Queen Sugar / Season 3, Episode 2 / OWN
Nova is happy to be home from her trip to NYC and visit to St. Jo when she sits down to take a look at the most recent issue of her newspaper. It’s pretty clear she’s not the reporter who covered the protest at the Collings – St. Jo basketball game; in fact, the article talks about the Black students “causing trouble,” which we know wasn’t her take.
Aunt Vi stops by the grocery store where she’s been selling her pies, and the manager lets her know that they flew off the shelves during the holidays. In fact, he wants more–double the order–and is promising more promotion for her, including a prized display in the store. She thinks about it for a second–this is going to be a lot of work, and the lupus is taking its toll–but she tells him he has a deal.
What Do You Have to Give Up?
Remy is at the High Yellow Diner sitting with some older farmers who’ve come for a buffet Charley is hosting as a thank you for everyone’s who’s stuck by Queen Sugar. They’re talking about the protest, and while the other men are bothered by what the kids did, Remy argues that times are dangerous, and they need to pay attention to what’s going on–police brutality–and not look away. Charley walks in with Ralph Angel and thanks everyone for their commitment to the mill despite the hardships they faced last season, which was of course the Landrys intimidating everyone, threatening to terminate their leases. She also promises a lock on their rates grinding with Queen Sugar for five years–she wants to show Louisiana what Black business can look like.
Remy wants to bounce but can’t help himself and stops to talk to her when her little speech is over. He says she’s tricking her own people while still handing business to the Landrys, and she points out that it’s better than them giving the Landrys that business directly and at a higher cost. When Remy asks what it is she has to give up for this partnership, you know he’s thinking about Jacob Boudreaux. They continue to spar, quietly, for a couple minutes before he leaves, looking back at her with something akin to disgust.
Ra tells her not to worry about it, but she’s clearly upset and wonders if it’s too early in the day to have a glass of wine. Ra reiterates that he’s there for her, and considering how the first season ended and the second began, it’s really nice to see them being so loving with each other. He suggests they go out the next night.
Back at Aunt Vi’s, Hollywood gets a certified letter. “The eagle has landed”: his settlement from the oil rig fire has finally arrived. He wants to go celebrate by shopping, but Vi promises him a little something in the bedroom later if he’ll let her get back to making pies in the kitchen.
Micah is at a gas station with his dad. He wants to go to public school–St. Jo, where the Black Lives Matter protesters go. Davis is giving him advice on how to approach Charley about transferring to public school, and he’s rehearsing his spiel. But they both Charley; there’s no way in hell she’s going to agree to this.
Meanwhile at Charley’s house, she walks into the living room as the TV is blaring some breaking news. The leaked video of Officer Orson, the cop who tormented Micah, beating a suspect is playing, and he’s now being investigated for police brutality. Charley stares in disbelief and then pulls out her phone and texts someone “Thank you.”
Black Girl Magic is Hard Work
Nova is talking to her editor about the story that ran about the Black Lives Matter protest at the high school. She’s pissed that something like that went into print, but he says he didn’t tell her about it because he knew how she would feel about it. According to him, Nova’s been labeled an “Black Identity Extremist” since her last article went viral, and their ad revenue has taken a hit. This kind of editorial bent [read: racist] might win back advertisers, and for now, he wants her to lay low.
After that conversation, Nova needs some sister-love. While making dinner with her friends, she mentions that she’s considering leaving the paper to focus just on her book. They all mostly agree that it’s a risk to give up both her paycheck and her platform. Why not keep the security of her job with the paper while she works on the book? But they all acknowledge that in her line of work–writing as a Black woman–there’s always going to be a target on her back. They’re there for her regardless what she decides to do, and one of her friends even manages a shout-out to everybody’s fave Issa Rae: “I’m rooting for everybody Black!”
Micah is finally talking to Charley about his desire to transfer to public school while Davis stands by silently. He follows the script he’d come up with speaking to his dad before, but Charley shuts him down. She wants to make sure all the doors are open to him, and she’s convinced a public school in a small Louisiana town isn’t going to get him into an Ivy.
Ralph Angel is at home contending with Blue’s continued misbehavior. He gets a knock at the door, and it’s a surprise visit from his parole officer. Ralph Angel is embarrassed by how messy the house is, clothes and toys everywhere, but this dude seems nonplussed. He’s tells Ralph Angel about a program that might cut his last year of parole down to just three months. He also suggests that Ra hire some other young men who just got out of prison to work on the farm. He knows how hard it is to find work, and these guys could stand to see what life on the outside could look like.
