Pose: Season 1/ Episode 3 “Giving and Receiving” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Angel getting her face ready for Stan's promised visit.
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It’s Christmas time and as Elektra gives herself a gift, House of Evangelista makes sure everyone gets one. 


Network
FX
Director(s) Nelson Cragg
Writer(s) Janet Mock, Our Lady J
Air Date 6/17/2018
Actors Introduced
Tony Glamo
Costas Johnny Sibilly
Patty Kate Mara

[Contains what some may say is a graphic picture – it is used for informative purposes]

Melting Away Like Snowflakes: Helena, Damon, Pray Tell, Blanca

The AIDS epidemic continues to ravage the community and makes life challenging. For Helena, it is a student, a real talented boy named Tony dying which hits her hard. Probably leading to her taking it out a bit on Damon who dares to show up late to her class because he was prepping for a ball. Something Blanca speaks to Helena about, leading to a minor confrontation, as well as it being noted Damon may get cut at the end of the semester. Which, with that said, Blanca decides school is more important than going to a ball. Something that, of course, Damon isn’t happy about, in fact, he throws a fit! But guess what? He keeps his behind in the apartment.

As for Pray Tell? Over the last few years, it seems he has lost so many that he finds it increasingly hard to get close to anyone. Never mind as friends but a relationship? Hmm. It’s just, like in the case of Costas, how many times can one person deal with the death of friends and family, blood relation or not?

Commentary

Costas coming to terms with the fact he is dying.
Costas (Johnny Sibilly): I can’t believe I’m gonna spend my last Christmas in here.

You have to feel for Pray Tell and his situation. Perhaps having this feeling you’re “One of the lucky ones” since you didn’t get the virus, and yet now you perhaps get some survivors remorse. For with the community presented, Pray Tell may have been one of the few to show up to the funeral. Perhaps, depending on the family, the only one who knows who you truly were and accepted it. So he bears the weight, sometimes solo, of keeping your legacy alive and your truth.

Leading me to wonder, considering the dance world likely has many Damons, though that may be an unfair stereotype, how many students has Helena watch waste away? Because her whole, encouragement or shame thing, it makes me wonder if part of that anger wasn’t just Damon being late but her losing her student. Maybe even, despite her industry, blaming the culture for their own epidemic and the toll it brings others.

Not to imply she is homophobic or victim blaming. However, Blanca noting her as snooty, with the way she talked about ball culture, seemed on point. Making it appear that while she may love her students no matter what, certain elements of gay culture she doesn’t see the value in when compared to her high art form. Maybe even feels, similar to Pray Tell, upset that, in her ignorance, they act in such a manner to get the virus.

A Fish With A Tail: Elektra

Though, as noted in The Danish Girl, reassignment surgery has been around and practiced, one way or another, for decades, it still remains an expensive and difficult to obtain surgery. Especially if you want said surgery done in the United States. Hence why co-writer, Janet Mock, notes in her book, she went to Thailand.

However, while a woman of the world, Elektra isn’t going through all that. Hence why she has been pre-op, but taking good care of herself, all this time. Though, maybe figuring she can just live as she is and just accept that she is the only one who knows the truth. That and a doctor she saw in 1979, the last time she possibly pursued the idea of bottom surgery.

But, with the mentee of one Peter Harris ready to pick up where he left off, it seems there is renewed hope for Elektra. So, using the girls she has left, she steals her way into $2300 and plants it to set her date.

Commentary

Elektra looking at a panphlet about reassignment surgery.

Is it wrong to believe that, considering the lifestyle Elektra has, she would have had bottom surgery? It seemed, when it comes to the woman she portrays herself as, that she would have long gotten that done. Especially since, with hearing about her sugar daddy, who we will be meeting in the next episode, it seemed like something she would have finagled out of him.

But, perhaps the most important bit is how Elektra spoke bits and pieces of her story. Not just how she used to be a dancer but, perhaps to not be clocked, she has avoided going to the doctor for almost a decade. Something that should be noted is just because a trans-friendly doctor couldn’t keep up his practice.

And that sort of reminds me of the show, I Am Jazz in a way. Particularly the struggle Jazz’s parents had, if I recall right, in finding a doctor who not only didn’t see it as a phase but also was willing to help how Jazz felt on the inside matching her outside. Now, I only watched the first season, so I can’t speak on how her story evolved, but it is something to be said that from the late 80s to now, there are still many obstacles in trans people getting medical care with dignity. Heck, even on The Good Doctor we got a poignant example that Elektra’s issues with the medical industry haven’t necessarily changed much.

Merry Christmas: Matt, Stan, Angel, Blanca, Pray Tell, Damon, Ricky, Patty

With an apartment given to Angel, so does the trust begin. However, no sooner than it is given is it lost as Stan has to save face with Patty. You see, Stan veers into Matt’s lane and seemingly will get to speak to Trump directly. This offends Matt to the point he tries to use knowledge about Stan’s affair as leverage. He even, to mess with Stan’s marriage, comes over, kisses Patty, and plants seeds of doubt.

