Pose: Season 2, Episode 1 “Acting Up” [Season Premiere] – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)

Blanca and Pray Tell at Hart Island.
FX
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The ladies of Pose return, and with the AIDS crisis in full effect, those who aren’t about the community and taking advantage of “Vogue” giving spotlight are called out.


Network
FX
Director(s) Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Writer(s) Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals
Air Date 6/11/2019

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Someone Must Speak For The Dead: Judy, Pray Tell, Blanca

Before the drama of learning Blanca now has AIDS status, we’re reminded of more than 800 bodies which might be buried on Hart Island. A place where, going by the rude attendant, dead bodies which were infected by AIDS were quarantined to a separate area. Also, for the living, you could find yourself going to three or more funerals a week. Knowing 100s of people who are dying, and wondering if you are next. Making it so morose humor, like Judy has, might be the only silver lining of living.

It Can’t All Be Sacrifice: Angel, Lil Papi, Blanca

But, as long established, Blanca isn’t going to leave this world without her children being set for life. This episode her focus is on Angel and making her a model. For with Madonna’s “Vogue” taking the world by storm, she wants Angel to ride the wave and use her beauty to become something beyond a pretty face at the balls. She wants her to be in Vogue, on the runway, and unfortunately, it doesn’t come quick nor easy.

Sadly, a photographer nearly derails that plan by taking advantage of the vulnerable Angel. However, he gets his ass whipped for doing so. But, thankfully, while a pervert, he is a good photographer and in a model search competition, Angel gets to the semifinals.

Not All Queer Folk Are Kin Folk: Pray Tell, Elektra, Blanca, Candy, Lulu

Pray Tell going off and speaking to the children.
FX

Thanks to Judy taking him to an activist meeting, Pray Tell gets fired up about the community speaking out. I’m talking him getting as vocal, and nasty, as when he had a drinking problem. Luckily, this time, he has a funnel for his anger, but when it comes to the ball, he takes aim at nearly everyone he doesn’t like, and not a single one appreciates. Most of all Elektra, since you know the balls are her life. It’s the one place she is respected, the only place she can be outspoken and not put in her place, so Pray Tell publicly embarrassing her for not showing up was a major blow.

Hence why, first chance she gets, she flips out at Blanca’s home and storms out. After all, she was a mother before Blanca, and while she was humbled by hard times, she has apparently bounced back. So, with that in mind, she bites the hand that fed her and heads over to the ones, Candy and Lulu, who abandoned her behind the first chance they had.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Was Angel set up so that she’d “Pay her dues?”

Highlights

Before The Drama, Let’s Remind You This Is Real

While we all love a good keke, Pray Tell going off on people and Elektra’s antics, you have to appreciate the show, primarily through Blanca, and Pray Tell to a point, showing the laughs is to get through the pain. At that time, there was no PrEP, gay people were still demonized, and as Pray Tell said, all moments when it seemed they would be mainstream were a phase. Disco came and went, and while “Vogue” created interest, it was Madonna’s platform that just so happened to have a few gay men on it. For those men, yeah they may have opportunity but for the average gay or trans person? What does Madonna do for them? Give some false hope like Blanca has? If you are Pray Tell’s age, between cynicism or knowing better, you know to set your expectations low.

Let’s Call Mother Of The Year Already

Though Blanca’s optimism is sometimes so off the charts you wish someone like her was in your life, you have to admire her place in everyone’s life. She is the one pushing these kids to dream, to make it so those dreams come to fruition and present the idea of them being gay or trans is but an adjective. It isn’t something which sets their destiny or should deter them. If anything, it has allowed them to tap into a world which will help them succeed. Making it so, in a way, she presents them a reason to take some pride in who they are. Despite so much of the world saying they should be ashamed.

Angel striking a pose.
FX

Elektra & Judy, A Distraction From The Pain

With all that said, I’m glad Elektra and Judy provide some jokes to keep this from becoming too serious. Heaven knows both of their interactions with Pray Tell show you why that man is so needed in this series. He’ll take you from nearly bawling to dying of laughter thanks to Judy and Elektra.

But, honing in on Elektra specifically, I love to hate her on a Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones level – and she never killed anyone.

On The Fence

So, We Going To Catch Up On What Happened The Past Years?

From two children in Blanca’s house who we barely know, or remember, to Elektra reverting back to her old self, there is a need to question what is going on here? Two years have passed and so comes the question if we’ll have enough time to know what, if anything, has changed? That is beyond Angel and Lil Papi having something going on. Damon apparently not doing much with his life, and Ricky on one tour after another.

