“The Trunk” – Recap and Review

Hey, y’all! Here’s my second (or technically, third, seeing as the premiere episode was actually two installments back-to-back) late-as-all-hell Pose review! Those of you that are familiar with my recaps/reviews know that I usually talk about the events in the episode in the order that they’re shown. However, since “The Trunk’s” storyline is mostly told in flashbacks, I’m going to speak on what happened in the chronological order it occurred. Let’s go!

1978

The episode opens up to a young Afro wig wearin’ Elektra, working the piers and hookin’ up with some strange for cash. Turns out that business is going pretty well, and by the time Elektra and her homegirl call it a night, Ms. Abundance has some serious paper. While chit-chatting with her friend, Elektra declares that one day, she’ll have it all: money, finery, a nice home, all that good stuff. Elektra’s homegirl jokes that she’ll have a nice sugar daddy to finance all that, but Elektra proudly declares that she’s never going to depend on a man for anything. More on that later.

Elektra’s chipper mood is ruined once she finds out that her homegirl lost the keys to her apartment. You see, Elektra is still living with her mother—who doesn’t really know her son is transitioning—and after work, she’d usually change into her male clothes at her friend’s place. Now she can’t do that. Elektra’s homegirl tries to assure her there’s no way her mother is still up after 5:00 AM, but Elektra tells her that she doesn’t know Mrs. Tasha Jackson.

Sometime later, Elektra sneaks into her house, but sure enough, Mommy’s up.

Cold busted.

Y’all know what’s next. A violent argument ensues, and Elektra mentions leaving for good. Her mother only allows Elektra to walk out the house with the clothes on her back. Elektra pleads to take the things out of her trunk with her, but her mother—out of pure spite—refuses. Since the trunk is in Mrs. Jackson’s house, it’s hers, regardless of whether or not Elektra bought the items inside it with her own money.

Mrs. Jackson then throws Elektra out of the house, literally. Elektra picks herself off the ground, reapplies her lipstick and proudly declares that she is Elektra, and bids her mother goodbye.

1983 – 1984

Elektra is now running the House of Abundance, but at this particular time, it only consists of herself, young Blanca, and young Candy and Lulu, who are mean as doggone snakes (by the way, I’m glad Lulu lost her mean streak). Also, the current House of Abundance is a somewhat rundown house with shabby furniture, not the posh Manhattan loft we saw in the series premiere. Blanca, who was always Abundance’s resident Cinderella, is trying to cook, while Candy and Lulu are being typical wicked stepsisters, ordering her around while they sit on their asses cacklin’. Unfortunately, Blanca can’t get dinner started because there’s no food in the house.

Elektra knows there’s only one way to feed her family…back to the ho stroll. Later that night, Elektra’s working the piers, and she spots some kids counting the little bit of change they managed to scrounge up from picking pockets. Elektra approaches them, and look who it is!

Cubby, Lemar and a somewhat tomboy-ish Angel.

Elektra asks why they’re stealing, and Angel tells her that she and Lemar are cousins and they ran away from home. They met Cubby not too long afterward, and they’ve been working the piers and pickpocketing to survive ever since. A john pulls up to get with Elektra and asks for Angel, who’s probably all of 16 or 17 at this time. Nasty bastard. Elektra refuses to let Angel get in the car with him and tells the group to go to her house. She’s their mother now. As Elektra goes with the john, the kids literally run to the address.

On a side note, it’s a damn shame that people were—and some still are—so homophobic that gay and transgendered children had to sell their bodies and steal just to eat. For the longest time, I wondered what happened to those two kids from the film Paris is Burning. I remember reading that one of them is fine, but there’s no report on the other one. I hope they both went on to grow up and thrive.

After Elektra finishes working, she brings home fresh Chinese takeout to her all children. Everyone’s happy to get a hot meal in their stomach, and Elektra reminds them that no matter what, their mother will always provide.

And as if on cue, the lights go out.

