The episode starts off right where it should, with Angel and Patty’s confrontation. However, they’ve moved from the street outside the ball, where they were at the end of last episode, to a booth at the diner. Angel starts by saying, “I don’t know what to say.” Girl, you should have said plenty already. I want to see what happened before they got to the diner? Did Patty say, “I’m Stan’s wife,” and then Angel say, “Oh, we better do this over pancakes.” And then they had to walk there. I want to see that walk. Did they make small talk? “I love your jacket. What is that? Maribou?” “How was the drive in from New Jersey? Was there a lot of traffic?” “Great weather we’re having. How about them Mets? Stan and I talk about them after we fuck.” I mean, the possibilities are endless!
All joking aside, the scene between Patty and Angel is one of the best of the entire series so far. First the two women are joined by what they have in common. Angel says all she ever wanted was to be a kept woman but then once she achieved that, she hated it. She felt like a doll who was only of value when Stan wanted to play with her. Patty feels the same way as his wife, and says that she needs to keep lying to herself to pretend like all she ever wanted to be was a wife and a mother.
They can only get there because Angel is unspookable and Patty just assumed that she was a woman the whole time. When Angel explains that she’s a “transsexual,” Patty doesn’t believe her and asks to see Angel’s genitals. Now the women are divided by their difference. Angel then gives a great speech where she says, “Everything I can’t have in this world is because of what I have down there. If you really want to know who I am, that is the last place you should look.” For those outside of the trans community, this show is basically an analog of what is happening in that diner booth, a trans person explaining her life to people outside of the community. That one scene should cure any viewer of ever thinking it’s okay to ask a trans person that intimate question ever again.
While Patty showed some guts approaching Angel, she was a chicken when dealing with everything else. She goes, on her own, to get an HIV test because she fears (reasonably, for the time) that a sex worker might have passed the virus to her husband. Then she goes to a psychiatrist to talk about Stan and his affair. All of this happens without confronting him or asking for an explanation. When she finally works up the courage to do that, it’s at an ambush psychiatrist visit.
Patty finally asks Stan what is going on. She doesn’t even mind that he cheated just why he cheated “with that person.” She asks him if he’s gay or if “something happened to him as a child,” because those are the only two possible explanations. Maybe he just saw her as a woman, much like Patty did when she first met Angel? Stan just starts sobbing, either crushed that his secret is finally out or liberated that he no longer needs to hide.
The next day at the office, however, Stan beats up his mentor Matt for telling Patty about his affair. Matt essentially cleans Stan’s clock and says to him, “The guy you’re pretending to be doesn’t exist.” Isn’t that true of everyone on this show? Isn’t that what chasing “realness” is all about? Surely Matt isn’t packing a foot of man sausage like he bragged to a secretary right before Stan attacked him. Everyone is trying to turn the illusion of their lives into the reality.
Now that Patty dumped Stan, he shows up at Peep World back into Angel’s booth. Where does that leave them now? Did Stan get to keep his job after that outburst? Is he going to try to have a real relationship with Angel or is he going to leave her so that he can try to reconcile with Patty. Why all the damn cliffhangers, Pose?
The other big story this week was about Pray Tell finally confronting the death of his boyfriend Kostas and, by extension, his own mortality now that he knows he’s contracted HIV. You knew this story would be important because they trotted out Sandra Bernhard to play Nurse Judy. (Fun fact: Nurse Judy is actually Nurse Jackie’s mother.)
Judy is working at the drab AIDS ward of the hospital and she charges Pray Tell with livening the place up a bit. He decides he’ll do that by staging a little cabaret performance. Actually, he just gets two streamers, a piano player, and decides to sing a solo because it didn’t seem like there were any other “acts” in this cabaret. Luckily Blanca shows up to do a duet with him on “Home” from the musical The Wiz.
Clearly that was not Blanca’s real singing voice, right? I mean, there are no ways the deep, dulcet tones we saw on the show could possibly come out of the same body as Blanca’s normal speaking voice. Luckily, Tony winner Billy Porter plays Pray Tell, so we know his pipes are all of his own. While their song drew a couple of tears to the eyes, did we really need two full songs right in the middle of the show sapping it of all of its forward momentum? Not even on Glee would they do full songs and they certainly never did them back-to-back.
Anyway, Kostas tells Pray Tell that after he’s gone that Pray Tell has to embrace life and joy because he doesn’t know how much time he’ll have left. He does just that and stops playing “Love is the Message” on repeat at every ball. Everyone is very relieved, but I wish they knew the reason why he was obsessed with it. He tells Kostas it’s because they danced to it all summer in 1980, before the HIV academic started. “We were free to love, free to fuck, free to be our gay ass selves in this shithole of a town,” he says. “They’ll never that feeling, that you can love without dying.” Girl, that is some profound stuff behind that one song.
Blanca had the least profound storyline of the night when Darius, a hunky dude full of pickup lines, approaches her at the ball and asks her out on a date. When she finds out from Candy and Lulu (and the girl that works in the store with Lulu played by RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Jiggly Caliente) that Darius sleeps with all of the “girls,” she stands him up so she can go sing with Pray Tell. At the end of the episode she tells him off and says that she deserves love and romance like any other woman, not just some hot (well endowed, apparently) guy who just wants her for her body. I have a feeling we’re going to see Darius around again. After all, if we learned anything this episode, it’s that love is the message.