For members of the House of Evangelista, the world gives a little and takes a bit during Christmas on Pose Season 1 Episode 3.
It's the holidays, and depending on which day you catch any character on, they're either in a very giving or not-so-giving mood.
While the season's first two episodes showcased how the House of Evangelista is a home, "Giving and Receiving" illustrates how said home functions.
Blanca has only so much time, so she's serious about helping her children better themselves. That makes her equally appreciative of passion and honesty, and unaccepting of foolishness and disrespect.
So when Damon asks if Ricky can become part of the family, she's initially and understandably hesitant. Despite winning a runner's up trophy earlier in the night, Ricky reveals he stole part of his outfit to do so.
It's a move that screams risky behavior and with all that the world has going against her and her community. She knows it could bring unwanted attention or harm to her family.
But Damon's sweet face and sincerity are enough to woo her, perhaps to her eventual regret. She lets Ricky in, and it gives both boys a chance to get closer, particularly physically.
In an episode that centers on the real-life impact of the AIDS epidemic, that feels like foreshadowing, especially for two young men whose relationship seems to be moving very quickly.
Ricky isn't the only one distracting Damon though, and it doesn't take much time for that to become clear to Blanca. When Damon shows up late for a dance class, Helena throws him out and calls Blanca in to talk about it.
It's clear after Helena's visit to the hospital, where one of her beloved students is staying and eventually dies, that part of her anger at Damon is about her distress over the fate of her student.
And so in some ways, it feels particularly harsh, but also apt. It's a kick in the butt for Damon and even Blanca.
A theme of the episode, from its illustration of the physical to the emotional damage done by AIDS, hammers home the message about the fragility of life and time.
Living in the now is important, but not more important than living for what might be tomorrow.
At one point Pray Tell shares how difficult it is never to be able to get close to someone because everyone ends up dead. That's something that Blanca has thought about for herself, but perhaps not to such a deep extent with Damon.
It's clear Damon hasn't thought much about it at all, which makes Blanca coming down on him – ensuring he has a bus pass, grounding him from balls for a month – satisfying.
It shows real character growth out of Blanca only three episodes in and eventually delivers on some for Damon.
She's not just about home as a place to lay your head. House of Evangelista is a household, and to live in it, you abide by the rules. The biggest of which seems to consistently be: don't ruin your potential over a silly choice.
Things aren't all tense with the Evangelistas though. Blanca, Damon, and Lil Papi are all in the decorating and giving spirit. Which ends up meaning a lot to Angel.
Stan has finally set her up in an apartment, but she's feeling less like a person and more like his side thing. She wants this relationship with him, despite knowing it's an affair, to feel real to her.
So she makes him a small request: Visit me for an hour during Christmas. He, of course, agrees at the moment, but ultimately breaks that promise, leaving Angel alone for the holidays.
Luckily she has Evangelista, who open the doors for a holiday meal and a special gift – a pair of red pumps her father shunned her for trying to steal when she was younger.
The moment is incredibly sweet in a sea of emotionally difficult scenes and is yet another reminder of how much heart and humanity this show chooses to have.
Stan, meanwhile, doesn't visit because he's got somewhat of a slowly boiling crisis on his hands. On Pose Season 1 Episode 2, he admitted to his boss Matt that he was cheating.
Unsurprisingly, Matt is using that to his advantage. While "dropping off" some gifts at Stan's house (when he's not there), Matt subtly feeds into Patty's fear that her husband is cheating on her.
When Stan comes home and sees Matt, he begins to realize the game his boss is playing and attempts to put his foot down. But Matt is only half of his problems because now he has to address Patty's accusations.
To appease her, he gives her both the jewelry he purchased for her and Angel and concedes to stay with his family the entire night.
While Pose has a large number of characters its easy to feel empathy for, Stan is not one of them. Not only does he let Angel down, but he continues to lie to his wife.
He's also now in a weird situation now with Matt that I can't imagine going to end well for him.
Across town at the House of Abundance, Elektra is dealing with her issue of giving and receiving slightly more significant than Blanca's giving of love and receiving of grief or Stan's giving of gifts and receiving of stress.
A doctor reaches out to Elektra about a potential sex change surgery, something she's wanted for a while but was unable to access.
She's ready to make the change, but funding it won't be cheap or easy. She considers asking the man who helps support her and her house but resigns herself to manipulating her children.
In what is possibly an ironic nod to the Salvation Army's less than positive historical relationship with the trans community, the House of Abundance executes a theft of a donation bucket.
Everyone's eager about what they can do with the money, but Elektra gives off some shady vibes as she puts away the money. It's possible that she wants to manage it correctly, but it seems she could also be hiding it to use for herself.
Only time will tell if she'll steal from her own family. I would hate to see her take it considering the entire plot point is incredibly humanizing for Elektra.
She continually boasts that she has everything she and even everyone else wants. But this is one thing she doesn't. She's not truly above it all, she's human, and that makes her instantly more compelling.
Beyond the character developments, the episode was a touching and refreshing approach to the way individuals with AIDS are portrayed (often without humanity and often as frightening).
It was a necessary look at the ways they were neglected by medical institutions during the height of the epidemic, as well.
Oddly enough, for a dance musical, there doesn't seem to be too much of either the dancing or musical aspect three episodes in, but I'm holding out.
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Abbey White is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.