Queen Sugar / Season 3, Episode 13 / OWN
It’s been a long season, and in this 90-minute finale, we find the Bordelons facing the exact ruin that Charley promised her father’s memory she wouldn’t allow to happen. Not just the loss of their own farm but the destruction of the community as a whole. But the Bordelons haven’t stopped trying to fight for their people.
In the cold opening, Ralph Angel is standing behind bars at a jail flanked by guards. Is this a flashback? No, he’s leading a support group in the prison, helping to prepare these men for life after they get out. “Find something good and wrap your heart around it.”
Later in the parking lot, Ra’s talking to his parole officer Kevin, who wants to introduce him to a woman in Baton Rouge who’s doing work on reentry programs. Maybe he could expand what’s he’s already doing at the farm, employing ex-felons. Ra is a bit hesitant, considering the trouble Benny brought him when he let him stay there. Kev steps away to take an important call, and it turns out Ralph Angel’s early parole request was approved. He’s going to be a free man in a month.
Other People’s Stories.
Meanwhile, Micah has followed through and is organizing a rally to protest the correctional facility being built in the middle of St. Josephine Parish. He’s in the high school auditorium with Nova while members of the community work on signs and banners, but he seems distracted. Nova asks him what’s going on, and it turns out none of his friends have come. Nova encourages him, telling him that sometimes leading means walking alone. Charley hands him notes for the agenda so that he can talk to these folks and let them know the schedule. Poor Micah. Nobody ever taught this boy to project. He’s standing on the stage trying to give information to a hundred people without yelling to get their attention. Someone give him a mic.
Finally, one of the older men in the back who really just can’t hear asks Charley what Micah saying. She steps up, with her loud, authoritative voice, and we see Micah fold into himself. This was his idea, after all, but now his mother is stealing his thunder without intending to. He’s just gonna have to learn to speak up, have confidence, and take control.
Later, Nova’s at her house surrounded by boxes of t-shirts that say “Farms Not Prisons” and signs, reminiscing with her friend about their college activism. What she’s really waiting for, though, is feedback from her friend on a draft of her book. She’s nervous.
Her friend tells her it’s stirring and provocative, her best work. Whew. Sweet relief. But she also says it puts everybody’s biz in the street. Telling your own story is one thing, but she’s telling the whole family’s without asking permission. Nova pushes back that these stories need to be told, that the Black community needs to have these conversations, but her friend warns her that she’s playing with fire. If she thought Aunt Vi was mad before? If Nova publishes this as-is without running it past anyone, Vi just might excommunicate her.
Charley has finally taken Romero up on his offer to make her dinner, and apparently it was delicious. They’re sitting on the floor in his living room drinking red wine and talking. When the conversation shifts to organizing their community, Charley talks to him about what her life was like when she was still living in Los Angeles. While managing Davis, “community” mattered little to her until after her father died. Romero then talks a little about his mother and how he was her “celebrito” [celebrity] when he was little. He wore glasses, had braces, couldn’t dance, and got picked on by the other kids. Which just turns into Charley making Romero perform a dance he had to do in the third grade, and which she then replicates. She’s not very good, obvs, but she is laughing, and we haven’t seen much that in a long, long time. Romero’s face changes from silly to intense, and he stares at Charley. “What?” “I don’t know. Just…I love your joy.” Swoon. Can I just say that I am SO HERE for their first kiss? Ugh. Finally.
It’s the day of the rally. Isabela Barrera kicks it off and introduces Micah. When he gets to the mic, he’s as hesitant as he was during prep, but then he sees Keke in the crowd. When he falters, she smiles at him, and he puts away his talking points and stares at the crowd. Micah off-script his spitting hot fire talk. He tells the crowd about what happened to him last year at the hands of Officer Orson.
Vi is meeting up with her investor at the High Yellow. He’s showing her listings for restaurants they could buy to run as pie shops, but she seems hesitant. He knows about the hospitalization for pneumonitis and expresses some concern, but he’s not bailing. In fact, he has one more idea for a location they could move Vi’s Prized Pies into–the High Yellow! Turns out Clive is retiring and has already put it on the market. This would be Vi’s opportunity to finally own the place she’s worked at for 20 years, and it’s right here in town. I’m liking this man more and more; he really does seem to care not only about Vi’s business but about her.
At home, Charley and Micah are watching footage of the rally on the local news. His disclosure about what happened with Orson means more victims of brutality are already coming forward, and more than 300,000 people have viewed clips of his speech online. This is leverage they can potentially use to stop the prison, but Micah is worried and cynical. Charley makes sure he knows how proud she is of him.
Darla and Ralph Angel are talking about Blue. They’re really trying to work out their relationship. She tells him she wants them to be okay and then mentions that Blue said nice things about Trinh to her, that Trinh knows a lot about fish. Ra gets wistful and says that with her, he sees the world a whole different way, but that he’d also broken things off so that he could focus on Blue. Darla tells him she wants him to be happy, wants Blue to see them both happy, and that she’ll deal with her feelings. So maybe we get Trinh back next season–if she’ll have him.
