Queen Sugar Recap: New Beginnings

Bianca Lawson as Darla, Ethan Hutchison as Blue. Photo: Skip Bolen/OWN
Queen Sugar

Queen Sugar

All Good Season 1 Episode 11
Editor's Rating 3 stars

There’s a distinct pattern to Bordelon life: Every time something goes well, two more things fall apart. When Ralph Angel finally thought he was managing farm life and his warehouse job, he was swindled out of money and coerced into a theft ring that led to him leaving the warehouse. When Charley thought she could trust Davis and put the rape accusations behind them, she discovered he was not at all the man she thought he was. Nova’s investigations are helping the community, but that progress comes at the cost of her love life. Although the siblings and Aunt Vi seem to be moving forward in “All Good,” I can’t stop feeling dread for what’s to come.

Charley, Nova, Ralph Angel, and Remy meet to discuss the latest update in finding a mill to grind Bordelon sugar. The closest mill with no ties to the Landrys or the Boudreauxs is a 16-hour drive in St. James Parish. That means they’ll need to lease trucks, pay for fuel, plus the cost of extra workers to make sure the cane gets harvested quickly. If they’re not careful, the sugar will crystallize and they’ll lose the harvest along with any subsequent profits. Remy suggests they apply for a farm loan. At first, Ralph Angel and Nova dismiss the idea, but Charley informs them that she’s filed for divorce and can’t access her joint accounts with Davis until everything is finalized. Nova reaches out her hand and Charley accepts the gesture. It appears the sisters have moved past their earlier disagreements.

After the meeting is over, Charley and Remy exchange a steamy kiss and Micah walks in on them. He’s shocked, poor thing. He can’t believe how quickly Charley has put Davis in the past and wonders if she ever loved him. Devastated, Charley goes to Nova’s house for comfort. Nova assures her that she didn’t make a mistake; she made a choice. Charley confesses she’s only ever had sex with Davis. They were together for 18 years. Nova teases her in the way only sisters can, but nevertheless prepares a ritual so Charley can let go of her fears and hang-ups about being a sexual person in need of affection.

Nova prays to Oshun, a spirit of love, sensuality, fertility, and pleasure. She asks Oshun to grant Charley’s sensual liberation and to clear a path of attraction so that she can enjoy her newfound freedom without guilt. At first, Charley is skeptical and keeps interrupting. Soon enough, though, she falls silent. When Nova signals the ritual is over, Charley breathes as if she’s letting go of all of her burdens.

Nova may be a practitioner of Ifá or Yoruba, religions from West Africa that are often dismissed as voodoo. For people who practice these religions (or its Afro-Caribbean offshoot Santería), seeing this ritual performed on television may carry a whiff of cultural tourism, like taking a bus tour of Harlem churches just to hear a black choir. I’m curious to see how critics will respond to Nova’s ceremony, but I think the episode handled the ritual as carefully as it could. Most portrayals of African religions are connected to evil, curses, and murders. Here, Nova performs a cleansing ritual to bless her sister as Charley rediscovers who she is as a single woman. Any time we’ve seen Nova reach for religion, it has been to add a blessing or to do good. Once again, Queen Sugar takes a frequently misunderstood part of black life and casts aside stereotype, giving us a precise appreciation for it.

Charley and Ralph Angel are supposed to meet with a bank loan adviser to confirm the details, but Jacob Boudreaux shows up instead. He makes the expected threats about making things difficult for the Bordelons since they refuse to sell the land or use Boudreaux mills. Charley takes pleasure in telling him their good ole boys’ time is coming to an end, and Ralph Angel tells him to get off their land, but Jacob isn’t finished. He tells them their bank loan was denied. Charley should’ve suspected as much: Given how the Landrys seem to run the parish, someone at the bank would inevitably try to sabotage the farm. I wasn’t sure if Jacob was trying to hit on Charley in last week’s episode, but now it’s clear that he’s a Disney villain through and through.

Charley can’t dwell on that threat, though, because she has to attend a Champagne brunch hosted by a private school where she hopes Micah can enroll. A lot of high-profile movers and shakers will be there, including Frank Rovner, owner of the New Orleans Stingers, the local professional basketball team. Charley wears her wedding rings and uses her experience as Davis’s manager to work Rovner, hinting that if he makes an offer to Davis, who recently became a free agent, they may all form a mutually beneficial relationship. Charley pushes through her issues with Davis and their upcoming divorce to make sure her son gets enrolled in the best school.

Later, at the grand reopening of the High Yellow Diner, Nova introduces Too Sweet to Micah and the rest of the family. Nova tells Micah that Charley has taken a lot of arrows for him and not everyone has a mother like that, nodding to Too Sweet’s recent troubles. The speech gets through to Micah, who gives Charley his approval when she wants to dance with Remy. Meanwhile, Ralph Angel and Darla slow dance together. They helped Blue fight back against a school bully earlier in the episode, and Ms. Velez seems disappointed to see how close they’ve grown.

Vi already has plans for Friday and Saturday night dancing at the High Yellow Diner, complete with live music and liquor. The reopening is a huge success and Vi makes a small gesture of welcome to Darla. The Bordelons’ personal lives are certainly on the upswing: Nova promises to have Too Sweet’s back when he confesses he can’t go back to jail, Charley actually lets herself enjoy the night, Ralph Angel and Darla makes amends, and Vi even admits she’s willing to give Hollywood a second chance. “All Good” ends with Ralph Angel smiling as he dances with Darla, his gorgeous smile so hopeful and relaxed. With only two episodes left in the season, though, I keep thinking about the Landry family’s hunger for revenge. It’s only a matter of time until the Bordelons face another setback.

Queen Sugar Recap: New Beginnings