Previously on Queen Sugar, “Where With All”
Queen Sugar – S1E9 – “Next to Nothing” | Starring: Rutina Wesley, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Kofi Siriboe, Tina Lifford, Omar J. Dorsey, Dondre Whitfield, Timon Kyle Durrett, Nicholas L. Ashe, Greg Vaughan, Ethan Hutchison, Marycarmen Lopez, Bianca Lawson
Even though Ralph Angel can be a bonehead, Nova over judgmental, Charley hard-headed, Vi stubborn, and Blue…. well, Blue is perfect, but despite their flaws, we love the Borderlons. Hell, because of their flaws we love the Borderlons. So, it’s understandable if we hoped the hurricane had washed away their pain and friction. Of course, nothing’s that simple, even on a television show.
For Aunt Vi, the devastation left by the storm is just the recent in a line of hits she’s been taking. She’s tired. Despite having lots of help and “elbow grease” from the family and neighbors, Vi can’t seem to muster up an ounce of enthusiasm – and who can blame her? Instead of facing what’s truly bothering her, she does what she knows best: takes care of others whether they like it or not. It’s easier for her to focus on making sure Ralph Angel knows just how much she doesn’t approve of his involvement with Darla. That is until Hollywood tells it to her straight: She needs to let that man be a man and a father to his son.
However, it’s not until Nova suggests that she step back and indulge in a little self care that we see a glimpse of the woman we met back in episode one. I really loved the acknowledgment from Vi that her whole life has been about taking care of others and feeling purpose and contentment in that. But as Nova pointed out, you can do that while taking care of yourself as well. And let’s face it, right now Vi is the head of this family and they need her more than ever. Hopefully she truly understands that caring for herself is caring for the family.
The crops weren’t as damaged as they expected, and Remy assures Charley and Ra that his strain of cane is designed to deal with excess water. Their moment of relief is short-lived, though, as Charley stumbles upon two dead bodies in their field.
We all knew her decision to make the workers stay despite Remy’s advise would have consequences, but I don’t think anyone expected this. Everyone’s guilt is compounded when they have to admit to the investigating officer that they didn’t know either of the mens’ names, and they worked for them. It’s interesting that Nova comforts Charley through this. They said some terrible things to each other the night before, but most of us can relate to fighting with family, yet coming together when need be. I don’t think either has forgotten or forgiven, but they felt genuine here.
Though, I did roll my eyes a bit at Nova’s response when Charley admits she’s turned into a bad person she doesn’t recognize. She made those men stay, knowing the risks, and then she confesses to her sister that she leaked Goldy’s name to the press. Nova basically lays one on God with “When it’s your time, it’s your time,” and refers to the leak as “Charley playing the card she had.” Considering Nova still hasn’t truly apologized for taking the money without accompanying it with excuses or defiance, I’m not surprised, but it still felt a lot like telling Charley what she wants to hear instead of what she needs to hear.
The highlight of the episode – and I don’t know that any other show currently airing could have done this – was the Borderlon family sitting down with their other workers to break the news of the deaths of their friends. Blue’s teacher, Ms. Velez, translates and explains the men were robbed and shot while walking through the fields to catch the bus. This scene was simply heartbreaking, but beautifully human. This is in large part due to the performances, especially Jacinto Rodriguez (Ignacio) and Frankie Cedano (Arturo).
“Where With All” finally addressed the will-they-won’t-they dynamics of Charley’s relationship with Remy, but “Next to Nothing” didn’t answer the question either way. Still, Remy laid all his cards on the table and made it clear he wants more than friendship, and he’s willing to wait until Charley is ready. That seismic shift you felt while this aired was a nation of women swooning.
Leave your thoughts on the episode below or on the Facebook post for this review, and we’ll read them on the podcast this weekend.
Queen Sugar S1E9 = 9.5/10