What’s in the box?! Loyal Pose viewers already know the grim contents of the trunk stinking up Elektra’s closet. Having already loaded the chamber of this Chekhov’s gun, in lieu of a reveal, the writers wisely pivoted to a story about the history of the House of Abundance.
In the rush of a flash-forwarding final season, it’s good to see the show taking time to give one of the series’ enduring mysteries — and most fascinating real-life inspirations — proper closure.
It’s also a great excuse to give Dominique Jackson’s Elektra an extended showcase. Jackson always had a powerful presence on the screen, but this was some of her most vulnerable work in a series punctuated with so many fierce moments.
Before the trunk was hiding a slowly mummifying body in Elektra’s closet, it was home to her finest fineries. As a young, up-and-coming legend in 1978, Elektra was a sex worker on the piers, squirreling away whatever cash she could for fashion. Well, it definitely wasn’t going toward rent. She was living at home — and in the closet — with her unsupportive mother.
That’s where we find her in 1978. One night forces Elektra home still presenting as a full, beautiful woman, and her mother lets her have it. She verbally and physically abused her, ripping her Halston dress (that’s Halston, by Ryan Murphy, coming soon to Netflix!) and throws her out. She even makes her leave her trunk behind, claiming some messed up kind of eminent domain. It’s a really tough scene to watch, but both Jackson and Noma Dumezweni (playing her birth mother) are giving it their all.
Literally tossed out in the streets, enterprising young Elektra takes in baby Candy, Lulu and Blanca, but they’re nowhere near the heights of luxury we saw them in early in the series. As the family breadwinner, Elektra hits the piers again. It’s there she discovers the trio of baby Angel, Cubby and Lemar. With a growing family, it’s clear she’s going to need more income than the streets can provide.
She leads the children to her childhood home, breaks in a window and snatches the trunk. She explains to Blanca how its contents are her life’s work, worth a small fortune. All this extraction and exposition wakes her mother. This time, Elektra isn’t going to let her abuse her. Abandoned and alone, her mother attempts to offer her a compromise, as long as Elektra tones down the things that make her uncomfortable. Maybe that worked for young Elektra, but this Elektra doesn’t change for anyone.
Elektra moves the kids into the nice apartment we met them in during season one, and they enter their first ball. It’s one of the best walks we’ve seen as the House of Abundance makes its debut in the category “Once Upon a Time.” Maybe it’s all my time recapping RuPaul’s Drag Race, but I cannot get over these lewks, henny! Lulu rocks a long Rapunzel braid (this isn’t RuPunzel’s Best Friend’s Race!), Candy wears a bed attached to her wig as Sleeping Beauty and Angel makes her debut as Little Red Riding Hood by way of badass Red Sonja. They look great, but it’s Blanca and Elektra that steal the show. We’ve seen so much saintly Blanca and motherly Blanca, it’s fun to see this young attitude. She looks fun and sexy as Snow White, but then Elektra comes down at the Evil Queen and it is next level. It’s not even that great of a garment, but the face alone is a full serve.
Blanca didn’t have to be O. Henry to realize Elektra sold the clothes from the trunk to pay for the apartment and their first ball outfits. All she finds in it now is an old picture of Elektra as a literal child with her mother.
That’s why Blanca is still always so quick to help Elektra, no matter how vicious she can be. Elektra knows this, even if she doesn’t know why, which is of course why Blanca is Elektra’s first phone call from the police station.
Blanca recruits Papi and Ricky to get the trunk, and eventually hot doctor Christopher is looped into the caper. She has no choice but to confide the truth about the man in the trunk (and no control over her near constant need to remind everyone around her about the true meaning of FAMILY over and over).
They decide to
throw the body into the river bury the body at sea. It’s there Elektra reveals she knows the man’s family buried some of his belongings somewhere else to serve as a gravesite, because she compulsively checks the newspapers for any mention of him. Now, with his final tell-tale heart at rest at last, Elektra accepts the peace courtesy of Blanca and the boys.
Back at the apartment, Christopher reveals he got a friend to help drop the charges against Elektra. This sets Elektra off, as she hates to be dependent on anyone. She’s even stressing about owing Blanca for this massive favor, but Blanca reminds her of the sacrifices she made them over the years. Then, she hands her the photo of her mother with her younger self, because FAMILY.
They return to the table, Elektra looks around at her children, raises a glass to FAMILY and smiles.
It’s a really nice little bow on her story. For the longest time, it was strange to see Elektra so frequently return to the role of mother, even though she seemed to be more concerned with her own ego and life of luxury. Now, we see how she lacked motherly support and how she was raised to be a protector. It makes her softer moments feel more deeply grounded and less of just a wink at the audience.
It should also be noted that Dominique Jackson really nailed these scenes this episode, and the real crime would be overlooking her next awards season.
What did you think of the episode?