“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Episode 1611 Recap: Living for Your Lip Sync

This recap of RuPaul’s Drag Race 1611 contains spoilers.

Morphine Love Dion is the queen of the season! Just last week, several people in my Drag Race group chat offensively questioned why Morphine hadn’t been eliminated yet. Well, now any doubt should be shed. Because, in this episode, Morphine delivered one of the best lip syncs in Drag Race herstory.

But first! It’s the aftermath of the non-elimination and Morphine is mad. She finally got the best critiques, only to lose the win in a top off. Meanwhile, Dawn and Q are having a blast poking Plane Jane to see if she cracks. Was this just an off week? Or will the first slip up lead to a free fall?

It’s a new day in the workroom and everyone seems upset there’s still seven of them. It’s like there’s collective amnesia among the queens who did poorly the previous week that one of them could’ve been the one to go!

Luckily, the queens will get a chance to be shady in the “Spill the T” mini challenge when they vote on superlatives for various cast members. Here’s how it shakes out:

Most passive aggressive: Nymphia
Least likely to know what passive aggressive means: Morphine
Most likely to be blocked online: Plane Jane
Biggest flirt: Sapphira
Gassiest: Dawn
Most likely to blame the edit: Morphine
Most likely to spend grand prize money wisely: Sapphira
Most likely to blow grand prize money on a breastplate: Plane Jane
Biggest tipper: Sapphira
Most delusional: Plane Jane

It’s very telling that in a game where the queens are rewarded for voting with the majority, Plane is unwilling to vote herself anything negative. The other queens do it! But Plane seems shocked when the other queens vote for her. True delusion. Or part of her persona.

According to RuPaul, it’s Drag Awareness Month, but she doesn’t specify if she means March or July when they filmed and the internet suggest Drag Awareness Month is not a thing. No matter, the main challenge this week is to do a Drag Awareness Seminar. Plane and Q are assigned drag herstory. Dawn and Mhi’ya are assigned drag in the werkplace. And Sapphira, Nymphia, and Morphine are assigned a topic entitled: Are you a drag queen? You might be surprised!

In case you hadn’t guessed, the queens did not get to pick their teams. And Dawn is struggling to get Mhi’ya to contribute anything to a challenge she clearly loathes. I thought of Biance Del Rio asking Trinity K. Bonet, “What do you do successfully?” The answer for Mhi’ya is flips, but that’s about it. Morphine imitates Dawn and Mhi’ya’s dynamic and it’s very funny.

Morphine may be laughing at Mhi’ya, but my love is also struggling. She says she’s never been to a seminar and drag mom Sapphira calls her teammates Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Banana. The only team that isn’t struggling is Plane and Q. To quote Dawn: Plane has the jokes and Q has… the ability to learn the jokes.

Guest judge Joel Kim Booster arrives in the workroom with Michelle and the queens are THIRSTING. During Untucked, Joel will share that he and his boyfriend are open and I do wonder how many of the queens he hooked up with after this… Anyway, while he’s be charming, Michelle is being RUTHLESS to Mhi’ya and Morphine is being so insecure! She doesn’t think she’s funny which is insane! She’s going to be an unstoppable queen when she trusts her natural humor in stage settings.

As Nymphia hypes herself up and Mhi’ya and Morphine melt into nerves, Q opens up about being HIV positive. She talks about stigma and her supportive husband and her challenges with the healthcare system.

Seminar team! And the queens have a live audience of Ford employees. Plane and Q start off the show and are by far the funniest and least painful to watch. But here’s the thing: Their prompt was drag herstory and they’re speaking to an audience that seems to consist of straight people. Their jokes about men from American history being secret drag queens fail to deliver on the prompt. They needed to find a way to make actual drag history funny. You may say I’m nitpicking because I’m not either queen’s biggest fan, but I’m just saying this to explain a choice Ru makes later in the night.

Mhi’ya and Dawn are next and they’re unwatchable. Dawn hangs in there well enough, but Mhi’ya is unwatchable. It’s so painful.

Morphine also lets her nerves sabotage her performance. She and Sapphira both fumble a line and their differing reactions are a perfect example of how to mess up without letting it derail a performance. I don’t think Sapphira is that great, but she does keep this trio moving and has a few good moments. Nymphia, meanwhile, does a character with an over the top stereotypical accent. Like the white judges who later will discuss this quite delicately, I’ll leave any discourse to Asian viewers. But, personally, I just think it’s bad comedy when an accent is all you’re bringing to a challenge.

The runway theme is Drag Con 1980. The standouts are Q in a red and white Keith Haring inspired print, Sapphira in a striking black and white dress, and Nymphia in a look inspired by Grace Jones in Vamp.

Sapphira wins and Q looks shocked and pissed. And here’s where I remind you that RuPaul Charles loves history. Not in a meaningful, challenging sort of way. But definitely in a “tell an audience of Ford employees that drag queens were at Stonewall” sort of way. I genuinely think turning the whole presentation into a joke is what lost Q and Plane this challenge.

The bottom is Dawn, Mhi’ya, and Morphine, and Dawn is rightfully safe. That means it’s a Miami vs. Miami lip sync to “Dim All the Lights” by Donna Summer and oh my is it! Morphine is doing a trick where she balances while leaning back when suddenly Mhi’ya throws her cape on Morphine. I don’t even think Mhi’ya is being shady. It was an accident because Mhi’ya is very narrowly focused in her lip syncs.

Well, Morphine takes it as shade. Not only does she catch the cape and incorporate it into a twirl. But she then starts making fun of Mhi’ya as they lip sync, giving big yawns every time she flips. It’s not just that Morphine is funny — she’s funny toward Mhi’ya while still giving her own impressive lip sync.

It’s a star-making performance from someone I already knew was a star. This is how you send home the lip sync assassin. And make Drag Race herstory.

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

+ Dawn really does have a degree in engineering! It wasn’t a joke!

+ Apparently, Plane Jane made a PowerPoint to teach her mom about drag?? That’s cute.

+ At one point, Dawn licks her glue stick. Is that common?

+ Queen I’m rooting for: Morphine

+ Queen I’m horniest for: Morphine

+ Queen I want to sashay: 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 520 articles for us.

3 Comments

  1. That was definitely one of the best lip syncs this season! I think Morphine has so much natural charisma… Like you could see her pulling attention in ways no one else was capable of against Mhi’ya. Masterful.

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