This isn’t a story about Plane Jane… but it is absolutely a story about Plane Jane.
We are back, back, back again with part two of RuPaul Drag Race’s season 16 premiere. After seven bright faces sauntered into the Werk Room last week, we add seven more to the running of becoming America’s Next Drag Superstar. Each makes their entrance, slides in a branded line, and then runs over and makes nice with their competitors. Well. Except Plane Jane.
It’s been said before, but the Boston-based “authentically Russian” queen didn’t fly to Los Angeles to make friends — she came to win a competition. And she’s ready to play the game by any means necessary. If that means making bitchy, must-air comments in the Werk Room and confessionals, Plane Jane is going to claim that screen time. No producer is going to cut footage of a queen reading another under her breath with, “Never seen a corset add weight.” If it means picking a shady fight with a beloved figure from the Drag Race alumni network via her Meet the Queens introduction, she’s going to do that too. Whatever it takes: Plane Jane is going to either win Drag Race the competition, or Drag Race the reality television show. But for the competition at least, she has quite a few competitors.
In this episode alone, Nymphia Wind also stands out as a threat. From her distinct entrance look, to chopping it up with RuPaul and Ts Madison in the mini-challenge, she’s one to watch before the contestants hit the Main Stage. As is Plasma, the quick-witted 24-year-old red-head who channels divas old enough to be her great grandmother’s favorites. (If that sounds familiar, it is, but it’s still impressive.) And of course there’s Mhi’ya Iman LePaige who wants us all to know that she can do the flips and the splits, in case we haven’t seen via her viral TikToks. She, in fact, does the splits in the mini challenge, but while waiting for her turn, it’s unclear if falling asleep in line was a comedic bit or a foreshadowing.
After Nymphia wins the mini-challenge, and the queens are brought up to speed on the Rate-A-Queen twist (only one more episode with this scheme, we learn), the queens get ready for the talent show. And we have to say it was a good one!
Nymphia Wind’s Taiwanese dance number is Drag Race at its peak — an opportune space for queer artists to bridge the gaps between culture and showcase the full potency of performance
winner material straight outta the gate pic.twitter.com/boAY3gB0d1
— Frederick (@notquitezennor) January 13, 2024
Hershii LiqCour-Jete put on a fun, memorable number to her original track selling Whiplash wig glue. Nymphia stood out once again, bringing a traditional sleeve-throwing dance from Taiwan. And yes, Mhi-ya, you guessed it, did the flips and the splits. And then there was Plane Jane.
As anyone and everyone knows, it is RuPaul’s Drag Race. RuPaul, ultimately, is making the decisions about who stays and goes. And catching her eye is really the whole point of the thing. And one thing about Mama Ru: she likes to laugh.
For her talent show Plane Jane serves up the absurdity that makes Ru guffaw. Sure there’s talent there, but there’s also the perfect mix of good drag with ludicrous execution — that special sauce helped Sapphira Cristal sail to her win last week, and won Jimbo the crown of the last season of All Stars. It also works for Plane Jane which has Ru bowling over in laughter, and the rest of the room follows.
— RuPaul’s Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) January 13, 2024
In the Rate-a-Queen challenge, after promising to the girls all episode that it’s really going to be a vote on skill, Plane Jane inverts her vote, ranking what she views as the poor performers high and the good performers low. A true, shrewd competitor. Maybe a villain, even. The scheme works and brings down the average of her nearest competitor — Nymphia — so that it’s Geneva Karr against Plane Jane in the lip sync for the win. And what a lip sync it was.
Like all the other challenges, Jane proves herself as adequately talented at a lip sync. No, she’s not doing the splits and flips, but she has a presence and sense of musicality. But just like every other segment, she understands this is a competition. She doesn’t mind physically stealing attention by walking in front of and throwing her hair onto Geneva. She is unafraid of the fandom’s infamous furor for being too mean. This is a girl with one mission and one mission only: to win at all costs.
And one that’s going to make a hell of a season of television.