Sunday, May 9, 2021

REVIEW: 'Pose' - Elektra Must Confront Her Past and Make Sacrifices Once Her Future is Put in Jeopardy in 'The Trunk'

FX's Pose - Episode 3.03 "The Trunk"

After she is unjustly arrested, Elektra convinces Blanca to aid in disposing of the trunk in her closet before law enforcement finds it.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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.

"The Trunk" was written by Janet Mock & Brad Falchuk and directed by Tina Mabry

Whenever someone steps out as their true and authentic self, they are deserving of complete acceptance. Their identity is beautiful and valid. They deserve recognition as such. For far too long, identity has been criminalized and targeted. The trans community has always felt unsafe. And yet, they are powerful activists fighting for equity. They deserve to occupy space and be heard. Even in times when the terminology wasn't commonplace, these dynamics still had a personal impact. Elektra's mother was more than willing to throw her out of the house because she didn't fulfill the standard she set for her child. She has her own notions of gender. It's a very binary outlook. Elektra is so ferocious and protective. Her mother never got to see or embrace those qualities. Instead, she only felt a personal betrayal. It was all about her. She never cared to see the world through her child's eyes. She never cared to accept Elektra for who she is. She isn't a gay man or a crossdresser. She is a powerful trans woman. It's hard and brutal to see Elektra in such a vulnerable state. She always tries her best to keep herself well-poised in this world. She never wants others to see her cracks. She has conditioned herself to rise above it all because she has high standards for what she should accept. She has always operated with that confidence even when her life was full of struggle. It hasn't always been a glamorous journey. She was forced to shrink herself when interacting with her mother. She was made to accept less and feel less worthy of love. And yet, Elektra still found the compassion to be an excellent mother. This episode serves as an origin story for the House of Abundance. The people who made up this house have all gone their separate ways. They are each on their own journeys. Some of them have also risen to be the parents of the next generation of performers. They are still bound together from this time thanks to Elektra's influence. She refuses to allow Angel, Lemar and Cubby to continue sleeping on the streets foraging for whatever they can get. She already doesn't know how she will keep Blanca, Candy and Lulu from starving. She is opening her door to more children. It's a blessing. It also comes with sacrifice. Blanca seems like the only person to recognize that. But she is also the only person let in on this intimate part of Elektra's life. It took years for Elektra to stand up to her mother. Losing her child wasn't enough to get her to change her bigoted ways. She still wants Elektra to conceal parts of herself. She isn't accepting of all that her daughter is. That's unfortunate.

However, Elektra is independent now - even to a fault. She doesn't want to be beholden to any man. She wants to own everything in her life. It's no surprise to see her as the boss of a phone sex company. It's also despicable that the police want to treat sex work as being just as criminal as the mob violence that looms over the city. That's the tough on crime stance struck by the new mayor - which is ironic given his criminal exposure over the last few years. None of that should be new or surprising to the audience. Those actions had a serious impact on lives though. Elektra has lived in fear for years. The trunk in her closet could be discovered at any moment. It was presented as the only sensible option. Her client's death could have destroyed her life. She would have been sent to prison for a crime she didn't commit. She would be forced into a system that fails to understand or accept her identity as well. That's humiliating and dangerous when she is simply placed in a holding cell. Blanca understands that pain. She has gone through so much with Elektra. She has to let others in to help her even more. It's easy to convince Papi and Ricky to go along with this plan. With Christopher, it's a huge show of trust. He comes from a completely different background. He brings a different perspective. He is so loving of Blanca. He stands up and supports her. Him accepting the disposal of a body could cross a line. It doesn't though. It's gruesome. It must be done. It's offered as a moment of closure. The charges against Elektra are dropped. There was nothing serious. That hasn't stopped the police from invading the lives in this community before. It's still a terrifying experience filled with peril. Elektra has so much of her life in order. She has the potential to succeed to her greatest ambitions. The show ends on a triumph seeing the House of Abundance walk for the first time in their now iconic lineup. That sequence once again showcases how gay culture has long shaped pop culture without it nearly getting the recognition it so rightfully deserves. It's a celebration for the family. They found each other. They will do whatever it takes to support each other. That is a long and arduous journey. They face it together because they are family. Relationships are changing. The family is growing. Christopher is trustworthy and loving. Elektra fears letting him in too much simply because Blanca wants to. Her daughter nurtures and supports her. Her mother extends that same moment of grace. It's such a beautiful relationship. One that can be competitive and contentious at times. It's all in support of something greater. It's about the right to exist and be recognized for occupying space. The past can frequently be a burden that leaves behind trauma. Those experiences can't simply be ignored. They can be addressed though so they no longer serve as a barrier from achievement elsewhere. Elektra finds her peace. Her family extends that. In turn, she offers even more unconditional love despite her fears for what's happening with her beloved children elsewhere.