It's a big episode for the Bordelon family, as this is the week the Queen Sugar Mill officially opens. But before we get to the celebrating, the show brings on plenty of waterworks, of course. The first heartbreaking scene (of many this episode — why you have to do us like that, Ava?!) happens at a nearby gas station. Ralph Angel's paying for snacks with Blue when the cashier recognizes him. Turns out she's the same cashier that he stole from in the premiere of Season 1, and she tells him she lost her job because of him. He says it wasn't him, then throws down some cash and runs out with Blue as she yells at Ralph, calling him a liar. Yikes.
Back at the farm house, Nova is looking for some paperwork in Ralph's office — formerly their father's — when she comes across an envelope. I think it's going to be The Letter (you know, the secret letter their father wrote leaving the farm to Ralph, not all three siblings), but it's actually a paycheck from a mysterious name Nova isn't familiar with. She looks into it and discovers that it's from the payroll of the office where her father was working as a custodian — which Nova knew nothing about. She goes to retrieve his belongings there, which just include a pair of work gloves and a picture of Blue, which just about breaks her heart (and all of us watching at home).
Over in Violet's kitchen, she's working hard on some pies, and Hollywood, per usual, is adorable, bringing her all the groceries and ingredients she needs. She tells him she doesn't plan to attend the placing of the tombstone at Ernest's grave later that week, because she's already buried him once and doesn't want to put herself through that again. Hollywood tells her he thinks she'll regret that — Ernest was her brother, and she needs closure, too.
At Charley's office, Darla has begun in her new assistant role. She brings in Ben, a writer doing a story on Charley. It quickly becomes clear he's more interested in the status of her and Davis's marriage than her business endeavors and thinks there's more to the story of why Charley moved to St. Josephine, but Charley sticks to her story: It's all about family and her father's legacy.
Darla, meanwhile, is having a little trouble getting adjusted to assistant life, and spills a cup of coffee on herself while she's on the phone. Charley sends her to the house to find a change of clothes, and she picks out a pretty, lacy black dress. And then Micah walks in to the closet, needing some help with his tie. Darla helps, but there's a weird energy between them. I almost don't even want to go there, but I can't help but wonder if there's a moment between them? It could be romantic (shudder), or maybe it's something maternal — Micah is Blue's older cousin, and maybe Darla sees a reflection of where Blue will be 10 years from now? (I hope?! Please don't go there, Queen Sugar. Please!)
Right before the opening, Charley gets a huge flower arrangement from Sam Landry with a note that says "Welcome to the club." She doesn't let that jerk and his passive aggressiveness stop her from honoring her father, though, delivering a moving speech about the meaning of the Queen Sugar Mill before cutting the ribbon. But then an alarm goes off: There's been an issue with the sugarcane system, and the mill needs to temporarily shut down until the problem is fixed. Charley runs to the back and has a bit of a meltdown, hysterically crying because she wanted everything to be perfect on this day for her father's memory. And then she reveals to Nova that all this time, she's been blaming herself for not coming to visit when her father asked her to, and never getting the chance to say goodbye to him. She wanted to make it right with the Queen Sugar Mill, but Nova comforts her, confiding in her that she doesn't even remember the last time she and her father spoke. None of the children had perfect relationships with their father, and that's okay.
While all this goes down, we see that sneaky Ben is spying on the emotional moment. He then threatens Charley, telling her he'll include it in his story if she doesn't start keeping it real with him about what's really going on. Charley makes him a deal: If he writes about the mill, minus the hiccup, she'll later give him the exclusive that she's divorcing Davis. He agrees. Oh boy.
At the end of the day, Darla is helping Charley wrap up a few things. The way Darla is looking at Charley is with pure admiration; she then invites Charley to her two-years-sober celebration that's coming up, as a thank you for giving her this chance, which is really helping her with her sobriety. I love the way QS has delicately and beautifully shared Darla's sobriety journey with us, delving even deeper into it this season. I just hope her getting closer with Charley won't mess things up between her and Ralph.
We end the episode at Ernest's gravesite, where the new familial tombstone is being placed. Violet decides to go after all, thankfully. (But can we have a moment for how adorable Blue looks in his little suit?) Nova shares some moving words for Ernest, telling him that he can rest in peace because his family has respected his wishes and is pouring their labor and love into his land. Ralph looks visibly uncomfortable. The family then heads home, where Ralph discovers Blue crying in the corner with Kenya; he tells his dad that his doll had a birthmark he gave her himself, so he wants to know where it went. Ralph admits to him that Kenya accidentally got thrown away, so they got him a new one, and he's sorry. And then Blue asks why the lady at the store called Ralph a liar, and RA gives him the most honest answer he can: "I ain't lyin' no more." Another sweet moment on Ralph's journey to become a better man for his son.
But that's just the beginning. Over dinner with the family, Ralph Angel says grace. Tears build in his eyes as he prays about how thankful he is for his father's memory, and then he decides that now is the moment he really needs to stop lying: He tells his sisters about his father's handwritten letter leaving the farm to just him.
Obviously, this does not go over very well. Charley is angry, pointing out that she uprooted her family and her son to move to St. Josephine and help out with the farm; Nova is confused, wondering why their father was willing to leave the farm to Ralph Angel and work himself into the ground, cleaning up "after other folk" instead of farming so he could support RA and his son. This starts a major round of finger-pointing between the siblings; Ralph reminds both sisters that neither of them were around much for their father, and they remind him that he wasn't, either, since he was in prison for many years. Ouch.
Everyone is crying (myself included), as Nova tries to leave. But Violet runs in front of the door, telling both her and Charley that no one is leaving until they settle this mess. And then the episode ends. I am all up in my feelings, with empathy for each of the Bordelons — they're all still grieving, and now they're also forced to figure out their father's wishes, without actually having him to talk to about it. It's a tough situation to be in, and I have a feeling it's only going to further tear this family apart. Sigh.
We'll see how this plays out next week. Until then...