Blanca’s ascending ambition coincides with Pray’s downfall, and this final season of “Pose” uses their stories to explore big themes of self-esteem and forgiveness, cynicism and regret. “We all carry our pain,” a counselor tells Blanca, and both Rodriguez and Porter are exceptional: the former increasingly confident and unadorned, balancing her character’s endless compassion with a deserved assertion as to who she is. lets in his life, and the second phenomenally angry and bitter, enraged by the feeling that their community is screaming into the void in vain. Rodriguez and Porter star in the two best scenes of the season, one a to die for that puts their friendship to the test, and the other a ball performance in a triumphant version of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough ”. Another Emmy nomination shouldn’t be out of the question for Porter, but Rodriguez deserves one, too.
Surrounding the characters of Blanca and Pray, “Pose” predictably bounces between fantastical indulgence and inconsistent portrayals of drug use, Mafia involvement, and death. Fashion remains a focal point: the first features an exaggerated culinary fight scene that sees Porter screaming in agony as someone shoots mustard and ketchup at her gorgeous brown tweed suit; in a later episode, a character has an Oprah-like moment where she hands out designer wedding dresses to dozens of friends. Flashbacks fill Pray’s childhood and Elektra’s backstory, including how she created House Wintour and amassed Blanca, Angel, Lamar (Jason Rodriguez, one of the first villains this season), the late Candy ( Angelica Ross, whose ghost appears, as he has done throughout season two, to speak to the characters), and Lulu (Hailie Sahar) under his wing. A subplot involving Elektra’s mysterious trunk has a heist vibe; guest stars Jackée Harry, Janet Hubert and Anna Maria Horsford do more than offer a kick of nostalgia; always zing one-liners (“Your god sounds like a real asshole”); and a recreation of the ACT UP Ashes action is deeply moving.
As is the case with this show, these scenes put viewers through all the emotional tension, from the pain of rejection of the biological family to the pleasure of accepting the chosen family. That’s not to say that everything is fully working: some characters’ use of crack is mostly a punchline until the show suddenly decides to take it seriously; a break seems a little artificial; and there’s a scene that directly attacks “Sex and the City” based on its white-centric perspective, which is a valid point, but feels stuck here. But these are quibbles for a season that otherwise embraces the grandiosity that “Pose” has always been fond of, while directly addressing questions of the legacy and influence of the series. In her song “My Love is Your Love”, Whitney Houston – who has long been a part of the fabric of this show – sings “The Lord asks me what I have done with my life / I will say I spent it with you ”, and that the feeling of gratitude permeates and reinforces this final season of“ Pose ”.
Season considered for review. “Pose” opens with its first two episodes airing May 2 on FX.