[Pose Recap w/t Joe Lipsett] "Revelations" Blows Everything Out of the Water

POSE_208_0180r.jpg

Each week Joe (@bstolemyremote) and Terry (@gaylydreadful) discuss the most recent episode of FX’s Pose, alternating between their respective sites – queerhorrormovies.com and gaylydreadful.com.

Pose 2×08: “Relationships are irreparably damaged when Damon reveals the secrets others have been hiding.”


TERRY

Whew, Joe. This was a whirlwind of an episode. The gauntlet was thrown. Everything that had been building since...well, I guess last week...finally came to a head. After the bombshell(s) of “Blow” we get “Revelations,” an episode that is all about the fallout. Last week, Ricky called Pray Tell a daddy and this week, he takes it up a notch. It opens with a romantic dinner of bok choy, herbal teas and vitamins as Pray Tell explains Ricky’s new life to him.

“Ain’t no more sitting on the sidelines, baby,” Pray Tell cautions him. But Ricky is still too upset over the discovery that he is HIV Positive. “No one’s gonna wanna date me. Who’s going to love me?” he cries. Pray ends up having to take care of him in a scene that gets juxtaposed with an inversion towards the end of the episode as Ricky has to take care of a drunk and incredibly somber Pray Tell. 

But before we get to that. Last week, they gave me an ass shot of Lil’ Papi. This week’s ass is for you, Joe. We got some man-on-man action up in here set to “Whip Appeal” by Babyface. I’ll be honest, I had to Shazam that song. And while the clucking hens of the Master of Ceremony’s bi-monthly meeting wanted to know what Ricky was working with, Shazam cheekily told me this particular song choice was the “12-inch Version.” I kid you not. And Pray seemed to suggest a similar reaction, given they were at it like rabbits from the start of In Living Color to 4 AM. 

See? Told you.

See? Told you.

Meanwhile, the other bombshell involving Angel and the photographer didn’t get much traction this episode, except that he’s being very handsy and sexually harassing her but she doesn’t want to make a scene or jeopardize her new lifestyle. And while Lil Papi is uncharacteristically vague about his desire to rearrange the photographer’s face, he does introduce her to a potential new apartment. Rent is only $450 which...damn. I dunno how expensive that was in NYC in the early 90s but I think that’d get you a bathtub that you’d have to share with two people today. 

Back with Ricky and Damon...I gotta ask, Joe. What did you think of that (first of many) confrontation between Ricky and Damon? It felt a bit selfish--but real--on Damon’s account, so I’m curious what you thought. And let’s dig into that gleefully dramatic and epic, secret-shattering dessert fight. Let’s attack it the way Angel wanted to attack Damon and get right to it.

JOE

Oof, thank goodness for the levity of a good flip flop before the title card because this episode brought the DRAMA, didn’t it?

I’ll admit that the Ricky v Damon scene rang exceedingly true to me. I always appreciate when show runners aren’t afraid to make their characters unlikeable (caveat: for a good reason) and in this instance Damon is well and truly horrible to Ricky. But it does ring true! Damon has literally only just learned that his first love is not only infected with a disease that has ravaged their community, but that he has potentially exposed Damon to that same risk. It’s not a pretty reaction and it makes Damon look incredibly awful, but in the moment, the reaction IS genuine.

As for that dinner…wow it’s like series creator (and episode writer/director) Steven Canals took a peek at a family meal from my childhood! Because that was some “fall of the House of Evangelista” shit as everyone just went after each other.

Now as good and juicy as it is to see all of this drama spill out into the open, I would be lying if there aren’t issues. My main criticism is more in the way that the Angel/Blanca storyline is resolved in an exceedingly well-mannered breakfast that rings COMPLETELY hollow, but even at the dinner, I’m still not quite certain how this house brawl got started. It’s easy to simply blame Angel’s (completely offscreen) rampant drug addiction, but it felt…out of nowhere when she and Damon began nitpicking the longevity of each other’s careers. Once that began, however, the gloves were off.

I kind of loved how quickly everyone got pulled into the fight. Damon and Angel bicker, then Blanca and Pray Tell try to talk them down and Damon goes after them, and when the details of Pray Tell’s new May/December romance come out, Blanca goes for her old friend. It all came about pretty organically; as tempers flare people start to look for any outlet to direct their pain and outrage.

Now, would it have all played better if some of these simmering resentments had been played out a little longer. Say, if Angel and Damon had shown an ounce of jealousy at each other’s success before? Or if Damon had mentioned his resentment of Blanca’s new entrepreneurial spirit at the nail salon? Yes, absolutely, but - as we’ve discussed several times over the last eight episodes - Pose has been playing it fast and loose with its timeline and storytelling all season. So that fact that things played out as smooth as they do here is probably worth celebrating.

So Terry, did you appreciate that everyone didn’t kiss and make up by episode’s end (well…I guess Damon and Angel did…and Blanca and Angel did)? Um…are you happy that Blanca and Pray Tell haven’t resolved their issues yet? Did the final slow pan to the left montage give you any feels? And can we talk about how Angel’s drug addiction storyline has been incredibly poorly used throughout these last two episodes?

Fila-Sneakers-in-Pose-1.jpg

TERRY

I’m glad you brought up the way the dinner fight started, Joe. Because when Angel started poking Damon, I thought I had missed something. Why was she all of a sudden just jabbing him with so much passive aggressiveness? I’m still a little confused about how it all started, except that I guess it was simply the (as you mentioned, offscreen) drugs. What an odd storyline to just so quickly introduce last episode. I wasn’t even sure they were still using until Damon started retorting about her crack-sweats.

