We pick back up where last week’s episode left off, watching Elektra primp in the peep show dressing room. The former mother is broken and defeated, dancing for bland-looking johns and sleeping in fast food joints and on park benches. One night, the partition rolls up to reveal Blanca, who’s heard about the fall of House Abundance. Over a midnight dinner at the diner (man, that set gets used a lot), Blanca worries over Elektra, who’s likely to end up lying on the coroner’s slab within a year at the rate she’s going. Elektra puts up all the fight of a wet street cat before she lets Blanca take her back to House Evangelista. Elektra tries to be demanding and aloof, but nobody buys it.
I should probably let y’all know that Blanca is doing the absolute most in this episode, trying to herd all of her loved ones onto happier paths before it’s too late. Next on the agenda? Her bestie and confidante, Pray Tell. Mother Evangelista goes to see the fashion designer about a dress for the Mother of the Year ball, but it’s obviously a ploy. In between Pray Tell working his fairy drag-mother magic, Blanca gives him the lowdown on the ballroom bartender, Keenan, who’s been mooning over Pray Tell for weeks. Blanca gives him the cutie’s number and a mission: go out and live a little. Pray Tell, still reeling from his lover’s death, takes her encouragement to heart and sets up a date.
We then trek over to The New School, where Damon’s dance teacher Helena has called her in for a parent-teacher conference. It’s good news: her kid’s scholarship has been extended for another year! (Everything is turning up roses, which is basically the point of “Pose’s” season finale. In the post-apocalyptic hellscape that is 2018, it’s rather nice to watch a series determined to give queer people a happy ending. Not very dramatic for a dramatic series, but still. It’s nice.) Helena gives Blanca major Mom kudos for giving Damon self-confidence and determination, and Blanca has feelings about it. They hug it out after Helena promises to let Blanca tell Damon the good news.
Here’s where things get complicated. Damon, the cinnamon roll that he is, encourages Ricky to go to a music video dancer audition for a musician, Al B. Sure (later described as the 80’s Marvin Gaye). Because Ricky is adorable and it’s an obvious plot set-up, Ricky only agrees to go if Damon goes. So the pair slay the auditions together in the shortest crop top I’ve ever seen (Ricky) and professional M.C. Hammer pants (Damon). Surprise surprise, both Evangelista boys end up with job offers, leaving Damon in an awkward situation. This time around, Blanca leaves the decision in his hands, giving him a chance to make his own choice for the first time this season.
While Damon may have escaped Blanca’s determined good will, Elektra (who’s let her appearance go) has not. Blanca drags her out to apply for a hostess job at a local hotspot, which is the best job for a woman as intimidating as Elektra. Judgmental? Check. Unapproachable? Check. Rude enough to tell off folx trying to jump the line? Cheeeeck. Elektra gets the job in a heartbeat, which returns some of her self-confidence. We see her back in fine form, face beat for the gods, in time for Pray Tell’s first date with Keenan, the moon-eyed bartender who’s a sculptor and artist at heart. The pair’s meet-cute is definitely worth a watch, with Pray Tell opening up a bit about Costas’ death and his HIV status, and ends with a steamy, emotional kiss. Keenan’s a keeper, going by first impressions.
Next on Blanca’s Fix-It List: Angel. Evangelista’s resident princess is still down about Stan’s soft-boy ways and really needs some love. The pair hug it out and Blanca finally tells Angel about her illness. The House of Evangelista will fall to Angel when Blanca dies, Mother Evangelista reveals, so Angel needs to be prepared to continue their tradition of love and acceptance. Angel may be heartbroken, but she will always have a family to come home to. For the girl who’s been searching for a home in other people, this is a revelation.
Because the episode is long and I’m tired of Stan and the knight in shining armor routine, I’ll finish up the Stan/Angel romance now. We find out later on that Stan tries to go back to Patty, who’s willing to let him move back in for the sake of the kids, but their relationship’s kaput and Patty is an Independent Woman (go Patty!). Stan, cowed and alone, tries to get Angel back with promises of a house and 2.5 kids. Angel, who’s finally realized family’s more important than a prince, drops him for good. Here’s hoping we never see Stan again.
And now, the night Houses Evangelista and Ferocity have been waiting for: the Mother of the Year Ball, where the most influential mothers earn legendary status. Lulu and Candy stomp up to Blanca and unleash way too much shade. Shaken by their insults (y’all didn’t need to call out her stubble), Blanca hides in a dressing room. But Elektra, whose gilded butterfly sleeves take up the entire camera shot, comes through with the save. Blanca’s kindness has worked its magic on the harshest queen in NYC, who’s found a job she likes that gives her dignity and confidence. Elektra dusts off her withered mothering skills and cheers Blanca up with a moving speech (“you were always my heart, Blanca”) before heading out to slay Blanca’s enemies.
What proceeds is the kind of quips and vogueing realness I’ve been waiting for all season, TBH. Elektra absolutely demolishes the House Ferocity with enough shade for a solar eclipse, skillfully extracting Papi and two more Abundance boys out of House Ferocity and to Evangelista’s ranks. (Insert tearful Papi/Blanca reunion scene here). Blanca then challenges House Ferocity to a showdown Vogue-off, where House Evangelista slays with fierce, fierce choreo while House Ferocity tries to keep up. Evangelista wins because it’s happy endings only here on “Pose,” and everyone rejoices.
House Evangelista takes trophy after trophy in the ensuing categories, to House Ferocity’s outrage. Candy tries to walk a vogue category, but embarrasses herself with some spastic chicken-dance moves. Because Candy can’t resist poking the bear, she curses out Pray Tell goads a judge into a one-on-one “dance battle”-turned-physical fight (with actual weapons). Lulu and House Ferocity are thrown out of the venue, because GIRL, you cannot come at judges with HAMMERS.
House Evangelista stays above the fray the rest of the night. We get a hug-it-out moment with Blanca and Damon, who’s made the first adult decision of his life and decided to stay in school. Ricky will go on the dancing job, which includes a music video and a tour, but their relationship is strong enough to handle the distance (or so he thinks; I predict fights in Season 2). Damon will take the time to hone his craft and make his mom proud, Blanca says she’s already proud, yay family love.
And now for the final category of Season 1: Mother of the Year. After a “surprise” nomination (but not really because happy endings only, remember?), Blanca Evangelista wins Mother of the Year for her love of her children and her community. Blanca, the lowly Cinderella at the start of “Pose,” has become the queen mother she was destined to be, with a family and place to call home. The episode ends not in her victory lap around the ballroom, but the get-together afterwards, where House Evangelista, Pray Tell, Keenan, Elektra and even Damon’s dance teacher toast Blanca. “Mother of the Year” ends not with a queen taking her throne, but a mother presiding over the dinner table, reminding viewers that family is the true core of the LGBTQIA+ community. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, folx: this show better be getting some Emmy noms.