What to Watch Verdict
Writer-director Janet Mock pulls out all of the stops to stage the wedding of the century for two characters throwing off difficult emotional legacies to create a healthy and positive new one.
👠 Curiel's vulnerability, not just in examining masculinity and manhood but in singing his vows to his partner, is rare and wonderful to watch.
👠 Mock's juxtaposition of Angel's visit with her father and her reconciliation with Papi offers a vivid reminder of how tough times sometimes offer the most important lessons.
👠 Pray wears a beautiful floral print banded-collar shirt, and I don't own it.
This post contains spoilers for Pose "Something Old, Something New"
Check out our last review here.
Following the celebratory bachelorette bacchanalia of “Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” the health of Pray Tell (Billy Porter) is deteriorating faster than expected in “Something Old, Something New,” but after past diagnoses that he outlived, he’s more determined than ever to keep living to his last breath — or at the very least, presenting that to the world. His first act is to cook dinner for Blanca (MJ Rodriguez) and gift her a handmade dress, the encapsulation of a dormant dream to create his own clothing label. It’s a prelude to ask for her help completing an AIDS quilt bearing his name, a keepsake and honorarium to remember those from the LGBTQ+ community who die from the virus.
Angel (Indya Moore) is still salty about Papi’s (Angel Bismark Curiel) decision to raise Beto (Jace Moses), the song he only recently learned he had. But Blanca becomes a bulwark against her canceling the wedding, and encourages her when Angel considers asking her estranged father (David Zayas) to walk her down the aisle. Remarkably, it’s their reunion, filled with her attempts to broker peace and his to “make sense” of a life and lifestyle he’s unable (or unwilling) to understand, that galvanizes her feelings about Papi, reminding her that she has a man who loves and is committed to her and supports her as she is. The two scenes really skillfully juxtapose an often-unhappy reality for trans people and a hopeful alternative, and the fact that the bad reminds her of the good makes for a really powerful moment when Angel and Papi reconcile.
That said, she’s no more ready to be a parent than she was the day before, so when Papi asks her to keep an eye on Beto during his final tuxedo fitting, she calls in Blanca to help corral him. But even after passing her first test as Beto’s mom, Angel is all nerves when she and Papi go to pick up their marriage certificate. She’s determined not to start her marriage with a lie but terrified that the clerk will see the “m” listed under gender on her passport and deny their application. Thankfully, Papi charms her and they overcome the last hurdle to an engagement that began more than three years earlier.
The second half of "Something Old, Something New" is dedicated to the wedding, and it’s one of the most affecting love-fests I’ve ever seen on television. Papi thanks his groomsmen Pray, Ricky (Dyllon Burnside), Lemar (Jason A. Rodriguez) and an angelic, gleaming Cubby (Jeremy McClain), reflecting on the absence of love and support he experienced as a child that he has since found, and the education he received on what it means to be a man. In the bridal suite, Angel receives traditional gifts from Blanca, Elektra (Dominique Jackson), Lulu (Hailie Sahar), and from Candy (Angelica Ross), who gives her the hammer she used to wield to protect herself, as well as a stern reminder that she deserves happiness and must take every opportunity to seek it that she can.
After a convocation from Pray and a parade of female guests wearing their own wedding dresses, Angel reads her vows. “It's been a journey to get here,” she says, delivering a statement pregnant with meaning — not just for her relationship with Papi, but for her community, and of course, the show itself. As the characters have repeatedly observed the wedding has taken on a meaning much greater than the union of two people, and many of her vows resonate on multiple levels, giving audiences who have never seen themselves represented on screen before this show the chance to see their proxies experience a fairy tale wedding the likes of which exceed anything on just about any television show or even reality outside of members of the royal family.
Papi stops himself in the middle of his vows and begins singing All-4-One’s “I Swear,” in a performance that Curiel said marked the most vulnerable he has ever felt on screen. It’s easy to believe — with all respect to his earnestness and dedication, he isn’t a singer — but like every grand gesture made in love at a wedding, the moment is powerful and affecting, and before long, not only is Ricky thickening up his harmonies, but the entire wedding party is joining in on the chorus. "Something Old, Something New" is the second-to-last episode in the series, and writer-director Janet Mock gracefully brings some closure, and promise, to Angel’s romantic life after seasons of turmoil; and no matter what your own relationship status is, the show offers a welcome, kind and encouraging reminder that sometimes, not only do nice guys finish first, but when they do, their dream girls get just as lucky.
Todd Gilchrist is a Los Angeles-based film critic and entertainment journalist with more than 20 years’ experience for dozens of print and online outlets, including Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly and Fangoria. An obsessive soundtrack collector, sneaker aficionado and member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Todd currently lives in Silverlake, California with his amazing wife Julie, two cats Beatrix and Biscuit, and several thousand books, vinyl records and Blu-rays.
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