Ladies! I am boiling. My blood is simmering through my veins and I have some things to say, ok?!

After a mostly bad and boring episode last week, the seven remaining queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 16 kicked things off at level 100 this week. On the return to the Werk Room, Dawn and Q rib Plane Jane about placing in the bottom for the week. Tensions get high as Dawn calls Plane’s look “boring”. And this, actually, is where I have something to say.

It’s important we all take a look around at who is talking here. Even if Plane was in the theoretical bottom, the two people cracking jokes comprise the other two thirds of that bottom placement. Plane had a good verse, a solid look, and was able to actually feel the funk! Her critique was not that she wasn’t good, it was that she wasn’t as good as the judges have come to expect from her, specifically. That in no way makes her worse than the rhythmless Q (whose dance ability is so bad Jamal Sims refused to choreograph anything for her) or the enthused but ultimately lackluster Dawn. Like, are we going to be Dawn-est or no?

Instead of bringing any of that up, Plane reads Dawn for her look — the comments were a bit elementary but I did chuckle at the theatricality of it all.

The next day in the Werk Room, Mhi’ya Iman LePaige starts an… understated back and forth with Nymphia Wind, suggesting that she’s going home next. Drag delusion is clearly rampant on set this year. The girls then join RuPaul for a mini-challenge of Spill the Tea where they all walk away with money courtesy of CashApp.

The maxi-challenge this week is a Drag Awareness Employee seminar. The gig is part hosting, part storytelling, and obviously quite a bit of comedy. Queens are quickly divided into three groups offscreen, and we’re off to the races.

Cutting to the quick of it, it is clearly Q and Plane who shine heads and tails over the other two groups. The jokes are hitting and no lines are flubbed. The “slides” and “clips” bits are stupid in the best way, apparently a creation of Q’s. Q employs the same character voice she used as the Stonewall brick and Amelia Earhart, so there’s that, but by the end of the presentations I thought it was clear that they’d be top two, with Plane taking it home. I frankly felt her 1980s DragCon look, with its pointed shoulders and artistic print, was more than a step above Q’s Keith Haring inspired dress. (Although I certainly understand the sentimental value of the latter piece.)

Mhi’ya and Dawn’s seminar is… rough. Dawn certainly gives it a solid go and definitely gets quite a number of chuckles, but suffers overall from having to follow up Q and Plane in perfect lockstep. And Mhi’ya? Woof. She stumbled so much it’s hard to tell if any of her laugh lines actually landed.

The final segment is a trio with Sapphira Cristal, Nymphia, and Morphine Love Dion. Nymphia does well in an accent the judges rightfully clock as a controversial choice — I’m sorry but the call back to Jane Goodall was priceless. Sapphira starts off super strong and flubs a line or three but recovers like the professional working queen she is. Her prom-inspired runway look is an immediate standout and definitely enough to bump her into the top three, right behind Q. Morphine on the other hand can’t catch a break: she interrupts Nymphia so abruptly that it reads as if it was less orchestration and more a misread of the moment. Then once she starts her bit, she loses her way. It’s clear where this is going: a battle of the Miami girls that production has been teasing.

In the judging, the panel brings out that old sliding scale they’ve been judging on. “I have a higher standard for Jane after everything I’ve seen her do in this competition so far,” Ross Matthews says. “She’s so great and tonight she was just good.” And for that they handed the win to, checks notes, Sapphira. This is no shade to Sapphira — I genuinely love that lady — but talk about a surprise choice. I guess the runways really do count for something! (Q’s face crack while center stage is something to behold.)

The battle of the Miami girls is better than anyone can anticipate. Morphine promises us she’s going to go down swinging with a prolonged backbend at the start of the number, and Mhi’ya let’s us know it will truly be a fight to the end as she throws the bustle of her skirt on a still-backbending Morphine. The move is such a classic ballroom battle tactic and immediately made me think of Rose Chanel throwing a feather boa over Leyna Miyake-Mugler at the Memoirs of an Icon ball in 2015. 

Mhi’ya and Morphine give us what is clearly the best battle of the season, leaving it all on the floor. This is her fourth time in the lip sync, so the writing’s on the wall for Mhi’ya. But you better believe she’s picked up some bookings along the way.