'Pose' Episode 4 titled 'The Fever' is soul of its season
Episode 4 titled 'The Fever' mainly highlights the HIV AIDS epidemic while addressing the consequences of "perfect womanly physique" to the trans community
Warning: Spoilers ahead
In a stark contrast to last week's Christmas episode, the fourth episode aptly titled 'The Fever' was a despondent journey of individuals battling the plaguing HIV Virus and embracing, or more likely, seeking comfort in their own bodies. Physical, as well as psychological torment, is a recurring theme and we see the stern Elektra cry two times in this 56-minute episode. With one story more heartbreaking than the other, Pray Tell's revelation of being HIV AIDS positive puts us on spot and we would be mad if Billy Porter didn't make the cut for several awards with his iconic rendering.
The pilot episode of FX's 'Pose' starts with change, especially when Blanca, receives an HIV-positive diagnosis, she makes an undeterred decision to start her own house and leave Elektra's House of Abundance. In her conversation with Pray Tell, we hear him say that she shouldn't have taken the test in the first place. In this episode, Pray Tell's greatest fear becomes a reality and while we see his emotions shred and shatter, he gracefully holds up for the sake of his boys, Blanca's children.
The title of the episode, in a literal sense, refers to characters like Damon and Candy who experience a scathing temperature of 102 degree Celsius fever. HIV is on doubts for Damon, who recently had sex with Ricky, who admitted to having sex with over 50 people. Damon admits to Blanca that despite having safe sex, there were times when the condom came off. This takes Blanca on an emotional turmoil and Damon has already established himself to be annoying to most viewers. Recall when Blanca gave him the much-needed sex education and condoms and yet, here he is, crying like a baby all over again.
As for Candy, her ruthless injections to broaden her hips and butt may have also put her at risk. This is also the first time we are seeing Candy as a full character in her own rights and how sick she is of her self-centered House mother, Elektra Abundance. When Candy attempts to walk in a category that Elektra thinks she is unfit for, she gets extremely humiliated especially by Pray Tell, who hosts the drag show. In an attempt to be more "feminine" and "curvier" Candy indulges in a self-harming journey, going to shady places to get her silicone injections.
Even though a literal fever grips her after winning the category and she blacks out, her metaphorical 'fever' sets in early, when she is body-shamed by many. That humiliation drives her to do more damage than good. This very metaphorical fever is also seen among main characters including Elektra and Angel, who becomes self-conscious about their bodies and what they want.
Though Elektra slams Candy for her desires and ambitions, she herself ends up taking the same route. We finally see Elektra's "sugar daddy", Dick, in this episode and she argues with him about her plans to get a gender confirmation surgery. She had earlier toyed with the idea in episode 3, but this time we see how badly she wants to go for a sex change. Getting a further insight into Elektra's past, we see how Dick gave her the life she's living. We also see how entirely against he is against Elektra's desire to go for the sex change surgery and in the gamble, she may end up losing Dick, who has supported her financially for the past ten years. Towards the end, Elektra abides by her decision, and solely her will to undergo the surgery even if the cost is losing everything she has.
There's an underlining sense of respect for who Elektra is, especially after the episode.
As for Angel, the fever of jealousy grips her. She has a heated argument with Stan when he fails to have sex with her, she throws him out of the apartment. She is not comfortable with her body and doesn't approve of all Stan does in the bedroom. There's an added sense of insecurity since he has a woman at home. Angel constantly compares herself to his wife, Patty, and later in the episode, we see her getting the injection Candy did, which turned out infectious and life-threatening.
This episode felt like the 'soul' of 'Pose.' For a drama set in the ballroom culture of the late 80s Reagen era, prevailing homophobia is very distinct, especially when Pray Tell points it out to Blanca that being HIV positive is no plague to the government, who think the LGBTQ+ community are paying for their sins and is basically a death sentence. A quick glance into the community's history and its present state still makes us question if the fever still prevails.