After a few weeks of ambitious (though uneven) storytelling, Pose returned to its central characters and conflicts for a strong seventh installment of its second season.
I’ve spilled enough pixels bemoaning the creative choices of the last few episodes, so let’s focus on the positives: Once again, Pose is telling stories rarely glimpsed on television with a cast that could rival any prestige drama. Expertly written by Janet Mock and directed with extreme care by Jennie Livingston, the episode, “Blow,” made significant narrative gains.
Last night functioned as a something of a reset. The crushing popularity of Madonna’s “Vogue” seems to have waned, and, thus, so has the demand for ballroom culture in the mainstream. Ricky and Damon are depressed about the lack of gigs, and Lulu is still mourning the loss of Candy.
Instead of letting the three youngsters wallow in misery all summer, Blanca and Pray give them a task. They are going to wrap Frederica’s house in a giant condom as part of an ACT UP demonstration. It’s a perfect way to weave several stories together, and it grounds us in such a moment in time in terms of HIV/AIDS awareness and advocacy.
Having this project and purpose energizes Damon, Ricky and Lulu. They decide to get a giant inflatable condom made for the task. The installation provides an opportunity for Ricky and Pray to bond a bit. Ricky admits he did cheat on Damon. (He didn’t sleep with other dancer, Chris, but he did let him go down on him.)
Even more important than the reveal is the conversation between Pray and Ricky. I struggle to think of examples wherein two gay black men discuss sexuality so naturally. Pray admonishes him for “bottom shaming,” and, although he was just recently tested, Pray wants him tested again.
It’s a small moment, but on any other show there would be one episode where the characters go for an HIV test. (Remember when Samantha Jones went for one and never again?) This is a huge part of these characters’ lives, and it should be an important part of the show, not the subject of “a very special episode.”
Ricky, Damon, Lulu — along with Blanca, Elektra, Pray and Judy — successfully get the condom on the house, humiliating Frederica and making an impactful statement in the process.
It also helps move along the conflict over Blanca’s salon. Frederica rushed their conflict to court and lost. (I wish we could have watched that courtroom scene rather than Pray’s hallucinations last week that barely reverberated in any meaningful way last night, BUT WHATEVER.) Frederica admits defeat, but is sure to threateningly warn Blanca about leaving late at night. The battle is over, but their war rages.
It’s not all victories, though. Pray takes Ricky to get tested, and Ricky learns he’s positive. There are hints that Ricky and Pray are developing a relationship of some kind, but is it mentor/mentee or something more?
The other major storyline focused on Angel’s blossoming modeling career and relationship with Lil Papi. They’re celebrating Angel booking a new campaign with Bebe. They hit a VIP club and do a little too much VIP cocaine. They also have sex, and, despite being high, it’s one of the most tender scenes the show has ever produced. It’s beautiful.
Unfortunately, Angel shows up hungover for the shoot.
Even more unfortunate? The photographer is the one who took her initial pro photos and tried to extort her.
The episode ends on a cliffhanger. Will Angel’s secret stay safe? How will Frederica get her revenge? What’s happening between Pray and Ricky? Share your theories in the comments!