Each week Terry (@gaylydreadful) and Joe (@bstolemyremote) discuss the most recent episode of FX’s Pose, alternating between their respective sites – gaylydreadful.com and queerhorrormovies.com. If you need to catch up with last week’s recap, it’s available here.
Pose 2×09: “With Blanca reeling from an unexpected loss, Elektra organizes a girls trip to the shore.”
Well Terry, I hope you’ve packed your most sensational bathing suit – be it Elektra (Dominique Jackson)’s flower petal v-cut, Angel (Indya Moore)’s shiny asymmetrical wedgie monstrosity or a pair of simple green speedos – because we are fleeing the heat of the city for a girl’s weekend!
I’ll confess that I spent the majority of “Life’s A Beach” believing it was a trifle of an episode. It’s escapist entertainment, and aside from a few meaningful exchanges about trans women passing in the summer and Angel’s rationale for fearing the water, it’s fairly surface-level stuff. Heavy on Elektra’s quips and light on substance.
But then, as the episode closed, I realized that this episode is doing something really important. Not only does it offer a glimpse of these women out of the contextual framing of both men and the Ball scene, it gives them a win. Sure, “Life’s A Beach” trafficks in plenty of outlandish situations and doesn’t come with a ton of heavy handed messaging, but it let’s Elektra, Lulu (Hailie Sahar), Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) and Angel take a few days off, let their metaphorical hair down and just have a good time.
This is especially valuable considering the circumstances that open the episode, namely Frederica (Patti LuPone)’s out of the blue decision to reap the rewards of insurance fraud after she blows up Blanca’s nail salon. Now we’ve talked often – and at length – about how frequently Pose has dropped audiences into the aftermath of (frequently off-screen) actions, so we should probably be used to it…but I’m not. Frankly I’m tired of the series cutting narrative corners because the pay-off never feels earned and the timelines are jumbled.
Thankfully, while this would be a HUGE blow in Blanca’s life were she a real person, in the world of the series, it’s merely the impetus for an escape from her problems and the oppressive NY city heat. So sure, let’s roll with it, but I’m still not ready to forgive, mmmkay Pose?
With that said, as soon as the inane logistics involving Elektra’s John (or is it her “Joe”?), his summer home and the bodega-purchased driver’s license were out of the way, we got not one, but two (!) car ride karaoke montages (A Taste of Honey’s “Boogie Oogie Oogie” on the way up and En Vogue’s “Hold On” on the way back), so…I was a happy man.
Terry, what was your first impression of the episode? Was this too much Elektra for you or just enough? Did the explanation of a rich man willingly letting his dominatrix isolate him in a sweltering garage for the weekend satisfy you? And, if you feel up to it, where do we begin with Lifeguard Adrian (Austin Scott), a seemingly perfect man?
I don’t know about you, Joe, but I could FEEL the heat of the city. It was a three fan sitch for Blanca and a weird kink for Joe that you could almost smell. Speaking of smell, I wondered after seeing the promo for this episode if they were going to address the body in the closet (that can’t be pleasant). So I did get a couple chuckles at the way Elektra would swat it away and at the naiveté of the girls that they would believe that that funk was pine scented candles.
You’re absolutely right, though, this is a very slight episode. I definitely didn’t hate it, but I did dislike its placement as the penultimate episode this season. I appreciated Blanca’s vulnerability with the other women who were able to pass a bit more than she can. And, like you, I did enjoy the contextual changes and allowing the women to just be themselves and free. But, man, the way Pose has been handling dramatic moments by showing the aftermath feels a lot like Game of Thrones Season 1.
Onto fun things: I loved Elektra this episode. I know I’ve been a bit harsh on the amount of screen time she’s gotten this season and the constant way the show has reframed her character (she’s cold and heartless! But not! But yes! But no!), but I loved her this episode. Her read at the rich white people club was legendary. Status Update: Dead. The way she finagled this weekend trip was hilarious to me…even if it didn’t feel realistic. Like, at all.
It did give us a great line about rich people having the luxury of pursuing loneliness as an option because other people don’t have that ability. I thought that line was heartfelt and meaningful, particularly when coupled with Blanca’s life this season. It was kind of a throw-away line (just another Elektra stinger), but Blanca has become increasingly isolated over the last few episodes in ways that she has absolutely no power over. Plus: there’s the more intimate level of loneliness that she feels because she’s trans, so the line hit the right notes for me.
