Starz
Kelly Connolly
December 19, 2015 AT 03:08 AM EST

The American Ballet Company may be in tech, but “Full Dress” is the opposite of a dress rehearsal. While the dancers gear up for an elaborate display of beauty onstage, the episode is more concerned with what happens when beauty goes away: When our ideas and our bodies fail us, or we fail them. Mia and Kiira’s days in pointe shoes are numbered, and their struggle to define themselves outside dance throws the company’s single-mindedness into sharp relief. The more you dedicate yourself to something, the more lost you are when it’s gone.

Paul learned as much when his Achilles tendon gave out. He pours himself into ABC to escape the reality of his own faded glory, and he’ll make everyone around him miserable for a shot at recapturing the public’s adoration. But even Paul has to pick his battles, and his vendetta against Ross isn’t as strong as his need for a successful show. Trey is out as the lead in Rubies. Ross is back in. Pause to enjoy black staffer Reggie’s side eye as Paul pretends to care about equality. (“I suppose I got caught up in the whole diversity dream, because I wanted this for you, Trey — for this city, this nation.”)

All Paul actually wanted was to manipulate Ross. All he wants now is for the theatrical rigs to maybe not break. Tech week clarifies things, and the show is clarifying with it. The Anastasia is fading into the background, Cam is a memory, and those poor underage sex slaves are just a really good excuse for Claire to yell, “Sex slaves!” in an attempt to convince Daphne to leave the strip club. After too long trying to take charge of her life on everyone else’s terms, Claire is finally starting to define those terms for herself. She even stands up to Paul when he yells at her for being late to rehearsal. Paul needs Claire, and she knows it.

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But she needs him, too — not only to give her these opportunities, but to keep quiet about the real reason she left her company in Pittsburgh. It didn’t take long for him to figure out that one. And being late is bad form, though Claire’s excuse is a good one: She was visiting Mia in the hospital. Mia has MS, and she doesn’t have much in the way of hope at the moment; having survived her suicide attempt, she’s moved on to starving herself. It’s a good thing her roommate knows a thing or two about caretaking. Claire brings Mia her favorite kind of cookie, eating the less-desirable hospital meal in exchange for every chocolatey bite her friend takes. They’re friends now, everyone.

NEXT: Claire’s main thrill in life is a makeover

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