Before we break into all of that, I want to acknowledge how little I miss the secondary storylines revolving around Evan Peters, Kate Mara and James Van Der Beek. All three are terrific actors, did fantastic work last season and I suspect their name recognition went a long way in getting the series greenlit. However, less time spent on these wealthy white people means more time with the true stars of the series and the ballroom.
That’s not to say there are no wealthy white people to found. Broadway legened Patti LuPone made her Pose debut last night, and it was juicy. Playing a sort of Leona Helmsley type (her dogs are named Cash and Credit), Lupone’s character Frederica Norman was introduced as a real estate tycoon renting a storefront to Blanca.
Once LuPone’s character learns Blanca is trans, she renegs on the deal. Blanca won’t go down without a fight, claiming squatter’s rights and vowing to take Norman to court. Mj Rodriguez was strikingly game to stand toe-to-toe against LuPone, something few actresses are ever capable of.
Hopefully Blanca has a lot of fight in her, because attacks seem like they’re coming from every angle. She’s still not taking the AZT, fearing the side effects more than whatever AIDS has in store for her. Thankfully, by the end of the episode, she’s invited Sandra Bernhard’s nurse over to tell her the medication is one more fight she’s ready to take on.
She’s inspired to set an example for her children, especially Damon and Ricky, the latter of whom Damon suspects has been unfaithful. In a heated argument, they reveal they’ve been having unprotected sex, which freaks Blanca out.
In response, she comes clean to all her children over dinner in a heartwrenching scene. It’s this monologue where Blanca lays out the nasty truth about what society thinks of Damon and Ricky:
You boys are young, black, gay and poor. This world despises you. You get this disease, you die. They feel relieved that you’re getting what you deserve.
It’s the sort of scene that feels like a punch to the gut, because, in so many ways, it feels every bit as resonant today.
Of all people, it’s Lil Papi who has the most touching reaction. Heaving sobs, he tells her he will always take care for her, because she took care of him. Angel Bismark Curiel wasn’t ever near the top of my list for standout performances on this show, but he surprised me with a particularly raw and vulnerable scene from Papi.
Hearing Blanca’s story is enough to remind Damon that he needs to be loving himself. So he breaks up with Ricky and starts teachint voguing classes.
It sounds like a positive move, but the breakup sends Ricky to the newest house — Elektra’s House of Wintour, and “Wintour is coming,” bitches.
That’s right, Elektra is a mother once more. She’s picked up some lucrative night work as a dominatrix, which is now paying the bills for a lush pad and fabulous fineries. In addition to Ricky, she’s picked up two Evangelista boys (who originally were members of the House of Abundance), two voguers, a triple-threat and a rare, white ballroom beauty played by Trace Lysette.
I have a difficult time connecting with Elektra on the series. Something about her over-the-top theatrics and attitude not only alienates her from the other characters, but it makes it tough as a viewer to invest in her emotional life. At the same time, her brand of camp is a nice contrast to some of Pose‘s more overly earnest moments and, at times, the overwhelmingly bleak circumstances. The sequence in which she establishes her house was a bright spot in the episode.
Their ballroom debut is a literal showstopper, first attempting to interrupt a category and nearly causing a knife fight. But their official first walk for fashion and feathers dwarfs the competition.
House of Wintour is a force to be reckoned with, and Elektra is sure to give Blanca a run for her money as Mother of the Year.
What did you think of the episode?