Speaking of intimacy, I’m glad that Blanca was saved by that tall drink of water. Black Hasselhoff AKA Adrian was a fantastic summer lovin’ moment and I kind of wish they had just left it at that, instead of apparently continuing it with that phone call at the end of the episode. “Life’s a Beach” had such a fun, dreamy feel to it; it felt divorced from the real life drama awaiting them back in NYC that I kinda would have preferred it to stay that way. There’s no way a man that perfect exists, right?
But what do you think, Joe? Did Adrian tick the right boxes for you? And what are your thoughts of Angel’s apparent sobriety? Was the nose candy just a bit to add drama and now that it’s not needed it’s gone?
I’m sorry, did you say nose Candy or on-the-nose Candy (Angelica Ross)? Because I’m experiencing diminishing returns each time Ghost Candy pops up. Perhaps I’m just being a cruel bitch, but each time she returns, I groan because it’s exactly what I was worried was going to happen when Candy was killed off (Murphy and co., if you like a character so much that you feel continually inclined to bring them back, perhaps don’t kill them off?). My sole concession, aside from the fact that it’s great to see Ross on screen again – and belting out En Vogue no less! – is that this had an air of closure to the proceedings as Elektra is the last member of the family to say a goodbye to the dearly departed character.
But back to Adrian…
Look, he’s no Ricky, who has stolen his way into my dreams, but yes, Scott is a very attractive man. I’m probably as wary as Elektra, Lulu and you are about his intentions because while Pose is very often a fairytale, it can get quite dark and there’s always a nagging doubt in the back of my mind when TV characters encounter a Prince (or Princess) who seems to be too good to be true. Was I waiting for the rug to get pulled out? Yes. Am I glad it didn’t happen? Yes. Am I still worried? Maybe.
Still, as I think I mentioned last week, there’s only so much pity/grief porn that the show can heap on Blanca, so if this means that she gets an arc with a nice gentleman caller (who the writers can ship back to the beach whenever it suits their needs), then by all means, I’m down. And if we get to see more of that lime green, beach-mandated wardrobe, so much the better!
Sidebar: Gosh we’re thirsty, aren’t we? It must be this August heat.
As for Angel’s drug addiction..oof. The storyline that has never worked for me continues to not work for me. The way that writer Janet Mock (who co-wrote “Blow” and this episode), as well as co-creator Steven Canals (who wrote last week’s “Revelations“) have handled drug addiction is both lazy and aggravatingly unrealistic. It truly feels as though Pose wants to use the trappings of the storyline without putting in the hard work of setting it up or seeing it through. Again, I’m not particularly interested in doing a whole big “after school special” in which Angel spirals and crashes, but it feels particularly disingenuous to suggest that Angel has gone cold turkey simply because Blanca is keeping an eye on her from afar.
It’s almost as unrealistic as Joe surviving in a latex body suit in a sweltering hot garage! <shakes head>
Anyways…Terry we’ve almost reached the end of the season, so in addition to anything else from the episode you want to raise, what are your predictions for next week’s finale? I’ll just be over in the corner, taking a drink of water in between practicing my Elektra reads.
Joe, I’m frankly over Ghost Candy. I’ve been vocal of that ever since they started using her as a narrative crutch. I find it annoying mostly because she’s been the joker character for the last two seasons and now the writers want to give her character a narrative significance that she never enjoyed in life. I find that disingenuous.
They also made the strong and powerful decision to off her (and it ‘s not like this is the last time we’ll see Angelica Ross in a Murphy production since she’s joining American Horror Story), so just… let it go. That said, I agree, I did enjoy her (hopefully final?) appearance, making amends with Elektra.
I wish I had more to talk about with this episode. It was fine and fun, but it doesn’t really lend itself much in the way of analysis.
My predictions for the finale…well after watching the promo I wouldn’t be surprised if we say goodbye to a character or have a health scare at the very least, what with Damon running through a hospital and Pray Tell embracing a crying Blanca. The obvious answer would be Ricky, who is more or less a carbon copy of Damon and hasn’t really been given much to do this season. Even though I know you’ll miss him, his time seems up, yeah? Or will Papi be put in the hospital for defending Angel’s honor, since the promo also hinted that she might be clocked?
I guess we’ll find out next week!
Next week: we jump back over to Gayly Dreadful for the finale. Here’s a look!
*GIFs courtesy of New.Now.Next