Pose Season 1 Episode 5 review: Tear-jerking Mother's Day episode elevates this great show to new heights
Episode 5 is the best episode so far where you will see Elektra undergo her gender-confirming surgery, Blanca appreciate her two mothers and Pray Tell being the wisest man of all
Editor's note: This article contains spoilers
It's been five weeks since Ryan Murphy's 'Pose' aired and while I was starting to complain about the hour-long episodes, the fifth episode has eased my whingeing. I do not mind hour-long TV shows as long as they aren't arduous and 'Mother's Day' made the cut.
A blend of emotion, beautiful and bitter, is mainly served up with Blanca's story and it quenches your soul to know that Blanca is a good woman after all and Elektra isn't that bad either, okay, she may be a bitch, but she's not a BITCH!
Proof? The fifth episode portrays Elektra as a mother figure to Blanca. The lights and drag ballroom culture set in 1980s New York City now narrates the story of how the two legendary mothers met in 1982. Elektra was already an accomplished queen, but Blanca was making her debut in a drag ballroom. Dressed in a princess frock with a baby clip pinning her pixie cut and wearing white block shoes, she was laughed at when she launched herself, but she was bold enough to ask the judges for her score, despite knowing she did not come anywhere close to her competitors.
This impresses the then reigning Elektra, who rescues Blanca from being bullied outside the ballroom and takes her out for dinner, where we see Blanca gorge the way Damon had when she took him out. That is when Elektra announces that from the moment onwards, Elektra is Blanca's 'Mother.'
This opening scene is the best so far. Period.
This particular flashback episode makes you want to ask Blanca the question you never thought you'd ask her. Why? Why did she turn against Elektra, who took her under her wing when Blanca's real family and the trans community rejected her? The dining table conversation between the two has to be the most soul-baring we have ever seen them.
Then on to the present, which in the series is 1987, Elektra undergoes sex change surgery after a few episodes of toying with the idea. In her absence, her House of Abundance is led by Candy, who ultimately bags the 'Pose' trophy. Winners that they are, none of the children show up to support Elektra, but the unexpected visitor is Blanca.
Elektra is as mean and fierce as ever, demeaning Blanca, but Elektra always knew that Blanca is a woman of substance and she doesn't turn her out, despite their growing enmity. Blanca, on the other hand, lost her biological mother and flashbacks to this story are also heart-wrenching.
When Elektra asks Blanca in surprise what she's doing, Blanca responds; "I'm here because in this life I've had two mothers. The one that brought me into this world and... you. The first one -- the first one died just this week. Before she could forgive me, before I could forgive her. You and I, we got our problems. Enough water under the bridge to drown this whole city. The world may have destroyed the version of you who saved me that night outside the ball and took me under your wing, but you're the only mother I have left. You may be a terrible mother, but that don't mean I can't be the loving daughter I want to be."
Blanca is a strict mother at home and when she is chiding her children for not keeping the house clean and proper, she gets a phone call; she instantly shrieks and breaks down on hearing her mother has passed away.
Mustering a lot of courage, she shows up at her house only to be turned away by her sister. But with the support of her children and trans family, mainly Pray Tell, she shows up for her mother's funeral. It definitely isn't easy for Blanca, who was once a boy named Mateo, to look her entire family in the eye and attend the funeral of a "woman who rejected her".
Her sister disrespects her and her brother even physically assaults her at the funeral. Blanca fights back and the role Pray Tell plays to make her family realize that Blanca is authentic and her wig does not define her, is commendable.
Blanca mourns her mother's death and finds it in her heart to forgive her for failing to understand her, although she later longed for Blanca the same way Blanca longed for her. Blanca's powerful monologue lays bare the subject of trans womanhood and motherhood.
Blanca's forgiveness may have worked and Pray Tell's powerful response to her family could have had an effect as Blanca's sister later shows up at her doorstep and hands Blanca their mother's recipe book. As it turns out Mateo and his mother loved to cook together.
We also see Stan Bowes's wife Patty on the hunt to find Angel and get to the bottom of Stan's lies. She first finds out that her husband is having an affair when she confirms the name and signature on the apartment papers. The trigger point is given by Matt, Stan's boss, who is growing increasingly hostile towards Stan because Stan is winning the favor of Donald Trump and getting promoted.
But here's a surprise, Patty is her own woman. When Matt attempts to play the good guy, Patty sees right through him, and she lets him know that even if she wasn't with Stan, she would never be with a man like Matt.
She also approaches Angel, finds out that she's a drag performer and goes to talk to her. That is where the episode ends. While Angel is taken aback, it feels like Patty won't hurt Angel, because she's a strong woman and she's built her character. We hope it stays that way, but we wonder why Matt left her a number to call him if she ever wants his company. Hopefully, that day will never come.