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Season Reviews

Season 1

Season/ EpisodeSynopsisEpisode InformationTopics & Focused Characters
Season 2, Episode 4 "Never Knew Love Like This Before"While Pose has always kept it real to the hairline, it decides to get a bit too real, and you may not be prepared for what comes.
Director(s) Ryan Murphy
Writer(s) Ryan Murphy, Janet Mock
Air Date 7/9/2019
Introduced This Episode
Darnell Danny Johnson
Vivica Patrice Johnson Chevannes
  • AZT For You & For Me: Blanca, Pray Tell, Judy
  • Sister, You Been On My Mind: Lulu, Candy, Blanca, Pray Tell, Angel, Darnell, Vivica
  • 10s Across The Board: Candy
Season 1/ Episode 1 “Pilot” [Series Premiere]Pose is so wonderful that you’ll wish Ryan Murphy and co. held this for Netflix so that we could get all the episodes in one sitting.
Creator Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals
Director(s) Ryan Murphy
Writer(s) Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals
Air Date 6/3/2018
Noted Actors
Blanca Mj Rodriguez
Damon Ryan Jamaal Swain
Angel Indya Moore
Stan Evan Peters
Pray Tell Billy Porter
Season 1/ Episode 2 “Access”Finding a way to go beyond surviving but absolutely thriving is either what is pursued or talked about. Though for some, thriving is a suburban fairytale.
Director(s) Ryan Murphy
Writer(s) Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals
Air Date 6/10/2018
Actors Introduced
Ricky Dyllon Burnside
Lil Papi Angel Bismark Curiel
Matt James Van Der Beek
  • A Whole New World: Ricky, Blanca, Damon, Lil’ Papi
  • I’ve Been Waiting For A Girl Like You: Stan, Angel, Matt
  • Pass The Baton: Elektra, Blanca
Season 1/ Episode 3 “Giving and Receiving”It’s Christmas time and as Elektra gives herself a gift, House of Evangelista makes sure everyone gets one. 
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
  • Melting Away Like Snowflakes: Helena, Damon, Pray Tell, Blanca
  • A Fish With A Tail: Elektra
  • Merry Christmas: Matt, Stan, Angel, Blanca, Pray Tell, Damon, Ricky, Patty
Season 1/ Episode 4 “The Fever”Elektra and Pray Tell take center stage as realness becomes about more than just the physical but addressing how you feel and are inside.
Director(s) Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Writer(s) Janet Mock
Air Date 6/24/2018
Actors Introduced
Dick Ford Christopher Meloni
Aphrodite Alexia Garcia
Candy Angelica Ross
  • Fears and Insecurities: Damon, Candy, Ricky, Lil Papi, Blanca, Pray Tell, Elektra, Angel
  • Dissatisfaction With Being a Mistress: Stan, Angel
  • The Doctor Will See You Now: Pray Tell, Elektra, Blanca, Aphrodite, Dick Ford, Candy
Season 1/ Episode 5 “Mother’s Day”With news of Blanca’s biological mother dying, so comes a quest for reconciliation, even if some make it harder than others.
Director(s) Silas Howard
Writer(s) Steven Canals
Air Date 7/1/2018
Actors Introduced
Carmen Flor De Liz Perez
Alma Susanna Guzman
Manuel Gil Perez-Abraham
Mami Glenys Javier
Young Blanca Jayden Marine
  • Meet The Wife: Matt, Stan, Patty, Angel
  • A Mother Reborn: Elektra, Blanca, Candy, Lulu
  • The Path To Reconciliation: Blanca, Pray Tell, Carmen, Alma, Manuel
Season 1/ Episode 6 “Love Is The Message”Pray Tell gets center focus as we come upon the final days of his boyfriend, Costas. Though, we also get to see someone try to dust Blanca’s cobwebs.
Director(s) Janet Mock
Writer(s) Ryan Murphy, Janet Mock
Air Date 7/8/2018
Actors Introduced
Judy Sandra Bernhard
Darius Charles Brice
  • The Fall of Stan Bowes: Patty, Matt, Stan, Angel
  • Mama May Get Some Beef: Blanca, Darius, Lulu, Candy
  • In His Final Days, He Made Me Promise To Love: Blanca, Pray Tell, Costas, Judy
Season 1/ Episode 7 “Pink Slip”As the House of Abundance falls, a new house rises from the ashes. One which takes advantage of what either could be seen as a mistake or right decision by Blanca.
Director(s) Tina Mabry
Writer(s) Our Lady J, Steven Canals
Air Date 7/15/2018
  • Laying Down The Law: Blanca, Lil Papi, Ricky
  • As the Phoenix Dies, New Ones Rise From The Ashes: Elektra, Lulu, Candy, Mr. Ford
  • The End of One Relationship & Start Of Something New: Lil Papi, Angel, Stan, Blanca, Elektra, Lulu, Candy
Season 1/ Episode 8 “Mother of the Year” [Season Finale]The final category is: Mother of the Year and considering all Blanca has done for her children, even her mother, will she win or will there always be next year?
Director(s) Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Writer(s) Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals
Air Date 7/22/2018
Actors Introduced
Keenan Blake Morris
  • Love Never Dies: Blanca, Keenan, Pray Tell
  • Family Is Forever: Elektra, Blanca, Angel, Stan, Patty
  • Mother of the Year: Blanca, Lulu, Candy, Pray Tell, Elektra
Season 2, Episode 2 “Worth It”After a long period, years, of making herself smaller, Elektra is reborn. As that happens, Blanca too reaches new heights as she finally opens her nail salon.
Director(s) Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Writer(s) Janet Mock
Air Date 6/18/2019
Introduced This Episode
Ms. Norman Patti LuPone
  • She Works Hard For Her Money, So She Expects Luxury:Elektra
  • It Was Due To Happen: Damon, Ricky, Lil Papi, Angel
  • Everything’s Coming Up Blanca!: Ms. Norman, Blanca, Pray Tell, Damon, Ricky
Season 2, Episode 3 “Butterfly/Cocoon”As we are given multiple reasons to celebrate, there is one major blemish that will likely ruin the in-house parade you’ll be having.
Director(s) Janet Mock
Writer(s) Our Lady J
Air Date 6/25/2019
Introduced This Episode
Euphoria Peppermint
Ms. Orlando Cecilia Gentili
  • Don’t Tell The Boss, The Client Is Dead!: Euphoria, Ms. Orlando, Elektra, Blanca, Candy
  • Wet N’ Wild: Ms. Ford, Papi, Angel
  • A Papi After My Own Heart: Papi, Angel
Season 2, Episode 1 “Acting Up” [Season Premiere]The ladies of Pose return, and with the AIDS crisis in full effect, those who aren’t about the community and taking advantage of “Vogue” giving spotlight are called out.
Director(s) Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Writer(s) Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals
Air Date 6/11/2019
  • Someone Must Speak For The Dead: Judy, Pray Tell, Blanca
  • It Can’t All Be Sacrifice: Angel, Lil Papi, Blanca
  • Not All Queer Folk Are Kin Folk: Pray Tell, Elektra, Blanca, Candy, Lulu

