Welcome to my review, recap, and power rankings of the seventh episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15 – “The Daytona Wind 2,” a sequel to last season’s surprisingly well-written melodramatic acting challenge. It was paired with a “Puffer Please” runway theme, where the queens were challenged with making puffer jacket elements look high fashion.
On Season 14, “The Daytona Wind” was a standout episode that helped to solidify the fact that we were watching a cast full of standout performers. However, that wasn’t just because the cast was so great. It was also because they were given a script that made sense and were allowed to act it in a straight-forward way – with jokes inserted later.
If Season 14 was an acting challenge high point, this Season 15 “Daytona Wind” redux was a low one. The queens were saddled with a script that was nothing but Drag Race references that left no room for character choices.
Though some of the humor was inserted later in the edit just like last season, it was the anti-humor of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! I think it’s a tough prospect to deliver a standout performance for that sort of humor if you’re blithely unaware of the style while you are performing.
After Season 14 and All Winners, I think we can all agree that Drag Race is at its best when it sets its queens up for success with strong material and doesn’t try to squash them into obvious archetypes in the edit. Instead, this felt like return to the Drag Race riggory of seasons 11-13, where any challenge could be bent to create any result the producers wanted. That feels unwelcome after getting a breath of fresh air from the franchise in 2021.
Between the painfully awkward challenge and the continued short runtime, this wasn’t an enjoyable episode of Drag Race for me. It also didn’t do much to shake up the existing power ranking divide between the haves and have nots. (The “haves” in this instance are the all-too-obvious group of potential finalists). However, within those two halves of the cast, things did get shuffled a bit – both due to this week’s performances and the news of an impending Lalaparuza Lip Sync smackdown on the next episode.
Readers, start your engines! And, may the best drag queen win!
Reminders: I typically refer to Drag Race artists with their drag names and with she/her pronouns even when they are not in drag, which is the convention of the show. Some performers may have different personal pronouns. Drag is inherently brave, political, and artistic, and all drag is valid. It’s also hard to do. I’m commenting on drag artistry in how it comes across in relation to this specific television program, but the reason I’m commenting at all is because I celebrate all drag!
RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15, Episode 7: “The Daytona Wind 2” & Puffer Please Runway Power Rankings
Before we get to the 12 “Puffer Please” runway looks, let’s take a moment to enjoy RuPaul’s blue-sequined gown. I have some objections to the weak nude illusion panel (did it even need to be there), but this is otherwise a lovely look – accentuated by a rare honey-coloured wig and pink lip!
#1. Mistress Isabelle Brooks – 1 Win (2.83 avg; was #2, 4, 4, 4, 2, Pre-Season #6)
Mistress Isabelle Brooks finally scored a win after a string of strong performances. She also got a boost in visibility from a conflict where the edit was careful never to make her out to be a villain
I enjoyed this take on “puffer” from Mistress Isabelle Brooks. I’m generally against chaps on the runway because they always hang in an uneven way, but this look was more about taking the silhouette of chaps and making it absurd by rendering it in puffer material.
I think that was the best way to interpret this runway challenge: take an existing silhouette and puff it up! Several queens were wise to take that approach.
I’m not in love with the odd cut of her bottoms, which were a bit on the “diaper” side, but otherwise this was flattering. It certainly didn’t hurt that MIB also brought major sex appeal to how she walked the garment. She’s a queen who thinks about every aspect of how she presents herself on the show and I appreciate that.
Did Mistress Isabelle really deserve a win for the acting challenge? Like Natalia Imbruglia, I’m torn. MIB had a hammy part where she hit her hammy lines with major gusto, which is everything Drag Race asks from an acting challenge. However, it didn’t feel as though she had a character beyond shouting her lines with good timing.
Ultimately, I think her strong runway put her over the top.
