Episode 2.05 “What Would Candy Do?”: Competition gets the best of Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain) and Ricky (Dyllon Burnside) as they audition for a spot on Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour.
Well Terry, I’m not going to lie: I found this week’s episode of Pose, “What Would Candy Do?” to be a complete and utter snooze fest. Perhaps it’s that my cultural connection to Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour and Solid Gold are nearly non-existent, but this felt like a series of dance videos in search of a plot.
Let’s back up: the episode opens with the context that Queen Madge’s “Vogue” is now in its third week at #1 and she’s casting authentic Ball dancers to go on tour. Naturally both Ricky and Damon want it and naturally both of their house mothers think that they’re a shoo-in. “What Would Candy Do?” tries to get a lot of mileage out of the contrasting approaches to motherhood that Elektra (Dominique Jackson) and Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) employ, but we’ve always known that Blanca is supportive and inspirational whereas Elektra is a tough bitch who refuses to coddle. That’s not new, in spite of what the writers seem to think (and repeatedly try to hammer home here).
My biggest issue with the episode, though, is the structure is all over the place. Nearly half of the runtime is dedicated to the preparation for the first audition, then there’s a brief Ballroom showdown (involving a fucking Tonya Harding-like attempt to take Damon out of contention?!?!) and then we don’t even see the callback audition, and then we’re literally on the set of Solid Gold with an exteeeeeeeeended (read: boring) dance sequence as the week’s top 10 songs are counted down. I honestly fast-forwarded when we got to song eight because it started to feel like Pose was padding the run time!
Yes, I’m obviously being a bitch, but this was a 25 minute episode wrapped in a 45 minute shell and I. WAS. BORED. Terry, what did you think of all of this dancing? Were you invested in the “will they/won’t they” antics as Damon and Ricky kept circling each other romantically? And what evokes stronger memories for you: the Blonde Ambition Tour or Solid Gold?
I don’t know, Joe. This episode made me jump for joy. Like I literally gave a surprised…well, squeal doesn’t sound very flattering…but I made a happy noise and laughed because my two loves collided: queer programming and off-the-wall movies!
Yes, I’m talking about the fact that Pose name-dropped one of the more bonkers movies I’ve seen. It turns out that one of the solid gold dancers would go on to star in Ninja III: The Domination. This is a true story! Her name is Lucinda Dickey and she had a brief stint on Solid Gold. Ninja III was about a telephone line woman/aerobics instructor who gets possessed by the evil spirit of a ninja after she comes to his aid. It’s pretty bonkers and a great movie to watch with a group of friends.
Unlike this episode of Pose, which I found to be the most boring episode of TV I’ve seen since that episode of Stranger Things where Eleven goes to Chicago and completely killed S2’s momentum. The only positive that I can really come up with, outside of name-dropping a bad cult flick, is that it was only an hour long.
But oof, what a long hour that was. I also found the dancing at the end to really be padding. And it’s not as if this is going to go anywhere. I hate to break it to Ricky and Damon, but unless Pose is set in a different multiverse, Solid Gold ain’t getting picked up for another season. The show petered out in 1988.
I know you mentioned this, but it deserves repeating: what threw me for a complete loop is that there’s all this build up, dancing, auditions and drama and then there’s no callback audition! Joe, that’d be like cutting your favorite movie Jaws right as they’re about to go into The Orca to hunt the shark and then cut to them swimming home. How you going to cut out the climax of the episode?! Who does this?
I’m also completely over the Damon/Ricky sitch. Like this episode, it has gone on too long. Though I will say that I’m officially in your camp that Ricky could “get it” (It being me, though I still hold a candle for Angel Bismark Curiel’s new and improved Papi).
I’m glad you mentioned the Blanca/Elektra comparisons. We get it. They’re different people. But then Elektra brings out Candy’s hammer?? Dominique Jackson already chews the scenery, we don’t need her swinging a hammer around, as well! Her de-evolution into a campy cartoon has already been more pronounced this season. At this rate, I’m waiting for her to bring out a vat of dip and a shivering shoe.
But, Joe, I’m just going to say it: the most egregious moment of this episode is that Janet Jackson’s fantastic “Alright” was fourth place. I got nothing else, Joe. This episode didn’t give me anything to think about. Are you a Madonna fan? I know this season is all about the idea of the mainstream appropriating ball room culture, but are you still on board with the constant Madonna-ness of it all?
And…I don’t know, do you like pancakes? I seriously got nothing here.
AHHHH I’m so glad that you brought up Ninja 3 because that bizarro little cult film is a goddamn gem! Ugh, if only we had of got to see clips of that film instead of what we ended up with!
As for hurting for things to say, it’s a serious problem isn’t it?! There was just no reprieve in this episode for folks who aren’t completely fascinated with the Ricky/Damon drama. Typically in a drama series, and especially one with a bench as deep as Pose, you’ll have at least a B-plot to distract you if you’re not on board with the main storyline. Here the closest thing we get is that throwaway scene between Angel (Indya Moore) and Papi where she mentions that she’s successfully booking other modelling gigs and he compliments her look
Sidebar: show, don’t tell, Pose! Take 5 minutes out of this 60 minute fiasco to give us a montage of Angel running around town, taking meetings.
But yes, I’m still kind of on board for Madonna, though I don’t really know how much further the writers can take this now that there are no more spots on the tour. You’ve got to imagine that all of this talk about the Ball going mainstream has now been squashed so it’s unclear whether Pose will pivot back to its other residual storylines – AIDS drama and Blanca’s battle with Patti LuPone – or introduce something else for its few remaining episodes.
At this point though, something has to happen. Two out of five episodes this season have been flat out disasters, which is a pretty miserable batting average for a series that just picked up a bunch of Emmy nominations (for last season obviously).
But yes, at least we’ll always have pancakes (Preferably banana chocolate in the shape of dinosaurs)
Back to you, Terry: do you think the Madonna stuff is dunzo? Do you think there was enough reference to Candy (considering the episode literally includes her name in it)? Are you eager to get back to a particular lingering plot line? And whose lewk was best in the episode: Ricky’s lime green striped pants or the Solid Gold outfits?
Omg. I completely forgot about Patti! My immediate thought was “who???” But you’re right, WTF happened to that story?
I think you hit on the biggest problems of this season. It’s lacking a strong episodic through line. Narrative threads pop up and then vanish. We’re halfway through this season and I don’t even know what this season is about. Pose is struggling to find its voice and the result is starting to feel like a bunch of sitcom episodes. Here, we have two characters who are apart, get together and then end the episode basically where they started it.
And yes! Same thing with Angel. Her story just feels blasé, now. She’s getting everything she wants and it’s all off screen. Where’s the conflict? Where’s the drama? I’ve never been a Madonna fan. She’s fine. Got a couple bangers but she’s just not for me. And while I hope we move on from this, I just don’t think we will. I think she’s coded in this season’s DNA. I guess that’s it for this week. Let’s hope next week is better.
Oh, and Joe? Lime green striped pants all the way.