When it’s evident that the other houses still have power, everyone realizes that Elektra failed to pay the light bill. The kids playfully suggest ways to make more money, but Elektra ain’t hearin’ it. She’s going back to take what’s rightfully hers.

The entire family winds up at Mrs. Jackson’s house, trying to find a way to break in. It turns out her mother now has an air conditioning unit in her home. This irks Elektra a bit, because Mrs. Jackson refused to buy a unit while Elektra lived there. In spite of that, the air conditioner provides a great advantage.

Blanca and Candy take the latter’s now infamous hammer to knock the unit out of the window, which causes Lemar’s messy ass to remark, “I didn’t know I was joining a banjee house!” Candy shuts him up as only she can, “Is someone talking? I thought I heard someone without a hammer talking!” I love that child.

Elektra and Blanca enter the house through the now open window and go into her old room. Lo and behold, the trunk is still there. Elektra takes a moment to show Blanca all the fine furs and fashions the trunk holds before carrying it downstairs.

Just when they make it to the door, Mrs. Jackson alerts them of her presence and threatens to call the cops. Question: how the hell did Mrs. Jackson sleep through the air conditioner falling out of the window (I know for a fact how loud it is when those things fall out of a window, by the way) but woke up hearing Elektra and Blanca creep downstairs?

Elektra tells her to go ahead and call the damn cops. She’ll let the whole neighborhood know that she’s Mrs. Jackson’s daughter, and she’ll be sure to refer to her as “Mommy” in front of everyone. The threat of shame is stronger than the satisfaction of being petty, so she relents.

Before they leave, Blanca—being the angel she is—introduces herself. Elektra’s “here go Mother Teresa!” reaction to that is gold, by the way. Mrs. Jackson doesn’t bother to shake Blanca’s hand or even say, “Nice to meet you.” She simply asks if Blanca is “like Elektra,” and Blanca confirms it, adding that girls like her and Elektra always find each other because no one else cares. Mrs. Jackson claims she cares. She mourns the loss of her child every day. Elektra reminds her mother that she’s mourning Duane, not her. By the way, Elektra’s birth name was Duane Jackson. That’s so plain and it doesn’t even fit her (no offense to any Duanes, Dwaynes, or Dewaynes out there).

Elektra’s mom goes on to say that she always wanted a boy to grow up to be a man to take care of her, and Elektra robbed her of that. Ms. Elektra is quick to tell her that she’s more ferocious than any man and no one would’ve touched Mrs. Jackson. By the way, I love how Elektra lovingly put her arms around Blanca when she mentioned that no one would mess with anything that’s hers.

Mrs. Jackson mentions that she has new neighbors and lately they’ve been looking at her house as if they’re casing the place. Personally, I think she’s being paranoid, but Elektra asks her mother what she can do to help. Mrs. Jackson says that Elektra can move back in to protect her. Elektra seriously considers that, but Mrs. Jackson suggests “toning it down” a little if she moves back in. Elektra refuses, letting it be known that she’s all about toning it up. She wants more. More love, more finery, more jewels, more power, more money. She’s not going to hide herself. With that, Elektra tells her mother goodbye forever. She and Blanca leave Mrs. Jackson in tears.

A few weeks later, Elektra brings her children to the Abundance loft that we were introduced to in the first season. Candy immediately assumes they’ve come to rip the place off, but Elektra shows her the keys and announces that the loft is their new home. All the children celebrate, except Blanca, who’s stunned.

She wanders into Elektra’s room and notices the trunk in the closet. Blanca opens it, only to find that all of Elektra’s fine furs and fashions are gone. The only remaining item is a framed photo of Elektra, back when she was little Duane, and her mother.

Sometime the following year, Pray is emceeing a ball where the category is “Once Upon a Time.” The previous house that walked the category completely fucked it up and Pray’s ready to call it a night, but one of the ladies lets him know that one more house wants to walk.

It’s none other than the House of Abundance, making their grand debut and honey, they did the damn thing!

Also, let me say that Pray Tell killed the commentary, as usual. I really miss hearing and seeing him emcee these balls.

