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January 27, 2024

Philly's Sapphira Cristál survives episode 4 of 'RuPaul's Drag Race' while gaining a rival

The latest episode of 'Drag Race' centered around a sketch comedy challenge, where Sapphira Cristál butted heads with Las Vegas drag queen Mirage

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RuPaul's Drag Race Season 16 Episode 4 Sapphira Cristal Cher Harriet Dubsmen/Twitter/X

Sapphira Cristál won a top spot in episode 3. Although Sapphira wasn't one of the top queens in episode 4, she remains a strong contender thanks to her comedic performance and her outfit (pictured above) based on Cher's 2017 Vegas look.

After both groups of competitors clashed in last week's episode of "RuPaul's Drag Race," the group dynamic of season 16 has begun to solidify. Episode 4 had the queens clash and form rivalries, with Philly's Sapphira Cristál caught up in a little drama.

This week's episode challenged the contestants' comedic prowess, as they had to put together a "Saturday Night Live"-like sketch comedy show called "RDR Live." Queens were tasked with choosing their parts and rehearsing their sketches. 

As one can imagine, deciding on roles in a room full of egos was contemptuous.

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The queens looked over the script, which included five sketches. The contestants became argumentative when claiming roles, asserting their perceived ability to play a certain role the best. When it came to who would host the show, Sapphira ran into some opposition.

Sapphira quickly expressed her desire to be the host, as did Las Vegas-based contestant Mirage. "I'm never willing to bow down," said Sapphira when asked if she'd be willing to concede the role. As the queens continued the debate, Sapphira quickly made a 180 turn and relented, taking a different role.

"I really know that I'm gonna turn out anything I do. So she can have it," said Sapphira in a talking head interview. Mirage, newly minted as the host, expressed paranoia in a talking head interview, wondering if Sapphira was "playing a game."

Sapphira rehearsed with New York queens Plasma and Nymphia Wind for their "Barbra Shop Quartet" sketch, with Plasma information dumping non-stop about her love of Barbara Steisand. RuPaul asked Sapphira's group if Mirage fought for the role of host; as Sapphira relays what happened, Mirage's paranoia appears to grow. 

"Sapphira saying that she gave me this role is putting in Ru's head that it's not something that I felt confident about and that I picked and that I stand by," said Mirage in a talking head interview. 

Sapphira denied to the group that she had any ulterior motive. "Mirage having second thoughts? That's not my problem," Sapphira said in her own talking head interview.

With guest judge Sarah Michelle Gellar watching, the queens performed their live sketch comedy show. Mirage went through a somewhat shaky stand-up monologue, making comedic jabs at her fellow contestants. 

The show featured silly and raunchy sketches, like a "Weekend Update"-like segment where Kansas City queen Q portrayed the brick thrown at Stonewall Inn. The Barbra Shop Quartet sketch with Sapphira, Plasma and Nymphia garnered laughs and went smoothly without a hitch.

For the runway challenge, the theme was "Night of 1,000 Chers," with Sapphira embodying Cher at her 2017 Vegas residency. Featuring an elaborate sparkly blue dress with "100 pheasant feathers" and a large wig, Sapphira demonstrated how Cher was, in Sapphira's words, "the queen of excess." "This is a woman's world, and I am a woman," said Sapphira.

When it came time for the judges' verdict, Sapphira emerged as one of the safe contestants. The same couldn't be said for Mirage, who received a bit of constructive criticism for her hosting. "You were telegraphing that the joke was coming," said Gellar, a three-time "SNL" host.

Ultimately, RuPaul declared Plasma as the winner of the challenge — her Barbra obsession paid off. Mirage and Texas-based queen Geneva Karr were in the bottom two, having to lip-sync to Cher's "Dark Lady" to survive the competition. 

Unfortunately, Mirage fell short, curling up and bursting into tears after her elimination, prompting her fellow queens and even her former rival Sapphira to sob. It was an emotional ending to an otherwise hilarious episode, one that Sapphira reminisced about on social media.

"RuPaul's Drag Race" airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on MTV.