[Pose Recap w/t Joe Lipsett] Dungeons and Dragons and Patti (Oh my!) in this week's "Worth It"
Episode 2.02 “Worth It”: Determined to be an example to her children, Blanca launches a business venture with unexpected results. Meanwhile, Ricky's travels have unpredicted consequences for his relationship with Damon, and Elektra shocks the ballroom community with a bold move.
Well, Joe. It’s only the second episode and I don’t know about you but I feel like it wasn’t just the House of Ferocity’s tablecloth that was yanked away tonight. Elektra has done flipped the metaphorical table and sent the pieces flying. Category is: no pain, no gain?
Yes, Elektra’s brief stint as a member of the House of Ferocity lasted, what, fifteen minutes? After upgrading Ferocity’s ball game when Lulu has what Drag Race would call a RuVeal for the ages, Elektra’s decided she’s--surprise!--too good for the house. She’s back to rolling in those dollar bills and we finally get a glance at what seems to be funding it.
Walking down the street throwing some butch queen, dominatrix-but-fur-classy eleganza, we discover our Lady Elektra is actually a Mistress Elektra and there’s a ton of rich gay boys who want to pay her by the hour to belittle and spank them. And for the first time in a long time she feels great! Wapush! Crack that whip!
But she’s not the only one giving out the pain this episode. Ricky, the prodigal son, returns and brings with him a green monster of jealousy on Damon’s part when he discovers Ricky had a gay bunkmate named Chris...who Ricky totally didn’t get with. Obvs.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, Joe what did you think of “Worth It”? There’s so many questions and things to discuss, I feel. What stood out for you? Did this episode continue the storytelling prowess “Acting Up” suggested? Are you happy your boy Ricky is (finally) back after missing him during the premiere? And what do we think of yet another white person, albeit Broadway royalty Patti LuPone, being introduced to fuck with House Evangelista?
And, most importantly, are we going to discuss the dragon in the room? Wintour is coming, after all.
UGH don’t get me started on that Game of Thrones crack. That felt like Peak Ryan Murphy shit right there!
As for Elektra jumping houses YET AGAIN, it actually bothers me less in hindsight. When I first watched this episode, I was very frustrated that the writers seemingly planned to repurpose the same storyline over and over again (although watching Elektra patent her “signature move” was very satisfying). In retrospect, however, it make senses that Elektra would almost immediately leave House Ferocity behind - she’s far too controlling to stay under someone else’s reign for too long, especially when they’re so poor that dinner consists of solely of Slimfast and Hot Sauce!
Admittedly Ricky’s return wasn’t as much of a high point for me as I’d hoped. After Donald got the shaft last week, spending this episode watching him and Ricky act irresponsibly and then break up felt...anticlimactic? Pose has been painting a fairly grim portrait of queer relationships throughout its short run and the cheating storyline doesn’t exactly feel fresh. Plus: it’s hard to feel invested when we didn’t even see half of the couple last week!
For me, episode two has one BIG selling feature: Patti LuPone. Pose ditched its entire white cast between seasons, but the introduction of a rich, mob-connected Jewess to act as a foil for Blanca is an inspired development. LuPone fits into this world exceptionally well and her combustive chemistry with Blanca is great!
I have to say that I’m definitely feeling Blanca’s storyline the most thus far this season. In addition to her cheerworthy exit from that prejudiced bitch nail salon owner, there’s something incredibly human about Blanca’s reluctance to start taking the AZT because part of her feels like she deserves to be sick. I’m not sure the flashback worked 100% for me, but her dinnertime confession to the House about not respecting yourself - and by proxy the dangers of their lives - really hit home for me. Pride brings out a lot of mixed emotions about the “state” of the queer community, who paved the road before us and how frequently we take for granted the work of our predecessors so this emotional scene felt very timely and relevant to me.
But enough of the serious stuff, Terry! What did you think of Patti’s grand entrance? Are you living for the ongoing Candy vs Pray Tell drama at the balls? And we haven’t really spoken about the other “new-to-S2” addition, the quotes the wrap up every episode - are you feeling those?
Oh man. Slimfast and Hot Sauce. That sounds like a terrible digestive decision. I don’t really blame Elektra for pulling a Bye Felicia moment.