Needless to say the House of Abundance’s first walk was a flawless victory. Just as they claimed their grand prize, Elektra proudly announced the name of her legendary house, officially making their mark on the ballroom scene.

1994

In the season premiere, Blanca mentioned that no one could come up with a money-making scheme like Elektra could, and sure enough, she’s already found one. Apparently, Elektra started a phone ho company and she’s already raking in some decent money. On her way to work this particular morning, she notices the cops parked not too far away from her building, but she pays it no mind.

Elektra goes to her office, ready to start her day, and she listens to a message from Lulu, who says that she decided to leave the city for a while after Angel dumped her for sober living. She makes sure to say that she doesn’t want Elektra or Blanca looking for her. Okay, what the hell?

There’s banging on the door soon after, and sure enough, it’s those same cops. Elektra’s ready to show them all the paperwork they need to prove that her business is legit, but they’re interested in something else.

They take her downtown and try to force her hand into giving them information on any criminals that use her phone sex business. Elektra’s not trying to snitch, but they warn her that if she doesn’t cooperate, they’ll go through her phone records, and search her office, as well as her apartment.

We all know what’s hidden in Elektra’s apartment.

Fear flashes through a Elektra’s eyes for a split second. She agrees to cooperate, but she has to contact her attorney first. The scene cuts to Elektra making her phone call, but it’s not to her lawyer, it’s to Blanca.

Elektra asks Blanca to please take care of her “white jewel from Hellfire.” Blanca immediately catches on to what she’s talking about and tells her she can’t do it. Elektra demands it, reminding Blanca of how she once took a cute and malnourished little church girl and gave her food and shelter.

Y’all know Blanca looked like she was dressed for Easter Sunday when she did her first walk!

After Elektra hangs up with Blanca, an officer slaps the cuffs on her and takes her into custody…without even telling her what her charges are. She tries to reason with him, letting him know that she was only brought in for questioning, and she’s cooperating with the detectives, but he’s not trying to hear it. The officer even throws her in a jail cell with a man. Elektra tells him she’s a woman, but the nasty ass cop just hollers out, “Prove it!” SMDH.

Blanca can’t refuse helping Elektra after being reminded of how her mother took her in, so she employs Lil’ Papi and Ricky—who’s staying with Elektra for the time being—to help her carry the trunk. Papi and Ricky know something fishy is going on, seeing how desperate Blanca is to get this trunk out of Elektra’s house. They also can’t shake the fact that whatever’s in the trunk reeks and it’s heavy as hell.

Blanca breaks down and confesses to them that the trunk contains the body of a gentleman that died of an overdose on Elektra’s watch, and she can’t tell the cops, due to the fact they’ll throw her under the jail simply for being a black trans woman.

After hearing the truth, Papi and Ricky agree to help, and they hilariously find a way to get the trunk back to Blanca’s house. Once they arrive at the apartment and try to get the trunk in Damon’s old room, they break the top of it, causing the horrid smell to come out even more.

Blanca kneels by the trunk and assures Paul (the corpse) that he’s safe. Papi makes sure that she’s okay, and Blanca tells him and Ricky that she and the trunk have history. The trunk used to hold Elektra’s finest things, but she sacrificed them all to give her family a better life.

A few hours later, Chris comes over. Damn! Blanca forgot that she was supposed to see him today! Dun-dun-dun!

Sure enough, the second he comes in, he smells the stench. Blanca tries to lie and say that a rat died somewhere in the apartment, but he’s not buying that. He pinpoints the exact source of the smell and starts looking around. Blanca tries to stop him by blaming everything and everyone under the sun, but Chris sees through her.

Chris accuses Blanca of keeping him at arms length at times, and Blanca tells him that he wouldn’t understand the things that women like her are forced to do to survive. Chris reminds her of all the things she’s told him about herself and her community and how understanding he was. Blanca relents once again and confesses the situation with Elektra and the body in the trunk.

