Queen Sugar Recap: The Tree and Stone Were One

Season 3 / Episode 9 / OWN

Ayyy! I’ve been on an unexpected hiatus for a few weeks, but I’m back in the recappin’ saddle for our favorite show on OWN. Or, if we’re for real keeping it a hundred, the only show on OWN we’re really watching. (Day jobs and toddlers are real).

Anyway, a whole lot has happened:

  • Violet and Hollywood are still trying to navigate her lupus, her pie business, and their upcoming wedding; about which they have some serious differences of opinion. She’s just not feeling a big affair for the ceremony and wants him to save his money, but he wants to splurge for the woman he loves. He also wants her to take his name, but she’s not down with that portion of the patriarchy.
  • Micah’s still spending more time with the student activists from St. Josephine High than with Keke (Do you love me? Are you riding?). That’s about to get him in hot water with both her and his mother. ‘Cause no matter how much you might agree with their actions, you know Charley goin’ upside that head if he does anything besides keep his nose clean, go to an Ivy League school, and make beaucoup bucks.
  • Nova and Remy are having a hard time hiding their feelings for each other. Remy doesn’t seem like he wants to, anyway. Of course, Charley isn’t his sister. Meanwhile, Nova is still trying to pinpoint exactly what she’s writing now. Her outline is done, and there’s a lot to say–about Black farmers, about St. Jo, about her own family.
  • Ralph Angel and Trinh have been getting closer — so close, he’s introduced her to the family (as his “work friend,” LOL). Darla’s still in town, though, and being a bit more forceful about exercising her parental rights around Blue, especially after she walks in on Benny playing cards with some less-than-savory characters in the kitchen and then spots both Ra and Blue with Trinh outside a convenience store.
  • Charley’s still hella suspicious of the Landrys…and by extension, Jacob Boudreaux. It seems that’s wise –as of the last episode, she’s learned what’s really going on with the rash of evictions that have snared so many Black farmers (including Prosper Denton). Landry Enterprises is clearing their own land. Furthermore, they’re planning to take the Bordelons’ because of a deal with the U.S. government to build a prison on it: right in the middle of St. Josephine’s Parish.
    Photo by Skip Bolen © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. / Courtesy of OWN.

    When the future is now.

    This episode, written by Kat Candler and Anthony Sparks and directed by Nijla Mu’min, opens with Trinh showing Ralph Angel an elaborate greenhouse her mother and some of her friends built. As they discuss what their parents have done to take care of them in order to make sure they had the best possible chances for a good future, they’re once again surprised to realize how much they have in common. Trinh says she can’t think of parents wouldn’t do anything they could to provide for and protect their children. Then, she asks about Darla and how things with her are going. Ra says they’re working it out…before he asks her to go steady! They’re more than just “work friends,” and Trinh is feeling him. Aww.

    To save the Bordelon land, Charley is meeting with an attorney about her options. It’s not sounding like she has many. If they chose not to sell their farm, the government can always take it anyway through eminent domain. Also, maybe this Very Southern Gentleman just isn’t actually that interested in trying to find a way for a Black woman to save her family’s farm. Jacob calls, and she ain’t trying to hear him, but he lets her know that he and his mama want to talk about alternatives to the jail. Hmm. So he knew all along.

    Nova is meeting with an agent. They have a journal interested in publishing the chapter Nova wrote about her father’s depression — after Prosper told her of the night Ernest wandered the fields with a gun after her mother had died. Nova points out that the chapter isn’t finished yet. It needs to be done right, but is this a secret she wants to share with the world? Will telling Ernest’s truth do as this woman suggests, and set her free?

    Aunt Vi is whipping up some more pies when Jared drops by to check on her. Now that he knows about the lupus, she’s certain he’s not interested in her plans to expand her business to a chain of pie stores. Turns out he’s not only checking in on her, but he’s on board. He hands her contracts to review, lets her know he’s been doing some WebMD research into lupus, and asks her to promise she’ll be honest about how she’s doing even on bad days.

    Photo by Skip Bolen © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. / Courtesy of OWN.