And while I thought it was a perfect way to up the tension and a brilliantly way to end the episode with Blanca sitting alone at her table, I’m a little upset with her that she’d kick Angel...let me rephrase, let Angel kick herself out. I get that we had already established that this is what would happen if people broke the rules, but I also was bummed to see Blanca so cavalierly let Angel go when she’s still (unless I’m mistaken?) using and needs parental attention now more than ever. I don’t think an addicted couple should be staying in an apartment alone. It’s not setting them up for success, a theme that’s been so important to Angel this season.

I do love Damon’s new adventure, traveling Europe with Malcom McLaren and I’m curious to see what (if anything) they do with that storyline. He’s an interesting character in real life who was a visual artist, performer, clothes designer, musician and was the manager of the Sex Pistols, among others. He also is known for introducing punk and hip hop to the UK and supplied fashion with his girlfriend Vivienne Westwood to the punk scene through their boutique shop SEX. He’s a fascinating individual and I’m curious if Pose will incorporate him into the show in some fashion or if this will be another unseen tour like Ricky’s at the beginning of the season.

Blanca and Pray’s relationship and fight was one of the most truest aspects of this episode, for me. While Pray isn’t the father of House Evangelista, he’s spent the majority of the season talking up the importance of elders in guiding the younger generation through the strife of AIDS. And even at the dinner table explosion (gosh I love a good dinner fight), he literally jumps to Blanca’s defense as a father would. So to have him develop feelings for Ricky is a tricky situation; for Blanca, it’s a slap in the face of everything he’d said this season. So I’m glad that the episode left some rifts. The description of the episode said “relationships are irreparably damaged” and I would have been disappointed if everyone was cherry by the end.

But back over to you, Joe. What do you think of Pray Tell and Ricky’s new relationship? And speaking of relationships, how doomed do you think Angel and Papi will handle being on their own, with money to burn and drugs to snort? And with two more episodes left this season...how is it going to end?

Kelloggs-40-Bran-Flakes-Totinos-Pizza-Rolls-in-Pose.jpg

JOE

Oh Angel and Papi are SCREWED. Never mind the madness of moving into a bougie apartment in the Village just to keep up with Jones; in just two episodes, the young lovebirds have clearly demonstrated that they should NOT be left to their own devices. You’re absolutely right, Terry, Mother Blanca should be far, far more worried for her daughter.

Or in recent Pose tradition, perhaps Angel will magically be off the drugs by next episode? ;-)

My biggest issue with the Angel/Blanca brunch scene is the idea that Angel volunteers to be ejected from the Big Blanca house. I don’t buy for a second that a drug addict would take responsibility for their actions. I may be reading into it too much, but I can’t help but wonder if Angel only did this BECAUSE she already had a place to go (which means that she’s actually far more duplicitous than expected). Sidebar: I did love the brief shout-out to Evan Peters’ character when she tours the new digs. Am I correct that this the first time that he’s come in S2?

Obviously the big take-away here is the confirmation that Blanca plays favourites with her children, as Pray Tell suggests outside of the Ball. As an audience member, this claim feels totally justified, but I don’t think Blanca realizes how much she prioritizes Angel. It’s telling that Blanca ultimately winds up going to Elektra, her mother, for advice (she never goes to Elektra for advice about the boys of Evangelista). I love that Elektra’s advice includes the phrase “You want gratitude? Get a puppy” because damn if that doesn’t sum up her character to a T. Blanca may not always agree with Elektra’s lack of nurturing skills, but consider how much better Blanca is able to handle the world compared to Damon, Angel and Papi.

As for the “lust, not love” relationship between Pray Tell and Ricky? I’m very much inclined to agree with Blanca and Elektra that Pray Tell has overstepped, though not because of the age disparity between the two men or even because Pray Tell is a father figure (though fuck Elektra’s claim that he shouldn’t be doing it because he’s a father to everyone at the Ball. So, what, he never gets to screw anyone?).

No, the reason that Pray Tell shouldn’t be sleeping with Ricky is because, whether he wants to admit it or not, he is taking advantage of someone in a vulnerable position. Ricky is a child who has barely even begun to address the fact that he has a disease that can - and likely will - kill him. He obviously needs someone to lean on and take comfort in, but the immediate sexualization of their relationship screams “This is not a healthy coping mechanism!” I don’t doubt that Ricky wants to lose himself in pleasure, and lord knows Pray Tell deserves himself some chiseled abs and a footlong special, but whatever this relationship is - lust or burgeoning love - it already seems doomed.

With that said, I loooooooved the Council lunch with all of those savage reads from the Judy Judgemental Jezebel Bitches. From the Golden Girls reference to the ageist comments about poor Ray Ray working the last supper to “I lied to make you feel better, whore!”, the level of sass really helped to energize the episode. It is noteworthy that there was still some heavy lifting commentary snuck in there, too, what with the brief discussion about the financial and emotional appeal for young men (of colour) who date older men. It’s armchair psychology, but…it’s not all wrong, either.

So where do we go from here? Presumably Frederica has to return for vengeance, though judging from the promo for next week, Pose will leave that for the finale. Instead it seems that the show is FINALLY going to give Blanca a turn at love roulette. I’m a sucker for “escape” episodes where shows pack up characters and send them away somewhere for a one-off (I see you Insecure Coachella episode), so I’m definitely ready to hit the open road with you and the the girls next week, Terry.

Hmmm, if we’re heading to the beach, I should probably lay off these Pizza Rolls…


Next week: We’re back at Queer Horror Movies for 2X09 “Life’s a Beach”


Miss a Recap?