Tuesday, June 18, 2019

REVIEW: 'Pose' - Blanca Pursues Her New Dream While Damon and Ricky Have a Rocky Reunion in 'Worth It'

FX's Pose - 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. Elektra shocks the ballroom community with a bold move.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of FX's Pose.

"Worth It" was written by Janet Mock and directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

On one hand, it feels like this season is deliberately making the House of Evangelista the underdogs in the story once more despite the trajectory they went on previously. Blanca's story started as her being determined to succeed as a house mother by putting together a scrappy team and then rising to the top by the season finale and being crowned at the Mother Ball. That was such a rewarding journey. And now, this season is highlighting how not much has changed because of that. The expectations are certainly higher. But right now, the Houses of Ferocity and Wintour are producing more elaborate tricks in their routines. It's much more entertaining. Sure, it's outrageous to watch as Angel and Lil Papi perform an iconic Shakespearean scene. However, the technical achievements from the other houses are much more transformational and designed to wow the crowd and the judges. It's very impressive. Plus, people are abandoning the House of Evangelista. Elektra stayed after teaming up with Blanca last season. She kept her distance from the rest of the family though. Her new career as a dominatrix is introduced only to the audience here. That's how she can afford such an extravagant lifestyle for herself once more. Plus, she doesn't stay under Lulu and Candy's care for very long. She always sees herself as the dominant personality who must be revered and respected at all times. Sure, the judges don't welcome her when she tries to introduce her new house to the ballroom. However, she still gets a perfect score during the House of Wintour's debut performance. Moreover, Cubby and Lemar quickly deflect to her as well. That shows that this world is full of constantly changing families. People come and go. That's the brutal reality of this world. Right now, Blanca feels like she has to be honest with her children in order to get them to understand the lessons she is trying to teach. However, it still ends with Damon and Ricky breaking up. That's devastating because their relationship meant so much in the first season. It was a bond of pure love while still being truthful to the struggles they faced in the world. They encouraged each other to succeed and thrive. That energy is still apparent. And yet, Damon feels like he no longer has a personal sense of drive. He was waiting for Ricky to come home from touring. He was vulnerable and willing to have unprotected sex. He felt that was necessary to prove his continued love and devotion. It's not. Damon walks away with that clarity. He understands that he needs to love himself in order to be a better family member and partner in a relationship. Ricky doesn't know how to react to any of that. He sees Damon blowing all of this conflict out of proportion. He continues to insist that he didn't cheat while on tour. Sure, Damon is naive when it comes to thinking that Ricky was the only gay dancer who was on the road. And yet, it still mostly seems like Ricky also walking away from the family. Papi teases that Ricky also joined Elektra's new house. That seems like a move just to shake things up and return the House of Evangelista to the core members who were there from the very start.

On the other hand though, this hour does such a phenomenal job in delivering a message of pure love. There are so many characters who speak eloquently about the people of the LGBTQ+ community being deserving of love, acceptance and appreciation. They may have to fight for everything they want in this life. But that passion can fuel them through so much as well. Blanca sees the ballroom as a family. It's more than just putting on outfits and voguing during the high-octane events. It's about connecting with people who share a similar identity and appreciation for the world. Blanca has long faced rejection and discrimination because of her outward appearance. She is so beautiful and so devoted to her children. But it's in sharing her story that she can connect with them on a deeper, more personal level. That's what fuels Damon's ultimate decision. It's more than just a simple demonstration of how to use a condom. Instead, it's one of heartbreak where Blanca reveals her own struggles of self-acceptance. Those emotions of feeling less than can be so crippling. The ballroom world thrives because of the shared experience and having a place to rejoice. However, there is also the understanding that the outside world wishes to condemn them completely. The white masses want these people to die off completely. That's absolutely horrifying and is also a mentality that seeps in through so much of these characters and their decisions. Sometimes Blanca can pass in the world as a woman. Sometimes she can't. Angel has the same experience even though it's not as harsh. And yet, their friendship also means having to support and defend each other when the worst occurs. Blanca has the potential of achieving her new dream. She opens a nail salon. She is becoming an entrepreneur herself. She is fighting for her rights. She is fighting to stay alive. It is absolutely terrifying. She has been beaten up and abused so many times. And yet, she is still alive and knows that she is deserving of love. She has that with her family now. She has their open and full support. It's beautiful to watch as the truth sets them all free. Blanca gets her first customer as well. Sure, there is the concern that her shady landlord will remain trouble. It's fantastic to see Patti LuPone as this criminal real estate developer as well. Basically all one needs to know about the character is that she has two dogs named "Cash" and "Credit." That is so ridiculously over-the-top. And yet, the discrimination she immediately sends to Blanca after learning about her identity makes an impact. But so does Blanca standing up for herself. That's the powerful message at the heart of this hour. The struggle may be absolutely crushing at times but everyone is deserving of love and having all of their dreams achieved.