Queen Sugar Episode 10 Recap: Here To Stay

Photo: Courtesy of OWN.
This week's episode is especially meaningful, for two main reasons: First, because it first aired during a panel I moderated with all eight cast members in New York. Yes, that's shameless self-promotion, but also, the cast had some incredible things to say that night about what makes Queen Sugar so magical. "There's something about the specificity of the show, the authenticity of the show, that then translates into something universal," Dawn-Lyen Gardner, a.k.a. Charley, pointed out. Seriously, if you're a fan, watch the interview, because it was dope.

The second reason it's meaningful: Because it's almost unbelievably timely that the day after the disheartening election results, we received such a beautiful episode of a show created by a Black woman, starring an all Black cast, on a network owned by a powerful Black woman — on a day when hatred and sorrow is swirling all around us. This episode was a welcome, comforting, and much-needed gift.

So it's for that second reason in particular that instead of recapping the whole episode, I'd like to focus on this week's major moment: The secret behind the Bordelon land. But first, a quick summary for you on the other happenings: Micah finally kisses his new boo (which elicited a loud "yas!"), Violet finally begins to soften toward Hollywood (just a little) and also becomes the High Yellow diner's manager (another "yas!"), and in an emotional scene, Ralph Angel finally convinces Violet to sign over custody of Blue. "When do I get out Aunt Vi? I did my time. When am I done?" he asks her tearfully after she reminds him of his mistakes. It's a reminder to both Violet and us that our formerly incarcerated brothers need — and deserve — more empathy and compassion.

But now, on to the land: Toward the end of the episode, Charley and her business savviness lead her toward figuring out that something ain't right between the Landrys, the Boudreaux and their incessant hunt for the Bordelon farm. She realizes their actually both the same family, and when they offer her four million dollars for the land, her research reveals that they used to own this land. And now, they want it back. But why?
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"It's almost unbelievably timely that the day after the disheartening election results, we received such a beautiful episode of a show created by a Black woman, starring an all Black cast, on a network owned by a powerful Black woman."


Aunt Violet tells the three Bordelon kids that there's way more to the story than meets the eye, but she'd promised her brother Ernest she wouldn't tell them until they figured it out on their own. It turns out that in the days of slavery, the Bordelons were actually owned by the Landrys. That's right, they can trace it back — and the Bordelons eventually became sharecroppers on the farm. It was Aunt Violet's father who went north during the migration to make money and send it back home; with that money, the Bordelons were able to buy a piece of the Landry's land from them when they hit hard times.

Of course, once they got back on their feet, the Landrys pretended the sale had never happened, and their way of getting "their" land back was by lynching multiple Bordelon family members in the middle of the night. Eventually, someone came forward with the title proving the Bordelon's rightful ownership, but when Ernest finally took control of the farm, the Landrys didn't make it easy for him to succeed as a local farmer. "Your daddy didn't just up and die," Violet tells them. "They killed him, slow."

This revelation was emotional for me, not just because of my connection to these characters and what they've been through, but also because it's, simply, real. The unfortunate reality is, many — all — of us could be walking on land that's soaked with our ancestor's blood. And if it's not our own ancestors directly, then it's the blood of countless other souls who likely lost their lives unnecessarily. Land in this country has been traded, sold, and bartered at the expense of innocent lives for centuries, and that's a fact that we as a nation can't ignore. The realization hit me so hard that it was like the wind was knocked out of me.

And then, at the end of the episode, Charley brings the words that I'm choosing to hold on to for the rest of this difficult week — month, year, four years: "No more running. No more taking the easy way out. I don't have any answers. All I know is, we ain't going nowhere."

Chills. The episode was filmed months ago, of course, but those words feel especially poignant spoken on the night when brown folks in this country are feeling broken, beaten down, and helpless. In Charley's words there is not only hope, but courage, determination, and a reminder that it's when times are toughest that we need to fight the hardest.

That's all for this week, Queen Sugar fans. I hope that, like it did for me, this week's episode brought you a bit of solace and inspiration. See you next week.

P.S.: There weren't any updates on Charley and Remy in this episode. I wonder if it's any coincidence that it just so happened to be the same episode that was directed by Salli Richardson Whitfield, who's married to Dondre Whitfield, who plays Remy. (If so, Salli, I feel you girl! I wouldn't want to direct my man's love scenes with another woman, either!) Creator Ava DuVernay took to Twitter to share a sweet pic of the duo, quoting another one of the episode's most fitting lines for our current times:
Black. Girl. Magic.
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