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RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 16 Episode 4 RECAP: RRDR Live!

The queens say “yes…and?” to their first improv acting challenge with a Saturday Night Live inspired challenge and icon Sarah Michelle Gellar is a guest judge…

Last week all of the season 16 queens met each other for the first time after two premiere weeks filled with so many original songs. We also said “sashay away” to the Rate-A-Queen system, though I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the twists and turns for this season. A lot of the queens have remained truthful to how they said they would assess each other in the competition, but some of the queens have already shown their true competitive colours with a side of some serious shade. After this season’s ball challenge, Nymphia Wind was announced as the winner after presenting the judges with three outstanding looks on the runway. Geneva and Hershii found themselves as the first bottoms of the season with Hershii becoming the first queen to be eliminated. This week the queens will try their hand at some improv during their first acting challenge. Let’s get into it.

This week’s episode begins in the werk room following Hershii’s elimination. Some of the queens are breathing a sigh of relief that they’re not the first to go home, but they will miss her. In confessionals Geneva says she shouldn’t be in the bottom and knows the queens are playing a shady game. Over on the couches, the queens congratulate Nymphia on her win. Q says she should have won over Nymphia because she used all unconventional materials for her look. The queens bring up the drama between Amanda and Plane Jane during last week’s Untucked. Shade is thrown, and now Plane Jane has a bit of a target on her back.

It’s a new day and the queens enter the werk room ready to take on this week’s challenges. Ru enters in a purple suit to tell the queens that America’s next drag superstar, a queen can’t rely on her looks. Which is why for this week’s maxi challenge, they’ll be performing sketches live in one take in an SNL-inspired challenge. They’ll have to create a breakout character to wow the judges to advance their spot in the competition. Over on the couches they read through the roles and divide them up amongst themselves. There are a few queens who want the same roles but it all gets sorted with some of the queens being left with characters they don’t really want. They break apart with their scene partners to rehearse their skits. Plasma is upset about her news anchor role being taken from her, but she’s choosing to allow the spirit of Barbara Streisand to drive her for this performance. Plane reveals her pairing with Megami was a strategic play for her to shine in the challenge, and Mirage is nervous about hosting the show and working all on her own. Ru and Ross enter the werk room to check on the girls and talk to the groups separately to see how their rehearsals are coming along. Ru picks up on some of the hocus pocus between the queens when it came to choosing the roles, but each of them are standing by the roles they’ve been stuck with. 

It’s elimination day, and the queens are very busy getting ready for their RDR Live debut. Mirage reveals that she’s indigenous and how much her indigenous culture inspires her drag. Geneva tells some of the queens she immigrated to the states when she was seven and Xunami reveals she is also a Dreamer, which they connect over. Geneva and Xunami are the first DACA queens to compete on the show, which is so important to highlight, especially now. On the other side of the room Amanda reveals she ghost writes messages for Only Fans creators. Out on the runway Ru introduces this week’s panel of judges, Michelle, Ross, and this week’s extra special guest judge who’s here to slay (not vampires) actor Sarah Michelle Gellar. RDR Live kicks off with a skit referencing drag queen versions of Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen drunkenly counting down to the end of the world. The queens do an alright job, but the standout of the first skit is Mhi’ya, who was really nervous through rehearsals. Mirage does her opening monologue and it goes alright except for a hiccup at the end. Megami and Plane Jane are up next with their deck sales pitch skit. They do a good job but this is the third time Plane has played the same kind of performance or character. Ru even gets in on the action with a musical performance of a country-inspired song. The show continues with the “weekend update” where Amanda and Dawn anchor and they do a pretty good job. Q pops in playing the first brick thrown at Stonewall. The last skit in the show is the Barbara (Streisand) Shop Quartet, and it’s on par with a skit that would actually be on SNL. Plasma does a fantastic job despite not wanting her role originally. 

Following the show the category on the runway is “Night of a thousand Chers”, and all of the queens strut in their best Cher-ified drag. Ru asks Sapphira and Plane if they want to use their immunity potion this week, both refuse. She asks Xunami, Morphine, Megami, Amanda, Dawn, Nymphia, and Sapphira to step forward. She tells them they are all safe and they head backstage. Critiques start with Mhi’ya and Ross is thrilled she let loose in her skit, but Ru wanted more from her and the judges don’t love her runway. Michelle asks Geneva if she knows who Lindsay Graham is (who she played) and she admits that she doesn’t which impacted her performance, but the judges like her runway. Ross tells Mirage that their hosting was ok but it could have used some work. The judges like her look but Ru clocks her sixties wig with her seventies outfit. The judges loved Plane Jane’s performance and runway, which Michelle calls a slam dunk for the week. Ross and Sarah Michelle tell Q her comedy was outstanding and Ru tells her that her Bob Mackie dress is stunning and she wears it so well. All of the judges are obsessed with Plasma’s Barabra and love that she went a bit darker with her runway.

After deliberations Ru announces that the winner of this week’s maxi challenge is Plasma! Q, Plane, and Mhi’ya are all safe. This leaves Geneva and Mirage both up for elimination. The bottom two queens lip sync for their lives to Dark Lady by Cher. Mirage is twirling and performing, probably to hide the fact she doesn’t know the words to the song, “not a single word”, which is what Ross mutters to Ru following the lip sync. Ru decides that Geneva will live to slay another day, which means unfortunately it’s the end of the road for Mirage and she breaks down at the end of the runway, for a somewhat uncomfortable amount of time, leaving without an exit line. 

Next week on Drag Racethe remaining queens collaborate with Ru on some songs with the girl group challenge and things finally boil over between Amanda and Plane Jane in the werk room.  

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