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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Transcendent, Ep. 4 Recap: Flirting, Flirting, Credit Card Debt, Flirting

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2015 at 9:00 AM


Episode 4
picks up right where episode 3 left off: with Bambiana and Bionka having it out on a park bench, and reconciling over the news that both have decided to have bottom surgery.

It is also the flirtiest episode yet, focusing almost exclusively on Xristina and Bambiana. All we really get of Nya is a blind date with one Profesor Joe, who has a man-bun and is drinking Muscadet (which he pronounces with enough flair to break the cosmopolitanism scale). He’s writing a book on trans issues and the suspicious Nya (who prizes people who can hold a conversation) immediately injects some awkwardness, asking if she’s part of his research. 

While bartending, Xristina talks with her muscly, heavily tattooed friend Rico about the possibility of a second date. Their repartee is a little forced, like a horny couple sweeping the floor and smoothing out the rug before inevitably flopping down on it together. While picnicking in Alamo Square, they drink Champagne in glass-tic cups. (Quelle S.F.!) How do we know Rico’s hot for her? Because he says he “doesn’t go into a relationship with any expectations” — which is of course what men say when all they’ve actually thought about is getting in your pants.

Although she works two jobs, Xristina is considering an entirely different career as a cop. She and transgender SFPD Officer Broderick Elton talk in a hearing room about what it’s like to be trans on the force. (Their dialogue is so much more natural than the chat between Xristina and Rico earlier.) It’s jarring to see a middle-aged white man — and a law enforcement officer at that — relate a story about how he was the victim of a hate crime. It complicates the usual narrative, and it’s set to a poignant piano part.

Meanwhile, Bambiana gets her lips one. She wants to show L.A. “the pain and the money and the time that it takes for a lot of us to look more feminine.” Although the latter quite likely understands the “we must suffer to be beautiful” mantra, she’s visibly horrified by the needles and the yelps of pain. The scene is closer to torture porn than beauty regimen — but it’s obvious that, to no small extent, Bambi is getting off on it.

“I’m broke as fuck but I look good,” Bambiana says, wasting no time putting the moves on her hot doctor. “My lips look hideous the next day. It looks like I have a monkey’s vagina on my face.”

Later, Bambiana’s largely accepting mother Cloti clucks over her daughter’s life choices. (She’s the first parent we’ve seen, although in an earlier episode, L.A. talking by phone to her dad, to whom she is not out.) Questioning a revealing garment Bambi is holding up, she makes her confident progeny almost defensive.

“It’s not slutty,” Bambiana says. “It’s gay pride! Everyone dresses like that on gay pride. I mean, it’s a little slutty.”

Cloti’s maternal reaction, mmm-hmm’ing while fingering Bambiana’s mounting bills, is familiar to anyone who has a mother. Bambiana is going into credit card debt to finance her cosmetically enhanced lifestyle, which is quite a profound point that Transcendent only glances on: Do the ladies of AsiaSF, in order to present an image of female beauty, risk spending more than they earn? As with the art of flirting, the subtext is what really matters.

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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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