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5 COMMENTS

  1. I watched Paris Is Burning. (It is on Netflix.) I really enjoyed it, so thanks for the recommendation! Just a few things that I wanted to share with you from the movie – Afterwards, I went to Vevo and watched Madonna’s Vogue video. I swear that is Willi Ninja as one of the voguers(sp) in her video. Also, you know how Angel went to a modeling competition run by Ms. Ford? In the movie, one of the women (I’m sorry, I forgot who) went to a modeling competition run by Eileen Ford, who runs one of the top modeling agencies in NYC and was interviewed in the movie and has red hair like Ms. Ford in Pose (I was wondering if they were the same person, until I saw the movie 🙂 Except in the movie there were wall-to-wall people at the competition and in Pose there were like only 10 people there. And then in the first season of Pose, some of the other houses mentioned were actually real houses taken from the movie. It was all really cool!

  2. I read an article somewhere that mentioned Paris Is Burning. I’ll have to see if it’s on Netflix. And I’ve seen Janet Mock’s name in the credits for each show. I think she’s a producer, too. I didn’t know she wrote a book. Thanks for the tips!

  3. If you’re looking to learn more I’d recommend Paris Is Burning to learn about how ball culture was in that time period followed by Sara Jordenö’s Kiki.

    I’d throw in Janet Mock’s first book “Redefining Realness” if you want a literary breakdown of terms, history, and her story as a trans woman – Mock is also one of the writers/ directors of the show.

  4. Hi! I’m so glad to see you recap this show (as well as The Good Doctor)! Despite my total ignorance about this world, I really enjoy this show! And I certainly am learning a lot. It seemed this episode was one lesson after another disguised as a riveting drama with a few laughs and whatever one would call Elektra’s dress thrown in.

    The first lesson, that of Hart Island, was a gut punch. I thought your screen shot was the most powerful image of the whole episode! And that’s including the activist rally and the church scene. But Pray Tell and Blanca praying in front of the cross surrounded by hundreds of rocks on this remote island – Wow!

    I agree that I’d like to know what happened in the past two years, especially to Elektra. Flashbacks would be fun to see, and would bring some levity to balance out the gut punches and lessons, especially if the rest of this season’s shows are like this one. Not that I’m complaining, because this was a very well done episode!

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