“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Episode 1614 Recap: Pressed Tour

This recap of RuPaul’s Drag Race 1614 contains spoilers.

Finally, a Drag Race challenge I know I could win. I can’t dance or do makeup or sew, but I can write. The question this week is… can the queens?

But first my beloved Morphine has gone home. Sapphira says she thought it was going to be a double shantay and I wish it was Sapphira!! I wish it was. Even as it sets in that top four probably means going to the finale, Q and Plane are still bickering. Q says Plane won with a leotard, Plane says Q made her girl look like a muppet, and they’re both right.

The next week it seems to have really registered that this will probably be a non-elimination lark of a music video episode. The queens are in! high spirits! Even the editors have some fun when Ru shows up and emphasizes this is only the semi-finals.

The mini challenge is an underwater lip sync. No, this doesn’t mean diving into a dunk tank like the season five premiere. Instead they go into a tiny pool and basically bob for apples into a face cam whale mouthing along to “Kitty Girl.” I was feeling pretty down about this top four — yes, I’m bitter my fave went home sue me — but then Sapphira did a swim cap wig reveal and I remembered why she’s going to win it all. Or at least this mini challenge and a trip to Puerto Vallarta

The first twist! The maxi challenge this week isn’t a music video — it’s a book. Of course! Ru wasn’t going to limit his memoir cross promotion to just the quick drag mini challenge earlier in the season. Now the queens are tasked with coming up with a memoir title, taking cover photos, writing chapters, and then promoting the book on a fake podcast with Matt Rogers.

This was probably always the plan, but it also works out well considering half the top four can’t dance. Clearly having missed some Twitter discourse, Plane casually says great writers have to read and she only reads social media posts. So maybe even she would’ve preferred a music video? But, of course, the queens aren’t being judged on their prose. They’re being judged on their ability to tell a story on a podcast. This isn’t a writing challenge — it’s a branding challenge.

Ru takes a real hands-on approach during the cover shoots. It’s a really lovely segment, revealing RuPaul’s genuine brilliance and providing some bonding time between the icon and her latest proteges. Some of the queens are better dressed and better prepared than others, but Ru helps each of them improve — either from good to great or bad to decent.

Plane is the first to talk to Matt about her book, Plane Crash! How I Walked Away from Disaster. Rather than reveal anything from her personal life — a thing she has done frequently in the workroom! — she leads her “I’m a bitch” persona. Matt asks her to read the rest of the top four and she does so without hesitation. “Sometimes when an interviewer asks you to be shady you don’t have to do that,” Matt wisely says to the camera after.

Sapphira is next with her book, Slue Foot: Embracing All of Me, and she is everything Plane was not. Her cover and her stories have cohesion. She’s vulnerable and confident and listens to Matt as well as speaking to him. It’s a great interview.

Q is next with the poorly titled, Alphabet Soup: Savor Every Bite. She also displays some vulnerability which is not surprising since emotions have not been her challenge this season. Her problem is her book cover which is reeeeeally bad. I’m not sure why Q lost me. I feel like during the first half the season all of her outfits and choices were great and since that controversial second place she’s sunk further and further.

Finally, there’s Nymphia with her book Breaking Wind: The Art of Letting Go. Her cover is as amazing as Q’s was bad. She really crushed the titling/cover/branding aspect of the challenge. She also gets vulnerable with Matt — something we saw more of last week with her makeover partner. Nymphia is just so insecure. Ru throws around “inner saboteur” a lot but she is a case where it really applies. I hope she’s able to internalize how great she is after this competition!

The judges this week look HOT. Ronan Farrow is guesting with a cute little see through top, Ts Madison is her usual hot self and I especially love her big hair pins, and Michelle! Wow Michelle. Maybe I’m just a basic bitch who loves titties, but Michelle looks GOOD.

Michelle Visage in a thin strapped dress with lots of cleavage and a star tattoo between her boobs.

Anyway, the final runway this week isn’t “best drag” or “ultimate glamour” or the usual finale themes. Instead it’s… fans! Q is in an orange fan tutu, Sapphira is in a royal blue dress that has fan reveals from the side, Nymphia is in an 18th century look with the reveal of her fan skirt to reveal fire on her pussy, and Plane looks like a Greek goddess. Credit where it’s due: Plane has never looked better.

The judges don’t like Q’s book cover or title and they throw out some alternatives. No one says the obvious: Q & A. The judges rightfully love Sapphira and Nymphia while pushing Nymphia to have more self love. They then criticize Plane for not showing the same vulnerability. I really thought she was going to cry on stage to prove a point but she does not! Once the queens are backstage, Ru says that Plane came out very late so she’s used to hiding. Okay Dr. Ru!

Nymphia wins which is very nice and also deserved based on the book cover alone. Sapphira is safe, also going to the finale obviously.

That means the bottom two are Q and Plane. They should’ve done another Designing Women monologue for these two, but instead it’s “Better Be Good to Me” by Tina Turner. Plane has presence! She might not be the best dancer but I was impressed by her command of the stage. She clearly wins the lip sync.

And this brings us to the final twist of the episode. Not only does Plane “win” the lip sync. Plane wins the lip sync. She shantays and Q sashays. That means this will be the first top three since season 12 and the first planned top three since season 8! I think this was the right call. Shake things up! And also it took a middling top four and turned it into a solid top three.

Next week is the reunion, but it’s titled “LipSync Lalaparuza Smackdown Reunion” so I’m sure we’re in for even more surprises.

Teleport Us to Mars!! Here Are Some Random Thoughts:

+ For the record, Plane was right: Writers should read.

+ I cackled after the mini challenge when Ru said about Nymphia, “I guess not everyone knows the lyrics to my song.”

+ Ronan Farrow compliments Sapphira’s Missy Elliott squat and Ts Madison corrects him and says that’s Lil Kim.

+ Sapphira mentions having applied 11 other times for Drag Race before getting on.

+ Queen I’m rooting for: Sapphira

+ Queen I’m horniest for: Michelle Visage and her new boobs

+ Queen I want to lose: Plane

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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 539 articles for us.

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