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Pose - Giving and Receiving - Review: It's Christmas time in the city

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With its third episode, Pose continues to prove that it just keeps getting better and better. "Giving and Receiving" dives into the Holidays and what they mean for the characters, allowing the audience to get to know them even more.

It's Christmas time in the city and Blanca promises her "children" gifts for the Holiday. But while Damon shares how much he loves Christmas and how it has always been the only time of the year when he felt he could be himself, Angel does not feel the same. She recalls a Christmas where she stole women's shoes from a store and wore them in front of her parents. She remembers her father being mad not because she stole but because of what she stole, and indicates that she was treated differently after that. That opening sequence of "Giving and Receiving" highlights the complicated relationship the various characters in Pose have with the Holidays, either seeing it as a time to come together or as a reminder of their alienation from the rest of society.

While Ricky joins the House of Evangelista on a trial run, Damon's lack of focus on dancing gets him in trouble. Granted his teacher is going through a tough time (more on that later), she kicks him out of class for being late and suggests to Blanca that Damon does not have time for balls and dancing. Blanca takes measures to get Damon back on track at school, including preventing him from participating in balls for a month, even the upcoming Snowball he is so excited about. But if Helena (Charlayne Woodard), Damon's dance instructor, is being extra tough on him, it's because she just saw one of her former student in the hospital and then heard he passed away. That took a toll on her. A scene shows her and Pray Tell (Billy Porter) share an elevator in the hospital as they both go visit AIDS patients. For her it's a student, for him, it's a lover. Later on, Pray discusses his Christmas plans with Blanca and tells her he'll be alone. When she inquires about his last boyfriend, he tells her about the hospital, somewhat careful of what he says given that Blanca herself has the virus. Sadly, Pray is getting used to seeing people die from AIDS. Blanca talks about not telling her kids that she is sick, and invites him for Christmas.

Meanwhile other people are in a less giving mood, like Elektra who - after being offered to get operated by a urologist - decides to lie to her girls and to steal money from the Salvation Army for her own benefit. It's not very classy but after three episodes it is becoming clearer and clearer what kind of person Elektra is. At Trump Tower, Stan kinds of cross his boss Matt (James Van Der Beek) and does not quite realize what it means until he finds Matt in his living room with his wife Patty (Kate Mara) and sees the situation as inappropriate. Speaking of which, Stan got Angel her own apartment and they finally had sex, but while Angel is getting more and more attached, Stan is still unsure of what he is doing. She asks him to come over the night of Christmas, and he agrees. But when Christmas comes, Patty lashes out at Stan for staying at work late and suspects he has a mistress, which drives him to bail on the promise he made Angel.

But if there is a whole lot of sadness in this episode, "Giving and Receiving" is also a reminder that Pose is a show with a lot of heart. In the final sequence, the House of Evangelista plus guest Pray Tell have Christmas diner around Chinese food and exchange gifts. Everyone gets a special present, but the most note-worthy ones are the shoes Angel wanted as a child and finally gets from Blanca, and the heart-shaped jewelry the kids give to their mother as a reminder that she is "their heart." Despite all the tough things these characters have to go through, they remain full of love and that's what makes this show so worth watching.

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