I already wrote about why I'm obsessed with this show: It's the relatable, gorgeous, and poignant brainchild of Ava DuVernay — and each episode is the work of a female director. Now, each week I'll be recapping the series, which gets better and better as the season goes on. Truly. Quick episode 1 refresh: The three Bordelon children are grieving the death of their father, Ernest. With their patriarch gone, they're all grappling with their own personal issues: Ralph Angel is struggling financially as a single dad to his 5-year-old son, Blue; Nova is trying to keep her married lover at a distance; and Charley's NBA star husband, Davis, was just caught on video cheating on her with a hooker. My favorite aspect of episode 2 is that we get to really see the inner workings of the siblings' relationships. There is a lot of tension here — the kind of bickering that turns heated quickly, an experience we've all had with siblings or close kin. But it's clear that underneath it all, there is pure love. Episode 1 makes it apparent that there's a divide between these kids; I thought perhaps Nova and Ralph Angel were the closest, because Charley was off living the glamorous basketball wife life in Los Angeles while they stayed behind in Louisiana. But it turns out that Charley actually has a different mother than the other two siblings, which explains the separation. When a condolences flower arrangement from Charley's mother arrives, Nova gives Ralph Angel one loaded eye roll. It's a strained moment, but I can't help but laugh, because that's definitely a look I've shared with my own sister and brother plenty of times. The friction is further intensified when Charley realizes her bro and sis are trying to ice her out of planning their father's funeral arrangements. Without much else to do but think about the scandal back home, she keeps herself busy by focusing on the future of her father's farm. A local named Samuel Landry wastes no time in trying to get his hands on the Bordelon land — before Ernest has even been buried. Charley reaches out to Remy Newell, a fellow farmer and friend of her father's, to see if he can help advise her on what to do next. Even though Charley is married (well, estranged, at the moment) with a kid, I can tell from their immediate chemistry that Charley and Remy might end up having more than just a friendly business relationship.
The anger and resentment in Nova's voice is the kind only your family can bring out of you; it's such a familiar feeling, it brought me chills.
Despite the family friction, Nova and Charley share a few sisterly moments; their love is most often conveyed via body language rather than actual words. But just when I thought things were getting better between them, a truck of caterers shows up. Charley has ordered them as her way of contributing to the funeral, but Nova is pissed. "How come you don't remember how it's done?" she asks her sister. "We don't honor our father by sitting friends and family outside at fancy tables. We don't honor our father by having strangers serve those grieving. We serve comfort food to those who need comfort — and we do it with our own hands." Whoa. The anger and resentment in Nova's voice is the kind only your family can bring out of you; it's such a familiar feeling, it brought me chills. The sibling drama is the heart of this episode, but there are also plenty of other complexities to keep us on the edge of our seats. Davis shows up unexpectedly, to Charley's dismay. Even with his wrongdoings, I do think he has a point when he says, "Ernest was my family, too." But still, I'm pretty darn pissed at Davis. You cheated on your wife! With a hooker! And a group of your teammates! Come on, bro. Someone doesn't just forgive and forget that easily, no matter who has died. Nova, on the other hand, is trying to figure out her feelings for her lover, Calvin. They're clearly in love, but there's a small problem: He's married — with children. Still, he feels like he should be able to be there for Nova at the funeral; reluctantly, she lets him come. Meanwhile, Aunt Violet thinks Blue deserves to get the closure that comes with saying goodbye, but Ralph Angel feels he's too young. He decides to call Blue's mother, an alcoholic who has desperately been trying to gain Ralph's trust back, to spend more time with her son. She promises she'll be there to watch Blue, but when her boss won't let her leave early, my heart broke for an unbelievably adorable Blue (seriously, where did they find this kid?!) who sits waiting patiently for a mom who never shows up. We end at Ernest's funeral, which, of course, brought on the tears, both because of the stellar acting and the kind words shared, but also the beautiful way this scene was shot — including the decision to have the family members wear all white, a common practice for Black Southern families at funerals. Blue's mom does eventually show up — late, but still a good thing, I suppose — as do Davis and Nova's part-time man. The family says goodbye to Ernest for good, and now there's no telling what will happen next for the Bordelon clan. Guess we'll have to wait another week to find out. Until then!