Warning: “Pose” spoilers appear below.
In the penultimate episode of the first season of Ryan Murphy’s FX drama “Pose,” Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) loses a child but gains a mother.
A “house mother” in the 1980s New York drag scene, Blanca finds out Papi (Angel Bismark Curiel) has been selling drugs. She promptly kicks him out of the House of Evangelista because, not only has he broken one of her house rules, but he has also contributed to substance abuse in the trans community.
In learning from from her own mothers — her biological mother as well as her house mother, Elektra (Dominique Jackson) — Blanca tries to do better than they did, which involves making tough calls, Rodriguez told TheWrap during a recent interview.
“Both of these mothers, they loved Blanca unconditionally, but they just had a lot of obstacles in their way. In many different ways they had obstacles in their way when it came to their daughter,” Rodriguez said. “I think Blanca looks at those obstacles, and she tries to move past them so she can make it easier for her kids to jump over the hurdles as well, and with that sometimes comes hard decisions.”
Throughout the episode, Blanca struggles with conflicted feelings over her decision, prompting her to consult Helena (Charlayne Woodard), Damon’s (Ryan Jamaal Swain) dance instructor, for advice.
The scene, in which the two women stroll down the streets of New York with coffees in hand, provides a contrast to previous, contentious interactions between the duo. The first time they meet, Blanca angrily pleads with Helena to give Damon a chance to audition and in the second, Helena chastises Blanca for Damon’s lack of focus in the dance studio.
However, in this scene, Helena reassures Blanca that she made the right choice in kicking Papi out, framing a larger discussion about what it means to be a mother. And in having the conversation, Helena becomes a sort of mentor to Blanca, as someone who teaches and disciplines children for a living, Rodriguez said.
“I think it evolved, the relationship between her and Helena because, well as we’ve seen through the episodes that have passed, Blanca’s biological mother has passed, so she doesn’t have that figure there,” Rodriguez said. “And where you see her conversing with Helena — she’s not on good terms with Elektra, so she needs someone who is well-grounded who knows what they’re doing and who knows [how to develop a] foundation and who knows how to do that through sternness — and not in a way of beating the kid down but lifting them up.”
As their relationship develops, Helena also becomes a sort of mother figure to Blanca, who has fallen out with both of her own mothers.
“She looks for encouragement through Helena, and also I think she looks for a little bit of mothering through Helena too,” Rodriguez said.
The first season finale of “Pose” airs this upcoming Sunday on FX. The show was recently renewed for a second season.