It's official! Queen Sugar is finally back from the midseason break, and I was so relieved that the first episode did not disappoint. Are y'all ready to dive right in to dissecting? Because I am!
One thing became clear in the first few minutes of this episode: Love is in the air in St. Josephine. First up, with the newly engaged Ralph Angel and Darla, who are taking a stroll through town after seeing a movie. Next, we see Charley at home watching a news segment of Gayle King (loved that cameo!) announcing Charley and Davis West's split on CBS This Morning. Charley seems both contemplative and happy when Remy walks in and asks if he can take her out on a date that night. And Nova is at her home with her boo Robert, who's congratulating her on nabbing the front page of the New Orleans paper thanks to her story on the Zika virus in New Orleans' ninth ward. Nova tells Robert she's grateful for all of his research and help on her story, and it's clear by the look she gives him that things are getting pretty serious between these two.
Violet, meanwhile, is getting her hair braided when her stylist gently tells her she's noticed that her hair is falling out a little. Violet brushes it off, saying it's likely either due to her wigs or stress, but her stylist encourages her to get it checked out. Later in the episode when she's signing some paperwork at the High Yellow, Violet gets a little dizzy. The show is making it clear that something ain't right with Violet, and as much as she's denying it to everyone around her, it's obvious she knows something is up, too.
Hollywood, on the other hand, is back to work, running a crew on a scaffolding construction site, where it seems like he's enjoying being in a management position. And then in comes the owner of Royle & Sons, the company that Hollywood and his team are doing construction for — and riding in the car with the head of the company is Sam Landry, aka the Bordelons' mortal enemy. Later, Royle comes back to inform Hollywood and his workers that they just got offered more work than they can handle, so they'd like to bring them on for a full time contract. Uh oh. I suspect this is going to get a bit sticky for Hollywood.
Next we see Nova with her ex-lover — remember Chantal the activist? Well, she ain't hear for Nova's Zika article because it's causing a lot of panic amongst the communities in the ninth ward, for unjust reason, she says. She accuses Nova of just trying to be provocative instead of actually believing in something, and Robert comes to her defense. But Nova clearly starts second guessing herself and admits to Robert that she has to wonder if her judgement was clouded by his passion for the topic.
Over at Ralph's house, Blue is drawing a family tree for school. Ralph Angel's family is pretty easy, but when he asks Darla about her parents, she hesitates. But then she and Ralph Angel exchange a look, and they decide to share some news with Blue: They're getting married! The joy from all three of them made my heart so happy I swear it's like I know them.
And then we go back to Nova's house, where she's getting organized (as Ibeyi's song "River" plays — shout out to Queen Sugar's always-on-point soundtrack). When Robert comes in, she tells him that she's going to do a Zika awareness event with Chantal to educate folks who are now scared about Zika, thanks to her article. Robert warns her to be careful that Chantal doesn't have a hidden agenda. But before they can get further into it, Blue and Ralph show up looking for photos for Blue's family tree. During their drop in, Blue takes it upon himself to announce his parents' engagement news to Nova. The whole thing is more cuteness than my heart can handle.
When Nova heads to the Zika event to answer questions from attendees, she learns that people are indeed pretty ticked off that she pressed the panic button with her article on something that's not necessarily an actual problem in the ninth ward yet — just potentially might be. Nova is clearly frustrated, and I'm starting to wonder what Robert's real motives were here. But then he checks out a young boy whose mother is concerned that he might have Zika, and he helps queel her fears. It's pretty cute, and Nova seems to think so, too. So I guess Robert is ok — for now. I'm keeping an eye on him.
Ok, so back to Charley and Remy, who are on the cutest New Orleans date ever, walking in the rain and grabbing beignets from a cart, which feels reminiscent of the opening scene with RA and Darla. Charley comments that it's nice being out together with Remy before she feeds him a beignet (I know — that's real love). And then she gets a phone call...from her mother. Who lets her know that...dun dun dun...she's in Louisiana.
