Categories: TV Recap

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap S16E14: Memoirs of a Gay-sha

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It’s the final week of competitive challenges for this season of Drag Race, so it’s only natural it begins with the ladies sitting down on the Werkroom couches so Q can, once again, air her grievances over not winning. It’s all in good fun, lightly shading Plane, then Sapphira in confessional when discussing who deserves what wins, but it’s grating after hearing Q complain for an entire season. We also see a glimpse of guest judge Ronan Farrow in Ken-drag, which will be discussed more later.

The competitors do a quick drag mini challenge that sees them in aquatic gear and beachwear. They do “Kiddie Pool Karaoke,” where they go underwater and lip sync, which sees a full circle moment of Sapphira’s breasts having a robust presence, 13 weeks after the premier episode with Sapphira wearing the awkwardly disproportionate breastplate while doing her talent show. She actually wins this mini challenge, which has nothing to do with her tits but it would be nice to believe it does. It’s a silly little lip sync to do, but it’s fun when Drag Race takes away the pressure that’s so forcibly pressed on the Queens during every other competition. They then find out that their last challenge is creating a memoir that reflects their lives and encapsulates their drag persona. 

Plane seems up for the challenge, but it’s obvious she plans on straying away from making it too personal. A season of Plane has proven that, if nothing else, she’s going to remain private about things she’s reserved in her mind as confidential. Sapphira says she’s good at writing even if she doesn’t like doing it, which is possibly the most relatable thing she’s said the entire season (and that’s saying quite a bit). No one who has seen a single episode of this season will be surprised to hear Nymphia nervously discuss the upcoming challenge and her struggles with writing and pushing out personal information. The challenge sets itself up as one that could be the most personal one of the entire season by bringing out specific memories from the Queens that exemplify their drag. 

A photoshoot for the cover of the memoirs awaits the competitors because there can never be just one factor to winning a challenge. Nymphia’s up first and brings fashion to her cover, which also shouldn’t be surprising for anyone keeping up with the season. Nymphia has consistently brought the best looks to the runway almost every week, even her looks that aren’t as great would still be an upgrade to most Queens’ look package brought with them to the competition. When it’s Q’s turn, she gives the longest title imaginable and doesn’t seem to realize that Ru’s confusion about it means she should probably change it. Her reaction to Ru telling her to ask “do you like pussy?” to the camera, a split second of true bewilderment, is a new highlight of the season. Sapphira uses the title Slue-foot for her memoir to the absolute delight of Ru. It’s smart to use something that’s been used to playfully characterize Sapphira throughout the season that will keep the judges engaged. Plane does a plane crash pun for her title and looks gorgeous for her photoshoot, mostly nervous about being alone with Ru for the shoot. 

Since there are many facets to every challenge nowadays, it’s time for the Queens to promote their memoirs by appearing in an interview with Matt Rogers, co-host of the popular Las Culturistas podcast. Plane is first and takes Matt’s bait when he asks her to be shady towards her fellow competitors, taking the opportunity to put out one-word reads of the other Queens moments after stating that she’s had to learn tact during the competition. The lack of self-awareness this series pushes into the minds of its cast is awe-inspiring. Sapphira follows her by bringing an incredibly personal story about her family and her perseverance through misunderstandings about her sexuality, effectively making Plane look a little more off-kilter during her interview just by following it with some normalcy. Q, who changed the title of her book to make it less of a mouthful, has a quick chat with Rogers about family and is able to bring a little more personality into it. Nymphia, looking beautiful as ever, talks to Matt about getting feces on herself before moving on to European beauty standards being placed upon her as a young child. There’s something about how intently Rogers is listening that actually got a laugh out of me, but his sincerity always makes me like him more. 

When the Queens enter the Werkroom to paint for the runway, they have a chat about their journeys this season, reminiscing on the self-doubt and ridiculous antics that have brought them to the final four. We’re weeks out from it and I’m still thinking about Q yelling, “not in a gown, bitch!” when Mhi’ya did that double back handspring in the lip sync against Plasma. I will never forget it. After their chats about the past, the episode moves onto the main stage, with TS Madison joining the judges with Ronan Farrow as the guest judge. Now back to what I brought up previously. I’m just gonna say it: who told Ronan Farrow he could look like that on the judges panel? The glittery sheer shirt sent me into a tizzy that cannot be overstated, his Ken-doll presence on the panel offering journalistic integrity while he provides bold critiques to the nation’s top minds… of drag. The category of the runway is “Fandango.”

A quick rundown of the runway:

  • There’s no simple way to express my displeasure at Q’s look, the hair being the worst part and the tutu being the best (and it really isn’t great). The orange felt strange on her
  • Sapphira bringing a self-described “African queen” to the runway is incredible, she looks as stunning as she has in every episode. The hair ten miles in the air will always look great on her
  • Nymphia giving Marie Antoinette with a cultural twist and a burning pussy only solidifies her as one of the best to ever hit the runway, she also brings a high hair that looks phenomenal on her
  • Plane Jane looks like a goddess awaiting the verdict on a trial where she 100% committed the crime but will likely be pardoned because of her stunning beauty

The critiques begin and it feels like one more button on Ronan Farrow’s shirt is undone to reveal his chest. Trying not to digress too hard, but who could have been expecting this? It’s during the critiques from the judges that I notice Nymphia’s nails, so intricately detailed with miniature versions of the dress she’s wearing. After a deliberation, Nymphia is declared the winner of the challenge and moves on to the finale. Sapphira is then announced safe, pushing Plane Jane into the bottom for the first time, joined by Q. The two lip sync to “Better Be Good to Me” by Tina Turner, Plane predictably opting for a more comedic version of the song while serving a bit of face. “Q is really fighting for her life,” Nymphia admits in a confessional, which is usually code for a bit of desperation coming out of the Queen performing as they go a little too hard during the lip sync. Plane bounces her tits to the win, finalizing a top 3: Plane Jane, Sapphira Cristál, and Nymphia Wind. It’s almost time for Ru to crown another winner.

Tyler Doster

Tyler is the TV Awards Editor for AwardsWatch and from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He’s been obsessed with movies and the oscars since he was about 14. He enjoys reading, but even more, talking about Amy Adams more and will, at any given moment, bring up her Oscar snub for Arrival. The only thing he spends more time on than watching TV is sitting on Twitter. If you ever want to discuss the movie Carol at length, he’s your guy. You can find Tyler at @wordswithtyler

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