At the end of the recap of this series’s third episode I noted that all of the episodes are too long and, well, that hasn’t changed. Now I’m going to put it at the top of the recap in the hopes that Mx. Ryan Murphy and his crew will hear what I have to say. Every one one of your episodes is too long and nearly every one of your scenes is too long.
The worst example of this was when Blanca goes to her mother’s funeral and fights for her right to say good-bye. Did we need to hear what she was thinking during their final moment together? No. In fact, I feel like the voice-over just ruined the pure emotional moment by making explicit what is implicit. If the viewer has to do a bit of the emotional work to empathize with Blanca, it could bring tears to the eyes. Instead, the writers don’t trust that they’re getting their point across so they have to hit us over the head with it, giving us a headache rather than tears.
The same goes for the unnecessary flashback Blanca has when looking over her notebook of recipes from her mother. We already know that they had all of their best moments in the kitchen and that is where they expressed their love for each other. We would still understand how that resonates with her and her relationship between her children. Instead of letting those emotions marinate and manifest themselves, we get an exact mirror of the scene between Blanca and her mother with Blanca and Damon. Get it? She’s just like her mother now. Get it? Did you get it? Huh? Did you? Okay, good. I’m pretty sure you got it.
Most of this episode did deal with Blanca and how she reacted to her estranged mother’s death. She initially goes to see her sister Carmen who lets her know that she’s not invited to the funeral. Of course Blanca shows up anyway because this show is a drama and she wants to bring the drama, honey. Things don’t go well at the funeral but eventually her sister and brother let her stay to say good-bye. On the way out, when two old aunties give her shade for being her true self, Pray Tell throws it right back at them and makes fun of their frizzy weaves.
Whether it was the frizzy-weave master shade or the touching moment about how a child lost their mother, Blanca’s aunt then invites her back to the house for food. They have a laugh remembering Blanca’s mother on the couch and then Blanca goes into the kitchen to try to take her mother’s recipe book. Her brother and sister stop her with force.
The best moment of the episode comes when Carmen shows up at Blanca’s door with the recipe book. (She must have kept that Christmas card Blanca sent and found the address there.) It’s still tense between the sisters, and Carmen doesn’t want to come in, but she’s left the door open for them to have an understanding. During their first altercation she yells at Blanca, “I don’t even know what you are.” Apparently she discovered that the answer is that Blanca is a human being and should be treated as such.
Thanks to the fallout over her mother, Blanca is the only person who goes to visit Elektra after her gender-confirmation surgery. Speaking of which, wasn’t the montage of Elektra being wheeled into the surgery theater and the queens walking in the “Perfect 10s” category absolutely amazing? When Blanca arrives with some bodega flowers she reads Elektra for being too mean to all of her children and tells her that she needs to display some kindness if she wants to inspire the same thing in the members of her house. Blanca clearly knows Elektra has a kind side, since Elektra showed her kindness after she flopped in her first ball wearing a “shake and wear” wig.
Speaking of that, the show presents the ball scene as the place where all of these people who are outcast by society find a place to fit in and make their dreams come true. I can see how that’s plausible, but they’re also really cruel to some of the people walking in the categories. Look at what they did to Blanca the first time she walks. Or look at how Pray Tell talks about the categories, saying “Don’t even walk in this category if you can’t pass,” before welcoming the Perfect 10s. That seems pretty exclusionary to me and could surely give a queen a complex. Just look at how they ripped apart a poor, young, homeless Blanca.
Anyway, Elektra takes message to heart and throws a “welcome back” dinner for all of the members of her house to show them appreciation, even though they challenged the House of Mugler without her. She says she’s going to be a much better mother and is going to show her love by winning at the next ball with dresses she procured from Saks and Bergdorf Goodman. Elektra better slow her roll with all of those spend-y purchases. Now that her rich man won’t back her, how is she going to pay for all of that?
She’s not so worried about money when they walk in the Debutante Realness at the ball and she lets down her Tweety Bird–yellow cape to reveal to the judges that her daughters are sitting at a table in their finest fascinators having a little tea party right there in the middle of the ball room. It’s a truly gag-worthy moment.
The only other person dealing with an ungrateful mother this week is Stan. Just like Elektra saved Blanca and Blanca is rearing the likes of Damon and Angel, Matt has mentored Stan and brought him into the business world and given him passage to a world of privilege he never experienced before. When Matt’s arrogance makes him miss a meeting with the boss (whose name I won’t even say in this recap) Stan finds himself with a promotion and taking money out of Matt’s pocket on a lucrative deal.
Matt takes his revenge and tells Stan’s wife Patty about Angel and even delivers her address. After a bit of investigation, Patty shows up at the Evangelista’s apartment looking for Angel just in time for Papi to tell her that Angel is at the ball. Patty goes along with him and everyone in the ballroom is staring at this uppity white woman from the suburbs. “Who let all this real fish in?” one of the queens in the hallway sneers.
No one is quite sure exactly what Patty’s plan is by getting dressed up and heading into the city for a big confrontation with Angel, but she gets it after the ball. Patty approaches Angel and tells her who she is and that is where it ends. Holy cliff-hanger, Batman. I can’t believe we have to wait until next episode to find out how this goes, but something tells me it’s going to be the mother of all confrontations.