Tuesday, June 25, 2019

REVIEW: 'Pose' - Elektra Runs Into Serious Danger at Her Job While Angel Gets a New Opportunity in 'Butterfly/Cocoon'

FX's Pose - Episode 2.03 "Butterfly/Cocoon"

A fatal mishap with a client leads Elektra to seek out the counsel of Blanca and Candy. Meanwhile, moving from friends to lovers proves to be a challenge for Angel and Lil Papi.

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.

"Butterfly/Cocoon" was written by Our Lady J and directed by Janet Mock

There have been numerous prestige dramas over the years that have positioned the main characters with having to get rid of a body. It has basically become a trope by now as an effective way to increase tension and unnerve the audience with the solution that the characters are willing to deploy. Here, it's absolutely terrifying when Elektra realizes that her client has overdosed on the drugs that he brought to one of their sessions. Her new career as a dominatrix was played for the comedy of the situation when it was first introduced. But now, it's startling to see how quickly it can shift to a world of pure panic and uncertainty. She is simply filing her nails in the break room while her client is choking on his own vomit. That's a brutal reveal. Plus, it stirs up a terrific conversation about how the trans community is continually abused even when they are innocent or victims by the horrifying actions of others. The show has always celebrated these identities. But the reality of the world is that they aren't looked at with any sense of compassion or understanding. Elektra will be sent away to prison for murder even though she is completely innocent of the crime. That too paints a very stark picture. It rocks her to her core. It also shows that the ballroom community can rally around one of their own in her time of need. Elektra has never been a good ally or mother. And yet, those bonds of love and protection are still there. People understand that something needs to happen in order to keep her safe. She may be cruel and demanding to others in her community all the time. But she is respected and loved within this environment. No one wants to see this horrible thing happen to her. Of course, Blanca and Candy immediately present as the angel and devil on Elektra's shoulders trying to tell her what to do. Blanca has the very rational response of wanting to call the police. That is the honorable and right thing to do in this situation. And yet, Candy lays out the argument for why that will only destroy Elektra's life because the police will look at her as guilty simply because of her outward appearance. That is so sickening and shows how this community is victimized by a world that wishes they would stop existing all together. That's horrifying and forces Elektra to take desperate actions to preserve her life. However, this will remain a transformational and traumatizing experience for her. Her new job will never be the same. She will forever be haunted by the man who died in that room no matter how well it is cleaned. Plus, the body is still in her closet. He is wrapped up in a cocoon with the intention of the body breaking down to the point where it can't be identified. But Elektra never loses sight of his humanity. A life is gone that was directly connected to her. This season has been consumed with death. Elektra has been largely disassociating from it. But now, she is suffering nightmares and the ever-present fear that all of this could catch up to her at any point in time. She does her best to protect Blanca from the full truth. It forges a new understanding in their friendship. And yet, there is also the understanding that the world knows but the trans community is fighting to protect Elektra no matter what. That is a profoundly unifying message.

This is also an episode about love and fighting for one's passion. Angel is fighting hard to become the fresh face of 1990. She sees herself as a model with the looks to make it far in the business. She has the special skills that allow her to stand out. She has something that is different and unique. But she isn't declared the winner. That is devastating to her. It makes her doubt everything. She lashes out at Blanca for allowing her to get her hopes up in the first place. That's what this level of rejection does to her. She places all of her hopes and dreams on one prospect only to fear that she has lost everything when it doesn't work out. It's in that vulnerable state when she finally kisses Lil Papi. Those two have been much closer and intimate this season. It feels natural that the show would explore a romance between them. Sure, it complicates things for Blanca as her children are making decisions that could really go anywhere. She sees how distraught and depressed Papi is after Angel wants to put a little more distance between them afterwards. Angel doesn't want anything to get in the way of the awesome friendship they have had for awhile. Plus, Damon talks about how Papi has turned his life around because of the support of the entire family. Sure, Damon is a little condescending as well by saying that Angel can do so much better than Papi. And yet, that too is very telling. Both Angel and Papi want to pursue this to see if it's something genuine that can blossom into much more. Right now though, Angel is distracted by her passion of becoming a model. She is suddenly given an opportunity to be the new face of a cosmetic campaign. She is on the set of a photo shoot immediately. She has an ally in the industry who understands that she is something new that people are looking for right now. It's such a celebration for Angel as well. Her dreams are becoming a reality thanks to the support of her family. They are happy for all that happens for her during this day. It just comes with the tragedy of her having to miss her date with Papi. He put the effort in to prove that he too is special and this could be the beginning of something incredibly beautiful. He is also very understanding when it comes to her reasoning why she stood him up. He knows that she is pursuing her passion. He doesn't want to stand in the way of that. Being with her is his passion. He is willing to fight for this relationship. That too is significant. It never gets in the way of the celebration of what this could mean for Angel's career. Her face is seen out in the world promoting this product within a few weeks. Angel is proud to brag about that. She is beaming with so much light and joy as a result. That's such a wonderful way to conclude this hour as well. Yes, this world can be devastating but this show aspires to lift up this community in ways that are so wonderful to watch.