Pose Season 3, Episode 4 recap: Take Me To Church

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 29: Mj Rodriguez attends the FX's "Pose" Season 3 New York Premiere at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 29, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 29: Mj Rodriguez attends the FX's "Pose" Season 3 New York Premiere at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 29, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images) /

Pose Season 3 explores Pray Tell’s (Billy Porter) path towards redemption as he battles with the reality of his cancer diagnosis. We haven’t seen a ton about Pray Tell’s past or learned much about where he comes from. However, this week’s episode, “Take Me To Church”, changes that.

It’s quite possible that we just got to witness the episode that could snag Porter an Emmys nom, or at least garner attention come awards season. I’m always in awe of Porter’s performances, but there is something incredibly visceral about what he brings to Pray Tell,m especially this week.

In the final season, we’ve already seen Pray Tell battle his growing alcohol dependency and then go to rehab to face it. But as he looks to his grim future, he’s ready to make amends with those he’s hurt in the past, and those who have hurt him.

Not only do we see Pray Tell endure that journey, but this episode of Pose Season 3 ropes in some of the most classic actresses to help him along the way. We’ll get into that and much more in the recap below–so let’s get to it!

Pose Season 3, Episode 4 recap: Pray Tell’s diagnosis

At the start of the episode, Pray Tell wakes up to a series of nightmares, drenched in night sweats and pain all over his body. It prompts a visit to the doctor where he learns that he has lymphoma, and because of his HIV, he can’t do chemotherapy. He’s given all of six months to live.

It’s a difficult truth to digest for Pray, Blanca (Mj Rodriguez), and Judy (Sandra Bernhard), but Pray takes it in stride. Instead of basking in the sadness, he decides it’s time to revisit his past, literally. He grabs a ticket to Pittsburgh and prances right into his old life.

From that point on, things progress quite rapidly and the episode doesn’t spend too much getting us acquainted with each and every person’s from Pray’s past. That works in the episode’s favor but often falls short of proper exposition.

Pose Season 3, Episode 4 recap: A trip down memory lane

Pray arrives in Pittsburgh with a warm welcome from his mother, Charlene (Anna Maria Horsford), and two aunts, Latrice (Janet Hubert), and Jada (Jackée Harry). Yes, Pose Season 3 roped in the legends of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Sister, Sister–and it was glorious!

I love that Pray entrusted his Aunt Jada with the power of attorney. He wants her to carry out all the things he wants in the aftermath of his death, and I loved seeing that bond he shares with her! So adorable!

Religion and faith are a crucial part of this week’s episode, and it takes Pray right back to his roots as a choir boy at the local church. Emotions get complicated when Pray finds his ex as the pastor of the church, Mr. Vernon Jackson (Norm Lewis). Vernon is now married with two children, and as it turns out his wife, Ebony (Michelle Hurd) used to be Pray’s wife and knows all about his and Vernon’s past relationship.

The complications of the episode are compounded by the revelation that it wasn’t Pray’s coming out that fractured his relationship with his mother, but rather the abuse he endured from his stepfather. She listened to him when he told her about the abuse, but she chose to stay with the guy anyway. To Pray it felt as if she valued her self-image more than him, and it’s what has kept him away all these years.

We land on a cathartic moment a bit later in the episode when she asks for Pray’s forgiveness. It was all he really wanted especially as life is nearing its end. I was clutching on tightly to my tissue box during this scene, and once again I’d just like to reiterate Porter is definitely going to get recognition for this episode.

The entire interaction between Pray and his family members is one of intrigue and respect. He’s not attacking them at any point, but he simply allows them to be who they are. He displays empathy in a way that isn’t expected but gives him the freedom to move on.

Pose Season 3, Episode 4 recap: An unrequited love

Upon returning home, Pray certainly did not expect that his former love would confess his love for him once again. It’s obviously very awkward given Vernon is a married pastor now, but it doesn’t stop Vernon from letting Pray know how feels.

He invites him over for dinner with the family where Pray is cornered by Ebony. She knows her husband is gay, but she wants Pray to help her with their sex life. For obvious reasons, Vernon doesn’t sleep with her, or at least not often, and she just wants to be able to please him.

Pray is blunt with her and says that there is simply no way she can give Vernon the same satisfaction. It’s a jarring reality for Ebony who is looking at her life through a complicated lens–one that shows the perfect life but is anything but.

It doesn’t help that Vernon harbors thoughts of leaving her and their children behind to run away with Pray. He even makes plans to do so and tells Pray he will go back to New York City with him. Clearly, this is just a pipe dream, and he sadly does not join Pray the next day, but the longing looks they exchange as the bus pulls away tells us everything we need to know.

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And just like that, we close out yet another epic episode in the final season of Pose!

What did you think of this week’s episode of Pose Season 3? Tell us in the comments below!