Chris can’t understand why Elektra didn’t go to the cops, and Blanca tells him that transgendered women are mistreated by the police. Blanca also lets him know that when she was arrested, the other inmates were gunning for her, but Elektra bailed her out in the nick of time to save her. Uhhh…Miss Blanca, you’re leaving out a key part of that story. Elektra didn’t bail you out to save your hide. She bailed you out because the then newly formed House of Evangelista whupped her at the ball before last, and she wanted to ensure you’d be available at the next ball so she could score a victory over you. For some reason, this season is glossing over the fact that at one point in time, Elektra became a full-on bitch (and I don’t mean that in a good way. Get mad).

Please forgive the quality of the video; it’s the only one I could find with the scene it its entirety.

Later that night, Blanca arrives at the police station with Chris, Papi, and Ricky in tow. Elektra is shocked to see them all there, but Blanca lets her know that the fellas know everything. Besides, they need a team to get rid of her “skeleton in the closet.”

Chris drives them out to a pier—that’s runoff from a sewage plant—where no one will see them. I hope to God no one did see them, because sure enough, once Ricky and Papi took the trunk out of the SUV they dropped it, and the body came spilling out!

Oh yeah, and Ricky vomited. #Evidence

While the men are getting the body situated, Elektra admits that she’s been keeping up with Paul’s case, and she learned that his family gave him a resting place in Westchester so they can grieve. Blanca tells Elektra that it’s good that they’re giving Paul a final resting place, and Elektra remarks that we all have to have a place to rest in peace. She goes on to tell Blanca that with this act, she’s giving her peace…although Paul would probably believe that she doesn’t deserve it. Elektra tells the fellas to go ahead and toss him in the river, and the men oblige.

Afterwards, the crew is having dinner, and Elektra catches Chris and Blanca whispering amongst themselves. Elektra scolds them for keeping secrets and Chris spills that he pulled some strings with the DA to have Elektra’s charges dropped. Hell, we still don’t even know what her charges were. For all we know, it could be jaywalking, or littering, or just being black, trans, and nearby. Something tells me it was the latter.

Instead of being happy, Elektra blows up and runs out of the dining area, crying. The fellas remain at the table confused as Blanca runs after her mother. Blanca catches up to her in the kitchen, and Elektra blasts her for getting her boyfriend involved. She refuses to be beholden to any man. Besides, how can she pay Blanca or Chris back? Blanca reminds Elektra that Chris isn’t just any man, he’s her man, and Blanca actually owed Elektra. She remembers how Elektra sacrificed all her fine things just to give her children a better life. Blanca then pulls out an item from a drawer and hands it to Elektra. It’s the old photo of Elektra and her mother. Elektra tearfully says that out of all the wrong she’s done in life, Blanca is the one thing she got right.

Blanca tells Elektra to dry her eyes and celebrate. She no longer has to worry about a body in her apartment, and Blanca just got into nursing school! Elektra hugs her and asks if she knew why she named their house Abundance. It turns out, it’s because with the children, Elektra finally felt like she had a purpose and a mission…love and a family.

Elektra cheerfully announces to the men that Blanca made it into nursing school. As they all congratulate her, Elektra places the photo of her and her mother into her purse, and then has everyone raise their glass in a toast to family. After the toast, everyone beings to talk amongst themselves while Elektra looks at them all, smiling.

And that’s the end of our story.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about “The Trunk.” On one hand, it’s entertaining. On the other hand, it’s one of the weakest episodes of the season. It was interesting seeing Elektra’s beginnings, but what sucks is that the storyline wasn’t executed that well. Allow me to explain.

First of all, the episode begins in 1978. We see Elektra soliciting to johns on the piers, she still lives with her mom in a lower middle-class neighborhood, and she proudly declares that she’s not going to have a sugar daddy because real women get it done all on their own. We later see Elektra in 1983, still working the piers to make ends meet, and living with her kids in near poverty before she hocks her finery to pay for her loft.

Here’s my dilemma…it looks to me as if the writers forgot all about Mr. Ford, aka Det. Elliot Stabler.