Who Runs the World?
Charley goes to visit Frances, and they once again sit across from each other in a grand hall where Charley’s ancestors no doubt served Frances’. The rally, and especially Micah’s speech, has, as Frances puts it, MPTE on the ropes. But nothing has changed yet, and the plan to build the prison is still going forward. Charley has an idea, though, to take down both the prison and Sam Landry. She could use the books–proof of the corruption and debt–to discredit Sam and get both the contractor and the legislators to back away from this project. Frances would be in control of the company and redeem her family name. But Charley also wants her mill back, and for all the farmers who got kicked of their lease land to be allowed to take it up again. It’s an expensive negotiation.
Meanwhile, Prosper prepares for his daughter’s arrival from Chicago. They’ll spend a few days taking care of his affairs, and then he’ll travel north with her. He at least will get to spend time with his grandkids, he figures, but Charley has a surprise for him. She drives him back to his house where she then presents him with a deed for his house and the land. Ugh. So perfect when she hands him the keys. “You belong here. You belong to this land.” Needless to say, he wasn’t the only one crying at this point. Somebody must have been cutting onions in my living room. Prosper decides to take a walk, feel his land under his feet.
Nova is finishing up her manuscript. She changes the name to “Blessing and Blood” and sends it to her agent in New York. We watch her pull some of her index cards down from the bulletin board: “Calvin White Cop,” “Ralph Angel paternity,” “Too Sweet.” The question is what did she leave in and what did she take out? She writes a dedication on a printed copy–“For my family. For the community. And for our healing”–and binds it with twine, sticking a feather in it before blowing out the candle on her desk.
The Devil You Know.
Now, lest any of us get to thinking that things might be turning around for everybody, tied up with a nice, neat bow, the next scene is certain to clear that up for us. It’s late. Ralph Angel is driving home when he sees a patrol car parked in front of his house, blue and red lights flashing.
Ralph Angel pulls up and gets out of the truck where Blue is asleep in the passenger seat. The two white cops glare at him and don’t say anything when he asks what this is about. He tells them his son is in the car, but they don’t care, saying they want him to come down to the station to answer some questions. See, these are the same cops who stood around smiling after the parish council voted to build the new prison. Filling prisons is literally their stock and trade.
So now that the Bordelons–Charley and Micah and Nova–are putting the kibosh on that prison, here they come, menacing Ralph Angel because they know he still has time left on parole. One of them says to Ra he can put him back in prison “for spitting gum on the ground.” (Sidebar: I bet these wyipopo really hate that this particular ground belongs to him.) But as nervous as he looks, Ralph Angel tells the cops there are cameras everywhere (and, boy, do I hope there are), and everything from the time they arrived on his property until now has been recorded. That’s enough to make them get the hell back in their car and drive off. Whew. My heart was in my throat this whole scene.
Rarely one to miss an opportunity to gloat, Charley has rolled up to Sam Landry’s, let herself in, and poured herself a bourbon. Seems he’s not doing so well these days–MPTE’s executive board would like to have a word with him, and his friends in the state legislature haven’t been returning his calls. She’s enjoying his descent, but he makes a good point. She’s trusting a woman who’d stab her own brother in the back, so what does she think Frances is eventually going to do to her? “The devil you know, Ms. Bordelon. The devil you know.”
For a second, Charley looks shook, but instead she leans across his desk and drops these bars: “I’m not afraid of you or your sister. I have been a Black woman for a helluva long time.” And when she tells him to take care, she says, “I really mean that. Be careful.” and then walks out. Seems like Ol’ Man Landry is the one who needs to be afraid.
A Love that’s Always Been Free.
Hollywood continues to come through as the best man for Violet, surprising her with the best present he could give her–the High Yellow. She’s shocked–how did he even know? He tells her not to worry about that; everything she sees is hers, and hers is the only name on the deed. He’s one of my favorite characters on television these days, period: a solid, loyal Black man who’s not ashamed of showing Violet how much he loves her. We need more characters like him.
The rest of the family arrives at Violet’s house for what they thought was going to be a celebration of the rally Micah organized, but instead, they’re they only ones there. Outside, the decorations are a bit more…formal? Romantic? Aaaaye! Out steps a priest followed by Hollywood and Vi in their wedding finery. They decided to skip the big, expensive shindig and have a small ceremony at home. Their vows to each other…woo. They keep it short and sweet. This is just for them.
We end the season with them and their entire community out there in the yard dancing. They’ve earned it–all of them–and I’m excited to see what comes next for the Bordelons.
Oh, and speaking of what comes next: Queen Sugar has been renewed for a fourth season. Kat Candler will hand over showrunner duties to Anthony Sparks, continuing executive producer and creator Ava DuVernay’s goal of providing new opportunities to Black talent. The show will also continue to showcase women directors every week. Can’t wait to see what comes next.
All photos credit Skip Bolen © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. / Courtesy of OWN.
Want to catch up on the rest of the season’s recaps of Queen Sugar? Check them out here.
Want to get Black Nerd Problems updates sent directly to you? Sign up here!