The second episode of Queen Sugar’s season three-premiere is, at its core, about forging one’s own path. In “Of Their Sojourn Here,” two Bordelon women, Violet and Nova, have made the decision to take the reins over their destinies.
Aunt Vi’s “Prize Pies” will soon get prime real-estate in the local grocery store, meaning she has to work quickly and tirelessly to fulfill the order. This turn in luck is Violet’s moment, and it is her against the world, or rather, a few naysayers. After being asked to leave the diner for using the commercial ovens without permission, Aunt Vi promises to never return to her job there. It’s not the first time she’s made this promise, but it seems likely she’ll keep it this time. Nothing will stand in her way of seizing this life-changing opportunity, even if it means getting help from Ms. Effy, a frenemy at the local church, in order to secure enough ovens for her pies. By the end of the week, her bones may be tired, but the pies are ready, and with them, a new opportunity to shine.
The kneeling students at the basketball game are still the talk of town — some supportive and others critical. Relatedly, Nova’s article on the students has been gutted by the paper and grossly sanitizes her politics. While her viral article has opened up personal opportunities, the paper’s sales are suffering from a blowback from conservative readers. Instead of doing the right thing, Nova’s editor has thrown her under the bus in the quest for page views and increased circulation — the truth be damned. With this professional betrayal, Nova signing the book contract seems to be more and more likely. Nova’s career is at a turning point — she simply has to make the jump.
Elsewhere, Charley continues with her plan to bring down the Landrys while masquerading as the face (and sole owner) of Queen Sugar. At the diner, she reiterates to the black farmers gathered that they will be taken care of (their milling discount continues) and intimates that Queen Sugar is still a black-owned business. I find Charley’s bald-faced lies unconscionable, whether she believes the means justify the ends or not. If this betrayal ever comes to light — and Queen Sugar is known for bringing all things done in the dark to light — the Bordelon family will never be able to repair the damage done. Conversely, it turns out that the Landrys are broke. This is information that Charley can use to her advantage. I’m not convinced this game of chess she’s playing will be worth it in the end, but this information is a possible checkmate.
Charley’s pursuit of justice for Micah is closer to a sure bet. To that end, the video of Officer Orson beating an unarmed black man has been leaked, and a reckoning is coming. Charley has exposed Orson for the miscreant he is, but at what cost to Micah? West, confronting Charley about the her role in the leak, is concerned about Micah’s response to video. In the midst of his own political awakening, Micah makes the decision to transfer to a public school, a decision that Charley fights but eventually allows.
Back at the Bordelon farm, Ralph Angel’s parole officer drops by for an unplanned visit. Citing changes in Louisiana’s laws, his parole officer wants to reduce Ralph Angel’s remaining parole from a year to three months. The encounter illustrates the long hand of the prison industrial complex long after a formerly incarcerated person leaves prison. A wrong move while on probation could have dire consequences for Ralph Angel, Blue, and the rest of the family. Relatedly, Ralph Angel is not deterred by the revelation that he isn’t Blue’s biological father. Over drinks with Charley, he asks if he’s good for Blue. “You are the best thing that ever happened to that little boy,” Charley answers. This is an undeniable truth. There is a preciousness in the bond that father and son share. Whatever stars aligned to bring them together was for the better.
At the grocery store, what should be Vi’s shining moment swiftly turns into embarrassment, as her pies are found stacked in the bakery and not in the prime location she was promised. After moving her pies to their rightful place, Vi tells Hollywood, “I will not be sidelined, sidetracked, or sidestepped or put in the damned corner to wait my turn. Not another day. It’s my time.” Violet has had a lot of starts and stops in her life, and she is determined that her pie business will not follow that pattern.
Violet’s determination not to be sidelined lights the fire Nova needs to walk away from her job. The last scene follows her as she triumphantly walks out of the newspaper office for good, determined not to waste any time. There will be no dreams deferred for the Bordelons.