Queer Girl (Recap): ‘Pose’ Raises a Glass in ‘Mother’s Day’

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The category is legendary mothers in the fifth episode of FX’s “Pose,” where Cinderella stories take center stage. A deep loss shakes Blanca to the core, while House Abundance begins to crumble in the face of mutiny. Through it all is a complex discussion of mothers— and motherly love— in all its forms, sometimes magical and sometimes nightmarish. Will these mothers and daughters ever have a happily ever after? Here’s a quick recap of “Mother’s Day,” just in case you missed it.

The show opens on a ball of ages past, where a starry-eyed Blanca walks the runway in a $5.99 shake-n-go wig and a frumpy pink gown that screams Cinderella, pre-fairy godmother (after her stepsisters tear her first gown apart). Blanca is called out for her look right on the dance floor and given the lowest scores of the night. On a smoke break after her loss, Blanca overhears the other queens shading her look and naivete, which nearly spirals into an earrings-off, no-holds-barred brawl. The fight is stopped by Elektra, who swoops in with some pointedly harsh shade to ward off the vultures. She takes Blanca under her wing, feeding her a hot meal at a local diner and proudly declaring herself as Blanca’s new mom.

We cut to present day where Blanca, now a harried mom of four, is trying to get the kids to clean their rooms. Angel has moved into House Evangelista since her fight with Stan-the-boring-man in a power move that will most definitely backfire. Blanca’s complaints about Angel’s “cleaning” (aka, shoving everything in the closet) is interrupted by a devastating phone call. Blanca’s biological mother (who’d thrown her out when Blanca first came out) has died. The bearer of bad news is an old friend from the neighborhood: no one else in the family had bothered to tell Blanca. Mother Evangelista hurries over to her sister’s apartment in the Bronx, where she confronts her sister. Her sister (surprise, surprise) is transphobic, deadnaming her repeatedly and throwing Blanca’s absence during her mom’s illness in her face. Blanca leaves, seething and devastated.

Yearning to be with her true family, Blanca makes her way to fairy drag-father Pray Tell’s house, where he tries to make her mom’s comfort food and generally Be There for her. Blanca reveals that cooking— something she makes a point of doing for her kids— was at the heart of her childhood memories; one of several kids, Blanca’s only bonding time with her mom was in the kitchen. Pray Tell encourages her to go to the funeral, despite her sister’s admonishments to stay away, and reminds her that her family—her real, chosen family— will help her through this.

Unfortunately, some chosen families still turn on each other. As Elektra goes under the knife for sex reassignment surgery, her children break ranks and walk that night’s ball under the rule of Lulu and Candy, who defeat another house general shock and awe. Blanca, saddened by the betrayal, goes to visit Elektra, who’s had no visitors despite her numerous children and legendary status. Blanca gives Elektra some tough love, reminding her that love and respect are earned, not freely given. She also reveals her regret about not reconciling with her late mother, clearly trying to make amends with Elektra before their time runs out. Mother Abundance shows some rare empathy, letting Blanca spend time with the only mother she still has.

With her chosen family in tow, Blanca then makes her way back to the Bronx for her other mother’s funeral. Her relatives, who thought Blanca had died, are shocked by Blanca’s transition and are generally terrible to her. Blanca’s siblings also continue to be awful, only backing off when Pray Tell steps up to physically protect Blanca, standing by her side while Blanca says goodbye. Thankfully, not everyone in Blanca’s family is absolute garbage: Blanca’s auntie invites her to the funeral reception, to which she goes.

Before Blanca leaves, she goes into the kitchen for some food and finds her mother’s recipe book, written in her mother’s hand. Her siblings discover her with the book in hand and order her to put it back; when Blanca tries to refuse, her brother shoves her against the wall. After her sister pulls him off, Blanca storms out. But Blanca’s sister eventually sees the light, showing up at her door with the cookbook in hand. She gives it to Blanca, revealing their mom’s own regrets about losing Blanca while referring to Blanca with the right name and pronouns. The moment is a sweet one for the pair, who seem to have made peace with their past and each other.

Elektra’s final step in her medical transition, along with Blanca’s visit, sparks her own Cinderella transformation. She welcomes her wayward children back to House Abundance with a feast and designer clothes, acknowledging her own failings as a mother and letting their betrayal roll off her back (for now). Her children fall in line, mutiny forgotten in favor of plush furs and plans for the next ball. By comparison, Blanca’s table is a sorry sight, where ground beef finds its way into dinner a few too many times. Her children whine about the boring food and ratty dresses Blanca offers up for the ball, but show a hell of a lot more love for Blanca than Elektra earned with presents. The message is clear: money can buy compliance, but not real, lasting love.

Meanwhile, Stan’s double-life is falling apart. Angel’s lover impresses the boss (Trump, ick) and earns himself a promotion, to the fury of Stan’s Scrooge of a boss. Because Stan’s boss is an idiot, he tells Stan’s wife Patty about his affair with Angel, losing the one bit of leverage he had over Stan in the first place. Patty is cool and collected (go Patty) and takes in the information without letting Stan’s boss get too close. She does, however, take Angel’s address from the Wall Street slimeball and go to the apartment building, convincing the landlord to show her the lease. Stan, as idiots do, leased the apartment in his own name, basically pinning the scarlet letter on himself. What will Patty do?

We end up back on the dance floor, where House Abundance and House Evangelista present their daughters in a debutante ball. House Abundance presents a winning tableau to the cheering crowd, introducing the new and improved Elektra holding court over a family tea party. Though the judges give House Abundance the grand prize, House Evangelista holds its own, presenting their mother in her very own Cinderella gown complete with a sparkling blue cape and a dashing man (Damon) at her side. The lost, starry-eyed girl who wandered onto the dance floor years ago has found her family, her purpose, and a look that the crowd gushes over.

But who’s the gorgeous woman standing in the crowd? It’s Patty, Stan’s wife, who’s gone looking for her husband’s mistress. She stalks her around the dance floor, finally approaching her outside the ballroom and asking to speak to her. Uh-oh, Stan. Your life is really about to hit the skids.

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