Previously on Queen Sugar, “I Know My Soul”
As mid-season finales go, “Freedom’s Plow” was fine. Some of the relationship conflicts were put to rest a bit too neatly, and some were downright confusing, but there’s still plenty of drama to be explored when the season picks up again this fall.
It doesn’t take long for Ralph Angel to need the assistance of Charley, who hasn’t been returning his calls or answering his messages. Bills need to be paid and he still needs his payroll check to stay in compliance with his parole. “I’ll do what I gotta do” looks a lot like, “I’ll just drop this major bomb and hope everyone goes back to assisting me when I want it and not questioning me when I don’t.”
He also has to answer tough questions from Blue, who wonders why his mother no longer joins them for meals. Darla and Ralph Angel put aside their issues long enough to explain to Blue (as best they can) why Darla hasn’t been around as much and why her illness requires a consistent routine. Though he can be a complete meathead, it’s clear Ralph Angel cares for Darla, especially when he expresses joy and pride at her sobriety celebration. Two years sober is a huge accomplishment, and Darla’s sponsor makes it plain that she expects Ralph Angel to be a help and not a hinderance in Darla’s recovery. Perhaps it’s this conversation that prompts him to propose by episode’s end. It’s sweet, romantic, and lit by candlelight because Ralph Angel didn’t pay the electric bill. Still, Darla says yes.
Charley’s vulnerable admission at the end of last week’s episode shaped her entire cover story. It’s an honest piece about what she’s doing with the mill and how she doesn’t necessarily have all the answers. This causes concern among the farmers who left Landry’s mill to grind with the Bordelons. Once again, Charley has to ease their fears and assure them that she’s in it for the long haul. It looks good and sounds fine, but it doesn’t feel genuine. No one outside of family knows about Ernest’s new will, and Charley admits to Ra that she hasn’t made any decisions yet. Of course, telling the farmers what they wanted to hear (whether she’s 100% sure or not) was the right play; it just felt out of place that they are, once again, questioning her.
Much of what Charley does and goes through in this episode is frustrating to witness because it feels like it’s all still shaped by others’ expectations. Remy had the gall to be upset that her interview didn’t mention the divorce, but she’d already told him she had arranged to have the divorce announcement be a separate story on her own terms. In fact, he accused her of being calculating because of it. So, why is he upset now? Then, she apologizes to him and begs forgiveness. For what, exactly? How about Remy apologize for using her dead father’s words against her and applying meaning to them to hurt her? This manipulative side of Remy has me wondering if Charley shouldn’t just be alone for awhile as she figures out her mess.
A few weeks ago, I wondered on the podcast if the series was shifting to showing Davis separate from the Bordelon family. Prior to this, Davis never had a scene that didn’t include one of the family members. This week, he has a business meeting/lunch date with the singer who caught his eye during Micah’s community service. Is anyone really here for a Davis redemption arc? Micah sure isn’t. He interrupts the lunch and accuses Davis of being a liar (which he is), and storms out. Later, Davis is finally able to get to the heart of what happened to Micah when he was arrested. Before he was brought to the jail, Micah was psychologically tortured by the arresting officer, who also hurled racial slurs at him. This was one of the more emotionally gutting scenes the series has done thus far. We all knew something more had happened to Micah, but I’m not sure anyone correctly guessed what it was. Hopefully, in addition to having the heads of everyone involved, Charley and Davis will finally get Micah some counseling.
Because the episode seemed determined to give each couple a somewhat “happy ending” exiting the first half of the season, Nova overlooks so many warning signs when it comes to Dr. Robert Dubois. Listen. I don’t like him, but I was willing to let it go depending on the events in this episode. Nova, reeling from the words in Ernest’s will, packed a bag and headed to Atlanta. Dubois takes her to a dinner party that had Get Out written all over it. Sure enough, it’s not long before Nova finds herself listening to “Make America Great Again” rhetoric from a Great Value Bill O’Reilly. Even worse, Dubois used to share the same ideas of respectability and bullshit. He sees rubbing elbows with the alt-right adjace as a way of getting things done and “playing the game.” Nova leaves, but he follows her all the way back to New Orleans where he shows up on her doorstep unannounced. He’s figured out a way to use the bigot’s words to their advantage so they can both make the change they wish to see in the world. I was too busy creeped out by his insistence in getting all up in Nova’s personal space. She rolls with it, so…. Girl, I guess.
Thankfully, the one couple whose relationship was up in the air at the end of season one made it through the first half of this season relatively unscathed. Vi is still pursuing her pie business, and despite fainting due to lack of food and stress, she’s the only Bordelon I’m not worried about. *knock on Hollywood*
Leave your thoughts on the episode below or on our Facebook post for this review, and we’ll read them on the podcast this weekend.
Queen Sugar S2E8
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, Bianca Lawson