It's our lucky day, y'all: We got two back-to-back episodes of Queen Sugar thanks to the mid-season premiere. And this second episode was just as juicy — if not juicier! — than the first. We start off with Aunt Violet, who gets an unexpected visit from the owner of a local grocery store who's interested in stocking 350 of her pies each week. The offer, by the way, comes with an advance total payment of $50,000. My eyes got just as wide Violet's when she saw that number!
Nova is setting up for another Zika event, with some help from her oldest friend from Tulane, Ciara. Ciara meets Robert for the first time and gives him that same well-aren't-you-a-drink-of-water look we all give him whenever he walks on screen. "Last I heard you were done dating. Now you're with a damn unicorn?" Ciara asks her friend. "How is it?" Nova tries to be humble, but then Ciara gives her that look like you better keep it real with me, and then Nova's all giiiiirl, and I love this moment between these two Black women so much because it literally reminds me of me and my best friend. And then Micah arrives with his girlfriend Keke, and it's first time Nova is seeing him after what she learned last episode. But she doesn't say anything to her nephew, and I'm kind of relieved, especially since Keke is adorably fangirling out over Nova.
Darla, meanwhile, is trying on wedding dresses, and it makes me a little sad that the only person there with her is Charley — yet another signal to us viewers about her strained relationship with her own mother and family. But during this moment, Charley shares some details about trying on her own wedding dress, and how her mother was commenting that it made her look pregnant — because she was, with Micah. But back then, Charley's mother was trying to hide that fact so no one would know her daughter was having a shotgun wedding. Darla ends up admitting to Charley that her family doesn't even care that she's getting married, but that like Charley, there's a small part of her that's still striving to make her mother proud.
Back at Charley's house, her mama is still meddling in her business, bringing over a (not so attractive, tbh) floral pillow to add to her couch. She also tells Charley to not worry so much about her father leaving the farm to Ralph Angel because the mill is her own thing, and she even offers Charley some help. So she heads over to Charley's mill office to look over some paperwork — when Violet walks in and is very clearly unhappy to see her there. "We had an agreement," she reminds her. Charley's mom responds that yes, they did have an agreement that she would stay away from St. Josephine, but that was before Charley and Micah decided to live there full time. "I won't have you upsetting Nova, who just lost her daddy again after you stole him the first time," Violet says. Yikes. But Charley's mom just politely apologizes to Violet for the loss of her brother, then puts her reading glasses back on and carries on about her business. Last episode I didn't like her so much, but I'm starting to come around just a tiiiny bit. I can appreciate a woman who isn't afraid to stand her ground, but I definitely need more information about her back story before I can decide whether or not she's the bad guy.
Charley then walks into a lunch for the St. Josephine Sugarcane Society — an hour late, according to Sam Landry, who claims he sent an email about the time change, which Charley says is strange considering she was on all the other e-mail chains about the meeting...sigh. Not-so-coincidentally, she's missed the business and logistical portion of the meeting and is now stuck at the part where they choose the Sugar Princess for the Crystal Court during the Harvest Festival. After hearing a bunch of boring, stereotypical sounding girls in the running, Charley suggests Keke Raymond — yes, Micah's girlfriend, but also a leader in her community who happens to be the captain of her dance team. But Charley is condescendingly told by one of the other Southerners that Keke isn't "princess material." I already know Charley ain't gonna take this fight sitting down.
Speaking of Keke, Micah takes her over to his dad's house, which he has all to himself for the weekend. He not-so-subtly suggests they take a shower together, and Keke straight up tells him that she's a virgin and is not interested in having sex until they're more serious. Tell him, girl! But Micah handles it like a gentleman, thankfully, and offers to take her home, since he never technically asked if she wanted to come over and be alone with him. But she's cool with hanging out with him, and up in Micah's room he ends up trying to help her braid her hair. I always love seeing a Black man unafraid of helping a woman with her hair, so I appreciated this scene so. damn. much. But I also just love how their little teenage love affair is blossoming right before our eyes.