We then see Charley walk into a fancy restaurant toward a brown skin woman, and I'm like Oh! Finally! This must be Charley's mama! And then the camera focuses in on a white woman with blonde hair — and that's who Charley embraces and calls Mama. My jaw just about fell to the floor. I'm bi-racial, so it's not that I'm surprised that Charley is mixed, especially with her curly hair and features. It was more shock that no character on the show has ever mentioned that Charley's mom — and Ernest's ex-wife — was white! But now looking back, I can definitely see how they were hinting at it.
We learn a lot during this little lunch. Let's recap:
- Charley's real name is Charlotte.
- Her mother hasn't been there for Charley at all, through either her father's death or her divorce, because she was traveling the world on a cruise ship with somebody named Lauren. (Side eye.)
- Her mother admits that Ernest's death affected her more than she expected.
- She's definitely the source of Charley's judgmental, uptight, and yes, bougie ways.
Later, Charley gives her mother a tour of her loft, and she doesn't even try to hide her distaste at how "industrial" it is. But Charley stands her ground that she and Micah love their home and feel like its a connection to their history. Her mother seems to accept that Charley is happy — but insists in "whipping those barracks into shape." Over at the mill, she also questions if Charley running the mill is "the best use of her degree." I'm starting to see why Charley was looking so unhappy when she got the call that her mother was in town. At the mill, Mom meets Remy, and it's clear her mother's intuition has picked up on the fact that Charley and Remy are more than just friends.
Micah is over at his father's house doing homework when Davis brings up what happened to Micah that night he was arrested. He tells Micah they need to tell her mother. Micah is hesitant, saying his mother clearly doesn't want to deal with bad things — that's why she left Davis. I hate to say it, but I wanted to slap Micah in this moment! How dare he talk about his mother like that? I know he's a sullen teenager, but has he not seen everything his mother has dealt with? Davis, thankfully, sticks up for Charley, admitting that she stood by his side through a lot and is a good woman and reminds Micah he needs to have some sympathy for her, too. So Charley comes over and hears the story from her son, and she's (understandably) outraged and immediately starts talking lawyers and action. But then she comes to her senses and goes into Mom mode, telling Micah how sorry she is that this happened to him.
Over at Violet's house, Ralph Angel and Darla arrive to share their good news. Hollywood is elated, but Violet is less so. "Marriage is forever, y'all!" She reminds them. She then softens a bit and asks if they're sure, and Ralph says: "Sometimes you just gotta bet on yourself." Message! Thanks for that much-needed gem this week, Queen Sugar. But when Violet says she can't wait to meet Darla's parents, Darla hesitates once more. Something is up there, and I'm guessing we're going to find out exactly what sometime soon.
And then before things get heavy again, we get a happy surprise: An engagement party at the High Yellow for Ralph and Darla. I always love when we get a small break from the tearjerker moments and get to see the Bordelon family all smiling and turning up. We see two interesting phone calls happen here: Robert calls Nova to tell her that Timothy North the philanthropist has pledged seven figures to help prevent Zika in the ninth ward. We also see Darla leaving her parents a voicemail to tell them she's getting married, that she's been clean for two years, and that her son Blue is six and is filled with "nothing but goodness."
Charley's mom is noticeably absent from the soiree, and Charley lets Remy know that her mother and Aunt Violet don't mix. But Violet has no clue Charley's mom in town; instead, she's over in the corner telling Hollywood she's happy that he got a full-time job offer and that yes, she's fine, though I don't quite believe her on either topic.
But Charley is too distracted to enjoy the party. She ends up telling Nova what happened to Micah, and then at the end of the episode, she tells her mother, too. She blames herself for not foreseeing this could happen — for not protecting her son, knowing how racism in this town can be. Charley admits to her mother that because she's white, she could never understand the movement between worlds she had to do as a kid shuffling between her white private boarding school and summers with her Black family in St. Josephine. Charley's mom tells her that she did the best that she could by her daughter, just like Charley has done by Micah, and that as a mother, that's all she can truly do.
We end the episode with Charley's mother comforting her daughter as she sobs — just before we get a glimpse of a nervous Aunt Violet in a doctor's office wearing a pink gown. And then the episode cuts out. Gah!
We'll have to wait until tomorrow night to learn what's going on with Violet, but I'm hoping it's nothing serious. The Bordelon family is definitely strong, but they don't need yet another obstacle! But until 24 hours from now, that's all we got! See you all tomorrow night.
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