I’m getting a strong sense of narrative from Mistress Isabelle Brooks’s place in the edit. The editors had the chance to make her out to be mean or cruel in her dispute with Malaysia. Instead, she came out of it seeming calm and unwilling to rise to the occasion when Malaysia seemed ready for a redux of their conflict.
I don’t think you spend all that time on a seemingly-resolved conflict during one of these short episodes for no reason. We’re being told to like this queen. I don’t necessarily think that means she’s the front-runner over Sasha, but for the moment she feels like she’s at the top of the ranking based purely on how present she has been in the edit week after week.
#2. Sasha Colby – 1 Win (1.83 avg; was #1, 1, 1, 1, 5, Pre-Season #1)
Sasha Colby didn’t have much to do in “Daytona Wind,” but she did it well and delivered another stunning runway.
We’ve seen many runways like this one turn out to be complete disasters. The multiple layers, the barely-there criss-crossing top, the puffer leg-warmers. This had every reason to be a shapeless, unflattering mess.
That it wasn’t a mess is a testament to Sasha Colby’s skills at both styling and walking the runway. She has a fantastic body awareness of how to move and what angles to give to the camera. I’ve watched over and over again as she sheds her puffer jacket to reveal a puffer vest to strip down to suspenders and a bustle. Even with the deliberate tangle of the garment, it works beautifully.
Also, the high black boots are the perfect element to anchor the puffer leggings, which come up just high enough and reveal just enough leg to keep Sasha’s proportions looking long and lean.
Altogether, it’s very nearly a SHOOT for me.
Sasha was perfectly safe in “Daytona Wind 2.” She didn’t have many lines, but she delivered them well. More importantly, she managed to keep up a steady stream of absurd reaction faces in the background, which made her feel more present than several of the other queens with background roles.
After narrowly missing out on a win two weeks in a row, I don’t think a single safe placement cools Sasha’s momentum all that much. However, her sole win was back in Episode 2! Assuming she easily skates through next week’s Lalaparuza lip sync mackdown, Sasha will need to pick up another win shortly after to continue her momentum into the back half of the competition.
#3. Anetra (3.5 avg; was #5, 6, 3, 3, 1, Pre-Season #2)
Anetra had exactly the episode she needed, delivering a buttery smooth acting performance and a deliciously different silhouette on the runway.
Even if Aneta’s version of “Puffer Please” wasn’t as much puffer as it was pleaser, it was still a high-impact look that looked great on her body.
It’s not the most innovative fashion choice we’ve seen on the show, but I loved the bright red vibrating against bright pink. Her bright red, fur-lined puffer jacket was borderline absurd to begin with before adding more faux fur at the bustline of her puffer bra.
For me, Anetra was the obvious winner of “Daytona Wind 2.” She may have had the longest continuous time on camera, and she absolutely had the longest humorous bit to sell on her own with the repeated opening and closing of Big Daddy’s urn. She sold both with great success.
I wasn’t expecting much from Anetra as an actress after her silly turn in the Episode 2 commercial, but to me it felt like Anetra found an actual character to play in the midst of spouting all of her one-liners and catchphrases! I knew exactly who she was in the show. Part of that was that she delivered the lines with a perspective, but she also brought a lot of character in her movement. When I rewatched the episode to take notes I got distracted by watching her do her business.
I think Anetra had exactly the right kind of week after narrowly escaping the bottom two in the last episode. There’s no way she could possibly lose a lip sync tournament next week, which means she’ll re-enter the back half of the show coming off of two hot performances in a row (and, likely, one or two stunning lip syncs). If she can score another win off soon after that, she might actually slip past Sasha and Mistress Isabelle to retake the front-runner spot.
#4. Loosey LaDuca – 1 Win (5.17 avg; was #4, 2, 2, 5, 14, Pre-Season #8)
Loosey LaDuca delivered a fine, silly acting performance and did nothing to harm her placement, but she wasn’t a main character in this episode.
I was bored by Loosey LaDuca’s runway. Ghostbusters is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I loved her hair and make-up in this look. However, the outfit itself wasn’t high-fashion enough for me.