    Darla meets up with Ralph Angel to discuss potential custody agreement. She is suggesting a 70/30 split, now that she has a good job (though we haven’t heard what it is, exactly) and a nice apartment to live in. On the other hand, Ra’s working two jobs — the farm, of course, and shifts at the seafood plant. Darla’s not feeling like taking any chances. This is going to be a fight, and with Ra not being Blue’s father by blood, it’s not a fight he’s looking forward to.

    Dream a little dream with me.

    Nova and Remy walk into an outdoor festival…huh. Holding hands? Well, well, well. They run into Marianne, Toute Suite’s mother. Turns out Nova’s been helping with his tuition, and he’s doing quite well. She’s so grateful for Nova, and Remy is suitably impressed. He tells Nova she’s a star. She shrugs; these are her people.

    Hollywood and Vi are checking out a potential wedding venue. Now that she’s agreed to have the huge wedding he wants, in part as a compromise for not taking his last name, they’re getting deep into the planning — and Hollywood has some big notions. Gondolas, and second line bands, and “a little Italian man playing a flute.” Good thing Violet hasn’t changed her mind about the fancy nuptials, ’cause Hollywood has already put down a deposit.

    As they taste cakes, Vi apologizes for making fun of Hollywood when he was considering investing some of his windfall in his friend’s barbershop — not because she thought they would have been a good idea, but because she hadn’t asked him what his dream actually was. Well, he’s got a few: his own construction company, a sports lounge (whatever the hell that is)…. She tells him he should follow his, and he says he will — if she promises to actually take care of herself. Which implies that he’ll need to take a step back from taking care of her. She agrees. So good, so healthy. They really are #relationshipgoals (plus, it’ll make his mama happy, since she’s concerned that especially with children being off the table, Hollywood is giving up too much to be with Vi).

    Meanwhile, Micah and his new squad have been cultivating some plans of their own — they’re going to hit that plantation they visited, and tag it with the names of slaves who had lived and died there. Now that they’ve got supplies and are about to roll out, Micah, their designated lookout, seems to be having second thoughts. He doesn’t voice them, because you know Charley’s gonna get in that ass if he follows through with this and she finds out. Which she will, because come the hell on.

    The sound of the beast

    Speaking of Charley, she’s in a nice antebellum drawing room with Jacob and his mother Frances. He’s painfully quiet right now in contrast to Frances. She admits surprise that Charley agreed to the meeting, but also calls her smart and tough — her “type of girl.” Which Charley ain’t feeling. “I’m not your girl. Why am I here?”

    Man, the way all this evil Landry shit is hitting Prosper and threatening their daddy’s farm? Charley doesn’t know how to do anything at this point but come out swinging, and I’m not mad at it. She made a deal with the devil to destroy the devil, and she’s just got more reasons — especially with Jacob trying to find his way into both her heart and her pants (while knowing this whole time about his uncle’s plan to take all the land and build a prison on it).

    Seems Frances wants to take her brother Sam down a notch and take control of Landry Enterprises, which he’s been so steadily running into the ground. Charley wants to know why Frances thinks she would trust her, and the reason is actually pretty believable — Frances ain’t on some F.T.P., dismantle-the-prison-industrial-complex mission. Nah. She just believes her father would turn over in his grave if he knew a prison was being built on their land to house “criminals, and thugs, and murderers.” So, you know. Still racist AF. Perhaps the racist enemy of my racist enemy is my racist friend…? Or something like that.

    When she steps away to take a call, Charley lights into Jacob’s ass. While he admits he wasn’t honest about Sam Landry’s plan for the prison, he says he was honest about his feelings for her. Mama Boudreaux comes back and this time tries to White Feminist Charley into agreeing to join forces with her against Landry. You know, Frances worked a lot harder than her brother, and her daddy still left most of their family business to her Sam. Charley must know a thing or two about that, right? Seriously, I’m waiting for this old biddy to start singing “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar.” She goes on about how powerful the two of them standing together to block the project when it comes to a vote in the parish will be. Charley points out that between them, they still don’t have enough shares of Landry Enterprises to stop Sam. Additionally, she can’t trust someone who would turn on their family the way Frances is turning on her brother.

    Frances tells her that’s not much else that can stop this, so she may as well get on board. Then she slides over a folder full of intel on Colton, Sam’s son. While family members can’t poach other family’s shares of the business per company bylaws, Charley’s under no such restriction. She does know everyone’s finances are a mess. Charley glances at Jacob, takes the envelope, and bounces without agreeing to anything.

