Welcome to Drag Race Power Rankings! Every Friday, we’ll debrief the previous night’s new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11 to determine which queens are riding high, and which need she-mergency care. The final four is finally set, after a long season with some high highs and low lows. How did they do in their final challenge of the season?
5. Vanessa Vanjie Mateo (last week: 3) — ELIMINATED
Vanjie walked into this week a doomed man-dressed-as-a-woman. Her relationship with Brooke Lynn Hytes made her a massive target, as one eliminating the other before the finale would be too good a story to pass up for the producers. Not only that but owing to her robbery last week, she had zero wins to rest on. She tried to put a bow on that in this episode by making a cute turtle beating the rabbit analogy — or, as it’s better known, The Tortoise and the Hare — but there was just no denying she was several steps behind the curve.
Worse, she completely fucked up her portion of the final five rap to “Queens Everywhere.” Her verse was actually solid, but she completely buffed the lip sync, and her execution of Todrick Hall’s choreography was incredibly sloppy. It would have been an injustice for one of the other queens to let Vanjie into the top four, frankly, no matter how fun and charismatic she is.
4. Silky Nutmeg Ganache (last week: 5)
Silky benefits from Drag Race really wanting that boyfriends lip sync, because she could easily have fallen into the bottom two. While I admire that she threw herself fully into the “Queens Everywhere” performance, and had a decent verse to go along with it (though I’d rate hers as the worst verse), that wasn’t enough. And it was frustrating to hear the judges say repeatedly that her performance was technically imperfect and messy, but excuse it because hey, it was fun! Fun only gets you so far.
I’ll give Silky this: her attitude did almost a complete 180º from last episode. She seemed to recognize she was lucky to survive her terrible lip sync, and, inspired by surviving the guillotine, found new light in her relationship with Yvie Oddly. Do I think they’ll ever be best friends? No. Do I think they can find some kind of common respect? Absolutely.
3. Brooke Lynn Hytes (last week: 1)
I personally don’t take the harsh criticism Brooke Lynn got in this episode as any kind of obstacle in her path toward the crown. I think they just really wanted Vanjie to be taken out by Brooke Lynn, and were willing to accentuate the negative in their critique of her this week to make it happen. As she showed in her “Pride: A Deeper Love” lip sync this week, not to mention the previous, phenomenal “Sorry Not Sorry” lip sync, Brooke Lynn is most comfortable while performing. She should thrive in the Lip Sync for the Crown format.
That said, if we’re talking about who really deserves to win the whole season, Brooke Lynn’s performance this week was a red flag. She was not terrible by any measure, but she was anything but iconic. And if you think about the other winners’ final four-song verses — Alaska, Sasha Velour, Trixie Mattel, and Aquaria (we don’t talk about “Super Queen”) — they’ve all been at least quotable and fun. A couple were legitimately great. Brooke Lynn’s verse was lyrically inferior to at least three of her competitors’, including Vanjie’s. That doesn’t invalidate all the other great work Brooke Lynn has done in this competition, but it’s unfortunate for her that she ended on her weakest episode besides Snatch Game.
2. A’keria Chanel Davenport (last week: 2)
A’keria got knocked a little this week for showing up late to the party, as Carson Kressley put it, but that feels off to me. A’keria scored high in the very first challenge of the season and got her first win in an episode in the first half of the season (Episode 6). To me, that critique sounds like an attempt to soften A’keria’s praise, which is otherwise high across the board this episode.
I liked A’keria’s dancing and speech to her younger self on the runway, but what really stunned me was her “Queens Everywhere” verse. “I’m the Diahann Carroll of Ru’s Dynasty” is a legitimately terrific line, and Ross Mathews was right when he told her to trademark “Miss Ass Almighty.” Seeing the wordsmith jump out of A’keria was a kick, and I’m glad she got to make such a big mark in this challenge. Do I think she can still win the season? Yes. Do I think the coaching of praise is an odd thing to do with a potential frontrunner for the crown? Perhaps.
1. Yvie Oddly (last week: 4)
That was the Yvie I remember! She absolutely demolished this episode, from writing a strong set of lyrics for her rap to executing easily the most difficult choreography of the final five. Vanjie couldn’t hit simple steps, meanwhile Yvie was bent over backwards crab-walking across a stage. That really underlines how much of a different league Yvie is in when she’s on her game. It’s a shame she spent the last few episodes off her game because she shouldn’t be walking into the finale with just one win.
Speaking of: why was there no winner this episode? Just like it was unfair that Peppermint only had one win after smashing the “Category Is” final four episode in Season 9, it’s downright bullshit not to give Yvie the win this time around. There was a bottom two! The only reason I can see for not having a winner is that there hasn’t been one in previous final four episodes, but this was final five. No precedent existed. In my mind, at least, Yvie is walking into the finale with two wins, because this was nothing short of a home run.