The body suit was clean, but that meant it could’ve been much more embellished. I don’t want to turn into one of those people who always insists every inch of fabric must be stoned, but I also think that plain fabric with a shiny finish will always look a little odd under the runway lights – and that’s doubly true for white fabric. It’s hard to sell a plain white look under the runway lights. More than any other color, if it doesn’t have some sparkle to it, the look will come off looking absolutely flat.
I think if what Loosey had on under her coat was a little more opulent, the plainness and hugeness of the coat would’ve worked better. Instead, it felt like it simply drew even more attention to how this was a perfectly safe look rather than an event.
I’m sure Loosey was gunning hard to pick up an acting win this week. She was strong in the challenge. She might have even been stronger than we saw. I feel certain that some of the front half of “Daytona Wind 2” was trimmed down since Loosey, Sasha, and Luxx’s performances weren’t consequential to the outcome of the episode.
I’m intensely curious to see how Loosey LaDuca fares in next week’s lip sync smackdown. She is the only queen in this group of potential finalists who hasn’t already made the case that she could be a fierce lip sync performer between the Talent Show and the Girl Groups challenge. It’s possible she could be the shocking boot next week, but a strong performance could show that she won’t be easily picked off in the cut from five queens down to four.
If Loosey keeps up her streak of strong performances, next week could be the only time we see her lip sync between her and the finale!
#5. Luxx Noir London – 1 Win (4.0 avg; was #3, 3, 5, 2, 6, Pre-Season #3)
Luxx Noir London gave a rare low-key performance in “Daytona Wind” that never quite clicked. While she wasn’t the worst of the week, this is the first time she has felt like a middle-of-the-pack queen rather than a front-runner.
I get where Luxx Noir London was going with this runway, but I’m just not feeling it. There’s no single big problem with it, but several small ones that distracted me.
First, I don’t know why you’d wear black hair against that black hood. Pink hair or a severe blonde bob would’ve completed the look better.
Next, the body of the suit confuses me. The top of it is very square and doesn’t give her much of a waist. The skirt is too short to read as a skirt and riding up on her hips, so it’s making her look wide in the middle rather than helping to give a cinching illusion.
Finally, I wish she was showing more leg at the top of her boots the way the gloves do at the top of her arms.
Kudos for the pink underwear and shoes, but this is a BOOT for me based on the rest of the styling.
Luxx may have given the most invisible performance in all of “Daytona Wind 2.” It’s impossible to know if she wasn’t given much to do in the script or if her role was chopped down in the edit since she was safe. From what we saw, it didn’t feel as though she made many choices about her character. That surprised me, since she was such an understated standout in the heavenly commercials! While her scene partner Sasha was doing plenty of mugging in the background, Luxx simply disappeared.
This was a safe week to have a safe performance, because there is still some fodder to work through. Also, based on what we’ve seen from Luxx so far, I expect her to slay in next week’s Lalaparuza. However, much like all of this top six, she is going to have to come out of the tournament absolutely ablaze to pick up a second win and make her way to the finale.
#6. Malaysia Babydoll Foxx (8.5 avg; was #10, 5, 9, 12, 9, Pre-Season #5)
Malaysia Babydoll Foxx had her strongest week yet on the challenge and the runway, but what is the edit saying about her chances in the competition?
There were positive aspects of this Malaysia Babydoll Foxx runway, but much like Luxx’s it was defeated by styling for me.
After seeing so many looks from Malaysia that have been busy on the top and plain on the bottom OR that were divided by odd center panels. I was shocked that this dress was the same from top to bottom! In this case, a belt would’ve made a huge difference. Between the patterning of the dress and the massive puffer-lined cloak, without an obvious waist Malaysia didn’t have any shape in this look.
