WARNING: Spoilers ahead for season 2, episode 2 of Pose
Throughout the first season of Ryan Murphy’s Pose, each character was, at some point, forced to confront and deal with the accompanying discrimination brought upon them by the simple fact of their queerness. Whether it was Blanca being thrown out of gay bars or Elektra being disowned by her sugar daddy for having gender confirmation surgery, our protagonists regularly found themselves in the wake of open prejudice.
But Tuesday night’s episode of the show’s second season, “Worth It” posits that sometimes, even when the world seems determined to erase you, perseverance prevails. Especially for our heroine of the week, Blanca, standing up for what is right and true proves to have its benefits.
From Blanca’s heartening story of self-empowerment, to a surprise celebrity cameo, here are our 5 key takeaways from season 2, episode 2 of Pose:
Wintour is coming: It seems that Elektra Abundance-Then-Evangelista-Now-Ferocity just can’t stay in one place for very long. While the episode shows Elektra bringing her new house all of the grand prizes they could want, she’s unsatisfied — with her new job as a dominatrix bringing in plenty of cash, and her former daughters Candy and Lulu diminishing her at every turn, the ballroom icon decides to finally give into her inner mean girl by performing her “new signature move” of flipping a table and quitting the House of Ferocity. Plodding down the pavement in her designer pumps, Elektra hand picks a crew of ballroom assassins and forms her new house, the House of Wintour (named after Vogue editor Anna Wintour). How many more houses is this mean queen going to go through? There’s only so many hyphens we can add to Elektra’s already-stacked surname.
Patti-cake: Going into season two, fans knew that Broadway legend Patti LuPone would be making an appearance on the show, but had no idea how. But we found on in episode two, as LuPone gloriously graced our televisions as the vicious, hilarious, completely homophobic and racist real estage magnate Frederica Norman. Every scene LuPone was in she dominated, chewing the scenery through her spiteful barbs. In one particularly delicious scene, she even gives Blanca a lesson in gentrification, claiming that “the troublemakers” need to go, and saying through a nasty smile “Property values go up. Everybody wins.”
Nailing it down: LuPone’s character isn’t just here for an iconic performance — she comes in as Blanca is trying to open up her own nail salon to provide a legacy for her family. After learning from Angel how to avoid being clocked, Mother Evangelista manages to fly under the radar of Ms. Norman and secure her spot … at least until the realtor’s son later informs her that Blanca is trans. But when the magnate attempts to evict Blanca, she fights back, saying that because their contract was based on a handshake she has squatter’s rights. Norman threatens Blanca first with a lawsuit, and then with a mafia-style knee-capping. But the matriarch of House Evangelista isn’t budging; “I’ve had more beatings than you’ve had breakfast,” she seethes. “Now shoo.”
Al B. Not-So-Sure: Meanwhile, trouble is brewing elsewhere in the Evangelista household. After Ricky finally returns home from touring with Al B. Sure, Damon finds out that his beau may not have been totally honest with him — at a ball, a fellow dancer named Chris reveals that he and Ricky had sex on tour. The couple fights it out (both literally and figuratively), before Damon decides that he needs to take some time for himself. Ricky certainly doesn’t take it well, packing his things, and leaving the House just as soon as he got back. And according to some diligent reconnaissance from Lil Papi, it sounds like our scorned lover is on his way to becoming the newest member of the House of Wintour.
The truth hurts … and heals: As we said, Blanca is the true heroine of this episode — even though she loses multiple titles at this episode’s balls, she reclaims her power as a brown, trans woman. That was especially true in one heart wrenching scene, where the house mother opens up about how she contracted HIV. After learning that Ricky and Damon had been having unprotected sex, Blanca reveals that back in the early ‘80s, she would regularly pimp herself out to men in order to feel loved. “I just wanted to be somebody’s precious thing,” she says through tears. She then emotionally reveals to her children that she has AIDS, reminding them that actions have consequences.
Even the brick wall that is Lil Papi breaks down upon hearing this news, pledging to never leave Blanca. “You are one brave woman, you know that?” the young Evangelista says through tears. “You looked after me when no one else would. I promise I’m gonna look after you.” This moment is only underscored from the on-screen quote that closes the episode. In it, the late real-life ballroom legend Hector Xtravaganza disputes the claim that blood is thicker than water, saying “Family are those with whom you share your good, bad, and ugly, and still one another in the end. Those are the ones you select.”