Nova comes to visit Aunt Vi with some homeopathics (and some weed, of course). Vi’s stressed out trying to make pies, and her oven won’t light. Nova tries to remind her that nothing is worth her health. She’s determined to make the order she agreed to deliver, though, no matter what.
Charley meets up with Jacob at a marina. He’s working on a small yacht and says he’s getting it ready for the summer. He then says he’d like to take her out on the lake, and all I can think is that white people taking Black people on boats hasn’t always worked out in our favor, but anyway. Jacob goes into some rambling story about the boat, and how it was passed down from one family member to another, and how his father always said to toast a new partnership as close to the water as possible because people were more honest there than on land. If only he knew. Charley asks about the fact that the Landrys seem to be honoring the locked-in rates for the Black farmers. and Jacob says that Sam did indeed want to break the deal, which is unsurprising, but that Jacob’s side of the family made him honor it. He also says that her 1% stake in the mill makes her family. She sips champagne with him to toast, but we all know things aren’t what they seem, at least on her end.
With her oven still not working, Violet moves her pie operation to High Yellow kitchen. Unfortunately, when the owner comes in, he’s pretty pissed she’s using his diner for her side hustle and tells her to pack up. She finally decides to go talk to Miss Effie, some church lady with whom there is no love lost, to see about using the church’s kitchen. It’s humiliating having to ask this woman, who judges her for her relationship with Hollywood, for help, but the heffa hands over the keys when Vi promises 10% of the profits from her pies to one of the church’s charities.
Hollywood is at the mall shopping with Ralph Angel and Blue, who’s got an armful of light-up sneakers. Ralph Angel tells him to put them back, and Blue refuses. After a couple of those angry whispers we all remember from our parents and guardians when we were acting up in public, Ralph Angel finally snatches the shoes out of Blue’s arms and puts them back on the display. A security guard starts to eye them, and Hollywood steps in, saying they’re leaving. He knows Ra can’t afford any run-ins with the law.
Nova is sitting in her room looking through old clips, still trying to come to a decision about what to do. She comes across one clipping with a Post-It note on it with the word “Amplify” at the top. She calls the paper and asks for a meeting with Steve, her editor, to talk about a new story she wants to work on.
Charley and Ralph Angel are out at a club trying to forget their troubles. They sardonically toast to parenthood, talking about Micah trying to transfer to public school and Blue’s disobedience stemming from how much he misses Darla. Eventually, a very tipsy Ra decides to head to the dance floor, and Charley leaves.
But her SUV won’t start. A guy sees her and offers her a jump. He’s…kinda cute. He gives Charley his number. “And if I don’t call?” “Then it wasn’t meant to be.” Hmm, Romero. We see you!
Micah’s watching the video of Orson beating a suspect on his laptop. He looks freaked out and closes it. The next day, Davis comes to see Charley and asks right off the bat if she had anything to do with the video of Orson getting leaked. She doesn’t say anything at first, then gets defensive. Davis asks her if Micah has seen it, since it could be making things worse. Charley hasn’t considered that.
She heads upstairs to see if Micah wants to go out for breakfast. He’s not in his room, but the photos he’s been taking with his new camera cover one wall. They’re beautiful. And they’re all of Black people. Regular Black people. He finally talks about why he wants to go to public school so badly–to finally feel like he belongs, something he’s never felt. Charley finally acquiesces and says they’ll try it for a month.
On the farm, Blue walks into the kitchen while Ralph Angel is washing dishes. He wants to know if timeout is over and then apologizes for being bad. Ra tells him he doesn’t have a bad bone in his body, and Blue offers to help wash dishes.
Charley meets a white woman at a cafe. She’s “Vicky,” a private investigator, apparently. She not only found the Orson video, but she’s also got info on the Landry family, like the fact that they’ve been drowning in debt for two years and have a legal team that will be a challenge.
Violet finishes the pie order after all the struggle, and Hollywood congratulates her for all her work. She looks tired. The family heads to the store to see her pies, but instead of being on the central display the store manager promised her, they’re just stacked on the floor near the dairy section. Vi loses it; she worked so hard for this. She tells the clerk to please go talk to his boss, and while he’s gone, starts moving the pies herself. “I know it’s a little thing, but it’s my little thing.” She is angry and disappointed–she doesn’t want to be side-lined. It’s her time.
Nova takes that inspiration and comes to see her editor, but instead of telling him she’s going to work on a new story as she’d said previously, she drops a mic–oh, wait–an envelope–on his desk. It’s her resignation. Nova is ready to see where this book deal takes her. We’re rooting for you, Nova!
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