I low-key hate that Malaysa’s leggings were the same pattern as the dress. I know it’s a particular fashionable thing to have everything in a look be the same print, but for me it just contributed to how incredibly shapeless she looked. Also, it looked like there may have been some fit issues on the leggings.
What Malaysia did have going for her this week was being ridiculous at Ru’s command in the acting challenge. The reverend didn’t exist to be a spectacular piece of character work – it was there purely to chew scenery. Malaysia was ready, willing, and able to take a massive bite.
As much as Ru and Michelle were fixated on Malaysia’s one instance of speaking in tongues, I was much more impressed with her random vocalizing and how she kept playing with her posture. However, I think we can all agree that her comedic timing with Mistress Isabelle was terrific.
I debated mightily if I wanted to give Malaysia a boost over Loosey and Luxx to round out the Top Four this week. I decided against it. It’s an ominous signal to be runner up to Mistress Isabelle Brokes in a challenge on the same episode where Malaysia had a fight with MIB in the workroom. The edit didn’t make either of them out to be a villain, which is a good and kind thing to do, but it also meant that from a narrative perspective it felt like Malaysia lost twice in one episode.
In terms of narrative momentum, that makes Malaysia feel like she came out of this episode slowed to a standstill rather than surging. If anything, it feels like Malaysia was used to give Mistress a boost. (And that the same thing might happen again in a lip sync sometime later this season…)
I’d say Malaysia is in danger next week in the Lalaparuza as a queen who has done decently well for herself but doesn’t have a win. Even if she makes it through, she will need to quickly notch a win against this very competitive Top Five if she is going to find a way to hang on until the finale.
#7. Marcia Marcia Marcia (6.83 avg; was #9, 8, 6, 7, 4, Pre-Season #10)
Marcia Marcia Marcia’s finally merited some positive comments from the judges, but she had to be hoping for a win from acing this acting challenge.
I think Marcia Marcia Marcia’s runway was rotted.
I get that she was selling sunburn, or frostbite, or… actually, maybe I don’t get what she was selling. That’s my problem with it. She spent so long goofing off on the runway, but if she had just strutted this outfit it would have told its own story.
Also? It’s kinda fugly. I am never fan of a long and wide bottom, especially when it’s made out of thick material, because it gives diaper. Pairing that with those baggy leggings, and then the fact that the entire look was flat white without any kind of sparkle… nothing about it worked for me.
Marcia had the bad luck to deliver this flat look on the same week as a solid acting performance. It might have even been a great acting performance. Out of the entire cast, Anetra and Marcia were the only pair who felt like they were on a real sitcom! While Anetra had more bits than Marcia, Marcia had more potentially-cringe lines and reactions to deliver. She aced every one. She is the only queen whose on-set humor married perfectly with the anti-humor editing.
Against all odds, Marcia made “Daytona Wind 2” watchable. However, I fear this might be the highest point of her Drag Race journey. While I do expect her to shock everyone by crushing a lip sync next week (she is very good), I simply don’t think her fashion will carry her much farther in this competition.
If Marcia is lucky, the lip sync tournament will be followed by an improv challenge and a ball, which are probably the two other challenges she is most-likely to do well in. However, that will take her exactly to this placement – seventh. To do any better than this, she’ll be relying on half of the top six to make a major slip up while surviving past them. Marcia would be better positioned if she could make it to the finale purely on her own strength.
#8. Salina EsTitties – 1 lip sync (8.33 avg; was #11, 8, 8, 7, Pre-Season #12)
Salina EsTitties hammed it up in the acting challenge, but didn’t find any particular bit to sink her teeth into. She’s getting lost in this crowd even while she swings hard at every aspect of the show.
Salina EsTitties is the only queen who took the puffer prompt and delivered a literal puffer coat. It was cute. As always, her make-up was gorgeous! However, it felt as though it was meant to turn into a reveal – and not just a reveal of hot Cheetos tucked into her panties.
