Queen Sugar / Season 3, Episode 5 / OWN
This is a big, beautiful episode from writer Chloé Hung, directed by Shaz Bennett.
We begin with Darla and Blue coming back from the field trip to the aquarium that she wanted to chaperone. Blue still doesn’t understand that his parents are split up now, and there’s not going to be a wedding, and Darla sends a text to Ralph Angel saying they need to tell him. In the meantime, Blue’s spending the night with Violet and Hollywood, who haven’t seen Darla since she returned to St. Josephine. While you may consider the heat in Louisiana stifling, it would seem Darla supplies her own air conditioning since folks are so cold to her when she arrives to drop off Blue. Vi refuses to even acknowledge her as she greets her would-be great nephew and escorts him into the house. Taking her cue, Hollywood focuses his attention on fixing up the freezer truck they’ve procured for Vi’s pie deliveries.
On the farm, Remy is still hanging around, as he’s had his students out there all week, showing them what an active, self-sustaining Black independently-owned farm looks like. (Spoiler: a unicorn. It looks like a unicorn.) Nova’s also still hanging around, all inspired and shit, working on her book proposal. Ralph Angel suggests she take a shower and stop dirtying up all his dishes; Remy suggests she put her laptop down and go fishing with him.
Meanwhile, Micah is entertaining his new friends at home. They’re talking about what their next action should be, as they say their school’s Black student union doesn’t do anything but “write letters,” and settle on visiting a local plantation/slavery amusement park when Charley arrives. Micah introduces her to KJ, Malik, Asha, and Ant, but she doesn’t seem thrilled to have a living room full of teenage activists, especially with Ant scolding her for drinking almond milk with a drought in California. Well, that, and one of the kids has his feet on her coffee table. Which, yeah. While she’s telling Micah that it’s late and time to send his friends on their way, Davis calls her phone. When Micah sees it’s his father, he tell Charley to tell his father he’s not around. Davis says he needs to talk to her soon, face to face.
A Bucket and a Rod.
Remy being Remy, an afternoon fishing isn’t going to be like it was with Ernest–just a bucket and a rod. No, Remy’s got his ways of doing things, you see. He insists Nova wear a fishing vest because he’s a goddamned boy scout and also refuses to let her bring her bag (which has her laptop in it) on the boat because he doesn’t want any chances of it falling in the water. He knows she’s going to want to write while they’re out there, though, so he got her a composition book and pen for note-taking. Ugh. So thoughtful, so smart, and, yeah, fine. Remy is fine.
Ralph Angel has finally taken his boss at the seafood plant up on her offer for a Vietnamese home-cooked meal. He brings a bouquet of flowers and is eagerly welcomed into their home, where Trinh teaches him how to roll spring rolls. When he takes interest in the family’s altar, she tells him about her family’s history–they’re refugees who fled at the end of the war right before everything went haywire and landed in New Orleans. At their home, Ralph Angel carries the slightly uncomfortable demeanor he always does–which he explains in a following scene–but we can see in his face that he’s relaxing here, that this feels (dare we say it?) like home.
Benny, the new farm hand and felon that Ralph Angel has hired is waiting on the steps when he gets home, asking if he can spend the night there. Turns out wherever he’s staying isn’t safe–not because he’s done anything wrong, but shady-ass folks who come through are sure to draw the cops, and he’s on parole. Ra isn’t trying to invite trouble to the farm–especially with Blue there–but he relents and let Benny stay, telling him he’s going to need to find somewhere else to be tomorrow night.
Six Other Days of the Week.
Violet’s getting accustomed to her medications for lupus, but she’s still feeling a bit lightheaded. She’s on the vegan diet Nova suggested, and everyone else is suffering for it. When she serves portobello mushroom steaks and sautéed squash, Hollywood and Blue sneak out for burgers and chicken nuggets. While they chow down on junk food, Blue once again says something about his parents getting married, and Hollywood realizes no one’s told him yet that their relationship is over.
Back on the farm, Ralph Angel invites Benny to have breakfast with him. Calling family and friends looking for somewhere to stay hasn’t gone so well–no one’s willing to take him in, including his own grandmother, but he understands why. He fucked up before, and it’s going to take time to earn back their trust. He says that he promised himself in prison that once he got out, he would never go back, and that resonates with Ra, who then talks about what it was like when he first came home. He felt uncomfortable everywhere he went, that people were just staring at him, but eventually it passed. He felt like he belonged. Despite his early skepticism, it seems Ra really is going to serve as a mentor and an example for young men like Benny.
Ra heads to the docks this time not to pick up his paycheck but specifically to ask out Trinh. He asks her if she’d like to hang out with him on Sunday, and she tells him she can’t–she’s helping her aunt at her restaurant and has other commitments. Assuming he’s just being rejected, Ralph Angel is respectful but is all Charlie Brown, “guess I’ll see you around,” kicking rocks until Trinh reminds him that there are six other days of the week, and she’s off on Monday. His smile is enough to split clouds. Seriously. I want Kofi Siriboe to smile at me like that, just once. My life will be made.
