“Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” features not one but three lavish, cinematic montages. First, there’s the bouncy, heist movie-like sequence that opens the episode, featuring Elektra detailing to her house how she has suddenly become extremely rich by linking up with the mafia to franchise her phone sex business and help them launder drug money. Then, there’s a rom-com-ready montage of Angel trying on wedding dresses. But that’s not all! Pose keeps the over-the-top fantasy going with another montage of Elektra, Lulu, Blanca, and Angel all being pampered extravagantly on Elektra’s dime, complete with 90s-style scene transitions. Wedding dresses, spa days, champagne toasts, shopping sprees, editorial fashion looks—this episode of Pose is a layer cake of indulgence. It makes Angel the rom-com heroine of her dreams, and it places these trans women of color in contexts that usually exclude or devalue them.
It all feels like a luxe fantasy, and it’s a thrill to watch these characters thrive. When it comes to Elektra’s sudden success with the mafia, I felt myself waiting for the other shoe to drop, which speaks to the patterns of queer and trans representation on television. It’s so rare to see queer and trans people of color on television indulge, flourish, and be happy.
Fantasy and desire are powers in and of themselves. Papi becomes upset when he learns Elektra wants to foot the bill for Angel’s dream wedding, but Elektra and Blanca explain to him there’s a much bigger picture here. For these characters, ballroom has long served as a place for reimagining, claiming power, and community-building. In the ballroom, they’ve created a new space of their own where queer and trans people of color get to set the rules, be themselves, and access fantasy in a way the outside world attempts to stymy or even punishes them for. A lavish wedding for Angel and Papi is a chance for other trans women to see themselves as brides beyond the ballroom. And indeed, it becomes a real community experience. Elektra pulls off a magnificent scheme that allows all of the attendees at Angel’s bachelorette dinner/party to don wedding dresses of their own. Here, Pose plays around with tradition, much like the ballroom does. Angel gets to have what looks like a typical dream wedding on the surface but also reimagines the dream wedding by turning it into a communal experience that celebrates all women.
At the same time as it indulges in powerful fantasy, Pose keeps reality close to the surface. It’s perpetually clear throughout the episode that the whole reason Angel is able to get this dream wedding comes down to money. Elektra’s limitless credit card is what gives all of these characters access to the lifestyles of rom-com montages. The wedding dress montage is lengthy and wonderful, and it also reworks the traditional wedding montage by expanding the focus beyond the bride. It’s fun to watch Blanca, Lulu, and Elektra give the thumbs up or thumbs down to Angel’s options, but it’s even more fun to watch them get to try on dresses, too. This becomes their shared experience, their shared joy, and their shared fantasy. Suddenly, Pose’s wedding dress montage is its own entirely. The episode reproduces rom-com conventions but also expands them to not merely include trans women of color but actively give them the reins.
But it’s also, of course, only possible because of Elektra’s deep pockets. And Pose also acknowledges here that transphobia and racism still win out over money sometimes. After that gleeful montage, the owner of the dress store comes out and refuses to sell to them. The sudden puncture of the fantasy is a blow. But it doesn’t ultimately take agency away from these characters or feel like a cheap grab at conflict. Elektra downs her champagne before reading this transphobic worm of a man. She gets the last word in—and then some. Elektra taps her new mafia pals for a little assistance. She doesn’t want them to beat this guy up; she wants them to rob him. It’s a delectable form of revenge, because the exact thing this man refused—for these dresses to be worn by trans women—is the exact thing she ensures happens.
The rom-com effervescence of the episode is tempered with some drama, and unfortunately not all of it is effective. Some of the small subplots work, like Lulu’s demands to be treated with kindness and love. Elektra is still taking the tough love course with Lulu, but that’s not always the best way to confront someone’s addiction, and Lulu speaks up for herself, pointing out to the others that they never really ask her how she feels about the loss of Candy. While it was a loss for everyone, Candy was Lulu’s best friend and confidante, and she knows she has been self-medicating for her grief and is trying to change.
Throughout the episode, the ongoing and intersecting themes of family, obligation, memory, and care are fully felt. Elektra treats her family to the finest foods and luxuries, because she believes they deserve it. She’s having her own personal fun with her new life, but she also doesn’t hesitate to do things for her family. Blanca gives a beautiful toast at the opulent dinner party that grounds this whole extravaganza in family, in her love for Papi and Angel and the way their love touches others.
But then there’s the Papi subplot. While Angel is living out her fantasies, Papi receives some life-changing news from his past. Jimena, the sister of his ex Marisol, drops into his life to announce that Marisol died for reasons related to her drug addiction and that she has left behind a child—Papi’s son. Five-year-old Berto lives with Jimena, and Papi gets to meet him in a tearjerker scene. It all happens very quickly, to say the least. And I get it—this is a television drama. So there needs to be, well, drama. A last-minute wrench thrown into a dream wedding is a perfectly expected narrative device.
But the surprise son is such an overused soapy trope, and the way it’s wedged in here forces makes the conflict feel mechanical and hollow. It’s an easy approach to conflict, and it’s tonally disconnected from the rest of the episode. Pose often succeeds at threading together varying tones and scopes, but this particular subplot undercuts the playfulness of the rest of the episode rather than deepening or conversing with it. It’s different from the contrast between that wedding dress montage and the dramatic scene with the shop owner that follows it, because in that instance, the dissonance does more than just introduce conflict for conflict’s sake. It’s meant to show the societal constraints foisted upon trans fantasy. And yet, in that instance, the obstacle also doesn’t completely rob the characters of their joy and dreams. Papi’s storyline, meanwhile, might as well be a literal wrench thrown in our faces. And it places a new burden on Angel to conform to something she doesn’t want. Angel’s initial reaction is to think that Jimena could be lying. Why now, she wonders. The timing, she thinks, seems convenient since Angel has money. And even though that doesn’t seem at all to be what Jimena’s after, it’s hard not to ask the same question as Angel from the viewer’s position. Why now? Well, because it’s obviously narratively convenient to happen now. What’s a TV wedding without some last-minute drama to complicate the walk down the aisle?
“Something Borrowed, Something Blue” is indeed at its most alive during its most playful moments, which take conventional images and devices and kaleidoscope them into communal experiences that reimagine family and success. Conflict is necessary for narrative tension and stakes, but Papi’s long lost child is a clumsy misfire that doesn’t carry as much emotional weight as some of the smaller, quieter character moments found between those lush rom-com shots, sequences, and transitions.
- The intense apartment envy I experienced during the opening scene of this episode...whew!
- I love all the 1994 pop culture moments we’ve been getting this season. We get a Power Rangers clip in this one.
- Given that there are only two (2!) episodes left of the series, I have a feeling the Papi stuff is going to be resolved very quickly/easily just like it was introduced hastily. We’ll see!
- Caviar every day? When Elektra does something, she does it all the way.