But Joe, I have to admit something. Until I heard she was cast for Pose this season, the only thing I knew Patti LuPone from was her guest stint on 30 Rock as Frank Rossitano’s overbearing, Italian mother. It probably makes me a bad gay for saying that, but if we can’t be honest here, where can we be honest? So her grand entrance probably didn’t resonate with me as it should have.
That said, I think she’s the best thing to happen to Pose. One thing I was afraid of is that it would just get too caught up in chasing its tail and the chaos that Mrs. Frederica Norman...excuse me Ms. Frederica Norman is great on a number of levels.
She’s the kind of woman who names her two puppies Cash and Credit and throws out warnings about siccing her lawyers...or her Russian friends...or her Italian friends at Blanca. The kind that has a doofus son named Jonas who flashes cash “collections” around while she’s being interviewed. But she’s also the kind of woman that brings the idea of gentrification to Blanca’s neighborhood and that, as we know, is a much bigger threat to her community than having a simple nail salon. I like that we can have a silly character, played by an actress who is deliciously hamming it up, but still have actual stakes for Blanca and her crew. It was also nice to see Blanca start to take a stand: “I’ve had more beatings than you’ve had breakfasts.”
As for Candy vs. Pray Tell, the moment she grabbed those foam wings I was waiting for the hammer to drop. While her pal Lulu is stunning with her outfits, poor Candy is just wallowing. And right now, it’s a funny running gag.
I missed the quote last week, but this quote from Hector Xtravaganza really hit home for me: "Blood does not family make. Those are relatives. Family are those with whom you share your good, bad, and ugly, and still one another in the end. Those are the ones you select." I know Hector was a consultant on Season One of Pose before he passed away and it was a nice way of tying together the theme of family that’s so important to the queer community.
Oof. I’ve made it heavy again. So Joe, what’d you think of the new House of Wintour and their members? They seem to be a new threat. And who were the two boys that left Evangelista to join them? Do we even know their names? Yes, that was a read (I think?) Finally, while we talked about the Candy vs. Pray Tell drama...what about “It’s hammer time, bitch!”?
Oof. Despite my love of slasher films and their quippy villains, I’m not sure that I need such bon-mots from Pose. That is some House of Freddy shit, right there (Ohhh, what a spin-off idea! Ryan Murphy, call me!)
I’ll near-match your confession, Terry: I don’t know a ton about LuPone, either, outside of a general knowledge and this YouTube video of her singing “Ladies Who Lunch” at Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday celebration that my husband loves to croon at me on occasion (yes, we have an odd relationship). Still, I completely agree with you about the dangers of gentrification, but I love that in this instance it feels like we’re getting in on the ground floor of the story because on the surface it seems like it could (should?) be a great idea to introduce businesses into struggling neighbourhoods. I think this is a far more relatable storyline than the Trumpian angles that the writers were playing with in S1, so I’m eager to see where it all goes.
As for the boys who trail around after Elektra from House to House? Ummm...I’m sure they have names, but my notes are mostly “Tweedledum and Tweedledee”? <Gulp>
The other members of House Wintour look much more formidable, at least as far as floor routines go. I like the idea of a bit more dancing at the balls, though I have no idea if that’s a realistic expectation. Plus: it’s fun to see the show finding new ways to play on the ‘Vogue’ theme, with, you know, actual voguing and what not.
Will it be enough to snatch Mother of the Year for Mistress Elektra? Only time will tell!
One issue I’m going to drop before we wrap up for another week. It’s been bothering me since the show’s inception, but I find it odd how much emphasis there is on looking a) rich and b) authentically real (especially considering how poor and marginalized the community already is). I understand that the ball is, in large part, about passing, but it has always seemed like a bizarre message to send to the queer and POC community that only those who can assimilate - and look incredibly glamourous doing so - deserve to win.
I hope one day the show address the categories because I need some clarification, especially about those GIANT trophies. How are those things paid for?! They give out a dozen of them each week and they look expensive as hell! I NEED ANSWERS!
Next week: “Butterfly/Cocoon” looks to continue the drama as we jump back to Joe’s Queer.Horror.Movies for episode three!