Pose S01E04

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This episode was a mixed bag of emotions for me and the first time I’ve watched Pose and didn’t come out of the episode feeling uplifted. There was some of that to be had, for sure, with Damon and Elektra’s story lines, but it was tempered by Pray Tell’s bad news and Angel’s insecurities about her body.

Damon’s story in this episode didn’t start in a very good place and I expected a different outcome for him at the end of it. When he threw up during dance class my very first thought was “Gosh I hope Damon isn’t positive.” It was certainly what was on Blanca’s mind. So much so in fact, that I was surprised that Damon didn’t pick up on that. As a gay man living in the 1980s who is well aware of the HIV/AIDS virus’ existence, one would think that he would know that that was why she was asking the questions that she did. Damon can’t be that naive that Angel had to spell it out for him.

Again, as a gay man living in the 1980s, Damon really should have discussed Ricky’s status with him a very long time ago. Damon was right that Ricky should have told him, but at the same time, he should’ve asked. Truthfully, I was expecting Ricky to say that he was positive when Damon asked him what his status was. I didn’t like that Ricky dismissed his disclosing his uncertainty about his status as something that wouldn’t have changed anything, because it certainly would have. They could have gotten tested a lot sooner. The silver lining to this scare is that they got tested at all.

I understood where Pray Tell was coming from by no longer getting tested and sympathised with him. But Blanca put her foot down about them all getting tested and I was glad that she did. I thought that she would have gone to the hospital with them as emotional support since she had, however, and especially since she said “we.” Unfortunately, the test results weren’t good news for everyone.

Even though Damon’s came back negative, I was still expecting Ricky’s to come back positive. For some reason though, when it cut to Pray Tell reacting to Lil Papi’s results, I instantly knew that he would be the one whose test would be positive. I was hoping and praying that it wouldn’t and would have honestly preferred that if any of them had it, that it be Ricky or Lil  Papi; I’m not attached to either of those characters. I wanted it to be anyone but Pray Tell. Sadly, I was right and it was him. Luckily, he has Blanca to support him.

It shocked me that Pray Tell had lied to Blanca, of all people, about his status, but he did eventually tell her. She has been a consistent source of strength, inspiration, support and love for pretty much everyone she’s come into contact with on the show so far. Despite her own struggle with HIV/AIDS and what she’s going through – or perhaps because of it – she’s always there for everyone else. It’s what I love most about her as a character.

The ball that opened this episode was so hard to watch because it was incredibly discriminatory toward Candy and her body as a trans woman. I understand the the category was for judging curvy women specifically and she didn’t have that body type, but the way she was ridiculed and insulted felt very, very wrong, as did excluding her from the category to begin with. Of course events played out the way that they did.

Clarissa was bad enough, she was operating out of what looked like her living room and recommended super glue to stop the bleeding, but the woman that Candy wound up getting the injections from was far worse. She seemed to have her head on straight with the constant questioning, but the insecurity she felt from being shamed at the Balls got the best of her. Besides the infection that she got, the procedures seem to have scarred her as well.

Angel’s insecurities got the best of her too and turned an off-handed remark by Stan into overall disapproval of her body. It also amplified other insecurities she’s had about their relationship, particularly that she’s just a phase, and raised a whole new one – that he is more attracted to his wife than her. I think that Stan was being sincere and genuine in everything he said to her during their argument. Her insecurity blinded her to that and twisted everything he said into a negative that reinforced how she was feeling about herself. So much so that she got silicone injections as well. At least she went to Clarissa.

Elektra was also experiencing displeasure with her body in this episode. She successfully managed to save up the money to have her Sexual Reassignment Surgery, but her partner/benefactor was 100% against her doing it. It was pretty sweet when he said that he likes her as she is, but then the more he spoke the more it became apparent that her penis was pretty much all he wanted her for. He also demonstrated what she’d hinted at in the last episode; how difficult it can be to get anything out of him. Especially with how he lorded his patronage over her to get her to do as he wanted.

I was so proud of her for telling him that she was going to get the surgery for herself whether he liked it or not. But then she went back on it, citing his statement that he loves her as she is. It was clear that that was just a cover. I didn’t blame her for deciding not to go forward with it, considering how much she would be sacrificing if she did. Which is why I’m glad that she met with Aphrodite.

At first I thought that Aphrodite was some younger upstart trying to steal Elektra’s shine, instead she was a fan. I loved that Aphrodite respected Elektra and the road she paved for trans women like herself. It was beautiful to see that Aphrodite, someone who had been inspired by Elektra to be the person they wanted to be, in turn inspire Elektra to do the same and humanising; seeing Elektra be vulnerable – not just here, but throughout the episode – when she’s usually mean, jealous and catty. I was so proud of Elektra when she decided to do the surgery in the end.

This episode featured Dominique Jackson’s best acting to date. Not just in this diner scene with Aphrodite but in the flash sideways that showed her duct taping her penis. There was a great deal of raw emotion in her performance, as well as authenticity, that is no doubt pulled from her own personal experience. She truly captured the anguish that Elektra was feeling in those moments and I almost feel bad for saying that she was a terrible actress before. Almost.

Random thoughts:

  1. Damon just said he was humble and in the very next breath displayed the opposite of that.
  2. This woman is not a legitimate medical practitioner.
  3. Candy’s earrings remind me of Sailor Moon’s compact.
  4. Wait…Lil Papi’s straight?!
  5. This is the first time that Damon’s dancing really impressed me.

Pose airs Sundays at 9 PM on FX.

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About The Author

An avid reader who accidentally discovered her love and talent for writing and has loved movies for as long as she has been watching them. Stumbled into film-making and found her second love because she decided to read for a degree in it on a whim - kind of.