As always, the cringe with Salina is strong. Yet, I appreciate Salina for it. Often I feel frustrated that queens come on Drag Race without being ready to GO FOR IT in every single way on every single episode. Salina is there to go the hardest at everything.
Even flashing the judges hot Cheetos in her underwear.
I could feel Salina swinging mightily hard at her character in “Daytona Wind 2”. She was the only cast member who wasn’t paired off with someone else for her scenes. Usually that’s an indication of a potential break-out part, but here the opportunities to show off felt limited. I think if Salina had another queen to play against her strength might have been more obvious. By herself – and, especially with the intentionally-awkward editing of the challenge – there just wasn’t much to see.
As a viewer, It seems clear to me that Salina has not been marked as a potential finalist. As a contestant, I’m sure that she’s also getting that sense. That must be wearing on her. While Salina will probably give one or more explosive lip sync performances next week, she also might wind up as this season’s Jasmine Kennedie – a strong performer sacrificed to the tournament set-up.
Even if Salina crushes her opponent(s) next week, it feels like she is a long way from the finale. I hope she still has some surprises in store for us, both in challenges and on the runway. I’d really love to see her give some of these top queens some competition in the back half of the competition. However, it’s starting to feel certain that she is a future All Star rather than a Season 15 finalist.
#9. Spice – 1 lip sync (9.0 avg; was #12, 12, 6, 8, Pre-Season #11)
Spice had her chance to impress RuPaul by taking direction and delivering absurdity in the challenge. She completely missed her shot.
I enjoyed Spice’s “Puffer Please” runway. It was safe, but it was fashionable. The high neck and the long sleeves looked conservative, but the high cut of the skirt said “sexy.” I wish the entire dress was all one fabric, rather than being a frock over a turtleneck shirt. However, I loved the wrapped puffer boots.
Spice finally got called out by the judges for playing the same “mincing around with her purse” beat on every runway and in every challenge. While that has worked well for some of her looks that were more “slutty Bratz doll,” she has to have a different walk for when she’s trying to sell fashion.
I think Spice’s put-on way of delivering lines in the acting challenge and her little girl skipping on the runway are both part of the same weakness for her. She is so committed to her fake plastic persona that it feels like she’s not authentically engaging with the show. We’ve seen that before from queens like Ben de La Creme, but BDCL got away with it because she was one of the strongest contestants of all time. Spice is not.
I don’t think it’s down to me as a TV viewer seeing a few minutes of Spice each week to say whether or not I think she’s real or fake for always doing her doll act. It could be that her more authentic moments are being lost to the cutting room floor thanks to the short edit of these episodes. We’ll never know.
Personally, I think there’s a lot more to Spice than we’ve seen on the show so far. She’ll need to break out of her dollhouse pretty quickly if she wants to avoid being one of the next queens to get the cut. I think she’s in serious danger in a lip sync tournament. I can’t see her beating anyone else in this cast, and Ru doesn’t have much motivation to keep her after tonight’s episode.
#10. – Jax – 2 lip syncs (8.67 avg; was #11, 10, 7, 11, 3, Pre-Season #4)
Jax can’t seem to do a single thing right in the eyes of RuPaul. Granted, her going full method-acting stoner meant she missed the obvious joke inflections on a few of her lines, but it’s starting to feel like the show has a vendetta against her.
Jax’s runway may have been the most fantastical of the entire cast, but it also had the most obvious problems as worn and styled by Jax.
If I saw all of these looks on mannequins, this one might have been my favorite! But, on Jax’s body I think the proportions of the jacket were off thanks to the wide cut of the bust. And wearing a netted full-body stocking beneath it made Jax look all grey, which further flattened her.
This was a clear case of the garment wearing Jax. I think the look would’ve come off a little cleaner if she had ditched the netted bodysuit in favor of a black or silver bra on top and the same bottoms Wearing a chest may have solved for the weird proportions on her chest when she was in motion, because the jacket looked fine when she was standing still for critiques.