    Nova and Remy are sitting in her kitchen smoking a blunt — which Remy managed to roll. (Who knew?) Now they’re trading stories about high school, where he learned how to roll. Surprisingly, Remy was a bad boy, and it took until his senior year for him to realize that he wasn’t getting out Detroit (Detroit?!) because he couldn’t stay out of the principal’s office. He then came down south for college, and found his purpose in farming. Let’s just say we’re not the only ones surprised by this revelation about Remy’s past. Nova figured he’d been some math geek, and she is clearly intrigued with this far more interesting backstory. They lean in for a brief kiss, and well, yeah, that’s hot. Nova knows this is going to end in tears, though.

    Ralph Angel has come to Charley’s to talk to her and Nova about Darla and custody of Blue. Charley’s worried that they’ll enforce the results of the paternity test to fight him for custody, even though Ralph Angel’s name is on the birth certificate. And of course, he’s got a record and still one month left of his parole. But Ra is so broken at the idea of losing Blue, after he spent four years in prison away from him, missing birthdays, his first day of school, his first haircut. He breaks down, fearful that Blue will want to go live with Darla instead of with him, now that she can provide for him in a way he can’t. His sisters console him–they’ll fight for him and Blue.

    After he takes off, Charley and Nova are sitting outside by the pool. Charley is confident that she’s gotten a really good lawyer to represent Ralph Angel. Nova finally decides to fess up to the fact that she is, in fact, seeing someone. She tells Charley that while it wasn’t planned and it wasn’t supposed to happen, she and Remy have been spending time together, and they kissed.

    Charley isn’t taking this well. Nova’s been lying to her for weeks, and Charley remembers bitterly how judgmental both Nova and Remy have been about her making the deal with the Landrys to keep the mill open–how they questioned her morals. Nova reiterates that she didn’t mean for this to happen, but Charley responds, “You didn’t walk away, though.” “I will. I will if you want me to.”

    So, as predicted, the political action at the plantation doesn’t quite go according to plan. Instead of leaving the signs and tagging the grass as they’d said they would do, Micah’s friends decide to turn it into a ceremony, with, candles lit on the porch of once of the slave cabins. Just as they are about to leave, one of their backpacks catches fire, and they book it out of there as the cabin goes up in flames.

    Ra drives to Trinh’s house to pick her up and tells her that things aren’t going well regarding custody, that Darla wants more time than they’d discussed. He says it’s complicated when she pushes, not understanding how Darla would be able to just take Blue like that, and then Ralph Angel says he doesn’t want to drag her into the middle of this and suggests they should take it down a notch. Oh, Ralph Angel. Baby, what is you doing? Trinh hops right back out of his truck.

    Nova’s agent calls her to see if she can get that chapter about her father done for publication in The New Yorker, a step up from the other journal for sure. Well, that’s that. She’s going to do it. Wonder how the rest of the family will feel about her discussing her father’s mental health for all the world to see.

    The fire at the plantation is all over the news. The next day, Micah goes out while the fire department is investigating and a local new station is reporting from in front of the charred ruins of the cabin. Later, he’s sitting in the living room with his mom and Prosper, who’s staying with them now that he’s been evicted from the land he’d been leasing from the Landrys, when the doorbell rings. Micah clearly thinks it’s the po-po coming to haul him off to jail for arson, but actually…

    It’s Remy. He’s finally come to talk to Charley about Nova. He goes down the same track–that this was totally not where he expected to find himself. Charley makes him say Nova’s name–her sister’s name–when he uses pronouns. But he also offers some real talk about their relationship, and the fact that it hadn’t been working for some time, and has now been over for a while. Charley’s not trying to hear it, though. She’s had a whole lifetime of dishonest men in the form of one Mister Davis West, and this is just another betrayal to her–including by her own sister. But it’s also clear that Charley still has feelings for Remy, which is why this is so crushing. She warns him that he’d better make sure he knows what Nova wants, be she and her sister are forever. Him? He’s “fleeting.”


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    • Lauren Wheeler writes poetry, fiction, and about the places where the personal, the political, and pop culture intersect. She works on self-driving cars in San Francisco and lives in Oakland with her partner, a five-year-old, and two brown dogs. Michonne is her alter-ego.

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