Davis comes over early to talk to Charley, and Micah basically runs out the the door without speaking to him, which sets his mother’s spidey sense to tingling, because otherwise, these days Micah and his dad are thick as thieves. Davis finally tells her–he has a daughter, she’s 13, and he’s moving back to L.A. to take care of her now that her mother has died. Charley is devastated, of course. “In our city?” she asks, incredulous. I mean, Micah is, what, 16? Practically their whole lives together, Davis had a secret baby living in the same damn area code. Charley, predictably, goes absolutely ballistic once she realizes that Davis has already told Micah, who’s been suffering with this knowledge alone for days. She tells him to leave, and we again get a glimpse of the woman who stormed out onto an NBA stadium court during the very first episode. Somehow, years later, Davis has destroyed her once again. Like I said last week, he’s the ain’t-shit gift that keeps on giving.
And this is, of course, the worst time in the world for every call to your people to go to voicemail, but that is exactly what happens when Charley tries Ralph Angel, Aunt Vi, and Nova (who’s literally “gone fishing”–with Charley’s ex-boo). She’s one the edge of a breakdown, completely vulnerable, so when Jacob calls, supposedly to talk work, she answers and they end up in a bar doing shots of Jack Daniels.
Jacob and Charley are comparing embarrassing parent stories when some good ‘ol boys come in to talk to him. They clearly work for him, but he’s not forthcoming when Charley inquires as to what kind of work they’re doing. He claims it’s on another one of the company’s mills, but no matter how much whiskey she’s had, she’s still side-eyeing him.
I never want to be Talked into Anything, Again.
Nova and Remy are out on the boat. He tells her he did read the last article she wrote–and that was edited almost until it was unrecognizable–about the kids’ protest at the basketball game. From his perspective, she still succeeded in doing right by those students, getting their voices out there, even if they were twisted by a white editorial staff trying to win back the paper’s advertisers. Remy tells her she’s a guide, to Micah and to other young people.
Later, he’s reminiscing about a story Nova’s father told him about her mother: that the first time the two of them went fishing, Nova’s mother caught five fish, and that’s when Ernest decided he was going to marry her. Nova’s skeptical, though, about whether or not her mother would have actually wanted the life she ended up with if she hadn’t gotten pregnant with her. Remy counters that she’d lived a good life, but Nova calls it a life “she was talked into” and says she never wants to be talked into anything, again.
Micah and his friends have headed to that plantation and are disgusted by what they find there–white folks in historical dress celebrating the antebellum. Asha describes the place as a crime scene. The five of them sit on the porch of the “big house” until an old white man in period costume comes over and asks them to get up–the chair Ant’s sitting in is 250 years old. The kids pop off as expected, but once again, there’s an undercurrent of danger, especially with Ant. The man tells them they have to leave, and Ant steps to him. KJ quickly intervenes, and they take off.
Ralph Angel returns home to find Benny is at the farm, working. Ra asks him if he’s found somewhere to stay, and he mentions a friend on Crane Street, which must be somewhere you go for the sole purpose of fucking up your life, because Ralph Angel is basically like “nah, you’re just gonna stay here ’til you get straight.” He reminds him again that this isn’t a hotel, and there are rules, and he has a kid, but Benny looks hella relieved.
Nova and Remy have brought the boat in and are standing on the dock drinking beers. He’s been thinking about what she said on the boat and wants to know what she meant. She says in past relationships, people have wanted a piece of her or wanted her to be something else. Remy tells her she deserves to be with someone who wants to be with her–“not Nova the Activist, not Nova the journalist, just Nova.” Which would be when she leans her head on his shoulder and a second later they kiss. GIRL. That’s your sister’s ex. This is going to be messy, and Charley’s already going through it. Speaking of which….
I’m Sorry for Breaking your Forever.
Charley’s night with Jacob is winding down. They’re drinking water now, but when Merle Haggard comes on, he insists she dance with him. Charley’s sobered up enough that the hurt she was trying to drown with alcohol is flickering again, and as she and Jacob dance, her head against his chest, the tears start to flow again.
On their way back to St. Jo, Micah and his friends have pulled over so they can stretch their legs. They’re skipping rocks in a pond, but Ant is sitting apart from everyone, staring into the distance. Micah checks on him, and it turns out the buildings across the field that Ant is looking at so intently is a prison in which his brother is incarcerated.
Vi is home with Hollywood, giving him an update after a visit with her doctor. They’re changing her dosage to help with the lightheadedness. Blue spilled the beans on the fast food they ate, but Hollywood hands her a bowl of cauliflower mac and cheese. He says he supports her being healthy, but he’s gotta eat food that tastes good–and seems like he put his foot in that mac and cheese. Vi is grateful.
Darla and Ralph Angel finally sit down with Blue to tell him that while Darla is back in St. Josephine, she’s not moving back into the house but has somewhere else to stay. He’ll have two bedrooms, one with his mom and one with his dad. Oh, and also, they’re not getting married. The heartbreak on that child’s face…LAWD. Sobbing, he reminds them what they’d promised–“you said forever”–and then asks to go to his room. This is too much for Ralph Angel; as a tear courses down his cheek, he gets up and walks away from Darla.
Jacob and Charley are finally leaving the bar. Outside, he tells her he had a really good time and looks at her expectantly. When he leans down and kisses her, she kisses him back, but finally pulls away, saying she has to get home to Micah. She may be sad, but she’s keeping her eye on the prize. Back at the house, Charley draws a bath, maybe hoping to soak away both the fresh betrayal from Davis and her unease about crossing the line yet again with Jacob Boudreaux.
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