Luckily, Stan may seem average in every way, but he isn’t stupid. Despite buying a gift for Angel, he had that gift put in the same box as Patty’s so when she accuses him of cheating, especially cause his daughter snitched on him, he pulls out the box with the jewelry as a set and wins this battle. However, Angel ends up a casualty in the process.

But motha Blanca makes up for that. After hearing a story about red patent pumps denied to Angel as a child, she gets them for her as an adult. In fact, everyone gets a present but it is Angel and Pray Tell’s which stand out the most. Well, Damon giving Ricky holiday sex too but, the details are vague there.

Getting back to Pray Tell’s gift, while it was made clear that Elektra was Blanca’s mother, Pray Tell seems to have a special place in Blanca’s heart. Be it as a father figure, a friend, or who knows what, he has been there for her and her house like no other. So, to help encourage him a bit, she gets him a camera. Hoping that may push his career forward and represent how he has brought color to her life.

Commentary

Pray Tell, playfully, admonishing Blanca for making a tear jerking moment.
Pray Tell: Lord Jesus, you got us bawling like bitches.

I’m fully ready for Matt and Stan to eventually reach fisticuffs. For clearly, Matt feels a certain type of way this kid who was his student one day is becoming an equal within a month – if that. Plus, with Matt having nothing to lose but his job, and his performance likely making that unlikely, this game is Stan’s to lose. He could lose his wife and family, Angel perhaps, and this masquerade he has been keeping up? This checklist? It could all be for naught in an instant. Making me wonder, how deep is Angel’s love for him anyway? Is it all the status and sweet talking or is it Stan the person as well? Heck, another thing I’d love to know is did she enjoy sexy time with Stan or was it her trying to keep things in a hustle mindset? You know, give him enough to catch feelings but not her whole heart because she isn’t trying to watch him throw it in the trash.

Speaking of sex, did Damon and Ricky use a condom? Heck, did they even get that far? Considering Blanca’s sex talk, even though I know FX can only go but so far, it would have been nice for them to go into detail about the joins and pains of gay sex. We occasionally see the act but rarely, especially for first times like Damon, get to see it in such a way dealing with love, passion, and genuinely feeling like our lead is ready.

Leading to the need to ask about Pray Tell and Blanca’s relationship. How did the emcee, a former performer, get to know and befriend Blanca who may have won a few trophies, but doesn’t appear to be a legend of any sort in the ballroom scene? When did they get so comfortable that she frequents his house, makes him comfortable enough to be vulnerable? Never mind design probably a good portion of her house’s ball attire?

It all isn’t clear but what is clear is that Blanca is grateful. Not just to him either but everyone in her life and I know I can’t be the only one who got teary-eyed, right? You know, when she got her gift? Because, taking note of Blanca’s diagnosis and yet she is spending her final years taking care of other people’s kids, showing them love, is touching. For even if she talks a lot about building a legacy as a house, the one she truly is building is a legacy these kids will remember as a blueprint to know what love is and how to show it.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. How did Pray Tell meet Blanca?
  2. So, how much overtime did Blanca do to get everyone a gift? Especially considering, Lil Papi’s, Angel’s, and Pray Tell’s did not seem cheap? Also, it isn’t necessarily clear if anyone is helping with rent or not.

Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

“Whoever got anywhere knowing their place?”

“Time is not your friend. It’s coming for you, for all of us. It shows no mercy and it always wins, and then you’re gone, forgotten.”

“There is a difference between inspiration and distraction.”

“It didn’t come like a bullet, it came like poison.”

“Before I met you, everything was in Black and white and that kind of thinking don’t work in a gray world. You taught me to appreciate life and treasure every breath. You adjusted my focus and now I see in color.”

Highlights

  1. Blanca as a motha during times she has to get on her kids’ case or be that benevolent and nurturing figure.
  2. Learning a bit more about Elektra.
  3. Damon being held accountable and his easy street seemingly coming to a dead end. Which is a highlight because I never got over how easily he got into Helena’s class despite his routine and lack of ability to pay tuition.
  4. Pray Tell continuously being developed to be more than a comic relief, but simply a human being who just so happens to have a flamboyant personality.
  5. Matt and Stan eventually going head to head.
  6. Elektra representing why, besides the fear of an AIDS diagnosis, trans people back then avoided going to doctors. Also, her storyline representing how difficult it was to get bottom surgery. Especially if you wanted it in the USA.

Low Points

  1. Can’t something be done with Elektra’s remaining children so that we know something about them? I can barely recall their names without going on IMDB.

On The Fence

  1. Is it wrong that I barely care about Patty and the fact she is being cheated on? Do we look at the writing or Mara’s performance when it comes to that? Or is it Moore’s performance and character just makes you lean more to her side?

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About Amari Sali 3221 Articles
New Jersey native Amari Sali takes the approach of more so being a media advisor than a critic to sort of fill in the gap left between casual fans of media and those who review productions for a living. Thus being open about bias while still giving enough insight, often with spoilers, to present whether something is worth seeing, buying, renting, streaming, or checking out at all.

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