As most Pose fans are aware, the first season took place between 1987 and 1988. Sometime in late ’87, Elektra meets up with Mr. Elliot Ford for a roll in the hay, and she mentions that they’ve been together for ten years. That means they got together sometime in 1977. Not only that, it was made clear from jump street that Mr. Ford constantly showered Elektra with money and gifts, and his cash is what kept Abundance afloat. So what the hell was Elektra doing workin’ the ho stroll in 1978?

I know what some of y’all are thinking, “Maybe they hooked up sometime after Elektra’s mom threw her out the house in ’78. When people recall timelines, it’s not always exact!” Okay, I can accept that. However, Elektra wouldn’t still be working at the piers in 1983 either way. Also, the writers are painting a picture of Elektra as an independent woman that doesn’t need a man to complete her. It’s all well and fine to have that mentality in this final season—in the year 1994—after the way Mr. Elliot Ford heartlessly discarded her after she had her sex change operation and realizing that she has the business savvy and intelligence to be successful in her own right. But let’s keep it real. In the ’70s and ’80s, per previous Pose canon, not only was Elektra more than happy having a sugar daddy, but once that well ran dry, she made it her business to go out and find another “financial backer.” Let’s not forget she seriously considered taking up with a man with a fetish for golden showers. Gross.

Again, please forgive the quality of the video.

Then there’s the story behind Cubby, Lemar, and Angel. We learn that Elektra adopted the three of them after seeing them homeless, working the piers, and stealing to eat. However, just two episodes prior, Elektra said that she took Cubby in after learning he walked from his apartment—I repeat, his apartment—to the ball wearing nothing but pink glitter and a thong. She knew she had to bring him into her house to teach him about survival. Y’all think I’m full of crap? See the clip below.

So which was it? Did Elektra bring him into her house to save him from a mostly homophobic society, or did Elektra bring him into her house to save him from homelessness and starvation? Was Cubby a brave kid with an apartment in NYC that just needed better street smarts or was he a street urchin picking pockets to survive? Lord…

Also—and this is relatively small compared to everything else—during the 1983 flashback, Angel mentions that she and Lemar are cousins that ran away together and met Cubby while they were on the street. I find that funny considering that Lemar hardly says two words to Angel the entire series run. Even when they lived together in the House of Abundance and the House of Evangelista, there didn’t appear to be any type of relationship between them. When Angel left Abundance for Evangelista, Lemar gave little to no pushback. When Lemar house-hopped from Evangelista to Wintor, it was vice versa. Angel had a major life event this season that Lemar attended, but he still didn’t have as much as a five-minute conversation with Angel regarding it (more on that later).

If they were indeed cousins that grew up together, both became outcasts in their family (and at the same time, no less), and ran away together, they’d have a tight bond that would never be broken. They’d be family in every sense of the word. For a second, I thought this “familial tie” between Angel and Lemar, coupled with their non-existent communication, was purposely created to show what a self-absorbed asshole Lemar grew to be. However, I see it’s not that deep. This was just another flaw in the writing. Janet’s rant makes more and more sense.

Y’all, we can’t just rewrite history. Lack of continuity is one of my pet peeves, and “The Trunk” was certainly guilty of it. Annie Wilkes would be having a royal fit right about now. Lastly—and y’all will hear me mention this a lot during these recaps/reviews—what’s up with the break neck pacing? On the previous episode, Angel was about to enter rehab. Now she’s at sober living? That basically means at least a month or so has passed. Now Lulu’s MIA all of a sudden? A little more context into that would’ve been great.

Then there’s the subject of Elektra’s phone sex business. It’s cool that Elektra was able to find another way to make some cash, but a little insight into how she started the business would’ve been nice. In the premiere episode, she spent all of five minutes mulling over a way to get paid. Next thing we know, Elektra has a building to house her business, complete with permits, employees, and a fancy office all to herself. I would’ve loved to see how Elektra came up with the idea and got it off the ground. They wouldn’t have to spend too much time on it. Last season, the showrunners utilized a five-minute montage to show us how Elektra started the House of Wintor (which by the way, has just disappeared without a trace). Brief, but informative. I realize that it’s later revealed how Elektra expands her business (there’ll be more on that to come as well), but I would’ve liked to see the beginning stages of it, too.

