Queen Sugar Episode 5 Recap: Ego Trippin’

Photo: Courtesy of OWN.
We start off this week with a tense conversation that feels particularly timely. Nova, who is Black, and her married police officer lover, Calvin, who is white, are arguing. Calvin is upset that Nova's article tried to take down the entire police department; he insists that honorable men like him and his father are putting their lives on the line every day, and Nova counters that Black men put their lives on the line every day just by stepping outside. Considering what's going on in our country right now, I commend the Queen Sugar team for tackling this discussion head-on, even in a fictional context. While in real life, the conversation is still ongoing daily, in the show, it reaches a head between the couple. Calvin calls Nova a hypocrite for selling weed to the same young men she's defending; Nova kicks him out — and tells him to leave his key. Charley wants Micah to go to therapy after everything he's been through. He's not happy about it, but it's clear the kid is in his feelings: He's been kicked out of school, no longer wants to play basketball, and purposely ditches his dad for dinner. He's so miserable that he agrees with his mom that maybe it's time they get a fresh start by moving to St. Josephine's, to be closer to the farm and her family. Poor Ralph Angel, on the other hand, is still going through some dark times. When he finds his warehouse paycheck is short, he's told that that's the way it works when you're an ex-con, and there's not much you can do about it. So. Wrong. His coworker who hooked him up with the cousin who sold him $15,000 worth of bad cane seed, however, wants to make that up to him. He suggests the two of them start a scam on the warehouse company by fudging the inventory, then pocketing merchandise. Ralph Angel says no, but then when he mysteriously finds some brand-new Apple products in his bag, he takes them. No bueno, Ralph Angel. One of my favorite story lines this episode is Violet's. After dealing with a new young boss half her age (who unnecessarily embarrasses her in front of her friends), Violet is understandably weary. So Nova has a remedy for her — of the green variety. I had my own laughs watching Nova, Charley, and their Aunt Violet get high, crack up, and cover their ears when Vi starts talking sex with Hollywood. "I ain't got no shame in my game!" she tells them. It's an important television scene, for three reasons: We see marijuana and Black folks in a positive light; we see the three strongest pillars of the family, the women, bonding; and when Charley and Vi casually wonder whether Nova is dating a women or a man, we see them being accepting of Nova's fluid sexuality. On to the big twist I did not see coming. While Vi and us viewers thought Hollywood was down in Baton Rouge for a job, he's actually at a psychiatric institution — picking up his estranged wife, Leann. That's right, wife. It seems that technically Hollywood is still married, and we're pretty sure Violet doesn't know. But turns out it's just so that Leann can stay on his health insurance to get the help she needs. (Side note: I was thrilled to see Leann is played by Erika Alexander, of The Cosby Show and Living Single fame. Hey, Maxine!) Despite Leann's best efforts to convince Hollywood to stay, I was relieved to see Hollywood remind her that their marital status is strictly on paper. Phew. And that brings us to Charley, whose ego gets the best of her this episode. At an auction to buy discounted items for the farm, Remy and Charley's father's old friend Prosper Denton advise her on the best way to bid. But Charley's new nemesis Sam Landry is there, and Charley finds herself trying to outbid him instead of playing the long game. Remy and Denton are both disappointed; she's shown her hand to the town, plus, she spends so much that she isn't able to buy her father's tractor back. But Remy — who is clearly in love with Charley — finagles some things so he's able to get her father's tractor for her. Now that's a romantic gesture. In this episode Charley also goes behind both Davis and her attorney's backs to visit Melina, Davis' accuser, to sit down with her herself. Charley strongly urges Melina to take the money they're offering while insinuating that she's a sex worker; doesn't that mean all she's after is money? But while Melina knows that if she moves forward with the trial she'll never be able to take it back, she also asks Charley: "How do you un-rape someone?" We don't know for sure if Charley's husband is guilty, but we get a pretty big hint at the end of the episode. Melina finally calls Charley with an offer: She wants $3 million — and a sit-down with Davis where he'll admit what he's done. Whew. Just when I think this show can't get more layered or complex, every week it does, bringing us even more nuanced depictions of a Black family without shying away from tough issues like sexuality, mental health, rape, and how the Black community feels about police officers. I can't wait to see what episode 6 will bring. See you all next week!

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