Jax and Aura both made the same wrong decision in the acting challenge and I can’t fault either of them for it. They both decided to actually play a character rather than simply spout catchphrases in funny ways. It’s not too different from what Anetra did. However, Jax never found the highs and lows within her character the way that Anetra did.
Jax came at this like someone heading to their first table read of a show – who would have time to develop nuances – rather than someone who has a few fleeting minutes with Ru to find a joke. Without inserting some peaks into her performance, of course Ru was going to come for her stoner delivery of lines like “Party.”
Between her performance and her runway, Jax had no chance of avoiding her second lip sync. However, it was a very good lip sync. After having to work outside of her comfort zone for “In Your Room” by The Bangles last week, this time Jax scored a hip hop song and made the most of it with a show-stopping performance. It wasn’t just the cheerleading tricks; the actual dancing was great, too.
Therein lies the Jax conundrum. RuPaul has now seen Jax fail at the full range of typical Drag Race challenges. There’s no mistake that we’ve had one of each prior to next week’s Lalaparuza.
Ru and the producers know that Jax’s only remaining role on this cast is to serve stunning lip syncs. That means one of two things will happen next week.
First, maybe Jax skates by with a first or second round win. Hooray! Except, that means she will immediately be sacrificed to a front-runner the following week while they get a “bottom for vulnerability” placement.
Alternate, Jax will meet the same fate as Jasmine Kennedie did last year and be the lip sync powerhouse who is eliminated on a lip sync tournament.
I think last year’s remaining cast were a much stronger set of lip sync artists, which is what led to Jasmine’s downfall. This season, I could see Jax scoring a bracket against one or more of Loosey, Malaysia, and Spice where there’s no way she will be the worst three times in a row to result in her elimination. However, if she lines up against all of the rest of the cast, she could easily be a shocking boot – especially if it gives Ru the chance to give the unrewarded Marcia or Malaysia some flowers for a great lip sync.
Eliminated in 11th Place: Aura Mayari – 1 Win, 1 lip sync (11.0 avg; was #6, 9, 13, 14, 13, Pre-Season #9)
Last week I said it felt like we would see a “Challenge Winner > Lip Syncer” journey for Aura Mayari and that she’d have to watch out for Salina, Jax, and Marcia in a lip sync. I’m not saying I’m psychic. I’ve just seen a LOT of Drag Race.
Aura’s problem in this episode wasn’t simply missing the chance to punch a few lines hard in the challenge. On a meta level, it was her chance to prove she could be flexible, funny, and take direction. If she had shown that to Ru, I think Ru would’ve happy sacrificed Spice to Jax in the lip sync to give Aura another shot.
However, Aura become doomed when Ru couldn’t wring a strong performance out of her.
To be fair, I don’t think Aura didn’t understand her various catchphrases. That’s an edit the show loves to foist on its English-as-a-second-language competitors and it was something Aura was nervous about herself, but I didn’t see it.
Instead, as an experienced theatre kid, I felt like Aura went into the challenge thinking, “how can I effectively sell that this woman is mourning her husband” … and, in the process, she lost all of the potential funniness in her performance. We already saw that Aura is actually very good at giving grief in her spooky Snatch Game runway! It should come as no surprised she leaned into that dramatic aspect of her role.
Then, Aura had one more chance to stay on the show: by proving herself to be a potential lip sync assassin! As part of the half of the cast with a win under her belt, a credible lip sync would’ve kept Aura alive in the competition and given her the chance to play spoiler next week in the lip sync smack down.
However, when it became obvious that Jax was outdancing her, Aura’s fate was sealed.
I think Aura Mayari had a solid run on Drag Raceand she should be proud of it. She managed to score a decisive win against a line-up of heavy-hitting obvious finalists, and even in her elimination she didn’t serve anything disastrous. In a different line-up of queens or against a different slate of challenges, it possible she may have made it much farther. Perhaps we’ll see her back some day for an All Stars season.