Despite being irked about the continuity issues and the rushed storytelling, this episode wasn’t trash. There were some elements I really liked. For one thing, seeing Pray Tell do his thing as an emcee again really did it for me. No one can emcee like he can…and I mean nobody. And that walk the House of Abundance did? Flawless.

On a side note, Blanca probably should’ve dressed as Cinderella, but I guess that would’ve been too on the nose. Hell, Snow White was a mistreated princess too, and like Snow White, Blanca ended up being disrespected by her mother. At least Elektra woke up and became a better person.

OMG, it just hit me…Blanca’s name means “white” in Spanish! I take it back! Snow White was a perfect choice!

Also, the treatment Elektra received from the cops was a trip to watch. Let’s just keep it 100, she already has a target on her back for being a black woman, but considering that she’s a black trans woman made her even more susceptible to an abuse of power. I’m still trippin’ off the fact that they held her the majority of the day on trumped up charges. They couldn’t even be bothered to make some bullshit up (and they threw her in the cell after she agreed to cooperate!). “You’re under arrest for…reasons!” If anything, it just solidified the fact that if she called to the police to report Paul’s death, they would’ve thrown the book at her just because they could, despite the fact that she had nothing to do with it.

The most compelling aspect of “The Trunk” is Elektra’s interactions with her mother, of course. When Mrs. Jackson first throws Elektra out of the house, we see a side of the ballroom queen that we’ve never really seen before: a visibly hurt and somewhat broken Elektra. Yes, we saw her at her lowest moment when she was rejected by Mr. Elliot Ford and had to go back to sleeping on park benches and working at Show World (which by the way, was another part of Elektra’s past that this episode “forgot about.” *Sigh*), but she still kept her head high and a brave face, although she was inwardly crumbling. However, when Elektra endured the cruelest rejection from a woman she loved more than anything, it caused her to be a sobbing mass on the floor.

There’s also the parallel between Elektra’s love for her kids and Mrs. Jackson’s lack of compassion for her own child. Elektra selflessly took in children that needed help and was willing to sacrifice all she had for their happiness and well-being, whereas Mrs. Jackson was petty and spat on Elektra’s quest to find her own contentment. By the way, many viewers speculated on social media that Mrs. Jackson wanted a son so badly so he could grow up to be her man, and that observation wasn’t far off base at all, in my opinion. Look at how she kept saying that she needed a son to grow up to be a man to take care of her. Your kids have to live their own lives, not yours, boo-boo. I also liked how whenever Elektra spoke to her mother, her West Indian accent would always come out. That was a cool little touch.

Despite the fact that I enjoyed Elektra’s backstory, it does leave the question: When did Elektra’s heart turn cold? We all know that Blanca eventually melted it again, but at some point between the early ’80s up until about 1990, Elektra went from being a tough but loving mother to a grade A, world class bitch on wheels. I said what I said.

What changed her? Was it her being spoiled by Mr. Elliot Ford? Did all the ballroom victories get to her head? Did living in that posh loft in Manhattan make her forget where she came from? Was it all of the above? The series leaves this question unanswered, so all we can do is speculate.

Y’all, “The Trunk” had a very compelling premise, but the execution was off thanks to the shoddy writing. The good news is that the following episodes—namely the next one, “Take Me to Church”—were better (but there were still some missteps). Stay tuned for the rest of my Pose recaps/reviews! Don’t worry, they’re coming…very slowly, but surely.

—Written by Nadiya

So what did you think about “The Trunk”? Was the writing subpar or was it up to par? What did you think about Mrs. Jackson, Elektra’s birth mother? What did you think about Elektra’s origin story period? Did the timeline match up with previous events, or did you think it was off? What about the storyline about Cubby, Angel and Lemar? Does it work, or is it far off? Also, did you enjoy the House of Abundance’s walk? What do you think the police charged Elektra with? Let me know in the comments section!

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