Pose has spent many of its last few episodes focusing intensely on individual characters — their struggles, their downfalls, and ultimately, their triumphs. Our last episode, for example, honed in on Billy Porter’s Pray Tell, who underwent a bad visit to the hospital that resulted in a music-filled episode about resilience and strength.
But “Blow,” the seventh episode of the critically-acclaimed second season, pulls back, now focusing back on the bigger picture. Each major character gets a moment to shine, from the fiercely devoted Blanca all the way down to the absolutely loveable Lil Papi.
From giant condoms to some heartbreaking news, here are our 5 key takeaways from episode 7 of Pose season 2, “Blow”:
Peaks, then valleys: We open the latest episode with some breaking news — “Vogue” is no longer that song. As Madonna’s cultural reign in 1990 begins to dwindle, so do the lives of our characters: Damon’s classes at the YMCA are cut after attendance reaches an all time low; Ricky can’t book any dancing gigs following the song’s waning popularity; and the outsiders who once came to witness the balls (or “looky-loo’s” as Pray Tell so accurately describes them) are now gone. But it’s not just Madge’s song that’s hitting a new low. Lulu Ferocity is still dealing with the loss of her sister Candy, and it’s not going well. Blanca’s ongoing battle with Frederica Norman is reaching a boiling point, as the latter claps back at her protesters in the press. With everyone finding themselves in a slump, there’s only one direction to go: up.
A not-so-silent benefactor: With everything going down at once, Blanca and Pray decided to “kill two birds with one stone” by giving a task to Ricky, Damon and Lulu. The task is “simple”: wrap Frederica Norman’s upstate New York mansion in a giant condom to make a statement (which is based on true events). The children have a difficult time coming up with their game plan, until the always vainglorious Elektra Abundance-Then-Evangelista-Then-Ferocity-Now-Abundance offers up some funding for their project, in exchange for a much-needed reputation boost. She even reignites her relationship with Lulu by giving her a spot as the Hellfire Club’s newest mistress for some extra dough. She may not be nice, and she may not be helpful when she needs to be, but Elektra Wintour is absolutely a woman who is open to negotiation.
The ship has sailed: All aboard the S.S. Romance! We’ve been teased for much of this season with a potential relationship between Angel and Lil Papi (whose “government name,” we find out, is Esteban), but in “Blow,” we finally get to see some action. While it starts out as a simple friendship quickly evolves into some love: as Angel books a new modeling, the two share a kiss. But things go awry quickly when the two go to Nell’s to celebrate Angel’s triumph. When offered some cocaine, Angel and Papi give into the pressure despite Blanca’s no drug policy. While their euphoric high does lead to a very empowering and well-treated sex scene, it only spells danger for the pair further down the line. After being caught by Damon, Angel gets a reality check from [Eileen Ford] about the dangerous path she’s headed down. “You’re better than this,” she reminds her. “You’re so close to having everything you told me you wanted, Angel. Do you want to burn out?” Though that appears to be the least of Angel’s trouble when the photographer who exploited her body earlier this season reappears to shoot her for her new campaign.
The Great Condom Caper: With their game plan in motion, Lulu, Damon and Ricky head upstate with Elektra, Blanca, Pray and Nurse Judy to get the job done. With Mother Wintour running interference, the team blows up the enormous condom over Mrs. Norman’s house, sending the world a big, latex message about safe-sex. It gets covered by local news stations, and the mission is deemed successful. Plus, a court rules in favor of Blanca in her housing case, meaning Norman can’t evict her, and her nail salon is safe.
Of course, the Wicked Witch of the Upper West Side makes an appearance to shame Blanca for trashing her reputation with her rich friends (which means we get even more Patti Lupone). But Blanca doesn’t accept, reminding Frederica that she should “underestimate me at your own peril.” Just as it seems we’re about to say goodbye to our least-favorite landlord for good, she gives a thinly-veiled threat, telling Blanca that even if she’s lost the legal battle, she’s willing to maneuver outside of the law to get what she wants.
A caring community: As with nearly every episode of Pose, the theme of “Blow” is based around community, and what a committed, supportive community can do to better the lives of others. Lulu, for example, learns the importance of responsibility and initiative from Blanca and enrolls in school again to get her accounting degree. Damon is given new purpose in his strive toward activism. But not all the news is good — after an important talk with Pray Tell, Ricky goes in for another round of HIV testing … and it comes back positive. But even in a despairing moment, Pray is still there to uplift and support Ricky, softly telling him that he’s going to live, even if he’s not sure that he believes it.