Nova is hanging out with Robert when he gets a call asking if the two of them would be interested in speaking on-camera for a special about Zika. Nova is hesitant, but Robert manages to convince her. I said this last night, but I'll say it again: I like Robert, but I'm sensing he might not be with Nova for all the right reasons. They make a great power couple, sure, but does he have other motives? But then the two have a sweet moment where Nova confides in Robert that her whole career is about lifting other people up, yet she feels like she failed Micah because of what happened to him when he got pulled over. She admits it's one of the reasons she doesn't want kids, and to her surprise, Robert feels the same way — for him, his work is his higher purpose, not having children. Okay, so this pair has quite a lot in common. They then proceed to, um, make love, and seeing all that beautiful brown skin on top of each other made me 100 percent forget all about Robert's potential ulterior motives. (Until the next episode, anyway.) It must've been real good, too, because when Robert leaves to head back to Atlanta, he gives Nova keys to his apartment for the next time she's in town, and she, predictably, looks like she's freaking out. (I don't blame you, girl.)
Charley's mom reviewed her business plans and questions why Charley has decided to exclusively ground with Black farmers. When Charley explains why, her mom reminds her that green is the only color that matters in business, and her advice if she truly wants to expand the mill is to look beyond Black farmers in St. Josephine. Charley says she'll consider it.
Violet has still been getting dizzy, but we don't know yet what the results of her doctor's visit were. But then later in the episode we see her researching fibromyalgia diagnosis and treatment. Could that be the culprit? Before we can learn more, Charley creeps up on her and apologizes for not telling her her mother is in town. But Violet says keeping her a secret is a bad idea, especially because her siblings are going to have an issue with it. Before they get into it, though, Violet asks Charley what's wrong, and she expresses her frustration at being treated invisible at the Sugarcane Society meeting, and also at her mother's idea that in order to expand she needs to expand to white folks. Violet reminds her that she's a grown lady whose son is looking up to her, and that she's never known Charley to be someone who needs permission. She also tells Charley she needs her help, because she's going to start selling her pies in grocery stores.
At the end of the episode, Micah mentions to his mom that he was hanging out with Keke, and Charley mentions her Crystal Court meeting, which Micah says Keke applies to every year. Charley then asks Micah if things are getting serious between him and Keke (he warns her that they aren't doing the 'do!), and he says he's never met anyone like her. He's so excited, I can see that Charley sees her baby is growing up. Charley then tells Micah a big announcement: That she's decided that the Queen Sugar Mill will be holding its own Harvest festival moving forward — for the Black community.
But before we leave, we have to talk Darla and Ralph Angel, of course. This episode, Darla has started to nest, talking porch swings and other changes she and RA can make to the farm house now that she's moved in. She finds a piece of paper Violet has given RA with the number for a pre-marital counselor, but Ralph Angel is clearly against the idea. But we quickly learn why marriage counseling might be a good idea for these two.
At a gas station, a man cat calls at Darla, asking if she's free now, because he'll pay extra. When she tells him he's got the wrong person, he says he'd recognize "that ass" anywhere. Uh oh. It looks like Darla's past might be coming back to haunt her, but when Ralph Angel asks how she knows him, she just brushes him off as a crazy. Back at the house, Darla and Blue are playing in his fort, but Ralph seems a little cold and distracted. He even hesitates when Blue asks if his mom will really be living with them every night forever. Clearly that moment at the gas station got to him, and later in bed he tells Darla as much.
This essentially ends up in a blow up argument between the couple, where Ralph says he can't stop thinking about how that guy at the gas station was from her time as "Star," aka when she was turning tricks — or, as he puts it, was "whoring" to buy drugs to get high. Darla reminds Ralph that he was once stealing credit cards and robbing convenience stores, but Ralph says he did that so he could take care of Blue, while when she was on drugs, she was only thinking of herself — "as always." Oof. These are the kind of insults that cut deep, especially in a relationship.
Darla asks if they're going to continue having the same argument over and over again, and if he's going to continue punishing her for her mistakes when she's not that person anymore and she's tired of trying to convince him that she's not. And if he can't accept her for who she is, she can't marry him, she says. Eek. Engaged life is not exactly the honeymoon stage for these two, but I love them together and hope that Ralph Angel can move on and accept Darla for who she is.
Until next week...