“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Episode 1609 Recap: Goth Girls

This recap of RuPaul’s Drag Race episode 1609 contains spoilers.

Pierce your friends with safety pins, fuck in a cemetery, or, at least, go to your local Hot Topic. It’s goth week at RuPaul’s Drag Race! Our top eight is tasked with a design challenge that dabbles in darkness.

But first! The queens are shaken up after Xunami’s untimely exit. Morphine is especially sad to have sent her bestie home. She doesn’t even want to erase her message off the mirror.

The queens are aghast that Nymphia wasn’t in the bottom which, to me, just feels like jealousy and a misunderstanding of COMEDY. Look, I’m Morphine’s number one fan, but she deserved to lip sync and so did Xunami. Once again, Nymphia as Jane Goodal was FUNNY. Anyway, I’m more in agreement with Mhi’ya that Sapphira was robbed the win. But Sapphira, who is especially congenial this episode, is a good sport about it.

It’s a new day in the workroom and, much like the CDC, RuPaul is pretending Covid is over! The mini challenge is to do spit takes and after a history lesson about Danny Thomas, the inventor of spit takes, Ru makes the queens laugh as they drink water. The jokes are funny and the spit takes are funny, but, my God, the Pit Crew needs to unionize if they’re going to be subjected to a saliva dunk tank. Anyway, Ru think it’s the funniest thing to ever happen and I do enjoy when Ru is delighted. Nymphia wins and the other queens are annoyed she’s back on top.

And she’s likely to stay on top, because the main challenge this week is a goth design challenge! The queens are shocked there’s a third design challenge — and, in Mhi’ya’s case distraught — but I’d do a third design challenge too with the talent in this room!

Morphine says she’s tired of being safe and wants to get on top. But Sapphira is right: Nymphia and Q are just on another level. On other seasons, she and Dawn would be the standouts. On other seasons, even Morphine could work toward a win. But Nymphia and Q have an understanding of fashion and a technical skill unmatched by few queens in Drag Race herstory.

Maybe Sapphira knows she won’t be winning but also won’t be bottoming, because she does a hard pivot toward the Miss Congeniality campaign. She provides Plasma with some much needed emotional support and gives Mhi’ya A LOT of help with her dress. (In Untucked, she’ll insist she didn’t make it, but she says she told Mhi’ya what to do and isn’t that the same thing.)

The girls are working hard, but they still have time to do a producer-prompted personal life talk. Morphine says that when she was in middle school, she overcompensated for her queerness by having three girlfriends. She then talks about being nonbinary and says that Miami is very masc4masc, but that she’s happy to be herself. I’d like to know if Morphine has considered having three girlfriends again but this time in a gay way and maybe I could be one of them. Plasma then says that she’s never really dated anyone, likely due to leftover “growing up gay in Texas” trauma.

The looks really are special. So special that I’m going to rank and describe all of them:

8. Plasma — She tries to sell it and I admire her taking Dawn’s advice and doing something new. But this is not good. She’s wearing pants and is doing both 70s and 00s. The one thing I’ll say about this look is it is the most similar to what an actual goth kid in high school might wear.

7. Mhi’ya — This is a perfectly fine gown, but she had so much help. And it’s still kind of boring. I have more respect for someone completely bombing in a funny way if they can’t sew.

6. Plane — She describes the look as rock n’ roll dominatrix and that definitely describes this shredded outfit better than goth. I appreciate the attention to detail, but this was still a meh for me.

5. Morphine — She worked so hard on this and the work paid off! But she just doesn’t have the skillset of some of the other queens. That said, her makeup is stunning and she is stunning and she’s still my favorite even if I can be somewhat objective.

4. Sapphira — I love the elegance of this dress and the cut out section. It’s not super goth, but it is very Sapphira and very gorgeous.

3. Dawn — This was maybe my favorite look overall even if it’s not quite as polished as some of the others. I love the construction of the skirt and her makeup and just the whole package.

2. Nymphia — God this is gorgeous! The big hat with the veil and all the lace. She’s stunning and this is such a well-constructed dress.

