“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 16, Episode 7 Recap

February 16, 2024

BY Eric Rezsnyak

And a 5, 6, 7, 8 — it’s the Rusical! In another of our expected annual challenges, the 10 remaining queens lipsynched their way through the absolutely delightful Sound of Music parody, “The Sound of Ru-sic.” The past few Rusicals have been top tier — think the Joan Crawford one from “All Stars 8” and “Wigloose” in Season 15 — and I didn’t know if the show could keep up the streak. But as is every gay man’s wet dream, it topped itself again. Pretty much everyone did well in the main challenge, and the Floral runway prompt gave us several gasp-inducing looks. And we got a shocking surprise guest appearance!


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Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. After the queens removed the mirror message of Geneva Karr, Ru cut right to the chase and informed the queens of this week’s main challenge. The queens were allowed to read through the script and listen to the songs, and then had to self assign their roles. This prompted several drama flare-ups, as both Megami and Q wanted the role of the Baroness, and Plasma, Sapphira Cristal, and Morphine Love Dion all vied for the lead role of Mariah. The Megami/Q debate was settled via rock/paper/scissor (a suggestion by god-tier pot stirrer Plane Jane), while Plasma refused to budge from the top of ev’ry mountain and declared herself Mariah. Ultimately Sapphira went with the supporting role of Mother Superior, and Morphine ended up with the supporting-supporting role of nameless nun.

In fairness to both Morphine and Megami, I understood why they were insistent that they get bigger roles. They had to have an awareness that they were being pushed into the background of this season, and know that they needed a breakout capital-M Moment. It’s already Episode 7. If you don’t distinguish yourself now, you’re going to run out of runway. But the fact that Morphine truly believed she could handle a role as big as Mariah, when she hasn’t showed us really much if any range…girl. Either she has an astonishingly healthy confidence, some secret talent we know nothing about, or a near-fatal case of Drag Delusion. I’ll leave it to you to decide which.

I’ll skip over most of the rehearsal business, except to say that Adam Shankman, director of the Hairspray musical film, former judge of “So You Think You Can Dance,” and one of Hollywood’s razzle-dazzle directors, was the mentor and guest judge for this week. And while he was putting the queens through their paces for the choreography (BTW, the producers apparently ENCOURAGE the choreographers to be mean to the queens and make them seem like buffoons, for maximum dramatic tension), he brought out super-secret guest star Melissa McCarthy. This was a lovely moment and the queens all lost it. Melissa seemed genuinely invested in the show and the queens, and shared that she got into show business because she was inspired by drag queens, and in fact even started out herself by performing in drag. Amazing! In addition to giving the queens some words of encouragement, she gave them possibly the greatest gift of all: single-portion, unrefrigerated cheese blobs. Icon behavior, methinks.

After snacking on Melissa McCarthy’s Babybels, the queens continued to eat each other behind the scenes, as many members of the cast took turns playfully roasting one another. I have to say, I really enjoy the vibe of this group of queens. This is not the kumbaya moment of Season 14; these queens are spicy and cutting each other up. But while it felt aggressive and harsh when it was happening to, say, Amanda Tori Meating or Geneva Karr, there seems to be very little power differential now. They’re slapping at one another, and it feels good natured. It reads, frankly, the way I have known local drag queens to behave my entire adult life. It’s the kind of dynamic we used to get on this show all the time in the Logo days, but which has slowly been pushed out as queens become increasingly worried about public perception. Personally I’m glad to see it back. That said, I would be remiss to not point out what seems to be Dawn coming into her Villain Era, as she was negative in many of her talking heads this episode. I think the pressure and the lack of wins is getting to her.

As for the Rusical itself, I thought it was strong. That “Do-Re-Mi” parody song is an instant classic. Clearly the show is capable of finding talented creators for this challenge. Why can they not find the same caliber of people to write the comedy and acting challenge scripts? This baffles me. Anyway, I’ll quickly go over my thoughts on each queen’s performance:

-Plasma absolutely smashed in the lead role — she had an enormous amount of lines and choreography and from what I could see, nailed all of it.

