Mhi’ya did not want to lipsync to this song. It is definitely not in her flipping wheelhouse, but to be blunt, since when has that stopped Mhi’ya? She could do backflips on the stage in total silence, I don’t see why she couldn’t do the same to this song. This was a close one, but not necessarily competitive. Neither of them had a particularly exciting interpretation of the song. Megami played into the instrumental backbone and then served up the 50s-via-80s vibe by pulling out old-school mid-century dance moves. I don’t know what Mhi’ya was doing honestly. There didn’t seem to be much of a plan or a concept. It was just bopping around the stage, mostly. The queens watching in the Untucked Lounge were largely gagged when Ru declared Megami as the victor, but I get it. I think Mhi’ya is incredible at what she does. I don’t want to take anything away from her. The flipping is a real skill, and I’m sure I would tip her if I ever saw her performing at a bar. But I’m GRATEFUL that the judges didn’t just keep pushing her through this, when it was clear she wasn’t bringing anything new to the table. Apparently Mhi’ya is furious about the outcome of this match-up. I think she should take it up with any of the queens she knocked out of Season 16 (*cough*Plasma*cough*) who had a much better chance of winning that crown than Mhi’ya ever did.

Final Match-Up: Megami vs. Morphine Love Dion to “Everybody Dance Now” by C+C Music Factory

This is a polarizing one, and I’m not really sure where I ended up. On the one hand, I think the overall lipsync performance by Morphine was really strong, and very much in line with the song. On the other, Megami was on her FOURTH lipsync, while Morphine was only on her THIRD, and she still gave everything she could. She also went for comedy here, turning the hand she had previously been eating out to Cher into a hand puppet with googly eyes, and having that do the spoken-word part of the song. (Mhi’ya claimed that meant Megami didn’t know the lyrics — horseshit; this is what you call artistic interpretation, Mhi’ya, you should try it some time). So it was fierce-cunt lipsync versus creative and silly lipsync, and that’s very much going to come down to personal taste. I think I would have given it to Megami here. I was more entertained, I found it charming. And I was so locked into her incredible Cinderella story in this tournament. But the judges gave it to Morphine, and I can’t be mad at that.

I started this season largely unimpressed by Morphine, but she really won me over. I thought she slayed this episode, and she earned every one of those $50,000 with her performance tonight, and overall this season. She’s a wonderful queen and I’m so excited to see what happens with her next.

That said, I hope Megami is SO PROUD of herself. She came into this the darkest of dark horses, and she really made herself the Moment. After that disastrous talent show and a rocky road during the main competition, she came into this tournament committed to kicking ass and she DID. Nobody should ever underestimate Megami again. She gave us queer art worth protecting!

Next week: it’s the finale! Who do you think will win? Who do you WANT to win? Who will take Miss Congeniality? Drop your comments below!

Miss Our Previous S16 Recaps? Here They Are:

Episode 14

Episode 13

Episode 12

Episode 11

Episode 10

Episode 9

Episode 8

Episode 7

Episode 6

Episode 5

Episode 4

Episode 3

Episode 2

Episode 1

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