1. Q — I have to give this one to Q. It’s not the prettiest, it’s maybe not even the most goth, but it is remarkable. She’s a clown in a gown and there are such wild details and it all looks so polished. It’s a stunning combination of chaos and order.

The judges agree with me… mostly.

Kaia Gerber is the guest judge this week and while I was very harsh on her acting in American Horror Story, her skills as a judge are plentiful! She really seemed to understand fashion and I appreciate when guest judges are willing to spar with the mainstays. Michelle calls out Nymphia for hiding her face and Kaia shoots back that she’s walked the Marc Jacobs runway with her face covered.

Q wins. The bottom is Mhi’ya, Plasma, and Morphine. Sorry it should’ve been Plane!! I know I’m Morphine’s number one fan, but I think the critiques were way too harsh on her. With all the queens receiving critiques, they could’ve just done a bottom two anyway.

And the bottom two are who we’d expect: Plasma and Mhi’ya. They’re lip syncing to “Bloody Mary” by Lady Gaga. (The chyron notes: Wednesday dance TikTok version.) And here is where I remind you that RuPaul says, “This is your last chance to impress me.” The person who “wins” the lip sync isn’t always supposed to win it! It’s one element in deciding who should stay and who should go.

And with that in mind, it’s obviously incorrect that Plasma is sent home. She has two wins under her belt and actually made her garment(?) herself. But it’s better TV to keep Mhi’ya. Everyone will be shocked and upset and angry at Sapphira for helping her. And Plasma had already had a chance to show what she can do.

Plasma is a specific type of theatre queen and she’s showed us that. The one time she tried to go outside of that she flopped. That’s okay! Some queens have a niche. I understand why Ru and the producers decided to send Plasma home, but it should’ve been Mhi’ya this week, Plasma next.

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

+ During the mini challenge, Dawn says if they’re doing comedy makeup, she’ll just copy Plasma’s look.

+ The other queens lay the “you did bad at Snatch Game” jokes on thick with Nymphia. They’re so jealous of her and these comments are so transparent.

+ Sapphira references Scarlett O’Hara and Dawn doesn’t know who that is and Plasma is shocked which feels like on-brand reactions from all involved. Love Dawn going, “Asia O’Hara?”

+ A friend of mine said Dawn has transmasc energy and now I can’t unsee it.

+ Lots of Dawn this week. But Dawn mentions having an engineering degree and I couldn’t figure out if that was a joke?? Does she actually?

+ Queen I’m rooting for: Sapphira and Morphine

+ Queen I’m horniest for: Morphine

+ Queen I want to sashay: Mhi’ya

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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 520 articles for us.


  1. Everyone has their irrational favorites and a queen they irrationally hate. For me, I can’t stand Q! She always looks so smug!!! She has no upper lip!!! And I thought this look was honestly too much- I loved the silhouette but it would’ve been better on TV with a less busy fabric on top.

    When I heard Morphine say she had 3 girlfriends in HS, legit my first thought was Drew has a shot!!! 🤣

    I have to respect Mhi’ya (even though she is 14 years old) for so clearly winning this lipsync- it seems like the producers picked a Lady Gaga song so Plasma would win but Mhi’ya’s moves were undeniable!! I love it when a queen outperforms the game.


    Seriously, flips gets old real fast. I’m so tired of seeing these Queens throw themselves around the stage, barely actually lip sync and yet they win.

  3. The real kick in the teeth was “Goth week” having the LFYL being a Lady Gaga song and the Tiktok version to boot. There would never have been a better time to use Bela Lugosi’s Dead, such a dramatic song that is ripe for Queens to lipsync to.

    Anyway, i finally understand why my friends who are Musical Theatre majors hate the Rusical episodes. I was hoping for a meaty, authentic take on goth looks but maybe it’s a sign I should return to Dragula (jk, the microagressions are too much). Not one Gothic Literature reference!! Nymphia, The Yellow Wallpaper was right there!!!!

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