-Sapphira was flawless in her supporting role as Mother Superior.

-Mhi’ya Iman LePaige and Morphine got lost in the shuffle as the other nuns; Mhi’ya had an unintentionally hilarious moment where her habit flew over her face but she just kept dancing, bless her.

-Dawn, Megami, and Nymphia Wind were a mixed bag as the Von Trapp kid analogues. I thought Nymphia missed some of her cues, although she was the funniest of that group.

-I very much enjoyed Q’s Amanda Lepore-inspired Baroness, but I seem to be in the minority there based on my viewing party. Plane Jane and Xunami Muse were both Safe as the Baronettes, her back-up group, and I mean that both in their placements and in their performances.

On the runway, the Floral theme was very much a haves vs. have nots. Sapphira gagged in a massive flower that would have felt at home in a Carnival parade. Q brought out the hand stilts that seem to be everywhere lately (see also: Onyx on “Drag Race Espana” and La Grand Dame on tonight’s episode of “UK vs. the World 2”) and gave us basically ALL the flowers in her bright-pink look. And I absolutely loved Plasma’s “Funny Girl”/”My Fair Lady”-inspired look. I even thought Mhi’ya looked great! It was a surprising misfire for me when it came to Dawn (I did not understand the red in the look), Nymphia (the budding sleeves were cool but overall it felt heavy and decidedly unfabulous), and Morphine (Flower Child was an interesting direction to take, but I don’t think she went big enough with it to make an impact). I thought it was Xunami’s worst runway to date.

The tops and bottoms were all told that everyone did well, and they were really splitting hairs on this one. I will admit that I miss when the queens actual sang in these Rusicals. Sometimes they did it live, sometimes recorded, but it definitely gave us much clearer indications of who succeeded and failed. The tops of the week were Plasma, Sapphira, and Q, while the bottoms were Mhi’ya (lacked connection the material), Morphine (could have done more with the material), and Megami (one-note facial expressions, not engaged when not actively in the spotlight). None of these were surprising to me. The win ultimately went to Plasma, who is really emerging as a threat, right alongside perennial top-placers Sapphira and Q. Nymphia seems to be deflating a bit after a few very strong weeks.

As for the bottom, Morphine was spared, and Megami and Mhi’ya lipsynched to Miley Cyrus’ Grammy Award-winning “Flowers.” This will be a divisive lipsynch, I think. This was not a flips-and-tricks song, although Mhi’ya still threw some of those in there, specifically a penguin slide where she just launched herself face-first toward the edge of the stage — not particularly ladylike. But the real issue was that Mhi’ya removed her shoes early in the lispynch, and then gave us church-lady Realness. Removing your shoes should be an automatic DQ in my book. The end. But beyond that, I question that interpretation of this song. It is more melancholy than it is rapturous, but that is where Mhi’ya decided to take it. Megami stayed more authentic to what I feel is the spirt of the song. It is more about acceptance of a failed love and reestablishing yourself than it is about twirling around in ecstasy. But I guess I’m wrong, because Ru gave the win to Mhi’ya, and Megami was eliminated.

I do feel for Megami. I think she started out REALLY rough with a misfire of a Talent Show, but you could see her really trying to work her way up the pack. I thought she looked great in the doll episode, and she scored a win in the girl group. But she wasn’t breaking through the way I think she clearly knew she needed to (and which several other remaining girls still need to). You could also see the frustration getting to her in both her talking heads and her interactions with the other queens. But I did appreciate her parting message, encouraging everyone to support local drag, and protect queer art. That is something we can all agree on, and I’m grateful that Megami continues to put that out into the “Drag Race” universe.

Next: the Reading challenge and Snatch Game!

Did you miss our previous Season 16 recaps? Here you go:

Episode 6

Episode 5

Episode 4

Episode 3

Episode 2

Episode 1

And don’t forget we’re also reviewing “UK vs. the World 2” AND “Drag Race Espana All Stars!” Click here for those recaps!

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